VOIP

August 31, 2010

inQuo Computer Repair in Salt Lake City, inQuo Computer Repair in Salt Lake City, inQuo Computer Support in Utah, inQuo Computer Repair in UtahSo everyone knows that the internet has permeated much of our lives.  One area that this holds very true is voice communications.  Many people have abandoned their old land-lines from the phone company for mobile phones and internet based telephone service

VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol.  When you send an email, download a song, or view a webpage, all the data is sent using small packets.  VOIP works in a similar way, breaking down your conversation into small packets and sent along with all the other internet traffic.

There are several ways to communicate over the internet using VOIP.  A popular commercial option called Vonage allows you to connect a regular telephone to a device that plugs right into your internet connection.  Vonage gives you all of the same features you had with your old phone, but their service is usually less expensive.  The quality of the phone calls is very good, and with cool features like multi-number forwarding and voice mails that are delivered into your email box, you may find the switch to be an easy one.

Another way to communicate over the web is to use Skype.  Skype has a similar commercial service like Vonage, but you can also use their service for free when calling other Skype members.  It is free to join, and does not require any special hardware to be purchased, though if you have a webcam, you can do video telephone calls!

Many businesses have switched from expensive and hard to maintain telephone switches to VOIP systems.  With a new telephone switch costing several thousand dollars, VOIP is a great way to get all the benefits of a multi-line telephone system without a huge cost upfront.

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Product Spotlight: Clear Wireless Internet

August 24, 2010

You may have seen the commercials on TV, or walked past the kiosk at the mall, but what exactly is Clear Wireless Internet service?

Clear is a company that offers high speed internet in a mobile application using 4G wireless technology.  The company offers several different plans and options including mobile wireless internet, telephone services and home internet access.

Mobile wireless is provided by using laptop air cards or usb wireless connections.  Home internet service is made possible by a wireless access point, similar to a cable or DSL modem.  You can plug a switch or router into the wireless modem to share the internet connection to multiple computers in your home or office.  Telephone service uses VOIP technology (Voice Over Internet Protocol), the same technology many companies use.

The benefits:  The service is priced fairly reasonable, and the download speeds can match traditional broadband in certain area’s.  Mobile internet is a great tool for businesses and home users.  Now you can surf the internet all over town.

The drawbacks:  Some area’s may not have the best coverage.  4G is a relatively new technology, and some of the bugs may not be worked out completely.  VOIP relies on a steady internet connection.  If there is an issue with the internet, your phone will also be down.

As we have said before, 4G is going to change alot of ways you access the internet and digital services.  Clear Wireless Internet is a good example of that.  With a 14-Day window to test the service before getting locked into a contract, you can easily test Clear for yourself.


How to Tune Up Your Computer

July 27, 2010

inQuo computer repair in salt lake city, inQuo computer support in salt lake city, inquo computer repair in utah, inQuo computer support in utah, inquo laptop repair in salt lake city, inquo laptop repair in utahEvery three thousand miles, you dutifully take your car into the shop for an oil change.  Most people were taught to perform regular maintenance on their cars when they were first handed the keys to the old family sedan.  By changing the oil, keeping the various fluids at the right level, and changing the filters, your automobile will run better and last a lot longer.

The same is true for your computer.  The longer you use a computer the slower it may become.  Many times, people think they need a new computer when all they really need to do is to perform some simple maintenance.

System and Software Updates

It is important to keep both your operating system and the software running on your computer up to date with the latest patches and upgrades.  Many times, the security of your system can be at stake if the software running on it is not updated regularly.  Both Microsoft and Apple operating systems regularly release updates.  Other programs can usually be updated by clicking the HELP menu inside the program itself.

Clearing the Cache

A cache on a computer is a place where temporary files are stored.  Many programs, including internet browsers, will store temporary files on the hard drive.  This can help the program fun faster, and save personalized settings. If the cache becomes too large, or the files become corrupt it may cause problems.  A good program to automatically clear the cache is CCleaner.  Easy to use and free!

Security Scans

Viruses, malware and spyware cause many issues for computer users.  They can slow the computer down, and cause issues with the security of your computer.  It is important to keep your antivirus software up to date, and run regular scans with it.  We also recommend using a program called Malwarebytes.  Free and easy to use, Malwarebytes can remove many threats that may be missed by antivirus software.

Hard Drive Optimization

As you install programs and save files on your hard drive, it can begin to get cluttered.  A defrag can help organize all of the files and programs that are physically stored on the hard drive.  This can help with the speed of running programs, searching for and opening files, and many other functions of your computer.

All of these maintenance steps should be done on a monthly basis.  By taking an hour a month to run the updates and security scans, your computer will run faster and last longer.


Defragging Your Disk

July 20, 2010
inQuo Computer Support in Salt Lake City, inQuo Computer repair Salt Lake City, inQuo computer support in Utah, inQuo computer repair in UtahIt seems like everyone knows that you should Defrag your disk on a normal basis.  Heck, even my grandma knows that.  She does it on a daily basis, as she sits and watches the entire process very closely.

But do you know why?

Hard drives are basically thick disks, with many moving parts inside of them.  As you save files and programs to the hard drive, your operating system keeps track of the location on the actual disk those files are saved.  But eventually, this process begins to break down, and the files are scattered all over the disk.  This can lead to crashes, slow startups and freezing.

It is a good idea to perform a Disk Defragment once in a while.  Not every day, like grandma does, but maybe once every couple of months.  The defrag process can take a long time, so it is a good idea to run defrag when you will not be using the computer.  The steps below illustrate how to run this utility for Windows users:

  1. Click Start–All Programs–Accessories–System Tools–Disk Defragmenter.
  2. Highlight the (C): drive and click Analyze.
  3. The Analyze tool will determine if the drive should be defragmented.  A window will appear stating that the drive should or should not be defragmented.
  4. Click the Defragment button to start the process.
The process can take many hours, and it is not recommended to use your computer while the program is running.  Once the process is complete, reboot the computer before you start using it again.

Fret not Mac users.  You can also resolve many issues with a good old fashioned defrag.  Mac users may be affected by more issues when your drive starts getting 60% full or higher.  There is a great software program that can make the defrag process easy enough for grandma to use, called iDefrag.


Why Windows 7?

July 13, 2010

inQuo Computer Support in Salt Lake City, inQuo Computer repair Salt Lake City, inQuo computer support in Utah, inQuo computer repair in UtahMuch of the hoopla by the Microsoft marketing team talks about all the benefits of upgrading to Windows 7.  But is it all smoke and mirrors?

Speed – One of the great things about Windows 7 is the vast improvement over Vista when it comes to using the memory on your computer.  Booting up, switching applications and browsing the internet are all significantly faster with Windows 7.

Compatibility – One big complaint with Vista was the lack of support for many of the software programs people used in Windows XP.  Windows 7 makes the process of installing software and hardware much easier.  More software programs can be used with Windows 7, and installing hardware like printers and cameras has been streamlined.

Hardware Specifications – Windows Vista required a huge investment in hardware, including more memory and a better processor.  Windows 7 can work on more Windows XP hardware, making the transition less expensive.

Search – The built-in utility for search runs incredibly fast and is very easy to access.  Simply click on the start menu and start typing your search term.  With extensive indexing, search will look within files on the hard drive, emails and compressed folders.

Windows 7 is definitely an improvement over Vista, and can be an option for improving features in XP, especially security.  Remember, be sure to back up all of your important files before performing an upgrade, just in case something goes awry.


Plugging the Holes in Internet Browsers

June 29, 2010

Everyone knows that you should use antivirus software to protect your computer, but did you know that your internet browser may be letting viruses and malware infect your system anyway?

Whether you use Internet Explorer, Firefox, or even Google Chrome, there will be vulnerabilities in your browser.  It is important to keep your software up to date with the latest security patches and updates.

  • To keep Internet Explorer up to date, use the Windows Update program that is built into windows.  Click START–ALL PROGRAMS–WINDOWS UPDATE to manually check for updates.
  • Mozilla Firefox will automatically notify you of any important security updates and makes it easy to stay current.  To manually check for updates, click HELP–CHECK FOR UPDATES from the Firefox window.
  • Google Chrome is easy to update as well.  Just click the “wrench” icon and choose ABOUT GOOGLE CHROME.  At the bottom, you will see a message that states “Checking for Updates”.  If an update is found, it will notify you.

Simply updating your web browser is not enough.  Any of the programs or “Add-Ons” you have installed inside your browser also need to be updated.  Recently, some very popular Add-On applications like Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash have created vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and Firefox.

  • To check for updates for Add-Ons in Mozilla Firefox, click on TOOLS–ADD-ONS.  Click the FIND UPDATES button.
  • Unfortunately, Internet Explorer makes it a little harder to update the Add-Ons.  Click TOOLS–MANAGE ADD-ONS.  This will list all of the Add-Ons that are installed.  Make a note of each one.  Open the following website and search for each add-on:  http://ieaddons.com/en/
  • Updating Add-Ons, or Extensions in Google Chrome is fairly easy and straightforward.  Click the “Wrench” icon in the top right-hand corner, then click EXTENSIONS.  Click the “Plus” sign next to the header DEVELOPER TOOLS.  Now click the UPDATE EXTENSIONS NOW button.

Remember, updating the security of your computer is a never-ending process.  By making sure the things you use the most are updated, you should be relatively safe.


Keeping Viruses and Malware Off Your Computer

June 27, 2010

inQuo Computer Support in Salt Lake City, inQuo Computer Repair in Salt Lake City, inQuo Computer Support in Utah, inQuo Computer Repair in Utah, inQuo laptop repair in Salt Lake City, inQuo laptop repair in utah, inquo computer help in salt lake city, inquo computer help in utahThere are lots of nasty viruses and malware lurking on the internet.  Just how can you keep your computer safe?

DO keep antivirus software installed and updated on your computer.  Although some viruses and malware can sneak past some programs, the majority of them don’t.

DON’T click on any links from emails, instant messages, Facebook, etc., even if you know the person who sent it.  Their machine may be infected and sending out fake messages to spread the virus/malware.

DO regularly update your operating system with the latest security updates.  Most Microsoft systems will do this automatically, however, you may have to approve the installation of the security updates.  If you get a pop up you are unsure is a real update, just click START—WINDOWS UPDATE to manually run the update process.

DON’T use peer to peer sharing software programs like Limewire, Bittorrent, etc.  Not only is downloading and sharing programs and music illegal, a lot of those files have viruses hidden inside of them.  Some peer to peer sharing software is actually malware in disguise.

DO run regular virus and malware scans of your computer.  Your antivirus software will probably do this automatically.  You may also want to install an additional spyware/malware scanning program.  We recommend Malwarebytes (free on www.downloads.com).

DON’T visit questionable websites.  An obvious culprit are porn sites, but other ones may include sites offering “warez” (free cracked software), foreign sites (unless you can really read what you are clicking on) and even some popular children’s sites (lots of those kid’s sites require them to download special players and programs to play the free games, installing spyware and malware at the same time).

DO perform a registry scan on a normal basis.  The registry is like the key to a map.  It holds all the information about everything on your computer, from where files are saved, how programs run, etc.  Some viruses and malware will make changes to the registry which can cause many problems.  There are several free programs out there.  We like Ccleaner (free on www.downloads.com).  It is easy to use and very affective.

DON’T think that to clean a virus off your computer, you have to reinstall the entire operating system.  This is the first line of defense for some computer professionals and companies, but not inQuo.  We can clean 99% of computers without reinstalling Windows.