Letter from Mike Peterson
This month's newsletter is comprised of a collection of small issues that we want to make our customers aware of. If you would like to dig deeper into these topics or have specific questions, please give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to answer all your questions.
Windows 7 Support is Ending Soon
It is time to have our annual "Hurricane Preparedness" conversation. Though, this year everyone should be listening. Last year brought Hurricane Irma. It could have been a disaster, but God had favor on us. After the hurricane, we made some assessments and told ourselves we would be better prepared next time. Here are some general guidelines to prepare for the next hurricane and keep your computer equipment safe.
Move your computer equipment up off the floor. After Irma, we discovered that water was a bigger problem than wind. So, move your computer equipment up off the floor at least 3FT (or higher if you live near the coast or flood prone areas).
Unplug your computer equipment from the wall. After Irma, we (at Computer Medics) came back to find several battery backups that were damaged. Thankfully, none of the computer equipment was damaged. So, the battery backup "laid down its life" for us. Before the next hurricane, we will turn off and unplug the battery backup units. Tip: The effective life of a battery backup is 3-5 years. If yours is older, we recommend replacing it. Call us for details.
Send in your battery backup warranty cards. Some of the battery backups have $75,000 of warranty protection, but only if you register the device before it fails.
Backup your data. With the availability of automatic cloud backup services, like Carbonite, this is less of an issue. However, if you have a business it is a good idea to have your data backed up to an external hard drive. Otherwise, if your computer is damaged during the storm it could take days for Carbonite to restore all your data. In addition, Computer Medics has a cloud backup system that can image your hard drive. If it fails, we can install a new hard drive and you will be up and running in a matter of hours. This cloud backup solution is not only important for hurricane preparedness, but critical for everyday use since hard drives can fail or be stolen at any time.
Have a secondary Internet Connection. After Irma, we had power back on at our business within 48-hours. However, it took Comcast another 2 days to restore our internet connection. During that downtime, we used a Verizon Wi-Fi hotspot from a Verizon MiFi device (about the size of dinner roll). Be warned, if you do not have an Unlimited Data Plan, you need to be careful and not stream many videos, or you could end up with large data overages on your monthly bill. Also, as an backup for Comcast, Computer Medics has a monthly service plan with a router that will automatically switch to a cellular internet service if your Comcast connection fails. Please call us for details.
Have a secondary source of power. This could be a whole-house generator, a portable generator, or inverters to plug into your car to charge your cell phones and other rechargeable devices. Also, remember the long lines for gas stations and the gas shortages. Prepare early and make sure your car gas tanks are full in case you have to evacuate. Furthermore, have enough gas to run your generator for at least 4 days. Our personal portable generator burned gas at a rate of ½ gallon per hour. We ran it all night to cool our fridges, freezers, and run window AC units. Our family was without power for 14 days after Irma, 8 days after Wilma (2005), and 7 days after Charley (2004).
Finally, if you are forced to evacuate, which many did during Irma, you should have a list of valuables and important papers that you should take with you. Things such as medications, jewelry, computers, passports, titles, family pictures, etc. Do not wait until the evacuation order is announced before preparing this list.
Support for Windows 7 is ending
The official Microsoft Windows 7 support end date is 1-14-2020, which is about 18 months away. Windows 7 was released on 7-22-09 and is following the natural 10-year life-cycle of an operating system. After the support ending date, Microsoft will no longer release bug fixes, security patches, and virus protection updates which will leave your computer vulnerable to hackers and potential crashes.
People are asking if it is OK to upgrade their Windows 7 computer to Windows 10. We do not recommend that. Putting Windows 10 on an older computer can make it unstable and introduce problems. Likewise, installing Windows 7 or even Winodws 8.1 on newer hardware will cause problems. This quote is directly from Microsoft and can be found at the following website: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/13853/windows-lifecycle-fact-sheet.
"Prior versions of Windows, including Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, have limited support when running on new processors and chipsets from manufacturers like Intel, AMD, NVidia, and Qualcomm."
If you have an older computer, we will recommend upgrading or replacing it. Anything older than 5 years is considered old in our hyper-changing technology environment. But before we sell you a new computer, we will check the manufacturer's website to see if they have drivers for Windows 10. If they do, we will proceed to install a fresh copy of Windows 10. Otherwise, you will recommend you purchase a new computer. We have been selling Dell towers and laptops for over 15 years. We find Dell to be the most reliable brand available. We have a range of computer systems for sale starting with basic entry level models up through business class models. The basic models are ideal for web surfing and checking email online. The business models are for people that need to multitask and expect top performance from their personal computers. The Dell computers in stock here at Computer Medics are available in comfortable sizes. The desktop computer systems come in small and mid-size form factors. The laptop computer systems range from a 13" screen size up to a 17" screen size. We are a full-service computer shop and will take care of all the details when installing your new computer: connecting peripherals and devices, transferring data, setting up software and helping you navigate your new Windows 10 system. Please click on our website to the computers we have in stock. Additionally, we can order any configuration you may need for your particular applications.
Letter from Mike Peterson
Summer is a time for vacations and connecting with family and friends. Karen and I visited our extended family in MN and this year there were 27 of us. It was exciting to see new babies and see how the children have grown. It reminds us what's most important in life. For those of you who are visiting for a few weeks or are living up north this summer please be aware that we can fix most computer problems remotely. Also, remember to be prepared for the hurricane season. Hurricanes can sneak up on us. Please call us if you have questions about how to be prepared.
Windows Update Explained
Not a day goes by when we are not talking to a customer or amongst ourselves about Windows Updates. Windows Updates used to be easy to install and you could avoid them if you chose to. Nowadays, hackers are intent on exploiting Windows and Microsoft must quickly respond with frequent security updates. On top of that, Microsoft has also decided to release more frequent feature updates.
What does all this mean and how does this impact your daily computer routine?
Microsoft releases two different kinds of updates. Both types are “pushed” to your computer and can be installed anytime your computer is idle. The first kind of update is called a Feature Update. This type of update is distributed about every 6 months and brings new features to Windows. Your computer will install it and reboot several times. This process can take 15 minutes to several hours depending on the speed of your computer. After this process is completed, there may be issues with software programs and even hardware devices. In our experience, the programs most effected are those that were released long before Windows 10. Resolving these issues could be something as simple as reactivating your software to something as complex as reinstalling Windows. Please call us if you encounter any problems after a Feature Update so that we can get you back up and running.
The second type of Windows Update is called a Quality Update and is focused on making Windows safer and more reliable. These kinds of updates are usually released on a weekly or monthly basis. They will install relatively quickly in the background over several minutes. Your unlikely to see any issues arising after these updates, but if you do they are usually minor and some quick tweaking will get you back in business.
Now I would like to discuss the common questions people have about Windows Updates. First, can I disable or delay Windows Updates? The quick answer is "no" for computers running Windows 10 Home edition and "yes" to delaying updates for those running Windows 10 Professional. However, we do not recommend disabling or delaying Windows Updates. Windows Updates include important hardware device updates which keep your system operating at top performance and software updates to keep data secure, such as programs that rely on Microsoft .NET Framework. Second, can I pick and choose which updates I want to be installed? No, it is all or nothing when it comes to Windows Updates. Third, can I rollback Windows if an update causes my computer to malfunction? Usually, if done within a week or two of the Windows update. After this period, Windows will delete the previous version of Windows to conserve hard drive space. However, we do not recommend rolling back to a previous version of Windows because you will receive the same update again which will reintroduce the problem. Fourth, why is my hard drive out of storage space after a Windows Update? Since Feature Updates install a new version of Windows, both versions will exist on the computer during the update. Computers with small hard drives (typically cheaper computers) may run out of hard drive space. If you see this error, you should call us immediately. Failure to do so could cause program corruption or loss of personal data.
Please be aware that if your computer stops functioning after a Windows Update and we are faced with having to reinstall Windows, we may recommend that you replace the computer. There are computers running Windows 10 that came with Windows 7 hardware never intended to run Windows 10. The Feature Updates are new versions of Windows which can cause old hardware to stop functioning, even though it was “just working.” Rather than spending time and money reinstalling Windows 7, which will only be supported until 2020. We think our time would be better spent setting up a new computer and transferring the data from the old computer. Additionally, Windows 7 computers are 5-10 years old. Components such as hard drives, fans, motherboards and screens typically fail after 5 years. Furthermore, new computers are cheaper, faster and more reliable than 5-10 years ago.
One question I frequently hear is “How often should I have my computer cleaned and checked?” Of course, this depends on how frequently you use your computer. If you are using it every day, then we recommend having a cleaning and checkup every few months. At the very least we recommend once per year. For those who purchase a new computer from us, we provide them with a complimentary cleaning and checkup at the end of their first year (via remote support). We will run a virus and malware scan, update hardware device drivers, remove unneeded files, check the health of the hard drive, and inspect the programs list to make sure there are no rogue programs. If you are interested in a cleaning and checkup like this, please call us. Customers with our Managed Service Agreements, this service is already included!
Managed Service Agreements
Computer Medics offers Managed Services to customers that need recurring service at a convenient monthly rate. Standard and Advanced Support is available for those looking for remote and on-site options. These both include remote monitoring and advanced threat protection. Everyone likes the peace of mind knowing we are protecting and maintaining their systems year-round.
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Letter from Mike Peterson
Fall is a time we look forward to. The weather is getting cooler and the air is getting dryer. Soon we will be getting ready for the Holidays and looking forward to all our friends and family that will visit our warm winter wonderland. Thank you for your continued support of our business. We look forward to serving you in 2019 and beyond.
Java Software Ending
The Java software will no longer be provided from Oracle as a standalone application around the time Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7 in 2020. If a program still needs Java to run, the software company will have to include it within their program. For example, Pogo Games or bank deposit applications will have to start including Java with the program itself and not as separate stand-alone download. The main reason for this is because people continue to use the main program but never update the Java download resulting in computer system vulnerabilities. These problems have led Oracle to change the way they distribute their software updates. Fortunately, Computer Medics has known about these exploits for years and has been proactively uninstalling Java. We only leave the software installed if you have an active program requiring it.
Flash Player Should Never Be Downloaded
Adobe Flash Player is a program that is used to stream audio and video. In the past, it was a stand-alone program that had to be downloaded and installed. Now the program code is built into the latest Internet Browsers such as Edge, Chrome, and Firefox. Only older outdated browsers such as Internet Explorer needed it. Therefore, you should never download any program that claims to be “Flash Player.” This is a common tactic that scammers employ to gain access to your computer and plant malware to steal your personal data or information. Incidentally, if you are still using Internet Explorer, you NEED to upgrade to a more modern browser. Please call us for assistance.
Windows 1803 Update
The Windows 1803 update is causing some Office programs (Word/Excel/PowerPoint/Outlook) to stop working. The fix is to reinstall the Office software. If we must reinstall Office, we are going to ask you for your license key or Microsoft account information. If you purchased the software from us, we may have recorded it. If you cannot find the license or account information, you will need to purchase a new copy. This is not all bad since most people experiencing this issue are using older versions, such as Office 2003, 2007 or 2010.
Managed Service Agreements
The most exciting thing to happen to Computer Medics since our inception 20 years ago, has been the introduction of Managed Service Agreements. We started with our business customers about 2 years ago and recently introduced them to our residential customers. The basic idea is that we manage your computer equipment so that you don't have to worry about annoying interruptions and costly repairs. These service contracts can provide remote support, on-site support, in-shop support, replacement parts, server and networking support, data backup, malware protection, proactive monitoring, and even the hardware itself. Our service plans start at $25/month/computer. Please call us if you have any questions or are interested in signing up.
Letter from Mike Peterson
Fall is finally upon us! It is great to connect with our seasonal residents again. We are looking forward to a prosperous winter season and beyond. We are continuing to sign people up to our Maintenance Service Agreements (MSA). People love the peace of mind of having a computer professional always monitoring their system. Windows 10 is dependent on frequent updates to add new features, correct problems, and make it more secure. We install these updates when you are not using the computer, so you can quickly get to business when you sit down at your computer and not have to wait minutes or hours for updates to finish installing. Additionally, our MSA’s come with Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection, which blocks unwanted Malware before you even see it pop up on your screen. But the best part of our MSA’s is the availability of a computer technician to remotely connect to your computer or come to your home or business to resolve any problem, large or small. Please call us for more details.
Announcing Phone, Tablet, and Laptop Screen Repair and Game Console Repair
To provide more services that our customers want and need, we are announcing phone, tablet, and laptop screen repair and game console repair. We have purchased the equipment and have been perfecting our skills and are now ready to offer this service to our customers. We offer a 1-year hardware warranty on all our parts! Please call us if you have any questions.
New Workshop Hours
Effective 11-01-2018, our new hours are Monday - Friday, 9AM - 5PM and Saturday by appointment. This does not mean we won’t be working after hours on your in-shop and on-site repairs. It just means we will not be regularly staffing the workshop after 5pm.
New Labor Rates
We are simplifying our labor rates from 9 options down to 4. We have implemented the following labor rates effective 11-01-2018 .
Standard: $99/hour, 5-7 business days
Expedited: $149/hour, 2-3 business days
Priority: $199/hour, 1 business day
Remote: $40/30-minutes, calls are queued