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Do Macs Get Viruses?

Many Apple owners believe their Macintosh computers are immune to viruses. Apple itself has run ad campaigns promising its computers “don’t get viruses”. And those who have owned a Mac for years, decades even, are particularly prone to believing. After all, nothing’s happened to them yet. Regrettably, Macs do get viruses, and the threat is growing.

For a long time the argument was that cybercriminals didn’t bother to develop Mac viruses. There weren’t enough users to justify the effort. Instead, they’d focus on the lower hanging fruit – PCs running Windows.

Yet Apple’s market share is on the rise, and it’s increasingly common to see Macs in the workplace, especially in creative industries. Plus, there’s a widespread assumption that Mac users are a smart target as they are likely to be better off. So, while Macs remain harder to infect (installing most software requires a password), there’s often a greater payoff.

The research reflects the reality. In 2017, for instance, the iPhone OS and Mac OS X placed #3 and #6 in CVE Details’ top 50 ranked by total number of distinct vulnerabilities. Apple TV and Safari also made the list at #17 and #18, respectively. In 2017, Malwarebytes also reported it “saw more Mac malware in 2017 than in any previous year”. By the end of 2017, the cybersecurity firm had counted 270% more unique threats on the Mac platform than in 2016.

Finding Apple’s Weak Spots

It’s obvious then that bad actors are no longer steering clear. They are actively looking for ways to exploit Macs.

A common approach is to use Trojans. Named after a gift wooden horse that hid an army, Trojans look like something you would want to install. So, Mac users happily enter their passwords to download that application and open the gates to the cybercriminal.

In 2011, for instance, a Trojan called “Mac Defender” took advantage of people’s desire to protect their computers. The fake program appeared to be anti-virus software. Once the users installed it, they’d get an onslaught of pop-up ads encouraging them to buy more fake software.

Trojans get through the gates because you let your guard down. You are taken in by that supposed note from a long-lost friend. You think you want to see that pic of that famous celebrity. All it takes to stop this type of attack is suspicion of everything you might install or download.

A business would want to educate its employees about the importance of:

  • clicking on emails with care;
  • validating the source of any files they plan to open;
  • checking a website’s URL (being especially wary of those with less common endings such as .cc or .co);
  • questioning any promises of Ray-Ban sunglasses for 90% off or the latest iPhone for $29.99.

A new threat comes from within the Mac App Store, according to Thomas Reed, a Mac security researcher. When a user tries to install an app on a Mac, a Mac OS program called Gatekeeper checks the file’s code signature. The signature helps certify the app is valid. However, Reed found that cybercriminals could buy a legitimate certificate from Apple, or steal one and trick users. Users would install masked malware that could infect legitimate programs and evade detection.

Key Takeaway

Apple is always working to protect its users from malware. It has measures in place, and user caution can make a big difference, too. Still, it’s not true that Macs are completely safe.

Find out what you can do to protect your Macs and guard against threats. Partner with a managed services provider to gauge your security levels.

Call us today at 856-295-2390!

Is Your Business’s IT Ready for the Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus is spreading as fast as feared. Business must be ready for the worst. One priority? Protecting the health of employees. Preparing the way for remote working is one top recommendation.

News of the virus, which the WHO is now calling COVID-19, has prompted urgent interest in remote work. Business collaboration software, virtual desktops, and private networks can all help. This tech helps business continue as usual, even with quarantined employees.

It’s difficult to imagine you aren’t aware of the looming health pandemic. Trying to limit the contagion, we’ve already seen big business take major measures. These include:

  • Nike temporarily closed its European headquarters when an employee was diagnosed with the virus. After the first death in Washington state in the U.S., the company also closed its world headquarters for a deep clean of its campus.
  • Twitter told its roughly 4,900 employees to stay home to work.

Other businesses are weighing up the options. Furloughs? Changes to sick leave? Or encouraging work from home. The last option appeals, but how do employees work remotely? How can they continue collaborating with people they used to sit besides, meet in the office, or travel to see? Technological solutions.

The Right Technology for Remote Work

Remote workers want a centralized platform with a simplified (yet secure) login process. Business collaboration software is a great enabler of mobile, flexible work. Replace in-person meetings with voice or video conferencing. Streamline chat, voice, and video in one software platform. Tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google’s G-suite, or Slack, allow business to create team channels.

Business collaboration tools also simplify access to email, calendars, documents, and file sharing. Employees can use a single sign-on to access business tools and data. This supports improved efficiency and increased transparency.

Providing a virtual desktop can provide access to important business applications, as well. Virtual desktops in the cloud allow users to work separately from their personal computers. The software virtualizes the user’s unique desktop environment at any workstation. All the data and applications are stored on a central server. Users access apps, folders, and toolbars from anywhere, with a consistent, secure experience.

Using a cloud-based solution also provides peace of mind. While remote workers access the corporate network, the sensitive data isn’t stored locally. So, the business needn’t worry about the loss or theft of sensitive data. Plus, cloud-based virtual desktops are easy to rapidly install outside a quarantined area.

Worried about securing those remote connections? Another option is a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN connects computers, smartphones, or tablets to a shared or public network as if connecting to a private network. These encrypted connections to the internet secure data and protect employees’ mobile activities.

Mobile Work Helps Every Day

You can hope that your employees stay healthy and your business remains unaffected, but why take that risk? Empowering remote work benefits business, even without the threat of a fatal flu.

Remote teams enjoy greater work-life balance. The workers spend less time commuting and are more productive. Empowered, they also feel trusted and more engaged.

Meanwhile, business can save money on physical space and hardware investments. Additionally, the hiring pool of qualified personnel expands with remote work, and the business can offer its services more globally and flexibly. All that’s true whether the coronavirus becomes an issue for your business or not.

Enabling a remote workforce takes technology. Need help installing and connecting your employees? We can help. Contact us today at 856-295-2390

Are You Vulnerable In 2020 eBook download now!

With End Of Life (EOL) for Windows 7 and other Microsoft products, your decisions now and until 1/14/2020 will determine how 2020 will start! Please download our eBook to maximize and limit potential risk that can happen if you are still using EOL products after January 14, 2020. This not to scare anyone but to educate and help your business thrive in 2020!

Repairwerkz Newsletter

We have two newsletters we will have available every month:

Residential Edition

What’s included:

  • Computer Cleaning for the New Year
  • Is Your Printer an Ink-Sucking Monster?

Business Edition

What’s included:

  • Trades Should Add Technology to Their Tool Belts
  • You’re Never Too Small to Outsource
  • Don’t Get Hooked By a Whaling Attack
  • Streamline Digital Media Storage with NAS

Residential Edition Download

Business Edition Download

Emsisoft Partner

Repairwerkz LLC is now an Authorized Partner for Emsisoft products. Emsisoft is a leading anti-malware vendor with home and business products that are easy to use and protect your technology, computer and mobile. Download product info for Anti Malware Home and Business Security From experience, we have seen success using these products and we are sure they will receive high praise from you also!

Why is My Brand New Laptop So Slow?

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Why is My Brand New Laptop So Slow? 

Your old computer is beginning to slow down. So, you invest in a shiny new laptop. The clouds part and the sun shines down on this bright and lovely new device. Everything will be faster and easier. Only, from the first day, the new laptop is lagging. Why is it running so slow? One of these might be the reason.

#1 Not enough computing power. 

In many cases, the laptop doesn’t have enough RAM (Random Access Memory). RAM is the computer’s main memory. This helps your computer do more at once. Information from the operating system, application programs and data are kept here, when in use, for quicker processing. 

RAM is like the computer’s short-term memory, while the hard drive is the long-term memory. Just as the human brain can’t hold everything in short-term memory, RAM can get overloaded too. When this happens on your laptop, the computer processor needs to go to the hard drive. This slows things down.

Resolution: You might see 4GB, 8GB, 16GB or more of RAM available. How much you need is going to depend on what you plan on doing with the computer. For a laptop with Windows 10, we recommend at least 8GB of RAM, but 16GB is more comfortable for a better experience.

Not all laptops will let you access the RAM. When you can, though, upgrading memory can be quick and affordable.

#2 Mechanical hard drive. 

Often a single part is letting you down. With a less expensive computer, manufacturers skimp. While it’s less common these days, some laptops will come with a mechanical hard drive. You might think of this like a record player with a needle reading the vinyl album. Since something is moving to find data, the laptop runs slower than it would with a Solid State Drive (SSD), which has no moving parts. 

Resolution: In many cases, a mechanical hard drive can be easily upgraded to an SSD. However, some super slim laptops have limited upgradability.

#3 Bloatware. 

Retailers like to tout all the bells and whistles that come with their laptops. So, when you turn on your laptop for the first time, you may notice there’s already a lot of software preloaded. Much of it you’ll probably never use. Maybe there are toolbars you don’t need, games you’ll never use, or stock widgets that you couldn’t care less about. These examples of bloatware slow down your computer.

The third-party applications are a revenue source for the manufacturer, but don’t always help you. Microsoft, for instance, sells a line of computers that come without any pre-installed third-party software. Computerworld reported those PCs “start up 104% faster, shut down 35% faster and have 28 minutes more battery life.”

Resolution: When you get a new laptop, check out the pre-installed software before you add your own. Determine what the existing software will do, and uninstall anything that you won’t want.

If your laptop is slow on the first startup, this may be due to system updates. For instance, a Windows 10 automatic update to bolster the security of the computer. You can’t do much about these, but look on the bright side, your laptop security is current!

Improved speed is a main reason to invest in a new laptop. Don’t let a lagging laptop disrupt your productivity. We can help with a slow running laptop.

Instead of wasting valuable time waiting on a slow computer, give us a call at 856.295.2390!

What’s That Weird Noise Coming from Your Computer?

What’s That Weird Noise Coming from Your Computer?

New computers are whisper quiet, seeming to run on pure magic, but after a while computers can start making some pretty weird noises. Clicks, clunks, and about-to-take-off jet noises are the most common, but when should you worry? Your computer has a number of moving parts and even some stationary parts that can make noises. If you’re listening, your computer might be telling you about its current health and how you can help it run smoother, for longer.

When you hear a clicking noise: This could be normal if it’s more like a soft tick. Mechanical hard drives work a bit like a record player with a needle and platter, so you might simply be hearing it spin up and move the needle around. When it starts sounding like a loud click it’s usually the needle hitting the platter too hard or bouncing around. If your hard drive has started making alarming noises, you should bring it in as soon as possible. Just like a record player, scratches that ruin your data are possible, and if ignored for long enough, it doesn’t just skip and have trouble reading the drive, the whole thing can become unusable.

Our technicians can copy the files onto a new drive before it gets to that point, but retrieving data from a destroyed hard drive is rarely achieved without CSI-level expenses. It’s easier and much cheaper to replace the hard drive at the first sign of failure.

When you hear a clunking noise: Unsurprisingly, this one causes certain alarm. Computers aren’t meant to go clunk!  It may be a simple matter of a cable having shifted into the path of a fan and getting clipped during the spin. Remember when you pegged a card between your bicycle spokes? It might sound a little like that, skipping every now and then as it’s pushed away and drops back again. If that’s the case, our technicians will quickly secure the cable back where it belongs.

When you hear a jet-engine noise: Most computers and laptops have fans to keep them cool. The fans have to spin to move the air around, and the faster they’re spinning, the more noise they make. We start to worry when the jet-engine noise gets out of hand and it’s not just while you’re playing a resource-intensive game or doing some video editing. Constant jet-engine noise indicates your computer is struggling to cool itself down, perhaps because the fan vents are clogged with dust, your computer is in a poorly ventilated space, or the fan itself is worn. Each fan has ball bearings inside that wear out over time, making extra noise while it does the best it can. Our technicians can replace individual fans quickly and give your system a checkup to make sure nothing else has been affected.

When it’s beep city: Your computer’s friendly beep as you switch it on actually has multiple meanings. It’s not just saying hello. The single beep you normally hear indicates that it’s run a self-test and everything is fine. When your computer is very unwell, you might hear more beeps than usual. This is because each beep combination is a code to technicians, letting us know what’s gone wrong.

Certain beep combinations mean the memory is loose or damaged, others that the video adapter has a problem, etc. If your computer has started beeping differently, let our technicians know so we can decode it and repair the problem for you.

Some noises your computer makes will be normal, others a sign of deeper issues. Even if your computer seems to be operating correctly, a sudden onset of weird noises could mean failure is just around the corner. Taking early action ensures problems don’t escalate, costs are kept low, and your files remain where they belong.

Got some weird noises coming from your computer? Give us a call today at 856-295-2390.

Why Computer Repair Is Best Left to Experts

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Why Computer Repair Is Best Left to Experts

Many of us have one solution to try when something goes wrong with our computers: turn it off and back on again. When that doesn’t work, we panic: “How am I supposed to do anything?” People often turn to a friend or family member for help in the moment. But computer repair is better left to experts.

Calling tech support (if that’s an option) can be time-consuming and frustrating. So, people turn to the nearest teenager or that cousin with all the latest technological gadgets. Think of it this way, though: Driving a car doesn’t mean you can fix one. Having a lot of cars doesn’t show the owner knows what to do when one of those vehicles breaks down.

Consider the investment you’ve made in your computer. Now, ask yourself: when was the last time I backed up? Please, say recently! If not, think about the value of the content you might lose if the computer is not handled with care.

When a computer expert sets out to investigate the problem, they do so with utmost caution. Before doing anything, they’ll know to make a clone of your hard drive. Then, in identifying and solving the problem, they know what is safe to try. They also know what actions to avoid.

The Price of Amateur Fixes 

Your family/friend tech support might turn to the internet for help. Sure, Google and YouTube will provide some answers, but context matters. Will your oh-so-helpful friend know which answers are relevant to your situation? Trying different things can be dangerous if the approach isn’t suited to the problem.

Ask any computer repair expert. They’ll have stories to tell about computers “fixed” by amateurs who made the problem worse. They may even have lost data along the way.

Just as you wouldn’t turn to the Web to diagnose cancer, don’t trust just anyone with the health of your computer. Computer repair may look simple, but expert decision-making determines the best solution.

As with most jobs, computer experts draw upon specialized training and hands-on experience. They’re also up on the latest threats, technologies, and solutions. This helps them to diagnose the problem more quickly. They can go in and fix the problem right away, because they’ve seen it before read about the problem. Or perhaps they have colleagues who have done something like this before, or they’ve researched the technology to identify different options. Can your Aunt Sue or friend Frank say the same thing?

Think also of your typical answer when someone asks you for help. You’re human. You want to help, even if you don’t actually know that much about the problem. So, when you ask a family member, they’re likely to say, “sure.” Even when they should be saying, “I don’t know how to fix that.”

When friends admit the repair is beyond them, you’ve already wasted time letting them take a crack at it. Worse, they may actually break your computer or lose important files. You have to go to the experts now for that new part or in the hope of retrieving the data. Meanwhile, you’re not feeling so friendly towards the person who created the new problem, are you? They may also feel annoyed that you didn’t pay them for their services.

Don’t jeopardize your relationships, and avoid doing more damage to your computer. Bypass the friend/family tech support solution and turn to the professionals first. 

Fixing a computer isn’t always simple. Get expert help to preserve as much data as you can, and avoid expensive replacements as long as possible.

Have computer problems? Repairwerkz LLC can help. We do computer repairs for a living! And our experts are friendly, too.

Call us at 856-295-2390.

Is Your Laptop Running Hot and Loud?

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Is Your Laptop Running Hot and Loud?

Laptop computers commonly heat up a little in normal operation.  Electronic components, including large capacity batteries, become warm in use.  Your laptop should never become too hot to handle though.  When a laptop turns hot to the touch or starts to sound like a jet engine, it’s likely beginning to overheat.

Modern laptops use nearly silent fans to cool components and keep the system is comfortable and safe to use.  In some cases, the sound the computer makes is the best tool you have to diagnose its running condition.  Excessive heat causes the fans to work harder and faster to compensate.  This jet engine sound is one of the first clues you have to indicate all may not be well.

Why So Hot

Because of their compact size and portability, laptop computers are particularly prone to overheating problems.  Their tiny footprint puts electronic parts closer together, creates less room for cooling vents and adds a heat generating battery which introduces more hot air into the system.

Most laptops have small fans that suck in cool air, passing it over metal fins to exchange heat from the case. The resulting hot air exhaust is expelled through vents back into the room.  This process prevents heat building up inside the machine.  The constant air cycle keeps the laptop running cool no matter the workload placed on it.

This process can be interrupted by any number of factors during operation.  Alongside cool air, computer fans can also suck in dust, stray hairs, even cigarette smoke too.  Smoke in particular contains thick tar which coats the fins, fan blades, and internal components.

Foreign debris inside the machine prevents components from working at their best.  Tar, dust, and hair slows down the internal fan and coats the heat generating components and cooling fins.  This coating prevents air exchange and keeping components warm as if they were under a blanket.

Causes of overheating

Sometimes the way a laptop is used can cause it to overheat too.  Resting a laptop on thick carpets, blankets, or soft furnishings can block vents, preventing the fans from sucking cold air in or blowing hot air out. Leaving the machine running on carpet or furnishings, particularly for extended periods of time, can cause overheating issues and introduce extra dust into the components too.

The best place to rest a laptop while in use is on a hard surface such as a desk, table, or lap tray.  This allows air free access to the vents and helps prevent dust and hairs getting inside the machine.

Overheating Results

As the computer starts running hotter for longer, its fan will attempt to compensate by running faster and more often.  This results in the “jet engine” noise many users report when their computer is struggling to keep up.

Unfortunately, once dust, hair, or tar has already found its way into the machine it is notoriously difficult to clean out.  The only way to reset the machine to run cool and quiet is to disassemble the base and clean out its components.

Much like a car engine, computer components have a designed temperature range in which they can safely and reliably operate without any issues.  Extended periods of running above the temperature they are designed for can cause damage, sudden failures, and drastically shorten the designed lifespan of the computer.

Unlikely Causes

Often times seemingly random blue screen computer crashes can be traced back to components that have been overheating inside the computer.  As heat builds up, vulnerable components start to fail, sometimes temporarily, in the hotter temperatures.

By the time the computer is rebooted and cooled down the issue is seemingly resolved.  Back in operation, the computer heats up once more and eventually crashes again.  These irregular crashes are highly inconvenient and can sometimes cause data loss too.

However, these symptoms are minor compared to a complete write-off of the machine.  For some users, the first sign that their machine is too hot to run safely is when the motherboard is burnt out or their data storage has been irreparably lost.

If your laptop is running hot to the touch or has started to sound loud or irregular, bring it to us for a thorough clean out. Or you can reach us at 856-295-2390.

“So Slow!” Is it your Computer or your Internet Connection?

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“Why is this computer running so slow?” It’s a common complaint. The question is whether it’s your computer or your internet connection.

You may feel your computer is moving at a snail’s pace, but it used to be cheetah-fast! You’re going to want to identify and address the issue to get back up to speed. Yet it’s hard to know whether to blame your computer or the internet, especially now that so many computer applications rely on internet connectivity.

So, how do you determine whether it’s your computer or connectivity that’s the problem? If you are having the problem only on one device in a network, you can guess it’s the computer not the connectivity. Otherwise, think about when you are having slow woes.

If you notice programs are taking longer to load up, your computer may not be up to the task. Running large applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, or some accounting packages can cause slowdowns. The hardware may be overwhelmed. You may not have enough available storage space. Sometimes your computer’s parts are simply too old and not fast enough.

Even a new computer could be the problem if it’s an inexpensive one. Or perhaps you didn’t get enough random access memory (RAM). Your computer needs RAM to run applications or games; it’s the short-term memory of the computer. This is where the computer loads all the things it thinks it might need soon so that it can process them quickly. Without enough available RAM, the computer has to work harder (and slower) to get the results you want.

No wonder common advice for people dealing with slow computers is to invest in more RAM. If your device is less than five years old, you can often upgrade the RAM inexpensively, or switch to a solid-state drive (SSD). An SSD reads and writes differently than a traditional hard drive, which allows it to access information faster.

Meanwhile, buying a replacement computer may be the answer if your device is more than five years old.

Then Again, Maybe It’s the Internet Connection

On the other hand, you might notice computer slowness when online. Web pages might be slow to load, or you might be waiting ages to access YouTube videos.

If the lag is happening on only one website, it could be that site’s problem. Otherwise, internet slowness could be a provider problem. Or you might have a poor connection.

One way to confirm a connection issue is to check your internet speed. A site such as fast.com or speedtest.net can measure your speed, then you can compare it against the connection speed you’re paying for. Don’t know that? Check your service bill. You may have a slow internet speed plan. Maybe you haven’t changed it in years but have added many more devices. In that case, you’ll want to call your service provider about an upgrade … or confiscate the kid’s devices when you want to stream a favorite show.

When testing, you are looking for a speed of at least 10 Mbps. Anything below that, and you’ll start seeing slowdowns and start hearing the complaints from all corners of the house. To put that in perspective, Netflix needs at least 5mbps to stream in HD.

Other Tidbits to Tackle Slowness

You might also try rebooting your computer or your modem and router. If you leave these running all the time, never actually turning them off, they can get stuck in a slow rut.

If you’re on Wi-Fi, that could also be the root of your problem. Maybe you’re on a network with too many users making demands. For instance, if everyone in your family is streaming on their devices, expect a slowdown. You might be in a signal dead zone. In that case, you could look into a Wi-Fi mesh network.

Ultimately, there are many reasons for a slow computer or internet connection. Don’t get stuck with a tortoise of technology. A managed services provider can find the root cause and get you running faster. Contact us today at 856-295-2390.

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