Tips for Energy Efficient Computer Use

Computers have come under fire lately as a big contributor to global climate change, both in their manufacturing and in their high energy usage. For some people, a computer can add just as much to their energy bills as their refrigerator. With this in mind, many are trying to go the extra mile to “go green” with their computer usage. Here are a few tips to cut your own computer’s power consumption:

  • If you are still using a CRT monitor, upgrade to a flat panel LCD monitor. These use only a third of the energy required to run a CRT monitor of the same size.
  • Consider using a laptop or tablet. These smaller computers use less power than a desktop, and are just as functional for many applications.
  • If you are big into playing games on your computer, take a look at your video card. Some of the newer models use about ten percent less power while simultaneously delivering slightly better performance.
  • Turn off wireless capabilities when you’re not using them.
  • Adjust your screen’s brightness. Chances are good that you don’t need it to be at maximum brightness all the time, particularly if you operate in a darker room.
  • It’s commonly believed that it’s better to put your computer to sleep than to turn it off. However, powering down your computer every day is a perfectly acceptable practice. Consider turning your hardware off if you plan to be away from it for more than two hours.
  • Remember that your screen saver is not saving you much energy. Look at your computer’s power saving options, and consider allowing it to turn off your monitor or go into hibernation after several minutes of inactivity.
  • Maximize the life of your computer. eBits offers a number of valuable repair and data recovery services in Seattle to help you get the most out of your machine and avoid having to buy a new one.
  • Recycle! Electronics like a computer contain valuable materials that can be reused to make new computers. When the time comes to get rid of your current model, bring it to eBits to have it properly disposed of.

Microsoft Explores New Sources of Revenue

Windows is going through some dramatic changes. While loyal Windows users eagerly await the release of the upcoming Windows 10 OS, the company is simultaneously looking at new ways to monetise their products.

These new changes are proving to be quite beneficial to many users, who are enjoying low prices in tablet and phone devices. Since Microsoft stopped charging royalties for its operating system on any device with a screen of nine inches or less, we have been seeing laptops running Windows carrying price tags of around $200. This represents part of the company’s strategy to revitalize its share in this sector of the market.

Unfortunately, the company cannot expect to stay in business by giving Windows away for free across the board. COO Kevin Turner described ways in which some of the difference in profits would be made up in new services. It has been suggested that Windows 10 may come with a free basic version, with the option of paying for various upgrades and components. Though details are slim at the moment, the company plans to speak further on their plans in the early part of 2015.

Facebook Begins Offering Malware Scans to Users

In a recent post, Facebook announced new measures to offer its users protection from viruses and other malware. By partnering with an antivirus firm by the name of ESET, it has integrated antivirus programming into its abuse detection and prevention system.

Should the system detect any suspicious activity while you are logged on to your Facebook account, you may be prompted to run their free online scanner. Suspicious activity may include the posting of links to recognized malicious web pages via your messages or news feeds. Should you choose to run the scan, the software will allow you to view your scan results and clean up any detected malware.

Though most people are familiar only with malware scanning software that they install on their own devices, online scanners are not a new thing. The technology currently being utilized by Facebook has itself been offered by ESET for a while now, with the company’s website boasting 44 million scans so far. However, while an online scanner can be a valuable tool, it is worth nothing that it is no substitute for a proper security program installed on your computer.

Should your own security measures fail, contact eBits in Seattle for all of your malware removal and data recovery needs.

Keeping Your Laptop Clean

Maintaining a clean computer is a big part of extending its lifespan. Dust and other debris gradually builds up within the components of your computer, which can lead to problems like button failures, broken fans, and a total meltdown of the motherboard. It is therefore recommended that you periodically clean out the insides of your computer.

Unfortunately, if you use a laptop computer instead of a desktop, it is not as easy to open up your unit to properly remove dust. Gaining access to your laptop’s insides is often a complex and delicate procedure, one which may be best left to a professional. For this reason, you may want to take extra precautions to assure that your computer doesn’t get dirty in the first place. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this:

  • Dust your workplace. A clean computer desk allows for a clean computer.
  • Don’t put your computer on the floor. Dirt and grime accumulates all the more quickly on your floor, and your computer’s fan is sucking it up like a vacuum cleaner. This is particularly important if your floor is carpeted.
  • Avoid smoke. Smoke of any kind can gather in your computer’s innards just as easily as airborne dust. Cigarette smoke is especially bad, as it’s good at forming tar and causing your fan to stick.
  • If you have a pet, keep it away from your computer. A cat laying on your keyboard is not only annoying, but also a great way to fill your heat sink with fur.
  • In case all else should fail, have your data backed up in an external drive. Contact our Seattle data recovery professionals if the worst should befall you.

What is Cloud Computing?

If you regularly use a computer in your work, chances are good that you are at least aware of the concept of cloud storage. This is a great way to remotely backup your data, providing for a security net when your computer or network suffers a meltdown. For a long time, this was the sole prerogative of cloud-based technology. However, a concept known as “cloud computing” is on the rise, which may transform the modern workplace in no small way.

The idea behind cloud computing is that, instead of simply saving your files in a cloud, you could use the cloud to gain access to remotely-operated programs through your web browser. This allows you to create and edit files without ever needing to download or install the requisite software. Most of the work is therefore done by a remote machine, while your own computer is free to devote its processing power to other tasks.

The main drawback of cloud computing is that it requires a significant processing power from the cloud source, as well as a reliable up-time during lengthy processing periods. Therefore, most extant cloud processing ventures have been limited to word processing and similar, simple applications. However, as the hurdles are gradually surmounted by tech companies, we are beginning to see rudimentary photo editing programs and other, more complex applications emerge in the cloud sphere.

What is Everykey?

Security is the name of the game for most people in the online community. Nobody knows better than our Seattle data recovery service that your ability to protect your computer and your online information has become a vital part of the average person’s everyday life. Unfortunately, the need to keep track of an increasing number of usernames and passwords can really test our limits sometimes. This is the problem that Everykey is seeking to solve.

Everykey is a wrist-mounted device that seeks to manage all of your passwords and security codes. When you create an account with a website, the device can save your password or create a complex, randomly-generated password for you. Communicating directly with the devices you use at a customized range, it can unlock your computer, phone, or other devices as you approach them. In the future, the creators of Everykey hope to allow it to operate your car, unlock your house, or even take the place of your credit card.

Though it may seem risky to put all of your security eggs into a single basket, the Everykey promises to be very secure against theft. Users can program their phones to alert them if they step too far away from their Everykeys. Should you lose your Everykey, it can be remotely deactivated in much the same way you might shut down a stolen credit card.

You can read more about the product by visiting the Everykey Kickstarter page.

Fixing Stuck Pixels

We’re seeing more and more of the world in pixelated form nowadays, via our computers, our smartphones, and our increasingly larger TV’s. It is therefore a source of great frustration for many people when their screens are marred by “lit pixels”, or pixels that get stuck on a single color. When this happens, what should you do? eBits’ Seattle data recovery and computer repair service can replace the screens of many devices that are beyond repair, but there are also some surprisingly simple measures you can take at home that may restore your pixels to proper working condition. Try these out on your lit pixels, and then bring your device in to eBits if all else fails.

It’s important to remember that these are only likely to work on lit pixels, and not dead pixels. If your pixels are lit up but stuck on a single color, they are lit; if they are entirely black, they are dead. Further, certain computer warranties may not apply if you employ some of the strategies listed here, so use them at your own discretion.

Software: There is some software available designed to fix lit pixels. They work by rapidly turning your pixels on and off, stimulating them back into proper functionality.

Tapping: Turn on the screen. Find an object with a dull, rounded tip, like a marker cap, and tap lightly on the stuck pixels. Start very gently, and then increase pressure slightly if you do not see any results after five to ten taps.

Pressure: Turn on the screen. Get a washcloth or a paper towel, folding it over and placing it up against the affected area. Apply pressure on top of the lit pixels with the tip of a dull, rounded object. Whenever possible, try to apply pressure only to the lit pixels themselves.

Heat: Heat a pot of water on your stove until you begin to see bubbles form on the bottom. Turn on the screen. Soak a cloth in the water and put it into a sealed plastic bag. Being sure not to get any water on your device, hold the cloth up against the faulty pixels. Try to apply heat as much as possible only to the lit pixels. Massage the area in small circles.

How to Create a Strong Password

A good password is the cornerstone of your security in any computer profile or online account. If your password fails you, it could mean a loss of important information, a violation of your privacy, or even a significant loss of money. With this in mind, our Seattle data recovery service offers the following tips to help assure that your accounts are protected by a password that is capable of foiling unscrupulous users.

Avoid Lazy Passwords
A good password should be at least eight characters, preferably with a mix of letters and numbers. Far too many people end up using the same passwords, which makes them very easy targets for hackers. Look at this year’s most common passwords to make sure you’re not using one of them:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. 123456789
  7. 111111
  8. 1234567
  9. iloveyou
  10. adobe123
  11. 123123
  12. admin
  13. 1234567890
  14. letmein
  15. photoshop
  16. 1234
  17. monkey
  18. shadow
  19. sunshine
  20. 12345
  21. password1
  22. princess
  23. azerty
  24. trustno1
  25. 000000

Ideally, the password should be something that cannot be found in any dictionary. Try to come up with something that only has meaning to you. Names of loved ones, your company name, your SSN, or a variation on your username are a big no-no, but nonsense words are a plus. Consider creating a word from a favorite adage of yours, like making “2eih2fid” out of “To err is human, to forgive is divine”; such a password is easy to remember but difficult to crack.

Change Your Password Frequently
It is recommended that you change the passwords protecting your sensitive information every thirty to ninety days. This helps to assure that, even if somebody has gained access to your account without you knowing, he or she will not be able to retain access for too long.

Safeguard Your Password
It seems like common sense, but some people still can’t keep their passwords to themselves. This means more than just not telling other people what your password is; it also means not writing it under your laptop, or on a post-it note attached to your screen.

Thwarting Malicious Emails

There are a lot of good programs in place to help protect you from malicious software. Anti-virus products can warn you away from sketchy sites, malware protection can block unauthorized entities from accessing your computer, and spam filters can keep phishing scams out of your inbox. Unfortunately, no system is perfect, and one wrong step can jeopardize your computer and your personal information. To help you outwit unscrupulous people who try to worm their way onto your hard drive, our Seattle data recovery business offers the following tips on identifying a malicious email:

Strange Headings
Did you receive an email titled “Re: Job Application” without having sent an email titled “Job Application”? This may be a red flag. Additionally, many malicious emails do not have a title at all.

Bad Writing
It always pays to have a good sense of spelling and grammar, because spammers are often sub-par writers or speak English as a second language. If you get an email that claims to be from a legitimate business, you should expect that this business cares enough to capitalize proper nouns and use good punctuation.

Salutations that Don’t Know Your Name
Does the email open with “Dear Customer”? Any business that can legitimately claim you as a customer probably has a simple auto-fill program that could plug your real name into the salutation.

Messages that Know Too Much About You
A strategy of some phishers is to peruse a target’s social networking profile, then use the information they find to convince you that they know you. Try to limit the information that you make publicly available, and be leery of any message that knows about your recent tweets and status updates.

Sneaky URL’s
Phishers want you to believe that they represent companies you trust. To this end, their addresses may be designed to resemble a legitimate website. Be on the lookout for anything like “mircosoft” or “apple.com-rkwebhrv” in either the address or any links in the email. It’s even possible that the phisher may direct you to a website designed to resemble one you use, where it will capture your username and password when you attempt to log on.

Requests for Personal Information
The websites that you deal with will often remind you that their representatives will never ask you for your password, SSN, credit card information, or similar information.

Attachments
Don’t open any attachments that you are not sure about. A good rule of thumb is to not touch an attachment that you were not expecting. Remember, you can always hang on to it in case it later turns out to be important.

When the Cloud Rains on Your Parade

Backing up data to the cloud is a common practice today. It’s a comforting idea that, even if the worst should happen to your own computer, all of your important files exist in a highly secure server under the protection of a huge corporation somewhere. However, it’s a good idea to not rely too strongly on a cloud server. After all, should the cloud fail you, there’s nothing that eBits in Seattle could do to recover your data.

Users of Dropbox learned this lesson recently when the popular cloud storage service deleted many of their files. This came about as the result of a bug tied to the service’s Selective Sync feature, which served to let users save space by downloading only select folders to local storage. The bug has reportedly affected only a small number of users, those being users operating out-of-date versions of the software. These users have been given a year of free Dropbox Pro for their troubles.

In an effort to retain the confidence of users, Dropbox has announced that it has patched the desktop client and discontinued the problematic older versions. It is also introducing new test procedures to avoid similar problems in the future.

Such stories are few and far between, but they do show that there are cracks in the cloud that should be planned for. It is therefore advisable to use the cloud largely for backup, and not as a primary storage for your important data.