Archive for 'Hardware'

Just Don’t Click!

FraudThis post was originally posted 2 years ago. However, it is as important as ever to pay attention to this advice – JUST DON’T CLICK!

Many recent data breeches and ransomware have been caused not by some sophisticated hacker plan, but by sending an employee an email that entices them to click on a link – DON’T DO IT!

Scammers know how to get you to react – that is act without thinking! You have an undelivered package from DHL, notification from a funeral home of the death of a dear friend, your bank account is about to be closed unless you act NOW, we have detected malware on your computer, the IRS has an important message for you, your friend is over seas and needs money, and on and on! Most of these emails contain a link for you to click on – DON’T DO IT!

These links most likely are malicious programs that will infect your computer, destroy files, hold your computer for ransom, and or steal your important information.

The IRS will NEVER email you! If your bank has an issue – they will CALL you! In the case of an email from a funeral home, friend or other business – pick up the phone and call!

In addition to the email scams are the phone call scams that say they have received a message that your computer is acting sluggish – duh, gee how did they know! They want you to give them access so that they can speed it up! Instead, they plant malware or other malicious programs on your computer that will compromise your security! If you did not initiate the call do not give them access or go to any website they give you!

Avoid falling for these scams. Make sure your computers virus protection is up to date and always think before your react! JUST DON’T CLICK!

 

Know your ISP

ISP Choices

ISP Choices

Who is your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and what choices do you have? Unfortunately, most of us have only 1 or 2 choices.

ISP Types

Dial-up – Yes, Dial-up still exists and maybe you are still paying for it and do not know it. If you have an AOL account that you PAY for, then you are paying for dial-up. This is the slowest form of Internet connection. It uses the telephone line to transmit your connection to websites. You do NOT need to pay for AOL if you are using cable or DSL for your Internet. You can retain your AOL address for FREE!

Satellite –This is slower than DSL, but is sometimes the only option if you are in a very rural area. You do need a satellite dish for this connection.

DSL – Digital Subscriber Line. This is a connection that is usually provided by a telephone company, as it uses a telephone line to provide the connection. The pro to this is that it is usually cheaper than other Internet options. The con is that your speed relies on how close to the main connection you happen to be. The farther away, the slower your connection.

Cable –also know as broadband, can only be provided by a cable company, so you are limited to the one that serves your area – i.e. Comcast or Charter for example. A coaxial cable provide the service to your house. Cable is typically faster than the previously mentioned services, but can vary based on how many in your neighborhood are online. If everyone is streaming a movie at the same time, you might be experiencing a slowdown!

Fiber Optics – is the fastest, but most expensive of all the options and is only available in limited areas. Fiber optic lines are made of pure glass as thin as human hair.

Faster Internet connections cost more. But, sometimes it is well worth the price!

3 ways to boost your Internet Speed

Internet Speed

Internet Speed

Do you feel like your Internet is not working up to speed? How do you know if you are getting the speed that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is promising? There are ways that you can check and improve your home network and Internet performance.

There are several components involved in getting your devices online, an ISP, modem and router. It is important to understand what speed you should be getting from your ISP. Check your bill to see what service you are paying for, then check the website for your provider and see what speed they are promising.

Depending on you ISP, the method connecting you to the Internet will influence your top Internet speed. There are several ways that companies supply an Internet connection to your house:

  • Dial Up
  • Satellite
  • DSL
  • Cable
  • Fiber Optics (FiOS)

Read my other blog to learn about these different types. Depending on where you live, your Internet options are limited. Both providers and types are only in limited areas, which is very frustrating!

Your Internet connects your devices to the Internet using a modem and possibly a router. The modem usually connects one device using a network cable. Many homes have a wireless network – this relies on a router to be connected to the modem. Lean more about these here…

So you are supposed to have fast Internet and webpages are loading slowly, what do you do?

First – restart your modem, router and computer. Pull the power cord from the modem and router. Wait at least 30 seconds. Reconnect the modem. When all of the lights are showing on the modem, reconnect your router and then restart your computer.

All technology from time to time need rebooting – including your phones, handhelds etc. Many times this clears any issues you may be having.

Second – If it is still slow, try plugging a computer directly into the modem. Go to http://www.speedtest.net/and run the speed test. If this speed is significantly slower than your ISP is advertising, then contact the ISP directly. Your modem might need upgrading. If a fast speed is showing, try it again with the router plugged in and using your network. This test will probably be slower, but should be fast. If not, then your router might be the issue. If your router is several years old, an upgrade may be necessary.

Third – Remember the farther you are from your router, the slower your connection. Ideally, routers should be in the center of the house. Many are not. You can also purchase devices to expand the range of your Internet. These are usually called repeaters or extenders. They plug into an outlet and extend the range of your network.

Remember to make sure your Internet is PASSWORD PROTECTED. Others stealing your Internet can slow down your connection!

Networking

Networking

To go along with creating the fastest Internet network possible, 3 key components are the Internet Service Provider, modem and router. I discuss the ISP component in another blog. Read below about Modems and Routers

Modems and Routers 

All Internet connections require a modem where both the Internet line and your computer are connected. You might have a router connected to the modem, so that you can have many devices accessing the Internet – thus creating a home network.

A modem is a small boxlike device that connects to the Internet line or cable that comes into your house. There is usually 1 port to connect a network cable to a device, usually a computer. This device is the lifeline to the Internet. A modem is usually supplied by your ISP.

A router is another boxlike device that allows your Internet connection to be shared with other devices such as printers, scanners, handhelds and other computers. Today this router usually has a wireless component to it, allowing for devices to connect without being plugged into the router. The Modem, however, is usually plugged into the router. You can purchase a router from any major big box store or any online computer store. Linksys, Apple Airport, Netgear, Asus are among the major brands.

Standards for both Modems and Routers have changed over the years. If either of these 2 boxes are 5 years or older, you might want to get a new one that can handle the faster speeds. The modem is usually supplied by your ISP and usually can be swapped out for a new one. Routers can be purchased for a couple of hundred dollars. You should look for the 802.11 number. The newest technology uses 802.11ac. Most routers being used today are 802.11n. The slower, older versions are 802.11g and 802.11b. Check the number on your router – if it ends in g or b, an upgrade is needed!

Lastly – make sure your modem is PASSWORD PROTECTED! You do not to allow unauthorized use of your network!

New life for old gadgets

miniWere you one of the millions of people who received a new iPad, iPod, tablet or smart phone for Christmas? Now that you have a new one, what do you do with your old one?

First – do NOT throw it in the garbage. Parts in that gadget are harmful to the environment!

Sell your phone – Many places offer a rebates or will buy your device – Glyde.com  and gazelle.com are a few. You can also try selling it on eBay or Amazon. If you are doing any of these – be sure to set the phone back to the factory settings!

Donate your phonePhones for Soldiers is one place. They use donated phones to give to soldiers, sailors and airmen to call home. My son was able to use one of these on Thanksgiving Day. He was still in boot camp and had no electronics with him. Verizon provided these phones for the day so all the recruits could call home! The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is another worthy place. They accept many electronic gadgets. Some are given to women who need them, others are refurbished and sold to help support this group’s mission.

Repurpose your Gadget – If you have an older iPad, tablet or smart phone, there are many apps that young children can use on them. It’s amazing how adept they are to this technology!

iPads and Tablets can also be used an electronic picture frames – load you favorite photos and run a slide show from it.

Use your device as a dedicated mp3 player or alarm clock!

Recycle your device – If none of these seem feasible – then take your device to be recycled. Many towns have programs for this. In addition places like Best Buy, Staples, Apple and your phone carrier have recycling programs. You can also research places at the epa website.

Is Your Internet Fast or Slow?

hareWhich is better faster or slower? You know that commercial where a group of ankle biters are asked that question and in return give creative answers that only young minds can think of! The point of the commercial, in case you missed it, was to sell a faster Internet connection. How fast is your Internet connection?

First, to test your Internet Speed there are several websites, Charter Speed Test and Speedtest.net are just two that gave me similar results.

When you run the test, you will get 2 numbers – download and upload. Download is the amount of time it takes for your web browser to load pictures, pages and other web page elements, or for your email to download attachments. Uploading is when you send pictures or files either through your web browser or email. Today you can get speeds anywhere from 10Mbps (megabytes per second) to 50 Mbps for downloads and significantly less for uploads. There are many things that will affect your personal results – your computer, modem and router.

Think of it this way – if you had an automobile built in the 1920’s how fast could you go on an empty 4-lane highway? Or, if you have a NASCAR automobile, how fast can you go on the highway at rush hour? Your Internet connection’s “highway” is usually referred to as bandwidth.

Newer computers have faster processors, which affect all aspects of your computing, including your web experience. If you have viruses, malware or other issues that in general are slowing down your computer, do not expect your web surfing to go fast either!

Your Internet enters your house through a cable or phone line. This is then connected to a modem. If your computer is connected directly to this modem, then you will be getting the fastest speed allowed by the connection and modem. However, most homes have several devices that share the Internet connection, either by wire or Wi-Fi. If that is the case, then your modem is connected to a router.  The more devices devices (iPads, smartphones, laptops, desktops, even TV’s!) connected and using the Internet, the slower your Internet will be.

If you think you are not getting the speed you are paying for, you might want to start with the modem. Your modem was probably supplied by your ISP. If it is 4 or more years old, it should be upgraded.

Next, and very importantly is your router. The standards for routers have changed. In 1997 the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) developed 802.11 as the standard. That could handle 2 Mbps! As the need for bandwidth grew, so did the standard. Next came 802.11 a/b, 802.11g, 802.11n and now there is 802.11 ac.  You should be using at lease 802.11n. Most computers are not equipped to handle the ac version yet.

Sorry if this was too technical for you. Just know that if you have the same modem and router that you had 5 or 6 years ago, maybe it’s time to replace them!

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