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End of The Line For Windows XP Is Coming. What Are Your Options?

Baltimore Computer RepairEveryone mark your calendars, Windows famous operating system XP will cease to be supported by Microsoft on April 8th, 2014. What this means is that Microsoft will no longer release patches or provide any public support in anyway. Are you currently running XP? If so then an upgrade might be worth checking into.

There are some strong arguments that upgrading now would be a good idea. Once Windows XP goes unsupported, then it will become a huge security risk that hackers will be able to crack, and Microsoft will do nothing about it. Using XP after it is unsupported will be incredibly risky and could potentially lead to your data being stolen or you computer becoming corrupted.

Another problem will be that 3rd party software will stop being developed for XP. This leads to users not able to use new software since it won’t be properly designed for outdated technology. For instance, the antivirus you use might not be supported since the company that created it won’t feel obligated to continue to support XP.

So you have a Windows XP machine and are looking to upgrade and stick with Windows. You have two options, going with Windows 7 or Windows 8. Windows 7 is a fantastic operating system, but is quickly losing market share with retailers who will mainly be carrying Windows 8. Windows 7 is still available, but not on every new computer. Windows 8 is a viable option, but has a steep learning curve to it, especially though who are upgrading from XP.

Or you could choose to do nothing, which is an option, but not recommended, especially if you’re a business owner. Businesses who still use XP should be looking into upgrading Windows and training employees soon. Plus businesses will like that new versions of Windows was programmed with security as the focus, where XP it was more of an afterthought. Many residential homes have multiple computers running older technology. Replacing these machines either outright or with a Windows upgrade could become costly and time consuming. Their are estimated stating that around twenty-five percent of all Windows users will still be on XP.

I recommend people start looking into upgrading soon, either to Windows 7 or Windows 8. of the two options Windows 7 would be an easier transition from XP since Windows 8 carries more of a steep learning curve. Plus they both have their advantages being more reliable, better security, and quite a bit faster. Also, Windows have outlined that they will support these operating systems for many years.

Either you use XP or you know someone that does and knowing this information is important to stay protected with your technology. You still got some time but it’s important to start planning now before your XP machine.

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Backing Up Your Business: Data Where To Begin.

Baltimore Computer Repair ServiceA disaster recovery plan is critical for the health of every small business but, only 25% of the businesses I encounter have a plan in place. Personally, I Feel this is because business owners don’t have a clear idea on what needs to be done; not knowing where to begin, they put off building a disaster recovery plan. A good Plan starts with backing up Business Critical Data.

 So Just What is Business Critical Data?

Business critical data includes information your business could not recover if it were lost. Any small business disaster recovery plan should focus on keeping this irreplaceable data safe. That data might include:

  • Customer information
  • Email correspondence
  • Financial records and information
  • Sales and shipping records
  • Insurance, vendor and employee contact information
  • LAN and WAN Network diagrams and IT vendor service level agreements
  • Telephone service level agreements
  • Drawings or Specification documents
  • HR records
  • Video or audio records
  • Procedures and Policies
  • Quality and product tracking records
  • Inventory records
  • Certificates and Licenses
  • Security information
  • Manuals, books and other products created for and by your business
  • Offsite storage indexes which include what is stored off site, where it’s stored, and when it was update.

Now you have a idea of what Business Critical Data is you can begin putting together your Disaster Recovery Plan.

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Microsoft Office Lost Your Product Key and Need To Re-install?

Perry Hall Computer RepairHave you lost your product key?

Wondering how you can get a new product key for a Microsoft Office suite? Then please read on. This tale of woe might be what you are looking for!

We recently had a customer with a system that had a catastrophic hard drive failure and it was resolved after all hope was lost along with the illegible product key on the CD Case..But I digress….

Very often people might realize that they have lost their product key only when they have to re install a copy of Microsoft Office or some other top selling software package. It is only with the product key that one can register their product and receive updates and patches for the same. This happens either after you format your entire system or after upgrading your operating system. You may have misplaced the CD case or the box or if you had purchased it online, you might have deleted the purchase confirmation email. Whatever the reason, you just cannot find the number. But don’t worry you can always get a new product key without much trouble. All you have to do is get the help of the Microsoft support services.

How to obtain a new product key for re installing Microsoft Office suite?

Getting a new product key is simple and can be done in a few simple steps. Follow the steps given below to obtain anew product key for installing any software or re installing Microsoft Office suit

  1. To start with, select the Microsoft Office Suite from the Start option on the task bar, and then open any office program like Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel.
  2. From the menu bar, select File and then click on Help option.
  3. Next, select the Activate Product Key option.
  4. From the window that pops up, select the Use the Automated Phone System to Activate option.
  5. Here, choose the nearest location to where you stay and then select Next.              
  6. On the next screen will be given the Microsoft tech support phone number for your area. Note down this number and dial it to talk to a customer care representative who will be able to help you with the necessary procedure for getting a new key.
  7. But before you make the call, keep ready any elements that you might have with you such as the box, the CD or any related mails you may have.

In addition to this, you can dial the Microsoft tech support phone number for any other queries that you may have.


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Tips To Keep Your PC Safe From Disaster and Protected

computer-repair -baltimore-county-pc-crashHere’s some simple tips that can keep your computer safe from disaster and protected on the web.

1. Use Windows update regularly to keep your operating system safe and running smooth.

2. Scan your PC with Secunia PSI to find important patches for other installed programs.

3. Install a reputable antivirus program and keep it up to date.

4. Prevent hackers from accessing your computer by enabling the Windows firewall.

5. Enable system restore to help undo unpredictable changes to your computer.

6. Backup your important files to an external drive.

7. Use an online backup service to protect your important files from local disasters.


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Laptop Cooling – It’s Getting Hot in Here! Maintenance Tips for Your Laptop

dell-laptop-fire-baltimorecomputerfixThat hum your laptop makes? You know,  that annoying hum inside your laptop that grows louder with time.  Or maybe it’s a persistent clicking or whirring sound from the fan.  Perhaps the  laptop’s fan is not audible at all and instead the computer gets very hot and even shuts itself down.  All of these symptoms could point to a laptop fan failure — and it’s critical to get it checked out.

Should the fan begin to fail then the hard drive, as an example, may sustain damage.  This can result in slow performance, data loss and eventually a hard drive crash. Laptop fans provide an essential function the cooling of the internal components,

laptop_dust_heatvent_Baltimore_Computer_FixLaptop fans should be kept clean and sometimes an intensive clean-up can rectify fan problems before they worsen.  We recommend that our clients clean their laptop vents at least once every few months.  The there are usually at least two vents.  One on the bottom for taking in cool air and another on the side or back for exhausting hot air.

Using compressed air to clean out these vents can be  helpful in reducing dust inside the computer, and therefore increasing airflow.   If you use canned air it’s best to spray in short bursts so that no condensation forms inside your computer.


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Real Life Disaster Scenario- Pre-Loaded Software and Your Restore Disc

 computer-repair -baltimore-county-pc-crashScenario: A Customer will call him “Bill” purchased a new computer 3 years ago and had the option to get Microsoft Office pre-loaded for $95 no disks or purchase Microsoft office for $199 of Microsoft Office with the disks and install it himself.  “Bill” went against the advice of his pc technician and ordered the pre- loaded version saving a few bucks. Fast forward 3 years and his system has suffered a severe crash before calling for support decides to use his system restore disk and restore the system to day one.  “Bill” had a backup of all pertinent files but since Microsoft Office wasn’t included on the restore disk “Bill” was without a way to use Excel, and Outlook two essential tools for his business.

Pre –loaded versions of Office is basically a version that is installed from a OEM cd and assigned a valid product use license key. They are not included on any restore cd because they are an option not typically included on a system by default.

It is important to have a backup of your system not just a restore disk. One way for this to happen is to have a system image created on a back-up hard drive.  By doing this you will have another option if the system crashes and you have installed programs such as Microsoft Office, QuickBooks etc.. It makes a system crash like the one “Bill” suffered a lot less painful.


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Computer Repair : Replace my PC or Repair it? Let’s Explore

We_Can_Help_Nottingham_PC_RepairSo what’s the real cost of replacing my old computer with a new one?

While up front a couple hundred dollar repair bill for your computer may look less desirable than spending a few hundred more for a new computer, take into account all the things you don’t know about your current computer that you just assume will be the same in a new one.  When you lay it all out with some real dollars applied, the cost to repair will almost always be less expensive.


A great example of this is Microsoft Office.  We see hundreds of people a year come into our Perry Hall Computer repair shop and have no idea if their version of Microsoft Office came with the computer or if they bought it afterwards.  Most of the time, if your computer came with software pre-installed you are not legally allowed to transfer that software to another machine.  Some software that you bought separate of the computer will allow you to install it on more than one machine.  Do you know what software you use to send email, create documents, organize and edit photos, or perform other tasks you do on a daily basis?  Also, keep in mind that some older software won’t run on newer machines, so even if you’re legally allowed to install it on more than one machine that doesn’t mean you will be successful in doing so.  How long might it take you to learn how to use the new version of whatever software you use? The learning curve from Office 2000/2003 is huge when switching to Office 2010. Estimated Cost$100-$300

Your files and settings?

You’ve been using your current computer for years.  Do you remember all the passwords and settings you used to configure email accounts and other software when you first got it?  Do you know the location of any files (documents, pictures, videos, etc) on the old computer so you can transfer them to the new computer?  How long will it take you to transfer the data from the old computer to the new computer?  How much will it cost if you pay someone else to do it?  How will you know if everything has been transferred correctly?  Those are just a few of the questions you should ask before assuming everything is going to magically move from your old computer to the new computer. Estimated Cost $65 and Up.


Above all, before going forward with computer repair or replacement, be sure to get all the facts first. Our Nottingham, Maryland Computer Repair Shop will give you an estimated cost of repair and include both labor and parts. Then you can decide whether repair or replacement is the best route.  

Note: Typically it is our recommendation that if the cost of the repair exceeds 50% the cost of a replacement computer the client should consider replacement while factoring in the cost of software, data transfer ect..
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Connected PC Solutions – Offers affordable, Flat Rate computer repairs in Baltimore, County Maryland

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Examples of our Flat Rate Pricing:

In Shop Repairs – $79.00 + Parts /  In Shop Virus Removal $89.00 /