Posted on

Why Ordinary Antivirus Fails To Protect Your PC

What antivirus software “protects” your computer?

Some of the common ones I see on client computers are:

  • Norton
  • McAfee
  • Trend Micro
  • BitDefender
  • VIPRE
  • AVG
  • Avast
  • Avira
  • Microsoft Security Essentials or Windows Defender
  • ESET NOD32

Bad news, my friend.

I’ve got bad news if you’re using one of these products – your PC ISN’T as safe from viruses and malware as you believe.

Older isn’t better in this case

All of these antivirus programs use 25-year-old technology to block viruses and malware.  It’s called virus definitions.

Multiple times every day, these software manufacturers push updated virus definitions to your computer.  It’s basically a list of known bad threats they have discovered that shouldn’t be allowed on your PC.

Two Flaws

I’m sure you can see the two major flaws with this.

First, it’s impossible to keep the list on your computer up-to-date. 

Cybercriminals are always writing new scripts to attack computers. 

It’s only after these new viruses are released on the Internet and have done their damage that antivirus vendors know they exist, reverse engineer how they work, and add them to the “bad list.” 

This process can take days or even weeks – leaving your computer completely unprotected.

Second, it’s easy to bypass the list.

Hackers know how these lists scan incoming files to determine whether it is good or bad, whether it should be allowed or blocked. 

So they modify their code just enough so your antivirus software doesn’t recognize it as being malicious – simply because it’s not on “the list” in the virus definitions database.

Think of it as using a fake ID.

Use Technology To Fight Technology

What’s the solution?

Fortunately, there is a new antivirus software that utilizes the latest technology to combat against all types of virus and malware infections without using a list.

This antivirus protection stops any threat – known or unknown – from damaging your computer. 

How?

It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine if the actions a particular file or program is performing are normal or malicious.  If it’s malicious, it immediately shuts it down.

There are no outdated virus definition lists and no days or weeks of your computer being vulnerable.

I’ve Seen It Work

I installed this new protection on a client’s computer in late October.  On New Year’s Eve, while I was vacationing in Arizona, I received an email alert that the Cybersecurity Antivirus had stopped a hidden, malicious file stored in the computer’s recycle bin from encrypting all her files and rendering her computer inoperable.

The report showed exactly where the file was located and specifically what files on the computer it was trying to modify.

Because it immediately quarantined it, this client didn’t experience any problems.  And more importantly, she didn’t have to shell out any money for a virus removal.

You Decide

Antivirus software MUST be installed on your computer.  Anything is better than nothing.

But is it smart to use antiquated technology that doesn’t really protect your computer from the latest threats? 

You spend between $0 and $100 for antivirus “protection,” but end up having to spend $100-$200 more to clean up your PC when that “protection” fails you (and it will).

 Alternatively, the Cybersecurity Antivirus protection can keep your computer safe and keep money in your pocket for less than $150 a year.
Posted on

How You Can Avoid The “I Wish I Would Have” Lament I Hear Frequently From Clients

“I’ve not talked to one person who has had anything good to say about Windows 10,” Barbara expressed when she picked her laptop up Friday after having us perform our recommend bi-annual Windows 10 Check-Up Service.

“I figured Windows 10 wouldn’t be a bad operating system, but boy was I wrong!  I wish I would have gotten a computer with Windows 7 instead,” she lamented.

Oops!

I hear regrets like this from clients almost every week.

They didn’t know any better when they were shopping for a new PC.  They just bought what they saw on the store shelf or mistakenly took advice from a big box store sales geek and came home with a Windows 10 computer.

Only to quickly realize it was a mistake.

YOU don’t need to suffer like these unaware clients.  But you DO need to make a decision quickly to avoid that same fate.

Take a moment to answer these four questions:

  • Is your current computer more than five years old?
  • Is it running slow?
  • Are you having constant problems with it?
  • Have you been thinking about upgrading to a newer computer, but just haven’t bought one yet?

If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, it’s important you finish reading this column.

You Already Know This

Regular readers of this column know I strongly encourage you to stay with the Windows 7 operating system.  It’s time-tested, proven reliable, and easy-to use.

You’re familiar with it.  You know how to use it.  Your software programs and hardware devices work with it.  It’s a solid, mostly problem-free operating system.

The Dilemma

But effective October 31, 2017, Microsoft is forcing all PC manufacturers to stop selling new computers with Windows 7.

All new computers after that date – no matter where you buy one – will come with the problematic Windows 10.

(If you visit any of the big retail stores now – like Walmart, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, you will only find Windows 10 computers.  They only sell Windows 10 machines because they take their marching orders from Microsoft in the form of spiffs and other monetary kickbacks.)

Whether you buy a new desktop or laptop now at a big box store or wait until after October 31 to buy one anywhere is a bad decision – because of Windows 10.

The Raw Truth

When you buy a Windows 10 computer, you’re buying a PC that’s suffering from a terminal illness.

I’m sorry to use such a crude comparison, but I’m telling it like it is.

The way Windows 10 is configured right out of the box and with each forced update, Microsoft creates frustrating problems and errors on your computer requiring frequent, costly repairs and regular check-ups just to make sure your PC runs the way it’s supposed to.

I’ve written extensively in the past about the major issues with Windows 10 and don’t have room to explain them in-depth in this article.

I encourage you to download my free report “7 Frighteningly Dark Secrets Microsoft Desperately Doesn’t Want You to Know About Windows 10.”  It outlines many things that should concern you about Windows 10.

Visit http://www.caliibreforhome.com/windows10secrets.

What Choice Will You Make?

If you’ve been considering buying a new (or refurbished) desktop or laptop, you need to do so before the end of October.

I don’t want to see you, like Barbara, buy a computer you’ll hate – because it’s hard to use, requires regular visits to the PC doctor, and seriously invades your privacy without your knowledge or consent.

Independent computer companies – like Calibre Computer Solutions – can still order new and some refurbished computers with Windows 7.  But the absolute deadline is October 31.

I invite you to call me today to discuss your options.

Maybe you don’t need a new computer – just a good tune-up and upgrade of your existing one might make it last longer.

But if you do need a new one, you don’t want to wait until it’s too late and you’re stuck with only getting Windows 10.  It will be a purchase you’ll regret for years to come.

 

 

Posted on

7 Common PC Problems – And How To Fix Them (Part 2)

Benjamin Franklin wisely wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

This holds true in all areas of life, including with your technological gadgets.  My clients who observe good computing habits year-round typically don’t experience many problems between their regularly scheduled PC Tune-Up appointments.

In my last column, I shared with you the first three of seven common PC problems that I and my techs deal with daily.  Today, I’d like to share with you the final four and offer helpful tips in how to avoid them.

 

Forgetting to Install Windows Updates

Cybercriminals and hackers attack your computer by taking advantage of security holes in your PC’s operating system. 

The two latest ransomware infections – Petya and WannaCry – rendered hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide inoperable.

Those computers wouldn’t have been affected had those PCs been kept up-to-date with the latest Windows Updates.

PREVENTION TIP:  Regularly install Windows Updates on your computer or set your computer to automatically do so. 

 

Forgetting to Install Updates for Software Programs

Just as important as installing Windows Updates is installing updates for common software programs.

The critical ones to keep current are Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave, and Java.  Most of these programs run in the background when you’re browsing various websites, so you may not even know about them.

If you don’t keep these updated, your computer is highly exposed to viruses and malware – because hackers commonly exploit these programs.

PREVENTION TIP:  Regularly install updates for Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave, and Java.  Be warned, tho, some pop-ups you receive prompting you to update these programs may be fake.  It’s best to go to www.adobe.com and www.java.com to manually update these programs.

 

Downloading Programs From Unreliable Sources

You desire to use your PC for fun and games.  A quick Internet search reveals an exciting new game you can download for free.  So you do.

Moments later, your computer becomes infected with all sorts of extra programs and new toolbars fill the top of your web browser window.  Your PC begins running slower.  You’re greeted with pop-ups every time you try to access the Internet.

It’s extremely important to only download and install programs from reputable websites.  Many websites offering free software contain malware, which can range from annoying to causing serious computer problems.

PREVENTION TIP:  Only download software from websites you know and trust.  Carefully read each screen during the installation process to make sure you’re not installing any unwanted or malicious add-ons.

 

Using Unsecured Wifi Connections

Unsecured wifi connections allow you to connect your laptop, mobile phone, or tablet without requiring a password. 

While it makes accessing the Internet easy, it also exposes your personal information and files to others who are connected to the same wifi connection. 

If it’s your own home wireless network that doesn’t require a password, you’re allowing anyone who’s near your home the ability to access your Internet connection and even your files.  You could be held legally liable if they conduct illicit activity while connected to your Internet.

PREVENTION TIP:  Secure your home wireless network with a password.  Use caution when connecting to public wireless networks; avoid accessing banking and other personal websites on these connections.

When you apply these recommendations, I guarantee you’ll see your PC doctor less often.

Posted on

7 Common PC Problems – And How to Fix Them (Part 1)

Early this spring, I visited Dr. Kocher for my annual physical.

“It looks like you’ve lost some weight,” he smiles, noting that I dropped to 154 pounds this year from 178 last year.

“Yea,” I cheerfully reply.  “I’ve been regularly working out at the gym since January.  I’m feeling a lot better.”

He listened to my heart and lungs, tapped on each knee, and asked a handful of other questions.  Then he sent me out the door with well wishes till I visit again next spring.

I remain mostly healthy throughout the year – by exercising and eating (mostly) right.  Which is why I only need to visit Dr. Kocher for my annual checkup.

The story is similar for 37 of my clients with their computers.

They bring their PC in twice a year for a Comprehensive PC Tune-Up Service.  This allows us to perform the thorough diagnostics, deep cleaning and optimizations designed to detect and prevent major computer problems.

Because these clients also observe good computing habits year-round, they typically don’t experience any problems between appointments.

In this two-part series, I’ll share with you seven common PC problems I see affecting many of my clients’ computers and give you helpful tips in how to avoid them.

Relying on Free (or No) Antivirus Protection

Of all the virus-infected computers clients bring into Calibre, I’d estimate 90 percent of them are “protected” by a free antivirus program – like AVG, Avast, Avira, or Microsoft Security Essentials.  Sadly, some don’t even have antivirus protection at all.

Hackers and cybercriminals use viruses and malware to break into your computer, steal your personal information, and damage your files.

Malicious attacks, such as the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in May, are becoming more and more prevalent and destructive.

Purchasing and installing a strong antivirus program designed to protect against the newest type of viruses and malware is one step in avoiding major, costly PC problems.

 

Neglecting to Back Up Important Files

Early Monday morning, a business client called seeking assistance in restoring a critical spreadsheet an employee had mistakenly deleted overnight.

Because they wisely implemented our data backup solution two years ago, I restored the Excel document in less than five minutes.

But most PC owners – home and businesses – neglect this essential protection for their computers.  Many assume nothing bad will ever happen to the files stored on their PCs.

Yet, hard drives fail, viruses infect, people delete, and natural disasters happen.  All of which can cause all your pictures, documents, and music to be forever lost.

You can back up your files in many different ways.  Some are better than others.  But if you don’t have a back-up system in place, you need to get one today.

 

Using the Same Weak Passwords

 

Think about your most common password.

Is it a really easy one – maybe using an ordinary word followed by some numbers?

Do you use that same password for multiple websites?

Weak and predictable passwords make it incredibly simple for hackers to gain access to your email and online banking accounts.  Using the same password for everything opens your entire online world to unscrupulous people.

Two steps you should take:

1) Create stronger passwords.  Choose one with a variety of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

2)  Safely store your passwords in a password management program, like LastPass (www.lastpass.com).  This allows you to easily retrieve and remember them.

Join me next time for the remaining four common PC problems and how to avoid them.

Posted on

You Can Avoid Becoming A Victim

Fraud

“Hi, Scott. I need to give you my new credit card information. My old card got hacked, so the bank sent me a new one.”

I receive calls like this almost every week from clients who have recurring transactions set up with us.

Scams, fraud and identity theft are on the rise. A sad reality of the 21st century.

Did you know …

  • 13.1 million U.S. consumers lost almost $15 billion because of identity theft in 2015, according to a Javelin Strategy and Research study conducted last year?
  • credit card fraud could jump from $4 billion to $10 billion by 2020, according to a February 2016 CNBC report?

All this is despite the advances in new security features, like the EMV chips in debit and credit cards.

If you haven’t been the victim of a computer scam, fraudulent bank or credit card use, or identity theft, you probably know someone who has. The negative effects cause incredible frustration, cost hours of lost time, and results in the loss of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Becoming aware of how scammers, cybercriminals, and identity thieves work and knowing how you can protect yourself is critical in this age.

In honor of National Consumer Protection Week, March 5 through 11, I’d like to provide you with this information. But I would need considerably more space than what I’m graciously given here in this column.

So I’ve created a new three-part video series where I share practical and little-known consumer safety tips.

These tips provide you the knowledge you need to be a smart consumer, even when scammers catch you off guard. Armed with this information, you’ll avoid falling victim to scams, identity theft, and fraud.

Common Computer Scams
In the first video, I’ll teach you how to quickly and easily identify the three most common computer scams. Some are blatantly obvious, yet many people fall hook-line-and-sinker for them. After watching this video, you won’t be one of those people.

How Identity Thieves Work
In the second video, I’ll describe some of the sneaky ways identity thieves steal your personal information. It’s not just through your computer, either. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is for these criminals to go undetected and how at-risk your privacy is.

How to Protect Yourself
In the final video, I’ll give you 10 specific actions you must take to protect yourself – in both the physical and digital worlds. You’ll be given the steps, resources, and tools necessary to keep your personal and financial information as secure as possible.

You can sign up to view the videos for free at on the home page of this website – www.calibreforhome.com.

I promise I’m not going to try to sell you anything, and I won’t be filling your email inbox with useless junk messages.

I simply want to help combat the growing trend of fraud and identity theft. The best way for me to do that is by sharing with you what I’ve learned as I deal with it on a daily basis.

Posted on

Christmas Shopping For A New PC? Avoid These Pitfalls.

When it comes to buying a new computer, it’s always tempting to go for the “special buys” or “great deals” offered by big retailers. These are the computers advertised for $299, $399, and even $499.

The upfront cost is appealing and sounds like a great bargain. But are you really saving money in the long run?

Most individuals begin their computer shopping by looking at the price. Unfortunately, this is the wrong place to start.

Your new computer purchase should be dictated by your needs – both now and up to five years in the future. Are you only using your computer to do light Internet browsing, checking e-mail, and typing letters in a word-processing program? Will you be doing anything with digital pictures or videos?

Many of the computers offered at appealingly low prices usually have just enough power to run the basic components of the computer. To keep the price low, manufacturers use slower processors and slower hard drives. Overall, the performance of the computer suffers.

Users often find that these machines don’t function the way they want them to, requiring them to spend hundreds of dollars to upgrade the computer to obtain satisfactory performance.

Some brands also use lower quality parts in the machines to help keep prices low. These lower quality parts fail more frequently, requiring costly repairs sooner than later.

Finally, all the computers lining the shelves at the big box stores are loaded with unnecessary programs, fondly referred to by computer professionals as “bloatware.” These programs take up space on the computer’s hard drive and can slow the computer down. In some cases, they create the potential for conflicts and other computer problems.

So what looks to be a great deal and a money-saving purchase more often than not becomes a money pit. Frequent and costly repairs erase any savings you may have had on the purchase price.

A reliable, quality computer system doesn’t have to cost a fortune. But when buying a computer, it is important to consider the total cost of ownership rather than just the cost of buying it.

A trusted computer professional that understands your needs can help you make a wise, money-saving purchase, creating a more enjoyable computing experience.

Posted on

Tired of annoying Windows 10 pop-ups?

Say No to Windows 10

No doubt you’ve been annoyed by the constant pop-ups from Microsoft on your Windows 7 or 8 computer urging you to upgrade to Windows 10.

All you want to do is relax by playing a game of solitaire, catch up on the day’s news, or see what friends have posted on Facebook.

Instead, you’re forced to close the window that takes up more than half your screen before you can enjoy using your computer.

It’s like malware

Microsoft is becoming more and more aggressive and intrusive with their notifications. 

  • A pop-up appears every time you power on your PC.
  • An icon displays in the bottom right corner of your desktop.
  • It takes over your manual Windows update options.

This behavior simulates that of virus and malware infections.

Microsoft’s questionable tactics

Did you know that these forced “ads” significantly slow down your computer when you first power it on?

It does.

Windows 7 computers, for example, take 20-30 seconds longer to fully start background programs and services because the Windows 10 notifications must load first.  This forces you to wait before your PC is ready to use.

Did you also realize Microsoft steals your precious hard drive space by secretly downloading the Windows 10 installer files to your computer?

I’ve seen on client computers as much as 6.2GB of hard drive space filled with Windows 10 installation files.  Files my clients did not download nor give permission for them to be downloaded.

Watch where you click

Besides the intrusiveness, the biggest problem with the incessant pop-ups and notifications is the risk for you to accidentally click the wrong button and install Windows 10 on your computer.

This “oops” can cause major problems and cost hundreds of dollars to fix.  We’ve seen dozens clients experience this.

One client didn’t understand the changes the upgrade would make to her computer – until after she had clicked “yes” on the pop-up and Windows 10 installed.  When her computer rebooted, she couldn’t find her programs or files.  And her favorite game – solitaire – was no longer on her PC.

Another client’s laptop became a useless doorstop after she accidentally approved the Windows 10 upgrade.  When her laptop rebooted, neither her mouse nor keyboard worked.

Last week, a client brought her desktop in because her grandchildren clicked the “upgrade now” button in the pop-up, which installed Windows 10.  She, too, was very frustrated by the changes.

Put a stop to the madness

Microsoft doesn’t want you to keep your Windows 7 or 8.  They’re doing everything possible to annoy you into upgrading to Windows 10.

They figure you’ll get tired of closing the pop-ups, so one time you’ll finally click the “upgrade now” button to be done with it.

They don’t care if you like Windows 10 or not.  They’re not concerned that your computer may not be able to handle the new operating system.  It doesn’t bother them that you can’t play your favorite solitaire game because it’s no longer part of the operating system.

You’re smart – you won’t upgrade to Windows 10.  I’ve written before about the problems it causes.

But you don’t have to forever suffer with a slower computer, stolen hard drive space, or the annoying pop-ups.

There is a quick and easy way to stop Microsoft from bugging you with the upgrade notifications.  It also deletes all the unnecessary Windows 10 files from your computer.

It can keep you from accidentally clicking the wrong button and save you headaches and hundreds of dollars.

For more information about how to put an end to the Windows 10 notifications, send me an email at support@calibre-cs.com or call me at (812) 386-8919.

Posted on

What To Do When Your Web Browser Gives You Trouble

Web Browsers

 

Can you guess what the most common activity is people do on their computers?

Give yourself a pat on the back if you correctly guessed getting on the Internet.

Whether it’s checking email, reading the latest news or sports updates, watching videos on YouTube, or mingling with friends on Facebook, the Internet is the primary destination of most computer users.

You use a program called a web browser to access the Internet.  The most popular web browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Sometimes you’ll experience problems while visiting different websites.  A particular site may not load completely or at all.  An error message may appear.  Websites may take a seemingly long time to display on your screen.

Although there could be many possible causes of such problems, a gunked up web browser could be the culprit.  Resetting your browser can correct some of the problems you may experience.

Here’s how to reset the three most popular web browsers.

To reset Internet Explorer:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner.
  3. Select Internet Options.
  4. Click the Advanced tab.
  5. Click the Reset… button at the bottom of the window.
  6. Click Reset on the next window that opens.
  7. Click OK on the next window that opens.
  8. Close Internet Explorer to fully apply the changes.

To reset Google Chrome:

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Click the Chrome settings icon in the upper right corner (3 horizontal bars).
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Show Advanced Settings.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
  6. Click on the Reset Browser Settings button.
  7. Close Google Chrome to fully apply the changes.

To reset Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Press the ALT key on your keyboard one time. The menu bar will appear in the top left corner of the web browser.
  3. Click on Help.
  4. Click on Troubleshooting Information. A new page will open.
  5. Click on the Refresh Firefox button.
  6. Click on the Refresh Firefox button in the small dialog window that appears in the middle of your screen.
  7. Close Firefox to fully apply the changes.

Resetting your web browser, especially Internet Explorer, corrects many problems you may experience viewing websites.  If after resetting your browser, you still experience problems, you will want to contact your trusted computer professional to further diagnose the issue.

Posted on

Just Say No to Windows 10 – For Now

Windows 10

Vic stopped in my office the other morning while out running errands.  “What do you think about Windows 10?  Should I upgrade?”

Sara called me later that afternoon asking, “I have Windows 8 on my laptop.  Should I go ahead and install Windows 10?  It keeps telling me I should.”

Every day at least one person asks me what they should do about Windows 10 – because they’re constantly nagged to upgrade to Microsoft’s latest operating system.

Last month in this column, I suggested that for most home users, moving to Windows 10 would possibly be ok – but explained several reasons why you probably shouldn’t.  I adamantly warned business owners to NOT upgrade.  (Missed that column?  Read it here:  http://tinyurl.com/Windows10Verdict).

Since then, I’ve had numerous clients express frustration after they’ve upgraded. 

Some despise its layout.  They can’t find their programs, files, or how to change certain settings.

Others complain it causes their computer to run slow.  Some report error messages appear and software programs don’t work properly.

I’d like to answer a few of the common questions I’m frequently asked about Windows 10.

 

If I don’t upgrade, will my current Windows stop working?

No.  Your ability to use Windows on your computer does not expire.  Microsoft does stop supporting and updating its various Windows versions.  For example, support for Windows XP ended in April 2014, but thousands of computers running Windows XP still work just fine – it’s just not wise to use them on the Internet.

Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be supported and updated through at least January 2020 and 2023, respectively.  So you don’t have to worry about using your computer with these operating systems for a long time.

 

Windows 10 is free.  Will I have to pay for it if I don’t update now?

Microsoft is enticing users to move to Windows 10 by offering it for free.  But you don’t have to do so immediately.

If you have a Windows 7 or 8 computer, you will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free through June 2016.  

Because you can still take advantage of it being free later, it’s wise to wait.  Let them get the bugs and problems mostly resolved before you upgrade.

 

If I upgrade but don’t like Windows 10, can I go back to my old operating system?

Yes, but it may not be easy or cheap.

Supposedly Microsoft has a utility built into Windows 10 allowing you to undo the upgrade.  But many people are finding that it either doesn’t work or they experience a myriad of problems after rolling back to their previous version of Windows.

In many cases, it requires a complete erasure of the PC followed by a clean install of Windows 7 or 8 and all your software programs.

Should you decide you really wish to upgrade to Windows 10, I’d strongly recommend having us perform our Comprehensive Windows 10 Upgrade Service.  It includes built-in safety precautions to allow for an easier reversion to your original operating system if you find you don’t like Windows 10 or it causes you problems.

 

How do I stop Windows from insisting I upgrade?

Uninstall Windows patch KB3035583 and then hide it from showing again.

Do it yourself with step-by-step instructions by downloading our instruction guide at https://www.calibreforhome.com/guides/NoWindows10.  Or contact your trusted computer professional to handle it for you.

 

What’s your ultimate recommendation?

Like everything else in life, some people love Windows 10 while others hate it.  It does have some positive enhancements over Windows 8, but it also has some serious problems.

It is best, in my professional opinion, to wait to upgrade.  Stay with your current version of Windows – 7 or 8.  Let other people experience the problems with Windows 10 for now and wait until Microsoft fixes them.  You’ll be a much happier computer user!

Posted on

Afraid of Your Computer?

“I’m not smart enough.”

“I never touch the thing!  My wife’s the only one who uses it at our house.”

“I’m afraid I will do something wrong and royally mess it up.”

“I just don’t feel comfortable.”

“I only do things I know how to do – like checking my email and getting on Facebook.  I never venture out beyond that.”

I hear these statements almost every day from clients who come into my office.

It saddens me.

Computers are tremendous tools and the Internet is a vast resource, bringing the entire world to our fingertips.  Yet, many computer owners suffer by self-imposed limitations that prevent them from enjoying their benefits.

For example, did you know that by using one certain web browser and making one minor setting change, you can search the web using only your voice?  Yep, you can!

Granted, computers and the Internet can be time-sucking distractions.  But the positives far outweigh the negatives.

If given the opportunity, I know many hesitant computer users – maybe even yourself – would jump at the chance to become a more knowledgeable PC user.

I’m frequently asked, “Scott, do you ever teach any computer classes?” Or do you come to people’s homes to provide training?”  Of course, my answer is “Yes” to both questions.

Other organizations in our community, like the Princeton Public Library and Fort Branch Library, offer very useful, small-group computer classes.  Local community colleges sometimes offer non-credit computer classes throughout the year, too.

Classroom settings are great, especially because you get hands-on learning with a live instructor to help if you get stuck.  It’s also very affordable.

But these courses are typically very general in nature so that they appeal to a wide audience.  Often times, you may not learn exactly what it is you wanted to learn.

One-on-one computer training is next best way to learn how to use your computer.  Such training is custom-tailored to your specific needs.  You can ask specific questions and often times work on your own computer, instead of a computer in a lab.

But one-on-one computer training can be costly.  And if you don’t take detailed notes or master the task during the training session, you may not retain much of what you learned; thus, basically wasting your money.

YouTube videos are another resource available on the Internet for learning how to use your computer.  300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube EVERY MINUTE!  This means that almost every topic imaginable can be found on YouTube.

But therein lies a problem.  With such a vast library of videos, it’s hard to easily and quickly find a video specifically answering your question.

Once you do find videos related to your topic search, it’s impossible to know if the video contains correct or accurate information.  I can shoot a video in my kitchen telling you how to bake a cake and upload it to YouTube.  But I wouldn’t suggest following my recipe because your cake won’t be worth eating!  But you won’t know that until you try it.

I wouldn’t suggest taking such a risk with your computer – following directions from a random unknown person who happened to post a video on YouTube.  It could potentially damage your computer and cause all kinds of problems.

So what should you do if you want to break out of your chains and become a knowledge PC user?

Obviously, computer classes and one-on-one instruction are excellent ways to learn.

But I recently found a great website that combines the power of individual instruction with the methodology of YouTube.

Get Computer SmartIt’s called Get Computer Smart (conveniently found at www.GetComputerSmart.com).

This website offers short, very easy to follow videos showing you step-by-step how to perform specific tasks on your computer.  Everything from how to block unwanted Facebook game requests to removing viruses from your computer and more.

Because it’s video-based, you can stop, start, and even repeat videos as many times as you want until you master what you’re wanting to learn.   It’s just like having a teacher sitting right next to you showing you how to do something – without the cost.

I’d encourage you to at least check it out.  It’s one of the best resources I’ve come across in a long time that’s easy for hesitant computer users to use.

No matter how you do it – stop underestimating yourself and stop being scared of a machine!