Extending the Life of your Computer

Our work and personal computers, whether it is our desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone are part of our everyday life. For some of us we are a bit addicted to it for work or social reasons. Whatever your reasons for using your technology, it probably was a major purchase costing you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. It also has critical information on it. Being without it for any amount of time is a nuisance and can cost time and money. So how then do we extend the life of these precious parts of our lives? Here are a few suggestions to follow.

  • Start by choosing the right computer for your needs. For example, when you are purchasing a laptop or desktop be sure you are getting one that has the best processor, enough memory, storage and the capability to add features that you want/need.
  • Properly maintain your computer no matter what you choose (and how durable they claim it is.) For instance keep your computer cool, clean and have it maintained regularly. Keep everything ticking smoothly by installing the latest updates of software that will allow for the latest security as well.
  • Update the RAM when you find that your computer is freezing when you need to work. Check for RAM upgrades that will allow you to keep your device working longer.
  • Be proactive by installing anti-virus, anti-malware and following protocols that will keep you safe from cyber attacks.
  • Give your computer space to breath. Literally! Do not stack it on a desk that has no air flow or keep in a car that can heat up and damage the hardware.

 

If you are looking for more ideas on ways to extend the life of your work or personal computers call M&H Consulting.

 

Laptops for Business

 

Finding the right technology for your business needs can be tricky work. There are so many choices out there for software, hardware and office tech that it can become overwhelming without some direction. In today’s blog we are discussing work technology in the form of the much beloved business laptop. We will look at the options out there as well as some things that you may want to consider before making your purchase.

 

According to PC Mag, business owners are looking for something that is durable, secure, powerful, light and has the battery capacity to last through an entire work day. Things to consider, then when researching the best business laptop for your needs are:

 

  • Storage – How much storage you need for your files, presentation or security software? Do you use multimedia presentations or merely need access to files?  
  • Memory – The right amount of memory allows you to keep more programs and windows open while you work.
  • Graphics – Make sure your laptop has the right type of graphics and displays for the needs of your company.
  • Connectivity – Getting connect to the web through a wifi location when you are on-the-go is important for business travelers. Choose a laptop that has options for how easily and how securely you can connect.
  • Battery Life – Most business laptops come with options of battery. No one wants to be on a long business trip only to stop every few hours to recharge. You can choose between the number of batteries and cells. The higher you go, the heavier the device will be so you need to decide if the battery performance is worth the weight.

 

Resources – Click on the following links if you would like to continue your laptop search and are looking at rankings.

 

PC Mag Top Laptops 2017

 

The 8 Best Business Laptops to Buy in 2017

Top 10 best business laptops in 2017

New Year’s Resolutions for your Technology

 

Everyone seems to be making their New Year’s Resolutions this time of year about eating healthy, getting to the gym and doing positive things to help themselves kick off the new year right. While it may not be top on your list this season a technology resolution or two may save you many hassles in the new year and potentially increase your productivity as well. Here are a few that we suggest. May you have a happy and safe 2017.

  • Back Up – Until you have lost some valuable data that you can not retrieve, you have no idea how very important this resolution is. There are numerous methods of back up including: cloud storage, flash drives, Drop Boxes and the list goes on. It doesn’t matter what method your business has for backing up data – just that you do it and do it fairly often.
  • Update – Software is updated regularly to fix ongoing issues or improve functionality and ease of use. Many systems have the option of automatic updates that download whenever the computer is available. Updates can keep your system moving smoothly and potentially avoid any issues with older programs and applications.
  • Enable Security – If the high profile security hacking you read about in the news isn’t enough to get you to beef up your digital security, the thought of losing revenue due to a hacking incident, phishing scam, malware, spyware or viruses should be enough to increase your vigilance. Firewalls, double encryption, and strong passwords should be a resolution everyone in your company takes seriously.
  • Clean it Up – Your desktop, laptop and mobile devices can get clogged with outdated applications, extraneous information and data that can be stored long term. Consider cleaning out your computer system regularly starting with this new calendar year. (Read next blog on cleaning out your computer to start the new year.)
  • Avoid Over-Downloading – The more on your computer, the slower and harder it works. Some software and applications look fun and if they are free it seems too good to be true. Unfortunately, these applications and software programs may be slowing down your computer, zapping your battery and bringing in security issues. Be careful about what you download in the new year.

Saving Your Laptop Battery

It never fails; the moment you need your laptop for a meeting or to complete work, while being away from an electric source, the low battery alert comes on. We have all been there staring at the horror of a battery that is too low to conduct business and, of course, you forgot your power cord. All’s not lost, however. There are still some things you can do to save your laptop battery. The idea is to reduce the amount of power the laptop is using, letting you squeeze in a few more precious minutes before the battery goes dead. In addition, there are some techniques to extent the overall lifespan of the battery. Here are a few techniques that can help you do both stretch your battery in a pinch as well as preventative measures that will help in the future.

 

  • Eco-Mode – If your laptop has an energy saver mode switch that on for long term use.  This will reduce the amount of battery life your computer uses regularly.
  • Adjust Settings – Backlighting can be a huge drain on power so turn it down slightly to reduce power consumption. Reduce the resolution if you are able to or are not using it for detailed images. Finally, adjust the sound. Saving the power from being zapped by the speakers can buy you a few more minutes of battery life.
  • Shut Things Off – Turn off applications you are not using and try not to multitask, which means multiple windows are open at once.
  • Turn Off Wifi and Bluetooth – While this may not be practical if you need internet access, it will stretch your battery life if you don’t need it.
  • Care for your Battery Regularly – It’s a good idea to take your battery out from time to time and care for it. If you have a laptop with a detachable battery, give it a careful wipe with a soft cloth every few months to get rid of any dust, and make sure the contact points are especially clean.
  • Don’t Let the Battery Empty – According to PC World, “Squeezing every drop of juice out of a lithium ion battery (the type used in today’s laptops) strains and weakens it. Doing this once or twice won’t kill the battery, but the cumulative effect of frequently emptying your battery will shorten its lifespan.”
  • Keep It Cool – Heat can break down a battery and shorten its lifespan. Keep vents unblocked and never leave it in a hot car or near a window that gets direct sunlight.

 

Why your Computer Keeps Rebooting

Are you using a PC that keeps rebooting after a while or even when you attempt to start it up? This usually means two things; something is crashing within your computer software and you are still using an older version of Windows. Windows versions older than Window 8 respond to crashes by rebooting. When this keeps occurring, the best way to solve the issue is by fixing the crash and updating your Windows software.

In order to fix the crashing that is causing the rebooting issue you must first find it. Here are the steps to finding the crashing program:

  1. Continuously press “F8” until a menu appears.
  2. Click on “Safe Mode.”
  3. Click Start.
  4. Type “sysdm.cpl”.
  5. Click the “Advanced” tab.
  6. Click “Startup and Recovery.”
  7. Unclick the “Automatic Restart.”
  8. Click “OK” and restart.
  9. Wait for the “Blue Screen of Death” (BSoD) to show up.

Once the dreaded BSoD shows up (a blue screen with white text), it will give you information on where this crash is taking place. After this information is given, proceed by starting your computer in the “safe mode.” You will then want to start the MSConfig program and click on the startup tab, which will open a window with a list of programs and check boxes. Uncheck the all programs that are set to load automatically. To find the specific program, though, you will have to go back to check one of the programs, restart your PC, and wait for one of them to trigger a reboot.

As imaginable, this entire process can be pretty tedious. So, in order to prevent something like this from recurring, make sure to update your Windows software to the modern version. To find out more information on how to update your software or on how to prevent crashes, contact M&H.

How Often Should Technology Be Upgraded?

When your company is busy it means that business is good and while there may be funds to do necessary upgrades, there probably isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done. Then, when business is slow, it might mean that the extra funds for upgrades has dried up or been allocated for other projects. It is a double edged sword that businesses face all over this country. It is tempting to wait until a computer breaks or a piece of software becomes obsolete and to think about how you’ll replace it, right?

 

How exactly does your company decide when the appropriate time is to change out hardware or update the existing software that you need for the day-to-day running of your company? Do you wait until it is do-or-die time? Wait for signs of cracks? Wait till employees complain? M&H can help you create schedules and timelines for how long your technology should last and when the appropriate times are to upgrade. Here are some strategies for helping your company make these decisions.  

 

  • Create a Technology Plan – Upgrading and refreshing both your software and hardware should not be a haphazard procedure that is only discussed when there is a problem.  Using feedback from managers, leadership, employees and, most of all, any of your tech experts, creates a technology plan that takes into account budgeting for needed upgrades and updates to the technology that your business may depend on. This plan should look into the lifespan of certain devices as well as take into account the regular pace at which upgrades to software turn out.
  • Look at warranty and Insurance Plans – When deciding upon replacing existing tech look at any warranty and insurance programs that may remain on the devices. This may save your business a lot of money in the long run.
  • Examine how an upgrade will help your clients/customers and patrons. You do not need the latest and greatest of every new technology. With the fast pace at which things change in this industry, your company would go broke just trying to keep up. So, examine what impacts the change may have of your customers first. Will the upgrade help with your customers having a better experience with your business? Will it increase a positive impact on customer service? This may help in your decision.
  • Budget – Yes, it may come down to budget. Does your company have the funds to upgrade, or would it be best to wait on items for the next fiscal year?  
  • Prioritize – Obviously software upgrades that are imperative for the operation of your business should take priority over splurges for new devices for employees. Make a list and regularly examine what takes priority in your company. For companies just starting out this list may need to be fluid as unexpected costs come up, but have the list to keep you on track.

Talk to Experts – Talk to tech experts like M&H whose business is to know what upgrades and new tech are coming down the pike. We can help you prioritize and create a tech plan that is right for your unique business.

Getting Optimal Performance out of your Network

It’s always a drag when you have a ton of work to get done online but your network feels like it can’t keep up with you and your tasks. We have all been there before when we have to upload a document online and you can’t even seem to get the website to fully load. Many times the solution to a better working network is a simple one. To get the optimal performance out of your network consider the following tips:

Place your wireless box closer. By placing the box at a closer or centralized location, your devices can get better connection. When doing this, you also want to make sure to avoid placing it near metal beams or doors. This can inhibit a wireless connection.

Use an Ethernet cable. Connecting to an Ethernet cable allows your devices to connect immediately with optimal signal. If you do not need to be portable, this is a great technique for the time being.

Upgrade your Router. Sometimes you just need to upgrade your router, especially if you’re using one that doesn’t work properly for the kind of network you are demanding. For example, when many devices are connected to a router it can cause it to slow down and sometimes crash. This happens when you do not have the appropriate equipment. An upgrade could be best.

Update your router and device. Sometime updating your equipment can feel like a drag, especially when it takes hours to complete, but this can be very helpful in the long run. Updates are usually made to fix any security flaws that were existent before. It can also help upgrade the speed in which it works.

Configure your network. You want to avoid having random devices using your network. You must configure its security to keep others from connecting to your network.

Connect to 5GHz network. If your device supports it, you should connect to a 5GHz network as opposed to the 2.4GHz network that all wireless devices usually hook up to. By doing this, you would have access to other “channels” and receive a better wireless connection since not many devices are connected to it.

If you find that you are still having a hard time with your network or you just need help figuring some this stuff out, contact us for more help.

Caring for your Keyboard

Have you ever thought about all the filth and germs your keyboard cumulates? According to ABCNews, your keyboard could be dirtier than a toilet. Truth is that sometimes we’re too busy working on getting things done by the deadline to go out on an actual lunch break, so we eat at our desk while we work. During these times, we drop crumbs and sometimes spill some fluid onto it. Maybe we even have a cold and sneeze or spread germs onto them.

 

Because of this, you should consider a regular maintenance routine for your keyboards. Here are a few steps to take to help care for your keyboard:

First Step is to unplug your keyboard from your compute and maybe even shutdown your computer.

Second Step is to turn the keyboard over and shake and tap all the loose dirt and crumbs out of it.

Third Step; take a compressed air can and use it to blow out any excess dirt/crumbs in stuck in between the hard-to-reach areas. This step can also help loosen any crumbs that may be jammed.

Fourth Step is to repeat the second step and turn the keyboard over to shake and tap out loose dirt/crumbs.

Fifth Step; use a damp lint-free cloth to clean the surface of your keyboard. To eliminate germs, you may want to use diluted dishwashing soap along with the cloth.

Sixth Step is optional, but if you wanted to take it a step further, you can use a vacuum hose with a brush attached to help completely eliminate any leftover dirt or crumbs.

Having a well-maintained keyboard is very important, especially since there is no use for a computer without it. That is why, aside from keeping your keyboard clean and germ-free, you should also take into consideration the following:

  • Don’t press on the keys too hard. If you feel like you need to, consider purchasing a keyboard with soft keys to avoid doing so.
  • Get a keyboard cover to avoid any type of spillage from affecting it. However, if you find that there is moisture developing inside the cover, remove it for moisture can cause damages to the keyboard.
  • Keep keyboard dry and clean. This means avoid eating near it, spilling liquids, and dusty and areas with moisture.

Preserving Laptop Batteries

We’ve all been in that position where we’re on a roll working on a project of some sort on our laptops and, almost out of nowhere, the red battery symbol comes up and instantly remember leaving the charger on the outlet next to your bed or office desk. What do you do then? How will you complete the project before the deadline and hour from now? Read on to find out what useful tips you can take into action to help preserve the most battery life possible in a stressful moment like this.

Set on Battery Saving Mode. First thing is first, you want to switch your laptop settings to saving mode and adjust all other setting as well. If your laptop has a backlight on the keyboard, you can lower the dim the light or turn it off completely. By doing this and reducing the display’s brightness to at least 50 percent, or changing the resolution to basic, your battery’s life expectancy can significantly increase.

Disconnect Devices and Ports. This can be any device hooked onto your laptop through a USB cord or Bluetooth. If you are not using them, disconnect them. If you don’t need to use the Internet, disconnect your laptop from the Wifi so that it’s not wasting energy trying to stay connected. To disable ports that are not in use, navigate to your Control Panel and find “device manager.” Skim through the categories and disable all the unused ones by right clicking and choosing “disabled.”

Avoid Multitasking. Try to focus on one thing at a time. When you are opening multiple applications at the same time it can drain your battery more quickly.

Of course, these are quick fixes to help preserve your laptop’s battery life while in a “no charger” crisis, but in order to have an overall healthy, long-lasting battery you have to take good care of it and your device. Make sure you are charging your battery entirely while occasionally allowing the battery to drain completely. If your laptop has an internal fan and is heats up quickly, try to keep it cooled down and in an area where there is enough airflow. Otherwise, the heat will shorten your battery’s life entirely.

For more detailed information on how to preserve your laptop’s battery in general, contact us online or on the phone!

Best Secure Deletion Programs for your Computer

 

We have all deleted items from our personal computers thinking that it is gone for good.  Guess what? It is not really gone at all. Deleted files are not necessarily lost forever. In fact, deleting an item just hides it from the operating system. It isn’t really gone until the same space is written over by something else. The appropriate programs can restore them. But what if you don’t want that? This is the job of something called a file shredder. A file shredder can remove files from your hard drive without fear that they could be recovered.

 

Many companies have sensitive and personal  information that they don’t want to be recovered. In order to ensure this companies must use a file shredder to securely wipe files from your computer. Here are some of the highest rated file shredders out there.  

 

  • Eraser is a very well designed file shredder program. Eraser is a small program that can securely delete files, folders, unused disk space or even entire drives. To use Eraser, you’ll need to download and install it. When done, it will automatically add secure delete options to the Windows contextual menus. Eraser can be used to schedule data wipe tasks and supports lots of sanitization methods, making it a great way to evade file recovery programs.
  • Freeraser is another software designed to help you securely delete files. It’s interface is extremely minimalist: it’s just a simple trash bin. Freeraser is incredibly easy to use in that it places a Recycle Bin-like icon on your desktop that you can use for a file shredder. Just drag a file or group of files to the bin and they’ll be forever erased from your computer.
  • Free File Shredder – Another easy to use file shredder program is called Free File Shredder. It supports drag and drop, and you can delete one folder at a time or choose to remove multiple files at once. You can also use Free File Shredder to securely empty the Recycle Bin.
  • Moo0 File Shredder is another lightweight application, with a very simplistic interface. Once you launch it, all you have to do is drag and drop any file or folder you want to permanently delete. Unfortunately, Moo0 File Shredder doesn’t add any erasing option to Windows’ right click menus.