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Chronic Virus Problems and How to Stop Them for Good

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Why do I keep getting viruses? Over and over? Why am I getting viruses and adware even though I have protection? In this article, we will talk about how to stop getting viruses on your system and how to maintain secure protection in the future.

 Why do I keep getting viruses?

There are 2 ways you can continue getting viruses after removal services have been performed and even though you have protection. The most common reason is that your system isn’t secure enough and you aren’t avoiding dangerous websites while you are online. Simply having Norton installed will not protect you when you are visiting dangerous websites. Dangerous websites include adult sites, pirating sites (like torrents and illegal streaming) and “free download” websites. You can read more about these dangerous sites at a previous blog covering where viruses come from.

The other reason – which is far less likely – is that your computer repairman or company isn’t removing the malware installed in your system thoroughly enough. While most companies do a great job at removing all threats, things can get overlooked. In addition to removing viruses, you also need to look for rootkits, which are intense viruses that imbed themselves deep into your system. Rootkits are designed to be hidden far away and often times their purpose is to reinstall malicious software and files once they’ve been removed or quarantined.

How can I get EVERYTHING removed?

Bring your system back to your local computer repair shop and have them do a full malware removal. Most businesses are equipped with the ability to remove rootkits, but if they aren’t, find someone who can and let them do the work. Also ensure all adware is removed from your browsers. (They should be doing this anyway)

Be aware, 99.9% of malware can be removed or quarantined without reinstalling Windows or reformatting your hard-drive – don’t let a PC repair shop tell you otherwise.

Now, how do I protect myself for good?

Everybody prefers different virus protection software, and their reasons are valid. The beauty of OUR software recommendation is that it works alongside your current anti-virus software. No removal of old software necessary!

We recommend Malwarebytes Pro. It’s $25 for a life-time license – meaning no yearly or monthly charges – and it doesn’t slow your PC down. You can learn more about Malwarebytes Pro here, but essentially, it’s great and it’s cheap

You can buy Malwarebytes Pro for only $25 for a lifetime license and you’ll never pay any more to keep your protection active.

You also should be using Google Chrome if you’re having chronic virus infections.

“The Action Plan”:

  1. Get your system cleaned out by a computer shop
  2. Get Malwarebytes Pro
  3. Get free anti-virus protection (like MSE)
  4. Get Google Chrome
  5. Stay away from malicious sites
  6. Email us any questions or post them below.

Where Do Viruses and Malware Come From?

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Viruses and malware are becoming more prevalent, and most of the time it’s impossible to tell where they came from. In this article we will discuss where viruses, malware, adware and spyware usually come from, and maybe shed some light on how to reduce your exposure to these malicious programs.

The only way to make a connection between a piece of malware and where it came from is if the malware in displayed in your “Add/Remove Programs” list. (Most of the time they aren’t.) You can sort by installation date, and find out what programs were installed the same day. Otherwise, we can only offer suggestions on where we’ve found these malware threats, and how to avoid them.

First and foremost, get a good anti-malware and anti-virus program like Malwarebytes Pro and AVG, or even Microsoft Security Essentials. If you think you’ve got a virus already, you should call a local computer repair company to get it taken care of.

Risky Web Pages:

These websites CAN be safe, but typically have malicious intentions behind them, sometimes intentionally, and other times they can setup “traps” to get you to accept a download.

  • Illegal downloading site (like Torrents and free MP3 sites)
  • Illegal streaming sites (like trying to watch football on Thursdays)
  • Adult sites
  • Free game sites from non-reputable companies
    • Stick to popular game sites like Popcap or Nickelodeon

Really bad viruses, like the FBI virus – or other variations of ransomware – often come from these pages, as well, and can cause serious setbacks, cost you money for repairs, and even damage your personal data.

The Piggy-Back:

There’s lots of free software out there for download, but sometimes they can come “bundled” with other software that places ads, popups and other weird things on websites across the web. Coupon printers, media players, and file converters are common perpetrators of adware piggybacking.

Updates Needed… Again?

Sometimes malicious websites place fake pop-ups for programs you often use like Adobe Reader, Java, or Flash player saying you need to update them. Sometimes these notifications show up in the bottom-right hand of the screen, so it really looks like it’s from your computer. The truth is, the website has no idea whether you have an outdated version of any software, and they are just trying to get you click their link – giving them the access to your PC that they want.

Bottom line is to be vigilant, and avoid malicious pages. Check out our previous posts regarding internet browsers to get even more insight on internet security.

3 Simple Ways to Speed Up Windows Vista

Windows Vista

So you have Windows Vista still? It’s still ~$100 to upgrade to Windows 7, and Windows 8 isn’t all that great, so it may be a better idea for you to speed up your Vista system a bit and hold off the upgrade.

Now, these steps won’t do the things a good tune-up can, but it can still save you some money and mild annoyance waiting for files to open.

If you are interested in getting a complete system tune-up, please contact us. We can also upgrade your PC to Windows 7 at a very reasonable price. Read more about our computer repair Temecula services today.


Here are 3 simply ways to speed up your Vista computer:

1. Turn off Aero Effects

Aero effects are visual effects that are automatically turned on with most computers, and it can make your windows and start menu look pretty, but it also slows your system down considerably.

How to turn off Aero effects:

  1. Right click on your Desktop and click “Personalize”
  2. Scroll down and find “Basic and High Contrast Themes”
  3. Click “Windows 7 Basic”

You’ll have to reapply your favorite desktop, but the other visual effects that Aero uses are now off.

2. Take advantage of ReadyBoost

ReadyBoost is a Windows tool that comes with Vista and can be used to speed up your system, especially if you have <2GB of system memory. Essentially, ReadyBoost uses flash memory cards or USB flash drives as RAM (Random Access Memory) to speed up your computer.

How to Use ReadyBoost:

  1. Insert a memory card or USB drive with 1GB or more of available space.
  2. Once the AutoPlay dialog box pops up, click “speed up your computer using ReadyBoost”.
  3. You can allow a certain amount of memory allotted for ReadyBoost, but we recommend clicking “Dedcate this device to ReadyBoost” to make is fast and simple.

3. Start Updating Manually

Vista has been around for many years, and it’s into Service Pack 2, which means it’s pretty stable and secure. We would never recommend to not update your computer at all, but having updates run automatically can cause your computer to randomly slow down and can also cause start-ups and shut-downs to take forever.

Instead, update your computer manually on a schedule of your choice – we recommend twice a month.

How to Turn OFF Automatic Updates:

  1. Open your start menu and type “automatic updating” then click enter.
  2. On the drop-down menu, select “Never check for updates”
  3. Click OK

How to Run Windows Update Manually:

  1. Open your start menu and type “update windows” then click enter.
  2. Click the “Check for updates” button
  3. Once the check is complete, click the button to install and download updates.

What Internet Browser Should I Use?

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As a local small business owner who provides computer repair in Temecula, CA, we get asked very often, “What browser should I use?”

In short – Google Chrome.

Download Google Chrome now.

 

Why?

It’s Faster.

Chrome is noticeable faster, especially when starting it for the first time. Test it for yourself – highlight an Internet Explorer icon and a Google Chrome icon and hit enter. See which one opens faster – it’s probably Chrome, and by a long shot, too.

Chrome is inherently built to be faster to open, and to load pages. Chrome uses your system’s resources more effectively than other browsers. This means it runs faster and keeps your other programs running faster, too.

It’s Safer.

Internet Explorer is notorious for allowing things to be downloaded and run without you knowing it – which is how you get bad viruses. Tricky webpages will often try to confuse you into thinking you’re accepting an update for something like Java or Adobe, and Chrome deals with these better by showing you the options in Chrome’s words – not the webpages.

Google keeps a database of known dangerous websites that are loaded with malware, and it blocks you from going to those sites before getting there. This helps you decide whether or not the site your headed to is reputable or not.

It’s Hip.

Time for the nerdy part – Chrome uses the latest HTML and related coding that IE sometimes lacks. This means that sometimes websites will work in Chrome that won’t work in IE. This also means pages will appear differently in these alternate browsers.

What about Firefox?

Firefox is great. It’s second only to Google Chrome and is still a better choice that Internet Explorer. If you’re used to Firefox already, it’s really not necessary to make the move to Chrome, although we do recommend it, still.

We hope this helps, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

Outbreak: Ransomware Infections

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The FBI virus has been around for quite a while now, and we’ve mastered the art of removing the virus without a chance of the infection returning. It’s a complicated process but there is news on the FBI virus and related malware: It’s getting worse.

With more and more ransomware infections coming through our door, we are noticing that they are becoming more and more difficult to clean. Our normal quarantine and removal methods are getting overtaken and backdoor removal methods are being thwarted.

Fear not, though… We haven’t met an infection we couldn’t cure, and that means curing the virus without touching your software or data. These new infections are no different… If you do come down with an infected system, give us a call and we’ll get you back up and running in no time!

Bottom Line:

Protect yourself! Get Anti-Virus software, preferably AVG, and keep it updated. We also recommend running Malwarebytes every 2 weeks (or more, depending on your PC usage) and keeping it updated, as well. Don’t use Internet Explorer or Firefox, either… use Chrome. It’s VERY safe and fast.

Be careful of malicious sites, also. For example, make sure when your clicking a link in an email, it’s to a reputable page, and watch out for pseudo-sites.

e.g. foxnewsc.om vs foxnews.com

Notice the first address is not legitimate, and tricksters often hide their web addresses like this.

How to Download Any Song for Free – Safely!

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In this article, you will learn how to download any song free! We utilize 2 websites to get the MP3 file, which can be imported into any music player, including iTunes.

As a local computer repair business in Temecula we often get asked if we know good ways to download songs for free online. And yes! We do. And it’s safe! There may seem like a lot of steps but it’s very, very easy…

Here’s How:

1. Visit YouTube.

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2. Search for the song you want to download.

3. Find a good video with quality audio. (Usually the official music video is perfect.)

4. Copy the website address. (Ctrl+C)

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5. Visit VidtoMp3.

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6. Paste the website address (Ctrl+V) and click “Download”.

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7. After loading, click the link to get your download link.

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8. Finally, click “Download MP3″.

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Done!

Free and easy! You’re welcome :)

Best Free Anti-Virus Software

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What is the best anti-virus program? What anti-virus do you recommend? Which do you not recommend? We get these questions many times per week.

As a local computer repair company, we’ve run across many anti-virus programs, most of which claim to be free. Most of our customers prefer free software but most think they will get a less secure anti-virus program if they don’t commit to a monthly or yearly subscription. This is not true.

The only truly free anti-virus program we trust to protect our customers and even our own PCs is AVG Free. AVG Free has never let a threat get past on our systems, and has corrected virus disasters where Avanti, Avast and even Norton have failed. AVG uses little resources while running, the scans are fast, and the extra tools are invaluable.

A good anti-virus program can keep your computer up to speed and can protect you from even the most deadly viruses out there. AVG Free protects from spyware, malware, adware, and of course viruses.

Keep in mind we have no affiliation or commission agreement with AVG – this is not a biased advertisement. We honestly have been using AVG for years and have NEVER had an issue with it.

So to answer the question of “What is the best free anti-virus?”. The answer is AVG Free.

6 Ways to Increase Your Speed and Avoid Buying a New Computer

Old Computer

Computers are constantly being made better and better and similar to when you buy a car, your computer loses it’s value very quickly. Within months after you buy a new computer, the store you bought it from can stop carrying it, replacing it with the latest and greatest.

Buying a brand new computer will obviously solve the problem, but a better idea is to ensure your computer is cleaned out, running efficiently, and upgraded. Local computer repair companies call these services “tune-ups” and they are actually very effective. In this list we will discuss 6 easy ways to increase your computers speed and push back your new computer purchase by a long ways.

Hey you may even be able to dust off that old system (literally) and use it as a second computer for picture storage, kid’s homework, or maybe just another PC around the house to browse the internet with.

1. Dust it Off – Especially Laptops!dusty-case

This simple task can work wonders. The reason why is because dust blocks air-flow which means
your computer heats up very quickly and cannot be cooled efficiently. Overheated components slow your computer down considerably, and can even lead to system crashes and hardware failures.

Open your tower or laptop and blow the dust away with a can of compressed air that can be purchased at any big box retail store, or you can use a shop-vac with a blow feature. You’ll be surprised at how much dust your system has built up over the years. We recommend doing your dusting outside…

2. Clean it Out

If your computer is old, chances are your hard-drive has a relatively low capacity… Which also means that it’s probably pretty full… Full or nearly full hard-drives increase boot-up times, seek times, load times, heck just about ANY time it takes to do anything! The reason why is simple – the more on your drive, the more it has to search to find what it’s looking for.I tell my customers to keep their hard-drive under 50% capacity for best results.

  • Uninstall old games
  • Uninstall old programs you don’t use
  • Delete duplicate photos – Users often upload the same set of photos off your camera every time you plug it in (this happens a lot)
  • Transfer photos & videos to an external hard-drive, flash-drive or even CDs
  • Run a third-party program like AVG PC Tune-Up to remove unnecessary files
  • Install a new, or another hard-drive (see #5)

3. You Don’t NEED Toolbarstoolbars

Almost everyone has them, whether it’s a search toolbar, a coupon toolbar, or a special recipe toolbar, and nobody needs them. They are the supposedly “helpful” sections that get added to your browser right below the address bar. Toolbars in your browser are almost always useless and almost always slow down your browser load times.

Delete them! First delete them trough Windows Control Panel and if they aren’t listed there, find the programs in your hard-drive and destroy them yourself.

4. Scan for Viruses/Malware

It may not look like you have one but there is always a possibility you have some kind of virus or malware, spyware, adware, etc. that hinders your computer’s performance, especially online.

Do a simple virus scan after you update your virus software to eliminate any potential issues. We recommend AVG Anti-Virus 2013. We also recommend using Spybot Search and Destroy to get rid of any adware or spyware that may be hindering your system performance.

5. Upgrade, Upgrade, Upgrade!Ram-VISIPRO-2

Yes, upgrade! Upgrade that old thing! It’s never very expensive and the results can be pretty potent. Start with memory, then try the hard-drive, and even your video card if you play games or watch videos.

Try doubling your system memory and you will be very impressed at how much faster your system is and how much smoother you can multitask. You CAN have 2 hard-drives and no, it’s not complicated. Install a second 250GB or better drive and you’ll never need another place to store photos, videos, music, etc. A video card is a great idea if the computer is used for watching videos or playing 3D games.

If you don’t feel comfortable completing hardware upgrades yourself, a local computer repair company can do the work for you for a modest charge.

6. Improve Your Boot-Up Time… Drastically

There are some programs on your computer, perhaps many, that are set to automatically start when you boot up WIndows. This is the leading cause of slow bootup on systems we see.

To edit the programs that are allowed to run immediately at startup, take the following steps:

Windows XP:

  • Open your Start Menu
  • Click Run…
  • Type “msconfig” and hit OK
  • Click the tab labeled “startup”
  • This window displays a list of programs that run when your computer starts. Begin un-checking programs you don’t need started immediately, which is usually most – if not all.
  • Restart your system and behold!

Windows 7/Vista:

  • Open your Start Menu
  • Type “msconfig” and hit Enter. (You should be typing into the search box at the bottom of the Start Menu.)
  • Click the tab labeled “startup”
  • This window displays a list of programs that run when your computer starts. Begin un-checking programs you don’t need started immediately, which is usually most – if not all.
  • Restart your system and behold!

We hope you saw some improvements using these tips and we will continue to provide more tips and tricks on maintaining your PC and keeping things run smoothly.

If you live in the Temecula area and are interested in any hardware upgrades or a system tune-up, please contact us with any questions or to set up an appointment.