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Chronic Virus Problems and How to Stop Them for Good

Woman-angry-at-computer

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.

Should I Build My Own Computer or Buy a New One?

customComputer

Should I build my own computer? Is it worth building a computer yourself? Or should I just buy a new one from the store? The answer to this question varies from person to person, mainly because of cost versus what the computer is being used for. Although we specialize in computer repair, our roots lie in building high-end custom computer systems and we still get asked fairly often about building a custom computer.

We’ve found it is definitely worthwhile to build a custom system if you are using a computer to play video games, edit photos or videos, or do any other type of high-intensity work. If you just want a computer to surf the web, read emails, or watch YouTube videos, then building a custom PC is likely not worth the money. (Unless you just want to try it out for fun.) The reason is because these types of PCs are built by the truckload and sold at very low prices at retail stores. If you have a copy of Windows already, then it may still be worthwhile to build a PC, but otherwise, just head down to your local electronics store and pick up their cheapest system.

The real value comes in when building a computer meant to be a gaming rig, or used for any type of design. Buying these types of high-end computers at retail are tremendously expensive and most systems are ridiculously overpriced. Building a custom computer provides you with more value, options and allows to you get exactly what you need, with nothing over the top. Another important aspect of building a custom system versus buying a new one is the lack of expandability of retail-bought PCs. Systems made by big companies like HP and Dell often have little, to no room for expansion, which means if you ever wanted to upgrade your system in the future, you will likely run into compatibility issues.

Should I build my own computer?

Long story short:

If you’re looking for a high-end PC: Yes. Why?

  • Saves you money
  • Future-proof expandability
  • Built around your needs
  • Nothing you don’t need
  • Custom size, shape, color, etc.

If you want an entry-level budget system (~$300): No. Why?

  • They’re cheaper at the store
  • Windows costs ~$100 alone

What’s the Best Laptop Cooling Pad?

laptop-cooler

What’s the best laptop cooling pad? What’s the best way to cool my laptop? In this article we will talk about buying a new cooling pad. We will explore the best cooling pads on the market and why they stand above the rest.

We’ve been in the computer repair business for over a decade, and we can’t stress enough how important cooling pads are. We’ve seen and used lots of them, and learned which ones provide the best cooling, at the best cost, with the least amount of noise. When our customers ask us which to buy, this is what we tell them:


 

Good:

EVERCOOL Aluminum Notebook Cooling Pad Model NP-301

EVERCOOL Aluminum Notebook Cooling Pad Model NP-301

EVERCOOL Model NP-301

~$20 from Newegg

Features:

  • Storage Drawers
  • Dual Cooling Fans
  • USB Ports
  • Aluminum

Better:

Cooler Master NotePal X-Lite II

Cooler Master NotePal X-Lite II

Cooler Master NotePal X-Lite II

~$20 from Newegg

Features:

  • Large 140mm Fan
  • Quiet Operation
  • Ultra-thin design
  • Fan control
  • 2 USB ports

Best:

ZALMAN Ultra Quiet Notebook Cooler Model ZM-NC3

ZALMAN Ultra Quiet Notebook Cooler Model ZM-NC3

ZALMAN Ultra Quiet Model ZM-NC3

~$18 From Amazon

Features:

  • Perfect for 12″-17″ laptops
  • Lightweight
  • Giant, silent cooling fan
  • Cable management
  • Sleek and thin

Here at $69 PC Repair, we use the ZM-NC3 cooler with our own personal laptops and also for our kid’s laptop. They have stood up well for years and provide tremendous cooling for any laptop. It’s virtually silent when plugged in, and at less than 20 bucks, you can’t go wrong.

Learn more about our computer services, or contact us with any questions.

What Internet Browser Should I Use?

browsers

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

20121102_bh2-firewall-ransomware-screen1

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 Wipe a Hard Drive

How to Wipe a Hard Drive

There are many reasons you may want to learn how to wipe a hard drive, but regardless of the reason, it’s an quick and easy process! This method also applies to flash drives and external hard drives and takes only minutes – sometimes even seconds – to complete.

As a local computer repair company who provides computer repair in Temecula, we often have to wipe a hard drive when we refurbish computers or part-out broken systems. If you don’t feel comfortable wiping a drive yourself or need assistance with reformatting your Windows PC, please contact us to get your free diagnosis today!

WARNING: This process will erase all information on the drive AND make it unrecoverable except by a professional!!!

Here’s How:

  1. Plug in the hard drive or flash drive you want to erase completely. (You can do this by installing the drive internally or through a drive docking station.)
  2. Open “My Computer” through the Start menu.

    My Computer (Example in Windows 7)

    “My Computer” (Example in Windows 7)

  3. Right click the drive you want to wipe out and click “Format…”.

    Right Click > Format

    Right Click > Format

  4. Click “Restore Device Defaults” then make sure “Quick Format” is checked then click “Start”.

    The "Format..." Windows

    The “Format…” Window

  5. Once the process is complete… The drive is empty!

That’s it – thanks for reading!

What other things would you like to learn about from our blog? E-mail us at info@69pcrepair.com and let us know!

How to Browse the Internet Securely

browser-security

In this article, we’ll talk about how to browse the internet securely and protect yourself from online threats in the most efficient way possible. As a company who does computer repair in Temecula, CA, we’ve found some of the best ways to safeguard your system.

In today’s age of viruses, malware, identity theft, ad-ware  and spyware, it’s more important than ever to maintain a secure system, especially while browsing the internet.

Anti-Virus

Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people bring us computers with bad viruses because they didn’t have virus protection. The first thing you should install on your new computer is anti-virus software. There are great free anti-virus programs out there that offer top-of-the-line protection.

A Safer Browser

Your browser has a lot to do with security, from maintaining an updated list of malicious websites, to automatically scanning downloads for viruses. We recommend Google Chrome as a web browser because it is fast, secure and reliable. Internet Explorer really can’t compete, and as has fallen behind even faster in recent years.

harmful-site

Google Chrome Webpage Blocker

The image above is exactly what you would see if you accidentally sent your browser to a malicious site. Chrome has a database that blocks any site if it’s reported as being malicious.

If your accustomed to Mozilla Firefox, like many PC users, Chrome is very similar in design and usability. If you don’t feel comfortable using Chrome, Firefox is still a strong alternative.

Removing Those TOOLBARS

toolbarsToolbars on your browser may seem helpful, and some actually are, but many are completely malicious. They often get installed with other programs and piggy-back onto your system without you even realizing it. If you like using a toolbar, we recommend the toolbar that comes with AVG Anti-Virus because it doesn’t slow you down, and also helps to keep you safe online.

If you have toolbars you want to remove, you should first uninstall them from your system through “Add/Remove Programs” then make sure they are uninstalled from your browser by finding your browser’s add-on settings and removing them.

Read What Your Installing

This could be one of the most important topics to touch on. We know it’s customary to quickly click “Next” and “Agree” over and over when installing a program until the installation starts. You should always brush over the page you are agreeing to because some programs piggy-back other unwanted programs that can compromise security, add unwanted browser toolbars, and even slow your computer down.

Have you ever asked yourself: “When did I install this?”

It probably got installed WITH something else you actually wanted, and you didn’t realize it was being installed. Often times, programs called “Downloaders” are the culprits of these unwanted installations.

Conclusion

Overall, being aware and vigilant will keep you secure, but should you ever have issues, call a local computer repair company and they can help you out.

In our next post, we will talk about shopping securely online.

Best Free Anti-Virus Software

avg_logo

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.

Viruses on Your Smartphone or Tablet

android_virus

As a popular Temecula computer repair company, we’ve had some customers who use smartphones and tablets ask us about using Anti-Virus on their mobile devices. If a device is connected to the internet, there is a risk for viruses, spyware, and malware. The threat may not be as prevalent as it is for PCs, but it’s only a matter of time before thieves and hackers develop programs that could wipe out your phone or steal personal information.

According to a Land of Droid blog, cyber thieves are even starting to hide malicious software that automatically sends text messages to contacts in your phone, similar to the spam emails that are so prevalent nowadays.

It is important to protect yourself and your mobile device, and we recommend doing so with AVG Mobile Anti-Virus. This FREE app can be found in the Google Play store and also the App Store. The app runs seamlessly and you won’t even notice it’s there. It actively protects your device from downloaded threats by scanning downloads and text messages and also allows you to manually scan your device for malware.

It also includes an invaluable tool – the lost phone GPS tracking and remote locking feature. This FREE feature gives you the ability to remotely lock down your tablet or smartphone and enable GPS tracking in the case of a lost or stolen device.

We give the AVG Mobile Anti-Virus App 5 Stars, and we even use it on our mobile devices!

We also recommend AVG Free for your PC security needs.

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.