I have recently seen an uptick in the amount of people who are getting fake calls from (or false requests to call) Microsoft. Sometimes these calls are out of the blue and sometimes they manifest as a phone number that shows up on a scareware Web page, urging you to call immediately because your computer is supposedly infected.
The thing you should know is that Microsoft will never call you for any reason. If you had the most virus-infested computer in the state of Minnesota, it would be your ISP (e.g., Comcast or Centurylink) that might contact you, but even that is unlikely.
The point is to be very suspicious of these kinds of tactics, for they use social engineering. Social engineering is a type of hacking that involves capitalizing on human nature to infiltrate systems. In the case of these calls (usually coming from India and Bangladesh), the scammers are capitalizing on your trusting nature and desire to be a good steward of your technology.
What should you do if you get a call like this? Hang up or interrogate them and then hang up. You are probably no more likely to be infected because one of these scammers called you. Unless you let them take over your computer remotely, they have no idea as to whether your computer is infected or not.
This is a new, slimy business model in India, Bangladesh, and other countries in that region, where call centers prey upon Americans through the telephone.
If you want to feel safer after a call from a scammer, call a trusted tech guru and/or run a virus scan with Eset online scanner.
Stay safe out there.
I really care about my customers and I wish technology was easier to keep up with. At the same time, I do run into several common misconceptions that are simpler (albeit less intuitive) than learning grammar or cooking, and most of my customers are better than I am at both of those things. I want my customers to be effective users of technology, so read on to see if you are making any of these mistakes.
The most important thing to know in using a PC or a Mac is about your files. You should know where your files are, what type of files you have, and whether they are backed up. At the very least, you should know where your files are. Neither the PC nor the Mac make file management intuitive. Both operating systems will do oddball things when suggesting the place to save your files. Sadly, the only answer is to be vigilant and knowledgeable about where your files end up.
The most common terms that are misused are download, upload, Google, Internet, and modem/router. Downloading is the act of downloading a file to your device (computer, tablet, or phone). It happens all the time, even when watching a YouTube video or visiting a Webpage. You may not realize it but when you watch a video on your computer, it is downloading to your computer. The more common manifestation of actively downloading something is when you choose to save a file from an email or Web page to your computer to a specific location.
The term 'upload' actually means to do the opposite of download, where you upload a file so that it can then be downloaded. Usually, when a customer uses the word upload, they actually mean install.
Google is a company that is primarily in the search engine business. They also sell advertising, offer apps (Chrome and others), have a Webmail (Gmail), and do several other things. But, Google is not the Internet, nor is it a browser (although they do make a browser, Chrome).
People often mix up the functions of the device/s that get them access to the Internet. Most homes in the last five years have what is called a 'gateway' device that gets their devices online. A gateway is a device that does the job of both a router and a modem, and Centurylink's gateways do a poor job at both, whereas Comcast's are good enough to be comparable to a $100 device from a retailer.
Although not as important to know as many other tech concepts, there is an odd ratio of reliance to obliviousness regarding browsers. At least 85% of what people do on their computer is through a browser, yet most users don't really know what a browser is or which one they are using. Examples of browsers are Firefox, Chrome, Safari (usually on Macs), and Internet Explorer/Edge. Browsers display Webpages, and that's really all they do. They seem to do much more, but that's because Web pages do much more than display text and images. You can watch videos, send/receive email, download files, and even create Web pages through a browser. Know which browser you like to use and why, along with the main things you can do with a browser, such as type in a web address, create a favorite/bookmark, and download files.
The most common thing I wish I saw less of is people who cannot live without their email but they have almost no idea how their email works or best practices regarding it. This is especially the case with small business owners. Email was was not designed to handle all that we (and spammers and hackers) throw at it. Things you should know about email are: (a) whether you are using Webmail, pop3/imap, or Exchange email, (b) how to avoid spam and junk mail (and the difference between the two), (c) how do download attachments and then what to do afterwards, and (d) how to organize (delete!) email.
Just as you're a better steward of your car when you know that you shouldn't drive it hard when the engine is cold or skip changing the oil, you should learn as much as you can about the primary things you do with technology. You may think your tech support person is being a 'grammar nazi' when they correct you when you call a folder a file (or vice versa), but I assure you we are not. We want to find a solution to your problem and know that this is much easier if you, the customer, know the correct terms and functionality of technology.
SEO (search engine optimization) is analogous to dating, mind-reading, research/experimentation, and providing free informational seminars to promote your business. SEO is analogous to several other things, but these four are some of the most prominent comparisons.
SEO is analogous to dating in that even when you put your best foot forward, many potential customers will take a quick look at your Web page/s and quickly leave. Conversion rates are low across most industries, so you're attempting to attract fickle and picky customers. (By the way, I am often one of those fickle and picky customers).
SEO is analogous to mind-reading, too. You have to guess at and research what your potential customers are typing into search engines when they desire what you offer. It is likely that you will have to step out of your persona as an expert in your field to come up with keyword ideas. Customers are likely using search terms that you, as the expert, find odd and off-topic.
That's where the research and experimentation part comes in. You come up with a group of potential keyword ideas and you use various tools (e.g., Google's Keyword Planner) to see if your ideas match what people are searching. You may end up surprised by how your favorite keyword ideas have zero search traffic. After you find some keywords that are relevant and getting a good amount of search traffic, you plug them in (don't stuff them!) to your written content and then check (with tools like Google Analytics) to see if you're getting quality visits (not bounce visits) to the page with that content.
The concept that some small business owners have the most trouble with is that you typically have to give away insights and industry information to rank well in organic search results. So, SEO is analogous to giving free seminars to promote your business. Lawyers, insurance agents, and many other professionals have been doing this for centuries. I believe that this can be difficult to stomach for two main reasons: (a) it feels like you're giving away trade secrets and empowering more customers to do things themselves instead of making a service call and (b) it's a lot to keep up with. For B, keep in mind that you don't have to put up a trade magazine's worth of content every week. After an initial understanding of content creation is in place, one to three hours a week is often all that is necessary for a small business owner to create content that will help with SEO.
SEO is both art and science, both mystical and clear, and both complex and easy.
Questions and comments are welcome.
Can you get your files back after a ransomware attack? You probably cannot get the primary, most current versions of your files back. But, if Windows was running shadow copy or if you have a backup drive connected to your computer (and you turned off your computer soon enough), at least some of your files may be recoverable.
Call us if you need help with recovering from Ransomware, whether it is Cryptolocker or Wannacry, we can help you.
There is no such thing as a business that is so small that it does not have special needs regarding its technology. If you are a business, you have some needs that consumers do not, such as:
-Accounting software, such as QuickBooks.
-A greater need to back up data.
-More interaction with an email program and more email management needs. This probably means you have to delete useless email more often than consumers do.
-Probably more Microsoft Office programs, such as Outlook, Publisher, or Access.
-A greater need to have newer computers and equipment, and to have your technology maintained more often. A PC for a home user can remain useful for six years, whereas a PC used for business will typically remain useful for three to four years.
-Paid anti-virus (We suggest Eset).
-If you're using a networked program (such as QuickBooks or Access), everyone using the networked program must be familiar with how to open the correct network file, rather than the wrong network file or a local file. Most networked programs will happily allow a user to open the wrong network file or a local file and start working away. This is not a good situation because they could add or modify data for a week before figuring out that they haven't been working within the correct file.
-More elaborate printing. We suggest any laser printer over any ink-jet printer for business. If you need to print in color, then the ink-jet printer is fine for that, but your black and white (monochrome) documents should be printed with a laser printer. The TCO (total cost of ownership) of a laser printer can be five times cheaper than that of an ink-jet printer.
-If possible, a 'defacto' person in the office who can deal with minor tech problems and/or can be the one who deals with technical support. Hopefully, this employee is rewarded for this duty through higher pay or job security; that's up to you.
-A file server. Although client operating systems can be file servers, they have limitations regarding sharing and are often used as productive computers as well as being a file server. A cheap, relatively old PC can be used as a file server, and may not require a monitor in this assigned task. There are also network attached storage devices, which are somewhat more money, but perform the task of file server best.
If you are a business owner, go over this list and decide which special needs apply to you and which things are not addressed above.
Apple has complete control over both the hardware and the software that Macs rely on to be the appliances that they are. Microsoft, on the other hand, has a more flimsy hold on the quality of the hardware and software that runs on PCs. The average Mac is more stable than the average PC. This is an undisputable fact. You can almost always find a PC that is more powerful than a Mac (for less money) and it may remain about as stable as the Mac, or it may not, usually depending on malware.
The question of whether you should switch to a Mac from a PC comes down to two main questions: (a) Is the higher price of the Mac worth it? and (b) Are you fed up with all the inevitable problems that come with using a PC? Macs are not without their specific problems and annoyances. Some of the most expensive Macs have severe hardware problems and all Macs are intentionally built to be difficult to upgrade or repair.