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SSD: Make Your Old Computer Your New Computer

SSD: Make Your Old Computer Your New Computer A simple inexpensive upgrade to an SSD (solid state drive aka new hard drive) can breathe new life into your old computer. The solid-state drive (SSD) has swiftly become the go-to upgrade to breathe new life into an ageing computer, and for good reason too.  An SSD swiftly brings an old laptop or desktop up to date with modern machines in just a single step.   The price of solid-state memory has fallen dramatically in recent years. As costs have dropped, the popularity of the technology has increased exponentially.  At one time an SSD was a rare treat for serious PC enthusiasts, now it’s cheaper and more readily available than ever. No other single solution is as cost-effective, quick to swap, and impressively effective as swapping out an old hard drive in favour of the faster and more modern SSD.   Out with The Old The hard disk drive (HDD) is a technology that dates back as far as the 1950s.  They became the default solution all PCs would use for decades to come.  Most old laptop and desktop machines still contain their original, worn hard drives they left the factory with. The HDD was a mostly mechanical device.  Inside a solid outer casing was a series of spinning disks arranged in a delicate stack known as a platter. Each disk could read and save data using a tiny needle moving across the disk’s surface. The technology looked and worked much like a miniature record player.  Like a record player, widely in use at the time that hard drives were developed, the hard drive had some serious drawbacks in their use. The series of tiny disks and needles that made up the HDD were incredibly fragile.  Vulnerable to dust or movement, computers commonly succumbed to hard drive failures that rendered the machine and its stored data unusable. Occasionally, simply moving a laptop while reading or writing data can damage a hard drive’s spinning disk.   In with The New The primary reason to switch to a more modern SSD, on top of their impressive durability, is the incredible increase in speed.  The SSD has no moving parts at all, working more like a digital camera memory card than a vinyl record player. An SSD simply makes the process of retrieving and saving data to storage many times faster.  Eliminating the mechanical component, removing the need to move a physical disk, and not needing to physically pick up the data means a much faster and smoother operation. Computer startup, where the operating system loads all its data from storage, can take as little as one-quarter of the time of a comparable HDD.  Additionally, loading regular applications and data from an SSD takes a fraction of time of an HDD. An SSD completely breathes new life into an old machine.  Computers with an SSD replacement for the hard drive feel like using an entirely new machine for a fraction of the cost. Replacing the main mechanical component additionally eliminates wear and tear working to break down your machine.  While an HDD slows over time, degrades, and can eventually suffer mechanical failure; an SSD remains as durable as the day it was purchased.   Ideal Laptop Upgrade In a laptop setting, the SSD makes complete sense.  They require less power than older hard drives, making the most of your battery charge. In addition, not needing a large disk platter, mechanical parts, or protective outer case means they are about half the weight of a mechanical drive.  Making an old machine lightweight brings it another step closer to a modern machine. They run almost silently too.  The familiar click-clack of the hard drive inside a laptop is a thing of the past.  Many users comment on the noise their laptop used to make starting up and loading programs.  Noisy laptops are a tech throwback we’re happy to leave behind. For many who feel like their old laptop or desktop is showing its age, the prohibitive cost of purchasing a whole new machine keeps them invested in their old one.  A simple, fast SSD upgrade can make your old machine new again at a much smaller price. If swapping long startups, and slow load times sounds right for you, consider upgrading to an SSD.  You won’t look back.   Keen to see if your computer could do with an upgrade? Click here to contact us.

Don’t Get Hooked by Spear Phishing Attacks

Don’t Get Hooked by Spear Phishing Attacks   Phishing attacks have been around for a long time in IT.  They are designed to steal your credentials or trick you into installing malicious software. They have persisted in the IT world precisely because they have been so devastatingly simple and effective.  Today, a more modern and more effective version of the same attack is commonly used. Phishing attacks.   Typical phishing attacks involve an attacker sending out a malicious email to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of users.  The attacker’s email is designed to look like it comes from a bank, financial service, or even the tax office. The content aims to trick you into logging in to a fake online service. A phishing attack captures your login details so they can use them to enter the genuine service later. By sending out tens of thousands of emails at a time, attackers ensure that even if only .5% of people fall for it, there is a lot of profit to be made. They do this by draining accounts of funds.  Spear phishing is a more modern, more sophisticated, and far more dangerous form of the attack.  It’s typically targeted at businesses and their staff. A Convincing, Dangerous Attack While a traditional phishing attack throws out a broad net in the hope of capturing as many credentials as possible, spear phishing is targeted and precise.  The attack is aimed towards convincing a single business, department, or individual that a fraudulent email or website is genuine. The attacker focuses on building a relationship and establishing trust with the target.  By building trust and convincing the target that they are who they are pretending to be, the user is more likely to open attachments, follow links, or provide sensitive details. Consider how many times you have followed a link or opened an attachment just because it has come from a contact you have trusted before. A Trusted E-mail The malicious email can appear to come from a vendor you deal with regularly.  It may even look like an invoice you are expecting to receive.  Often attackers can simply substitute the vendors’ banking details for their own, hoping the target will not notice the difference. Such an attack is very difficult to detect.  It takes a keen eye, strong working knowledge, and constant awareness to keep your company protected.  Even a single small mistake by an unaware member of staff can compromise your business accounts.   Defending Your Business The key to stopping a spear phishing attack is education.  Learning attack techniques, and how to protect against them is the single biggest thing you can do to enhance business security. Whenever you deal with a vendor in a business transaction, you should always consider important questions before proceeding.  Are you expecting this email?  Is the vendor attempting to rush you into a quick decision or transaction?  Have you checked all the details are correct and as you expected?  Sometimes a simple query to the vendor can protect you against worst-case scenarios. In many cases, a phishing attack can be halted in its tracks with a strong IT security package.  Web filtering prevents malicious emails and links from entering the network, shutting attacks down before any damage can be done. Good Security Practice As with many types of IT threat, good security practices help mitigate damage.  Locking down security to ensure employees only access the systems they need helps to prevent damage spreading across the network. Enforcing unique and strong passwords prevents leaked credentials from affecting systems related to the one that has been compromised.  Getting employees set up with a password manager and good security policies can do the world of good to boost your security to the level it needs to be.   Can you spot when you’re being phished? Identifying phishing can be harder than you think. Google has made a little test to help you get used to what phishing might look like. You don’t even need to put in your correct email address to do it.  Can you tell what’s fake?    

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Computer

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Computer Here are five great things to do to get you set up for 2019. Running the Best Security Software Most computers today run at least some form of basic antivirus.  In the modern day, however, threats have evolved to be more sophisticated, more damaging, and much more common.   Ransomware, malware, phishing, and zero-day attacks all work to attack unpatched systems without strong security. Today, to keep up with increasing threats, you need a complete internet security package.   A layered system means more than just virus scanning.  A comprehensive security package includes prevention, detection, firewall and system monitoring at a minimum.   These layers work together to provide security many times stronger than a stand-alone system. Reliable, up-to-date, security keeps you safe online.  It’s a resolution you simply can’t afford to skip. Clean Up Files Cleaning up unnecessary files is the number one way to gain additional storage space on a typical device.  It’s cost-effective without any extra hardware purchases too. Almost all computers have files hanging around from old software, data or applications they no longer need.  Just like tidying the spare room or de-cluttering the kitchen, clearing files off your desktop and organizing your emails will leave your computer feeling refreshed and new again. Restart Your Computer Fully shutting down a computer and rebooting can take time.  When you are watching the clock, waiting to start a task or get work done, it can feel like an eternity.  Most of us enjoy simply opening the lid or powering on the screen to have everything ready to run. At times, a computer may not be fully restarted in weeks or even months.  Our poor habits can cause issues with running software and the operating system too. Hardware updates, security patches, and critical updates often wait for a reboot before they install.  Waiting too long can leave security flaws open and the system vulnerable to attack. Merely performing a reboot every once in a while can secure your system and help get rid of software problems.  Often updates prevent new issues from cropping up too. Use A Password Manager Hacks of large institutions and popular websites are frequently in the news today.  Almost every month a major service reveals they have been hacked, their database compromised, and their customer credentials have been stolen. For this reason, it is very unwise to use the same password to access multiple websites.  This can be a challenge for many.  It’s clearly impossible to remember a unique and secure password for every site you visit.  We recommend using a password manager that can store and recall your passwords for you. A good password manager relies on just one, very secure, remembered password to safeguard an encrypted database of all your login credentials.  The password database is often stored in the cloud for access from all your necessary devices.  A manager can typically assist in creating a strong, secure password for each of your accounts too. Using a good password manager and unique password for every site protects you against the attacks commonly in the news.  Hacks compromising major services from your providers will be powerless against directly affecting your other accounts and services. Keep Your Computer Away from Dust Dust, hair, and household debris are one of the major causes of premature death for computers.  Fans used to cool components, suck in house dust as well as the air they need.  This dust often clogs up the inside of the device and overheats internal components. If possible, keep a tower PC off the carpet, don’t run your laptop sitting on the floor, blanket, or soft furnishings.  Cleaning out your device is as good a resolution as any, and there’s never a better time than now. For a little help sticking to your digital new year resolutions and starting off on the right foot, give us a call today at 09 401 6133 or email us here.   For more blogs click here.

Build Better Meetings this Year

Build Better Meetings this Year   The new year is a great time to start some new habits. It is not uncommon for the work day to get away from you. However, with the help of some technology, you can take back control of your workday. Business meetings can be a double-edged sword.  Often they are as likely to rally staff and build momentum as they are to halt progress and kill productivity. Productive meetings are key to keeping team members on track and everyone on the same page.  A poor meeting is as harmful to the progress of a project as losing multiple members of staff.   Finding the balance is important for good business.  There are tools and techniques to make sure that your meetings are not standing in the way of your business.   Streamlined Scheduling One of the biggest hurdles to planning a meeting can be simply booking a space.  Finding an available room, with the right equipment, in a time and place which everyone can agree on can be a logistical nightmare.  Repeated emails back and forth to agree on the venue alone can consume hours out of the day. There are technical tools available to help.  Outlook’s scheduling assistant can be a great place to start.  The office package is designed to help you find a time and place convenient for everyone. The software is a key, but underused, component within Office 365. Simply adopting a scheduling assistant can cut down meeting planning from hours to minutes. With everyone fully connected and on the same page, every meeting is improved from the first minute.  The scheduling assistant can be found under New Items > Meeting in the Outlook home tab.   Bringing in Outside Help Of course, not all meetings are internal affairs.  Often, a successful meeting involves staff members from third-party organizations, clients, and consultants too. This is a prime area for technology tools to help.  Tools such as FindTime and Doodle.com both serve as scheduling assistants to arrange suitable times and locations to coordinate meetings with multiple parties. The process is simple, each party selects available or desired times to meet.  This process is done independently and based on priorities for each user.  When everyone has added their input a mutually convenient slot can be found for everyone. With modern technology there’s no reason to spend hours, or even many minutes, wrestling over when and where to meet.  Using the tools as they are designed cuts out a huge amount of overhead cost from meeting planning.   Idea Capture The most common complaint staff have about business meetings is the lack of available participation.  Many show up, yet just feel like audience members. When staff members feel their contribution or input to projects isn’t valued, it can lead to a dramatic drop in morale and much deeper issues within the firm. Tools such as GoWall.com are changing meetings for the better and giving staff members a bigger voice.  The site provides attendees with the resources they need to contribute to meetings without disrupting the flow. The idea behind GoWall is very simple and highly effective.  While concepts are communicated as part of a presentation or ongoing conversation, participants are free to contribute to an “idea wall” in real time.  This shared wall contains ideas, contributions, and notes from all participants that add to the conversation. Since ideas are shared between all participants, everyone can be inspired to contribute.  This deceptively simple idea helps all members to feel they have a chance to have their voices heard and their contributions valued.   Worthwhile Meetings Meetings can be a difficult topic in some workplaces.  Some firms have had historic failures and huge losses in productivity as a result of too many meetings running far too long.  In some environments, formal meetings have all but been banned already. Using modern technology solutions, we can put the productivity back into meetings.  Cut out the wasted time and get to the points that matter.  With these simple yet highly effective tools, we can build meetings that create productivity instead of hampering it.

Marriott Hotels Exposed 500 Million Customer Records.

Marriott Hotels Exposed 500 Million Customer Records. Make Sure Your Business Doesn’t Suffer the Same Fate   Up to 500 million travelers could be compromised as hotel chain Marriott International have announced a security breach in their guest database. Analysts recently alerted the firm to a vulnerability that has granted hackers access to the hotel chain’s systems since 2014. The firm announced their Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program was compromised for an extended period which left customers vulnerable. The exploit exposed critical guest information which included names, addresses, passport numbers, and dates of birth. Marriott also announced an unknown number of customers had encrypted credit card details stolen in the attack. If you have been a member of Marriott’s Preferred Guest Program or a customer of Marriott hotels in the past, you should take steps today to ensure your data security. By doing so, you can protect your finances, prevent identity theft, and defend your data from attackers looking to exploit an opportunity.   Secure Your Data Changing your Marriott password should, of course, be the first step to protecting your accounts. Even more importantly, sites, where that same password may have been reused, should be updated with new credentials too. Hackers commonly try details stolen from one site to access popular services and pages. We encourage everyone to use a password manager to store their details for safe use in the future. A good password manager enables unique, random, and strong passwords to be used with ease for every single website. While we can’t stop hacks on systems outside of our control; we can defend our other accounts from being accessed by criminals. With secure password management, attacks on your business services or related accounts from a single hack are made impossible. Performing Damage Control The damage to the Marriott International brand following news of the leak will be undoubtedly huge. At a minimum, they have lost the trust of their customers worldwide. Asking customers to leave their personal and financial details again to pay for goods and services will be no small feat. News of the hack made front page news as it broke, further damaging the firm’s reputation among potential future customers too. As a result of a simple security attack, Marriott International will be forced into damage limitation to keep customers returning to the brand. This is why business security matters to us; when done right it’s cheaper by far. The total cost of this latest attack won’t be known for years to come. The firm is vulnerable to lawsuits worldwide, in some cases liable for financial losses, and required to purchase identity monitoring and security services for affected customers. Business owners can learn from Marriott’s costly lesson. Stopping an Attack in its Tracks Marriott’s security breach was recently discovered, hitting the headlines just this week, but the firm admitted unauthorized access took place since 2014. This means the firm had a security hole for four years that they were unable to detect or patch. For a firm of any size, this should be unacceptable. As business owners, we shouldn’t accept security vulnerabilities that leave our records, finances, or services open to hackers. As customers, we shouldn’t accept our data being treated so carelessly. The recent Marriott hack underlines the need for businesses to maintain constant network monitoring, regular security updates, and a lockdown on data access. Protect Your Business and your Customers – Any business can find their systems vulnerable to attack at some point. Whether waiting for updates, a newly released zero-day hack, or malicious employee; responsible firms take steps to limit their liability. As a rule, staff accounts should be locked to only the systems the regularly need to access. Similarly, customer data should only be open on an as-needed basis when a legitimate requirement exists. These steps, alongside systems and data monitoring, prevent a small-scale attack resulting in an enormous data breach. Strong security enables customers to place and maintain their trust in a brand they can keep coming back to again and again.   Ask us for a free IT Audit today.

Time Management Using Tech

Time Management Using Tech It is not uncommon for the work day to get away from you. However, with the help of some technology, you can take back control of your workday. Most of us can admit that we have lost track of time during the workday on occasion.  Everyone wants to be more consistently effective. Sometimes time can get away from you, particularly when you’re busy.  Often you can be running late before you know it and wondering where the day has gone. Luckily, there is a wide range of technology solutions to put to work helping to put you in charge of your to-do list. Office 365 Calendar We’re often guilty of spending the entire day stuck just in Outlook.  In addition to taking up your time, there are a range of features that can help you make the most of it too.  With simple tools and tweaks, you’ll be able to manage your calendar like a pro.   Office 365 Calendar allows you to make quick changes, alter your diary, and update items on the go.  The Calendar interface allows events and items to be picked up and moved to a different time or date with ease.   Many think of calendar packages in terms of old desktop applications of years gone by.  Events, once input, were almost impossible to change, alter, or remove.  In old applications, it was easier to go without a calendar at all than attempt to use the one included.   The biggest advantage Office calendar has is the ability to access and update it from anywhere.  With 2-way sync appointments, meetings, and events can be updated anywhere and accessed everywhere.  The days of no longer being able to look at your calendar because you’re not at your PC are long gone now.   Today you can add events straight from your email with a simple click.  Participants in events can be contacted with reminders automatically.  You can even schedule your own reminders before the event too. Using your calendar to stay on top of your day has never been easier.   OneNote Office 365 additionally offers OneNote too, an indispensable tool that you shouldn’t do without. OneNote acts as a virtual notebook to keep your ideas, projects, and notes in line.  Using OneNote enables you to power-up your text with drawings and diagrams, tailor your projects with color coding, and record your thoughts with media clips all in one location.   OneNote is the ultimate record keeping tool that you simply can’t go into a meeting without.  Physical notebooks begin to seem like a relic of the past, limited by old constraints that no longer apply.   Microsoft To-Do Included with Office 365 is Microsoft’s To-Do application.  To-Do offers simple, straightforward to-do list that makes it easy to plan your day.   Whether plotting your school work, planning your projects, or keeping on top of your home life, To-Do is designed to boost productivity and make the most of your time.  The simple interface makes it easy to use and the instant reward for checking of tasks makes it well worth your while.   To-Do sorts your tasks into lists, which are combined into a single day view. The view of your day provides a clear, clutter-free list of tasks to be done. The application syncs with all your devices to give you access from anywhere.  This empowers you to quickly add, change, schedule, and tick off tasks as you go.   Keeping On Top Of The Day Losing track of time is easy to do.  It doesn’t take much before your day seems completely off-balance and impossible to retrieve.  With these tools from Office 365 and a tiny bit of planning, your days can become more productive than ever.   Back on track, you’ll no longer have to spend your free time making up for lost time.  Your spare time will be your own again and everyone will wonder how you manage to remain so productive.   Give some tech tools a try today and you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.   Would you like a FREE  IT Audit and some suggestions on efficiency? Click here to book with Andrew.

Spying some shiny things this Christmas?

Spying some shiny things this Christmas? Got your eye on some tech presents this Christmas? Hear how we can help you make sure you buy the RIGHT technology for your needs. Christmas time is back with us again.  The latest devices and gadgets are hitting store shelves just in time to keep up with the rush.  Magazines, television, and the web are brimming with advertisements and reviews of the latest tech your money can buy. Before you rush out to buy the gadgets you’ve been waiting all year for, consider a few important questions before parting with your hard-earned cash.   Does This Technology Do What I need?  First, you must ask what problem you are trying to solve with a new piece of tech. The most important thing to consider is how adopting your new device will improve on what you had before.  In some cases, a sleek new gadget or device for fun is good too. When you’ve answered this question, you should consider whether there is another tech or competing devices out there that can perform even better.   Should I Become an Early Adopter?  Early adopters are people that anticipate the release of new tech, wait in line on release day, and pride themselves on having the latest gadgets to hit the shelves.  If you recognize yourself in this description you are likely to snap up the latest devices the day they are released.  This eager anticipation, however, is not always the way to get the best deals or the best gadgets. Companies often rely on new product hype to give sales an early boost.  Waiting for the marketing and hype to subside, even a little, can save you a lot of money. After initial sales fall, companies often mark down their prices to keep their devices attractive and sales high.  When newer, faster, sleeker devices hit the market, companies cut prices to maintain strong sales figures.   For the budget smart consumer this is an opportunity for a bargain. A device good enough to buy on launch day is well worth waiting for.   Have I checked The Reviews?  We are fortunate enough to have access to seemingly unlimited amounts of information at our fingertips.  Often weeks before a product is released, reviews are available across the web. One of the best things you can do when considering a new device, particularly a high-cost purchase, is to watch and read a wide variety of product reviews.  It pays to be cautious of reviews that are particularly glowing, or too downbeat.  Keep an eye out for middle-of-the-road reviews that fairly weigh the pros and cons of each device.   Have I Found the Best Deal?  There are many ways to keep an eye out to make sure you get the best deal on your device.  If you can, monitor prices over time to see how they rise and fall to find the best time to purchase. When purchasing online, many sites include a box to add a coupon code when you are ready to buy.  It sometimes pays to jump over to Google and search the website name and ‘coupon’ or ‘voucher’ to find out if there are any good deals on. A quick search can save you as much as 10, 15, or 20 percent on some purchases. Sometimes companies send out offers to appeal to groups they want to market to.  A companies Facebook page may get different offers or vouchers than its Twitter followers or newsletter for example. It can pay to search around for offers and vouchers to get money off before you checkout.  Five minutes work can save huge amounts of cash.   Purchase in Confidence  If you have asked yourself these questions, done all your research, and found the answers you’re looking for then you may well be ready to buy. You can do so with the confidence that you’ve done all your homework and you’re getting the best deal and gadget for your money.   Would you like to read more? Click here for our blogs.

Why Smart Business are Changing to Managed Services.

Why Smart Business are Changing to Managed Services. There are two main types of IT support available when it comes to supporting your business.  The Break/Fix model and Managed services.   What is the difference? Break-fix is the IT support you receive when you contact a technician after equipment or services have broken down. It is usually quite expensive if you are in an emergency situation. Managed services support involves monitoring your systems to detect and fix issues. This involves having your chosen IT company on site to do an audit of your equipment and systems. By doing the audit they really understand all the quirks of your set up, and to let you know where your risk areas are. With this knowledge, you can plan ahead for things like, investing in new laptops or upgrading your network. Manage your IT before it Breaks. A lot of businesses try to save money by only calling a computer technician when something breaks. Unfortunately, that is the most expensive way to manage your IT. There is additional downtime, added repair costs, and unnecessary data loss incurred as a result. Smart businesses are switching over to managed services where issues are fixed before they become a problem. Predictable Costs Using managed services turns your IT expenses from an unpredictable and irregular expense into a fixed monthly fee.  In return, your IT technicians monitor and maintain your entire IT system.  The goal of IT services is to maximise productivity.  This is done by minimizing downtime. Maximise Productivity Establishing a managed service relationship with a knowledgeable IT firm gives them the chance to study your business needs. They learn your unique systems from the inside out.  IT technicians can take ownership as a result and are incentivized to make sure your IT is always running at its best. Quicker Problem Solving Small firms rightly worry about getting technicians on time to fix their systems too.  Choosing the right IT plan for your firm is a difficult choice.  It forces you to weigh up what is important for your business. Many SME’s can’t sustain the risks of data loss, unplanned downtime, or the cost of replacing critical systems.  These issues impact smaller businesses much harder than large corporations. Response time agreements are often standard components of service packages.  This means that when IT issues do happen, timely response and an urgent fix is guaranteed in writing. Want to read more? Download the FREE ebook now.

Is Your Laptop Running Hot and Loud?

Is Your Laptop Running Hot and Loud? Is your laptop too hot to put on your lap and sounds like a jet engine? It might need to be serviced. Excess heat and blocked vents is one of the biggest laptop killers. Laptop computers commonly heat up a little in normal operation.  Electronic components, including large capacity batteries, become warm in use.  Your laptop should never become too hot to handle though. When a laptop turns hot to the touch or starts to sound like a jet engine, it’s likely beginning to overheat. Modern laptops use nearly silent fans to cool components and keep the system is comfortable and safe to use.  In some cases, the sound the computer makes is the best tool you have to diagnose its running condition.  Excessive heat causes the fans to work harder and faster to compensate.  This jet engine sound is one of the first clues you have to indicate all may not be well.   Why So Hot? Because of their compact size and portability, laptop computers are particularly prone to overheating problems.  Their tiny footprint puts electronic parts closer together, creates less room for cooling vents and adds a heat generating battery which introduces more hot air into the system. Most laptops have small fans that suck in cool air, passing it over metal fins to exchange heat from the case. The resulting hot air exhaust is expelled through vents back into the room.  This process prevents heat building up inside the machine.  The constant air cycle keeps the laptop running cool no matter the workload placed on it. This process can be interrupted by any number of factors during operation.  Alongside cool air, computer fans can also suck in dust, stray hairs, even cigarette smoke too.  Smoke, in particular, contains thick tar which coats the fins, fan blades, and internal components. Foreign debris inside the machine prevents components from working at their best.  Tar, dust, and hair slows down the internal fan and coats the heat generating components and cooling fins.  This coating prevents air exchange and keeping components warm as if they were under a blanket.    Causes of Overheating Sometimes the way a laptop is used can cause it to overheat too.  Resting a laptop on thick carpets, blankets, or soft furnishings can block vents, preventing the fans from sucking cold air in or blowing hot air out. Leaving the machine running on carpet or furnishings, particularly for extended periods of time, can cause overheating issues and introduce extra dust into the components too. The best place to rest a laptop while in use is on a hard surface such as a desk, table, or lap tray.  This allows air free access to the vents and helps prevent dust and hairs getting inside the machine.   Overheating Results As the computer starts running hotter for longer, its fan will attempt to compensate by running faster and more often.  This results in the “jet engine” noise many users report when their computer is struggling to keep up. Unfortunately, once dust, hair, or tar has already found its way into the machine it is notoriously difficult to clean out.  The only way to reset the machine to run cool and quiet is to disassemble the base and clean out its components. Much like a car engine, computer components have a designed temperature range in which they can safely and reliably operate without any issues.  Extended periods of running above the temperature they are designed for can cause damage, sudden failures, and drastically shorten the designed lifespan of the computer.   Unlikely Causes Often times seemingly random blue screen computer crashes can be traced back to components that have been overheating inside the computer.  As heat builds up, vulnerable components start to fail, sometimes temporarily, in the hotter temperatures. By the time the computer is rebooted and cooled down the issue is seemingly resolved.  Back in operation, the computer heats up once more and eventually crashes again.  These irregular crashes are highly inconvenient and can sometimes cause data loss too. However, these symptoms are minor compared to a complete write-off of the machine.  For some users, the first sign that their machine is too hot to run safely is when the motherboard is burnt out or their data storage has been irreparably lost.  

Got a Bad Case of Password Exhaustion?

Got a Bad Case of Password Exhaustion? You’re not alone! Most people use the same password everywhere – home, work, Gmail, Facebook… even for banking. Considering how many passwords we’re expected to remember and use on a daily basis, password exhaustion is a very real thing. It’s no wonder that when yet another prompt for a password appears, users enter easily guessed combinations like ‘abcd’ or ‘password’. Trouble is, even if your password is making the required effort, hackers are taking a daily stroll around the internet and collecting logins and passwords as they go, from either leaked details or sites with security flaws. Then, they’ll try their luck with that login/password set elsewhere. They know more than half the internet users in the world have only one password and email combination, so the chance of gaining access to your accounts is actually quite high. Even the big names in tech are at risk of password breaches: 360 million MySpace emails and passwords leaked. 117 million LinkedIn account details leaked. Same password used elsewhere? Cue the domino effect! One site breach follows another and another until hackers have nothing more to gain. The only way to break this chain reaction is to use a different password for each site.   How to Create Easily Remembered Passwords Have a system or template for creating your own unique passwords, that you’ll be able to remember, but is not obvious to hackers. For example: <character> <word> <something about the site> <numbers> <character> Becomes !K1ttyFB75! It might seem complicated, but the above is really just based around the words ‘kitty’ and ‘FB’ for Facebook. Change the FB to something else for other sites.   What to Do If Your Password Has Been Hacked You can check to see if any of your accounts have been compromised by entering your email into a site like haveibeenpwned.com If it alerts a breach, you need to change your passwords immediately – all of them. Use the example system above to create a new set. If you’re struggling to remember your set of passwords, consider using a secure password tracker such as LastPass. (http://www.lastpass.com). Do you need help with your IT security? Contact us for support. 

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