Archive for the ‘Laptop’ Category
According to a recent study, more than 8,000 mobile devices were left behind at just seven of the country’s largest airports in the last year. The most common places mobile devices were left behind? Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints and restrooms.
Losing your mobile device – smartphone, tablet or laptop – can be a traumatic experience. Life in the modern world is so device-driven that suddenly being without the gadget you’ve come to rely on can be amajor inconvenience. Even more of a drag than paying for a new phone is recovering all those saved contacts, emails, documents, photos, music files and passwords c — if you even can, that is.
Don’t panic. We’ve got some helpful tips for you to lock, locate and recover your device, and give you better peace of mind.
Locking your device with a password can help ensure that your data is kept safe in the event of loss or theft.
For laptops, mobile devices and tablets, we recommend using a strong password that is at least 8 characters long. It should contain a combination of numbers, letters and symbols, using a combination of upper and lower case whenever possible. For added protection, laptops should be physically locked when left unattended (even at home). Finally, never write down your password (it makes it easier for someone to find it) or tell anyone what it is.
If you misplace your device before you’ve had a chance to lock it with a password, make sure to change the passwords to all personal accounts your accessed through that device before it disappeared, or else whoever finds the device will have access to all of them. This is especially important for email accounts, online banking login information and social media sites, because they tend to contain the most valuable personal information.
Also, be sure to contact your service provider when you discover your device is missing. Many providers are able to remotely lock your device or account, helping to prevent unwanted phone calls, data usage and costly fees.
While passwords and locks are a good first line of defense, there are several additional ways to protect your device if you set it down somewhere, or it falls out of your pocket.
One of the first things to do is install a mobile security suite on your mobile device. On Android smartphones, free apps like Lookout Mobile Security, Norton Mobile Security Lite, Seekdroid Lite and Webroot Secure Anywhere Mobile let you remotely locate your device, lock it, and/or delete all the data in it.
Users of the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch can get similar functionality by, installing the free Find My iPhone app. Users can sign in with their Apple ID, and a map showing the approximate location of their device will be available. The app gives users the option of displaying a message on the lost hardware, locking it down, or remotely wiping it.
For even more security, you might want to check out Geek Squad’s Locked & Found app($2.99/month). It allows users to remotely lock their device and use GPS to locate it. Plus, if someone finds your device, they can report it through the device even if you locked it. If your device is stolen, Locked and Found can take a picture of the person holding the device and turn on a screaming alarm. We also have a 24/7 service available to facilitate getting your Apple, Android or Blackberry device back to you, and is included in Geek Squad Protection plans (or can be purchased purchased as a standalone app).
LoJack for Laptops is another lock, locate and recover service available specifically for laptops. As with the services for smartphones, LoJack allows subscribers to remotely lock and delete files from the laptop if it is ever stolen. The system uses patented technology to track the laptop and assist local law enforcement to recover it. Plans start at $40 per year.
If you haven’t installed a security program on your device, you can always try locating your device by contacting it via phone, text or email. If you’ve installed them, you can use free services, such as Skype or Google Voice. You can also send the device a detailed message with information on how to return your missing device through email or SMS message using Gmail.
Equipment is replaceable. Often times, data is not. Make sure you don’t lose your data by regularly backing up your gadget’s information.
With the proper utilities, you can easily synch your smartphone or tablet to your computer using the USB port to transfer information. You can also use a cloud storage app such as iCloud (free) for Apple and MyBackup Pro ($4.99) for Android, which allow users to back-up and access their mobile device’s data from any location. If you’re a Google+ user, the Instant Upload feature automatically uploads photos and videos from your smartphone to a private album, so you never lose a memory.
With PC laptops, software programs such as Genie Backup Manager ($39.95), Norton Ghost ($69.99) and Second Copy ($29.95) automatically maintain current archives of your personal information (as does Time Machine for Macintosh computers). You can access cloud storage sites such as Evault and IBackup from any Internet connection.
Want to back things up the old-fashioned way? Burn it to CD/DVDs, or manually copy your data to external hard drives or USB devices (just remember to back up your data on a regular basis).
No matter which approach to securing your mobile devices your choose, always remember that in our mobile world, data security comes down to three words – lock, locate and recover.
Security experts have issued several warnings about security holes in recent versions of the Java software from Oracle. Java is used in web browsers across operating systems like Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, and is primarily used by websites to display dynamic content on your browser and some downloadable applications.
According to an alert issued by the US Department of Homeland Security, Java 7 (Update 10 and earlier) have a vulnerability in its code that can allow a hacker to run malicious software on a Java-enabled computer if that PC accesses a hacked website, or downloads malicious programs.
Oracle has released an update for the program (Java 7 Update 11) that is available as a free download at http://www.java.com.
Some security experts are still concerned about the vulnerability of Java, as this is not the first time hackers have used security holes in the code to exploit systems. Their recommendation? Disable Java on your computer, which can be done a) through the Control Panel, or b) by uninstalling the Java software from your computer.
Whether you remove Java completely comes down to the basic question of “security v. functionality” all computers face. Removing programs that have security vulnerabilities may help reduce vulnerabilities on your computer, but at the cost of losing some features and functionality of websites and downloaded programs on your machine.
Regardless, Geek Squad recommends practicing safe browsing habits whenever you are on the Internet, as well protecting your computer by keeping the Operating System updated and having updated antivirus software, as well as keeping your important files (documents, photos, etc) backed up on a routine basis.
If you need assistance in making sure that your computer is up-to-date and protected, connect to our Geek Squad Tech Support team online, stop by a Geek Squad Precinct in a Best Buy store near you, or call 1-800 GEEK SQUAD today.
Agent Derek has helped remove techno-stress from the lives of his Geek Squad clients since 2005. When not providing remote help as an Online Support Agent, he likes to take to the road on a vintage motorcycle for adventures through Ohio country highways.
So you bought your Mom and Dad a laptop last year so they could video chat with their grandkids. Everyone agreed it would be nice to video chat and were excited to begin using it. Unfortunately, once the holidays were over, the video chat idea lost some of its momentum. Oh, they tried it a couple of times, but your Dad just couldn’t get the hang of the camera and software – any tech for that matter – have always challenged your Mom. “Oh, we’ll just call you,” is their standard response these days.
Don’t give up hope yet. Agent Alex made a 2 Minute Miracle video describing how to setup and use Skype. In it he describes how to setup a Skype account, install the software, add contacts and make a call. After watching the video, your parents should be able to finally get the video chat functionality up and running.
Here’s a few simple keyboard commands to get you started:
Want to see Windows 8 mouse and keyboard shortcuts in action? Check out our fourth Windows 8 “Two Minute Miracle” video, “Mouse and Keyboard Shortcuts”.
For further tips and walkthroughs on how to use your Windows 8 device, check out our previous blog posts (here, here and here) on Windows 8, head over to geeksquad.com’s “Windows 8 tips and tricks” section (geeksquad.com/Windows8) for 11 Windows 8 walk-throughs, or check out our entire “Two Minute Miracle” video series to help get you up to speed in no time.
Agent Ron has been battling the forces of unruly technology run amok since 2001, prior to Geek Squad’s acquisition of Best Buy. When not busy creating video & technical training content for Geek Squad Agents in the field, Agent Ron enjoys home brewing, public speaking, international travel, and learning how to cook new cuisines.
Frustrated with your computer or cell phone? Embarrassed to ask your kids/grandkids for tech help? You’re not alone. According to AARP, 33 percent of Boomers report frustration with technology. Here’s some tips to help you take control of your technology.
One of the most popular computer questions people have about their computer is “Why is it running slowly?” Through the years, we have narrowed down the list of possible reasons to ten:
1) Too many programs are running at the same time.
It is common for users to download utilities, applications, and other programs that run in the background. The more programs that are running – whether you see them or not – the less “attention span” your computer has to do other things you are asking it to do.
Avoid downloading web browser-helpers, more than one anti-malware program, or applications that claim to “speed up” your internet or your computer, as each one added will slow down your performance. (It’s also a good idea to uninstall programs that you do not use to increase your machine’s processing speed.)
2) There’s not enough free RAM.
Random-access memory (RAM) is what your computer uses for temporary working and thinking space. The more programs running at time, the more RAM is used. If your computer is running slowly, it could be because too many programs are running, and not enough RAM. To make your computer run faster, run fewer programs at a time or upgrade your RAM.
3) You have a virus/malware infection.
Internet slowdowns and slow computer operation can be a symptom of an infection. To find out if you have a malware problem, use an anti-virus and anti-spyware application to find it – like the free scanning tool we have available in the Self-Help area of our website.
4) You have low hard drive space.
Lack of hard drive space often affects older computers, or computers that do a lot of video editing or design work. Hard drives, which store all of your computer’s information, have a finite amount of space. Once they’re filled up, the computer no longer has the ability to manipulate files. The computer will slow down, eventually becoming unusable.
Generally, Windows will alert you to “low disk space” if this is the case. Moving some of your less-used files – such as pictures, music, and movies – to an external hard drive would free up some of your computer’s hard drive space and make it run faster. Deleting temporary files and performing a disk cleanup are also good ways to reclaim wasted space. Another solution? Install a bigger hard drive.
5) Restart your computer.
Every once in a while, it is a good idea to restart your computer. A computer cannot complete some of its updates until you restart. Restarting your computer can also free up memory resources tied up by buggy programs.
6) Sharing a wireless network.
If your internet is running slowly, but your computer is running quickly, you could have a lot of activity on your wireless network. Check to see if anyone else on your network is doing something that uses a lot of bandwidth (like streaming video or playing online games), as this can make your computer run slowly. You should also make sure your wireless network is secure so someone else isn’t using your Internet bandwidth. If your wireless network is not secure, Geek Squad recommends you create a password to secure your data and ensure strangers don’t join your network.
7) Too many “bells and whistles.”
Animated pointers and hi-resolution images of your favorite vacation spot may look nice, but they can also slow your computer down. Since animations and images load into memory every time you start your PC , there is less processing power available for more important tasks.
8) You have a scanning program running.
When a scanning program such as an anti-virus, anti-spyware, or automatic backup is running, your computer may respond slowly. We don’t recommend disabling these, as they are an important part of your computers safety. These programs should be run at least once a week, but don’t plan on using your machine while they are running.
9) Your computer barely meets your software’s minimum requirements.
Software usually has a list of requirements for things like processor speed, operating system, memory (RAM) and hard drive space. These specifications are the absolute minimum levels needed to make the software run. If your computer just meets the requirements, the software will run, but it might not run well. Try to meet or surpass the system “recommendations” of your software, rather than just meeting the bare “requirements.”
10) You have a fragmented hard drive.
It’s important to defragment your hard drive to help the computer organize itself better and make sure it runs smoothly. Think of your hard drive as someone who really likes to be organized but is always in a big hurry. Because you hard drive is low on time, it might save bits of a file here and pieces of it there, rather than all together. This works fine for a while, but eventually everything is scattered, and it takes your hard drive longer to find everything and get moving. Defragmenting is like a really big clean up. Your hard drive will put everything back in the right place and, as a result, will be able to move more quickly.
That’s it! If you’ve follow these ten steps, it should help you resolve a decent amount of your slow computer problems. There’s always more to learn, and lots to do in order to keep your computer running smoothly. Of course, there’s always help from Geek Squad, if you need it, but don’t be afraid to try some things on your own as well. We’ll always be available for you at www.geeksquad.com, at 1-800-GEEKSQUAD (1-800-433-5778), or at a Geek Squad precinct in a Best Buy store near you.
Agent Wiebusch carries badge number #3881, and has thwarted rogue technology issues since 2004, helping clients in store, in their home or business, and now online. When away from computers, he enjoys playing sports, playing videogames, and tinkering with motorcycles, classic cars, and anything else fast.
One of the cool things about Windows 8 is this: if you have the right hardware, you can kiss your mouse goodbye. The new Windows OS is specifically designed to take advantage of all the benefits of a Touch interface. While the OS still lets you use and keyboard and mouse if you wish, let’s take a look at how Windows 8 helps you use your Touch interface effectively.
Lost without a mouse? Can’t get around in Windows without right clicking? Fret not — right clicking is as simple as tapping on an app on the screen and flicking downward to display the App commands bar.
With Windows 8, you can do much more with your Touch enabled device. Want to zoom in or out? Pinch together your fingers on the screen, or stretch them apart. Want to see previously used Apps? Swipe from the left edge of the screen. Want to close an App? Swipe from the top of the screen to the bottom.
If you read our previous blog posts on Windows 8 (here and here), you know that we have been preparing for this for a while now. Check out our third Windows 8 “Two Minute Miracle” video, “Touch 101,” in the Do It Yourself section of our website for more tips on using Touch in Windows 8. There you will also find a series of other helpful Windows 8 “Two Minute Miracle” videos with tips and walkthroughs to help make your transition to Windows 8 an easy one.
Agent Ron has been battling the forces of unruly technology run amok since 2001, prior to Geek Squad’s acquisition of Best Buy. When not busy creating video & technical training content for Geek Squad Agents in the field, Agent Ron enjoys home brewing, international travel, and learning how to cook new cuisines.
Ah… portable electronics — the joy of modern technology. The most appealing thing about touchscreen phones, notebooks, netbooks and tablets is their portability. We take them just about everywhere we go. We toss them in our backpacks, our purses, and our pockets. And sometimes… they pay the price.
Although they are designed to resist the rigors of daily use, the screens on our favorite mobile devices are actually very fragile.Most laptop and netbook Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) are less than ¼ inch thick. (Touch sensitive screens of mobile devices are even thinner.) If twisted, poked hard, or if just enough pressure is applied to the back of the LCD assembly, the screen on any of these devices will crack.
None of us are perfect. Accidents happen. What can you do to recover when the inevitable happens?
If you look at the screen, you might see/feel physical cracks in the tempered glass. Imagine stepping on a frozen puddle in the wintertime and seeing the ice crack under your foot. If you were to run your finger over the cracks, you may feel sharp edges or flakes of glass. Unless you like glass slivers embedded in your flesh, you might want to avoid running your hand across a screen you think is cracked.
You may or may not be able to see anything on the damaged screen when it is powered on. This usually occurs when the device is dropped or the screen is flexed past its breaking point. It can also occur if something is banged against the screen, or if you shut something hard in between the screen and the keyboard.
|Sometimes the glass won’t break, but your screen will appear to have a large splortch (it’s a technical term, look it up) of blackness with trails of black that radiate outward like tentacles from the blob. This type of damage is caused by pressure being applied either to the screen itself or to the back of the unit. This damage is common when a device is stepped on or sat upon. The glass doesn’t break, but the chemical inside that renders the image is leaking.At a basic level, your device screen is like those glowsticks you get at Halloween. Inside the plastic tubing is a thin glass container with a chemical. If you apply enough pressure, the container will shatter and the chemical inside comes out. The same principle applies to your LCD screen.|
|No matter how well you care for your product or how careful you are, accidents will happen. The best way to protect yourself against accidental damage and cracked screens on all mobile devices is to purchase a repair or replacement plan that covers accidental damage when you buy the device.|
Agent Kate B is a 3 year veteran of Geek Squad, currently on assignment at Geek Squad City. Follow Kate on Twitter @AgentKateB.
Laptops are often at the top of a student’s shopping list for college. While mostly used for homework, papers and research, they’re also great for teleconferencing on the cheap.
Most laptops include built-in webcams which are great for audio/videoconferencing. Combined with programs like Skype (http://www.skype.com), Google Talk (http://www.google.com/talk/) or FaceTime (http://www.apple.com/mac/facetime/), those Sunday night calls can be more meaningful, allowing everyone to see each other while they are talking.
Sometimes, regular phone calls are still the best option. Which is why a smartphone is a good choice. Many family plans allow free long distance so children and parents can reach out and talk as often as needed. Plus, many modern smartphones have front-facing cameras to enable you to use Skype, FaceTime or similar video chat apps while on the go – whether it be for a pre-exam pep talk, or at a pep rally before the big game.
With more parents (and grandparents) joining social networks, students can keep everyone up to date with Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) or Google+ (http://plus.google.com). College life can be hectic at times, so the ability to upload stories about college classes, photos of dorm life, or recorded videos make it easy for loved ones to keep up on their students’ busy lives.
Of course, while getting their children set up with the technology to keep in touch, parents will also want to make sure their own home tech is up to the task. Geek Squad Agents can help to ensure the home network is setup, safe and secure, and the home computer is free of malware and ready to go for reaching out to their loved ones. Even if it’s only so their kids can ask for more “laundry” money.
Agents are available 24 hours a day to help with your technology at 1-800 GEEK SQUAD (800-433-5778), online at http://support.geeksquad.com, or in a Geek Squad Precinct located at your local Best Buy.Agent Derek has been removing techno-stress from the lives of his Geek Squad clients since 2005. When not providing remote help as an Online Support Agent, he likes to take to the road on a vintage motorcycle for adventures through Ohio country highways.
An important part of the life cycle of your electronic devices is ensuring that when the time comes, you dispose of them safely and properly. Modern electronics can have all kinds of dangerous and hazardous materials. Today, Agents Nicole and Ish give us tips and tricks to help you ensure you dispose of your devices safely.
As always, Geek Squad Agents are standing by to help you with your technology needs; whether that’s questions about recycling, tips for staying efficient, or helping you get up and running again. Chat with an Agent at Http://www.geeksquad.com, give us a call at 1-800-GEEK-SQUAD, or visit us at your local Geek Squad Precinct. For trade-in or recycling options at your local Best Buy, visit Http://www.bestbuy.com/TradeIn.
2012 brings in a new year of resolutions for many of us. But those shouldn’t be limited to you. Don’t forget to consider your computer too! Today, Geek Squad has some New Year’s resolution tips for your computers. These maintenance tips will help you start off on the right foot, avoid problems, and help with your PCs performance!
Keep your PC clean of clutter!
Over time, hard drive space can get used up by temporary files (from the Internet, program installations, and more). The easiest and safest way to get rid of these and reclaim disk space is to use the built-in Windows Disk Cleanup Utility. You can search for “Disk Cleanup” in the start menu, or find it under “All Programs” > ”Accessories” > ”System Tools”. Not only will this utility safely find the files unnecessary for your PC, but will allow you to select which of them to be removed.
Another source of frequent clutter on your drive are files stored by your Internet browser. These files accumulate as you surf the net every day. To clear these unnecessary temporary files in the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE 9, click the gear icon in the top right-hand corner of your browser and select “Internet Options”. On the very first page/tab, you’ll see a “Browsing History” section in the middle of the window, with the option to “Delete.” On the next window, you get the option of deleting some or all of that data. Some of the information stored within Internet Explorer, like cookies, you may want to keep, as they help track when you revisit certain websites, preferences from last visits, however you can choose to delete all the information here safely. If you’re using another popular browser, like Firefox, you would find similar options under a “Tools/Preferences” menu, typically listed as “private data.”
Keep your PC healthy and up to date!
Updates are an important part to keeping your PC/Mac as secure and bug-free as possible. If you are using Windows, search for “Windows Update” in the Start Menu, or find it directly listed in the “All Programs” menu. On a Mac, you can click the Apple logo in the top left-hand corner of your screen, and click “Software Update.” For both, it will scan your computer and check for any available updates. Once it has determined which updates you need, you can review them prior to installation, and determine if they appeal to you. If you’re not sure what something is, just use this rule of thumb: if the update is not listed as important, then you don’t have to install them; they’re optional. Anything listed as important, however, is vital to keep your computer as secure, and well behaved, as possible.
Keep your PC safe!
Antivirus or antimalware is another thing to keep in mind while maintaining your PC. If you have an active antivirus program, we recommend opening it on occasion to make sure it is up to date, and has scanned your PC recently. If you don’t have a current antivirus program installed, there are several recommendations we can make. Norton, Trend Micro, and Kaspersky all make very effective products for a variety of terms and options. If you prefer a no-cost solution for your antivirus, we can also recommend Microsoft Security Essentials. While lacking some of the features of a paid antivirus product, it offers you basic protection, and is updated by Microsoft themselves.
Keep your PC dust free!
Lastly, there is the physical cleaning of your PC. If your PC is over a year old, or in a dusty location, you may want to clean it with compressed air. Keeping your PC clean of dust allows air to flow more freely, keeping the temperature down, and protecting the PC from overheating. If you choose to use compressed air, be careful and follow the instructions listed on the can. Not doing so could result in damage to your computer from condensation (hold the can upright, spray in short bursts).
Geek Squad recommends performing these steps every 6-12 months, to keep your PC in optimal condition. Not sure this is a project you want to undertake? These are some of the same steps Geek Squad Agents utilize when performing a PC Tune-Up on your PC. Agents are standing by 24/7/365 to keep your PC in prime condition. Chat with an Agent today at GeekSquad.com or give us a call at 1-800-GeekSquad.
Agent William G. has been an Agent with Geek Squad since 2004. If he’s not working on computers remotely, or contributing to the Geek Squad Intelligence Blog, he can be seen skateboarding in the city streets of Atlanta.
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