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Are You Using the Safest Web Browser?

Web Browsers

Like most computer users, you probably spend a little time each day on the Internet.  You may read the news, check the latest status updates of your friends on Facebook, sort through your incoming email, and play a few online games.

A program installed on your computer called a web browser allows you access to nearly everything on the Internet.  Internet Explorer is the most common web browser and comes preinstalled on your computer.  Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are two other popular and free web browsers that can be installed on your PC.

We have seen an increase in damaging viruses infecting computers over the past month.  Most of these viruses attacked while the computer user was on the Internet – in many cases, while viewing or visiting various websites.

Keeping your computer system safe from viruses and malware is a multi-layered approach.  It requires having an effective antivirus program, a reliable hardware firewall, and constantly installing the latest Windows and other software updates to fix security vulnerabilities.

Using a safe web browser is another important tool in protecting your computer and your personal information.

Most people use Internet Explorer simply because it is already installed on their computers.  But is it the safest one to use?

A recent study performed by Accuvant Labs shows that Internet Explorer is NOT the safest web browser (the complete report can be found at http://bit.ly/rMBCR7).  Their in-depth evaluation of the big three– Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome – found that Google Chrome is the web browser that is most likely to keep your computer secure from viruses, malware and other attacks.  Surprisingly, Mozilla Firefox was deemed to be the least secure.

It must be noted that while Accuvant asserts their study is unbiased, their research was commissioned by Google.  Furthermore, Microsoft claims their Internet Explorer 9 is the most secure web browser in the world (Microsoft’s study can be found at www.yourbrowsermatters.com).

So who do you believe?  Remember, statistics can be made to prove practically ANY point one wants to make.

But here’s my expert opinion:  Google Chrome, from my personal use and research, does seem to be a faster, more secure web browser than the others.  Chrome is updated more frequently than the others, which helps fix security problems faster, thus protecting your computer better.

I would recommend installing and using Google Chrome for all your Internet surfing.  Google Chrome can be downloaded from our website at https://www.calibreforhome.com/free-tools.

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Why You Should Avoid Windows 8: Part 3 of 3

Windows 8

In the first two installments of this 3-part blog series, you’ve learned that Windows 8 will be an operating system that you want to avoid.  The only way to do that is by purchasing a new computer that has Windows 7 installed on it.  But time is running out because all new computers will come preloaded with Windows 8 starting sometime in October, according to Microsoft.

But you don’t want to just run out and buy any computer.  You need to make an informed decision before spending your hard-earned money.  That is what I want to share with you today.

4 Things You MUST Consider Before Buying A New Computer

The big box stores notoriously advertise inexpensive computers that look extremely appealing to the average consumer.  But are these really good computers?  Is it truly a wise investment of your money?

The old adage really is true: You get what you pay for.  While I don’t believe that you have to buy the most expensive product on the shelf to get the best there is, I do believe that when you simply buy any product based solely on price, you’re setting yourself up for problems later.

Buying a computer requires you to look at the long-term costs of owning your computer, also known as the total cost of ownership.

Imagine shopping for a house.  There are dozens of houses available in all price ranges.  You decide that you want one with two bedrooms and one and a half baths.  After narrowing down your search, you find two that match your criteria.  Both are in great neighborhoods and offer the amenities you desire.  One is priced at $69,900; the other at $99,900.

You opt to buy the cheaper house – the one for $69,900.  Actually, you get an ever better deal because the seller is motivated to get rid of it.  You’re able to buy it for $62,000.  The inspection goes well and you’re proud of your new home – ready to show it off to friends and family.

Three months after you move in, you discover a leak in the roof creating a discolored spot on your living room ceiling.  You call your trusted contractor to inspect the problem.  He arrives and enters the attic.  When he emerges, he has a grim look on his face as he breaks the bad news to you.  The leak started as a small hole but over time has gradually gotten bigger.  Not only has it now damaged your ceiling, but because it’s been leaking for quite a long time, there’s significant damage to the joists and trusses.  The moisture buildup over time has been a ripe breeding ground for black mold, which has spread to nearly three-fourths of the entire attic.  It’s going to require some major work to fix everything.  That translates into thousands of dollars.

This cheaper home has now become a source of aggravation and maybe unnecessary expense.

Having been serving clients’ computer needs for nearly 8 years, I have seen hundreds of clients buy a cheap computer from a big box retailer only to have to spend a few hundred more in parts and labor to fix something that had failed a short time later.  The computer was a “great buy” based on the purchase price, but they didn’t think about how much it would really cost them.

So why should you stay away from the big box store computers?

 

  • They are loaded with “junk-ware” that slows them down.  You’ve seen these computers that have all sorts of icons for programs that you will never use.  Some are games, some are offers for Internet services, and who knows what else.  If you have to ask, “What is this?”  It’s probably junk-ware.

A recent study shows that these junk-ware programs can slow your computer down by as much as 40%.  But these computers manufacturers load them up with all this useless software because the software companies pay a small fee to have it pre-loaded on there.  This allows the big box stores to then drop the price on the computer to make it attractive to you.  But the problems these programs can cause will cost you lots more than the dollars you save.

  • Most big box store computers either come with no antivirus protection or a 30-, 60-, or -90-day trial antivirus protection.  This means you will have to spend more money after you buy your computer to keep your computer safe from viruses and spyware.  Additionally, the antivirus software the big box sales people push you to buy is generally less effective at protecting your computer.
  • Beware of the warranty on store-bought computers.  The warranties on most big box store computers are only a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.  These warranties generally require you to send your computer to a repair depot half-way across the country.  Repairs can take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks.  Do you really want to be without your computer for that long?

One of my clients experienced this first-hand.  They bought a cheap laptop from a local big box store.  Soon after they had a problem and had to send it in for repair.  It was nearly 6 weeks before they received their laptop back – and the problem wasn’t even fixed!
They sent it in again.  It took another 4 to 6 weeks for the repairs to be completed.  This time when they got it back, the tech at the repair depot forgot to put the screws in the bottom of the laptop, so the entire bottom fell off after a couple days of use.

By this time, they were really upset and frustrated, so they brought it to us and we were able to resolve the problems for them.

  • Finally, these computers typically are built with slower, lesser quality parts that tend to fail more frequently and don’t last as long.  It’s another way that the big box store can offer you a computer for $298, $398, or $498.  Cheap computers end up costing you more in repairs and replacement in the long run.

Fast forward 18 months.  The same client mentioned above recently brought their laptop in to us because it was running slow.  The computer is only a year and a half old.  Our diagnostic tests found that the hard drive was failing, the source of their problem.  Additionally, the hinges holding the screen to the base of the laptop had broken away from the plastic.

They only paid $400 for this laptop.  Now have to buy another laptop because the cost to repair this “cheap” laptop is almost as much as they paid for it.

Had they purchased a laptop made with higher quality components and that had a three-year manufacturer’s warranty (with on-site service), they wouldn’t be spending over $800 in 18 months for two computers.   Not to count the time they were without their computer and the headaches and frustration they’ve experienced because of all these problems.

 

The Bottom Line

I trust you can see why waiting to purchase a new computer system for your home or business will not be a wise decision.  I also hope you understand that buying just any computer isn’t a good investment of your hard-earned money.

With a simple phone call to my office, I can help you avoid all of the problems I outlined in this special blog series.  I can help you choose a new computer that perfectly meets your needs and is a wise purchase with your money.

So if you need a new computer and want to avoid getting in a “bad relationship” with Windows 8, I strongly encourage you to call me today at (812) 386-8919 and let me help you get one now.

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Why You Should Avoid Windows 8: Part 2 of 3

Windows 8

In the first installment of this 3-part blog series, I shared that Windows 8 will be extremely difficult to use and will take you hours to figure out how to do things that you’re used to doing in just a few clicks of the mouse.

Today, I want to share with you two more reasons why you will want to avoid Windows 8 and how you can avoid this nightmare of an operating system.

 

Windows 8 Doesn’t Allow You To Play DVDs

Nearly every computer manufactured in the last 5 years comes with a DVD-player or DVD-burner installed.  All current versions of Windows allow you to play DVDs with the built-in Windows Media Player.

But Microsoft, in their quest to radically alter their operating system, has chosen to remove the ability for you to play back DVDs on your computer – unless, of course, you purchase a program or add-on that provides that capability.

It’s a relatively easy and inexpensive workaround, but the fact that Microsoft is removing a key built-in component that’s been available in many of their previous versions of Windows is bothersome.  It just creates another problem that you have to fix when you buy a computer with Windows 8 pre-installed.

 

Your Current Hardware And Software May Not Be Compatible With Windows 8

Hardware, such as printers, scanners, and webcams, require drivers to communicate with the operating system to work properly.  Software programs require special coding for each version of an operating system to insure they run error-free.

Many computer users – and you may be one of them – found that their existing printers and other hardware and software didn’t work with Windows Vista when it first came out.  This required them to spend money buying new hardware or upgrading software so it would work.

Several reviewers of the Windows 8 operating system report having problems getting current hardware and software to work because updated drivers are not available.  Manufacturers of these devices may or may not release updates because it takes significant time and money for them to create these updates.

Simply put, by purchasing a computer with Windows 8 installed, you may also have to spend more money buying a new printer and new software and other peripherals that will work with Windows 8 – because your existing ones may not work with it.

 

How Can You Avoid This Nightmare?

I’m not the type of person to pressure someone to purchase something.  I absolutely despise going to a business where the salesperson is standing over my shoulder and pressuring me to buy.  Even if it’s something that I already know I want.

As your trusted computer advisor, I feel it is my responsibility to arm you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about what’s best for you regarding your computer.

With the big, sweeping – and not so user-friendly – changes coming with Windows 8 sometime in October, I honestly believe that if the thought about buying a new computer has even remotely crossed your mind, NOW is the time to do so.  You absolutely will not want to wait until after September because all new computers will come with the horrendous Windows 8 pre-installed.  And you will have NO CHOICE but to live with and spend hours learning the devilish operating system (and regretting not buying a computer with Windows 7 installed).

Windows 7 is the most recent operating system currently installed on all new computers.  It maintains the look-and-feel that you are used to (with a few slight changes if you’re still using a Windows XP computer).  It is a stable and reliable operating system, just like Windows XP was.  It has very few problems and most computer users like it.

The best time to buy your new computer is NOW – before Windows 8 is released, which is scheduled for some time in October.  This will insure that your computer has the Windows 7 operating system and protects you from the nightmare of Windows 8.

 

But don’t just go out and buy ANY computer with Windows 7.

I would be doing you a major disservice
if I didn’t inform you of four things to seriously
consider before you buy a new computer.

Because the fact is, NOT ALL COMPUTERS ARE CREATED EQUAL.

In the last part of this blog series, I will share with you the 4 things you must consider before buying a new computer.

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Why You Should Avoid Windows 8: Part 1 of 3

Windows 8

“Windows 8 is like a bad blind date,” boldly proclaimed the blog post headline.

“I wouldn’t recommend Windows 8, in its current form, to anyone,” concluded the author’s first paragraph.  He then goes on to write, “Windows 8 is the blind date who is pretty in the red dress but a real b**** outside the bedroom.  She’s too demanding.  She’s fussy.  She wants you to change to conform to her rather than finding common ground.”

Wow!  That’s quite a scathing, unflinching analysis of the new operating system Microsoft will be pushing out on all new computers starting sometime in October.

But I agree with it. 

The purpose of this 3-part blog series is to provide you with my thoughts and opinions about why Windows 8 will be a HUGE NIGHTMARE for computer users.  If you’ve even been remotely thinking about buying a new desktop or laptop computer for your home or business, you will want to do so BEFORE the end of September.  Otherwise, you may be stuck in a “relationship” with a computer and an operating system you hate.

 

Windows 8 Is Not Easy To Use

You have most likely been using a computer for several years, whether it’s been to browse the Internet, send and receive email, communicate with friends and family using Facebook, scan and edit pictures, or perform business-related tasks in programs like Microsoft Word or QuickBooks.

You’re accustomed to the familiar layout of the Windows operating system.  Things like the Start button in bottom left corner of your screen and the listing of All Programs available on your computer from a menu on the left side of your monitor.

If you made the transition from the decades-old, but very reliable, Windows XP operating system to Windows Vista several years ago, you know that some of the changes in the operating system’s appearance took some getting used to.

  • The Start button no longer read “Start”; it became a circle with the Windows logo.
  • A new desktop sidebar with gadgets appeared on the right side of the screen.
  • Names for several components changed names, such as “Add/Remove Programs” became “Programs and Features.”
  • The list could go on and on.

One of our clients here at Calibre Computer Solutions performs genealogical research online and scans documents and photos for related projects.  Her primary desktop computer ran the Windows XP operating system.  She had been using it for years and had perfected the ability to perform her tasks down to an art.  She knew exactly how to open certain programs and what buttons to click to complete a certain task.  Her job was very enjoyable.

When she bought a new laptop computer a few years ago with a new operating system for her work, she discovered that simple tasks that used to take five minutes to finish now required double the time and many more mouse clicks.  What used to be simple and easy became more complex.  Now her job isn’t quite as enjoyable.

The changes coming in Windows 8 are more drastic than ever before, especially how it looks and feels.  These changes are NOT user-friendly to say the least.

In his blog with a very definitive title, Final thoughts on Windows 8: A design disaster, technology reviewer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes: “On the face of it, the Metro UI (the new look of the operating system and seen in the picture on the next page) looks good … And then you start to use it.”

He continues on, “Not only did someone at Microsoft think that it was a good idea to make Metro the primary user interface in Windows 8, but they also decided to destroy the ‘classic’ interface experience by also ‘ribbonizing’ most of the applications.”

Simply put, the look and feel of your computer running Windows XP or Windows 7 is COMPLETELY CHANGED in Windows 8!  For example, the Start button present in bottom left corner of your screen since the early versions of Windows NO LONGER EXISTS.  It’s GONE!


Windows 8 Has A Learning Curve … A STEEP One!

Because they’ve changed even the most basic visual elements that you are used to on your current computer, it will require you hours to figure out how to do things that you used to be able to do with just a click or two of the mouse.  You will feel lost and frustrated with Windows 8.

 

Coming Up…

In part 2, I will share two more reasons why you want to avoid Windows 8 and explain how you can completely avoid getting caught in this nightmare!