Pandemic Computer Questions

April 20, 2020

We have been getting a lot of questions relating to the stay at home order that we don’t normally get.

Here are some of these questions and our answer.

  1. Do I have a webcam?

    In general, desktops don’t have webcams built-in. You can get a webcam that sits on top of your monitor and plugs into your computer using a USB cable. However, if you don’t already have a webcam, getting one now is not easy. They are hard to find and way more expensive.

    Most laptops have a webcam built-in. But not all. Some older or cheaper laptops don’t have them.

    All In One Computers
    Most AIO computers have webcams built-in. But not all.

    Cell phones
    All smart phones have cameras.

    Every tablet I have ever seen had a camera.

  2. When I try to use my webcam, I get a black screen
    Take the tape off that is covering your webcam.
    If you have an All In One computer, your webcam may be one that pops up. Look on the top for a cutout section and press down on it to see if a webcam pops up.
  3. Do I have a microphone?
    Any device that has a webcam has a microphone too.
    If you add a webcam to your desktop, that webcam has a microphone built-in to it.
  4. Do I have to install the Zoom app to join a Zoom meeting?
    No. You don’t have to. But we recommend that you do.
  5. Do I have to sign up for a Zoom account to use Zoom?
    You don’t have to have an account to join a meeting and you don’t have to pay anything either.
    If you want to host a meeting, you do have to have an account, but it doesn’t cost anything. However, your meeting time will be limited to 40 minutes.
  6. Is Zoom free?
    The basic version of Zoom is free. But there are limitations. If you are only joining meetings, then there’s no need to pay for Zoom. If you are hosting meetings, a meeting hosted by a free account will be limited to 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, it will cut off. Ready or not. If your 40 minutes are up and you weren’t finished with your meeting, you can simply start a new meeting and go for up to another 40 minutes.
  7. How can I work remotely?
    You may be able to work from home using your personal computer, but you may be limited on what you have access to. You may not have access to network resources like a share drive and so forth. VPN is one way to work from home. It will give you access to network resources, but still has the disadvantage of having to install everything on your home computer.

    For a very small office, that only needs access to email and to a few documents, you may want to set up your email on your home computer and use a cloud sharing product like Dropbox or OneDrive to share documents.

    For most people, the best way to work from home is to use remote control software. What that does is allow you to control and use your work computer from your home computer. That way, you don’t have to install anything on your home computer and you have access to all of the resources your work computer has. It’s also better for company security because you don’t have company data on your home computer. It’s still all on your work computer, share drive,  etc.

    Your company should provide remote control software for doing this. However, if it’s a small company, or your company doesn’t want to do that, you have options.

    There was a time when there were several free remote control products out there that worked well. One by one, however, they have all eliminated the free versions of their products. The cheapest one is called It’s only $30/year and works pretty well. If you want something better, you’ll have to pay more. A lot more. There are many remote control products on the market and we certainly haven’t tried them all. LogMeIn and GoToMyPC are both good and are now owned by the same company. LogMeIn is $350/year. That allows you to have LogMeIn set up on 2 computers that you can remote into. GoToMyPC is more expensive at $35/month ($420/year) to remote into one computer. These are the only ones we can recommend at this time.

    If you go shopping for remote control software, be aware that many of them are more for support organizations than towards individuals. In addition, many of them, especially the “free” ones, require manual router configurations to work. These same ones have other limitations as well.

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