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Monday, May 20, 2013

Understanding Spyware

Spyware is a "malware" or malicious software that is placed on your computer without your knowledge. This can happen when you visit online web sites offering free downloads of games, when you download videos or music, or any share files, such as when you download that comic e mail from your friend. Spyware programs are piggybacked into your machine at the same time you download a file. Spyware is infecting millions of home computers today.

Spyware tracks your on line computer habits. It knows each site you visit and what you have looked up on that site. Some spyware even tracks each keystroke you make, including every bit of information you fill out on a form, such as name and address, and credit card information when you make a purchase. This has some in the online world worried that this can lead to identity theft and stealing of credit card numbers. Your computer surfing habits and personal information is then sold to businesses. The spyware business is a billion dollar industry, with lots of people getting rich selling your information without your knowledge.

Another problem with spyware is that unless you run anti spyware software often, you don't know that spyware been installed until your computer starts to slow down. By the time your computer slows down due to spyware you could have as many as six or seven different spyware programs running in the background.

You can get rid of spyware by running any of the number of anti-spyware programs available on the market today. Run these programs often. Some suggest that after you run an anti spyware program that you re-boot your computer and run the software again to make sure there are no "ticklers". Ticklers are designed to reinstall spyware.

The best way to avoid spyware is to stay away from downloading freebies. Don't open unsolicited e-mail, delete it before you open it. When downloading any software, even legitimate software programs from the internet read the end users agreement thoroughly. Some of these agreements will state that they are installing spyware type software, and by you downloading their program you are agreeing to let them put spyware on your computer. If you know this then you have the ability to say yes, or no and protect your personal information.

Network Hardware Basics

Even a basic knowledge of networking is a major asset in today's world. Even if you don't want to get into the details of the subject, the ability to connect your computer to other computers, a router or a peripheral will save you a lot of headaches. It is also a good idea to have a basic knowledge of the equipment you need and what it does. In this article we look at the basic building blocks of a computer network and explain what the various pieces of hardware do.

Of course, any network will need at computers. If you are very new to the subject a good first lesson would be to attempt to connect two computers either by Ethernet cable or wirelessly so that they can share information. If you can do this, you have created your first network.

However, when you add more computers, printers, scanners and other peripherals, as well as an internet connection, things get a lot more complicated. The average home network will have most or all of these components and business networks get infinitely more complex. So, here is a basic overview of the hardware needed to build a network.

Cable or wireless?

The most basic requirement of any network is that the various components are connected to each other. Here, there are two choices. Cable or wireless. Ethernet cable remains the fastest of the two and remains an important building block of most networks, especially large business network where high data transfer speeds are essential.

That said, the next generation of wireless is set to close the gap on Ethernet cable in terms of speed, and offer a much greater range. Already, wireless is favored in smaller networks because it spares the expense and the mess of Ethernet cables, and is easier and cheaper to maintain.

Modems

Although networks can exist without being connected to the internet, it is rare in today's world. And for a network to connect to the internet a modem is required. Most modern home or small business networks will use a cable/ADSL modem. These usually provide speeds of up to 10 Mbps by Ethernet. However, in reality, very few internet service providers can provide a connection that even comes close to this speed. Ethernet modems are the norm these days, although USB modems do exist and dial-up modems are still used, though rarely for networks.

Routers

A router is essential for all networks as it provides the connection between the Local Area Network (LAN), which is the home or small business network, and the Wide Area Network (WAN), usually the internet. A lot of home network will use a combined modem, router and switch which will allow the network to connect to the internet and allow any computers and peripherals on the network to communicate with each other. In very large business networks the router (or sometimes a gateway is used) and switch will be individual hardware devices.

Switches and hubs

There is often a lot of confusion about the difference between switches and hubs. Both allow computers and devices within a network to communicate with each other, but there are some significant differences between them. Of the two, switches are by far the better, and more expensive, option. Switches are essential for larger networks because they make the transfer of information much more efficient.

When a switch receives data from a computer or peripheral it can determine which device/s on the network on the network the data is intended for, and will only send it to its intended destination. This will not be noticed on a small home network but can make a big difference on larger networks.

A hub is a simpler device that can connect anywhere between four and 24 devices. The data will pass through the hub but it the hub will not interfere with the data in any way. Therefore, data sent through a hub will be sent to, and can be accessed by, all devices on a network.

Firewalls

Hardware firewall devices are not really necessary for home networks. The firewall software on your individual computers' operating systems' firewalls, and the security options provided by your router, should be more than enough to protect your network.

However, for business networks that are storing large amounts of sensitive information a good hardware firewall is essential. All information from outside the network must pass through this before reaching the network's main switch. If properly configured by a network professional this should provide all the security a business needs. Further software firewall protection within the network is also an option to secure the network further.

Computer Repair

Owing a computer is almost essential in today’s world. With the introduction of the internet and the convenience of email as a method of communication, it’s easy to see why most people want to have a computer in their home or office.

Computers are like anything else and there are times when they don’t operate as planned. It’s frustrating to be sitting at your desk ready to play a game or work on a document only to find that your computer isn’t being cooperative.

When it comes to computer repair it’s often wise to seek out professional help. A computer technician is specially trained to evaluate the problem and offer the best possible solution.

There are certain types of computer repair that you might want to undertake yourself. These are usually minor fixes that can be handled with a bit of instruction and attention to detail.

A computer repair that you might be able to take care of yourself is the replacement of the computer’s battery or fan. Every desktop computer has a fan inside of it. This fan is used to keep the computer’s components cool. It’s essential that the fan operates efficiently to ensure that the computer doesn’t become overheated.

The first sign that your computer’s fan might not be operating properly is that you’ll notice a different sound when you start or run your computer. Instead of immediately taking it to a computer repair shop, take a moment to test the fan.

Computers typically have two fans. One is used to cool the power supply and the other is used to cool the CPU. Open the cover of the computer and listen. If the sound does appear to be coming from the fan that cools the CPU you’ll want to replace it.

If the computer is still under warranty than this type of computer repair will be done free of charge. Follow the instructions you were given for repairs at the time of purchase. If the warranty period has elapsed you can either take it to a computer repair shop or do it yourself.

The very first and most important step when doing any computer repair is to unplug the computer from the electrical outlet. You’ll then need to examine the fan to see how it’s connected. It will probably be attached by a few small screws. Once these are loosened you’ll need to disconnect the fan from its power supply. This will be one or two small clips. Then take the fan to your computer repair shop and purchase a new one.

After replacing it, reattach the cover and plug the machine in. The fan should operate perfectly now and the noise that you were hearing will have disappeared.

Sometimes a computer will make noises because a piece of hardware isn’t attached properly. One of the likely culprits is the CD-Rom or DVD drive. Again for this type of computer repair, you’ll want to carefully remove the cover and listen for the source of the noise. After tightening the screws that hold the hardware in place and reattaching the cover, plug the machine in and listen if the offending noise is gone.

When it comes to computer repair it’s important to be safe and thorough. Computers are an expensive investment and keeping them running efficiently is crucial. If you are comfortable handling a small computer repair yourself, give it a try. If you’re not comfortable, take the machine to a local computer repair shop and allow the experts to do their job.