Tech Tips: 5 Useful Browser Tips

The best way to access the Internet is to use a web browser. Today, we’ll discuss five of the most helpful basic tricks we can think of to help you make the most of your web browser.

Close a Tab

Again, keep in mind that when we say “basic,” we mean it. You can close a tab by clicking on the little “x” at the edge of the browser. You can also close a tab by clicking on it with the mouse wheel, a technique known as “middle-clicking.” This might not make much of a difference in the long run, but it’s certainly easier to close multiple tabs this way than by clicking on each individual “x.”

Quick Address Bar

If you ever want to visit a different website or search for something with a search engine, you can just type something in the address bar at the top of your browser window. While you can click in the address bar, you want to keep as many options in mind as possible. You can try pressing F6, Alt+D, or Ctrl+L to all do the same thing. It will bring you to the address bar and highlight its contents, as well as give you a chance to continue typing.

Viewing Slideshows or Multi-Page Articles

You know those annoying articles that look like slideshows? It can be a major pain to view them all one after another. You can turn it into one page so you don’t have to fight the website just for the information you need. To get started, just try to print the page. You can either click Print or use Ctrl+P to start it up. This provides a print preview of the page, but more importantly, you’ll have an uninterrupted view of the slideshow.

Highlighting More Accurately

Highlighting text online can be tricky, as it requires that you click and drag from a starting point to an ending point. You might accidentally highlight too much or too little, resulting in your text being an inaccurate representation of what you want. Instead of worrying about whether or not you’ll copy too much of the text, you can click on the starting point of the selection and shift-click the end point of the text. This selects all of the text between two points.

Toggle to Full-Screen Mode

Productivity can be tough when the Internet is filled with so many distractions, and that’s not even mentioning all of the difficulties you might have with other workstation software or tools. You can set your window to full-screen mode to help you focus. To do this, you just have to press F11, and it can be toggled on or off this way.

My Computer Is Slow. What Do I Do?

There is a special kind of frustration that comes from a slow computer. We think it’s a combination of being unable to get something done combined with your computer’s inability to take a hint and register your frustration as you furiously click your mouse. Either way, slow computers are annoying. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to speed things up before you consider throwing it out a window.

Have You Tried Turning it Off and Then On?

This age-old proverb might seem a little overused, but it’s easy to forget that sometimes a quick reboot can actually solve a lot of issues. About a decade or so ago, it was common for PCs to start showing signs of instability and slowness after 1-to-3 days of continuous use without a reboot. These days, software is much more efficient and hardware is much more powerful, so users don’t start seeing this for days or even weeks. We’re generalizing a little bit here, but modern PCs tend to be more stable and can typically go longer between reboots. If you are noticing degraded performance on your desktop or laptop, your first step should be to save your files and click or tap on the Windows Key, click the Power Icon, and select Restart.

Determine What is Actually Slow

If restarting your computer doesn’t do the trick, it’s going to be important to try to identify what is slow. Sometimes if you can narrow down the issue, it can help reduce your options. Here are some things to check for:

  • One or two particular programs are slow, but generally, everything else feels normal, indicating something wrong with those programs.
  • Clicking between web pages on the Internet is slow, and content is slow to load, indicating that either the Internet connection is slow, or your web browser needs it’s cache cleared.
  • Things slow down as soon as you start looking at or working on files on your network, indicating it might be network related.
  • The PC slows to a crawl at a certain time of day, maybe indicating that a virus scan or some other resource-intensive task is happening.

Run a Scan With Your Antivirus

If you can’t identify a specific issue above, it might mean your computer is infected. Viruses and malware can utilize a lot of system resources, not to mention cause plenty of other issues. Open your antivirus, make sure that updates have been ran recently, and perform a scan. You might need to let your computer do this overnight, as the scan may slow things down more while it’s happening.

It’s important to run regular scans and keep your antivirus updated. For businesses, you’ll want to make sure you have a centrally managed antivirus designed for businesses of your size, and that antivirus should be properly maintained so it’s always up-to-date and running regularly.

Close Programs Running in the Background

If your computer is still slow, then it’s time to do some digging. There may be services or applications running in the background that are chewing up a lot of system resources. You can check this by looking at the Task Manager.

To do so, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager or press Ctrl+Shift+Escape to bring it up. Make sure you are on the Processes tab.

You’ll see a few columns labeled CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network, with various percentages.The percentages will tell you how actively utilized that part of your computer is. It’s pretty common for Disk and Network to be at zero percent or close to zero percent unless you are actively doing something like saving or rendering files. Your Memory column will have a percentage in it and it should generally be pretty stable until you open and close applications, and CPU tends to jump around a lot.

If any of these percentages are consistently high, it means your computer is straining to function. If your CPU or Memory is constantly at 90% or higher, that tells us that something is chewing up those resources. You can sort the columns to determine what application is the culprit. Right-clicking the app and selecting End Task will close that application. Keep in mind, you’ll want to save any work you were in the middle of, because ending the task might not prompt you to save.

It’s also very important to remember that some applications are critical to your computer performing properly. For example, if you end your antivirus, you might not be protected from threats. It’s best to consult with IT with anything you aren’t sure about. If there are applications constantly chewing up resources that don’t need to be running, they can be uninstalled to prevent them from coming back.

Upgrade the Hardware

It’s possible that your computer simply isn’t powerful enough to do the work that you want it to do. If it’s an older computer from the Windows 7 or early Windows 8 era, and it’s not running Windows 10, that might be the case. Computers do tend to last longer than they did several years ago, but as time goes on, newer software and operating systems start to demand more computing resources.

Fortunately, there are some fairly low-cost ways to upgrade a PC, depending on how old it is and it’s form factor. Laptops and smaller, thinner desktops may be a little more challenging to upgrade, but there is one trick you can almost always count on.

Switch to an SSD

A solid state drive is a type of hard drive that doesn’t utilize mechanical parts. These drives tend to be faster, more energy efficient, they run cooler, and are less prone to failures. The price for an SSD has decreased dramatically over the last few years, and for most users, it will only set you back one or two hundred dollars depending on what you need.

You won’t find affordable options for high-capacity drives, so if you need to store several terabytes of information, you can expect the price to be much higher than a standard mechanical drive.

Keep in mind, swapping out your hard drive will require some work, as you’ll need to migrate the data from your old drive over to the new one, so that’s something you’ll want IT to handle for you.

Tech Tips: Why Optimization is Key to Your Success

In order to keep up with today’s competitive environment, your business must have the tools it needs to be better than the alternatives. Part of this is a great staff, yes, but for today’s tip, we’ll discuss how optimizing your technology can help.

What Does Optimization Require?

Optimization of your operations is key to remain successful in an increasingly competitive market. This optimization will require you to do three things:

  1. Identify, understand, and accept the way to optimize your business.
  2. Change your focus to meet the demands of your market and clients.
  3. Give your employees the power and tools to succeed.

These three requirements may sound fairly vague, but there are plenty of ways that you can adjust your business to embrace them.

Practically Using Business Optimization Practices

To better understand the three requirements of optimization, it may help to review a few real-life scenarios in which these optimization practices would appear.

Identify, understand, and accept the way to optimize your business.

The first key to optimizing your business is to understand what about it can be improved. Through careful analysis of your processes, you will be able to identify where your inefficiencies lie. From there, you can identify whether something is necessary to your business, or is ultimately just wasting time and resources. Then you can determine if an improvement can be made, or if it should just be abandoned. With this knowledge, you can trim the fat from your processes and boost their efficiency.

For example, perhaps there is a member of your business who needs to approve projects at every stage before progress can continue, but this member is exceptionally busy and therefore can’t always review things efficiently. This would most likely hold back your progress. Understanding this could lead to a reexamination of your process, and the determination that approval may not be necessary beyond the initial implementation of a project and the final confirmation to put it into action, saving everyone involved some time and stress.

Changing focus to meet the demands of your market and clients.

While you may view your business as the culmination of a personal goal and the means to put food on the table, your audience is going to have a much different impression. The way they see it, you’re there to provide them with what they need, whether that’s a particular product or service. Since your business can’t really exist without them, their priorities will have to come first.

Automation provides a few simple methods of ensuring that you know what those priorities are, and that your audience finds your business effective at fulfilling them. This is especially true where issue reporting is concerned. Let’s face it, while the first report is useful, the rest quickly become a distraction as the issue is resolved – plus, you have to acknowledge that the report was received. The right IT can help you optimize this process as much as possible by handling these responses through automation, letting you better spend your time solving the problem.

Give your employees the power and tools to succeed.

The right technology solutions can help to make sure that your entire team is managed properly, given a comprehensive schedule to keep each of them on track and their processes standardized.  These solutions can have the added benefit of providing you with the data needed to further optimize your workflows, boosting productivity, and reducing the stress put on your employees.

Tech Tips: Improving your PCs Performance

When a PC is new, it seems to blaze through tasks at unbelievable speeds… but this doesn’t seem to last very long at all. In short order, a computer seems to slow to an excruciating crawl. What makes this happen, and how can it be fixed?

As many of us have learned the hard way, it can be remarkably difficult to find anything in a disorganized space. The same can be said of a computer. The less stuff that it has to deal with, the better it works. Stuff like clutter on desktops and in hard drives, caches that have built up, fragmented files, and a host of other factors only serve to slow down your system and stunt its capabilities.

Here are some ways to speed up your PC:

Tidy Up

As we said, as your computer accumulates junk files and programs, it has a harder and harder time operating as intended. Take the desktop, for instance. Any icons that are displayed have to be loaded and refreshed, putting a drain on the computer’s resources. In addition, there are often programs that run in the background that may be unneeded, pulling more resources away from what you are trying to do. Your IT resource should be able to help you reduce and consolidate the clutter on your workstations to boost their speeds.

Checking for Malware

If your computer has malware on it, it can create difficulties that go beyond whatever effect the malware is intended to have. Storing itself in the system memory, a piece of malware will drain critical system resources. This means that there aren’t enough resources left over for the processes you actually want to run. This is something else that can be remedied by your IT resource, potentially resulting in improved speeds.

Hardware Issues

Finally, your computer itself could have issues in its inner workings that hinder its speed. If your Random-Access Memory (or RAM) isn’t enough for the tasks you’re trying to perform, or some component is acting up, the entire system can suffer. The expertise that a professional brings can help you to identify the issue and repair it. This may require a simple switch of some component, or potentially replacing the entire computer if it has simply grown old and outdated,

Whatever your technology issues may be, KiteTech can help. Give us a call at 855-290-KITE for more assistance and check the rest of our blog for more helpful information.

 

 

Tech Tips: Securing Your Email Messages

Due to the popularity of email in the business world, it’s an extremely popular method of attack for hackers. They can easily send countless messages to targets all over the world with the click of a mouse. Therefore, you have to take email security very seriously. The repercussions of not doing so could be swift and severe. This week’s tip is dedicated to informing your employees of email best practices for the office environment.

Password Security

Passwords might not be the most convenient way to keep accounts secure, but it’s certainly one of the most popular. It’s a best practice to keep different passwords for each of your different accounts, but your employees won’t see it that way. They’ll see it as an inconvenience at best, and it takes more than just simple passwords that are easy to remember to keep your organization’s data safe.

Too many users simply enter in some personal details about themselves, a significant number, and click done, thinking it’s an appropriate password for them. Hackers and cybercriminals know this, and they try to take advantage of it any way they can. This includes looking up sensitive information about the target that they might find on an employee’s personal Facebook page. These kinds of social engineering tactics can be used to dig up dirt on just about anyone in your organization, providing hackers with just enough information to make targeted attempts at guessing passwords.

So… if your password is based on your dog’s name and the year you were born (and both of these can be found on your page), it’s likely that a hacker can use common tools at their disposal to hack your account. This issue compounds when the password is used for multiple accounts.

This issue can be resolved easily enough through the use of a password manager. These applications can store passwords in a secure, encrypted vault and call them only when they are needed. Depending on the email application used, employees might not even really think about their email passwords because the app doesn’t always ask for it, making it difficult to keep passwords top of mind.

Two-Factor Authentication

2FA is a method used to augment password security by requiring a secondary code to access accounts or information. 2FA works by automatically generating a new passcode that is sent to a secondary email address or phone number each time you try to log into an account. These types of solutions make it so that a hacker needs much more than just your original password. They need access to all of your mobile devices and other accounts, too, making the effort to access your account more trouble than it’s worth.

Stop Clicking on Links and Attachments

If you receive an email and it has a link or attachment, your first instinct might be to click on it. Unfortunately, this habit can lead to a hacking attack, as scammers understand that the need to click on a link or attachment can be somewhat compulsive. An intern and CEO alike could make such an easy mistake, making this an effective method of spreading viruses and malware across systems. These phishing attacks can be tricky to identify, but there are certain giveaways that can make it easier. Links to external sites that are unrelated to the subject matter, poor spelling and grammar, and suspicious email domains are a few examples. Always make sure you trust the sender before downloading an attachment or clicking on a link.

 

Technology Basics: Blue Screen of Death

One of the most notorious error screens out there has to be the Windows’ Blue Screen of Death, the devastating fatal error that occurs when something has gone horribly wrong with your computer. But what actually causes this error, and what can you do to make sure that it doesn’t happen again? Let’s find out.

The Causes of the Blue Screen of Death

A blue screen of death happens when your desktop’s hardware or drivers malfunction. They are typically not caused by software, but they can sometimes be caused by low-level applications in the Windows kernel. This tends to explain why an application crashing doesn’t necessarily mean that your operating system crashes with it. On the hardware end, however, if that were to crash, it creates a situation where your business’ applications will be force-stopped, potentially deleting unsaved data and other information.

The only way to resolve the blue screen of death is to restart the computer, but at that point, how much data has actually been lost? It’s a situation that no business owner wants to find themselves in.

Thankfully, there is a way to see what causes the blue screen of death. Upon crashing, Windows creates a file with information about what caused the crash. However, you might not know what to do with this file. If not, don’t worry about it. KiteTech has your back. Here are some slick tips for helping you figure out the cause of your blue screen of death.

  • Update your drivers: If a driver is out of date, you can see if it’s the issue by updating it.
  • Scan your systems: Malware and viruses can often create issues for organizations, including the blue screen of death.
  • Boot up in safe mode. This boots your operating system in a barebones mode, allowing you to determine if the issue is an unnecessary software or in your root files.
  • Check for hardware issues: If your computer is having memory problems, you can find out by looking at the task manager. Also pay attention to odd sounds or spikes in temperature.

 

If you’ve tried all of the above options, don’t hesitate to reach out to Kite Technology for additional assistance. We can help your business resolve any issues with your IT. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.