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DIY vs. Repair Shop

by Andy Thompson on November 14, 2014

Why is it that asking for help can be an overwhelming obstacle?  The reality is… there is a certain shame that comes from seeking help when we don’t know something.  No one wants to admit to being lost and needing directions and no one wants to feel like they are not smart enough.  Plus, we all want to join the ranks of DIY – Do It Yourself.  To be real, this takes assessing the situation and knowing if the issues are outside our expertise.  When we are simply spinning our wheels, it’s time to take it to the professionals.  The next task is to get good and reliable service that will lead to a real solution.  This article segues from some of our recent articles that focus on assessment of PC problems.  We’ll cover this in brief and provide links.  The main impetus for this article is to shine some light on PC repair technicians that are not trustworthy and to strongly emphasize how our users can benefit from available tools and services including those offered by our CompuClever support team.

Here is the article menu du jour:

  • Background:  We’ll start with the background story of one man’s experience with a not-so-honest repair shop.
  • Assessment:  How to assess what’s up with your PC.
  • What to Do:  Get the right tools and utilize the services that are available.
  • Repair Shop Pointers:  When all else fails and you need to take your PC to a paid professional.

Background

In today’s world, certain buzz words can cause a great deal of stress and concern such as “terrorism” and “virus” (in this case PC virus or “malware”).  We all look on those responsible for the creation of these as being deplorable.  And then there are those that reap a reward by taking advantage of the fear generated from these malevolent and disruptive acts.  In our example we highlight a true case that came directly to us when a PC repair shop accused our software of infecting a user’s PC.  Let’s start with the details.

In the spring of 2013 we received correspondence from a Consumer Protection agency on behalf of a private individual who had been charged a fee for services incurred by a PC repair shop (name withheld).  The specifics begin with a frustrated man who was unable to get an online connection and decided to take his computer to a repair shop.  The technician there said he needed a new hard drive in order to back up his data and that they would need to reinstall his operating system.  This was all done to the excessive tune of $340.

What strikes us as interesting up to this point, and we will put aside how purchasing an external HD can be done fairly cheaply and how it was likely unnecessary to reinstall the OS… what really is of concern is that it could have simply been something related to configuring his online connection.  What is the most outlandish aspect of this story, and how it specifically came to our attention, was that the repair technician had stated that CompuClever Systems had purposefully placed malware on his computer by planting a cookie without the user’s knowledge or consent while he was online.  There was also an accusation that CompuClever software was on his system by means of a silent install.  In the end, this individual put his trust in the repair shop technician, made all these changes to his system and paid a fee far in advance of what was required.

Assessment:

Let’s just say upfront – there are grey areas when determining causes of PC issues.  When it comes to examining symptoms it is a challenge to determine if the culprit is a virus or something else.  Certain conditions such as a slow performing computer, popup messages, applications slow to open, are common to both malware related causes or items referred to as PUP – Potentially Unwanted Programs.  The best thing to do is to retrace your steps and find what the most recent changes were leading up to the issue.  If you can identify some software that was installed on your system you can then begin to examine it more closely – was it from a trusted source or is it a known virus?

Trusted Source: If you have done an examination and find that there are PC cookies on your system be advised – this is not an indication of a virus or malicious program.  As our readership is aware from our previous article on this matter, it is not possible to infect a computer using PC “cookies” – they cannot run programs that deliver viruses or malware to your PC and they cannot access your PC.  We recommend removal of cookies from unknown sources and keeping those from trusted sources.

A definite way to tell the source is a trusted one is to check credentials.  For example, CompuClever Systems is certified as a Microsoft Partner and an Intel Software Partner.  As such explicit user consent is required to install software certified through Microsoft and Intel.  In order to get this kind of Microsoft and Intel certification the software must not contain any virus, malware, or other forms of destructive code.  This means the software undergoes rigorous and thorough review.  Not only does this level of software require user consent to install, all certified software must completely uninstall at the request of the user and at his/her sole discretion without any confusion or any complications.  So… if the disgruntled user in our background story was in the least bit uncertain about CompuClever software he could simply uninstall it.  Or, he could have contacted us and we could assist him in uninstalling it.  What other software companies can uphold this level of support and service?

It is vital to use proper discretion when installing items to your PC.  As we have pointed out in previous articles there are cases where you want to install one program and you end up getting a bundle of apps some of which include annoying popup messages.  Reading the fine print as you go from one page to the next during the install process is critical.  In most cases you have the option of selecting only the program you want to install.

Virus / Malware: Without going into too much detail we will revisit this area briefly and encourage you to look more deeply into the differences between virus/malware and other PC annoyances and unwanted programs.   For more information on this see our article: Virus vs PUP. We also have covered “foistware” – the annoying software that has been forced onto your PC.  See this article for more information.

Basically, a virus is a type of malware (malicious software program), that is installed on your system without consent and will replicate itself in whole or in part.  It behaves in a manner that can be thought of as an infection by targeting one or more areas of your PC.  You can often expect to experience harmful activities or negative impacts such as monopolizing system resources (disk space and CPU), gaining access to private data, sending out spam content, corrupting data on the system, and displaying messages on the screen (popups).

The following are definite and true characteristics of a virus/malware infection:

  • Inability to remove cookies or software from a computer system.
  • PC security software and/or firewall become disabled.
  • Computer starts acting on its own.

If something has gotten onto your system without your knowledge or consent you have some options available to you: find a solution online, try out a trusted virus removal product, get available technical support (by phone), or… take your PC to a repair shop.

What to Do:

Free Solutions:  Do you have anti-virus protection for your PC and is it active?  Recent Windows operating systems provide anti-virus protection (see article: Virus vs. PUP).  There are also other third-party anti-virus tools available and some are even free.  We encourage you to go online and research this by using customer reviews and finding out whether there is a solution that meets your needs.  We are confident that in the very least anti-virus tools will not steer you in the wrong direction by placing the blame on legitimate software.  The shortcoming here is that they may not get the job done that is specific to your problem.  If so, you can take it to the next level… get some support that is available to you.

Available Support:  CompuClever offers a TuneUp Service for performance related issues as an alternative to taking your PC to the repair shop.  What you get is a one-on-one direct PC tuneup service through phone and remote desktop connection.  With remote desktop connection we are able to view and run your desktop environment from our offices to assist with your issues.

Note: This is a free service offered to our full license users.  We will also be offering this to any and all PC users for a fee so as to assist with solutions related to PC performance.   We emphasize here that our service is focused on PC’s that perform poorly and require optimization – at this time we do not repair PC’s suffering from virus/malware infections.

This service is conducted by our senior technical support specialists and our aim is to solve your PC performance issues and enrich your experience and knowledge of our software solutions with our assistance.  The list of symptoms and issues we address include the following:

  • Uninstall unwanted programs:
    Review installed applications with you the customer.  Research and remove unwanted or suspicious applications.
  • Remove junk:
    Use PC Clean Maestro’s scan to remove files considered junk that clog your PC.
  • Optimize startup and shutdown:
    Review the StartUp Manager and disable unnecessary or unwanted startup apps.  Use “System TuneUp” from PC TuneUp Maestro to optimize both StartUp and Shutdown speed.
  • Remove browser add-ons:
    Review the add-on list(s) for the default browser and disable unnecessary or unwanted add-ons.  This could result in the removal of annoying popup messages.
  • Reset and optimize browser settings:
    Reset your browser to factory default settings.
  • Registry cleaning:
    Use PC TuneUp Maestro’s registry cleaning function to clean and optimize the registry.
  • Registry defrag:
    Defrag and optimize the registry using PC TuneUp Maestro’s registry defrag feature.
  • Hard Drive defrag:
    Perform a deep defrag on your hard drive using PC TuneUp Maestro to free up space and improve PC performance.
  • Privacy and security scan/clean:
    Use PC Clean Maestro to clean privacy and security items.
  • System and Internet optimization:
    Use PC TuneUp Maestro’s System & Internet Optimization functionality.
  • Check and ensure Windows Update is turned on:
    Check to ensure that the mechanism is turned on so you receive Windows updates.

If your PC issues are outside our scope of items listed here we will give you our recommendation of taking your PC to a computer shop for hands on repair.  We would also give advice on options related to necessity of repair service and whether the cost of repair is reasonable versus purchasing new.

PC Repair Shop:

Be aware – PC repair shops can rip you off!  An easy way to make a quick buck as with our example in this article is to take advantage of a situation where it is difficult to know the root cause of an issue as well as the actual repair effort that went into the fix.  As with any professional that gives you advice and offers their service, you have to ask the right questions up front before any work starts.  Here are the questions you need to ask:

  • How much do you charge per hour?
  • How many hours do you estimate this will take to fix?
  • Do you guarantee your service?
  • If you run into difficulties can you call me ahead of time to get my approval?
  • Can you save my data?

What you should expect to get in terms of answers are:

  • Cost per hour: somewhere in the range of $50 – 100 per hour.
  • Time it takes: somewhere within 2-3 hours.  They may need to actually see your PC beforehand but they should give you some estimate of time.  If not – do not employ their services.  If they do need more time for repairs then agreed upon, make sure they contact you ahead of time and get your approval.
  • Guarantee of service: Yes.  Somewhere in the range of 30 – 90 days.
  • Call for approval when faced with situations that are beyond the agreed estimate: Yes.
  • Save data: Yes.  In extreme situations where the PC cannot be salvaged and the files can be accessed, they can be saved to external storage.

Other tips:

Keep in mind that you may have to pay a minimum fee – usually the first hour – just for them to look at your PC.  It’s worthwhile to check into this as well.  Also, check to see what the reputation of the company is beforehand.  AND, as with any professional services – get a second quote for purposes of comparison.

Note: After you get an estimate take a step back and think.  How long have you had your PC/laptop?  What are the advantages of repairing this versus buying a new one?  Keep in mind that entry level PC’s and laptops are becoming lower than $500.  And with entry level computers we are talking about specifications that exceed what was offered three years ago!

In Summary:

At CompuClever we are committed to creating PC utility software that improves the performance of your PC and we also offer support designed to address PC issues related to performance.  You can save yourself time, money, and headaches by looking for solutions that address your PC issues rather than getting stuck with a bill from a disreputable PC repair shop.

We will continue to provide story lines like this that benefit all of us and we will describe them in a manner that is within reach of everyday computer users.  If you have some ideas of topics you would like us to cover, email us at: newsletter@compuclever.com


 

We’ve mentioned before in previous articles how there are some companies of poor repute that offer “free” stuff.  But what you actually get is something not entirely free.  At best you get a free time trial of the product; at worst you get a free app bundled with a bunch of add-ons that you didn’t want resulting in a clogged system with popup ads or other system modifications you didn’t ask for.   CompuClever provides applications that have some functionality enabled for you to try for free.  If you want the full program you can upgrade.  There are no tricks or deceptions.  We want you to try our products and see if they meet your needs.  As you do have one of our paid programs we encourage you to look at our entire application suite and try out anything that looks of interest.

CompuClever offers four programs including: PC TuneUp Maestro, PC Clean Maestro, Ultra eBook Reader, and Ultra File Opener. We will provide a description of each product, introduce what each product is capable of, and highlight the free functionality that is available with that product.

PC TuneUp Maestro

PC TuneUp Maestro is the most advanced suite of PC maintenance software tools available. PC TuneUp Maestro uses advanced error analysis and resolution technology to fix, clean, and optimize your system.  You get a stable and reliable PC that runs at peak performance like when you first began operating it.

  • One-Click PC Error Repair and Optimization
  • Enhanced PC Performance and Stability
  • Faster Windows Startup Time
  • Free Product Updates and Technical Support

Free function list

  1. Free scan: PC TuneUp Maestro includes registry, defragmentation, system tune up and Internet tune up scans. You can scan your system to see results to better determine state of PC health and need for optimization.
  2. Hard Drive CleanUp: Provides easy access to the onboard system tool for your PC. Hard Drive CleanUp works to free up space on your hard disk by searching for files that you can delete safely.
  3. BackUp & Restore: Many of the PC TuneUp Maestro functions involve an automatic backup before making changes. With the BackUp & Restore section of PC TuneUp Maestro you can view all your system restore points, manage them, and create new ones.
  4. Launch Internet Explorer without Add-Ons: From the Fix & Clean toolset, this feature enables you to run a temporary Internet Explorer session without any add-ons, toolbars, or Browser Help Objects. This provides a good preview of how your browser can perform without all these extra items. (Read more about how to optimize your IE…)
  5. Windows System Tools Management: The Windows System Tools tool provides easy and quick access to the most useful and relevant Windows System tools such as the Control Panel, Programs and Features, Task Manager and more.
  6. StartUp Management: This feature provides access to the applications that launch when you boot your system so you can optimize your computer’s startup performance. From the list that is provided you can enable or disable items and you can choose to remove items. (Read more about managing your startup programs…)
  7. Unknown File Extension Search: When you come across a file that your PC cannot handle, the program provides you with access to a comprehensive database of file extensions and matching viewers. You will be prompted automatically when your PC encounters files it can’t open. (Read more about file extension support…)

PC Clean Maestro

Your PC can store unwanted “junk” files and traces of your personal information including passwords, credit card information, and email / chat communications.  As a result your PC runs slower and exposes you and your family to identity and security theft. PC Clean Maestro removes unwanted files and it eliminates confidential information so your PC is clean and safe.  It also comes equipped with an Uninstaller tool to help you identify and remove applications you no longer need or use.

  • Remove Junk Files to make your PC clean
  • Prevent Theft of Your Online Identity
  • Safeguard Your Private Information
  • Uninstall Programs Cleanly
  • Free Product Updates and Technical Support

Free function list

  1. Free Scan: PC Clean Maestro includes privacy, security and junk file scans. You can scan your system to see results to better determine state of PC health and need for optimization.
  2. Clean Junk Files: You can run the Scan and Clean Tool and remove any and all files that are considered junk.
  3. Uninstall Programs: You can run the Uninstaller tool which is specifically designed to display a list of all the programs installed on your system for the purpose of uninstalling, repairing, or changing the way the features are installed.

Read this past issue of our newsletter for an in-depth understanding of how to clean your PC using these free features.

Ultra File Opener

Ultra File Opener (UFO) is the ultimate viewer for opening PC files.  Hundreds of different file types are supported, including images, text files, archive files, audio and video files, and data files.  Equipped with Hex Decoding technology, UFO is capable of opening files of any type.  You can view images, text files, and the contents of archive files.  You can also choose from a number of functions for each of these file types including printing, converting, and extracting.  UFO also enables you to manage the default file association so each file format is handled by the program you want.

  • Open over 280 different file types, including images, documents, data, and archived files.
  • Convert files to commonly supported file types for easy sharing.
  • Make beautiful prints with multiple printing templates.
  • Free product update and technical support for one year.

Free function list

  1. Open and View: You can view images, text files, and the contents of archive files. UFO supports hundreds of different file types, including images, text files, archive files, and data files. With Hex Decoding technology, UFO is capable of opening files of any type
  2. Manage File Associations: You have the option of selecting which files you want the program to open by default. That is to say, any time you double click on the file type you have selected, UFO will open.
  3. Submit a File for Analysis: In the event that you encounter a file format that you cannot open we would like to assist you. CompuClever will analyze the file for the purpose of including it in our list of formats we support.
  4. Partially Downloaded Files: Internet browsers create partial files for the purpose of storing a file that was in the process of being downloaded but was interrupted or left incomplete. UFO can examine the contents of these types of files and extract the original download URL if available. With UFO, you can also restart the download or get directions on how to resume to completion. (Learn more about partially downloaded files generated by Chrome, Firefox, and IE…)
  5. Portable Executable Files: The Portable Executable (PE) format is a file format for executables, object code and DLLs, used in 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows OS. UFO enables you to open and view Windows executable file types by providing access to the contents of the file. You can open, find, and export the decoded resource files available with executable files. (Learn more about PE files…)
  6. Unknown File Extension Search: When you come across a file that your PC cannot handle, the program provides you with access to a comprehensive database of file extensions and matching viewers. You will be prompted automatically when your PC encounters files it can’t open.

Ultra eBook Reader

Open an eBook directly on your PC or device and enjoy the ultimate PC reading experience. Ultra eBook Reader supports 12 of the most popular file types.  You can view your eBook using a variety of display modes.  If you have touch screen support you can use pinch-to-zoom and multi-touch functionality.  You can navigate using bookmarks and with the table of contents, as well as taking advantage of the search functionality. You can create bookmarks and link to them in the Bookmark pane.  You can even print your eBook.

  • Instantly open and read eBooks, PDF, comics, and other document file types.
  • Convert eBook and document files to text files for easy sharing.
  • Print eBooks and documents to make real paper copies.
  • Free product update and technical support for one year.

Free function list

  1. Open eBooks Files:  Open and read eBooks, comics, PDF and document files.  Ultra eBook Reader supports 12 of the most popular eBook formats.
  2. Manage File Associations:  You have the option of selecting which files you want the program to open by default.  That is to say, any time you double click on the file type you have selected, Ultra eBook Reader UFO will open it.
  3. Bookmarks Management:  Bookmarks are a convenient way to mark favorite sections in the book or the place mark where you left off.  You can display the Bookmarks pane and click on a bookmark link to jump to the specified page.
  4. Find Tool:  Ultra eBook Reader comes equipped with a search tool.  You can search for and locate any word or group of words in your eBook file.
  5. Submit a File for Analysis:  In the event that you encounter a file format that you cannot open we would like to assist you.  CompuClever will analyze the file for the purpose of including it in our list of formats we support.
  6. Unknown File Extension Search:  When you come across a file that your PC cannot handle, the program provides you with access to a comprehensive database of file extensions and matching viewers.  You will be prompted automatically when your PC encounters files it can’t open.

Read this article to learn more about how you can use Ultra eBook Reader to enhance your reading experience using your existing computer.

In Summary:

At CompuClever we are committed to creating PC utility software that improves the performance of your PC.  We also offer programs such as our Ultra eBook Reader for the everyday user that makes day-to-day computing more rewarding.  We combine our products and our service to offer a professional package to meet our user’s needs.  Look for our program updates such as a new and improved Uninstaller for PC Clean Maestro, as we continue to improve our offerings to you.

We hope this article has helped gain some knowledge about our product lines and stimulated your interest of trying some of the aforementioned free functionality to make your day-to-day use of computers more enjoyable and productive.  We will continue to provide story lines like this that benefit all of us and we will describe them in a manner that is within reach of everyday computer users.  If you have some ideas of topics you would like us to cover, email us at: newsletter@compuclever.com


 

Virus vs. PUP and how to remove both

by Andy Thompson September 12, 2014

We are going to tread carefully and examine two areas of PC ailments. We will strive to make this more understandable and to provide effective and free solutions for both. If you look at how Microsoft deals with these categories you will find that they admit these two areas are not mutually exclusive and certain terms are used interchangeably. For our purposes we want to be more definite so that we can pinpoint what steps you need to take in order to deal with these items if you are or ever have experienced them. This article also assists you in preventing them from happening, provides free tools, and outlines the steps to get rid of both types.

Read the full article →

Improve Startup

by Andy Thompson August 12, 2014

Why settle for a computer that is slow? Maybe we come to expect that our PC is just not as fast as it used to be – but why? There are a number of reasons why you are getting poor performance. We are going to narrow it down in this article to one area of concern: Startup time. Typically, we download applications and they will by default run when you start your system. Do you need these to be running every time you start the computer? It is not likely. There is no advantage to having them run prior to when you need them. Software programs are designed to start very quickly. So let’s use your available tools to trim this list of startup items. If there is still an issue with performance we can try out a few other available tools.

Read the full article →

Cookie Time

by Andy Thompson July 9, 2014

There is one type of cookie that the Cookie Monster would not find appealing – computer cookies. But what are they and what are we to do with them? We are going to expand on what is known as “web” or “browser” cookies that are stored on your PC as a result of online browsing. The benefit to keeping these on your system is minor and they can be used in ways we do not wish. As a result, we pass on instructions on how to safely get rid of them.

Read the full article →

Spring PC Cleaning

by Andy Thompson June 6, 2014

It’s spring time. What a wonderful time of the year. We tend to feel energized from a restful winter season and it’s time to take on chores that were neglected or “to do” items that set the stage for our busy endeavors ahead. One of these tasks is cleaning your PC so that it runs efficiently. Believe it or not this process does not have to be equivalent to tearing one’s hair out and it can be very fast using the right tools. In the end you may have two important chores accomplished – a better organization of personal files and dead weight that we can refer to as “clutter” is removed.

Read the full article →

Tech Support Fraud

by Andy Thompson April 9, 2014

Have you ever played that “Whac-A-Mole” game? It’s the one where moles pop up out of a hole and you bonk them on the head and down they go. It doesn’t matter how many you bop on the head – they keep popping up. That’s pretty much how it is with fraudulent phone call scams. There have been some fines handed out to companies and individuals engaged in these scam activities, but they still keep popping up again and again. If you have ever had one of these phone calls you would agree – the callers are convincing.
We’re going to start off with a description of how this scam works followed by legal action taken against the scammers, and recent activity. Following this we will offer advice in terms of what to do when getting called and what to do if you or someone you know has already had a call and been the victim of technical support fraud.

Read the full article →

Facebook Uncovered

by Andy Thompson March 12, 2014

There is a real and strong allure to joining the crowd on Facebook. Its popularity and set of features makes email look like VHS in comparison to DVD. Make no mistake – this is a sticky subject. There are many criticisms that have surfaced and we will make the attempt to sort through these. We don’t want to get too bogged down with all the information and ultimately each person has to weigh out the pros and cons to make a decision for themselves.

Read the full article →

Hack, Hack

by Andy Thompson February 13, 2014

Yes it is cold and flu season. But we are referring here to another kind of viral risk – online hacking. It has again crept into the news and hit some of us right in the pocketbook. We explore two recent hacks that have had an impact on the financial security of millions of users. While not much information is released as to how these attacks occur – perhaps so as to not promote further offenses – we can focus on the effects of these attacks and what can be done to protect ourselves. A counter measure to these breaches is the onset of new technological security advances. It can be a challenge for us to keep up with it all but we endeavour to understand it and explore the options.

Read the full article →

Looking back and moving forward

by Andy Thompson January 17, 2014

During the year 2013 we covered a wide range of topics and moving forward we think there are many suggestions and recommendations that can be used in dealing with PC issues you may be facing right now.  So, we embark on a two-part adventure: to review the best of our articles and to highlight what PC tips and tricks you can take advantage of immediately.  What better way to step up to the plate when asked: What is your New Year’s resolution?  We hope it’s to take charge of your computing needs so that your PC works for you!  This summary of our top PC stories for us is a celebration of a year’s correspondences to you our readership.

Read the full article →