How Refurbished Computers Save You a Bunch (and Get You a Better System)
Refurbished computers are almost like an insider secret – you can get great system specs for a fraction of the price. It’s how many families are meeting their back to school needs and upgrading their old systems, complete with warranty.
There’s one hot tip these people know: a refurb is NOT the same as used. You’re right to avoid those 2nd hand computers you see on Craigslist or Gumtree because there’s a reason that person is selling it! It’s probably slowed to a crawl, making weird noises or flat out broken in a way you’d never discover until too late. Refurbished computers are the complete opposite. They’re computers that have been given a new life, usually with a comprehensive repair, or sometimes they’re brand-new computers that were returned with a small problem like a hard drive failure, so we swap it out and sell it at bargain prices. Occasionally, the computer was even returned simply because the buyer changed their mind, but it’s still essentially brand-new (it might still be in the box!).
Quite often, refurbished computers start their life as business machines, built to the latest specs with business-grade components. When the budget or lease says ‘replace the computers’, that’s what the business does, whether the computers need it or not. There’s nothing wrong with them and they’ve likely been babysat by a corporate IT department who kept them in perfect condition every day. These are great machines that are still plenty fast for home use, both desktops and laptops. Plus, because business-grade components are more durable than the consumer ones, the entire system has been built to last longer and perform better, often up to several years without a problem. Rather than send these impressive machines to landfill, we check and replace necessary components and re-install a clean operating system. Next, we put them through a stack of verification tests, then pack them up ready for their new home. When you talk to us about buying one, we’ll always make sure you get a system that not only keeps up with your needs now, but gives you breathing space for the next few years too.
What are the benefits?
- You save a LOT of money: You get yourself a great computer that’s been set up and checked over by an expert technician, for significantly less than the cost of buying new. Add in the fact that when you score a refurbished business computer you’re also getting more durable, higher-quality components that will last you for years longer than the off-the-shelf consumer model, it’s a clear win. We always recommend that when you see a refurbished deal that’s got you smiling, you act fast – it won’t sit around waiting for you!
- Covered by warranty: A warranty is always included with our refurbished computers, giving you value plus peace of mind. It’s your guarantee that buying refurbished was a great decision. Problems are extremely rare since your computer has been through stringent checks, but if anything pops up that’s giving you trouble, we’ll fix it fast. Forget the delays and hoop jumping you might get with your other warranties, we stand by ours with rapid action.
- You’re saving the environment: Fewer machines end up in landfill and fewer resources are used for unnecessary manufacturing. When you consider each computer requires a certain amount of precious metals to be mined, plastics to be created, packaging created from multiple materials and all the associated flow on effects of shipping, refurbishment is the right choice for the future. While you might not personally see the environmental impact of your decision to buy refurbished, rest assured the planet appreciates it!
Are they reliable?
Some people think that refurbished computers are more likely to break, when in truth, in some cases they’re actually more reliable than brand new. Manufacturers have an expected failure rate, a percentage of computers that go straight from the factory to buyers who discover their expensive new system is dead-on-arrival or breaks within weeks. A refurbished computer has already stood the test of time and it performed without missing a beat. By the time it’s gone through our checks and repairs (both required and pre-emptive), a refurbished computer is better than new.
If you need a better computer on a tight budget, give us a call at 210-549-6477.
HP Recalls Batteries for Notebook Computers and Mobile Workstations Due to Fire and Burn Hazards
This recall involves lithium-ion batteries for HP Notebook computers and mobile workstations. The batteries were shipped with or sold as accessories for HP ProBooks (64x G2 and G3 series, 65x G2 and G3 series), HPx360 310 G2, HP Envy m6, HP Pavilion x360, HP 11, HP ZBook (17 G3, 17 G4, and Studio G3) Mobile Workstations. The batteries were also sold as accessories or replacement batteries for the HP ZBook Studio G4 mobile workstation or for any of the products listed above.
Consumers should immediately visit www.HP.com/go/batteryprogram2018 to see if their battery is included in the recall and for instructions on how to enable “Battery Safety Mode” if their battery is included in the recall. The website provides consumers instructions on how to initiate the validation utility to check their battery and what to download if their battery is included in the recall. These batteries are not customer-replaceable. HP will provide free battery replacement services by an authorized technician.
HP has received eight reports of battery packs overheating, melting, or charring, including three reports of property damage totaling $4,500 with one report of a minor injury involving a first degree burn to the hand.
Best Buy and other stores and authorized dealers nationwide and online at www.Amazon.com, www.hp.com and other websites. The batteries were shipped in notebook computers and mobile workstations sold from December 2015 through December 2017 for between $300 and $4,000. The batteries were also sold separately for between $50 and $90.
HP Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif.
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SAPC Upgrades offers many quality computer repair services.
WannaCrypt is a ransomware program targeting Windows. On Friday, 12 May 2017, a large cyber-attack using it was launched, infecting more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries, demanding ransom payments in the cryptocurrency bitcoin in 28 languages.
It was being spread primarily by phishing emails (most commonly links or attachments) and as a worm on unpatched systems.
The attack affected Telefónica and several other large companies in Spain, as well as parts of Britain’s National Health Service, FedEx, Deutsche Bahn and LATAM Airlines. Other targets in at least 99 countries were also reported to have been attacked around the same time.
WannaCry is believed to use the EternalBlue exploit, which was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to attack computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems. Although a patch to remove the underlying vulnerability for supported systems (Windows Vista and later operating systems) had been issued on 14 March 2017, delays in applying security updates and lack of support by Microsoft of legacy versions of Windows left many users vulnerable. Due to the scale of the attack, to deal with the unsupported Windows systems and to contain the spread of the ransomware, Microsoft has taken the unusual step of releasing updates for all older unsupported operating systems from Windows XP onwards.
Shortly after the attack began, a researcher found an effective kill switch, which prevented many new infections and allowed time to patch systems. This significantly slowed the spread. It was later reported that new versions that lack the kill switch were detected. Cyber security experts also warn of a second wave of the attack due to such variants and the beginning of the new workweek.
As always, be sure your Windows is up to date. XP users should consider upgrading where possible. The vulnerabilities for that operating system will not go away. Don’t click links in an email. Don’t open file attachments.
And, our longest running advice; back up regularly. You can back up to the cloud, or another drive. Programs like Macrium Reflect can Image your drive essentially restoring everything at any time.
This is a public service security announcement for all users of computers running any version of Windows.
We have confirmed that a serious virulent ransomware threat known as WannaCrypt0r/WannaCry has affected Windows computers on shared networks in at least 74 countries worldwide, with 57,000 reported individual cases being affected. And according to the analysis team at Kaspersky Lab, that number is growing fast.
Once one computer on a network is affected, the malware infection easily spreads to other Windows computers on the same network, shutting down entire government agencies and national infrastructure companies. Hospitals across the UK were being forced to divert patients and ambulance routes as of Friday afternoon, and several utility companies across Europe reported infection across their computer networks according to BBC News.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a kind of malicious script or software that installs itself on your computer without your knowledge. Once it’s installed and running, it will lock down your system and won’t allow you to access any files or programs on that computer. Usually, as in this current WannaCry exploit, it will alert you to the lockdown with an impossible-to-ignore pop-up screen which informs you that your computer is being held for ransom. To unlock your system and regain access to the computer being held hostage, the lock screen informs you that you must purchase an unlock tool or decryption key from the hacker.
Where Did This Threat Originate?
In this case, Microsoft has been aware of the vulnerability since March 2017, when it published a Security Bulletin covering the potential risk. According to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, early indicators seem to point to the attack originating in China, but more information is needed.
How Can You Tell If Your Computer Is Infected?
The most obvious way to tell if your computer has been affected is if you are seeing a ransomware pop-up screen when you start up your computer. But because we don’t know how long the malware sits on your computer or network, not seeing this pop-up isn’t necessarily an indication that you haven’t been infected. The bottom line: if your Windows computer has connected to a shared network, such as those found in schools, public places, cafes and businesses, and you don’t have complete control over every computer on that network and haven’t been keeping Windows up-to-date, your computer may be infected.
How to Protect Yourself From the Vulnerability
According to Microsoft a fix for this vulnerability was released on March 14th for all affected versions of Windows. If you are running Windows and have automatic updates enabled you should be okay. If you don’t and haven’t updated recently you should update to the most recently released version immediately. It is important to note that unsupported versions of Windows, like XP, did not receive this security update. Those systems should either be isolated or shut down.
Please pass this along to your friends and family. Those that are less technical may not have updates auto-enabled, and may need a helping hand updating their operating system.
Windows Defender tops AV-Test zero-day malware charts for the 3rd straight month
The recent test reports of Security firm AV-Test reveal that Microsoft’s Windows Defender has scored 100% for the 3rd consecutive month when tested for the zero-day malware protection. AV-test tested Windows Defender against current online threats, which involved accessing known malicious websites or e-mails so as to test if the security product is able to ward off attacks practically or not.
AV-TEST Product Review and Certification Report tests for Windows 7 (January and February 2017) and Windows 10 (December 2016) show Microsoft doing a great job and scoring 100% in zero-day malware checks. Here is the analysis.
Windows Defender does a good job for Windows 10 & Windows 7
Not long ago, Windows Defender was so mediocre that it was only considered as the baseline metric in third-party tests. However, analysis of the recent AV-test reports will tell you that Windows Defender has improved significantly in the past 12 months.
For instance, let’s compare the AV-test report for Windows 7, for zero-day malware protection in the past 12 months. In July and August 2016, the Windows Defender scored 95.2% and 86.1% respectively while for the same test conducted this year in January and February, it scored a perfect 100%.
Analyzing the results of the third-party suites, some of which charge you money to use them, the likes of AVG Antivirus Business 16, G Data Antivirus Business 14, Intel Security McAfee Endpoint Security 10.2, Seqrite Endpoint Security 17.0 were found to be trailing Microsoft.
On the other hand, Bitdefender Endpoint Security 6.2, F-Secure Client Security 12.30, Kaspersky Lab Endpoint Security 10.2, Kaspersky Lab Small Office Security 10.2, Sophos Endpoint Security and Control 10.6, Symantec Endpoint Protection 14, Symantec Endpoint Protection Cloud 22.8 and Trend Micro Office Scan 12.0 were found as effective as Windows Defender, all scoring 100%.
For Windows 10 users
Comparing the AV-test report for Windows 10, for zero-day malware protection in the past 12 months. Back in March and April 2015, the Windows defender scored a poor 88.9% and 88% respectively. Whereas, in November and December 2016, it scored 97.9% and 100% respectively showing a remarkable improvement.
Third-party suites like AVG Antivirus Business 2016, Bitdefender Endpoint Security 6.2, G Data AntiVirus Business 14 and Intel Security McAfee Endpoint Security 10.2 were found to be less effective dealing with zero-day malware protection when compared with the Windows Defender.
While, F-Secure Client Security 12.2, Kaspersky Lab Endpoint Security 10, Kaspersky Lab Small Office Security 5, Seqrite Endpoint Security 17, Sophos Endpoint Security and Control 10.6, Symantec Endpoint Protection 14 and Trend Micro Office Scan 11 were at par with the Windows Defender, all scoring 100%.
Can you consider Windows Defender against top third-party antivirus suites
The results from the AV-tests shows that Windows Defender has improved a great deal in moving from the lower bottom levels in the last 6-12 months. Although it has still more ground to cover before it can challenge the top security vendors who offer a better overall protection, you can surely rely on Defender to provide more than average class protection.
Creating disk images lets you restore Windows and all your imaged disks and partitions to a previous working state from compressed copies you have created and kept updated on external storage media, quickly and probably without technical help.
You can recover from:
– a failed disk drive (restore to a new one)
– ransomware (which encrypts your disk)
– user error
– unrecoverable problems from failed updates to problem programs
– unbootable PC (hardware faults aside)
Images also act as a full backup- you can extract files too.
You can even use images to help you move more easily and quickly to a new PC.
Imaging can even help you sleep at night knowing you have a second chance.
I recommend and install on every computer I service Macrium Reflect (free) as a good robust solution and more reliable than some others. It’s
– more feature rich
– more flexible
– more reliable
than Windows Backup and Restore system images.
There are other such programs, free/commercial, some with simpler interfaces, but Macrium is one of the most robust and reliable.
How long does it take?
SSD+ USB3 – maybe 15 mins
HDD + USB2 – maybe 40-50 mins
That’s with little personal data, few programs installed.
– of course, depends on how much you have on C:
(You can and should image all your partitions and disks)
You need a backup medium – I recommend a 1tb external drive. This will vary dependent on the number of images you keep, I recommend keeping 3 images of each computer you own. So is only a rough practical guide.
Some comment that system restore isn’t always reliable; if it works and solves the problem, great. But sometimes restores won’t work or fail. And of course, a restore point only covers a limited number of aspects of the system. That’s where disk imaging comes in.
I can assist with setting this up and showing you how to do it.
How to avoid tech support scams
If you fall for it and download whatever software the crooks give you, they can then secretly track everything you do on that device — just waiting for you to enter any password or payment information that they can steal.
On top of that, once you give the scammers remote access to your computer, they can then hold it ransom until you pay them a large sum of money — which may or may not actually get you your device back.
These scams have become such a big threat that the FTC now has a page on its site dedicated specifically to informing consumers about tech support scams. And since it can be difficult to determine whether an update or alert is legitimate, the FTC has provided some tips on how to spot this type of scam, how to avoid it and what to do if you think you’ve been a victim.
Here are some common tactics a scammer may use to try to get money and/or sensitive information from you:
- ask you to give them remote access to your computer and then make changes to your settings that could leave your computer vulnerable
- try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program
- ask for credit card information so they can bill you for phony services — or services you could get elsewhere for free
- trick you into installing malware that could steal sensitive data, like user names and passwords
- direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number and other personal information
What to do if you get a call from someone claiming to be from tech support:
- Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
- Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number, when they’re not even in the same country as you.
- Online search results might not be the best way to find technical support or get a company’s contact information. Scammers sometimes place online ads to convince you to call them. They pay to boost their ranking in search results so their websites and phone numbers appear above those of legitimate companies. If you want tech support, look for a company’s contact information on their software package or on your receipt.
- Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.
- If a caller pressures you to buy a computer security product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up. If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly and ask for help.
- Never give your password on the phone. No legitimate organization calls you and asks for your password.
- Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, and then report illegal sales calls.