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October « 2009 « ZolexPC Blog About Us - Remote Computer Support & Help | Zolex PC
26Oct/09Off

What should I do when my computer will not connect to the Internet?

Figuring out why you lost your Internet connection is usually a process of elimination as to what is causing the problem. Before calling your Internet Service Provider or a technician, you can check a few things yourself first to try to solve the problem. Are you getting any specific error messages such as "Cannot Display the Web Page"? Do you see a Yellow Exclamation Point indicating Limited Activity to the left or your clock on the bottom of your screen? Did you accidentally tell your Firewall to block your regular connection?

Provided you have paid your bill and your service has not been shut off, you want to start by making sure that you have power to your modem/router. This is usually a box provided to you by your ISP. (Internet Service Provider) Are all the cables connected and securely in place? Check the wire from the PC to the Router/modem and make sure everything is connected. Don't be alarmed if there are open ports/spots. Just be sure that the wires that are there are connected. If the Wires/Cables were disconnected, reconnect them and try to connect to the Internet.

In Internet Explorer there is an option on the TOOLS Menu called Work Offline. If this has a check mark next to it, you will want to click on it so that it has a Red X through it. This should never have a check mark on it. Sometimes if the Router/Modem is failing, it may show you this check mark and prevent you from being able to connect to the Internet. Simply click on the check mark and try to connect back to the Internet again.

If all wires are connected and you still cannot connect then you can try to reset the Modem/Router. This is easily done on most models by simply pulling out the power wire on the Modem/Router. If you are not sure which wire to pull out (it is usually black), then you can safely remove all the wires to be sure. Wait about one minute and then reconnect the wires/cables. Give the Router/Modem another minute to reconfigure itself and then try to connect to the Internet. Be sure if using Internet Explorer to check the Work Offline button after resetting your Modem/Router. If this is still checked off it will still prevent you from connecting. Make sure that you always see the Red X on Work Offline under the Tools Menu. Remember this is only for Internet Explorer but can still affect other browsers such as Firefox.

If resetting the Modem/Router works for you, you will want to keep an eye on the Modem/Router. If it becomes a regular instance such as once a week or 3 times month etc., there is a good chance the Modem/Router needs to be replaced. Most Modems/Routers are rented through your ISP (Internet Service Provider) so you can get a new one for no extra charge. Call your ISP and explain that the Modem/Router has to be reset on a regular basis. They should be more than happy to swap it out for you. For example I had a modem for around 4 or 5 years and it slowly just stopped working over time. Like other devices these can breakdown with age and eventually stop working. I called my ISP and they sent out a new modem to swap it out. A technician may have to come to your house to set it up for you but there is no charge to do it.

Did you see any messages related to your Firewall? Resetting the firewall to it's default can solve this problem. If using the Windows Firewall, just go into Control Panel, go to Windows Firewall. Look for the Advanced Tab and click on Restore Defaults. Firewalls are an integral part of your security protection but can be also made to disable all Internet connections if you tell it too. This is one of things that makes Windows Firewall easy to use as it doesn't prompt you for every little item, such as connecting to the Internet.

If resetting the modem for you didn't work, the problem can get a little bit trickier and more technically involved for the average user. If you are the average user at this point you will want to call your ISP and have them check the modem/router for you. If you are a bit more technically savvy, then you can try a few of these additional steps.

If you suspect a Virus on your machine, you will need to have the infection removed by either your Security Software or have a professional do it for you. There are plenty of infections and viruses that will disable your Internet connection or not allow you to connect to certain sites, and other issues. A virus usually wants your PC to stay connected to the Internet to spread. If you have no Internet at all and know the machine is also heavily infected, you should consult a professional who makes house calls or bring the PC into a store etc., if you can't get connected to the Internet. Removing the Virus may or may not fix your Internet Connection issues. Sometimes you may need to remove the infection just to access some of the settings described above like Control Panel. Some Viruses will block out access to your Network Settings or Firewall Settings as well.

For those a bit more daring and technically savvy enough to do it, you need to check your Network Settings and be sure that your Network card is enabled. When you open Network Connections/Settings be sure that your Network connection does not have a Red X through which indicates either a cable is disconnected or the card is Disabled for some reason. If you see the Yellow Exclamation point indicated Limited Activity, then you can try a reset of your Modem/Router. You should also check to see if you are getting an IP address. If you are getting a valid IP, then you have an Internet connection but perhaps the DNS settings are skewed. Again these solutions here are for the more technically savvy and not the average home user.

If you have explored the easy options such as resetting the Modem/Router, and some of the other options listed here to no avail, you should call your ISP to have them check the modem on their end. They can perform a variety of tests to determine that it is operating correctly. If they tell you the modem is fine, then the problem is most likely related to your PC and it's Internet/Network settings. These can be the DNS settings mentioned above. If your ISP cannot help you to get connected or tells you the modem is working correctly, then you need to call in a professional to diagnose the problem. They may walk you through it over the phone for some of the more advanced steps. Some of the more advanced steps will take time over the phone so be patient when talking to the technician. Alas it may just be easier for you to have someone come out to your house and fix it as well. If you have the $$$ someone will fix it for you.

These days, everybody needs the Internet for Business, Pleasure, Family, School, Bill Paying etc., so when it goes down it is important to get it up and working again quickly. By trying these steps first you can save yourself some $$$ and time because your ISP is going to have you reset your Modem/Router anyway. Your problem could be as simple as a loose cable, or just a nice reset for your Router/Modem. It only takes 5 minutes at most to reset your modem and check the connections. Save yourself a few bucks and try to fix it yourself. If not you can always call in a Pro.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week.

Steve
www.zolexpc.com

19Oct/09Off

Is Online Shopping or Banking Safe to do?

With the holiday season fast approaching, this is a pretty common question. The answer to this question is yes. It is safe to do Online Banking and Shopping. The percentage of people who do their shopping and banking online increases every year as millions more take advantage of the convenience called the Internet. Online Shopping and Banking, saves time, gas, money and has plenty of other advantages. It is the wave of the future.

Of course there is a risk associated with it such as Identity Theft, Credit Card theft and more. There is always a chance that you could be a victim but the chances are very small. There is risk in anything that we do in life but this is an certainly an acceptable risk. With all the transactions done online these days, the percentage of misfortune is quite small. If you are the unfortunate victim of one of the above crimes, you are in for a lot of work to fix the situation. However the chances are very small that this will happen to you.

One thing before you begin is to make sure your PC is clean of infections before beginning online bill paying or shopping. An infected PC could contain malicious software targeting your personal information, credit card information etc. It could already be installed on your PC without your knowledge. Do a Virus scan and be sure the PC is infection free.

On the topic of Security for the businesses that conduct Online Shopping/Banking etc., just about every website that does E-commerce has Security Measures in place to encrypt your information and protect your data. This Security makes it very difficult to intercept the data and decipher it. The majority of information thefts, credit card thefts and issues with online banking or shopping are usually done by an employee of the company who steals the the information and then in turn sells this data to people conspiring in Illegal activities. This could be Identity Theft, Credit Card theft, personal information theft. It requires a person on the inside.

It is up to the user to be sure that they trust the site where they are entering their information into. Banks, Amazon.com, Best Buy.com are more well known examples. Itunes is another site that is safe. These are popular, well known and can be trusted. Even pornography websites have Encrypted security to protect your information and are just as secure as other sites. If the site appears fake to you or suspicious DO NOT ENTER in any information. If there are misspellings on the page, that can be a warning sign.

It is in the companies best interest to make their sites as secure as possible so people will conduct their business online. This saves the companies money which equals profit. They have an incentive to make their online activities as secure and safe as possible. Unless the company is a scam website such as a Fake Antivirus website, the legitimate companies will have adequate security for you. You should not worry about entering in your information on legitimate websites.

Some sites make online activities very easy, while some do not. Some charge you a fee, while others charge you nothing. Online shopping/banking is convenient for the companies as well as the consumer. Transactions take place in the same business day usually up until 5 p.m. or so. This allows you to pay your bills online right at the due date without the worry of mailing it or having it lost via the post office. You can avoid those late fees, save yourself the stamp, and the annoying writing out of the return address. I personally find it very convenient and pay most of my bills online if allowed. I also do online shopping and find to be quite a time saver. There are plenty of online coupons etc. as well so plenty of bargains are to be had.

Many companies have an Auto-deduct system or Auto-pay every month option for monthly bills. For those people that have the money in their accounts this is an added convenience. This can work to your disadvantage though if finances are tight which is common in the current economy. Business really enjoy this one as it gives them the right to take the money out of your account every month. Before agreeing to this be sure that you will always have the money in your account.

Online Shopping and Online Banking are growing at a stronger rate right every year and this is only going to get bigger. The Convenience and Savings far outweigh the risks. Be careful about who and what sites you are giving your information too. As long as the institution is legitimate and can be trusted you can be pretty sure you will be safe doing transactions via the Internet. Again, be sure to make sure your PC is clean and infection free before beginning Online Shopping/Banking etc.

If your PC is clean and ready then take the plunge and enjoy the convenience that online
shopping and online banking can give you. No need to worry about the post office delaying your bills or losing your mail. No more teller lines at the bank and even no more holiday shopping chaos can all be yours if you do it Online. The benefits far outweigh the risks so start doing some online banking and shopping today.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week.

Steve
www.zolexpc.com

12Oct/09Off

What is the differene or differences between Free Antivirus software and Antivirus software that must be paid for?

This is a pretty common question asked by lots of people. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Mostly it depends on you the user and how involved you want to be with your software and if you are comfortable handling some of the tasks like manually updating some of the software or running a scan once a month.

First off I would say that this article does not refer to Corporations or Companies. The free software described below is strictly for the Home User. Antivirus Security on the Corporate level is far different than the Residential level. Most companies use a Corporate Version of Antivirus software for which they pay licenses for. Their Security needs are far different from the average Home User. We are only focusing on the Home User/Residential PC owner. With that being said here is the advice for the Home User.

Quality wise, Free Anti-virus programs for the Home user, such as AVG Free or Avast are just as good as the Antivirus software you pay for. Most of the paid Antivirus software does usually come with additional Antispyware protection which is an important component. However there are also free Antispyware programs available as long as you don't mind doing a little updating or scanning yourself.

For example I use AVG Free anti-virus in conjunction with Spybot Search and Destroy and Spyware Blaster. All of these programs are free for the Residential user. As mentioned in an earlier blog, you do need more than just Antivirus software to properly protect your PC. The process for protecting my PC is pretty easy. The AVG updates automatically (daily) and will inform you of any infections it finds. The other Spyware programs are simply updated every two weeks to stay protected against the latest infections. Installation of these is pretty straight forward though there are few customizations i personally use.

Some people may prefer to have an all in one Security protection and not have to worry about multiple programs to deal with. If this is you then you are probably going to paying for Antivirus protection. Antivirus software that is not free usually costs around $50 dollars or so. It lasts you for a year and then prompts you to renew your subscription for usually another $50 dollars or maybe a little less. The most common paid Antivirus software manufactures are Norton and McAfee.

I find some of these programs prompt the user(ask for permission) a little too much. For example, Microsoft Windows updates should not need permission from the Firewall to connect to the Internet. McAfee and Norton are both infamous for this with their Firewalls and their software. It is a bit too overprotective in my opinion. One of things I really enjoy about the Security Software I use is it requires very little user interaction, so I do not have to constantly give approval to every thing I am doing. I don't have to waste time approving every decision I make when it comes to my PC.

Some ISP's (Internet Service Providers) such as Comcast give their customers McAfee for free so be sure to check with your ISP about what they offer before purchasing, you may be able to get it for free. Some people may not like the Security Software offered by their ISP or have a preference for something else. If you fall into this category then the free options that I have listed above are ideal for you. Be sure to uninstall your existing Antivirus before installing the new one.

Many new PC's come with Trial Version of Norton Security Software or perhaps other Antivirus software which is good for 60 days. Once your 60 days are up you have to pay to get the latest updates. Once the updates stop, you are NOT protected against the latest infections.
Be sure to do one of the following:

1. Get free Antivirus software and Free Antispyware protection
2. Renew the existing subscription for $
3. Purchase a different Antivirus software.

When switching out Antivirus software, it is best to remove the existing software first, reboot the machine (most AV software will prompt you to do this), and then install the new software.

In this economy money is a primary concern for a lot of people. Why should you pay for Antivirus software and Antispyware protection if you don't have too? Providing you can handle updating the Antispyware programs once a month, with no suffering in Quality or system performance the choice is Free Software. With the paid Antivirus software you are usually paying for convenience when it comes to updating but have the added aggravation of what I consider over protection and annoyances. For me the price of the maintenance is minimal and the savings well worth it $$$$ wise to go for the Free Software.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week.

Steve
www.zolexpc.com

5Oct/09Off

I am buying a new PC, what should I look for and how much should I spend?

This is a common question and really depends on the user/consumer themselves. You need to ask yourself the following question before deciding to what to get and how much to spend on a new PC.

What do I use my PC for now and want to do i want to use it for in the future? Examples may be something like: I only use my PC for email and family pictures and to surf the internet. I use my PC mostly for games and to watch movies. I use my PC for work and run a lot of programs. Depending on what your answer is to this question will make your decision a whole lot easier.

If you only use your PC for email and family pictures, then there is no need for you to get a high powered machine. These sorts of tasks (email and pics) do not require a lot of system resources. In this economy especially you want to spend only what you need to spend for what you need. If this is you, then you will not need to spend anything more than $600 (monitor not included).

If you use your PC for gaming and to watch movies or streaming video from the internet, then you are going to need a machine that is able to handle the latest games, and has plenty of power. You will need a very good video card, and decent processor as well. Of course these machines will cost a bit more money. For a decent not over the top gaming machine you should only need to spend around $1000. There are plenty of far more expensive machines but again it all depends on how much you want to spend.

If you use your PC for work and are busy doing multiple things, then you also fall into the higher-end PC's. You will not need a fantastic video card but you will need a decent processor and will want the more powerful PC. If this is you, you should expect to pay anywhere from $700-$1000 for a decent machine. Of course you can spend more if you wish.

For people that buy their PC's in stores like Best Buy etc, you will only have a limited number of models to choose from. Knowing what you need before you go there will prevent you from getting too much or adding things a salesman may try to push on you. Service contracts are a very common upsell. Whether they are worth it or not is up to the consumer and perhaps a future blog topic.

Regardless of your situation you should get at least 4 GB of RAM on your machine. At this point I would also recommending only getting a 64 bit Operating system as opposed to a 32 bit system. 64 bit is going to be the standard going forward. Even though it may cost you a little bit more, getting the extra RAM and a 64 bit system will keep your system active for longer. This means you shouldn't have to replace your PC for at least 4 or 5 years.

If you purchase your PC online then you will have more options to choose from, to find one specifically for your exact needs. Using the same advice from above will allow you to get exactly the correct amount of RAM for your PC, and choose a Video Card if necessary or upgrade certain components specifically tailored to your needs.

With all the information in hand, we are now ready to purchase our PC. Do you have a budget or a ceiling? If you are on a budget you may have to make sacrifices as to what you can get with your money. Based upon your needs as mentioned above, you should see a few models in differing price ranges. The average user should be able to get a decent PC that suits their needs for around (monitor not included) $500-$750.

No matter what you get be sure to get at least 4 GB of RAM as this will help you out the most if you are on a really tight budget. Keep your eye out for Sales especially in this economy as you may be able to get a more powerful PC for the same price or save some $$$ as well.

If you are purchasing a laptop PC, you can add $100.00 to the costs I listed above.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week.

Steve
www.zolexpc.com

   

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