Frequently Asked Questions | Tips & Tricks | IT News
We constantly update this section with advice to help our customers use their computers, answer some of the most common questions and provide updates on interesting IT news. If you need any further assistance please contact us and we will be happy to help.
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Frequently Asked Questions
'Shut down' vs 'Restart'
This is the number 1 question we get. Both shutdown and restart will allow you to turn your computer off and back on again but there is a big difference:
Shutdown also does something called 'Kernel Hibernation' which saves some operating system information to a special file before turning the computer off. Then, when you next switch on your computer, the hibernation file is reloaded to get your computer going quicker. But, if your operating system was unstable in any way (eg. slow or not working correctly), when you switch your computer back on again these problems will still be there.
Restart will instead completely shutdown the Kernel, turn the computer off and then back on again. The computer will take a little longer to get going initially but it will be in a cleaner state. Restarting will also allow any updates to install.
In summary, it's ok to Shutdown your computer every day but we recommend choosing the Restart option at least once a week to keep it running well. It is also a good first thing to try whenever your computer is just not working correctly.
Identifying scam emails
Spammers can create very real looking emails that appear to be from service providers we regularly interact with, eg. tax office, post office, Netflix, utility and toll road companies, etc. Often they can slip through your junk mail filter and end up in your inbox. The trick is to recognise the red flags that help identify the fakes. Remember, if you are still not 100% sure, contact the person directly (via phone) that apparently sent you that email and confirm with them that they actually sent it.
- Check the reply address - this is one of the easiest ways to identify a scam email. An email that says it's from a particular company should have a reply address from that same company. But fake emails are usually sent from hacked email accounts so it very likely the reply address will have no relation to the context of the email or the person it apparently came from.
- Grammar - often spammers reside in non-english speaking countries. Look out for emails with bad spelling or grammar.
- Something just doesn't look right - you receive an email from someone in Australia but their phone number or contact details are overseas. The Layout of emails containing bills look somewhat different to the genuine ones you normally receive.
- From a company you don't use - bills from a company you don't normally deal with, or a fine from the "toll road" company.
- Request for your personal information - emails (or SMS's) asking you to confirm your personal or banking information or warning you that your account is suspended.
- Request for payment - being asked to buy or pay off a debt using gift cards.
- But the email came from someone I know personally - this is a common way spammers get your email address. They may have hacked into one of your colleagues mailboxes and stolen their address book.
- Links in emails - never click on links in emails unless you are 100% sure its a genuine email. Also, NEVER click the unsubscribe link in a spam email. All the links in that email are malicious so clicking on unsubscribe will just validate you to them and they will send you more spam. Simply delete the email.
- For more information check the ACCC Scamwatch website: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/
Scam phone calls
- Received a call from a person or company asking for access to your computer? It's likely a scam. The caller will say they are from commonly known companies (incl, the tax office, Microsoft, utility providers, Telstra, NBN, etc) and will advise you of a problem with your system and then ask for your personal details or access to your computer? They will sound convincing, give you their name, employee ID and call-back number. They will tell you there is a problem with your system, show you lots of error messages, and say if you don't take action your service will be disconnected. In reality, none of these genuine companies would ring you for these purposes. They are attempting to use fear based, threatening tactics to steal your personal information and money. Do not engage with them no matter how persistent they become, simply hang up the phone. If you are not sure, hang up and call that company back yourself on their publicly listed phone number, not the number the operator gives you.
- Receiving automated calls on your mobile, either from a local or overseas number? The calls ask you hold for their operator or to press a number to listen to a voicemail or confirm a courier delivery. These are normally financial loan scams, premium rate call back numbers, or worse, automated lockout and take-over of your phone to gain access your 2-step security SMS's. Never follow their instructions, just hang up.
Virus vs. malware
A virus is a computer program that is capable of copying itself in order to do damage to your computer such as corrupting the operating system or data. Malware is a general term covering a variety of malicious programs, including viruses. Therefore it could be said that all viruses are malware but not all malware are viruses.
Anti-virus programs are usually designed to protect against the older, yet still dangerous types of threats such as trojans, viruses, worms. Anti-malware programs typically protect against newer, more dangerous types of threats such as polymorphic malware, zero-day exploits, spyware, adware, ransomware, etc.
Most 'anti-virus' programs have been updated to include anti-malware, but these alone can't protect against everything. We recommend a layered approach with dedicated tools and processes to protect your critical data at every level. These include firewalls, anti-virus, anti-malware, backups and education.
Tips & Tricks
For a long time we've relied on passwords to secure access to our online accounts. Passwords alone are no longer enough as they have many weaknesses. For example, your password may be a simple, easily guessed word, or, being too difficult to remember multiple passwords, the same password may have been used across multiple accounts leaving all your accounts vulnerable if just one account is compromised.
2-step, also known as two-factor, authentication is currently one of the best ways to prevent unauthorised access to your accounts, even if somebody manages to steal your password. Two-step authentication provides an extra level of security by sending you (via SMS or an app) an additional, single-use string of numbers to type in after entering your password before being allowed to login to your account.
Most online services now offer 2-step security but they are not always turned on by default. We strongly recommend using a different password for each online account and activating 2-step where ever it is available.
Backup, backup, backup
There are many ways you can lose your data and it usually happens at the most inconvenient time. From simply deleting an important file to hardware failure, data corruption, viruses, hacking and more. Thinking about your backup processes after something goes wrong can be very stressful, costly and disastrous to your business.
Just like the best advice when buying property is position, position, position, so the best advice for backing up your data is backup, backup, backup. That means 3 different and seperate backup solutions; onsite, offsite and in the cloud. In this way your data is backed up and your backups are backed up too.
Hard drive upgrades
Computer running slow? Thinking it's time to replace it with a new one? Buying a new computer can be an expensive and time consuming task. Backing up all your data, finding all your installation disks and licence keys and then reinstalling and configuring all your programs, accounts and settings onto a new computer can be a daunting process.
One of the easiest ways to breath new life into a computer is to replace the standard, mechanical hard drive with a Solid State Drive, known as a SSD. Unlike traditional hard drives which contain spinning disks (like a record player), SSD's have no moving parts. Instead they use flash memory to store data which provides better performance and reliability. SSD's use less power giving laptops more time on battery, generate less heat and no noise. Data seek times are almost 100x faster and the read/write speeds can be 2x to 3x that of a standard hard drive. What this means is replacing a standard hard drive with a SSD will provide a significant boost to a computers speed for a fraction of the cost of a new computer. Generally, most desktop and laptop computers that are capable of running Windows 10 and are in good working order can benefit from upgrading to SSD.
We can assist with transferring a full mirror image of your original hard drive to the replacement SSD so there is nothing to reinstall. The whole process can be completed in a few hours and the setup of your computer will be exactly as it was before, just much faster.