An SSD upgrade is still the single best thing you can do for your PC

An SSD upgrade is still the single best thing you can do for your PC

By Jeandre de Beer  /  Pc World

 

01_ssd_hdd I can't tell you exactly how much your PC will speed up with an SSD. But I can tell you it will be a lot.

 

John is "considering upgrading to a SSD."

 

He wants to know "how much faster would it really be?"

 

 

 

I can't tell give you exact numbers because I don't know either your computer or what SSD you'll buy. But I can tell you this: The hard drive, with its mechanical moving parts, is almost certainly the biggest bottleneck in your PC. (If it isn't, you've got something seriously wrong–probably in the software.) Replace that hard drive with an SSD, and the bottleneck disappears.

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Three warning signs that email is malicious

Three Warning signs that email is malicious

By Jeandre de Beer  /  Pc World

 

e-mail-65928_1280

Email spam filtering is far better than it used to be. There was a time when nearly every scam email would land in your inbox.

Thankfully that's not the case anymore—especially if you're a Gmail user.

But no system is perfect. Every now and then a scam message will manage to slip into your inbox. But how do you know when you're looking at a scam or not?

 

Here are three basic tip-offs you can look for to figure out whether you're looking at an email with dishonest intentions. They're hardly an exhaustive list, but more often than not one of these tips will save you from getting scammed.

 

 

1. Dear customer …

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How to diagnose and fix a dead laptop keyboard

How to diagnose and fix a dead laptop keyboard

By Jeandre de Beer  /  Pc World

 

wpid-bigstock-Stethoscope-On-Laptop-Keyboard-79833199You can't write that report with a dead keyboard. A few tests can tell you how to bring it back to life.

 

The keyboard on Jan Rademan’s laptop stopped working. He’s hoping for a fix.

 

With a laptop, you can’t simply buy a new keyboard and plug it in. Replacing it is difficult (or expensive), so it’s best to find another fix before you take the big plunge.

 

If you don’t already have an external keyboard, buy one. It’s not a viable replacement for the built-in keyboard, but it will let you log into Windows with your password. It will also help you use your computer while figuring out the best solution.

 

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Making your Android device(s) safe for Kids

Making your Android device(s) safe for Kids

By Jeandre de Beer  /  Pc World
IMG_5956Android Tablets and smartphones are invaluable parenting resources, whether it’s providing new ways of educating and informing kids or simply entertaining them.

 

Learning apps, creative thinking games, and streaming video apps make your Android device an incredibly handy thing to have around (even if you’re trying to limit screen time).

 

But these powerful gadgets can just as easily point kids towards objectionable content, allow them to poke through your personal files and correspondence, or enable them to rack up significant charges on your credit or debit card. Handing a child your smartphone can be a very dangerous proposition if you’re not careful.

 

Thankfully, there are ways to keep both your kids and digital life safe when passing off an Android device, whether it’s limiting app access, setting Play Store restrictions, or pinning an app to the screen for short-term use. And third-party apps are available with even deeper customization and restriction options, particularly if you’re setting up a dedicated device for a child.

 

Don’t worry, mom and dad: you’ve got this. Here’s how.

 

1452870054_Android_with_shadow1452870042_Girl_android

 

Restricted profiles (on tablets)

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Stuck CD,  DVDs & Roms that won’t open

Stuck CD,  DVDs & Roms that won't open

By Jeandre de Beer  /  Pc World

 

Try these steps to troubleshoot your Stuck Discs Stuck

Stuck CDsSometimes an important CD or DVD gets stuck inside the drive, and the tray just won't open. Stuck CD

 

That's when you wonder why you still mess with an optical drive – even though we still find them useful.

 

When the drive gets stuck, you have to try to save the drive, save the disc, and save your reputation as a level-headed person who doesn’t go hoarse screaming at non-sentient machines.

So what do you do when you push the button on the front of the drive plate and the tray doesn’t eject?

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Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcuts to improve your Office productivity

Keyboard Shortcuts to improve your Office productivity

By Jeandre de Beer  /  Pc World

 

Word Shortcuts

 

Everyone knows how to use Microsoft Word. These keyboard shortcuts will put you on the path to Word mastery.

 

Word Shortcuts

 

Google Docs is great and all, but Microsoft Word is still the de facto standard when it comes to putting words to digital page. But how well do you know this decades-old program or it's keyboard shortcuts?

 

Familiarity breeds complacency. Most of us just keep on using Microsoft's productivity powerhouse the same way we have for years. If you want to up your Word game, here are 15 extremely useful keyboard shortcuts you'll want to master, ranging from basic to little known.

 

These shortcuts work for both Word for Windows 2013 and 2016.

Keyboard Access to the Ribbon:

Just like Excel, Word has a method that lets you access menu items using only your keyboard. Just press Alt or F10 and letters will appear next to each visible menu item. Press the corresponding letter to activate a particular menu option. To get rid of the labels, press Esc.

 

Ctrl+ F1: Display or hide the Ribbon.
Ctrl+ K: Insert a hyperlink for the selected text.
Ctrl+ F: Open the search box in the navigation pane.
Alt+ Ctrl + S: Split or remove split in the document window.
Ctrl+ Backspace: Delete one word to the left.
Shift+ F3: Change the case of the selected letters.
Alt+ Shift + W: Underline the selected words, but not the spaces included in the selection.
Ctrl+ 1: Set single-line spacing.
Ctrl+ 2: Set double-line spacing.
Ctrl+ 5: Set 1.5-line spacing.
Ctrl+ Y: Re-do the last action.
Ctrl+ Enter: Insert page break.
Ctrl+ W: Close the current document.
Alt+ F4: Close the program

 

Excel Shortcuts

 

These 15 Excel keyboard shortcuts will help you become a spreadsheet master

 

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Ransomware’s latest new threats: CryptoWall & Chimera

Ransomware's latest new threats: CryptoWall & Chimera

By Jeandre de Beer  /  Pc World

Ransom-ware's latest new threatsRansomware thieves have come up with creative new schemes.

 

Current ransomware typically encrypts victims’ data and then threatens to delete the key if payment is not made. The latest variant of the CryptoWall malware, however, now scrambles the file-names on infected computers, making it even more difficult for victims to recover without buying the key from the attackers.

 

Potentially worse, another ransomware operation, known as Chimera, has threatened to publish the data of any non-cooperative victim—whether business or consumer—to the Internet.

 

The operation, which currently aims at German targets, demands the payment of almost 2.5 bitcoins, or more than US $800, according to German cyber-security site Botfrei, which reported the initial attack.

 

To frighten the user even more, the message indicates the threat to publish personal data and pictures somewhere on the internet – if user doesn’t pay the bribe

– Botfrei’s analysis of the attack.

 

An empty threat that may still signal a trend

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How to protect yourself from PC tech Support Scams

How to protect yourself from PC tech Support Scams

By Jeandre de Beer  /  Pc World

How to protect yourself from PC tech Support Scams

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission's game of whack-a-mole with Windows tech support scammers continues.

The FTC and the State of Florida recently announced the temporary shut down of several businesses in two new cases of Windows tech support scams.

The two cases involved scams that bilked "tens of thousands" of Windows PC owners out of more than $120 million, the FTC says. 

For at least four years now, scam artists have been trying to pull one over on gullible computer users with phony tech support calls. The FTC said its latest operation was the third such case since 2011.

More are sure to come since putting together a scam like this is relatively cheap compared to the potential million dollar windfall.

PC users need to be wary of scams like these or risk falling prey to them. We've included a few tips that should help you stay scam free.

 

How the scam works

 

Previous scams involved cold-calling customers over the phone and then convincing them their computers were riddled with malware. This time around, however, the scammers had to wait for a user to download a bogus desktop program.

Usually people are enticed to download these phony apps with promises of improved security or performance for their PC. Then after they download a trial version, the app runs a scan and discovers non-existent errors on the PC.

To fix the phony errors, the user has to purchase the full version of the scam program, which can be priced anywhere from $29 to $49, according to the FTC.

But it doesn't stop there. Once the victim has purchased the full version, the software prompts them to call a toll-free number to activate the software.

After calling, the victims are shunted to telemarketers who convince their targets to give them remote access to their PCs. The call center people then show victims various screens on their own computer and claim there are serious problems with their PC.

At this point, telemarketers try to sell more phony goods such as extra security software and tech support services that can cost up to $500.

 

Protect yourself

 

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Wi-Fi made more wonderful

Wi-Fi made more wonderful

By Jeandre de Beer  /  PC World

Colorful WiFi symbol in three dimensional shape

Forget about sliced bread—Wi-Fi is easily one of the greatest inventions of the last few decades.

Thanks to Wi-Fi every device in your home can easily get online, whether it’s your iPad, desktop PC, the high-definition television in the living room, and maybe even your coffee pot or fridge.

But are you getting the most out of your wireless Internet connection? Is it truly as fast as your service provider claims?

Are the neighbors screwing up your signal? Do you know how to connect all your various devices together to share files at home?

Here are five free Wi-Fi-enhancing tools that can help you answer “yes” to all of those questions.

 

1. Channel Changers

Sometimes getting a better Wi-Fi signal is as simple as changing the channel. If you live in a densely populated area such as an apartment or townhouse complex you are probably surrounded by dozens or even hundreds of individual Wi-Fi routers.

Each one is broadcasting a signal to help its owner get online. The problem is that sometimes a bunch of closely situated routers can end up interfering with each other.

When that happens you can help yourself out by changing your router’s broadcast channel. To help you find an ideal channel (or the leastpopulated) use ViStumbler on Windows to get all kinds of data on the Wi-Fi routers around you.

Or you could give Wifi Analyzer for Android a try—this is also a great option to test signal strength at different points in your house.

 

2. Speed test

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9 Ways to lock down your device before it goes missing

9 Ways to lock down your device before it goes missing

By Jeandre de Beer / Pc World

Lockdown Device Don’t wait until your phone or tablet goes missing to think about security. 

YOU KNOW THAT icy stab of panic when you suddenly realize your Android phone or iPhone isn’t safe in your pocket where it should be?

Sure, features like “Find my iPhone” on iOS or the Android Device Manager can help. But if bad guys have snatched your phone or tablet, they can do a lot of damage before you zero in on its location.  

Read on for 9 easy ways to shore up your iOS or Android security, starting with a bonus tip.

 

Bonus: Lock your phone with a passcode, pronto

 

Here’s a tip that’s so obvious—well, to me, anyway—that I’m throwing it in as a bonus. Why mention it at all?

Because I still run into far too many people who have never bothered to lock their phones or tablets with a PIN, even in an era of Touch IDs (for iOS) and traceable, easy-to-remember “pattern” locks (on the Android side).

Now, if your tablet never leaves your coffee table, that’s one thing. (Although… burglars!) But when it comes to your phone—and the emails, numbers, passwords, online banking apps, and other private data sitting in its memory—well, you’re nuts if you don’t have a lock-screen PIN.

So please, do yourself a favor and set a passcode if you haven’t already.

For iOS, tap Settings > Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode, if your iPhone or iPad is Touch ID-ready). For Android, tap Settings > Security > Screen Lock.

And now, for the real tips…

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