Small Business and Security

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May 30th, 2013

When I visit small businesses and bring up security products, I always hear “oh, we are only a small company, no one will hack us.”

Don’t be fooled! Cybercriminals threaten small businesses every second.  The cost to the victims can equal millions of dollars.  Basically hackers target smaller business since they know they don’t invest in security like the larger businesses.

You don’t need to spend thousands on security.  Basic protections should be sufficient. So protect yourself, your competition does.

Contact Computer Care Associates (508-370-8080) for a review of your small business systems.

Don’t Let Windows 8 Make You Anxious

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May 20th, 2013

Don’t Let Windows 8 Make You Anxious

You realize you need a new computer.  So, you then go to the store (or the internet) to begin researching what you can purchase only to find that most newer computers have the Windows 8 operating system on them.

My opinion – Windows 8 is a good operating system.  Of course, as with anything new – there is a learning curve to be able to use all the functions.  Once someone gets used to how it works, it is actually faster and better than previous operating systems.

For the person who is used to Windows XP, I customize their new computer – and would put in a menu bar.

Windows never put in a menu bar.  PC users need a menu bar.  Thus, I download “classic shell”.  Classic Shell is a collection of usability enhancements for Windows. The main features is a highly customizable Start menu which has multiple styles and skins.

Using the classic shell cuts in half the learning curve for this new operating system.  With the classic shell, the screen goes straight to the desktop “look” and not to the tiles.

However, it is wise to note that becoming used to the tiles is a big part of Windows 8 and should be explored as well.  My concern is for the User to become comfortable first by starting with the “desktop look”, and then they can learn about the tiles at their own rate.

Bottom line, computers are a rapidly changing industry.  Computer Care Associates is your ally and we can help you adapt and begin to enjoy your new computer!  Call us at 508-370-8080.  We work remotely or on location.

JONATHAN SHAPIRO, Computer Care Associates


Backing Up Your Data – Do this both Remotely & Locally. Avoid a Crisis!!!!!

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February 26th, 2012

I have been focusing attention on setting up backups for small businesses with crucial data.  However I would do this for residential customers if the need was there.  I have been dealing with a remote backup company that I have tested in restoring as well as the remote backup.  I feel that I have found the right remote backup company to use.

I have emphasized that you must have a local backup in conjunction with a remote backup

Restoring a remote backup takes time and is affected by your internet speed. 

The local backup is affected by the speed of your USB port and is much faster.

I have a customer whose data server crashed.  I created a link to a “temp data location” by restoring a current local backup.  Eventually I was able to put the data server back on-line and transitioned the temporary data back to it’s original location on the data server.  At the same time, I was able to restore specific files from the remote backup (through the files previously backed up) so there was no break in the customer’s productivity or use of computer and stored data files.

The bottom line is that data would have been lost if not for our services.  Seamless transition between local backup and remote backup.  Both are important.

When it comes to data, you cannot put a price on it.  Call Computer Care Associates for your protection!

Scare Tactics or Reality ?

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January 10th, 2012

Almost every action on the computer regarding the internet involves a warning concerning privacy issues

The other day I came across one in particular.  It was from a website called “face crooks.” They promote a “doomsday” mentality that is hard to argue about.  I have seen hackers do things which baffle the mind.  I would not take any warnings for granted.

If I was a hacker, I would put all my efforts into hacking something that is relatively common as opposed to something that is rare.  Yes, Facebook is vulnerable. Unfortunately as a popular website Facebook easily becomes a target for a threat of a security breach on passwords, etc. This is a real possibility – hackers are getting more and more sophisticated.  Don’t take anything for granted.  “Security experts speculate that the compromised accounts are being used to spread malicious links on Face book”.  ‘Sounds like a sci-fi movie….however I have cleaned up customer’s computers that come into the office with viruses (and spyware/malware), which easily gain entrance into an unsuspecting computer when someone opens a malicious link, or even downloads a picture.

It is hard to emphasize security precaution to people and have them take it seriously, unless they have experienced a bad outcome (like an infection from a rogue virus or a “fake antivirus alert“), or learn about a concrete threat to watch out for.  Most people shrug them off and say, “it will never happen to me!”

Even your email can get hacked into (like Hotmail and even AOL).  One deterrent is to change your password….add some symbols to it (like, $*#!)  In fact, recently we’ve received (and resolved) distress calls from customers that a popular internet cable provider has been locking out users from getting into their own email.  It turns out that the vendor decided to keep customers from looking at their email – if their user password was too weak.  Of course, there was no communication with the User that this would happen!  This is causing some concerns but is easily corrected by modifying your email password if you are a customer of this particular provider and you have trouble logging into your email account to retrieve or send messages.

Product Warranty – Manufacturer’s & Extended – Protect Your Investment

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March 21st, 2011

When you buy a computer, it’s very important to note when your manufacturer’s warranty expires. 

Many box stores offer an “additional” or “extended” warranty (for an additional cost).   Sales people always ask the consumer (purchaser) if they want  to purchase an additional warranty. The cost for Extended Warranties are often based on a formula relating to the purchase price of the item.

If you indeed pay extra money for another (in-store) warranty, it is important to register this additional Warranty. 

A good rule of thumb is to register this added warranty within the first few weeks of owning the item.  Keep all of this Warranty paperwork in a secure place so you can find it easily should you need to. 

In todays market, computer prices (and prices for other office technologies) have gone down.  In some instances, so has the quality of the product.  It is recommended to purchase an extended warranty for printers, computers, cameras, etc. because you, as the consumer, should protect your investment.


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February 28th, 2011


New Laptops and Desktops are less costly than a year ago.  However if you have data on your old computer, you need to transfer it to a new computer. When I talk about data I am referring to:

1.  Email Files (Outlook/Outlook Express)

2.  Documents

3.  Pictures

4.  Music

Backing up your data from one Computer has an expense associated with it ($50).  Then, to transfer the backed up data over to a new computer will cost $50.  (If you want to keep the backed up data, you would provide/purchase the external device – like an external hard drive – so the data gets backed up onto your own hardware device).

Applications that cannot be transferred:

a.  Microsoft Office

b.  Microsoft Works

c.  Photoshop

d.  Quickbooks and Quicken

e.  Adobe Acrobat (paid software version)

f.  Any applications which were downloaded or software which has been upgraded.

Applications must be reloaded which means you must have the original media with the license #.  If you own a multiple user license, you still need the proper authentication.

There are some cases in which the data from the old computer cannot be transferred because the old hard drive has errors.  The cost of this data recovery is initally $195, but in some cases, if the hard drive has mechanical issues, the cost can be much higher.  This will be dealt on a case-by-case basis.

Software Applications, Up-to-Date?

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January 13th, 2011


Are your SW applications up-to-date?

A major problem for independent contractors, retail stores and small businesses and individuals working out of one location, is that they rely on various software programs for their livelihood.  For instance – with interior designers, and professions that use a CAD-type of software, the software is very expensive ($4,000-$8,000). An important issue is that in order to continue to get updates, they must have a support contract. 

Contractors, plumbers, and electricians should be using QuickBooks or some type of accounting software to keep track of payments, receivables, as well as a database of their customers. 

The bottom line is to be prepared for disaster.  Keep your licenses up-to-date.  Make sure you have support and if necessary have the software on hand, in case you need to reinstall.  If your SW files get corrupted, the vendor will help you download the missing files – or the product – but you need to give them the correct licensing information or else the communication with the vendor will be frustrating and even more expensive.

This sounds like a lot of work and it is, but the consequence of not having the right information and software can be bleak.  Backing up the data is important too, but you can’t back up your software applications.

Your business relies on organization, records, and preparation in case of a disaster.

Internet, Networking & Computer Repairs

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September 28th, 2010

One of the areas Computer Care Associates focuses on is being an intermediary between the User and the Internet Service Provider (ISP).  Very often the residential user or small business cannot describe the actual problem plus, they end up not being able to communicate to the “help desk” or tech area of the ISP. 

An example of this:  A residential user was having issues with their modem but in order to deflect the problem, the ISP was blaming the router (which was their own hardware equipment that was in place).  The average individual has no idea about the workings of these products and can very easily be confused with the technical jargon. 

Some issues can only be resolved by speaking directly with “internet provider” and COMPUTER CARE ASSOCIATES  provides clear communication to resolve any issues that come up.  We will talk directly with the technicians on your behalf, fight for what is your right (in a tactful manner) and in all honesty – we’ve gotten the customer more than they had ever hoped for in the majority of the instances!

Since we offer a full service for each customer, we consider working with your ISP on issues as part of the computer repairs and we treat each customer as if it were our own family member.  “Caring for Your Computer is Job # 1”

We also provide remote services as opposed to in-home services for those in locations which are outside of our service area.  Call us (508-370-8080) or email us about any of the services we offer.

I am getting a Blue Screen on my monitor!

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September 27th, 2010

I am getting a Blue Screen on my monitor.  Should I be concerned?

While a BSOD stands for “Blue Screen of Death” this problem is not always fatal. Unfortunately, the reason for this problem is not always very clear. Computer Care Associates works hard to find the cause and remedy the problem.

The Blue Screen Of Death named after the color of the screen generated by the error.  There are various reasons for a blue screen.  It is really important to write down the information from the blue screen.  The problem ranges from “bad software drivers, hardware problems (memory, hard drive), software conflicting with other software, or even a virus in the computer.

How to analyze blue screen errors

Hardware errors are very difficult to analyze.  All you can do is eliminate potential problems.  One blue screen I was getting indicated a problem was with the hardware.  However it didn’t tell me what exactly was causing the problem except for a vague message.

 The first step is find out the cause of the problem is to clarify what exactly is happening.  Is this a software error or an issue with your hardware (hard drive). Write down the error message if you can.

It is very important to note what the “blue screen” says. We use this information to isolate the offending file.  In many cases, the problem can be caused by a bad hard drive, bad software or viruses/spyware.

Besides calling an expert (like COMPUTER CARE ASSOCIATES) what else can I do?

You can run some programs that scan your equipment.

  • Memory Check
  • Hard Drive Error Checking
  • Drivers from the Manufacturer’s website (of your hardware devices)
  • Virus and Spyware check

It never hurts to scan your computer with several different scanners.  What one scanner finds, another will not.

TIP:  Be careful and choose wisely, don’t just pile on more software scanners and protection.  Call and ask COMPUTER CARE ASSOCIATES (508-370-8080) 

The bottom line is that a blue screen cannot or should not be ignored.  It is like your body having a temperature.  It is an indication of a problem that needs to be resolved.  At Computer Care Associates, we analyze these problems and come up with a solution.  Unfortunately the resolution is not a quick and simple fix.  However make sure that backup has be done recently and you have the applications (MS Office 2007, Photoshop, etc.) on hand in case it needs to be reinstalled, as well as the Operating System Disk and the Driver Disk.  This can be in the form of “recovery disks” or just disks from the computer manufacturer.

Fake Security Warnings

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July 27th, 2010

Fake AntiVirus (FakeAV), also known as a “Rogue AntiVirus”, Rogues, or ScareWare, is a class of malware that displays false alert messages to the User concerning threats that do not really exist. These alerts will prompt Users to visit a website where they will be asked to pay for these non-existent threats to be cleaned up. 

The FakeAV will continue to send these annoying and intrusive alerts until a payment is made or …..when professionals like Computer Care Associates get rid of the problem. 

During the last year, the number of FakeAVs has mushroomed. We have seen evidence of this by the number of customers who call us to help them extricate their computer from the clutches of this culprit.

This huge rise in popularity among this type of malware is primarily due to the direct revenue source that FakeAV provides. Compared to other classes of malware  such as backdoor Trojans, downloaders and password stealers, FakeAV draws the User into handing money over directly to the malware author.  FakeAV is also associated with a thriving affiliate network community that makes large amounts of money by  driving traffic toward the stores of their partners.

The more someone tries to escape from the Fake AV Security Messages, the more problems occur.  Users who think they can escape, can’t. It makes it worse.  It is like being tied up, the more you struggle….the tighter the knot becomes.

Those Users who recognize they have a Fake Alert problem are on the right track.

The best action is turn off your computer. Let the professionals clean up the mess!

Call Computer Care Associates (508-370-8080) and we will rid your computer of the FakeAV.