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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in software

Posted by on in Repairs

 

Why do computers slow down?

A question that we get asked all the time here at PC Pitstop is why computers get slower over time. This can start to happen within a year after you get a new PC, but usually it happens in just a few short months.

Since we all use our computers for a whole range of different tasks and activities, there isn’t one single reason that pinpoints why this happens.

The thing is, when you first get a new computer and boot it up it works lightning fast. That’s because it doesn’t have anything on it except the bare bones operating system. 

Regardless of whether you have a PC or Mac, over time as you download files, install software, add printers and surf the Internet etc, your computer gets bloated with files that hog system resources.

In addition, there are many other things that contribute to a slowdown. Here is the most common issues we find:

1. Hard Drive Corruption

The hard drive is the electronic equivalent of the old office filing cabinet. It's really is an amazing piece of technology that has helped propelled our world forward into the information age. A typical computer can hold anywhere from 150,000 - 300,000 high quality photographs or over a million documents or books.

All of this information is tightly packed ingeniously onto a disk and into a tiny enclosure, which looks suprisingly similar to that of the old record player. The information is stored in magnetic form on top of the disk and this is where the complexity starts to become its own undoing.

The problem is, corruption can occur from power surges (power spikes), brown outs (power dips), static electricity (from carpet, clothes and other fabrics), solar flares, cosmic radiation, vibration, bumps, knocks, computer viruses, software errors and even the layer on the magnetic disk changing over time.

 

2. RAM

Not having enough RAM is like not having a big enough table to work on. You can only have so many items on the table before it get clutted and full. The computer does its best to keep going without crashing - moving things around - but to do so - it slows down even further. Solution - the more RAM the better! RAM is cheap these days and the more you got - the more the computer will be able to use as a super fast temporary storage place.

 3. Spyware, Viruses and Unnecessary Software

These programs all need attention - they run in the background and all want to steal a little bit of time from the CPU/Processor (Think information pump).
This all stacks on top of each other and adds up very quickly. Typically we remove 500+ pieces of spyware and virus related programs on EVERY computer we service (our record is over 20,000!). PC Pitstop have an award winning and unique 5 stage process that removes all spyware, viruses and nasties that even the best AntiVirus protection leaves behind.

4. System and Software Updates

If you are updating your software regularly, this will take up space and more system resources - contributing to the slow down even further. Interestingly enough, if you were to wipe the computer in year 3 and put all the original software back on - it would be as fast as the day you brought it. However this is not exactly secure or feasible way to run your computer. Updates are mostly security and bug fixes that go a long way to protect your computer.

 

5. Mechanical Hard Drives Slow Down With Age

If you have a standard hard drive (not SSD) your hard drive will slow down and fail over time. Being mechanical - this is the nature of their design and cannot be avoided without upgrading to a Solid State Hard Drive (SSD). Solid state hard drives are reasonably new and more expensive than their mechanical counterparts but wow - they work really really fast. I MEAN REALLY REALLY REALLY FAST. For the single most impressive upgrade you can do for your computer - get a SSD Hard Drive. You will love the difference and never look back.

Now I have painted a picture of why computers slow down - how do you fix a slow computer?

Easy - just like your car goes in for a 10,000Km service - your computer also needs regular tuning up as well. For power users and businesses - minimum every 6 months and for the rest of us - every 12 months. This is what the big department stores will not and do not want to tell you. It is in their best interest for you to get annoyed with your computer to the point of frustration within 18 months - that you go out and buy another one.

 

A tuneup finds and fixes problems, spots bigger problems (before they occur and cost you more time and money), removes virus and spyware infections, scans and repairs your hard disk, installs necessary security updates and is also a perfect time for you to engage a PC Pitstop Trained Technician to ask any questions that have been niggeling at you or to fix other issues that you have been putting off.

Your computer is an investment - and for most of us - a very important tool we use every day. It pays to be proactive with your investments - instead of waiting for the day when everything grinds to a halt and you have lost some or all of your important data. Unfortunately we still see this every day.

SO - drop in and book in for your routine computer tuneup at PC Pitstop - 10 Bellbowrie Street Port Macquarie - 02 65 841551.

PC Pitstop Port Macquarie Business Awards

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Every day we see customers who are shocked that their computer has a virus. They thought they had security software and they thought it was doing it's job.

But here's the thing....You get what you pay for...and YOU play a massive part in your computer's secuirty. You have to check before you click anything, you have to choose the right security, AND you have to know when it's time to renew your services. 

We recommend Norton Internet Security 2014 and it's avialable instore at PC Pitstop Port Macquarie for $85 installed.

If your computer is in for service and we notice your Norton is out of date we will update it at the same time for a reduced fee of $65.

Keep your PC and your Stuff safe with industry-leading protection.
Emailing, sharing files, visiting social networks, shopping online, or just browsing websites. Whatever you like to do on your PC, we help keep it—and the Stuff on it—safe from viruses, online threats, and problems that could slow down your computer.

Gets rid of viruses and spyware, so you can read emails and download and share files without getting or passing on threats, plus it helps prevent online identity theft and blocks websites that could steal your credit card numbers or other information. So you can surf, shop, and bank online worry-free.

BX NIS Y14 r r EN 342
Verdict

Norton's internet security suite offers excellent malware detection and consistently performs on pace with the best available security software.

Avoid the horror story happening to you. Don't get caught without. It could cost you more than you know.
 
 

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Just experienced a computer catastrophy and had your computer wiped and reinstalled?! 

  •           You may notice little things that are different to the way you have had them before - This is because Windows had learnt the way you did things and remembered these settings.
  •      You may need to reinstall any programs and devices (e.g. printers, Office, Photoshop etc.) that you have previously used if you advised your technician not to do so for you. Use your original CDs for programs or use the manufacturer’s website downloads for printers (e.g. HP, Canon etc.).

 

Documents and Data Policy - While every care is taken to protect your documents, pictures, music etc, in some cases this is not always possible due to certain conditions.

Professionally, while we take every care and technological measure to protect and recover your data, PC Pitstop cannot accept responsibility for any consequential data or financial loss through the loss of any data, through any fault whatsoever.

Unfortunately, during a Windows rebuild, these little personal touches may disappear until your computer picks up the way you do things again.

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We wrote a user manual and service planner just for you....so come and get it!

It's packed full of how to hints and tips and details the best way for you to look after your desktop or laptop computer - at home or in your business. Everyone is loving them and we don't want you to miss out!

Besides, the beginning of the year is a perfect time to tune your computer in readiness for a smooth sailing year ahead!

See you instore soon.

manual-planner

...from the manual

A Word from Ben and Sam

We wrote this Computer Manual & Service Planner for you.
In fact, we started PC Pitstop for people just like you. People who are amazingly skilled at what they do and confident in many areas of their lives. People who aren’t afraid to ask for help to remain amazing and confident. People who want to grow, embrace technology and get more out of life.

The PC Pitstop Computer Manual & Service Planner is a comprehensive go-to-guide for all things computer-user based that will see you through the life of your computer and beyond. If you find this useful or need more information be sure to sign up to our e-newsletter or blog on the PC Pitstop website. And of course, give us a call or pop in, we love to keep in touch with all our amazing customers.

We hope the PC Pitstop Computer Manual & Service Planner challenges you, increases your productivity, improves your confidence and inspires you to learn even more!

Believe in Better
                                                                                                                                  
BEN WATERS & SAMANTHA CLARK

                                                                                                                                                      PC PITSTOP FOUNDERS

 

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PC Pitstop repair computers of all makes and models - laptops, desktops, MACs and all your small devices. 
Get it done faster at PC Pitstop, simply call or pop in to your nearest store with your enquiries. 

[TIME FOR A CHECKUP]

Dust and debris in your computer can cause overheating...which can fry parts...which can result in lost precious data...which may result in tears!!

pcpitstop dirtydesktop before after

WHAT DO WE DO DURING A TUNEUP TO MAKE YOUR COMPUTER FASTER, SAFER AND CLEANER?

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Workshop Assessment & Diagnosis

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Hard Drive Surface Testing

ü  Arrow-Right-icon File System Integrity Testing

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Malware Scan & Removal

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Optimization of Startup Processes

ü  Arrow-Right-icon System Defrag

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Apply Critical System Updates

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Hard Drive Speed Test

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Bench Testing

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Physical External Computer Clean with Antibacterial Cleaner

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Physical Internal Computer Clean with Compressed Air

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Final Startup Check

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Discuss Any Recommendations

ü  Arrow-Right-icon Supply Future Maintenance Information

Home Users need to get a computer Tune-up at least every 12months while Business Users need to get a Tuneup at least every 6months to keep their equipment in top working order and to avoid a technology crisis!

When was the last time your computer had a checkup? 

Get into PC Pitstop today.

 

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Why We Think Norton Internet Security is the Best Virus Protection for Everyday Users

We use and recommend the latest version of Norton Internet Security on a regular basis and it's the only virus protection software we sell instore.

Why?

If you're looking for a traditional security suite, with essential features like antivirus, firewall, antispam, parental control, and phishing protection, it's a great choice, and it's one of PC Mags Editors' Choice suites.

But wait, why should you pay for a security suite when modern Windows versions already include an antivirus and a firewall? Here's the deal. Yes, the built-in firewall does a good job hiding your computer from outside attack, but it doesn't exercise control over which programs can access your network the way third-party firewall components do.

If you're using internet banking on your computer...you need Norton Internet Security.

And, because this...

 

LOL.

Point made.

Get your Norton Internet Security software from PC Pitstop today and we'll even install it for you.

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3 Most Useful Facebook Tips for the Discerning User

Use facebook but want to customise what you see? Try these 3 tips for size....

FBUPDOWN

1. >>> HOW TO GET RID OF YOUR FACEBOOK NEWS FEED <<<

chjhpyjbr58es4luq6ae

2. >>> HOW TO HIDE THINGS FROM CERTAIN PEOPLE ON FACEBOOK <<<

113888441

3. >>> WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FOLLOWING SOMEONE AND ADDING A FRIEND? <<<

FB-Follow-image

 

But wait...here's a few more >>> 5 Interesting Facebook Tricks You Might Not Know <<<

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Desktop Safety Tips

Safely using your desktop will help ensure that the computer works properly and you don't get injured. Improper use or not being aware of safety issues can cause your desktop irreparable damage. These tips will help you stay productive and safe no matter where you are working.

  • Vent Maintenance - Part of your weekly routine should be to inspect and clean the air vents at the back of your desktop. Forced air dusters can be used to keep the air vents clean and free from debris. It's important to know that you should never push anything into the air vents.
  • Secure Transportation - Make sure that if you ever have to transport your desktop that you first unplug all accessories from it and carry it with two hands from the bottom of the case. Secure the desktop in an upright position wherever possible using the vehicles seatbelt for example. Parts may come loose during transport
  • Soft Spots - It's a wise idea to use your desktop in a well-ventilated position with no soft material covering the fans located at the back or side of your machine. Soft materials can block the airflow vents and cause it to overheat.

desktop cleaning case

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PC Pitstop iphone and smartphone repairs

PC Pitstop iPhone Repairs    Smart Device Repairs

Dropped or damaged your

smart device - iPhone, iPad
or Samsung Device? 
Most repairs same day!

Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

 

PC Pitstop Computer Repairs

PC Pitstop Workshop Repairs   Workshop Repairs


We locate the issues & 

determine the best way
to fix them. Most repairs
completed within 24 hours

 Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

 

PC Pitstop Computer Tune-ups 

PC Pitstop Computer Tune Ups   Computer Tuneups


Over time you will notice your 

computer slowing down. Time
to book your computer for its
yearly service and tuneup.

 Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

 

 PC Pitstop Business Support

PC Pitstop Business Support   Business Support


PC Pitstop provide reliable

small business solutions so
you can focus on delivering
exceptional customer service!

Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

 PC Pitstop Virus and Spyware Removal

PC Pitstop Virus & Spyware Removal  Virus & Spyware removal


Most computers are home
to hundreds of viruses and 
information stealing bugs.
Stay protected & up to date.

Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

 PC Pitstop Home and Business Onsite Support

PC Pitstop onsite Home and Business Support    Onsite Support


PC Pitstop can provide you
with onsite assistance in your
home or office at time that suits
you. Most areas only $99/hour

Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

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Why You Would Need a Data Transfer or Recovery?

A Data Transfer may be necessary for a number of reasons.

PC Pitstop can transfer your data (documents, pictures, music) but not programs (software, downloads, etc). Your original installation media is required to install programs on another computer. PC Pitstop, by law, cannot install counterfeit software.

What types of transfer are there?

  1. Computer to computer – e.g. your computer failed and you’d like your information transferred onto a new computer.
  2. Computer to external hard drive – e.g. you are giving away an old computer and want the info off that computer for safe keeping.

If you request data transfer to an external drive you may have to follow correct steps to restore this information to a workable state on your computer if you choose to do so down the track, i.e. importing emails, address books, music, pictures and documents to their right location. (PC Pitstop also provides this service if required.)

Data Recovery is the process of retrieving your important files from faulty equipment. It may be necessary if you don’t have a working backup of your files. PC Pitstop provide a range of recovery solutions from small devices such as USB’s, computers and through to large Servers.

Things you should know about Data Recovery:

  1. Data recovery can take anywhere from one day to 2 weeks to complete depending on the severity and size.
  2. PC Pitstop can recover your information to another computer, to an external hard drive or other device of your choosing as long as the chosen device has the capacity and stability to handle the information.
  3. Once recovered your information may appear in an unfamiliar order. While every effort is taken to replicate the original file structure, in some cases this is simply not possible due to no prior knowledge of the original setup. We work in consultation with you to ensure this process is as smooth as possible.
  4. In some cases, the recovery process may need to be handled by a third party Forensic provider. PC Pitstop is in partnership with some of the best data recovery companies in the world. Please contact your nearest PC Pitstop for more information.
  5. Depending on the severity of the damaged device recovery may not even be an option.

Overall, Data Recovery should be seen as the last option because ultimately prevention far outweighs cure!

Small Office & Home
ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE BACKUP SOFTWARE
BUY ONLINE: www.pcpitstop.net.au

  •       Easy to use interface
  •       Scheduled automatic backups
  •       Peace of mind security

 

  •       Enterprise backup software
  •       Backup individual workstations
  •       Server backup

SMEs
NORTON BACKUP EXEC SOFTWARE
BUY ONLINE:www.pcpitstop.net.au

+ PC Pitstop Secure Online Backup – ASK US IN-STORE

 

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PC Pitstop Speciality Lessons

Stop banging your head on the desk trying to figure that pesky computer problem and ask for a Speciality Lesson from your PC Pitstop Trained Technician.

These 1hr in-store, one-on-one lessons can cover many topics that may be troubling you, such as:

  1. Basic Computer Use – start-up, shut-down, navigation, etc.
  2. Internet Use – effective searching, basic facebook, etc.
  3. Photo Filing – uploading from cards or devices, sorting and basic editing
  4. Windows 8 Use – introduction to the metro interface
  5. iPad Use – how to use your device, apps, etc.


Make the best use of your time and come with a prepared list of questions. Your Technician will answer as many of them as possible and show you how...and show you again! BOOK A LESSON TODAY.

 


 

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The Importance of Backing Up

Backing up is crucial. Backing up at the basic level involves the act of copying all your important files to a separate external device that can easily be taken off site with you each day for security measures in business or easily accessible during an evacuation for home users, keeping precious data and memories safe and saving you time, money and tears.

There are a several different backup types and just as many different ways to backup. We will run you through some of the most common. If you are unsure of which backup type you need, speak to one of PC Pitstop’s Trained Technicians for the best solution in your environment.

Basic Data Backup: The basic data backup is the process of backing up the data the program made, not the program or the programs settings. An example here would be backing up a Word or Excel Document but not Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel itself.

USB-backup BackUp-computer-support-port-macquarie backuphdd

How to do a basic data backup:

  1. Insert/plug-in your External Hard Drive (or Flash Memory Drive)
  2. Go to the folder or location of the files you want to backup
  3. To select all the files in that location, use your keyboard to press [CTRL] + [A] (Press Ctrl key then while still holding Ctrl key, press the A Key)
  4. You will now notice all the files in the folder are highlighted, this is telling the computer that you have selected these files and you want to do something with them
  5. Now use your ‘right’ mouse button and click on one of the highlighted files
  6. You will now see a little menu appear, run the mouse over the ‘Send To’ item then click on ‘Backup Disk’ or (E:) disk or similar (Depending on the number of external devices you have running, your hard drive will be assigned a letter to identify it)
  7. Your files will now copy/backup to the external device.

It’s a good idea to always have a copy of your files on at least one another device. Don’t make the mistake of copying your files to an external device then deleting them off your computer.

Remember: Backups can also fail. If you are worried about your computer clogging up with too many files, consider a Hard Drive upgrade – You will keep everything the way it is setup, but with a bigger storage capacity for future storage.

System State backup: The System State backup allows you to make a complete backup of your whole computer – operating system, programs, settings, data, email: the lot. This is great way to recover your system if the Hard Drive fails or you get a particularly nasty virus. The system state backup is only available on Windows 7 and above. For anything else, you will need a separate program like Acronis True Image to complete the task. A great feature of Acronis True Image is the ability to do a backup to dissimilar hardware, very handy when you have a motherboard failure where normally it would require reinstall every program, all your data and settings, even if you have done a system state backup.

Remember: Your data security is only as good as your last backup and backups can and do fail. There is a saying in the IT trade: You haven’t backed up until you have done the backup three times, and one of the backups is stored offsite.

SMEs
NORTON BACKUP EXEC SOFTWARE
BUY ONLINE: www.pcpitstop.net.au

  •         Enterprise backup software
  •         Backup individual workstations
  •         Server backup

Small Office & Home
ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE BACKUP SOFTWARE
BUY ONLINE: www.pcpitstop.net.au

  •         Easy to use interface
  •         Scheduled automatic backups
  •         Peace of mind security

 

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Windows-XP-End

Avoid Virsues from End of XP Support :: Upgrade Now!

"On April 8 2014, almost thirteen years after it was first released, Windows  XP will finally breathe its last breath and die — officially, anyway. From that date, Microsoft will no longer support the inveterate Operating System, meaning instability bugs and security vulnerabilities will go forever unpatched.

With Windows XP’s desktop market share still around 30%, and many enterprises still months or years away from upgrading to Windows 7/8, these unsupported and insecure machines represent a serious risk to the health and security of the internet and other high-tech infrastructure. If just a single vulnerability is found after April 8, it will never be fixed. There’s no telling what damage cybercriminals might sow with such an exploit.

It’s important to note that the Windows XP EOL/EOS (end of life/end of support) has been a long time coming. We’ve known since June 2008 that Microsoft would withdraw paid assisted support, security updates, and non-security hotfixes for Windows XP on April 2014. There will also be no further updates to online technical documentation. While this is obviously an issue from a security perspective, the larger issue is compliance — if you manage personal data (which is basically every big company), there are industry and federal security regulations (PCI, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, etc.) that you need to comply with. Using a non-supported operating system, and thus dangerously exposing your client database to hackers, is a compliance no-no."
Exert from ExtremeTech Blog.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, give us a call on 65 841 551, and as each situation has different variables we'll assess each accordingly and get your SORTED!:

Arrow-Right-iconDo you run any specialised software or hardware that only runs on XP?

Arrow-Right-iconDo you run software that needs a 32Bit operating system?

Arrow-Right-iconDo you run a business and share files or printers between any Windows XP based computers?

Arrow-Right-iconDo you run a business with new versions of Windows and Windows XP?

Arrow-Right-iconAre you confused about what operating system is best for you?

POINTS TO NOTE:

- Unfortunately, going from Windows XP to Windows 7 and above is not just a simple upgrade. There are just too many differences between the versions of Windows.

- A full migration of all your information needs to take place and you may need to purchase newer versions of software to compliment your computer (i.e Microsoft Office). All you programs and settings will be lost in the migration and will have to be setup manually again. It is a big job, but something the team here at PC Pitstop do every day. Our team are well equipped and will plan and work through with you to make the migration as smooth as possible.

- Your printer or a piece of hardware may also be too old to run the newer version of Windows and an additional investment may need to be made there too. We must assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

- Additionally, our team can even come to your premises and spend the time to set everything up just the way you like it. We also go as far as offering one on one lessons to help you feel comfortable with your new system. ($85/hour instore, $99/hour at your premises)

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scary-tech-concerns


Security Scares & What They Should Remind You to Do


The Apple iOS 7.0.6 Secuirty Flaw

>>> READ ALL ABOUT IT <<<

What You Need to Do Now: Update your iPhone right now. (Or after you back it up!) Then be diligent about backing it up and keeping it updated.

 

Ransomware Computer Virus

>>> READ ALL ABOUT IT <<<

What You Need to Do Now: Get yourself an up to date version of Norton Internet Security from PC Pitstop; scan often and avoid illegal downloads and suspiscious links. Then Backup! Regularly.

 

Every Single Social Media Scares

>>> READ ALL ABOUT THEM <<<

What You Need to Do Now: Go and set your facebook, twitter, etc privacy settings to Max; don't share your passwords nor connect with people you don't know; and avoid apps that have even a whiff of dodgy! (I'm looking at you facebook games!)


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You Might Actually Be Able To Afford A 4K Monitor Soon

4K-monitor

 

Apple iPhone 5s vs 5c: which model should you buy?

5s-vs-5c

 

 

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It's 2014 and our doors are open for business today from 9am - 5pm.

So if this happened....

deadcomputer


Or you're feeling like this....

StressHead

 

It's good to know help is at hand!

Extreme happiness

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And if you're Christmas score from Santa is burning a hole in your pocket you can beat the crowds and get in store now, or you can shop online.

SHOP ONLINE WITH PC PITSTOP

shop online!

No PC Pitstop near you? No worries.

Head on over to our online store for great buys, from new and refurbished laptops and desktops right through to custom builds and bulk orders.

» Secure and affordable delivery and the same great PC Pitstop experience! 

SHOP NOW: www.pcpitstop.net.au

guarentee

Your One Stop Computer Shop

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The pic above might not mean much to the common man.

For a technician, this is BAD.

It shows the record number of ROOTKITS found on a computer we've serviced here at PC Pitstop.

What's a rootkit you ask?

whats-a-rootkit-pcpitstop-blog-australia

'Gain control of a computer system without being detected...'

Let's just consider that for a moment....

A rootkits unwanted code is used to gain control over your computer by hiding deep inside your system. Unlike most viruses or worms, it is not directly destructive and its objective is not to spread infection as wide as possible.

What it does do, is provide access to all your folders – both private data and system files – to a remote user who can do whatever he wants with your computer. Every user should be aware of the threat they pose.

Rootkits generally go much deeper than the average virus. They may even infect your BIOS – the part of your computer that’s independent of the Operating System – making them harder to remove. And they are not just Windows-specific, even Linux or Apple machines could be affected.
Rootkits also scarily run at the same privilege levels as most antivirus programs making them that much harder to remove as the computer cannot decide on which program has a greater authority to shut down the other.

You can get a rootkit in some of the same ways you can get a virus:

  • a rootkit may piggyback along with software you thought you trusted.
  • either through shared disks and drives with infected web content.

Once they're in - usually undetected by even the best anti virus programs - they'll liekly let in all their mates (as in the screenshot above!) and give you a nice big headache and interrupt your work or play. Not fun.

So be alert, be smart and best be calling PC Pitstop at first signs of dodgy doings in your computer!

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Today I thought I'd share an entire newsletter that arrived in my inbox.

Why?

Cause it's damn important.

CRYPTOLOCKER.

Remember the name.

Cryptolocker is new malware coming to a computer near you.

Malware is short for malicious software and generally refers to a variety of forms of intrusive and hostile programs.

Besides been informed, been super careful of what and where you're clicking, and sticking to 'safe' browsing habits, the best chance you've got of surviving Cryptolocker is to make TRIPLY sure you've got UP TO DATE BACKUPS.

Ben tells us all the time that you're not truly backed up unless you've backed up 3 times.

So just do it. No if's or buts after you read this article. BACKUP.

And if you don't know how to backup or if your backup solution is working, come and see us, and we'll get your sorted - ARMED - against the virus of all viruses!

PS. I included the whole newsletter from these guys coz they actually have included some other great info. Take a read....

Tip of the Day: Windows 8.1 integrates Bing into the standard, system-wide search experience. If you don't like this, you can disable it. To do so, open the Change PC Settings screen, select Search and apps, and disable the option under Use Bing to search online.

 

CryptoLocker Is The Nastiest Malware Ever & Here's What You Can Do

by Matthew Hughes

Ransomware is an especially odious type of malware. The way it works is simple. Your computer will be infected with some malicious software. That software then renders your computer entirely unusable, sometimes purporting to be from local law enforcement and accusing you of committing a computer crime or viewing explicit pictures of children. It then demands monetary payment, either in the form of a ransom or a "fine" before access to your computer is returned.

Horrible, isn't it? Well, get ready to meet CryptoLocker; the evil patriarch of the Ransomware family.

What Is CryptoLocker

CryptoLocker is a piece of malware targeting computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system. It is typically spread as an email attachment, often purporting to be from a legitimate source (including Intuit and Companies House). Some say it is also being spread through the ZeuS botnet.

Once installed on your computer, it systematically encrypts all documents that are stored on your local computer, as well as ones that are stored on mapped network drives and mounted removable storage.

cryptolocker-example

The encryption used is strong, 2048 bit RSA, with the decryption key for your files being stored on a remote server. The odds of you being able to break this encryption is almost nonexistent. If you want to get your files back, CryptoLocker asks for you to fork over some cash; either two bitcoins (At the time of writing, worth almost USD $380) or $300 in either MonkeyPak or Ukash prepaid cards. If you don't pay within three days, the decryption key is deleted and you lose access to your files forever.

I spoke to popular security expert and blogger Javvad Malik; this is what he had to say about CryptoLocker.

Ransomware such as CryptoLocker is not something very new - variations of Ransomware have been around for years. When you look at CryptoLocker, it predominantly comes in via phishing emails (from what I’ve seen). The best way to protect against it is for users to be vigilant against clicking on links within emails. Currently, it looks like there’s not much that can be done once infected and I wouldn’t advice anyone to pay the ransom. It goes back to having backups and data management in place.

Mitigating Against It

Reports suggest that some security programs have had a hard time of preventing CryptoLocker from getting its claws onto your system before it's too late. Fortunately, American security expert Nick Shaw has created a handy piece of software called CryptoPrevent (free) . This applies a number of settings to your installation of Windows that prevents CryptoLocker from ever executing and has been proven to work in Windows XP and Windows 7 environments.

It's also worth making sure that you check emails to see if they're suspect before you open up any email attachments. Do they have an email address that matches up with the purported sender? Were you expecting any correspondence from them? Is the spelling and grammar consistent with what you'd expect from the genuine sender? These are all reasons to be suspicious of an email and to think twice about poking in any attachments.

Having Proper Backup

In these circumstances, I'd encourage everyone to make regular backups that are isolated from your computer. Using a networked backup solution will be utterly ineffective, as CryptoLocker has been known to encrypt data stored on these volumes.

cryptolocker-backup

If you use a cloud backup service like Carbonite, you can take comfort in knowing the odds are good that your files are versioned. That means if you back up an encrypted copy of a file you care about, you can revert to an earlier version. An employee of Carbonite posted this advice on Reddit.

I work for Carbonite on the operations team, and I can confirm this for most cases – I will also offer these two pieces of advice:

1) If you are affected by the virus, you should disable or uninstall Carbonite as soon as possible. If you stop backing up the files, it’s more likely that Carbonite will not have overwritten a “last known good” backup set. There is a high risk of some recent data loss (you’re effectively going back in time, so if we have no record of the file existing at a previous time, you won’t get it back) with this method, but it’s far, far better than losing all of your files.

2) When you call customer support, which you should do as soon as possible, specifically mention that you are infected with cryptolocker. It was mentioned in the post above, but I just wanted to put emphasis on it because it’ll get you through the queue faster.

Edit: also, just to state the obvious, make doubly sure the infection is off your machine before you call support, please.

Should You Pay The Ransom?

What if your computer gets compromised? It goes without saying that brute forcing a file encrypted with 2048 bit encryption is almost impossible. Noted computer security firm Sophos has looked at a number of files that have been encrypted by this particular malware and has failed to notice any obvious means in which they can be decrypted without forking over a ransom.

With that in mind, the only way to get your data back is by paying the ransom. However, this poses a major ethical dilemma. By paying the ransom, you make this type of chicanery profitable and therefore perpetuate it. However, if you don't pay the ransom, you forever lose access to everything you've been working on which is stored on your computer.

What further complicates things is that it is impossible to ascertain who would be the recipient of any money paid. It may something so simple as a single person working from his bedroom looking to get rich at the expense at others, or it might be something much more sinister.

Conclusion

I'll leave the floor to you, the reader. Would you pay the ransom? Have you been infected with CryptoLocker? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

   

 

 

 

 

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Hate computer cowboys? Us too.

pcpitstop-australia-blog-5-thruths

Geeks that insult your intelligence as they 'help you' [read: do it for you...so fast that you have no idea what they did]?

How about 'reputable' internet sites or news sites reporting on THE SCREEN THAT WILL NEVER BREAK?

How about that 'friend of a friend' at the dinner party or BBQ who talks a whole lotta 'I know this' and 'You need to do that' bullocks at the top of his voice so everyone in attendance knows just how smart he is? Err, I hate that guy!

 

Yep, we hear you and we hate it too. Not only does it put an cloud of dishonesty over the whole industry and paint everyone with the same brush but most importantly, it confuses you guys - the consumers. And confusion costs money, time and a whole tonne of heartache whether you're in business or the business of getting good at Mahjong!

So here's some cold hard truths. Some straight down the line honest technology truths you need to know. For your benefit...and your wallets...and your friends at your next dinner party!

  1. Your hard drive will die at some point in the next 5 years.
  2. No anti-virus protection is 100% safe - YOU are the weakest link.
  3. Everyone has a different opinion about brands but only a technician who has experience with various brands and with your best interests at heart can tell you what's RIGHT FOR YOU...but there are always lemons, even with the better brands!
  4. Moore's law is real. He states that technology's power doubles every 18mths. Staying as up to date as you can doesn't meaning having the latest of everything, but sifting through the latest and finding something that benefits your productivity the most!
  5. Extended warranties offered by most major retailers are risky business because they are not usually manufacturers warranties but instead underwritten by an insurance company who are gambling on you not requiring the service and if you do, the repairs are performed by a third party provider to whom you are often just a number. Basically, if you can get an extended manufacturers warranty it's an option, otherwise don't bother. By the time you would use an extended warranty with technology the parts may not even be available anymore!

 *****

 Are you nodding your head in agreement or do you feel like you've been reality-slapped in the face? I'll tell you, it took me awhile to get my head around 'the truth about technology' too when I first started in the industry. And I was an IT student at school. And thought I was 'up with it.' True. You can be all those things but until you see a new problem, a new discovery, a new solution every half hour in a real IT repair workshop then it's just not something you really fathom.

I'm not saying technology is a horrible waste of money and completely controlled by corporate greed. It's not. In comparision to other things especially. But luck does factor into it a little bit. And a whole lot of TLC and correct knowledge. TLC for your devices should be top of your list. Know how to use your device properly...because that's different for every brand too. And leave the in depth troubleshooting and repairs knowledge up to the experts. A doctor with a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing - that's why they have specialists!

Everyone has a tech story. Usually a bad one. Test your gratitude for your tech and tell us your success story! Share in the comment section below :)

*Comments moderated for spam so your comment may not appear for 24-48hrs!

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Posted by on in Helpful Hints

spring-clean-computer-pcpitstop-australia-blog

Spring has sprung and the trash piles are out on the lawns and garage sales are a go-go. So what about a spring clean for the mahine you work hard every day - your computer?

Do these 3 simple steps and watch your computer smile!

1. Do a Defrag. (How?)

2. Uninstall any programs you no longer use. (How?)

3. Empty your Recycle Bin. (How?)

 

3 1/2. Yep, 3 1/2! Of course, there are much more indepth ways to give your computer a thorough spring clean. Drop your PC into PC Pitstop, leave it with us for at least 48 hours and we'll take it through our rigorous 99 Point Tuneup Checklist to make sure it returns to you IMPROVED! Drop in today to avoid the Christmas Holiday panic!

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