Category Archives: Technology Updates

What Is A PC Driver?

Your computer contains all kinds of hardware, such as disk drives, DVD/CD-ROM drives, network adapters, and sound and video cards, as well as external devices, such as printers, keyboards, monitors, and USB drives. When you install an operating system (OS), such as Windows or Linux, that OS needs to be able to talk to the hardware in your computer to display items, play sounds and videos, and write data to and read data from an external drive, as well as other tasks.

That’s where drivers come in. A driver is a small piece of software that acts as a translator between a device and the OS and programs that use the device. The driver tells the OS, and installed software programs, how to talk to the hardware in your computer. For example, when you buy a printer, it usually comes with a driver on a CD (or, in recent years, a URL for download the latest driver software from the internet) that tells the OS how to print information on each page. Without the driver, the printer will not know how to interpret the data sent to it, if the data even makes it to the printer.

NOTE: Many drivers such as keyboard drivers and mouse drivers are already installed with the OS when you buy a computer.

The drivers installed in your system to talk to the devices are managed using the Device Manager. To access the Device Manager in Windows 7, enter “device manager” (without the quotes) in the Search box on the Start menu. Click on the Device Manager link under Control Panel.

All your hardware device categories, such as Display adapters, DVD/CD-ROM drives, and Mice and other pointing devices, are listed and the specific devices are listed below each heading.

If you are having trouble with a device, it’s helpful to know the version of the driver currently installed in your system. You may need to email this information to the manufacturer, or tell them over the phone. It’s also helpful if you are trying to find a solution yourself on the internet on various sites and forums.

  • To find out the version of a driver, right-click on the driver in the Device Manager and select Properties from the popup menu.

On the Properties dialog box, click the Driver tab. The Driver Provider, Date, Version, and Signer are listed. You can find out more information about the driver using the Driver Details button. Notice that you can also update the driver from this tab, disable the driver, uninstall the driver, and even roll back the driver software to the previously installed version, in case an update caused a problem with the device.

 

Steps To Edit Keyboard Language

For Windows Vista and Windows 7, open the Control Panel and click on Region and Language. Now click on the Keyboards and Languages tab and then click on Change keyboards.

You’ll see the current default input language and installed services. To add a language, go ahead and click on the Add button.

Now scroll down to the language you want to add and expand the keyboard section. Depending on the physical keyboard you are using, choose the correct keyboard option. You might have to play around with the different options because sometimes one keyboard doesn’t work properly.

You can also click on the Preview button to see how the characters for your language are mapped to the keyboard you are using.

In my example, I chose Hindi Traditional for the keyboard language. Scroll down to the Using the Language Bar section to see how to type into different applications using the new language.

Change Keyboard Language in your Windows

For Windows, you want to go to the Control Panel and click on Regional and Language Options. Next click on the Languages tab and then click on the Details button.

This will load up the Text Services and Input Languages dialog box. Here you will see the list of installed services and keyboards on your computer. You can click Add to install a new keyboard layout and input language.

Choose the input language and choose the type of keyboard that you have attached to your computer. If you want to type Spanish on an English keyboard, choose Spanish as the Input language and United States-Dvorak.

Using the Language Bar

When you install a new language in Windows, it automatically enables the language bar. This is really useful for quickly switching between languages in Windows. You’re probably not going to be typing in one language for every application, so the language bar makes it easy to switch.

You’ll see the language bar in your taskbar with letters to denote the language you are currently using. If you click on it, a list will appear and you can simply click on another language to select it.

Now you can open an application like Word, select the language from the language bar and start typing. You should see the characters for your language appear as you type.

That’s about it! So if you want to type in another language, such as a foreign language, or if you want to switch the keyboard language back to English, the above steps should solve your problem!

What Is Network Transfer Speed?

I recently bought a NAS (network attached storage) device from Synology, connected it up to my network and started transferring files. The first thing I noticed was how slow the network transfer speed was. I was copying over some large video files and it was taking forever! I decided to check the transfer speed between my NAS and PC to see the rate the transfer.

I downloaded a program called LAN Speed Test, which had gotten some excellent reviews, and tried it out. Sure enough, my transfer speed was less than 1 MB/s! Note that is megabytes per second, not megabits per second. I’ll go into more detail on Mbps vs MBps and all that fun stuff. After doing some research, I figured out what I was doing wrong and eventually got the transfer rate up to a super speedy 40 MB/s! Technically, you can only get that speed if you’re using gigabit ethernet. I’ll explain more about that below too.

LAN Data Rate Units

First, let’s get the numbers clear. There is standard 100 Mbps ethernet, which is what most people have at home. 100 Mbps is 100 megabits per second. That is translated into 12.5 megabytes per second (MBps or MB/s). It’s much easier to convert to MBs since that is something we are all familiar with rather than bits. This means that if you don’t have a gigabit router and gigabit network card on your computers or NAS, the maximum speed you’ll be able to transfer a file across your home network is 12.5 MBps.

Also, in the real world, it’s impossible to actually get that theoretical maximum. You’ll probably end up somewhere around 4 to 8 MBps. If you are getting something really low like 1 MBps or less, there are reasons for that which I will mention below. Note that even if your computer has a gigabit ethernet card, you won’t get that higher transfer speed unless all the devices that the data is being transmitted through support gigabit.

If you have a gigabit ethernet card on your computer, your router or switch is gigabit and the receiving device also has a gigabit ethernet card, your max transfer speed jumps to a whopping 1000 Mbps or 125 MBps. Again, you won’t get that theoretical speed, but you should be getting anywhere from 30 to 60 MBps depending on the type of files you are transferring and your network setup. Let’s go into more details about that.

Transfer Speed Depends on What?

So as we mentioned above, network transfer speed depends on the type of ethernet you have on your network, but that’s not the only factor. There are several other factors that determine your final transfer speed between two devices.

Hard Drive Speed

One major limiting factor is the hard drive speed. If you have a computer with a 5400 RPM, your transfer rate will be a lot slower than if you have two SSD drives in a RAID 0 configurations! How so? Well, it depends. I’ve heard of some friends getting close to 100 MB/s using some pretty insane setups. On my network, even with gigabit ethernet, I only get around 40 MB/s. One of those reasons is because I have slower hard drives.

 

 

What Is Host File?

The hosts file in Windows is like an address book for your computer. It is loaded into memory (cache) when Windows starts and associates host names, such as www.google.com with IP addresses, such as 74.125.224.72 for Google. The IP address is like the telephone number for that site. However, so we don’t have to remember a string of numbers for every site we want to visit, we enter easy-to-remember host names.

Because the computer uses IP addresses to find sites, it needs to translate the host name for a site into an IP address. If the IP address for a site is in your hosts file associated with a host name, your computer can use that to “call” the site when you enter the host name in your browser’s address bar. If not, your computer must contact a DNS (domain name server) computer on the Internet for the IP address before it can contact the site.

Initially, there are no host name/IP address associations in the hosts file. Examples of the format and layout of the IP addresses and host names are listed in the comments in the file.

If you add host names and their associated IP addresses into the hosts file for sites you visit often, access to those sites becomes faster. Your computer doesn’t have to query DNS servers on the Internet to get the IP addresses for those sites. If there are any sites that don’t have a domain name, you can enter the site’s IP address in your hosts file with a custom domain name which can serve as a “shortcut” to the site.

So how can you use a HOSTS file in Windows? Well, websites can collect various types of information about you as you surf the web. The hosts file can help block sites from tracking you, as well as block ads, banners, third-party cookies, and other annoying parts of web pages.

Each computer has a host address of its own, known as the “localhost” address. The IP address for localhost is 127.0.0.1. This can be used to block sites serving ads or objectionable content by entering a site’s host name in the hosts file and associating it with the localhost IP address. That refers the host name to your own computer, which then thinks it found the site and displayed it already, even though that site was never actually contacted.

 

Discover The Powerful Software To Keep Your PC Safe

If you want to enhance the security of your PC or to get rid of any existing adware and spyware in it, it is highly recommended that you download a protection and removal software to handle this problem. This is one of the most common issues that PC users have to handle these days, especially for people whose computers are constantly connected to the Internet.

  1. What is Adware and Spyware and What Can They Do?

Adware are malicious type of software that installs itself into the system automatically. Once it is inside, it can start downloading from its source and displaying advertisement pop ups on the screen. Adware is also known as advertising supported software.

Another common type of malware is called the spyware. They are mainly used to spy on the user’s activities for the source of the spyware. It can record keystrokes and remember the websites that you have visited. The worse case scenario is if the spyware steals confidential information like a password and sends this information to a hacker.

  1. How to Deal with Adware and Spyware on Your Computer Fast?

It is important that all PC users know how to handle this problem, which is very likely to happen to all computer users. Otherwise, it can potentially cause a lot of other harmful effects that will be too late to remedy if the protection software is not downloaded earlier. Protection software are able to scan and delete any erroneous and malicious files that it finds, as well as prevent any future intrusion of adware and spyware from the Internet.

Spybot:

Spybot is a more in depth spyware and adware removal tool. You can find download links for your free copy by visiting the Spybot website. It is relatively user friendly, and has a couple of neat features. One of the features is it will create a backup of your registry system as part of the installation process. This is a good idea from the standpoint that if you happen to delete a file during a removal process, and needed that file, you can restore your registry.

Another useful item is that Spybot will allow you to ‘immunize’ your system. What this means is that you can help prevent future attacks and installations of spyware by ‘immunizing’ files that are common attack points. This doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get future spyware / adware, but it does help!

This has about 63,000 known trojans, spyware, and adware programs and files that it scans for, and I’m sure you will find that there are a lot of things on your computer that you had no idea were there when you first scan.

And there are many more out there, just Google it. Plus, some of the major antivirus companies will let you download a free, trial version for 30 days before you have to purchase, just check around for those.

Microsoft Support Scam Tactics

Cybercrime is now a growing trend anywhere in the world. Different kinds of Internet scams and frauds are prevalent but there’s really one hoax that’s rising nowadays; and that is Microsoft Support scam.

This is a supposed call from a fake Microsoft support specialist, offering you help to fix your computer. The computer user will receive calls informing them that there ISP discovered a serious virus attacking their system; thus Microsoft support specialist was being contacted to tackle and reach out the issue. The security professional from Microsoft will usually run a scan on your system to identify what kind of computer virus present in your device. And once the scan is done, and the serious problem is now on hand, the tech support will then offer to solve the problem for one $250 and sometimes even more and you have nothing to do but to sit comfortably in front of your computer waiting for the repair to finish.

All these tactics are not new to us; however it continuously grows due to the presence of cheap labor and cheap calls outside U.S. Some users are even fighting back in order to record the information regarding the modus operandi of the scammer as well as its identity.

The tactics commonly used by the scammers are really intended to fool their prey and those unsuspecting users. First, the scammers or fake Microsoft support specialist will reach the user with confidence, speaking to their suspected victim using technical words informing them that they are in great threat of a serious virus attack.

Scammers will represent themselves as a specialist from a certain department of Microsoft. While both are in connection with each other through the phone call, scammer will now threat the user with different kinds of error messages that often indicates virus infection on the device. Usually, these errors are general just like log file.

Scammers will then instruct the victim to run DOS command and confirm the unique ID of the victim’s system. Although this process may sounds like an excellent proof for a certified tech support staff, the scammer will now have the chance to read the numbers displayed on the screen of the user. They will then instruct the user to confirm generic IDs for file extensions which will make your system more vulnerable to threats.

After that, you will just find yourself logging their system remotely and perform the tests instructed by the scammer. And later on, find yourself on a PayPal page paying the supposed Microsoft support specialist for the services rendered not knowing that everything is just a hoax and you are the victim.

 

Enhancing Mobile Security Of Smartphones

There are hundreds of free and paid security apps for Android phones and tablets. But many of those offerings are of uncertain quality.

Here’s a sampling of some of the best software for keeping Android devices free of malware, managing passwords, locking up your data, and more.

Android needs third-party security apps

If you have an Android phone or tablet, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news: You’ve picked the world’s best-selling mobile operating system. Something like 70 percent of all new phones and tablets run Google’s OS. That’s a strong incentive for software developers to build cool applications for the platform.

The bad news: Android’s open architecture and popularity have made it a favorite target for malicious hackers, thieves, and other criminals.

Android’s built-in security features have never been strong, and even the latest version offers only modest safeguards for your personal data and communications. For that reason, all Android devices need third-party security apps in order to be safe. (Virtually no operating system, by itself, is safe from malicious hacking.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of Android security tools to choose from. The Google Play Store has all manner of free and commercial apps. Note, however, that some are junk — amateurish software that could cause crashes, hangs, slowdowns, or other problems.

Other tools seem to work fine — until you look at them more closely. Take, for example, some “free” virtual private networking (VPN) apps, which provide some Web-browsing anonymity (especially on public Wi-Fi) by routing your data through the VPN provider’s servers. If the service is free, how does the provider pay the bills for running the servers and buying Internet bandwidth? How does the provider keep the lights lit? A cautious person might suspect that the company is mining user data.

That said, there are many reputable companies with excellent Android security products. Some are familiar and well-respected names you might recognize from the Windows world, while others are relative newcomers who develop products exclusively for mobile operating systems.

Below, I’ll provide summaries of well-regarded security apps — some paid, others free — in five essential categories:

  • Antivirus/anti-malware suites
  • Password management and encryption
  • Lost or stolen device recovery
  • VPNs
  • Secure file-wiping (to delete personal data when you’re selling or trading in your device

Windows 10 OS

As with any product that’s still in development, running Windows 10 Technical Preview has risks. The safest and easiest way to install and work with the preview of the next Windows is within a virtual machine — here’s how.

VPCs are not only safe and simple to set up — you can run them on just about any operating system. And in this case, both Windows 10 Preview and the virtual PC software are 100 percent free. Best of all, running in a VPC, Windows 10 Preview presents essentially no risk to your primary (host) system. It’s as if Win10 were installed on its own, separate, physical PC!

The three major steps to get everything going

These steps assume that you don’t have virtual-PC software already installed. As with that earlier Windows 8 article, we’ll use Oracle’s VirtualBox. Not only is it free, but it’s highly capable and relatively easy to set up. (Note: VirtualBox is updated frequently. If you already have it installed, now is a good time to get the latest version.) The steps are:

  • Download and install VirtualBox on a standard PC;
  • Use VirtualBox to create a new virtual machine that’s optimized for running Win10 Preview;
  • Download Win10 Preview and install it on the new virtual machine.
  • Before you begin, some important preliminaries

The requirements for running Win10 Preview inside a VirtualBox VPC are relatively modest. The vast majority of today’s PCs, running any current version of Windows — Vista, Win7, or Win8 — will likely meet or exceed the minimum specifications.

Here’s what you need:

  • At least 3GB of system RAM: Win10 Preview needs at least 1GB of RAM, VirtualBox needs about another 512MB, and the host system typically needs at least another 1GB or so. Add a skosh more memory for shared system functions. It’s better to have more than 3GB of RAM — the typical PC sold today comes with 6GB to 12GB. (To quickly check your system’s installed memory, click Start/Control Panel/System. In the System section, look for the heading “Installed memory [RAM].”)
  • A minimum 30GB of available disk space: Win10 Preview needs about 25GB of free space plus another 4GB or so for the Win10 installation file — but as with RAM, more free drive space is always better. (You will, of course, get that space back when you delete the Win10 VPC.) The Win10 virtual machine doesn’t need to reside on your primary (C:) drive, but this will make the setup process a bit easier.

Hardware-virtualization support: Almost all PCs sold in recent years feature built-in, hardware-level support for the kind of virtualization used by VirtualBox (and similar VPC/VM products). But older systems might not have this needed feature.

Backup Software For Free- Not From Microsoft

The ideal backup routine should be reasonably easy to set up and as automated as possible. Windows 7 offers a reasonable backup tool, and Win8 has a much better one; but there are also non-Microsoft backup apps that are both more powerful and easier to use. Here are three good options.

Of course, you also need to know that your backup system is completely reliable. I recommend considering the three backup apps discussed below because they’re more versatile. Two of them have more flexible scheduling options than Windows backup tools, and all of them give more control over where you store backups. They can all create incremental image backups, which let you use one backup for both Windows and data. Moreover, they include filters that can control which files are regularly backed up.

Of course, no backup is truly free. You’ll want an external hard drive, connected via USB or your network. But that’s a small price compared to what a data-recovery service, described in the May 9, 2013, “Hard-drive crash! A tour of a data-recovery lab” Briefing Session will charge to restore data from a crashed drive — if they can restore the data at all.

There’s one problem that virtually all backup programs have when working with external drives. They assume that the drive will be connected to the PC 24/7. That’s certainly the most convenient way to keep your data safe — you simply set a schedule, and your data is archived automatically. Unfortunately, a backup drive that’s always plugged in isn’t completely secure. For example, the same power surge or ransomware that destroyed your original data might also take out the backups.

Cloud-based backup services solve that problem — it’s a solution I recommend for people who just won’t back up (say, a certain teenager). But cloud-based backup is usually slow and, in the long run, expensive. So the focus for this article is on local backups to an external hard drive. I’ll also note how scheduled backups work when the external drive isn’t available.

Best Options To Enhance Your Web Connections

Most computer users are getting fast web connections nowadays to make sure that they are having the fastest Internet speed that they can use for their day to day operations and other activities, either it is about business or even to personal tasks that needs use computer devices to make everything easier. But getting a web connection isn’t a guarantee that you can really go on visit any sites you want, download any programs and applications you wish to have, or load anything under the sun in as fast as you expect it to be.

That’s mainly because even if you are already connected to the Internet, you can still encounter several problems because there are numerous factors that can affect the connections you have between your computer system and your ISP (or Internet Service Providers). There are also other things that can obstruct the flow of Internet to your own connection causing you to receive only a very little amount of web connections to your system than what you supposed to get.

The Internet speed is very insufficient to supply the demand from your computer, thus you will encounter problems like you have a slow connection, or you cannot run a certain program or application very well using your own computer and with the web connections that you have.

If you are among those people who always experience this kind of Internet problems, then you got to find ways to resolve and manage the issue as soon as possible because if you will just take the problem for granted because you think that it is just a minor issue, then think again. A slow Internet connection can definitely affect your entire performance and if you’re into business, it can really affect your daily productivity and effectiveness because you cannot work properly on the things that need to be done because your web connections are very slow.

Luckily, there are already plenty of techniques and tricks that you can utilize to enhance your web connections that can easily be done even without the help of an expert technician. You can do these different methods by simply following the tips below:

Limit The Number Of Websites That You Will Open

Limiting the number of web pages that you will open all at a time is one best technique to enhance the speed of your Internet. With the presence of multiple web browsers in your system that enables the user to “tabbed” browsing, users can now load different web pages at once for as much as they want. Most users also did not know that this practice can slow down their web connections since your computer system will have to deal in opening all of these web pages at the same time.

Clean The Registry

Another best step that you should make if you want to enhance your web connections is to clear out your registry from all the unwanted files and entries that are stored in there. Removing those unnecessary data will let your system to have enough storage space for the new programs and applications that you want to load in your system.