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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

Where Do Viruses and Malware Come From?

no-internet

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?

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.

New Malware Targeting Small Businesses: CryptoLocker

The ransom from CryptoLocker

There’s a new virus out there that is directly targeting small businesses and organizations. It’s called CryptoLocker and its bark is just as bad as its bite – meaning everything it tells you is true.

What is CryptoLocker?

CryptoLocker is a piece of very harmful malware that works by essentially jumbling up the data for your personal files then demanding a ransom of $300 to “unjumble” them. By personal files, we mean any documents, videos, music, pictures, emails, etc… It even gives you a period of time you have to respond to the threat.

This virus WILL lock all our files – making them un-openable – and even with the virus removed from your PC, there is currently no way to unlock the files. The only way to recover is to restore your files from a backup.

How to protect yourself?

CryptoLocker comes through e-mail and targets businesses and organizations. The e-mail is usually sent from a reputable source and talks about a customer complaint your company has received, or a customer that is complaining about your service. The e-mail contains an attachment that, once opened or downloaded, takes over the computer and instantly encrypts your files.

At the moment, the only way to reverse the damage is to restore your data that’s been backed up – making it even more important to keep your entire system backed up.

Call a computer repair company to setup a backup of your PC that runs automatically; once a week or once a month. We offer computer repair in Temecula, and we can setup a backup, restore backups, and remove CryptoLocker.

Why do you think people make viruses? You have to be very smart to create and distribute them…

 

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 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

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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

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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.