Friday, March 27, 2015

FORWARDED EMAILS AND PUPS (Potentially Unwanted Programs)

Q: What are more dangerous, prolific and harder to kill than a computer virus?

A: Forwarded emails.

We all get them - emails from usually well-meaning friends and family who think we might enjoy something someone else sent to them. Political rants, religious reminders, cute animals, amazing views - they have far more potential to damage your computer experience than to help you in any way.
Most people sending you forwarded emails aren't trying to infect your computer, but when the email they got from someone else, who got it from someone else, contains something added along the way and you click on it to See More or even just open the forwarded email, suddenly you have lots more than a friendly "Hello". Popups, warnings, slowdowns, windows that won't close (by the way, DON'T keep trying to close those windows - you're activating even more bad stuff) - appear out of nowhere.
What should you do when something takes over your computer? Shut it off. Just shut it off by holding the power button on the computer in for about 10 seconds. Then, either leave it off and call someone you trust - NEVER CALL THE NUMBER that popped up on your screen purporting to help you - or turn it on again and see if you can run your cleanup routine. Don't have a cleanup routine? Try or call someone you trust.
Oh, and those warning windows that pop up trying to convince you they can clean up your computer if you just call the number provided? It's a scam. If you call them and follow through with their requests you'll not only not get your computer cleaned completely, they'll probably drop more unwanted garbage so you have to keep calling - and paying - until you wise up to their scheme.
I can probably clean your computer via remote, or you can drop it off, or I can pick it up and have it back to you usually next day. You can find me, I don't scam people, and the job I do is thorough and complete. Better - Faster - Cheaper is pretty rare, but it does exist. Call, text, email, Facebook Message any time, day or night, weekends and holidays too; the sooner we talk about what's going on the better the chances are to stop further infections and leave you with a clean computer.
Please share this with the people you care about who need this information.

Cathy Contant                        315-573-4905

Thursday, March 12, 2015


It’s time again to install the updates for your computer. Why? When? How?
Because, despite the annoyance of checking for and installing patches and updates, it’s still infinitely better than losing your pictures, documents, music and email. And it’s better than being without your computer for however long it takes to remove the infections and make it whole again. And if you learn how to do it, it will be less intimidating and annoying when you do it again next month. How do I know this? Besides reading about it just about every day, almost every computer that comes into my office either infected or messed-up in other ways is missing updates.
Monthly, after the 10th of the month – or when it slows down, or something doesn’t seem right.
1. Check for and install necessary Microsoft updates. 
If your computer is configured to automatically check for and install important updates, you may seldom need to do this step. However, almost every month now Microsoft pushes out some update or another that needs to install by shutting down your computer. If you see the shield on the Shutdown button, turn off your computer and allow the updates to install. You may see them finishing the installation the next time you start up the computer.  To check for and install Windows updates manually at any time, click Start – Windows Updates. Click Check for Updates on the left, then install all the Important updates. I also install most of the Optional updates.
2. Updates for plugins, add-ons and necessary basic software
We used have to go find the necessary updates for many of these programs on a regular basis, or some would prompt when there was an update available. It was tedious, and the process changed regularly. It was next to impossible to get them all, particularly without installing unrelated third-party software (AKA junk). Now we have Ninite – a program that will go out and check for updates for certain applications, then install them without prompting you to click OK every other minute, and *without* including junkware. If I’ve worked on your computer in the last year or two, you probably have the Ninite installer on your computer. If it hasn’t been updated since October of last year, it needs to be recreated – Java 8 only comes along with the new Ninite installer. Once you have a current Ninite installer, customized to your software, you simply need to run it monthly – best after the 10th of the month.
3. Ninite is great, but it doesn’t cover everything. Flash will need to be updated separately – and to complicate things further, you’ll need two different versions. To update, you can click the pop-up notification when you see it and follow the prompts, taking care not to allow it to install 3rd party software like Norton or McAfee Security Scans or Google Toolbar or the dreaded ASK toolbar. Uncheck the box that offers ANYTHING other than Flash, and it’s always there so be sure to look for it. There are two versions of Flash, and you need to install both. One is for Internet Explorer, and one works with Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Or, to install manually, you can go to with BOTH Internet Explorer and Firefox (not at the same time). Look for the link (currently in the bottom-right of the Adobe home page) to install Flash, and follow the prompts – again being sure to uncheck the box that offers 3rd party software.
4. CCleaner is tricky to update and you can get conned into installing the wrong thing – so if you prefer, just use the version you have installed now. Open it, click Run Cleaner (bottom right corner), then close when done. Do this weekly.
5. Back up your data. There should be three copies of anything you don’t want to lose; one on your computer, one on an external drive and one in online storage. Check your external drive to be sure the files are current and the automatic backup is working. If you don’t know how, ask.  Then log into your online backup service and check to see if the data you want to keep safe is there.
If you’re not sure about some or any of this, let’s talk. I post information about current updates, tips, and malware to watch out for on a regular basis on Facebook. Follow along here: