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December « 2009 « ZolexPC Blog About Us - Remote Computer Support & Help | Zolex PC
21Dec/09Off

Back Up Your Most Important Data

Backing up your data is something everyone should be doing but many do not. This week I had a customer who reminded me of the importance of backing up your data. There are infections out there that can disable your windows from working correctly and leaving you no alternatives except to do a Full Re-installation of your Operating System. (XP, Vista, Windows 7)

This particular infection targeted Executable files and Screen Saver files. The Worm/Virus spreads to any Executable or any Screen Saver. They are random and there is no set pattern as to what the infection will target. This could include legitimate windows system files and other non important files. The longer the infection resides the more files it infects. So it could infect your installation program for a new game or program. It could also infect vital Windows System files that your system needs to run. While some files may be of no consequence others becoming infected could be devastating.

The customer in this particular case thankfully was able to back up his data before the machine became inoperable. Though his machine still had to be rebuilt from scratch, he did not lose any data. No computer is perfect and computers do break down mechanically over time. They also can be disabled by infections and viruses. The safest bet is to get your self some back up software. You can also do back ups on your own. Even backing up your most important documents onto a Flash Drive once a week can save you from the unexpected nightmare that could happen. Most documents use up very little space so they can easily be placed on a flash drive. If you have Pictures or Videos you will need more storage space for back-ups. There is software designed for backing up your files out there that you can purchase or you could use an online back up service.

It pays to plan ahead for these issues should they arise. It is the difference between being a slight inconvenience to have to reload windows and install your programs again as opposed to a disaster where you have lost all of your data and still need to reinstall windows. Saving your data is always priority number 1. Computers can be rebuilt or components replaced but data is usually non-recoverable if disaster strikes. You can back up your entire hard drive which will take a lot of time and space or you can just back up selected files.

The most important thing to remember is to back up your data on a regular basis. Whether it is important Tax or business documents, Music or videos, pictures or programs, back up your data. The time and effort and cost it takes are well worth it as opposed to losing everything you have on your PC.

Thanks for reading and have a very Happy Holiday

Steve

www.zolexpc.com

14Dec/09Off

What is WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage)?

Windows Genuine Advantage or WGA as it is more commonly known as is an anti-piracy feature devised by Microsoft to combat illegal versions or pirated versions of Windows from being used. WGA can prevent your machine from being able to download the latest updates from Microsoft if it deems your software as not being genuine.

These updates are used to protect your PC from security threats. Running an illegal or pirated version of Windows is a security risk. To check the Validity of your Windows just go here and follow the instructions. You can validate your OS (Operating System) XP, Vista, Windows 7 or even your MS Office suite.

http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/validate/ValidateNow.aspx?displaylang=en

If your machine passes then you have nothing to worry about with regards to the legitimacy of Windows. If your machine fails, do not panic. There are lots of reasons as to why your PC may fail. People that purchase their PC's through second hand or from their company are sometimes inadvertent victims of no longer having a legitimate version of Windows. These are sometimes known as VLK's Volume License Keys. These keys are used by companies when buying a large number of licenses to use for their business. Usually when the companies upgrade their PC's, they will sometimes sell some of them to employees at a large discount. What they neglect to tell you is that over time your License will expire from Microsoft. While you the USER has done nothing illegal or wrong, you are nonetheless stuck with an illegitimate version of Windows.

The solution is very simple to solve this problem. Unfortunately it costs money. The solution to this problem to make your Windows a legitimate version is to pay Microsoft $149.99 to make your copy legitimate which enables you to get updates. If you are using an illegitimate version of Windows, Microsoft will not hunt you down or prosecute you. You will not be able to get support from them if you need it in the form of updates or Tech Support. The process is quick and easy and you can be legit in a matter of minutes usually.

There a few viruses that can cause WGA to misinform you that your Software is not legitimate. Though very rare they are out there so if you are 100% sure your PC was bought from the store and you are getting this message, then it could be a sign your PC is infected. You should scan your PC with your Security Software to make sure. If everything comes up clean and you still are having an issue with WGA, you may want to contact Microsoft especially if you purchased the PC at a Bestbuy etc.

Most issues with WGA are usually related to Windows XP. Vista also has WGA but it is a bit different than XP. There are plenty copies of Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 that are available for downloading for free. These are pirated copies of the software that many people use. These product keys are posted on the Internet for people to use. Over time as Microsoft discovers these they deactivate the bad license keys so while it may be working fine for you at one time, in the future it could stop working. By using these bad keys you are taking a risk for the price of not having to pay for Windows.

There are even some Semi-Scammers out there who will claim to fix your PC, and install an illegal version of Windows while charging you for a legitimate version. They may have acquired the license keys through various means. Many times they will disable Automatic Updates and WGA itself so that you will never know your copy is bad unless you try to download some updates or Validate your Windows. Most problems with your PC should not require a reinstall of Windows so watch out for those.

Using a illegitimate version of Windows can result in odd quirks and other oddities on your PC. Some things may or may not work. Without being able to guarantee the integrity of your Windows, errors or problems can be much harder to track down. Illegal versions of Windows can have different files, etc so these may cause other problems as well. At ZolexPC we do not guarantee work on a PC with an illegitimate version of Windows. By having some system files compromised in one regard or another it takes away the true integrity of the file system.

Having a legitimate version of Windows is an important component to your PC's health. If you can not get the latest updates and protections from Microsoft, your PC is vulnerable to attack. You may not get a virus or an infection but there could be holes in your security net. Remember that viruses and infections are designed to exploit holes and vulnerabilities in Windows. Windows Updates is your defense against some of these. True Protection comes from an Updated Windows (Priority updates) , good Security Software(including AV, Antispyware) and vigilance on the User as well. Having a weakness in any one of these items can increase the change for your PC to contract an infection.

For many people who do have an illegitimate version out there, until you have a problem I would not worry about it too much. If you are running Windows XP, you are only going to have the PC for another year or two before you upgrade. I do not see the need to spend the money unless your PC was compromised or if you were working with sensitive data.

Remember that most of these issues related to WGA are usually from buying a PC second hand. Whether it is from a garage sale, Flea market, Black Market, place of employment, or other means, you are saving money but could be getting an illegitimate version of Windows either now or down the road.

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

Steve

www.zolexpc.com

7Dec/09Off

The Importance of Windows Update and Keeping your Security Software Up to Date

Today I found two Blog articles that I wanted to share. They remind everyone to keep your PC updated to protect it against the latest threats. Whether it be Windows Updates or Your Security Software, it is a must to have these up to date. By not keeping these up to date, you increase your chances of infections or worse.

The first article is about Windows Updates. The second is about keeping your Security Software up to date.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=5064&tag=content;col1

http://jimfurie.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/some-rule%E2%80%99s-should-not-be-broken/

The first article is in regards to new Windows Updates for this coming Tuesday. Windows Updates are important for keeping your system up to date and fixing exploits that have been discovered in Windows. These exploits could allow your system's security to be compromised. From hackers or viruses have the latest updates will help protect your system. The updates are automatically downloaded for you usually. Just install them when prompted and be prepared to reboot the PC when they are done.

The second article explains what can happen when you or a member of your family fail to keep the Security Software updated on your PC. Keeping your Security Software updated is essential to helping keep your PC infection free. Without the updates your system is not fully protected against the latest threats. With new infections coming out daily it is extremely important to keep your Security Software updated. Most Anti-virus software updates automatically but some Antispyware programs do not. Be sure to update your Security software at least every two weeks. Most of the software is very easy to update. Simply open the program and look for a button that says update. If you use Spybot Search and Destroy be sure to also Immunize after you update. The Immunization feature blocks potentially harmful software from getting onto your PC.

One of the parts I thought was a great idea out of this article was the family has a plan in place for all users of the house and PC's to keep their Security Software up to date, and to do Regular Back-ups of their data. Keeping software updated whether it is Windows or your Security Software and doing regular back ups of your data is a good strategy to avoiding problems with your PC.

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

Steve

www.zolexpc.com

   

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