Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

Summer 2018
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Hope you are all having a lovely summer. I had a very nice vacation, and have been enjoying a lot of family time and short trips to fun places. 

This month's first topic is SSDs - with the prices dropping daily, now is a good time to upgrade your system. Additionally, I've assembled a list of tech support numbers for you - I don't trust the phone numbers that come up in some searches! And I have an alert about a sneaky new scam.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!


Julie Marto 
PS - College student heading back to school? Don't forget to schedule a flat rate tune-up to make sure their laptop is in shape for next term!
Solid State Drives 

The prices for SSDs (Solid State Drives) are finally heading down, so now seems like a good time to revisit what they are and why you should consider upgrading to one.

Basically, until SSDs came on the market, all hard drives were mechanical devices similar to sealed record players, with a spinning disk and a read/write arm to access data. SSDs use a fully electronic reading and writing approach - there are no longer any mechanical parts. Therefore, a computer that uses an SSD for storage is MUCH faster than one that uses a standard drive.

Many new systems, especially laptops, come with SSDs these days. You can tell if you are looking at a system with an SSD as they often have storage capacities of 128, 256, or 512 GB. The higher the capacity, the more expensive the drive. However, if you are shopping for a new laptop with an SSD, don't get a system with less than 128GB of storage, as you will quickly run out of space. Even 128 is kind of the bare minimum - I would recommend springing for 256GB.

As far as older systems are concerned, there is a bsolutely nothing that will improve the performance of your system as much as replacing the current drive with an SSD. I do this upgrade all the time, sometimes for people with a drive failure, sometimes just to improve system performance. If you are interested in an upgrade just give me a call - it's a flat rate service, plus the cost of the drive, which I will choose base on your current storage usage. Most laptops, desktops, and Windows All-in-Ones are relatively easy for me to upgrade. However, there are a few models of HP and Dell laptops, and all iMacs, that require too much disassembly for me to work on, so please let me know the make and model of your system.

One thing I am seeing more of are computers with two drives - a 128GB SSD, and a 1TB standard drive. This is not a bad compromise for price and performance, but it takes a little expert setup to get working right. If you have purchased one of those systems and are having trouble with it, let me know - I can make it work much better for you. And if you are considering buying one of those systems, you will be much happier if you have me do the migration and set it up for you.
Real Support Numbers

Microsoft, Apple, Dell or Netgear - they are never going to "pop-up" on your screen with a warning that you have a problem and you need to call them. That is always a scam, and you should call me for instructions if you can't make that screaming screen go away. However, a subtler way for the fake tech support scammers to get to you is to have their number appear at the top of a search, usually through a paid ad. It doesn't help that many companies make it hard to find their tech support phone numbers. And yet sometimes you just have to call for support. So, to keep you from having to search, here are some REAL tech support numbers for your reference.

1-800-MY-APPLE (800-692-7753)
Microsoft 1-800-360-7561
Dell 1-800-624-9896
HP 1-800-624-9896
Lenovo 1-855-253-6686
Netgear 1-888-638-4327
Belkin 1-800-223-5546
Norton 1-800-745-6034
McAfee 1-866-622-3911
Kaspersky 1-781-503-1820
Comcast 1-800-934-6489
Verizon 1-800-922-0204

"Porn" Scam

Several of my clients got in touch with me recently to ask about a very scary blackmail email they had received. The gist of the message was that they had been filmed through their webcam watching porn, and the blackmailer was going to send that video to their friends and family if they didn't pay up. The scammer "proved" access to their system with an real password that had been used by the intended victim.

Well, if this happens to you, don't believe a word of it. The way the scam works is detailed in this article (which is Mac specific but also applies to PCs). It's basically social engineering at its worst. Ignore it, don't click on any links in the email, and certainly don't pay up! However, if you have any logins that are using the password they reference, be sure to change those. That password was most likely associated with your name from the 2012  LinkedIn hack and is no longer a safe password for you to use!