Beware of Ransomware!

Ransomware is a common type of malware we remove for our customers in our Lexington, KY computer repair shop.

Ransomware has become so rampant, that nearly every phishing email that gets sent today contains this form of malware.

What is ransomware you may say? It is a type of malicious software, or virus, designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

This data comes from PhishMe Inc, a provider of software defense solutions. In its latest report, it found that 97.25 percent of all phishing emails sent during Q3 of 2016 contained ransomware, up from 92 percent in Q1.

Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, often for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an email.

Three major trends were identified over the past 3 months according to the report:

Locky ransomware continues to dominate: While numerous encryption ransomware varieties have been identified in 2016, Locky has demonstrated adaptability and longevity. Locky will be remembered alongside 2013’s CryptoLocker as a top-tier ransomware tool that fundamentally altered the way security professionals view the threat landscape

Ransomware encryption: The proportion of phishing emails analyzed that delivered some form of ransomware has grown to 97.25 percent, leaving only 2.75 percent of phishing emails to deliver all other forms of malware utilities

Increase in deployment of ‘quiet malware’: PhishMe identified an increase in the deployment of remote access Trojan malware like jRAT, suggesting that these threat actors intend to remain within their victims’ networks for a long time

The other 2.75 percent of malicious software delivered included remote access Trojans, keyloggers and botnets. These still represent a significant hazard in 2016. Unlike ransomware, so-called ‘quiet malware’ is designed to avoid detection while maintaining a presence within a computer or business network for extended periods of time.

Here’s the moral of the story: Be careful what you click on! Read our Ten tips for Identifying a Phishing Email.

Has your computer has fallen victim to ransomware or other malware

Give us a call and we will get right to work on rescuing your computer. If you pay the ransom to these bad actors, there’s absolutely no guarantee they’ll remove the malware from your computer. Call or email us, and we’ll let you know what your options are.


Should You Upgrade to Windows 10?

Should You Upgrade to Windows 10?

After much anticipation and hype, Microsoft is finally launching Windows 10 on Wednesday, July 29th. As people become aware of this free upgrade, they will likely wonder, “is it worth the trouble?”

For the long answer, visit PCWorld’s in-depth Windows 10 review. But here’s the short version.

Windows 10 is a free upgrade for current Windows 7 and Windows 8 users upgrading before July 29 of next year, 2016. After this, the upgrade will cost $119. Once you install Windows 10, you’ll keep getting updates through 2025 with no subscription fees or the like.

If you have questions, let us know. We offer free advice, plus we can help with the upgrade or any issues that may arise.


Windows XP Users

It’s time to upgrade to a newer operating system if you’re still using an Internet-connected Windows XP machine, as XP no longer receives critical security updates from Microsoft. Unfortunately, Windows XP users can’t get a free upgrade, and it’s very likely that the old hardware will not be compatible with Windows 10.

xp grave

RIP Windows XP – Photo from

Our recommendation: Buy a new Windows 10 machine or a slightly older Windows 8 computer. Some users who don’t want to upgrade have opted for a safer, cheaper alternative, a user-friendly Linux distribution that will work with your current PC.

Also, remember that Office 2003 will be incompatible with Windows 8 or Windows 10.

Windows Vista Users

Windows 10 is a definite improvement over Windows Vista, but the upgrade won’t be free. A fully updated & patched Vista PC works reasonably well, and will continue to receive security updates from Microsoft through April 2017.

If I still owned a Vista-based PC, I would likely upgrade to a Windows 10 laptop or desktop, or I might save a few bucks and get a new Windows 8 since prices are fairly reasonable.

Make sure your computer meets Windows 10’s hardware requirements if you decide to upgrade an existing Vista PC.

Windows 7 Users

When Windows 8 launched, many tech bloggers advised against the upgrade, if you were happy with Windows 7. Windows 8’s lack of a start menu button and attempt to push tablet style apps to your PC was confusing and befuddling at best.

Windows 8.1 fixed many of the most frustrating issues, but now many critics are saying Windows 10 is a masterful blend of the best features of both Windows 7 and 8.

The start button has returned to Windows 10 by popular demand (and should have never disappeared in most people’s opinion). So the user interface will seem familiar to long-time Windows 7 users.

Windows 10 start menu returns!

Windows 10 Start Menu Returns!


Though Windows 10 still includes Windows 8’s contentious Metro apps and Microsoft services, it still carries over Windows 8’s under-the-hood improvements: lightning-fast boot times, pooled Storage Spaces, networking improvements, a much-improved Task Manager, OneDrive syncing that carries your preferences from PC to PC, etc. The list of benefits goes on, but now without the odd Start screen, full-screen Metro apps, and their confusing (un)functionality.

There are also new features like the Cortana personal assistant, virtual desktops, and the performance-enhancing DirectX 12 graphics API, which seeks to supercharge future generations of games.

With all the new features, and the low price of free, we think it’s safe to move on from faithful Windows 7.

There is caveat that you might consider if you’re a heavy Windows Media Center user. Windows 10 doesn’t support or include WMC, even if you upgrade from a system that already has it installed.

If you upgrade from a version of Windows with WMC installed, Microsoft will at least provide you with some alternative source of DVD playback later this year. In the interim, VLC is free and a great option.

Also, if you’re a current or future Xbox One user, it has replaced WMC in the living room as far as Microsoft’s concerned, and it is upgrading to Windows 10 anyway.

Windows 8 and 8.1 Users

Yes. Go ahead and upgrade. Reserve your download here. There is no reason not to, unless you’ve purchased Windows 8’s optional Windows Media Center add-on pack and don’t want to lose access to that software.

View the Windows 10 FAQ for more info

Check out the full Windows 10 system requirements and important notes below from Microsoft’s website.

These are for a pre-released version of Windows 10 and are subject to change.

System requirements

If you want to upgrade to Windows 10 on your PC or tablet, here’s what it takes.

  • Latest OS: Make sure you are running the latest version either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update.
  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 800×600

Important notes

  • The upgradeability of a device has factors beyond the system specification. This includes driver and firmware support, application compatibility, and feature support, regardless of whether or not the device meets the minimum system specification for Windows 10.
  • If your PC or tablet is currently running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update, you can check to see if it meets the requirements by using ‘Check my PC’ in the Get Windows 10 app.
  • Applications, files and settings will migrate as part of the upgrade, however some applications or settings may not migrate.
    • For Anti-virus and Anti-malware applications, during upgrade Windows will check to see if your Anti-virus or Anti-malware subscription is current. Windows will uninstall your application while preserving your settings. After upgrade is complete, Windows will install the latest version available with the settings that were set prior to upgrade. If your subscription is not current, upgrade will enable Windows defender.
    • Some applications that came from your OEM may be removed prior to upgrade.
    • For certain third party applications, the “Get Windows 10” app will scan for application compatibility. If there is a known issue that will prevent the upgrade, you will be notified of the list of applications with known issues. You can choose to accept and the applications will be removed from the system prior to upgrade. Please copy the list before you accept the removal of the application.

Feature deprecation

  • If you have Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center and you install Windows 10, Windows Media Center will be removed.
  • Watching DVDs requires separate playback software.
  • Windows 7 desktop gadgets will be removed as part of installing Windows 10.
  • Windows 10 Home users will have updates from Windows Update automatically available.
  • Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts Games that come pre-installed on Windows 7 will be removed as part of installing the Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft has released our version of Solitaire and Minesweeper called the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” and “Microsoft Minesweeper.”
  • If you have a USB floppy drive, you will need to download the latest driver from Windows Update or from the manufacturer’s website.
  • If you have Windows Live Essentials installed on your system, the OneDrive application is removed and replaced with the inbox version of OneDrive.

Additional requirements to use certain features

  • Cortana is only currently available on Windows 10 for the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.
  • Speech recognition will vary by device microphone. For better speech experience you will need a:
    • High fidelity microphone array
    • Hardware driver with Microphone array geometry exposed
  • Windows Hello requires specialized illuminated infrared camera for facial recognition or iris detection or a finger print reader which supports the Window Biometric Framework.
  • Continuum is available on all Windows 10 editions by manually turning “tablet mode” on and off through the Action Center. Tablets and 2-in-1’s with GPIO indicators or those that have a laptop and slate indicator will be able to be configured to enter “tablet mode” automatically.
  • Music and Video stream through the Xbox Music or Xbox video app available in certain regions. For the most up to date list of regions, please go to Xbox on Windows website.
  • Two factor authentication requires the use of a PIN, Biometric (finger print reader or illuminated infrared camera), or a phone with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities.
  • The number of applications that can be snapped will depend upon the minimum resolution for the application.
  • To use touch, you need a tablet or a monitor that supports multi-touch. (more info)
  • Microsoft account required for some features.
  • Internet access (ISP) fees might apply.
  • Secure boot requires firmware that supports UEFI v2.3.1 Errata B and has the Microsoft Windows Certification Authority in the UEFI signature database.
  • Some IT administrators may enable Secure Logon (Ctrl + Alt + Del) before bringing you to the log in screen. On tablets without a keyboard, a tablet with the Windows button maybe required as the key combination on a tablet is Windows button + Power button.
  • Some games and programs might require a graphics card compatible with DirectX 10 or higher for optimal performance.
  • BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive (Windows 10 Pro only).
  • BitLocker requires either Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2, TPM 2.0 or a USB flash drive (Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise only).
  • Client Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system with second level address translation (SLAT) capabilities and additional 2 GB of RAM (Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise only).
  • Miracast requires a display adapter which supports Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 1.3, and a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct.
  • Wi-Fi Direct Printing requires a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct and a device that supports Wi-Fi Direct Printing.
  • To install a 64-bit OS on a 64-bit PC, your processor needs to support CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW, and LAHF/SAHF.
  • InstantGo works only with computers designed for Connected Standby.
  • Device encryption requires a PC with InstantGo and TPM 2.0.

Upgrade editions

We’ll keep you on like-to-like editions of Windows. For instance, if you are using Windows 7 Home Premium, you’ll upgrade to Windows 10 Home.

Some editions are excluded: Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1. Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings outside of this offer.

1Windows Offer Details

Yes, free! This upgrade offer is for a full version of Windows 10, not a trial. 3GB download required; standard data rates apply. To take advantage of this free offer, you must upgrade to Windows 10 within one year of availability. Once you upgrade, you have Windows 10 for free on that device.

Windows 10 Upgrade Offer is valid for qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices, including devices you already own. Some hardware/software requirements apply and feature availability may vary by device and market. The availability of Windows 10 upgrade for Windows Phone 8.1 devices may vary by OEM, mobile operator or carrier. Devices must be connected to the internet and have Windows Update enabled. Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update required. Some editions are excluded: Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1. Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings outside of this offer. To check for compatibility and other important installation information, visit your device manufacturer’s website . Windows 10 is automatically updated. Additional requirements may apply over time for updates. See the Windows 10 How to Upgrade page for details.

Our Top Free Software List

In no particular order with varying degrees of awesomeness, here is some of

Our Favorite Free Software

1. Avast! Free version
This version has new features and a great look, along with a boot-scan that strikes at malware.

2. Avira Free Antivirus 2012
Lacking little from the premium version (save Web protection and live support), Avira’s free version also gets good scores from PCMag and independent labs for malware removal.

3. LibreOffice
Windows | Mac | Linux
Our reviewer calls LibreOffice “by far the best free office application suite” and says it should be the first choice for anyone that wants a free alternative to Microsoft Office. It’s another offshoot from, but it already has more features and an improved interface. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentations, and apps for math and drawing.

4. TeamViewer
Windows | Mac | Mobile | Portable | Mobile
Still our Editors’ Choice for remote control, TeamViewer 7 offers a brain-dead simple setup and a remarkably fast screen redraw when controlling another desktop, whether from a PC or Android and iOS devices. For free, you get access to a single system, which is perfect for providing tech support to family and friends. Read more

Apple’s Mountain Lion: Top 10 features

By , Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 10:03 AM

Apple surprised the tech world Thursday when it announced its new operating system, Mountain Lion. The system incorporates several of iOS’s most notable features. Here’s a quick rundown of the top Mountain Lion features for the Mac, many aimed at users who have more than one Apple product:

Notifications: After adding a notifications center to the latest version of iOS, Apple has decided to put notifications on its Macs, as well, letting users have easy access to e-mail and app alerts. Apple will also use the notifications center for system updates and messages.

Notes: Mac users will be able to create notes that sync across all their Apple devices, to keep track of their to-do lists. On the Mac, users will be able to add photos to their notes.

Reminders: Also pulled from the latest version of iOS, Reminders will pop up through the notification system, acting in the same way that iCal alerts do now. Users can set Reminders to appear at a certain time of day and mark items as complete once they’ve taken care of business. Read more

How to clean your computer

Do you have a dirty secret. Have you ever cleaned your computer? Sure, I’ve dusted my monitor, but I haven’t taken off the cover or tried to reach the crumbs lurking inside my keyboard. And I honestly don’t know the difference between pressurized air dusters and compressed air cleaners.

clean your computer

“Your computer could fry if you don’t keep it clean,” says Jonathon Millman, chief technology officer for Hooplah Interactive.

Whether it’s a desktop or laptop/notebook computer, dust and lint can clog the cooling vents. This can cause your computer’s brain—the central processing unit (CPU)—to heat up. And heat is the biggest cause of component failure in computers. Regular cleaning could save you costly maintenance fees down the road.

Follow the five simple steps in the cleanup and maintenance routine below to keep your computer and accessories looking shiny and new. It’s an easy, do-it-yourself solution to help them run smoothly and last longer.

Not what you were looking for?

Are you trying to clean up your computer in the antivirus software sense? This guide on the Microsoft Security website provides instructions, a free safety scan, and a malicious software removal tool you can download. Or, if you’re trying to find tips on cleaning out system clutter and unwanted files to make your programs run faster, you may find these articles helpful: Speed up your PC: Automate your computer maintenance schedule, Optimize your computer for peak performance, and How to delete programs you no longer need.

Read more

Father shoots daughter’s laptop

YouTube: Father shoots daughter’s laptop — and he’d do it again

February 13, 2012 |  6:24 pm

I can’t say I recommend doing this to a laptop. Maybe he should have just sold it and saved the money. What do you think?
(The following is from the LA Times)

Facebook made Tommy Jordan the Dad Who Knew Too Much. Now you could say something similar for the rest of us.

Five days ago, Jordan posted an epic — as many young YouTube followers might describe it — video rant of eight minutes and 23 seconds that starts in a lawn chair and ends with bullets. The North Carolinian’s 15-year-old daughter had posted a bratty Facebook update to her friends that she thought he wouldn’t see.

In short, she was tired of doing chores.

“I’m tired of picking up after you. You tell me at least once a day to get a job,” she wrote, as quoted by her father on YouTube. She then apparently ran through her daily responsibilities — doing dishes, wiping the countertops. “I have no idea how I have a life. I’m gonna hate to see the day when you get too old to wipe your (butt), and you call me asking for help. I won’t be there.”

Jordan videotaped his emotional response. “Are you out of your mind?” he replied after reading her post to the camera. He then put nine .45 rounds into her laptop, posted the video online and rode it to instant Internet stardom. The video had surpassed 21 million hits on YouTube as of Monday afternoon.

It’s the latest entry in the annals of public parenting and, as with most cases of Internet stardom, it says as much about the audience as it does about the star.

Jordan’s outburst is wound up with contradictions. His daughter’s Facebook post, intended to be private, has now been read to millions, and some of Jordan’s subsequent aw-shucks rejections of attention have not been overwhelmingly convincing.

“I just had a friend run Good Morning America off my lawn.. grr.,” he posted to Facebook on Saturday, also saying that CBS called to offer him a show. That could be called a textbook “humblebrag,” by the way; the comment was public and got more than 900 responses.

In fact, even though Jordan turned off his phone and hasn’t been responding to media requests for interviews, you can still learn a lot about him on Facebook, because he hasn’t made a big effort to keep things secret. He’ll vote for Ron Paul. He’s got a stake in an online auction startup he’d like you to know about. He likes coffee and Krispy Kreme.

He’s also talked to his attorneys, and he doesn’t want you to copy his video: “Otherwise, the lawsuits start tomorrow morning.”

Oh, and one more thing: He says on his Facebook page that the police came to visit him after the video went viral. “The police by the way said ‘Kudos, Sir’ and most of them made their kids watch it. I actually had a ‘thank you’ from an entire detectives squad.”

Child Protective Services also apparently paid a visit to interview him and the daughter separately, and Jordan writes that the visit went well. “At the end of the day, no I’m not losing my kids, no one’s in danger of being ripped from our home that I know of, and I actually got to spend some time with the nice lady and learn some cool parenting tips that I didn’t know.”

But whatever Jordan does with his new-found stardom — he claims to have raised more than $5,000 for an area Muscular Dystrophy Assn. drive after the video went viral — the video has clearly struck that not-going-to-take-it-anymore nerve that sometimes runs through many Americans. (A fed-up flight attendant who quit his job in 2010 was similarly idolized; you might recall that he bawled out his passengers, grabbed some beer and made an emergency-chute exit.)

In the case of Jordan’s video, it reveals some raw feelings by pre-Facebook-generation parents about their entitled, digital-native adolescents.

“It is both disturbing and so deeply satisfying that you can’t watch it without reliving every fantasy you’ve ever had about hurling one of your teen’s gadgets out a window or under a car after they’ve used it to ignore you or deceive you, or distract themselves from something they’re supposed to do,” wrote Susanna Schrobsdorff for Time.

But it wasn’t just parents who agreed with Jordan’s reaction; some teenagers were of like mind too.

“I have to say, as a girl who has been there before — in the land of you-get-everything-handed-to-you kind of thing — I completely agree with what you did, completely,” a young YouTube user named “hb4l1f3” commented in a popular response video.

Others were not so charmed by the use of the gun, but Jordan writes that he’d do it all over again — except maybe without the cigarette. But he does wish he hadn’t called his daughter an “ass,” which he said was “rude and a bad example of a parent using the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ philosophy.”

“I’d have worn my Silverbelly Stetson, not my Tilley hat if I’d known that image was going to follow me the rest of my life and I’d probably have cleaned my boots,” he writes on Facebook. “That’s it. I meant all the rest of it. My wife is OK with it. My daughter is OK with it. My Mother is OK with it. I’m OK with it. We’re the only ones that matter.”

13 Windows 8 features worth knowing about