Why Secure Passwords are Important

password-64047_1280 (1)Passwords are quite the interesting topic as some people just see them as annoyance and hard to keep up with, but in reality, they are a fundamental part of what keeps your accounts and your data in general safe. Passwords are used for a lot of things and are usually tied either to a unique username or a unique email address. The biggest concern a lot of people have is that their password will either be too easily figured out or will be too hard for them to remember, but it’s actually quite easy to find the level of complexity they are looking for while still making it somewhat easy to remember.

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The biggest thing you want to focus on when coming up with a new password is the
overall level of security. The first thing you want to think about is the length and you will probably want to go for a password that is at least 8 characters or more in length.  This will make it harder for anyone to just guess out right and will allow you to create more memorable passwords. The next thing you will want to think about is the complexity of the password.  You will probably want to have at least 1 number and 1 symbol. This will make your password much more complex and will prevent the majority of brute force attempts, which is when someone runs a program to iterate through all possible combinations to try and generate the correct password. Thus adding these extra characters will make it take much longer to iterate through it all.  Try this link to help you manage your passwords!

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Next, you will want to consider how well you will be able to remember this password because forgetting happens quite a bit. It is recommended that you don’t do anything too obvious because even if it is easy to remember it is also vulnerable. Having a certain phrase or using repetition can usually help with remembering passwords, but when I say repetition I don’t mean re-using passwords I’m referring to something like 9988 or something like that in which a certain element is repeating. This will generally make your passwords easier to remember but without making them too easy.

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Finally, if you find that you are having trouble remembering passwords or coming up with your own unique password, the majority of browsers have built-in tools that will not only remember passwords and type them in for you, but will also auto-generate passwords for you if you choose to do so. The majority of the time these systems are very well encrypted and have very little security risk, but just like anything else out there they are not unbreakable.  That being said, it is always recommended to find a method to keep up with your password.  (Click on the link to go directly to a password generator.)

To conclude, passwords are an important part of maintaining control of your accounts as well any information connected to them. Make sure you make all of your passwords as secure and memorable as possible, and make use of the built-in tools where you feel it is necessary.

 

Things to Know Before Upgrading to Windows 10

Windows 10 is the latest version of the Windows operating system, and it brings a lot of new features with it while also removing or replacing a few. Probably one of the biggest things it did was bringing back the fan favorite start menu that had been replaced by live tiles in Windows 8. Given the amount of changes Windows 10 brings it can be hard to find them all and even harder to adjust to them. So here is what you need to know before you upgrade as well a brief description of a few of the changes brought by Windows 10 as well as how it compares to both Windows 7 and Windows 8.

New Features

Many of the new features Windows 10 added in brought the best parts of Windows 7 & 8 and pushed the two together, such as the new start menu which works very much like the old one with a few new tricks like having live tiles being built into it. Windows 10 also comes with a new browser called Microsoft Edge which is meant to replace internet explorer, as well as a new pre-installed windows store that can be used to download apps, games, and a variety of other types of media. Another new feature that Windows 10 brings to us is Cortana and she is basically a virtual personal assistant who can do a good bit of stuff from setting up reminders, sending emails, and various other things that could prove tedious otherwise. Cortana can also accomplish a few of your other basic needs such as searching the web and giving you information when you need it.

Windows 7

Windows 7 is still in most cases the most used operating system in the world of business as many people did not respond well to 8, they don’t want to use up the time and resources to upgrade, or have some kind of software they need windows 7 to run. Overall windows 10 and 7 are not really that different from each other, they have the same basic structure with a few changes to the layout here and there. Windows 7 had a much simpler start menu and allowed people search for any file or program they are looking for and then presented the results to them in a simple way. Windows 10 on the other hand took out certain things that could be searched for in Windows 7 such as command prompt which is still in Windows 10 but is now accessed by pressing “The Windows Key + X” which brings up a menu with command prompt and other administrative tools on it. Windows 10 can do basically everything that Windows 7 could but also offers a little bit more customization such as the live tiles in the start menu which can be changed to whatever you want.

Windows 8

Windows 8 has gotten asomewhat bad reputation since its release as it was a very drastic shift from what many people were used to and expected. One of the biggest complaints was the removal of the start menu which was replaced with a live tiles screen that could be changed and made into basically whatever the user wanted but many users found this change to be confusing and overall made navigating their system a lot harder. The start menu issue was somewhat remedied with the Windows 8.1 update from Microsoft which added the start button back and allowed users to boot straight to their desktop rather than the live tiles screen. Many businesses did not upgrade to Windows 8 when it came out due to the bugs and various complaints that people had about it and the sheer amount of change it brought would be a disaster for many workplaces as they would have to teach their workers how to use Windows 8. Overall Windows 10 seems to be doing better than Windows 8 did and seems to have fixed many of the things people disliked about Windows 8 and has taken the best parts of it and made a pretty decent operating system.

Overview

Windows 10 is definitely not perfect but overall it offers a good deal of new features and options for the user to customize their computer with, as well as some overall performance and security improvements. Windows 10 is by no means perfect but overall it captures what a lot of users liked about Windows 7 & 8 and then adds in some new features.

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Slow computer? Are you tired of your cursor turning into the spinning blue circle that never stops? Does your computer take minutes on end to open basic files and programs? Though the most effective way to revive an old and slow PC is to upgrade the hardware, there are plenty of other option that can breathe life and speed back into an old workstation. Here are some free, do-it-yourself ways to kick-start your computer, right now!

Boot Up Program Reduction

If your PC is taking too long to boot up, the culprit may lie in the number of programs that your machine is trying to open when it restarts. What does that mean? As you add applications and software over the life of your computer, some of the programs automatically configure themselves to open when Windows starts, slowing down the boot-speed significantly. To fix this problem, we need to remove unnecessary programs so that your PC can focus on opening only what it needs as it turns on. Here’s how: First, on your keyboard, press the Windows Key and “R” at the same time. This will open a text box, called a “run window,” in which you should type “msconfig.” Press enter, and a System Configuration window will open. We want to focus on Startup, so click on that tab at the top of the window. If you are running Windows 7, you will see the list of Startup Applications on this tab, if you’re using Windows 8 or 10, click the “Open in Task Manager” link on the tab to see the same information. We are looking for items that are not necessary to start up right away, and we are going to disable these items from starting up by selecting an application from the list and clicking “disable.”  This list can be long, but be cautious about what you disable — look for add-on applications such as a Google toolbar, iTunes, Quicktime, and Adobe. Do not disable critical applications, such as your antivirus, Microsoft programs, or anything having to do with your PC’s hardware. If you are unsure of what is and is not safe to disable, give our PC experts a call and let us help! Once you complete this process, you should note a marked decrease in the amount of time between when you turn your PC on, and when you can begin using your programs. This process has the added benefit of cutting down the total number of programs running on your workstation at a given time. Fewer processes equals more system resources, and more system resources equals greater system speed and efficiency.

Checking for Viruses

Another way to greatly improve your computer’s speed is to rid your system of any malware and/or viruses. Obviously, you do not want malicious software on your PC, so taking a little time every week to manually scan for these items can not only maintain your computer’s safety, but also greatly improve performance. My personal choice for removing these harmful programs and files is a program called Malwarebytes. This program is free for personal use. There is a Pro version that enables real-time scanning, which is helpful, but for our purposes, the free version works extremely well and is also very easy to use. Simply go to Malwarebytes.org, click on Download in the middle of the page, and then click Download Free Version. After it has finished downloading, install and open the program (take advantage of the Pro version 7-day free trial if you would like), then click Scan. If you are not comfortable downloading and installing programs, or if a virus or malware is your main problem, don’t worry! Just give our professional and trusted PC technicians a call, and we will handle the system cleaning process for you. Once it has finished scanning your system, it will show any threats that it may have found, and will automatically quarantine/delete these items after clicking remove. This program is very thorough, and can really make a huge difference with how healthy, smoothly, and quickly your computer runs.

Getting Rid of Old Files

Lastly, consider the number of old files, programs and documents that probably are still sitting around on your PC. Years of accumulation impacts speed, so consider going through and removing things you no longer need or use. The less “clutter” your hard drive has to sift through, the more efficient it will be. A good location to start looking for unused files would be in your Downloads folder, since it is the default location for your browser to download files into. Open the downloads folder, and carefully sift through it. Delete old documents (our techs can back them up for you first, if you’re unsure if you’re ready to lose it forever), pictures, videos, etc. Next, you’ll need to uninstall programs that you don’t use any longer.  To do this, go to your Control Panel, click on “Programs and Features,” then select and uninstall what you don’t need. Lastly, but the step that will have the most impact, is to cleanup your hard drive’s temporary files. These will take up the most amount of space, without you even knowing they are there. The easiest way to clean these up is with a program called CCleaner by a company called Piriform. As with Malwarebytes, this program has a free version for personal use, which is more than enough for what we need it for. First go to Piriform.com, click on Free Download, and download the free version. Pay attention during the installation as to not “agree” to any other “offers.” Once it has finished installing, chose Run Cleaner in the Cleaner tab on the left. Be sure to double check what you have selected to be “cleaned” – consider telling it not to clean up anything with your passwords, etc. in it. Removing all of these files and programs from your computer will help your PC’s hard drive run much more efficiently and quickly, meaning a faster system for you!

Even completing one of these procedures will be sure to speed up your computer, but, if you accomplished all three, your Windows experience will no longer be filled with frustrating, long wait-times instead you will see fast running programs, smooth file navigation, and quickly found cat videos. Whether you do decide to upgrade the hardware on your computer, or if you need any help with the processes detailed above, our technicians at Wilson Computer are here to help. On the phone, in store, or at your home or office, helping you with your devices is what we do!