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Windows 8 – What’s it all about?

Windows 8 has now been available on new computers since October 2012 and the general feedback that I am hearing is not great.  Especially for Laptop and Desktop users as the Windows 8 platform was designed for the Touch Screen generation.

Windows_8

First off, users are greeted with a wall of Tiles that constantly change.  This is the part where if you have a touch screen, you can flip between pages of tiles to get fast access to your Apps.  However, if you are using a PC then it is like a web page that is too big for the screen and you have to find the scroll bars at the bottom to move the screen to the right.  Not very pretty.

Now I may be proved wrong here in the future but the main Apps that Laptop and Desktop users may use is the Mail, Contacts, Calendar and Internet Apps. 

Now from a personal point of view, what are the point of these Apps??  When you access them they only seem to give you half the usability of the full version you get when you go to your main Desktop.  Let’s take Mail for example.  The emails all come through ok – Great!  And you can see your Inbox etc – Great! But if you want to add a folder or move stuff around you come a cropper.  Now maybe I just haven’t used this App enough to find out the way to manage your Mail to the full but why is everything hidden in the Apps when on the full program you get full functionality.

Personally, if I owned a PC with Windows 8 I would either Change all the Tiles for ones that linked to the actual programs and not the Apps or format the PC and reinstall Windows 7.

Finding your way around Windows 8  WindowsStartButton

There’s no more lovely Start Button.  It’s all about the corners with Windows 8.  In the Tiles screen, move your cursor to the bottom right hand corner and a Menu appears for your Settings and Personalization.  This also is where you need to go to shut the PC down as the Power settings are hidden in here now.

The bottom left hand Tile should show a picture of your Desktop.  If you click this you will be taken to a more familiar screen that you used to see in previous Operating Systems.  Surely there will be a Start button here…

Nope! Remember it’s all about the corners. If you move your cursor to the bottom left corner of your screen, a small image of the Tiles will appear.  If you left click you will be taken to the Tiles screen.  If you right click here you will be greeted with a Menu which holds File Explorer and Control Panel.

Now File Explorer is where you would go if you used to click on “My Computer”.  This will show your C:/ Drive and any other Internal or External Drives you have attached to your PC.  Control Panel still works the same way as it was set out in Vista and 7.

Contatcs is another fun App that’ll get you fired up.  You open the App and see that there is nothing there so you want to add some addresses…  There’s no Add sign, and nothing to suggest you can add a contact here. But wait…  Let’s bring into the mix the “Right Click”.  With a swift click of the right mouse button and another menu appears at the bottom of the screen where you can click Add.

WHY DOES MICROSOFT THINK IT’S GREAT TO HIDE EVERYTHING?

Did you know that 1.5 Million Windows 8 users have downloaded Freeware to enable the Windows 7 Start button and remove the “Metro” Tile screen altogether?  Doesn’t this tell Microsoft something?  I know millions more people are probably using it quite happily but to make such a radical change when people are not even 50% moved over to touch screen is a mistake in my view.

So anyway, as time will tell, just like with Vista, we will see how the world copes with Windows 8, but if you are thinking about getting a new Desktop or Laptop, pause for a second and take the time to view You Tube clips and other forums about this new Operating System so that you are fully aware of what to expect and whether you will be ready for it.

If you need advice on Windows 8 or any other IT related subject you can contact me at www.easypcadvice.com via email or Live Chat.  I will be happy to help and assist where I can.

Many thanks for your time

Mark Cooper

Easy PC Advice

Anti-Virus Auto Renewal – Don’t Do It!!

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Ok, so I am seeing this time and time again and feel the need to share with you all about Auto Renewals for Anti-Virus software.

Let me ask you this, are you absolutely loaded and don’t really care how much you spend?  If this is NOT you then this could be exactly what you are doing when you click the handy button on your Anti-Virus account that says “auto renew”.

The Auto Renew button is designed to make the company money as they don’t make a lot of profit from selling the software itself.  What you are actually signing up to is purchasing the software for the next year at the retail price (which is normally the most expensive) and you don’t have to do a thing.  Very easy to do and I can see why people do it.

The point I am trying to make is that in most cases, you will probably either go into your local town or will buy items online at some point nearing 1 year from when you originally purchased your Anti-Virus software and this is the time to shop around.  Let me give you an example:

Norton Internet Security 2013.  This can currently be purchased (06/03/2013) for £49.99 from PC World.  The auto renewal for this is approx £49.99 so no real difference there.  However, did you know that by looking online you can knock nearly £20.00 off that price?

Norton_2013

I know £20.00 isn’t a massive amount these days but when you consider most people stick with the same Anti-Virus for many years, if they have Auto Renew switched on this could be an obvious saving of £100 over 5 years.

Also let’s understand the other benefit from getting your hands on the actual media.  This means that if your PC decides to dramatically crash at any time and you call out some lovely IT guys just like us at Easy PC Advice, then you don’t need to start looking for that password you setup 5 years ago and now cannot remember which now requires you to go through an extreme procedure of providing all your details to the company to get your download back.

If you have Anti-Virus on your PC but don’t remember renewing it for a long time, now might be the best time to check to see if you have been paying over the odds for your security.

For more information on purchasing Anti-Virus software at a permanently low cost, check out our online store and see how you can save.

Many thanks

Easy PC Advice

Email Clients vs Webmail

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A few years back the options for receiving email were small and Microsoft took a large chunk of that with their Outlook and Outlook Express Clients.  Now it’s all change and there are a lot more options available.

You Have Mail

Web mail is a large growing trend as having the power to receive your emails from any computer or mobile device gets more and more important.  Programs like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo are some of the big names out there.

In this Blog we come up against another related question of what to use in POP3 vs IMAP.  More on that in a bit.

There is one significant bonus about using Web mail that stands out a mile and that’s the fact that it is Web-based so you can login to you email from any PC in the world as the emails are stored on a central server.  Great – Are there any downsides??  Not many but the one downside with Web mail if you are a heavy user of it is that you are probably limited on how many emails can be stored whereas Outlook for example saves the emails to your PC and therefore the storage limit is limitless or at least to the size of your Hard Drive which are normally pretty large these days.

I often get asked about what people should use and to be honest the answer is dependant on your situation and lifestyle.

If you travel a lot then my suggestion would be to go for Web mail as this can be easily integrated with IMAP which means you can get your email on several different devices at once, for example, a Desktop, your Laptop and your Mobile Phone.  All synced together.

As I said above, with IMAP your emails are stored on a central server so when you delete an email it is deleted from all your devices as they are all viewing the same thing.

Here’s an analogy for you that may explain this better:

Let’s say you and 2 friends can all see a tree that has 3 leafs on it.  If one of your friends pulled a leaf off the tree you would all only see a tree with 2 leafs.  In this case the tree is the server, the leafs are the emails and you and your friends are the devices.  This is how IMAP works.

POP3 is slightly different where using the analogy above your friend would remove a leaf and keep it to view later so you and your other friend would not get to see the leaf (email).  This is more for the person who uses one computer at home and wants their email downloaded when they click Send/Receive.

If you need more detail or a better analogy for this then please do comment and I’ll come up with something else.

At Easy PC Advice we can advise you for FREE and setup your email accounts to suit you.

www.easypcadvice.com

Local or Remote PC Advice?

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Technology is moving very fast these days and the ability to control someone else’s computer form another location is readily available.

So this poses the question, do you pay for someone to come out to you home to repair your PC Problems or do you get someone to do this remotely?

Let’s take a look at the positives of Remote Support first:

  1. The company cannot charge you a call-out fee as there is no call-out
  2. You can normally get the help you need instantly as there is no travel involved

What about the negatives:

  1. No Face-to-Face contact
  2. No real customer service from a phone
  3. If something major happens would you get the same person again or do you have to go through constant “Press 1 for this” etc?
  4. Remote Support cannot help with Hardware failures or internet failures.
  5. Do you really know who is tampering with your PC?

On the flip side, there is the Local I.T. Support company.  Let’s take Easy PC Advice for example.

  1. We give FREE advice over the phone.
  2. We can book you in up until 9pm weekdays to come to your home.
  3. Like most Local PC Support companies we can fix all types of computer problems so you only have to get to know one company.
  4. We do charge a small call-out fee but we do not have premium rate call centre’s which an hour can remove £50-£60 from your wallet or purse.
  5. Regular customers’ don’t even pay a call-out so the rates are even cheaper.
  6. Our rates are clearly displayed on our site so you know what you will be spending.
  7. If you need to drop a laptop off to us you can bring it to us yourself without fear of wondering where you are sending it off to.
  8. We also do Remote Support but at least you know we are local in case you need us to attend your home.

What are the negatives then of Local Support?

Well, to be honest, if you want to make sure the job gets done correctly, we always advise to go for local support so that if you are not happy with anything you can discuss this in person with the technician.  If they are a reputable company then they won’t have a problem either explaining what they have done or carrying out the service to your specifications.

We have had a lot of comments from our customers’ that we always love to share on our website.  See our Testimonials Page for feedback and if you need Local I.T. Support and live in or around the Watford area, give us a call.

We are always happy to help.

Don’t get scammed

 

At Easy PC Advice we get a lot of different issues sent for us to resolve but an increasing amount of calls are coming in from customers who are worried that their PC has been hijacked.  What do you mean by “hijacked” you say!

Hijacked is a term used when someone has taken over your PC without your consent.  A lot of the time this is done by accidentally clicking on the wrong link on a website and a pop-up appears that looks convincing and inadvertently you have added a new Toolbar or downloaded a piece of software that you didn’t want.  Sometimes these toolbars and pieces of software are nothing more than just annoying, but other times these pieces of software have one purpose in mind and that is to send data from your computer to an unknown server where the data is gathered and a profile is created on you.  This is called Spyware.

Another more worrying side to this is that I have heard from customers who have actually received a call from who they were told is Microsoft, informing them that their Windows licence has expired and that they need to pay £70.00 for one year or £300.00 for five years subscription.  STOP!!

First of all, Microsoft doesn’t make calls to people who have purchased a copy of Windows and I may be right in saying that Microsoft doesn’t make calls at all… and why should they, you’ve purchased your copy of Windows with your computer.  There is no annual subscription due at all.

These people are trying to con you into paying for a subscription that doesn’t exist.  Unfortunately one of my customers did go along with this and to be honest they did ask questions like “How do I know you are from Microsoft?” and the scammers sent them an email with the Microsoft logo in it making it look very official.  Getting a logo from another companies website can be done in 2 clicks so this means nothing.

The scammers did gain access to the computer and the customer informed me they did install something but he wasn’t sure what it was.  The customer also paid the £70.00 but as soon as they put the phone down they felt that something wasn’t right and immediately contacted the Bank to stop all transactions.  They also set the computer to return to a previous setting which probably saved their accounts as this removed the software that had been installed.

Easy PC Advice ran our Spyware Tool and found a few Tracking files that are not normally found on a standard pc and these were removed.  The customer now has peace of mind that their computer is safe again but this has obviously cost them money.

Things you can do:

  1. Ask the company for a telephone number you can call them back on as you are busy. If they don’t provide a number or get pushy, put the phone down.  If they provide a number type this into Google as this will normally show up any sales numbers which you can look at before thinking about calling back.
  2. Never give out your password for your computer to anyone.  There is no reason why anyone should want this – Protect it.
  3. Remember that Microsoft will not call you as you have already paid for your computer with Windows on it or you have bought your CD from a store (which means you have already paid for the licence).
  4. Don’t let people who are calling you access your PC.  The only time access may be needed is if you have a problem and you have called a reputable company to sort the issue out.

Above all

  • If you are not sure, put the phone down.  
  • Be careful of what you click on when on the Internet
  • Don’t give your password to anyone

Any questions then give us a call and we are happy to advise for FREE. 

Be safe.

24/07/2012

Adding an extra section on this post about the Metropolitan Police Scam that may affect your PC.

There is a scam where you click on an unsuspecting link and this downloads a file to your PC (without you knowing) that when finished, runs and locks your PC with only one screen viewable.  It is a screen that says your PC has been carrying out unauthorized actions and has been locked by the Met Police.  To unlock it you must put in your bank details and pay £100.00 to unlock it.

SCAM, SCAM, SCAM.

Don’t pay it, just call your local IT person who will be able to get the file removed.  If you pay the money the scammers won’t necessarily unlock your PC, they will just ask for more money until they have cleared you out (as most people rely on their PC a lot).

Please be warned as I am seeing people who have paid the Scammers and then only after this do they contact their local IT person.

Get Connected – Home Networking Options

Networking Options

Ahh yes, lots of you have been there when your children are growing up and you get “Mum, Dad, I need a computer!”.  The brain starts processing this request by firstly saying “How much is that going to cost?” and then secondly “Where are we going to put it?”.

Missing out the cost part, the location of where you put your childs computer is very important.

Many parents these days are getting a lot wiser to computers and in particular the way their children interact with them and other people online.  We obviously want to make sure our children are safe in what they are doing so…

…Our advice is to firstly always put your childs computer in a family room i.e. the lounge or dining area.  Basically, somewhere where you can keep an eye on what’s going on.  This is not a sign of distrust against your child, this is like an invisible Firewall that your child needs to get through to help protect them and their details. 

So, you’ve decided to put the computer let’s say in the lounge – great!  How do I get connection from the broadband router which has been placed in another room to here so that your child can get online? 

A few of the most common options spring to mind that you probably have heard of before:- 

1) Cables running from the broadband router to the lounge.

2) Wireless – a card fitted to your Desktop or Laptop (normally included in Laptops these days) so no wires are needed. 

Let’s look on the practical side then.  You’re not going to be running cables down the stairs or round door pillars on a permanent basis and unless you want to start drilling holes through walls or are in the middle of an extension being built where you can tell your builder to add this when building it, wireless seems to be the answer.  But is it?

Laptop

Wireless technology today is massive.  As I said above, almost all laptops come with a wireless card in them these days and you can get Wireless (Wifi) in hotels, coffee shops and restaurants etc.  But the idea in these places is that someone can connect and pick up their emails or write a well written Blog let’s say…!! 

But what about if you need more Bandwidth Intensive Applications running or need to download large files where the standard 54Mbps just isn’t cutting the mustard?  Where do you turn?  Cables running down the stairs or excavating your walls starts to make you feel rather uncomfortable to get the speeds your Broadband Supplier promised you when you signed up to their unbelievably long contract.

At Easy PC Advice we have an alternative Networking Option that you may be interested in…

You could say it’s a bit of both wired and wireless but without all the drilling and mess, plus from the cable side of things there would only be a very short cable to your PC that doesn’t spread all over the floor.  Another plus is that instead of the standard Wifi Speeds of 54Mbps, you could now get 200Mbps which is HD quality streaming speeds.

So not only is this option great for your childs needs but also great for your needs in case you want to stream videos or watch TV programmes online.  For the more techy people, if you have an Internet Ready TV, this option is perfect.

Best of all… your home is already setup to use it straight away as it uses your current electricity circuits to carry data and it’s not that expensive as we are currently offering the adaptors with a discount so it is only £49.99 to get you connected.

If you are interested in finding more out about this alternative for the home then we look forward to hearing from you and you can see the rest of our services at our website. www.easypcadvice.com

Who really needs I.T. Support?

Who really needs I.T. Support?

So here is the question, who really needs I.T. Support?

Well, to state the obvious, everybody who owns a computer.  We take our computers for granted these days and day in, day out they get abused with all the downloading and new files that get created and all the time your poor Hard Drive is sucking it all in to keep you happy. BUT!

Like any other machine, your Hard Drive is as vunerable to failure as any machine you have ever owned whether that is a Car, a Washing Machine or the power button on your TV remote control.  The funny thing is that in most cases your computer is showing you signs of distress before any failue even happens, but do people take any notice? 60% of people don’t.

People complain that their PC’s are getting slower or that they have a warning come up on their screens daily and how annoying it is to have to keep clicking OK to make it go away…

PEOPLE…This is your warning sign!!

So what do you do about all this as it surely can only be expensive to get anything fixed…Right?? Nope, not if you contact the right people first time.

Easy PC Advice caters for exactly these problems and we can fix your computer issues up until 9pm on weekdays and 5pm weekends.

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We currently have an offer for an annual service and one call-out for your PC for just £59.99.  What do I get for that you ask?

Rather a lot actually…
* We check the Registry for broken or unused links and repair it.
* We defragment the Hard Drive which will speed up your PC.
* We check for Spyware and remove as needed.
* We provide more space on your Hard Drive.
* We carry out a File System Clean-Up and remove all unused Temp files.
* We remove Adware.
* We give advice on Backup Solutions and Best Practices.
* We give you 1 call-out for one PC per year FREE.

All that for just £59.99 which is worth £89.99 (some companies charge this per hour) so you are saving £30 and getting peace of mind that your PC has been checked over by a local trusted company.

Now, to really appreciate the delicacy and finess of a Hard Drive you really need to open one up one day.  The next time you have an old computer that you are going to throw out, remove the Hard Drive and open it up.  You’re an IT Geek I hear you say so why should we start tearing out computers open?

Never throw out an old computer without destroying the Hard Drive first.  One-in-10 second-hand hard drives still contain the original user’s personal information, suggests an investigation by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).  It is important that people do everything they can to stop their details from falling into the wrong hands.

Think of all the things you’ve downloaded or password details that you’ve saved on your pc at some point, or worse, your downloaded bank statements.  Perfect information for someone else to use, so a great opportunity for you to have a look at your own Hard Drive… and then smash it up before dropping it in the bin!!

In summary, don’t take your Hard drive for granted as you need to look after the one thing that is keeping all your personal information safe for you.  Get some I.T. Support at the right price.  If you are unsure still, see our testimonials page and see how happy our customers are.

www.easypcadvice.com