Download your saved Google+ photos and events before April 2019

February 1, 2019

If you got an email from Google with the above title, it might confuse you. We have gotten several calls from customers about this. This only affects Google+ (pronounced Google Plus), not the rest of Google.

Most likely, you don’t even know what Google+ is. Google+ was Googles attempt at a social media kind of like Facebook. However, it never caught on. The message referenced above makes it sound like you will lose all of your photos on Google. But it’s not true. Only photos you uploaded to Google+, which you probably never have done.

Again, this only affects Google+. Not the rest of Google.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled program.


Internet Explorer Not Safe

November 28, 2018

In the last 4 years, we have been recommending that use of Internet Explorer (IE) be avoided for many reasons.
Those reasons included the fact that IE is slow and not as safe as other browsers. Since the release of Windows 10 in 2015, Microsoft has been phasing IE out and phasing Edge in. Microsoft Edge is their replacement for Internet Explorer.

It has now come to the point where the avoidance of IE is no longer a simple recommendation. It is an urgent recommendation now. We urgently recommend that you do not use Internet Explorer. The primary reason for the change in the urgency of this recommendation is that Internet Explorer is even less safe to use than it was because it has not kept up with changing technology. Microsoft hasn’t been releasing any security updates for IE for some time. In addition, more and more websites simply won’t work with IE. And it’s still slow.

What browser should you be using? There are more than 50 web browsers floating around the Internet. Many of them are very good. You can even get Apple’s Safari web browser on your Windows computer. However, our recommendation for web browser has not changed in years. We still recommend using either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. That goes for both  Windows and Mac computers.

By the way, if you are using a Mac, you know that Internet Explorer was never an option for you as it was Windows only.

When Internet Explorer’s replacement, Microsoft Edge, was first released along with the first release of Windows 10, it had a lot of problems and was missing a lot of features. Over the past 3 years, Microsoft has improved it and added many of the missing features. While we don’t recommend Microsoft Edge, it’s pretty good now and if you use it and like it, you should continue using it.

The icon for Internet Explorer was a light blue lowercase ‘e’ with a golden halo around it.
Microsoft made the icon for Microsoft Edge very similar to Internet Explorer’s icon. It’s a darker lowercase ‘e’ but the ‘e’ has a little break in it. We’ve included the two icons here so you can compare them. Because the two icons are so similar, many people think they are using a newer version of Internet Explorer when, in fact, they are using Edge.

As always, be careful downloading programs from the internet. You can end up getting a fake program that is really a virus. Below are safe places to download Firefox and Chrome.



To the right are the icons for Chrome and Firefox. Chrome’s icon looks like a multicolored doughnut with a blue center. Firefox’s icon looks like a fox wrapped around the world.

You don’t have to choose one browser. You can have many browsers installed on your computer and you can even use them at the same time. In fact, it can be helpful to have both. When a website is created, it is often only tested with one browser and may not work with other browsers. So if a website doesn’t work right with one browser, you can try another one. Not including Edge or Internet Explorer, which come with Windows 10, I personally have 4 browsers installed on my computer and I use all of them for different purposes every day. Most people don’t need that many though. In case you are wondering, the other 2 browsers I use heavily that I didn’t mention in this article are Vivaldi ( and Opera (

One of the great things about these browsers is all of the add-on;s available. However, one of the worst things about these browsers is all of the bad add-on’s available for them. Browser add-on’s can enhance security, add features, and make your browsing experience much better and safer. However, there are a lot of malicious add-on’s and there are a lot of add-on’s that are poorly written and end up messing up your browser.

Some security related browser extensions we recommend are:

  • Bitdefender TrafficLight
  • uBlock Origin
  • Ghostery

These are available for both Chrome and Firefox (and many others). You don’t need all three. We recommend that you either use a combination of Bitdefender TrafficLight and uBlock Origin, or use Ghostery. We aren’t recommending one over the other. If you don’t want to fool with an ad blocker (they can cause issues), then just install Bitdefender TrafficLight. There are many other useful extensions. These are just the security related ones that we recommend. Note: Don’t go crazy with extensions as each one takes system resources and if you have too many it can slow down your computer.

While we are on the subject of web browsers, let’s touch on smart phones and tablets. These browsers, and many others, are available on your mobile devices as well. Like Windows, you don’t have to use the web browser that came with your device. Android devices usually come with Chrome as the default while Apple devices come with Safari.

As usual, let us know if you have any questions or need help with any of this, or anything else on your computer.


Speed Up Your Computer

October 17, 2018

There are quite a few things that can cause your computer to run slow, but they can be categorized into two broad groups. Hardware and software. Let’s take a look at each category.

The primary items in this category that can slow down your computer includes Malware & PUP’s, a fragmented hard drive, runaway processes, and Windows may need a tune-up.

  1. Malware and PUP’s
    Malware includes viruses, spyware, and basically any program that has malicious intent. The term Malware comes from combining the term malicious and software. a PUP is a potentially unwanted program. These are programs that are not malicious by nature, but tend to cause problems like slowing down your computer, changing your browser settings, and so forth. Many of these can be prevented or cleaned up with your security software assuming you have good security software.
  2. Fragmented Hard Drive
    Some may consider this to be hardware and not software, but its software because you can fix it by running a defrag program.  Let’s say you want to take your rifle down to the shooting range to practice. But all of the pieces of your rifle are in different parts of your house so you have to go find each piece of your rifle and put it together before you can head out to the rifle range. In this example,  your rifle is fragmented. Having to get all of the pieces and put it together takes time. If your gun was all assembled and in one spot, you could just grab it and go. This is how it is when files on your hard drive are fragmented. When files are fragmented and your computer accesses that file, it takes a lot longer to read that file than if the file was assembled and in one spot. Fragmented files can dramatically slow down your computer. The fix is to defrag your hard drive.
  3. Runaway Processes
    A runaway process is when a program running on your computer takes a large amount of resources thus causing other processes to run slowly. A process may hog the processor or the hard drive or memory. The only way to handle this is to use Task Manager to figure out which process is causing the problem and then based on the program, figure out how to resolve the problem. The program could be a part of Windows or some software you installed.
  4. Windows Needs a Tune-up
    Over time, as Windows runs, it gets dirty and needs to be cleaned from time to time. The list of things we do during a tune-up is very long, but some of the actions we take include cleaning up old temporary files, removing un-needed/un-wanted software, stopping programs from running automatically if they don’t need to, and more. When we do a tune-up, that service includes all of the software related items in this list plus many more.

The primary items in this category that can slow down your computer include Processor, Memory, and Hard Drive. Let’s take a look at each one.

  1. Processor
    The processor is the brain of your computer. A faster processor with more cores may speed up your computer depending on what processor you currently have and how you use your computer. This is not a cheap upgrade and you have to be very careful to get the right processor. But it really doesn’t matter because it is not possible to upgrade the processor in most manufactured computers from the main manufacturers like Dell, HP, etc. It’s possible on some desktops, but not a lot. And it’s generally not possible in most laptops. The processor can be upgraded in most custom built computers but for most people, upgrading is not an option and not something you should attempt on your own.
  2. Memory
    Memory can be upgraded in all desktops and most laptops if memory is not already maxed out and it’s not an ultralight type laptop. Will adding memory speed up your computer? That depends on how much memory you have now and how you use your computer. If your computer has 2GB of memory, upgrading will help it run faster. If you have 6GB of memory, it may not make much difference. Upgrading memory is fairly easy in most desktops and easy in many laptops. However, some laptops have be disassembled for a memory upgrade. The cost of the upgrade depends on the type of memory needed and how much you need.
  3. Hard Drive
    The hard drive can be upgraded in all computers. PC’s are generally fairly easy. Laptops vary. Some are very easy while others require you to completely disassemble the laptop. Upgrading a hard drive isn’t as simple as removing the old hard drive and installing the new one. The hard drive is where Windows is installed and where all of the programs and files are stored. What you have to do is clone your old hard drive to the new one, then remove the old one and install the new one.In years past, a hard drive upgrade meant replacing a small hard drive with a larger hard drive. But today, it means upgrading from a mechanical hard drive to a solid state drive (SSD). If your computer has a mechanical hard drive, upgrading to an SSD will make a huge difference in performance. Upgrading an old system with an SSD will bring an old computer back to life. Why? Because SSD’s are so much faster than mechanical hard drives. In addition, fragmentation is not an issue on SSD’s so you don’t have to worry about de-fragmenting  your SSD.

Now that you know all of that, you may be wondering what you should do on your computer to help speed it up. We can look at your computer and evaluate it and give you a recommendation. However, for most computers, you’ll want to address all of the items on the software list, and item 3 on the hardware list.

If you aren’t inclined to do any of these things yourself, we can, of course, do it for you. Our tune-up service addresses all 4 of the software items listed and much more. This service is $120 to $150 depending on if the tune up is done remotely or in person.

An SSD upgrade cost will vary depending on the size drive you need, but the range is $250 – $350.

If you have us do a tune-up and an SSD upgrade at the same time, the tune-up will be discounted to $90.

Many people have a computer that is 3-4 years old that is running slow and are thinking about getting a new computer. A new (good) computer will cost $500-$600. If you have us transfer everything over from the old computer to the new one, that costs $150, bringing the total cost of a new computer to $650-$750.

If we take your old computer and do a tune up and an SSD upgrade, that will most likely cost $340. The upgraded old computer will be faster than that new computer would have been and you saved hundreds of dollars.



Windows 10 October 2018 Update

October 5, 2018
Microsoft has released a major update to Windows 10, code named Redstone 5. As far as we are concerned, there isn’t really anything very interesting in this update. Here’s a very brief list of some of the more interesting changes:
  • Clipboard history A history of what you copy and paste instead of only remembering the last one.
  • Dark mode for Microsoft Apps As you know, there are two types of apps on Windows 10. Desktop apps, and “Microsoft” apps. This update gives Microsoft apps a Dark mode meaning you can choose a color scheme with dark colors.
  • Swiftkey for touchscreens. Swiftkey is the best touchscreen keyboard. I use it on my phone. Now it’s available on Windows if you have (and use) a touchscreen.
  • New Snipping tool Most of you have probably never used the snipping tool. But for those of you who do, it’s being phased out and replaced by Snip & Sketch starting with this release of Windows 10
  • Fewer Windows Updates Restarts I’ll believe that when I see it.
  • Your Phone app Lets you grab photos from your phone via the internet. Only works with Android phones right now.
  • Make Text Bigger The option to make text bigger.
See what we mean. Nothing mind blowing or exciting. And now for the bad news. It’s been reported that this update has deleted some user’s documents. As we have said about every major update that has been released, wait at least until November before you install it. Let others experience the problems and wait for Microsoft to fix those problems before you install it. Those of you whose computers are on our Security And Maintenance (SAM) plan don’t have to worry about it because we control the updates on your computer and will install it when the time is right.


July 20, 2018


I know we keep writing articles about passwords, but it’s because they are so important. And we have some new and interesting information for you.

Having a good password is important. Many people set a password and say, “Nobody will guess that password.”. However, the truth is, most of the time a password is cracked, not guessed. Password cracking programs use many different methods to try and crack a password. That’s why having a strong password is so important.

What are most likely ways a hacker can get your password?

  1. They hack into a vendor’s system and steal all of their customers passwords. There’s not much you can do about this other than keep an eye on your account and on the news and change your passwords every so often.
  2. Malware, phishing emails, or fake websites trick you into telling them your password. To avoid this, make sure you have good security on your computer, be careful what you open and where you click, and keep tabs on your accounts.
  3. They use a password cracking program to figure out your password.
    Have a strong password to prevent this. Use a different password for each account.

As you know, there have been a lot of hacks in the last few years and a lot of passwords were stolen. recently analyzed a large set of Gmail accounts and their passwords that had been stolen and posted online. The results of their analysis were very interesting. You can read their full article by going to

The first thing I found interesting were the 50 most common passwords used.
The most common ones were numbers from 1234 to 123456789. The word “password” was the second most common password. Not surprising at all. Other common passwords in the top ten were qwerty, 111111, and dragon. I didn’t expect dragon, but the other two were no surprise.

The most common passwords on the list in positions 11 to 50 that were no surprise to me were 123123, abc123, letmein, 666666, 123321, and 7777777. I have encountered customers with all of these passwords.

If you use any of the passwords on that list, you might want to change your password.

As you know, most services require you to include a number in your password.’s analysis revealed that the vast majority of people just add the number 1 to the end of their password. The number 2 was a distant second.

The average length of all the passwords was eight. The vast majority of passwords were between 6 and 10 characters long. As you know, the longer your password is, the harder it is to crack.

Something you might have noticed in the most common passwords list is that first names are commonly used as passwords. The article also lists the most common words used in passwords. They categorized them too. Categories included nouns, verbs, colors, animals, fruits, I Love, My…, superheroes, first names, and days of the week.

There are several lessons that can be learned from that article.

  1. Don’t use common or obvious passwords.
  2. Don’t use words and names in your password.
    1. If it’s in the dictionary, don’t use it in your password.
    2. Don’t use proper names like names of your family members, pets, etc.
  3. Don’t put the number 1 on the end of your password.
    In fact, use several numbers throughout your password.
  4. Don’t just use capital letters at the beginning of passwords.
    Use them throughout.

Do you know who takes note of these types of lessons? Hackers. That’s right. They are going to use these lessons to try and hack into accounts and they will be successful. They could hack into your account if you don’t have a strong password.

For more information on creating a strong password, click here read this article on our website.


A website says my computer has malware

July 9, 2018

If you are surfing the web and you suddenly get a website that says your computer is infected or something and to call a number to get the problem resolved, that is a scam.

These type of web sites have been a real problem in the last year and the problem is getting  worse. Even with the best security, you can still encounter these websites.

Just be aware that if a website tells you something is wrong with your computer it’s a scam.

Most of these types of web pages make it to where you can’t use your web browser until you get rid of that web page. You can’t switch to another tab. You can’t close the web browser. Some of them even have audio warning messages. The easiest way to get around this is to reboot your computer. Or, if you know how, you can open task manager, find your browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Vivaldi, Opera, Safari, etc.) and end the task.

Along the same lines, if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or “Windows Support” telling  you that your computer has a virus or that your copy of Windows is going to expire, those are also scams. Do not let them on your computer! Microsoft will never call you unless you call them first.

If you go to look up a phone number on the web, watch out. There are a lot of fake numbers out there. In the last few months, Google and the other search engines have done a good job of eliminating a lot of those fake numbers, be aware that these fake numbers are out there. When you call one of these fake numbers, they even answer the phone claiming to be with the company you were looking for. But they’re not. When looking up a phone number on the web, make sure it’s coming from the company’s domain. For example, if you searched for HP Support Phone Number, the first number that comes up first might be from a website called But that’s not HP’s website. So that’s a fake number. Look for the phone number from


Which Web Browser Should I Use?

June 16, 2018

A web browser is a program that is installed on your computer that lets you view websites.
Here is a list of the more common web browser and our recommendation for each.

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer – Not Recommended
    Comes with Windows. Slow. Antiquated. Vulnerable to attack. Microsoft is phasing IE out and replacing it with Edge.
    Not available on Mac.
  • Microsoft Edge – Neutral
    Much better than Internet Explorer but still too young. Has some problems. Not as easy to configure as others. Not as many extensions available.
    Not available on Mac.
  • Vivaldi – Recommended
    I bet you never heard of Vivaldi. It’s very much like Chrome and actually comes from the same code base. But the makers of Vivaldi has done an excellent job of making Vivaldi easy to use and configure. It’s fast too. And since it’s the same base code as Chrome, you can use all of the Chrome extensions in it. By far my personal favorite web browser.
  • Google Chrome – Recommended
    Very good. Fast. Configurable. Many add-ons available. Some people have concerns about privacy with Google.
  • Mozilla Firefox – Recommended
    Very good. Fast. Very configurable. Lots of add-ons available.
  • Safari – Recommended on Mac. Not recommended on Windows.
    Pretty fast. Pretty good. Somewhat configurable. Fair amount of add-ons available.
  • Opera – Neutral
    Fast. Not as many add-ons. Fairly configurable.

Some websites work better with certain web browsers than others. One website may work better with Chrome while another may work better with Firefox. That’s why we generally recommend having at least two of our recommended browsers on your computer.


How to tell if an email is fake

June 8, 2018

You know what a SPAM email is. You probably know what a PHISH email is to. But just in case, a PHISH email is an email that tries to look like it’s from a company in order to trick you into giving either giving them your password, or to install malware on your computer or device. The people that send these PHISH emails are often pretty good at making them look real. However, if you know what to look for, you can pick up the clues that an email might be fake.

Let’s start with an example email that I received. I got an email that said it was from “iCloud Client”. The subject of the email was “[Alert] Reminder: We have prevented an unusual activity on May 2018”

There are several little clues here that something isn’t right:

  1. It says both alert and reminder. Is usually one or the other, not both.
  2. The date give is just a month and year, not an exact date. These people often use vague information.
  3. Although iCloud is certainly something real, iCloud client doesn’t really make sense.

On their own, these little clues are not enough to convict an email of being fake. Of course, the first thing you should think about is do I use iCloud? If not, then delete the email. If you do use iCloud, the safest thing to do at this point is to stop. Go to and check your account there. If everything seems OK there, then the email is probably a fake and you can delete it. If, however, you aren’t sure, the next step would be to open the email and look for more clues.

When I opened this particular email, I see that it is from “iCloud Client

There is one minor clue here and also one major clue.

The minor clue is that most email servers use noreply, but in this case they used norply. Again, this is a minor clue.

The major clue here is the email address that follows iCloud Client. The part of the email account after the @ is A legitimate email from Apple concerning iCloud would be from or This clue tells us with 100% certainty that this email is fake. But even if this major clue had not been there, I would have been fairly certain that this email was fake because there were several minor clues.

This particular email wasn’t as tricky as some of them. Many of them try to make it look more legit. In this case, they might have listed the from email address as The first part makes it look like it’s from, but the only part that matters is what’s after the @. Another trick they often use is to do something like this: If you look after the @ it looks like it’s from at first. But it’s not. It’s from

In this case, the email itself was blank but had an attachment. You already know this, but I feel obligated to say it. Never open the attachment to an email unless you are 100% sure the email is legit. If there is even one minor clue that an email may not be real, don’t open the attachment.

Really good scammers can make an email look, at least on the surface, that the email is from (or whatever). In this case, if there are minor clues that an email is fake, the next step would be to look at the email headers. Email headers are parts of an email that you normally don’t view. It’s overhead information most people don’t want to see and so it’s normally not shown. When you look at the headers, it will tell you the exact name of the server the email came from. If that server’s name doesn’t end with (in this example), then it’s not from and it’s fake.

How you actually view the email headers depends on what email service you use and how you access your email. If you use Gmail and read your email by going to, then when you are viewing an email, there is a small down arrow near where it lists who the email is from. Click on that small arrow and it will show you the headers. Gmail actually displays the headers in a very nice way that’s easy to read. But some of them don’t format the headers and it can be overwhelming. If you are on one of those, look for Mailed By and see what server is listed there.

We don’t have room to list how to access the mail headers for every email service. If you can’t figure it out and can’t find the answer on Google, email us and we’ll tell you.

If you don’t want to mess with looking at headers, here are some basic rules to follow when reading email:

  1. Never click an link inside an email, even if you think it’s legit. Instead, manually go the company website in question, login, and do what you need to do. It’s not as convenient, but it’s safer.
  2. Don’t open an email attachment unless you are 100% sure it’s legit. If there is even one minor clue that the email isn’t legit, don’t open it. Even if it’s from a friend of yours. Their email could have been hacked.
  3. Be suspicious of every email you receive.
  4. If you aren’t sure if an email is legit or not, treat it as if it is fake.

Sorry this was so long and I hope it wasn’t too technical.
If you have any questions, please reply to this email and let us know.


Privacy Policy Updates

June 8, 2018

Seems like a good portion of the email I have received lately are from companies informing me of privacy policy updates. There was a study in 2008 that determined it would take the average person 244 hours per year, about 40 minutes a day, to read all of the privacy policies for the websites they use. And this year, with the increase in privacy policy updates, it would take a lot more! And they wonder why nobody reads them. But I digress. The reason for the mass privacy policy update is because the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) just went into effect in Europe. Companies that do business in Europe had to update their privacy policies and terms of service because of it.

This doesn’t really have anything to do with us here in the U.S. But a recent privacy policy update from Yahoo that didn’t have anything to do with GDPR does impact those of us who use Yahoo for email. Yahoo recently announced that the software on their email servers will start reading all emails. This software scans your emails for keywords for the purposes of figuring out what types of advertisements to show you. By the way, for various reasons, Yahoo Email has been on our avoid list for many years.

Google used to do that but in 2017 they announced they would stop. However, their software still scans your emails. Just not for the purpose of showing your targeted advertisements.

You may be wondering why they would scan your emails if they aren’t looking to show you targeted advertisements. The reason is to be “helpful”. Here’s an example. Let’s say you book a flight and the airline emails your itinerary to your Gmail email account. Google will scan your email, recognize that it’s a flight itinerary and give you the option to add your flights to your Google Calendar. Do you consider that helpful or an invasion of your privacy?

Loss of privacy is the price you pay for most free email accounts. There are a few, very few, free email services that don’t scan your emails. Of course, they aren’t as “helpful” LOL. If you are worried about your privacy, you have options. Our favorite private and secure free email service is ProtonMail ( Other good ones include and

If you don’t mind paying a small annual fee, you can a totally private email account. We offer our own email service, ( which we are currently offering at the introductory price of only $20/year.

Another option is to get your own domain. A domain is like,,, or You can get your own and have email accounts on it. Residential customers can get one like,, or whatever. Note that you can’t get anything you want as it has to unique. So if someone already has what you want,  you’ll have to pick something else. But there are lots of options. The cost of a domain name varies. For example, .com, .net, .us, and .org are all under $20/year. But just having a domain name isn’t enough. You have to have a server to put it on.

You could host your domain name through Google G-Suite and use the Gmail interface, but that costs $10/month for each email account. Expensive if you want to have several email accounts. You can sign up for a web hosting account at a place like GoDaddy, but then you have to do everything yourself which many people do not have the skills or time to do. Or you can let us do it for you. We can get a domain name for you and host it on our server. If you only want to host email, and not a website, the cost is $120/year for unlimited email accounts with unlimited storage (does not include cost of domain).

If you have any questions or need help, please let us know!



Buying a new PC

April 12, 2018

We are frequently asked what features and specifications to look for when purchasing a new PC. You can save a lot of time and effort by letting us get your new computer for you. But if you prefer to get your own, here is some information to help you.

In order to determine what features you need in a computer, it’s important to classify yourself into the appropriate category of user. Please read the descriptions of the following three categories of users and decide which one best describes you. Once you know that, read the rest of the article to find out what features you need.

Casual User

This user reads e-mail, surfs the web, edit’s documents and other similar tasks only. May play low graphics games like solitaire. Typically only has 1 or 2 applications going at the same time. Casual user would also include pre-teen/early teen children.

Power User/Business User

This user does everything the casual user does. In addition, this user does occasional editing of photos, graphics, or video. May play games that are somewhat graphics intensive but not action oriented. May have 2-4 applications going at the same time. This category would include students in the final years of high school or college students.

Gamer/High-End Business

This user does everything the power user does. In addition, this user may play games that are graphics intensive (First Person Shooters, etc.). User may perform tasks like CAD drawing. This user may do a lot of graphics or photo editing. This user may also frequently edit video. Once you have determined which category you fall in, you can then determine what features you should look for in a PC.

Now that you have categorized yourself, here are our recommendations.


The processor, also known as the CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the brain of your computer.

Casual Users don’t need too much processor power. Even so, we don’t recommend low end processors. Get an Intel core i3 processor. Get one that has a speed of at least 2.2 GHz. For AMD, get a Ryzen 3.

Power/Business Users need a fairly beefy processor, but you don’t need the latest and greatest. An Intel Core i3 would be OK but an i5 or i7 would be better. Get one with a speed of 3.0 GHz or faster. An AMD Ryzen 5 or 7 would be fine. As with Intel, 3.0 GHz or faster.

Gamers/High-End Business Users will want an intel core I7. Get one with a speed of 3.5 GHz or faster. Although we recommend you get the I7, if money is tight a core I5 will be fine. Get the fastest speed and the most cores you can afford. An AMD Ryzen 7 will be good as well. A speed of 3.5 GHz or better.


There are several different editions of Windows 10. However, if we eliminate the ones for big companies and for education, we are left with two editions. The Home edition and the Pro edition. Their are two main differences between the Home and Pro versions. The Pro version can join a company’s domain and the Pro version has Bitlocker. Bitlocker is a security feature that allows you to encrypt files. In a nutshell, everyone should get the Home version unless the computer will be used in a business environment with a server or if you need Bitlocker.

64 bit versus 32 bit. In general, we recommend the 64 bit version, but some business users will need the 32 bit version if they have old outdated software or devices that won’t work on 64 bit. 32 bit systems are getting harder and harder to find.


There are basically two types of memory in a computer. System memory (often referred to as RAM) and hard drive memory. Hard drive space is the amount of space you have to store programs and files. System memory is the computer’s internal work space. When we talk about computer memory, we are talking about system memory or RAM.

Imagine that the computer’s processor is a person who does the work. Imagine that this person has a desk to work on and that the desk represents system memory. All work must be performed on this desk. If the desk is too small, then the person must move things he’s not working on off the desk and move things he wants to work on to the desk in order to work on them. If the person is working on several things at once, they may spend more time shifting things on and off the desk than they do actually working on things. This is why system memory is so important to the performance of your computer. Even if you typically only run one or two programs at a time, you still need a good amount of memory because even if you are doing nothing, there are still a lot of programs running on your system in the background. Things like Anti-Virus, Anti-spyware, Firewall, Windows internal processes, and the like.

Casual Users should have 6GB or more system memory.
Power/Business Users should have 8GB or more system memory.
Gamers/High-End Business Users should have 16 GB or more. If a computer will be used for CAD or video processing, you’ll probably want more.


The video functionality of your computer is the part of the computer that processes graphics and displays information on the monitor. Some computers have the video functionality built-in to the motherboard or built-in to the CPU. This usually means that video processing will take up processing time on the main processor and also will take up system memory. You can get better performance, in general, out of your computer, and better graphics, if you have a video card that is not part of the motherboard or processor. This is called a distinct video card.

Most higher end desktops come with video cards or you can purchase one and add it to your system. Laptops, however, are a different story. You can find laptops with distinct video cards, but they are expensive. In addition, you can’t easily add a video card to a laptop.

The video card provides a dedicated processor for processing graphics along with dedicated memory, thus taking a huge load off of the processor and memory on the motherboard. Note that just because and computer says it has a XXX GB video card, doesn’t mean that the video card itself has that much memory on it. Some video cards steal system memory away from the computer and use that. Make sure you get a video card with DEDICATED memory, not shared.

Casual Users should not worry about what video card is in their system. Integrated video is fine.
Power/Business Users can usually get away with using integrated video unless they work with a lot of pictures, videos, graphics, or CAD or work at a fast pace. In that case, a distinct video card will make a big difference. You you don’t need an expensive one. Model names of video cards don’t follow a nice linear path, so I can’t say get version x and higher. The easiest way to rate a video card is by how much it costs, how much memory it has on it, and what type of memory it has on it. A video card that costs $100 or more with at least 1GB or better of memory will be good.
Gamers/High-End Business Users should get a distinct video card without question. You can spend about as much as you want on a video card. Up to $1000 if you want to be on the bleeding edge of technology. But we recommend going with a card that costs around $200 – $300. Your card should have at least 1GB memory or better on it. The type of memory should be at least GDDR4, GDDR5 preferred. The memory interface should be 128bit or higher. Although you can find laptops that are good for these types of users, they are very expensive. So unless you need/want a laptop, go for a desktop.


These days, there are two types of hard drives. There’s the traditional mechanical hard drive, and then there’s the solid state drive (SSD). An SSD will make your system run MUCH FASTER. But an SSD is more expensive as a mechanical hard drive and doesn’t hold as much data. Many systems have 2 drives. An SSD for the system drive, and a mechanical hard drive for the data drive.

If you are getting an SSD, don’t get anything smaller than 256 GB. We recommend 500 GB. Make sure that’s going to be enough storage space for you. On a desktop you can have a second internal hard drive. You can also use an external hard drive on either a desktop or laptop as a second drive for more storage. It’s difficult to find desktops in stores that have SSD’s. You’ll probably have to have us upgrade your desktop. You can buy laptops with SSD’s. However, they are usually small and overpriced. We can upgrade almost any laptop to an SSD.

In terms of mechanical hard drives, make sure you get one that is 7200 RPM. This can be difficult on a laptop as many of them are 5400 RPM.

Sizes of hard drives vary.

Casual Users should get the smallest sized mechanical hard drive available.
Power/Business Users should get a mechanical hard drive with at 1TB of storage space. If you are going to be storing a lot of videos on your computer, get a 2TB sized hard drive or bigger. If you are impatient with your computer, consider an SSD if it’s in the budget.
On a laptop, a 5400 RPM drive will be OK but get a 7200 RPM drive if you can find it. Better yet, get an SSD if you don’t need a huge amount of storage space.
Gamers/High-End Business Users should get a 500 GB SSD for the system drive and a second mechanical hard drive for data. The mechanical hard drive should be 7200 RPM. At least 1TB unless you will be storing a lot of video or doing a lot of gaming, then get a 2TB or larger drive. If you are considering a dual drive or RAID configuration, we recommend you consult with Cyber Tek Computer Pros before making a purchase. RAID is too complicated to go into in this article.


Most brands are OK. If you look for the features and specifications we have outlined, you should generally end up with a decent computer. The question then becomes about the quality of the system, how long it will last, the cost of repairing it, how easy it is to find parts, and how the support is.

In terms of quality, the old adage that says, “You get what you pay for” is generally true. The cheaper brands like EMachines and Toshiba tend to have more problems and don’t last as long. No brand is perfect. In general, most companies provide a 1 year warranty on hardware. Many of them say it is onsite service as well. Many people pay extra for onsite service warranties thinking that if there a problem, someone will show up and take care of them. But it doesn’t always work that way. For example, if the hard drive on your 2 month old PC dies and your system won’t boot, the onsite service technician will come to your home, remove the old hard drive, install a new one, install Windows, and leave. That sounds nice until you realize that all of your data is gone and you are left to reinstall a lot of programs on your system. That is certainly not how Cyber Tek Computer Pros does business. In this example, we would get your data off of your old hard drive, install the new hard drive, and load all of your data and programs onto the new hard drive. We would also try and configure it as closely as we can to how it was before. Also, when you call technical support for any of these big computer companies, you are usually going to get someone in a foreign country that may be difficult to understand. For these reasons, we do not recommend upgrading your warranty. We also don’t recommend store warranties either. They aren’t worth it.

Our favorite brands of computers (desktops, All-In-One’s (AIO), and laptops) are Dell and ASUS. Dell is our favorite. Good computers and good prices and it’s easy to get parts for them.

We recommend going with a big name brand because it’s difficult and expensive to find parts for the smaller brands. For example, an Alienware laptop is a good, high performance laptop. If it breaks, trying to find parts for it is difficult and expensive. You pretty much have to get Alienware to fix it, which is a slow process and expensive. That doesn’t apply to desktops. Their parts are more standardized.


What store you buy your computer at doesn’t really matter as long as you are buying one of the major brands of computers. Just look for the lowest price with the specs you want. In the Austin, Texas area, good places to look include Best Buy and Fry’s Electronics. Other places include Office Max, Office Depot, Walmart, Costco, and Sam’s Club. Reminder: We do not recommend purchasing extended warranties or store warranties on computers. You can purchase from these stores websites as well. You can also purchase directly from the manufacturer on their website. You would think that would be cheaper, but it’s not. The advantage, however, is that you can custom configure your computer. In terms of online only stores, some good ones are and


An All In One (AIO) computer is a large screen that has the computer built into the monitor. They are great for reducing the number of wires and saving space on your desk. But, like laptops, they are limited in performance, options, and upgrade-ability. In addition to the options explored above, the other options for an AIO include screen size and touchscreen. Get the screen size you that will fit on your desk. If your eyesight isn’t the best, the bigger the screen, the easier it will be to read what’s on the screen.

In terms of touchscreen, lots of people think it’s cool and want it on their computers but then don’t use it. It all depends on how you use a computer and what you will be doing on the computer. On an AIO, you probably won’t use it.


Notebook or laptop computers are a special case. Laptops lag desktops in technology because of size and heat requirements. If you don’t need portability, don’t get a laptop. They are more expensive to purchase, not as up-gradable, more expensive to upgrade (if they can even be upgraded), and more expensive to repair. And they don’t have the performance that desktops can have. If you do need a laptop, then things to consider in addition to what we have covered are battery life, screen size and shape, size, and weight. In this instance, we are not breaking this down based on user category.

Here are our recommendations:

Laptop Type
These days there are several different types of laptops. Here is a list of the most popular types and a description of each.

  1. Standard Laptop
    This is the laptop you know and love. usually has a 15″ to 16″ screen. It has a hinge and opens up for you to use it and you can close it when you are carrying it around.
  2. Ultralight
    This is basically a standard laptop, but much smaller, thinner, and lighter. They usually cost more than standard laptops. They are great for carrying around but can be limited in performance and features. For example, they don’t have CD/DVD drives. They don’t have numeric keypads. They often don’t have wired internet and can only do wireless. They don’t have a lot of USB ports either.
  3. 2-in-1
    This is a laptop where the monitor can be folded or rotated around so that it folds down on the keyboard with the screen out so you can use it like a tablet. It’s going to be much bigger and heavier than a tablet. These all have touchscreens.
  4. 2-in-1 detachable
    This is kind of an odd animal, but it really works. It’s like a tablet with a keyboard. You can detach the keyboard and use it as a tablet, or attach the keyboard and use it like a laptop.

Battery Life
If you are going to be using it on the go, get a laptop with a long battery life. There is nothing more frustrating that paying a lot of money for a laptop you can use on the go, and then not being able to use it because the battery is dead. Some laptops can be upgraded to a longer life battery.

Screen Size
Get the biggest screen you can afford as long as the size of the laptop that goes with it is not too big or too heavy for you to carry around. Remember that the bigger the screen size, the bigger and heavier the laptop will be. Also remember that the smaller the screen, the lighter and smaller the laptop is, but it’s harder to read what’s on the screen because everything is smaller. Those of us who don’t have the best vision will want bigger screens and will want to avoid the smaller screens. Also be aware that the smaller laptops don’t have numeric keypads on the keyboard. If you enter a lot of numbers, that could be an issue.

When you are not traveling, you can connect an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse to your laptop and then when traveling use the smaller screen on the laptop itself. Hooking up an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse is easier with a desk dock, but not required.

Size and Weight
Size matters in this case. If you carry it around a lot or for long distances, the smaller and lighter it is, the better. A 9 pound laptop doesn’t sound like it would be that heavy to lug around, but when you add in the AC adapter and other accessories, it can get pretty heavy. Even if you just carry the laptop without the AC adapter or other accessories, 9 pounds get’s pretty heavy after a while. Get the smallest and lightest laptop you can afford with the screen size you want. In general, the smaller and lighter the laptop, the more expensive they are. But as we mentioned above, make sure your eyesight is good enough for a smaller screen.

Carry Cases
Be careful on the prices of carry cases. If you purchase a case at the same time as your laptop there is often a huge markup. You can always purchase a generic carry case later at a store like Best Buy or Frys or at an online retailer. Make sure you get a carry case that your laptop will fit in. In general it goes by screen size. The specifications for a case will tell you it can handle laptops up to a certain screen size. Most laptops with 15″ or smaller screen will fit in most any laptop case. However, laptops with 17″ or bigger screens won’t. It’s a good idea to get a carry case that doesn’t look like a laptop carry case, for security reasons. One of our favorites are the back-pack type carry cases. These look less professional in a business environment, but the great thing is they don’t look like laptop bags and are, therefore, less likely to get stolen at the airport or hotel.

Touchscreen is a cool feature, but many people don’t use it. If you have a 2-in-1 or 2-in-1 detachable computer, you’ll have touchscreen. For a standard laptop or ultralight, most people don’t use the touchscreen capability with the possible exception of playing games like candy crush.

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