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require a simple switch of some component, or potentially replacing the entire computer if it has simply grown old and outdated,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.

 

Tip of the Week: Handy Tips for Microsoft Word

You would be hard-pressed to find a better-known software suite than Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word probably leading the pack in terms of name recognition. When a solution is so well-known, it can be hard to call anyone who uses it a power user. However, for this week’s tip, we’re doing a deep dive into its capabilities to take your use of Word a few steps up.

Faster Backspacing

One of the most frustrating parts of using Word, like any other word processor, is when you realize that you’ve messed up a sentence and have to restart it – for the fifth time. The primary source of frustration isn’t even the fact that you have to rewrite something again, it’s the fact that you have to take the time and delete what you’ve just written.

Instead of poking at your keyboard to delete each and every letter, you can consolidate the process by holding down Ctrl as you press the Backspace key. This tells Word to delete the entire word, instead of each character. As a result, it is a much less time-consuming process to delete words like “configuration,” “discombobulated,” or “telecommunications,” ultimately saving you time in the long run.

 Side-by-Side Documents

Every so often, it is useful to have a second document pulled up as reference material. Microsoft gets it, and has given users the ability to view two documents at once, even synchronizing their scrolling. To do this, you will first need to open both documents.

Once they are open, access the View tab, where you should see a button labelled View Side by Side. Clicking this button will arrange your open documents so that you can see both of them at once, and if Synchronous Scrolling (found near the View Side by Side button) is active, they will both scroll as you advance in one of them.

Spike Text

Cut and paste are some of the most undeniably useful functions that a modern word processor has to offer. Having said that, Microsoft Word has an additional function that can effectively accomplish the same things, albeit in a more condensed and efficient manner. This feature is called Spike.

Let’s assume that you were typing up a document and you have decided to move information that you have already typed into its own section, or even into its very own document. However, this information is spread throughout your existing text, meaning that cutting and pasting each part individually would take some considerable time. Spike lets you speed up this process by highlighting each section you need to remove and pressing Ctrl + F3. This will appear to only cut the content, but this content is being cut into a special clipboard. Unlike the normal clipboard, the Spike clipboard adds to the content already saved on it instead of overwriting it.

Once you’ve cut everything you need, you can put your cursor where you want this content to be moved to (even if that happens to be in an entirely new document) and press Ctrl + Shift + F3. This will empty the special Spike clipboard into that spot.

Finding Your Location

There’s a pretty consistent pattern to how users are trained to use Microsoft Word, or indeed any word processor: when you’re done, save your work and close the program (preferably having saved your progress periodically as you worked). Of course, when you reopen the document, your cursor is reset to the beginning as well, making it hard to tell where you left off. If you’re writing the first draft of the document, this probably isn’t the biggest deal as you can just navigate to the end of the text and continue on, but if you’re reviewing work, it helps to know where you left off.

Microsoft Word has a shortcut that enables you to reposition the cursor to its position during the last file save, even if you’ve closed the program since then. Just press Shift + F5, and you’ll be brought back to the right place.

Easy Hyperlinks

A lot of business documents you might use Word to create can be greatly benefitted by the inclusion of links. Word (and incidentally, Google Docs) includes a streamlined way to add hyperlinks to text. First, highlight the text that needs to be linked, and then press Ctrl + K. You will then be presented with a window. Add the URL you are linking into the Address bar and press Enter. This window can also be used to link text to other documents, other areas in the native document, or even start an email by clicking on selected content.

Microsoft Word is an impressive enough solution with a basic understanding of its capabilities. However, with a more in-depth appreciation for what it can do, it is upgraded to stunning.

 

Tip of the Week: Leveraging Two-Factor Authentication on Facebook

If you’re like its over 2.19 billion other active users, Facebook has quite a bit of your personal information stored in it, and the risks that this implies only grow if your business is also represented on the social network. If your account isn’t protected as much as it could be, you could find yourself at risk of identity theft or other crimes. This is why we recommend activating two-factor authentication on Facebook.

Two-factor authentication (or 2FA) has actually been available on Facebook for quite some time. However, before a few much-needed changes were made recently, there were a few drawbacks to using it. First and foremost, the user needed to provide Facebook with their phone number, which many people didn’t really want to do. This wasn’t helped by the fact that, just a few months before the changes were made, Facebook announced that their previous 2FA system had a bug. This bug caused any replies to mobile Facebook notifications from 362-65 (the 2FA number Facebook would use) to post on the user’s profile page.

Now, Facebook plays nice with applications like Google Authenticator and Duo Security, and has made the setup process much more utilizable for the average user. The timing on this change couldn’t be better, either, as quite a few two-factor authentication hacks have surfaced from the weaker SMS-based 2FA – meaning that your best move is to avoid using texts to enable your 2FA permissions. Admittedly, an extra layer of security isn’t a bad thing to have, but there’s evidence that hackers have the capability to snatch your 2FA codes to access your accounts.

Setting up 2FA for Facebook is pretty straightforward:

  • Access Settings
  • Navigate to Security and Login
  • Select Use two-factor authentication
  • Choose the account you want to use as your authenticator.

2FA is just an extra piece of security to keep your information safe.

 

Tip of the Week: Using Less Data on Android

Mobile data is extremely important to the productivity and efficiency of modern businesses–especially when employees and administrators are out of the office. The major drawback of this is that it can be an expensive setup, as mobile data transfer can be pricey. We can help you get around this issue by minimizing the amount of data your Android device uses.

Checking Your Data Usage

If you want to use less data, the first step is to see how much you’re currently using. To do this, you want to see where most of your data is being used. You can do so by accessing ​System Settings ​and going to your ​Network and Internet ​options. Under this, select​ Mobile data usage​. You’ll then be shown a list of all your applications, as well as how much data they are using. This setting can also show you whether the data was used in the background or during the user’s activity.

Placing Caps on Your Apps

Once you’ve figured out your problem apps, you can put measures in place to limit how much data they consume:

Limit your updates​: Some apps will constantly refresh themselves, which can burn through your mobile data faster than you’d like. Some examples of these are social media applications that update news feeds. You can cut back on how often these applications update their information in two ways. The first includes going to each app’s settings and looking for the option to reduce the amount of data than an app uses in the background. If this doesn’t work, go back to your system settings and access that particular app’s settings to deactivate background data. This isn’t always the best option for apps like messaging that need to refresh in the background in order to work.

Deactivate certain features:​ Some apps have features included that go through more data than you’d like. Examples are auto-play and high-quality streaming. You can change these settings individually by going into the app’s specific settings. Doing this can greatly decrease the amount of data your device uses.

Prepare in advance:​ Downloading content through your mobile data plan can be expensive. Most of the time, you can plan ahead by downloading whatever you need via a Wi-Fi connection instead. You can do this with music apps like Spotify, as well as Google Maps for location-based tasks.