4 quick tips for easier computing

Too many people, particularly those who did not get handed a smartphone in the cradle, the digital age is something that will always feel a little alien. You probably need a little support from an expert like The Mobile Computerman – home of computer support in Cairns – if your blank screen or bleeping internal speakers are driving you crazy. But there are also plenty of little secrets that you can learn to make life on computers just a little bit easier and fun. Here are a few:

1. Windows Key Shortcuts

We all know that pressing the Windows key brings up the Windows menu. But if you combine it with pressing ‘D’, your desktop handily pops up. The Windows key also does a lot of other things, so look it up and have fun. Some other little-known but very handy shortcuts are Control-Backspace, which deletes an entire word; Control-Shift-T, which re-opens the last browser tab you accidentally closed; and right-click-S on a photo to ask Google to look up more information about it.

2. How to browse privately.

Need to go incognito? Let’s say you’re buying a gift for a loved one and don’t want the online jewellery store to appear in your internet browser history. Just press Control-Shift-N and a new browser will pop up for you to do all of your surfing – ninja-style!

3. How to lock your computer when not using it.

Do you share a house with people who are constantly grabbing your laptop when you’re making a coffee and posting not-very-hilarious Facebook statuses on your behalf? Lock them out by combining the Windows key with L, which will lock your computer and require your password to unlock it. That will teach them!

4. Faster Internet Browsing & Text Manipulation

Work with a lot of browser tabs and get frustrated with having to click the tiny ‘x’ to close them? Just hover on the tab and ‘middle click’ the mouse button or scrolling wheel – tab gone. And if you’re on a laptop and don’t have a middle mouse button, press both the left and right buttons together. Another handy laptop shortcut is when highlighting text – do you find holding the left mouse button while dragging across the mouse pad awkward? Just click once where you want to start highlighting and then Shift-click at the end. Done. Copy/paste made even easier.

If you have any questions or want a one-on-one coaching session one of our experienced and friendly technicians will be happy to help. Call today!

3 signs that your computer may have a virus

Unfortunately the tech revolution of the 21st century has also brought about more sophisticated computer viruses. Unlike the computer bugs of the 1990s, modern viruses are becoming very good at staying hidden. This way they can hijack your computer, steal your sensitive data and potentially even spy on you, without you even realising that your computer has become infected. There are however tell-tale signs which let you know you may have a problem. Here are just three:

1. Your computer has slowed down dramatically

There are many reasons that a computer may slow down. One of the most common causes is just age, another is that your hard drive might be too full, but a third possibility is that you may have a virus. If your computer is relatively new and isn’t overloaded with files, then this is definitely worth looking in to. Viruses operate in the background of your system, using up precious processing power and slowing all other operations down. If your computer has slowed down dramatically and you can’t work out why, then a virus could certainly be the cause.

2. Links don’t take you where they are meant to

Do you often find that, when you click seemingly harmless links, they don’t take you where you want to go? You may be reading an online newspaper for example and, instead of going to the sports section, a link may send you to a gambling site. Viruses will often hijack links on a web page, so that when you click on them, it will send you to a sinister site. Keep an eye on what you’re clicking on, and run regular scans for viruses to combat this.

3. Battery drains much faster than it should

As previously mentioned, viruses can take up a lot of processing power and this can not only effect how fast your computer runs but also how quickly your battery runs out. If your battery is draining faster than you think it should, that may be a sign there are things happening on your computer that you don’t know about.

If you have any questions or you’re experiencing any of the above issues on your computer, call us today for a security assessment and removal of your virus infections.

4 easy tips to help your computer run faster

There are few things more frustrating than a slow personal computer or laptop – whether you’re working from home or just uploading holiday pictures on to Facebook. Below are four easy tips to help make your computer run much faster and save you both frustration and time.

1. Clear your desktop

It’s easy to save documents, programs and pictures to your desktop and then forget all about it. But this does slow down your computer. Clean up your desktop and only keep the essentials on there. It’s best to keep everything else in a separate folder. You’ll soon notice how much quicker your computer loads every time you turn it on.

2. Upgrade your computer’s memory

Another reason your computer or laptop may have dramatically slowed down is because it is running out of memory. Check how much memory you have left and consider investing in a memory upgrade. They are usually reasonably priced.

3. Keep nasty computer viruses away

Installing anti-virus software is vital to keep your computer safe. This may take a bit of time and cost a little bit of money but if your computer is invaded by a virus, it can slow it down dramatically and can even cause major damage.

4. Get rid of programs you no longer need

You may have had your computer or laptop for many years and have downloaded and installed numerous programs on to it. Many of them are probably running in the background. Perhaps it is now time for an audit. Check what programs you no longer need and get rid of them. This will create extra memory on your computer and will also help it run faster.

Questions?

If you need help with a slow computer or have any questions about installing anti-virus software and upgrading memory, get in touch with the Cairns computer repair experts. We can answer all your IT support questions and provide same-day virus removal services; we also sell, deliver and set up computers on site. Call Computerman IT on 07 4036 1320 or email us.

3 ways to stay private online

Suspicion has been growing over the last few years about just how private our online activity is. Many are reluctant about the idea of constant surveillance, worrying that the future will see every move we make on the internet being watched. Although there’s no guaranteed way of creating complete anonymity, here are a few ways you can make your online browsing and internet activity more private.

1. Encryption

Sometimes there is a need to impart confidential information online. You may have to give someone your bank account details, or send something private. Without encryption in place, you never know who could intercept the information, and what they could do with it.
Using a program such as GNU Privacy Guard for Windows (GPG4win) encrypts files and emails, adding a digital signature to show that the message was sent by someone specific, and hasn’t been tampered with. This sort of protection is vital for large businesses who may email employees, clients or customers, but can also be used in the home to keep any sensitive information that may be sent safe.

2. Secure your chats

You may not realise that any conversations you’ve had on popular messaging platforms such as Skype are all stored somewhere, and can be retrieved. This is a worrying prospect, because the people we tend to speak to when using such services, whether family, friends or colleagues, tend to be those we’re closest to, meaning we are therefore more likely to disclose confidential or private information.

Use off-the-record messaging (OTR) as a way of getting around this issue. Messages are encrypted, and there are no digital signatures after the conversation has ended, so there’s no way for a third party to know you sent the message. Just make sure each party in the conversation is using this type of messaging and has enabled it on their system.

3. Sign out of your accounts

It sounds obvious, but you may forget or not realise you are signed into various accounts at once, and what happens when you are. If you remain signed in to your Facebook, Google or other similar accounts while browsing, information is collected about you which can be used for advertising. Enabling your web browser’s private mode will automatically sign you out of all accounts, and won’t retain your browsing history.

To find out more about internet privacy, or for general computer support in Cairns, contact us now.

5 ways to improve your WiFi signal

There’s nothing more frustrating than slow internet. It always seems to disconnect or reduce speed just when we need it most, like when we’re in the middle of processing a booking. To help you avoid this frustration, we’ve come up with five easy fixes to improve the WiFi in your home.

1. Place your router in a better location

To get the best WiFi signal you can, your router needs to be out in the open and not against any walls or other obstructions. To help with your signal, place the antennas in a vertical position and put the router up high if you can. To ensure you have a strong WiFi connection throughout your whole home, put your router in the middle of your house.

2. Connect to the right channel

Did you know your wireless has multiple channels? Your neighbours’ channels might be disrupting your own wireless signal, so use a tool like WiFi Analyzer or WiFi Stumbler to tune your WiFi in to a different channel.

3. Remove appliances close to your WiFi

Appliances such as microwaves and radios can interfere with your WiFi connection. To avoid this, move your router away from other appliances to get a better signal. You can also purchase a dual band router to put a stop to the interference.

4. Stop applications from stealing your bandwidth

Sometimes it’s best to look to your computer for a WiFi improvement solution. Applications like video games and video chat hog the bandwidth of your WiFi, slowing down the internet connection for everyone else. You can download software to tell your WiFi which applications you want to prioritise for bandwidth so the most important programs on your computer have the best internet connections.

5. Reboot your router regularly

If you find your internet connection dropping regularly, organise it to reboot once a day. You can install an old outlet timer and set it for the middle of the night when no one is online. By regularly rebooting your WiFi connection, you’ll often find it ends up working more efficiently in the long term.

We hope these tweaks leave your WiFi running faster and more smoothly. If you’re still having trouble, contact our computer support service in Cairns.

5 tips to ensure your files are kept secure in the cloud

There are many benefits to keeping your files in the cloud. Rather than storing hundreds of photos on your hard drive, taking up valuable space on your computer and slowing its system down, you can back them up to the cloud instead. Even files like our bank statements and confidential business information can be stored in the cloud these days. But should we be putting this sensitive information there? How can we ensure our data is kept safe?

We’ve come up with five simple tips to help you keep your information secure.

1. Have sensitive data? Don’t store it in the cloud

If you have sensitive information that should never be access by anyone but yourself, try not to store it in the cloud – use an external hard drive instead. Keep this hard drive in a secure place in your house, like your safe or a fire proof box. Whilst cloud storage is very secure, if someone guesses your password; access my be compromised. This takes us to the next tip…

2. Take your password seriously

Most simple passwords are cracked in seconds. Make sure you update your password regularly and use a mix of numbers, capital letters and special characters. Avoid passwords that are easy to remember – as these are often easy to crack. Don’t use the same password in multiple places, such as your email, Facebook page and cloud service.

3. Check the fine print

Make sure you investigate how your cloud service works and ask the provider any questions you might have. It’s a boring task but we often face security and privacy risks when we are lazy and don’t take the time to choose a provider that is right for us.

4. Learn to encrypt your data

If you want to protect your data and make it even more secure, password protect certain files. For example, compress a bunch of data into a zip folder and then create a password for access to the file (data encryption). You can use free tools from to help you compress large numbers of files at once such as Winrar. If you do password protect your files, make sure you never forget or lose the password.

5. Choose a cloud service that’s encrypted

You could always go one step further and use a cloud service that has local encryption so you can store your files with added security. This means not even the administrators or the service providers of the cloud will be able to access your files.

We hope these five steps have given you more confidence for securely storing your data in the cloud. If you need further assistance with your cloud storage solution, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What is remote IT support and what can it do for you?

There’s probably not a computer user in the world that hasn’t wished that they had their own IT support person on call 24/7. As IT needs in business become more complex, having a reliable and accessible support team backing you up can be the difference between success and failure. As technology has advanced, remote IT support has become an essential tool for all business.

Remote IT support

Not long ago, most companies had at least one in-house IT staff member. They’d spend their time going desk to desk, fixing various issues, one at a time. This was an expensive and not-necessarily effective solution, given that sometimes the problem couldn’t be resolved at the desk. Or sometimes they’d get intercepted by another user, throwing support call priorities out of the window. The technology behind remote support sessions can vary depending on the software used by the support company, but they all work in a similar way. By simply clicking on a link sent to you by the support person on the phone, you can open up what’s called a “support session”. Your IT person can then not only see what’s happening on your screen, but can take control of the mouse and start fixing the problem without leaving his office.

This means you don’t have to wait for him to get there, or, if you continue to have a problem, wait for him to come back. Support is literally at the end of a phone.

Remote support helps you

With approval-only security in place, remote support also means that only the technician you’re speaking to can control your computer – and you can shut that down whenever you want. You can sit and watch the fix happening in front of you – or you can leave the technician to it, and go make some important phone calls or attend a meeting in the confidence that your computer problem will be resolved by the time you get back.

Questions?

If you’d like to know more about how remote IT support in Cairns can help your business, please feel free to call or email us.

Why it’s vital that you backup your data

We all know that we should back up all the documents, photos, videos and other important files we have stored on our computers. But often it’s something we just never seem to get round to doing. Regular data backups are essential, though. If you don’t back up your data properly, you’re putting it at risk of the following threats.

Theft

Computers are expensive pieces of kit, so they’re a target for thieves. If your desktop or laptop is stolen and you haven’t backed up the files on it, you probably won’t be able to get them back. Your data is also at risk of online theft by cyber-criminals. To prevent sensitive documents from being stolen by hackers, you should ensure you have comprehensive security software in place and keep your files safely stored in the cloud – if possible, utilise two-factor authentication.

Viruses

Computer viruses are a constant threat in today’s online world. If a nasty Trojan or worm got into your computer, your files could be corrupted or deleted. This could happen at any time, so it’s essential to back your files up regularly.

Computer crashes

PCs aren’t perfect. They can crash or break unexpectedly – usually due to some kind of hardware fault. If this happens, you may find that your hard drive has failed, losing months or years of work.

Physical damage

Natural disasters, such as floods or fire, and simple accidents, such as tripping over a laptop cable, could cause irreparable damage to your computer. In these cases, it’s highly likely that data won’t be recoverable, even by data recovery professionals. You may have been putting off backing up your data because you think it’ll be too time-consuming or difficult. That’s where the Mobile Computer Man can help. As a provider of IT support services in Cairns, you can trust us to meet all your computing needs. We can easily and quickly back up all your data in the cloud – and also on additional hard drives, if that’s what you’d like. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our services.

4 ways to keep your computer healthy between services

For many computer owners, professional computer service checks are few and far between. It may not be until your computer is infected by a virus, breaks down or stops responding that you decide to visit a technician. Like a car or motorbike, computers can benefit from regular, professional tune-ups and checks, but there are also things that you can do in between to keep your computer humming along beautifully.

How can you keep your computer maintained between professional service visits?

1. Safety

Ensure that your computer is protected from spyware and viruses by having a good antivirus program installed. Good antivirus programs are always being updated, so check that your computer is set up to receive and install the latest software updates.

2. File back up

It’s good to know that your important and precious files are safe should your computer suffer from a fatal break down. Purchase an external hard drive, USB or flash drive so that you can save your files in a safe place separate from your desktop or laptop. Some people purchase two devices to save double copies of their files – one to keep at home or in the office and another to keep off site should something happen to your file storage space.

3. Cleaning

You can minimise the likelihood of dust clogging your computer or laptop (which can lead to overheating) by following a few simple steps:

– Keep the area and surfaces around the computer clean by dusting/wiping regularly
– Dust or wipe the keyboard at least once a month – you can buy cans of compressed air to gently blow dust and crumbs off the keyboard safely, or use a soft paintbrush or make-up brush to gently wipe across the keys (ensure the computer is switched of first)
– Refrain from eating and drinking around the computer
– If you have a PC, it is preferable to keep it off the floor and away from the wall to allow good airflow

Regular cleaning is especially important in spaces used by smokers or frequented by pets.

4. Free up some space

Old files that you are no longer using including music and videos can use up lots of disc space, contributing to slow computer performance.

– Uninstall files that you are no longer using on a regular basis
– Consider using your disk cleanup utility (included with Windows systems) or download a free program such as CCleaner. These programs can do an automatic clean of your files
– Engage your computer’s disk maintenance facility (for Windows computers go to ‘performance and maintenance’ then choose ‘free up space on your hard disk’, for Macs go to ‘applications’, select the utilities folder then launch the disk utility)

Computerman IT specialises in on site computer services. We also provide on site, same day virus removal services and general security related check ups for Cairns and the local area. Phone or email us to book your computer’s service today.

Five top tips for improving your computer’s security

With cybercrime on the rise, we all need to be more vigilant about computer security. Get started with these five tips.

1. Keep away from dodgy sites

Never visit a site you can’t trust. If you have the slightest suspicion – or if your computer sends you a warning – keep away. Some sites are deliberately set up to spread viruses. Sites containing adult content are among the most dangerous. 

2. Use as many different passwords as possible

This probably sounds like hard work. How are you supposed to remember 20 different passwords? Well, if you can’t remember them, write them down. And make sure they’re tough to crack – passphrases (e.g. nonsensical sentences) are better than words or numbers. Every time you give your password to a site, there’s a chance that an unscrupulous operator is storing it, potentially for hacking your other accounts.

3. Get your computer checked regularly

For peace of mind, ask an expert computer technician to check your computer’s security status regularly. This is one of the services we offer here at  Computerman IT, as one of the leading companies for computer services in Cairns.

4. Beware of public WiFi

Using WiFi in public spaces is cost-effective and convenient. But, if it’s not secure, anyone hanging around nearby can steal your data or passwords. To avoid having to worry, use a virtual private network (VPN), which ensures your connection is protected by a secure server.

5. Get a good firewall & antivirus program

To cut a long story short, a firewall makes sure your that your computer only accepts approved connections and rejects unapproved, possibly malicious connections.  Most routers, computers and devices come with their own firewalls. If you’re not sure of the trustworthiness of yours, ask an expert. Also, make sure your firewalls are updated regularly, so security holes don’t develop.

Questions?

Would you like to know more about security for computers in Cairns? Do you have any IT questions at all? Please feel free to ask us anytime – send us an email or give us a call.