September 2022

My Best Advice for Backing Up your PC or MAC

My Best Advice for Backing Up your PC or MAC With all technology and software out there, there are no excuses in not wanting or forgetting to back up our computers. Our digital life is as important as our biological life and the files stored in our devices are part of our personal history. When I visit new customers, sometimes I see that they have old pcs and they haven’t backed them up for years. I also saw people with new pcs not being backed up at all, maybe because those folks believe that a new pc has lower chances of crashing. Both attitudes are wrong. As I keep checking up regularly the backup of my customers, I believe that if I write an article about backing up computers, readers of my blog will find my resource helpful and will feel encouraged in taking a positive stance towards the files stored in their machines. – If you still own a Windows 7 pc, please back up all your files to an external USB hard drive and get a new machine as soon as possible. Windows 7 has been discontinued in 2020 and running a machine that has no patched software is risky and will make your files more vulnerable. If for some reasons you still need to run Windows 7, unplug the ethernet cable from the pc and run the machine offline. Needless to say that even an offline pc still needs to be backed up, so back it up ! – The reason why we need to backup a Windows computer is not only to protect it against data loss but also because we want to avoid ransomware. The best way to backup a pc nowadays are three: 1- By default Mac computers come with the utility called “Time Machine” which allows users to backup the entire computer to an external hard drive or to a network drive. I highly recommend to use this method but with the caveats highlighted in the point number 1 above. 2- There is also another effective way to store Mac files in the cloud and I have found easy to use Backblaze . Backblaze backs up your Mac every 15 minutes to the cloud and it has been tested to protect your files against the most common threats, including ransomware. 3- If you don’t want to invest in Backblaze and you have enough storage in your Icloud account, Icloud is also an easy and secure way to store your files in the cloud. As you can see, there are many ways to protect your files from computers that can shut down without notice. It’s up to each user to be educated and select which solution best fits budget and usability.

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Troubleshooting a Canon Printer that Won’t Scan

Troubleshooting a Canon Printer that Won’t Scan Last week I have been contacted by a customer of mine located in Tuckahoe NY because her 7 years old All in One Printer would not scan. Customer reported that she could print and copy fine but the scanner part of the machine was not working. I went to her office to conduct troubleshooting and after having done a lot of work, I came to the conclusion that she has to buy a new printer with scanning capabilities or she can get a portable scanner that connects via usb to her computer and can scan her documents without her getting up from her chair to do so. As the Canon Image Class MF 8580 cdw has a lot of features to look into, I spent a lot of time trying to use its capabilities to solve the problem but I had no luck. This is what I did: Therefore, I have determined that the scanner was faulty and that nothing else could have been done to fix it. My client was with me during the long time I have spent troubleshooting the Canon and was convinced herself that I have done all I could and should do to get the scanner back to work.

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You May Want to Wait Before Upgrading to Windows 11

You May Want to Wait Before Upgrading to Windows 11 Windows 11 has been released in 2021 and at the time of this writing is almost one half year old and users seem still disappointed about it.Besides the blue background and other cosmetic embellishments, it sounds that Microsoft has forgotten what usability is and how to listen to its users.Windows 10, on the other hand, will go out of production at the end of 2025 and my honest advice is just to stay with it until it has reached its end of life.Down below, you can find what is really weird about the usability of Windows 11 and what is about it that does not make any sense: As Windows 11 has not been planned with users in mind (at least, yet), I highly recommend to wait before upgrading unless you need to get a new computer or apps or software you are running in your business do not support Windows 10 anymore which I consider highly unlikely. After more than a year, Windows 11 should have been a step forward compared to Windows 10 but it seems to me that Microsoft went backwards in releasing the new operating system that most users already hate.

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Helpful Hints if Your PC Does Not Turn On Anymore

Helpful Hints if Your PC Does Not Turn On Anymore There is nothing more frustrating than seeing your pc turning off all of a sudden when you are in the midst of something. You are trying to turn it on again and unfortunately it does not turn on anymore. What should you do? Should you ask for help? After having dealt with hardware for almost 20 years, I can tell you that there are some steps you can take to diagnose your computer yourself before bringing it to a repair center: 1- Make sure that you have a backup in place: it’s always recommended to have at least 2 backups of your files: one stored in an external hard drive, and another located within a cloud provider. Microsoft makes easy to backup Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders to One Drive, if you have Microsoft 365. 2- Once you have assessed that the computer is not turning on anymore, change outlet and try to turn it on from another power source. 3- If that fails you may want to check in the back of your pc if the lights of the power supply are still on. 4- If the lights are off, you may want to open the computer case but before doing that you may want to ground yourself with an antistatic wrist wrap. Unplug the pc from the outlet and open the case. 5- After having plugged the pc to the outlet and with the computer case side panel removed, you should see lights on the CMOS batter which is located in the motherboard near the memory sticks. 6- If you don’t see any light, it may be time to diagnose if the power supply has power (PSU). Disconnect the 24 pins plug and the 6 pins plug and plug them into the tester like the picture below. 7- if the lights on the tester all turn on, that means that the power supply is not faulty, but if the lights do not turn on, you should remove the faulty power supply and procure a new one, possibly a Gold certified power supply from the Corsair brand, which will last longer than others and can absorb electrical shocks better and more efficiently than other supplies. In replacing the power supply, you may want to measure the space taken by the original PSU of your computer. Usually if you get a small Form Factor Power Supply (SFF), that will fit the form factor of your current psu and the screws will fit in. 8- Once plugged in the 24 pins and the 6 pins to the motherboard, the sata cable to the internal hard drive, the sata cable to the CD reader and the 6 pins to the graphics card, you may want to try to turn the computer on and see if it picks up power. 9- If it picks up power make sure that it stays on for a few hours and does not shut down. Perform Windows updates, Office updates, scan for viruses and a backup of all your files. 10- After all tasks have been completed, you may want to turn it off and put back the side panel on. Turn it on one more time and you may want to resume your digital operations.

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Is the WIFI in your House Having Dead Spots? Try My Checklist

Is the WIFI in your House Having Dead Spots? Try My Checklist The 2020 pandemic has changed the way we work and forced many people to work from home. As Wide Area Networks providers had to align their infrastructure to the increased request for more bandwidth, once ISP providers such as Optimum, Verizon and Spectrum underwent the necessary upgrades, it would have been up to each home user to upgrade their networks to faster Internet speeds. WIFI is a complex topic that has nothing to do with computer hardware and software: WIFI is the signal that is generated from the router to reach directly our devices, no matter if the devices we use at home are smart TVs, smartphones, laptops or printers. At the time of this writing, Covid is not considered anymore a pandemic disease but an endemic illness that may cause mild symptoms in those who are already vaccinated. As the spread of the virus is decreasing, 50% of the workers are back to the office and 50% are still working from home. I personally had to set up and upgrade several wifi networks in apartments and in large homes in Westchester county and I thought it could be helpful to provide some tips to those living in small units but also to those who live in larger residential complexes. 1- Check first your bill, because in your bill it’s reported how much you are paying for your Internet speed. 2- If you are paying for 100 Mbps consider upgrading to 500 Mbps. 3- Check how old is your router: if you still have a router that is 7/10 years old, consider upgrading to the new types of WIFI 6 routers ISP provide. 4- Once you have upgraded your speed and your router, you should not have any issue in getting a strong wireless signal in your apartment even if you work in another room. The signal should not have any issue in reaching the room that is farther away from the router. 5- If you still believe that the signal reaching your laptop is too weak, conduct first a speed test and then consider positioning your workplace and your laptop closer to the router. The best option is to hardwire the laptop to the router through a Cat 6 ethernet cable or through a WIFI to USB adapter if your laptop does not have an ethernet port. Test the speed of your laptop again and you should have the same speed that the router has: you should be all set and not have any problem in doing your work and having your Zoom meetings. 1- Usually New England homes that were built in the 1800s and in the early 1900s have their router located in the basement, which can be good and bad at the same time. If your basement is renovated and habitable, the signal does not have issues in reaching the devices located in the basement and in the first floor, but the problems will occur when you need the wifi in the second and third floor. As a matter of fact, bedrooms are the ones affected by dead spots and weaker wifi signal. 2- This said, I would consider first to upgrade the router speed to 1 Gbps and to replace the router with a WIFI 6 router, as described in point number 3 above. 3- Once the speed and the routers have been upgraded, consider calling a contractor and run cat 6 or cat 6A ethernet wires directly from the router to your bedroom. 4- Once the wires have been linked from the router to the bedroom, consider offloading the 4 router ports with a decent 1 GB – 8 ports switch. Do not buy a network switch that has only 100 megabit output as it will cap the speed of your network. In addition, consider getting a POE switch that will allow to carry power through the wires without the need of using an electrical wire. 5- At the termination of the wires in the upper floors, you may want to purchase WIFI 6 access points from Ubiquity Once those access points are linked to the POE switch they will provide a robust signal within a 1,200 sq feet radius. 6- After the access points are connected to the network, download the Ubiquity controller software on your pc or mac. You can rename each access point with the name of the room where they are located and you can start configuring them to be your wifi network. 7- I recommend to give the network created by the ap a name that is different from the network name of your main router to avoid conflicts and to optimize your wifi experience. You always want to connect to a network close to your access point and not to a one that has the same unique name everywhere in your house. 8- In the Ubiquity Controller the access points should be configured in Mesh mode so that the access point with the stronger signal will help the access point with a weaker one. 1- if you experience dead spots in your house and have less stronger wifi coverage in one room, you may want to reboot the modem first, then reboot the router and the access points. 2- if the signal is still weak in one part of the house, check the configuration of the ap with a weaker signal and consider replacing it. 3- if the problem persists, you may want to call the ISP and let him check out the connections that run from the street to the house: quite often mice and squirrels chew through the wires causing Internet disruptions. Storms also cause issues if the wires run through utility poles. 4- If your network is still having issues after all the check ups, you may want to call an electrician and have him check the ethernet wires that run through the walls of your house. Those invisible wires may be

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Effective Ransomware Protection for Small Businesses

Effective Ransomware Protection for Small Businesses Ransomware is the worst type of malware users can ever encounter: while other types of viruses, even if they can steal your information, still allow you to operate your computer after the infection -and also potentially clean it-, ransomware locks down your machine and asks for money to restore it as it was before the infection. Ransomware leaves users with no choice: once your machine is hit by it, the only thing to do is to turn it off, because the infection can rapidly spread across other devices in your network. If you run a small business, you should have your IT Department determine if your network is hit by ransomware. Once the damage has been assessed, the business owner should never pay the ransom to have the files decrypted and restored, but he/she should take a proactive stance to avoid the incident happening again. And even if the ransom is paid, be aware that it’s not guaranteed that the files will be back as they were before. As network and computer security is always a concern of mine, every time I visit my clients, I make them aware that a simple antivirus is not enough to protect against ransomware and that small business should take the following more holistic approach to better protect their networks: If ransomware hits your network, the IT department should be authorized by the business owner to call the authorities before taking any action. After clearance from the authorities, all infected computers and servers should be formatted and operating systems should be reinstalled again from scratch. In a bulletproof network, users work together with IT people to establish not only trust but to engage in a constant flow of questions and answers where users learn more about what is dangerous and IT people can get a hold of users’ habits.

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The Benefits of Using a Business Email

The Benefits of Using a Business Email I have friends in Westchester county who run a business but are still using gmail, aol and hotmail accounts. I do not recommend to use this type of emails for the following reasons: The cost of running a business entails making good choices such as purchasing a monthly subscription for a domain and a businesses email such as Microsoft Exchange. The reasons why I recommend using Microsoft Exchange and not Google Workspace are several: Lastly, a business email such as Microsoft Exchange is the perfect solution when synchronizing your calendar and contacts to the cloud as Google Workspace very often has issues when used with Microsoft products such as the desktop version of Outlook.

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Do you Believe you Have Been Hacked?

Do you Believe you Have Been Hacked? Or better: what makes you think you have been hacked? When users call computer support, they often are confused on what really happened and they forget to take a screenshot of the incident. To make things even worse, users only report the end of the hacking process: the theft of money taken out of their bank account. In these circumstances, it’s paramount to stay calm and try to remember what really happened with your devices. Questions I can ask to figure out what the issue is can be some of the following: If some of those event happened, it is time to take action and to secure your devices. If you have a PC or a laptop running Windows, do the following: If you have an Iphone or an Android phone, you can do the following: In a safe environment, the phone is never disjointed from the computer: if you have multifactor authentication enabled, your phone sits next to you and will send a text every time you access your machine or an online account so you know that it’s you accessing those resources and not an unauthorized entity.

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What to Do if Outlook with Gmail Workspace Is Not Working

What to Do if Outlook with Gmail Workspace Is Not Working Technology can make you feel better when things seem working fine but it can turn into a nightmare if you don’t know what to do if Outlook stops retrieving the emails in your Gmail account. In my opinion, the issue with Outlook not synchronizing Gmail is an example of the commercial war between Microsoft and Google. Both companies are pushing their own products and try to avoid the integration with competing products. A few days a go I had a client who is a very basic user with a laptop: he told me that his Gmail was not working. I remoted in and saw at the bottom of his outlook that the emails of the last two days were not downloaded. He also could not send any email either. I even tried to setup a new profile and input manually the IMAP and SMTP parameters but had no luck. I have contacted his administrator who told me that the email accounts of the other users were just working fine. I then decided to further research the issue and came up with a solution that is free and very easy to implement: The Google Workspace Sync for Outlook. The tool is a tiny executable that sits idle at the bottom right of the taskbar and synchronizes emails, calendars and contacts. It retrieves the emails from your email account and delivers them to your Outlook profile. The tool does not work with regular Gmail users and if you are not an admin of your computer the software will not install, as it requires admin privileges.

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How to Easily Add Online Security to your Device

How to Easily Add Online Security to your Device Every time we use a laptop or a desktop pc to go online, we still believe that it would be enough to trust the antivirus of our choice to protect us from malicious code. At a closer look, however, browsers had developed in such a way that they don’t rely anymore on the security software installed on your machine. Browsers’ security branched out from computer security as today browser companies are able to offer a wide array of plugins and customizations to enhance the safety of users’ online experience. In this post, I would like to cover my two best way to protect your browser, whether you are using Chrome, Edge or Firefox: Malware Bytes Browser Guard: this browser extension is free and very customizable: it detects ads, tracking cookies, scams and popups that can slow down or interrupt your Internet navigation. A very good feature of this product is that it even shortens google ads so that you can watch your YouTube videos almost instantly. In addition to Malware Bytes Browser Guard, I can go further into the browser settings and change the DNS settings of the Internet provider by inputting a custom set of DNS servers, such as Cloud Flare DNS, which resolves to On Chrome go to Settings>Privacy and Security>Safe Browsing and replace the default DNS with the Public DNS service of our choice: On Edge: go to Settings >Privacy>Search>Services>Security and replace the DNS;Firefox has a slightly different approach: the browser rolled out in 2020 DNS over HTTPS by default by performing DNS queries in an encrypted HTTPS connection. Go to Settings>Network Settings and >Settings>Connection Settings, uncheck Enable DNS Over HTTPS. Protecting the Internet browser is the first shield users have against websites infected with malware and this customization should be performed not only on Windows machines but also on Mac computers. Having a safe DNS configured in the browser allows a faster and a safer search that relies on a database with clean websites that display trusted results to the user.

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