Windows 10 PC

Is your computer taking a lot of time to perform tasks it used to finish within seconds? Just because your unit is slowing down doesn’t mean you’ll need to spend hundreds of dollars on a replacement. We’ve compiled four ways to speed up your Windows 10 computer for free:

Prevent programs from launching at startup

Windows makes certain programs readily available by loading them at startup. While Microsoft likely has good intentions for doing this, this auto-launch feature slows down your computer. To fix this issue, you’ll need to adjust your settings.

Open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc to see the programs that launch during startup. On the startup tab, you can easily disable any programs you don’t want launching at startup, such as media players and optional accessories that don’t have to be active all the time. But to be on the safe side, keep essential apps, such as antivirus software, enabled.

Get rid of useless applications

Having too many programs installed on your computer uses up valuable memory and hard disk space. This slows down your computer and makes the machine work harder than necessary. Quickly uninstall programs you don’t need by following these steps:

  • Tap the Windows key on your keyboard and type “Add or remove programs” (this will show you all the apps stored in your computer).
  • A link to the system settings will appear. Click on the link.
  • Select the program/s you no longer want, and click Uninstall.

Once you do this, you’ll then be guided through several steps to complete the uninstallation process.

Organize your disks

It’s important to regularly clean out your computer of data you don’t need. Thankfully, Microsoft’s Disk Cleanup tool makes it easy to do so.

To find the tool, tap on the Windows button on your keyboard and type “Disk Cleanup.” If you click on the link, the tool will automatically find files that take up too much memory space, such as temporary Internet and system memory dump files. Just click OK to send these files to your Recycle Bin.

Turn off apps running in the background

You may not know it, but there are a lot of programs running in the background as you use your computer. Microsoft enabled their native universal apps to do this so you can quickly access their features. However, this also slows down your CPU. Disabling them will reduce the burden on your computer and speed it up.

To find out what programs are running in the background, press the Windows button on your keyboard and type “Background apps.” Find the programs you don’t need running and toggle the On-Off button.

By following these four steps, you’ll see a noticeable difference in the speed of your PC. If you want to learn how to optimize your Windows system further or need assistance with your other Microsoft products, give us a call.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Through the years, Apple products have shown resistance to different kinds of malware that Microsoft computers weren’t able to dodge. This, however, does not mean that Macs are invulnerable. Here are some threats you should watch out for to keep your Mac protected.

What are the threats that can affect your Mac?

There are several general virus types that hit Apple products, and their effects can range from merely annoying to downright destructive.

1. Adware – Adware are unwanted programs that bombard users with pop-up advertisements. Some malicious adware piggyback spyware onto their deployment protocols, which can record your typing habits with keyloggers and keyboard sniffers, as well as monitor your browsing behavior.

2. Sniffers – Sniffers are usually designed to detect certain words on a webpage and in a person’s typing pattern in order to trigger the keylogger. For instance, when you type your password, sniffers can activate the keylogger to copy the information you type and steal your login details.

3. Trojan horses – Trojan horses can infect both Macs and PCs, and they are often deployed through fake software installers or unsecured updates. They parade as legitimate software that actually contains a nasty surprise once installed. A notorious Trojan horse for Macs is the MacDownloader, which attempts to steal personal data stored in Apple Keychain.

4. Macro viruses – Macro viruses attack computers by running an executory code that could take screenshots, format hard drives, corrupt files, deliver more malware, and access webcams and mics. They are triggered when a user opens an infected macros-enabled file, hence the name.

5. Ransomware – Macs held off ransomware for a while, but nowadays, even they can be vulnerable to it. KeRanger was one of the first big ransomware outbreaks for Macs. After remotely encrypting the computer and hibernating for three days, KeRanger would issue a .txt file containing instructions for decryption in return for one bitcoin.

Does your Mac have a virus?

Now that you know what kinds of viruses and malware your macOS could be affected with, here are some ways to tell if your Mac is infected with one:

1. Pop-up ads – If you’re seeing more pop-ups on your computer than usual, your computer probably infected. An unusual amount of banner ads and pop-ups may mean that your computer is due for an update and/or a virus scan.

2. Slowness – Mac users fear one thing above all: the spinning wheel of death. This little rainbow-colored spinning cursor wheel indicates that the computer is having trouble processing at usual speeds. This slowness can often be caused by overwhelming requests from simultaneous processes — likely of dubious origin — running in the background.

3. Browser issues – Viruses sometimes do weird things to Safari or Firefox such as change its homepage or redirect a preset landing page to a site you’ve never seen before. If your browser starts behaving oddly, crashes regularly, or is often unresponsive, your Mac might have a virus.

Computer security is a matter of importance no matter what operating system you use. Reach out to our experts for an assessment of your network today.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Apple’s continuous improvement of its operating systems will give us iOS 14 and other OS updates this September. These will be previewed and tested by developers come Apple’s WWDC on June 22, but here’s a quick peek at some of the new apps and features.

Nifty app tweaks

Apple is developing new features for some of its prominent apps, and these tweaks may just make the cut come September.

MESSAGES

  • Mention will let users tag people with the @ symbol, just like in Slack. This will also allow users to mute conversations but receive push notifications whenever they are directly mentioned.
  • Mark as unread will allow users to highlight messages so they would not forget requests or tasks and get back to these at a later time.
  • Retract will enable users to delete messages they’ve sent, with the deletion action visible to both sender and recipient.

ACTIVITY

  • Kids mode on the watchOS 7 will track movement time instead of calories burned. This is because the first metric is deemed healthier to track (from a mental health perspective) for children.

HEALTH

  • Sleep tracking will grant users the ability to set sleep goals and receive tips for improving slumber.

FIND MY

  • new notification feature will let users receive alerts when someone does not arrive at an expected place and time. For example, parents would be notified if their child does not make it home on time.

New features

CARKEY

This will let users pair their iPhone and/or Apple Watch with their NFC-enabled vehicles. They can then lock, unlock, and start their ride with their Apple device instead of the car’s physical key. The electronic keys will be kept in the Wallet app, and “duplicates” can be shared with friends and family via the Messages app. Based on the leaked screenshots and code of the feature in development, BMW might be the first brand that CarKey works with.

ICLOUD KEYCHAIN FEATURES

In development are:

  • A way to store two-factor authentication (2FA) codes, which would purportedly allow the Keychain to generate its own codes and let the user forgo the need to use a separate 2FA app
  • Password reuse warnings that remind users to create different passwords for different accounts

CLIPS

Codenamed “Clips,” this feature will let users interact with certain content in third-party apps without having to download those apps. By scanning a QR code that’s linked to an app, the user opens a floating card that contains the interactive content. The card gives users the option to download the app, or open the app if it’s already installed.

New apps

FITNESS APP

This new app, which is expected to be named “Fit” or “Fitness” once released, will allow users to download from a wide library of fitness videos and receive help for completing workout activities. Activities include core exercises, strength training, stretching, yoga, dance, and running, among others.

This standalone app will coexist with the Activity app and will be available on iOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7. This means that you can sync your fitness routines across many Apple devices — i.e., you can watch workout videos on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, and track your progress on your Apple Watch.

As of this writing, it appears that Apple won’t charge users anything for workout routines, though whether the app and its functionalities would end up on the final versions of the OSs remains to be seen this September.

AUGMENTED REALITY APP

This app would grant users access to information and experiences by triggering QR code tags or iBeacon transmitters (i.e., IoT devices that activate apps in nearby mobile devices) that are placed in specific spots or items in a certain location. For instance, if a user is in an Apple Store, they can check the QR code tag of a particular device to receive information about that device.

New tech is amazing! To take advantage of the latest that IT has to offer, schedule a consultation with our experts today.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Lax bring your own device (BYOD) policies are a growing concern for businesses. If not managed properly, these can pose security risks to your organization. How can you mitigate the risks associated with the BYOD trend?

Whether your employees are using smartphones, tablets, or laptops, you need a BYOD security policy. Additionally, you need to be aware of the key BYOD security risks:

  • Loss or theft of device – Employees often bring their personal devices wherever they go. This means there’s a higher chance of devices being lost or stolen, and a greater risk of the company data that’s stored or accessed on these being compromised.
  • Data loss – In the event that a device is lost, stolen, or damaged, any locally stored data may be lost permanently if it’s not backed up in real time.
  • Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks – Public Wi-Fi spots are convenient for getting some work done, but they’re also popular hunting grounds for cybercriminals who use MITM to intercept data being transmitted over public networks.
  • Jailbroken devices – Jailbreaking is the process of removing the restrictions imposed by the manufacturer of a device, typically to allow the installation of unauthorized or third-party software. This increases the risk of an employee inadvertently installing malicious software on a personal device.
  • Security vulnerabilities – Every operating system (and the software that runs on it) has its own unique set of security flaws and vulnerabilities, which means that allowing staff to use any device and operating system increases the risk of a data breach or malware infection.
  • Malware – A personal device that has been infected with malware can spread that malware to other devices connected to the company network and cause data loss and downtime.

To mitigate risks, it’s important to devise a BYOD security policy that works for the needs of your business as well as the needs of your employees. Here are some tips:

Make passwords compulsory on all BYOD devices

Prevent unauthorized access to company data by enforcing the use of passwords on all BYOD devices. Passwords should be long and unique.

Create a blacklist of prohibited applications

Blacklisting involves prohibiting the installation of certain applications on BYOD devices that are used for work purposes. This includes applications such as file sharing and social networking apps. The simplest way to blacklist applications is through a mobile device management platform that enables IT administrators to secure and enforce policies on enrolled devices.

Restrict data access

Adopt the principle of least privilege on both BYOD and company devices. This means that a user is able to access only the data and software required to do their job. This can reduce the effects of certain types of malware and limit the fallout in the event of a data breach.

Invest in reliable security solutions for devices

Protect BYOD devices with reputable antivirus software to identify and stop threats before they can make changes to the device. This is vital for protecting mission-critical data and avoiding downtime.

Backing up device data

A well-thought-out BYOD policy can go a long way toward minimizing the risk of a security breach, but if something manages to slip past your defenses, you need a process in place for restoring your data to its former state. Have a comprehensive backup strategy to ensure that any data stored locally on a BYOD device can be quickly recovered.

Educate your staff about security

The vast majority of BYOD-related security risks involve human error. Educate your employees about proper mobile safety. This includes how to spot apps that could contain malware, sharing security threat updates, and teaching them how to secure their devices by going beyond default security settings.

It’s also a great idea to work with an IT partner like us. As experts, we keep tabs on the latest trends and innovations related to BYOD and will recommend solutions that work for your company. Contact us today to see how we can help.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Although more generally secure than Windows computers and Android devices, Apple computers and devices have security threats, too. Thinking that Macs and iPhones don’t need protection is just asking for trouble. Follow these tips to bolster the security of all your business gadgets.

Keep abreast of current security threats

Educate your organization about the most common ways systems are infected or hacked. Apple users in your organization must be aware of recent security updates on iPhones and Macs, for instance.

  • iPhones – Security and privacy are key concerns with every iOS update, which is why Apple highlighted its privacy and security features when it released iOS 13, the latest iOS version. However, in June, it was reported that 38% of Apple iOS apps contained critical vulnerabilities, which was only slightly lower compared to Android’s 43%. The vulnerabilities were reportedly caused by weaknesses in security mechanisms.
  • Macs – In 2017’s WannaCry/WannaCrypt ransomware attacks, only Windows machines were affected. This shows that Apple does a fairly good job of guarding against threats. That said, Macs are certainly not immune to malware and viruses. In 2019, a malware called OSX/CrescentCore was reportedly found on several websites and worked by installing an infected file or a Safari extension.

Practice secure web browsing

The vast majority of security breaches happen when a user installs programs, knowingly or unknowingly, or clicks on links in emails or on the Web that contain malware. Take these precautions to avoid intrusions:

  1. Never open email attachments from unknown senders especially those with file extensions that are for programs, i.e., DMG. These include attachments in emails from large companies and financial institutions. When in doubt, contact the sender to verify.
  2. Always hover over links before you click on them. If you receive an email with a link in it, hover over the URL to see where it links to and look for spelling or grammar mistakes, or any other indication that it’s a fraudulent link.
  3. Don’t automatically open any downloaded apps. Verify an app by taking a look at its name and its source information. If the site appears to be different from where you downloaded it, the app may be infected.
  4. When you try to watch content from any random website, many sites will ask you to download a plugin or video player. It’s best to avoid these sites altogether because many of them are known to host malware that can install itself.
  5. When in doubt, don’t take action. If you’re unsure about a link or app you are being asked to download, simply don’t click on it or download it.

Install antivirus scanners

It’s amazing how many Mac users don’t bother with an antivirus scanner. These tools are indispensable for keeping your systems and data secure. There are a number of excellent scanners out there, so make sure to pick a solution that covers both desktop and mobile devices to ensure optimal security. We can also help you pick the best solution for your business.

Consult IT experts

Strengthen the security of your computers, mobile devices, and network by working with an IT expert like us. We take the time to get to know how you use your devices to discover your security needs and recommend an integrated, effective solution for you. To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Microsoft has warned Windows users to install an “emergency” out-of-band security patch.

The software giant said in an advisory that a security flaw in some versions of Internet Explorer could allow an attacker to remotely run malicious code on an affected device. A user could be stealthily infected by visiting a malicious web page or by being tricked into clicking on a link in an email.

“An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could take control of an affected system,” said Microsoft.

Microsoft said the vulnerability was under active exploitation, though details of the flaw had not been made public.

More than 7 percent of all browser users are running affected versions of Internet Explorer 9, 10 and 11, according to recent data. All supported versions of Windows are affected, including Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, as well as several Windows Server versions.

Most users can install the patches using Windows Update.

Microsoft also issued a fix for its in-built malware scanner Windows Defender, which if exploited could have triggered a denial-of-service condition resulting in the app failing to work.

The company said no action was required by users to remediate the bug in Windows Defender.

It’s rare but not unheard of for Microsoft to release emergency security patches outside of its typical monthly patching cycle. The company typically releases security fixes in the second week of each month on its so-called Patch Tuesday, but will also release fixes for significant vulnerabilities under active exploitation as soon as they are made available.

Homeland Security warned in its own advisory urging affected users to install the patches.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechCrunch.com  SOURCE

The Windows 7 End of Life date has been announced: January 14, 2020 – even sooner for those who don’t download a recent security update. This means Microsoft will no longer update or support the operating system after that date.

And, while Windows 7 is a decade old at this point – launching on July 22, 2009 – it’s still incredibly popular, with recent reports from Netmarketshare suggesting that Windows 7 is still being used on 39% of all PCs.

So, the news that Windows 7 will no longer be supported by Microsoft means there are many users out there who need to start thinking about finally moving on from their favorite operating system.

If you’re one of those people, in this guide we’ll explain how you can prepare for Windows 7 End of Life. We’ll look at why the end of support for Windows 7 is so important, as well as the options you have, and at how you can go about moving to Windows 10, Microsoft’s most recent operating system, as well as alternative software.

With the Windows 7 End of Life date now rapidly approaching, Microsoft is keen to make sure people know that support for the operating system is ending, and wants to encourage people to move from the operating system.

So, the company is releasing an update to Windows 7 – KB4493132 – which will display notifications reminding Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10 before the End of Life date.

The update is optional, but anyone with automatic updates turned on will receive it. Microsoft promises that the notification won’t be too obtrusive, and you can prevent it from appearing again, but it shows how seriously Microsoft is about getting people to stop using Windows 7.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechRadar.com  SOURCE

Once you’ve unboxed that laptop you just bought, there are important things that need to be done. After installing Windows 10, you must unlock its full potential by customizing some critical settings. You can ask a technician for help with this, but here are a few things you can do on your own.

#1 Check for updates 

Your new laptop should check for updates automatically, but you can also check manually. Just click the gear icon above the Start button to go to the Settings, choose Update & Security > Windows Update, and then click Check for updates. (Or, just type “updates” into the search box, and click Check for updates.)

#2 System restore

If something goes wrong with your laptop, you can save a lot of time if you have a “restore point,” which is like a backup of your entire operating system. To set up a restore point, search for “restore” from the taskbar and click Create a restore point. You’ll be taken to the System Protection tab of the System Properties window.

From there you can choose what you want to be included in the backup and then click the Configure button. Select the radio dial to “Turn on system protection” if it’s not already on. And then you can choose how much disk space to reserve, usually no more than 2 or 3 percent.

#3 Power plan

If you want to prolong your laptop’s battery life, one of the best things you can do is switch the Power Saver, High Performance, and Balanced power plans based on your needs. To choose a plan, right-click the battery icon in the lower-right corner of your screen and click Power settings. Next, click Additional power settings to select a power plan.

#4 App installation tolerance level

To restrict which apps can be installed on your laptop, you can disallow anything that isn’t in the Windows Store. Go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features, and you can choose whether to permit installations from only the Windows Store, any app installations (with a warning), or unrestricted app installations.

#5 Remove bloatware

Vendors package new laptops with lots of trial apps, which are mostly unnecessary and unwanted software called bloatware.

Windows 10 offers an easy way to see which apps are installed on your new laptop and a quick way to uninstall those you don’t want. Head to Settings > Apps > Apps & features and peruse the list. If you don’t want an app and are 100% certain your computer doesn’t need it, click the Uninstall button.

#6 Anti-ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malicious software (or malware) that makes all your data inaccessible until you pay a fee to hackers.

To combat it, type “Windows Defender Security Center” into the search bar at the bottom of your screen, click it and go to “Virus & threat protection”. Here, you’ll be able to enable a new option called “Controlled folder access,” which protects you against ransomware attacks. By default, the Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders are protected, but you can add others too.

Do you know what settings to change and update to optimize your laptop? This article barely scratches the surface of Window 10’s security and efficiency settings. Call us today for a quick chat with one of our Microsoft experts about taking your operating system to the next level.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Servers need to be replaced and/or upgraded at some point. The older the servers are, the harder they become to maintain because finding replacement parts become more time-consuming and costly. What’s more, you could be missing out on new features that could benefit your business if you don’t upgrade your servers. To help you decide if it’s time to replace your server, here are some guide questions.

When do my servers need to be replaced?

This is a difficult question, but there are two factors you will want to consider — age and performance. The useful life of a server is around three years. While it’s not unheard of for servers to function properly beyond year three, relying on them beyond this point can be risky as hardware problems occur more often. This means you will have to deal with costly repairs and possible unpredictable downtime.

Performance is another factor to consider. Even if your servers are only a year old, it doesn’t make sense to keep them around until year three if they are slow and too costly to maintain. It’s important to do a cost-benefit analysis in these situations and look at how much money you will lose in repairs and downtime and then compare it to the cost of buying new hardware.

Do I have an alternative to buying new servers?

Believe it or not, the answer to your server problems might not necessarily be purchasing more physical hardware. One way to avoid this is by embracing virtualization. This process allows your servers to be stored and maintained off-site with everything being delivered to your office via the internet.

There are two notable benefits of virtualizing your servers. First, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on new equipment. Second, virtualization is a scalable technology, meaning you only pay for the data capacity you use. For instance, if you only need two and a half servers, you can do that. This is in contrast to having physical equipment which would require your business to either make do with two servers or splurge and buy the third one even if you didn’t need all of that space.

Of course there are a few things you need to consider before making the switch to server virtualization. One of the biggest issues is security. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable keeping all of your data off-site. While this isn’t a concern for some companies, others may not see this as palatable. There are several workarounds to this issue, including the hybrid option where you keep sensitive data on-site and everything else off-site.

Can I do anything to prevent a full-scale server replacement?

Yes. It’s certainly possible for you to buy some time and give your current servers additional life, but these are short-term fixes, not long-term solutions. Server upgrades are a good place to start if your servers are less than three years old but are degrading in performance. Installing additional CPUs or memory may increase server performance at a fraction of the cost of buying new servers.

You can also utilize old servers for non-critical workloads. It’s possible to extend the life of servers that may have four or five years of wear-and-tear on them via repurposing. Instead of swapping out all of your servers, use the old ones for non-critical processes and purchase new ones to handle critical workloads. This will help you get a better ROI on your technology while avoiding a wholesale hardware purchase which could cripple your budget.

If you have any questions about your servers and how you can increase their performance, get in touch with us today. We can help you procure new hardware or show you the benefits of virtualization.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

The IT hardware issues your business experienced in previous years should, ideally, be a thing of the past. Although some minor issues may remain, they can be avoided by taking care of your computer hardware. The following checklist can help you better manage your hardware.

✓ Clean up your computer components

Wipe your monitor with clean, static-free fabric; remove excess dirt from your mouse’s exterior; and tidy up your keyboard with compressed air. Don’t forget your computer tower! Dust buildup can block your computer’s air vent and affect its performance. Ensure that your workstation is getting adequate ventilation and isn’t directly exposed to sunlight and other heat sources.

 

✓ Manage your cables

If you’re not giving your computers’ cables the attention they deserve, now’s a good time to do so. Other than wiping the thick coat of dust off of computer cables, consider using cable management solutions that unclutter and untangle messy wires. These don’t just organize and secure your cables, they also help ensure your PCs run quieter and are less prone to overheating as a result of blocked air vents.

 

Planning to relocate or upgrade in the near future? Organizing your computers’ cables now makes future relocation and upgrading processes much easier.

 

✓ Review and update your inventory

Keeping an inventory of all your hardware helps you manage hardware life cycles and purchases, identify items that are near their end of life, and ensure you avoid duplicate purchases of items already in stock.

:

Your inventory list should include all owned and leased devices: PCs and laptops, printers and scanners, tablets and smartphones, and modems and other network hardware. Update all your assets’ serial numbers and keep track of their respective users and location.

 

✓ Printer maintenance

Clean the interiors and exteriors of your printers, including paper trays, which are sure to have accumulated dirt from years of use. You should also repair and/or replace parts and accessories such as print heads and cartridges that are no longer in good condition. Should you decide to do a complete printer maintenance, check for the latest software updates for your printers and install them immediately.

 

✓ Implement a hardware policy

This is also a good time to create a technology guideline that your employees can follow to ensure they work efficiently. These guidelines reduce the need to spend on unnecessary repairs, keeping the succeeding year’s checklist shorter. With clear instructions on the proper use, replacement, and storage of your hardware and devices, you’ll be better able to manage your hardware for years to come.

 

With a more organized IT hardware inventory, you have one less thing to worry about. Want to get more in-depth hardware management advice? Call our experts today.

 

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

 

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE