Signs That Your Computer May Be Infected with Malware

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Approximately 34% of businesses take a week or longer to regain access to their data and systems once hit with a malware attack.

Malware is an umbrella term that encompasses many different types of malicious code. It can include:

  • Viruses
  • Ransomware
  • Spyware
  • Trojans
  • Adware
  • Key loggers
  • And more

The longer that malware sits on your system unchecked, the more damage it can do. Most forms of malware have a directive built in to spread to as many systems as possible. So, if not caught and removed right away, one computer could end up infecting 10 more on the same network in no time.

Early detection is key so you can disconnect an infected device from your network and have it properly cleaned by a professional.

Keep an eye out for these key warning signs of malware infection so you can jump into action and reduce your risk.

Strange Popups on Your Desktop

Some forms of malware can take on the disguise of being an antivirus app or warranty notice that pops up on your screen. Hackers try to mimic things that users may have seen from a legitimate program, so they’ll be more apt to click without thinking.

If you begin to see a strange “renew your antivirus” subscription alert or a warranty renewal that doesn’t quite make sense, these could be signs that your PC has been infected with adware or another type of malware.

New Sluggish Behavior

Computers can become sluggish for a number of reasons, including having too many browser tabs open at once or running a memory-intensive program. But you’ll typically know your computer and the types of things that slow it down.

If you notice new sluggish behavior that is out of the ordinary, this could be an infection. One example would be if you don’t have any programs open except notepad or another simple app, and yet you experience freezing.

When malware is running in the background, it can often eat up system resources and cause your system to get sluggish.

Applications Start Crashing

Applications should not just crash out of the blue. There is always a reason. Either the software is faulty, there’s been an issue with an update, or something else may be messing with that application’s files.

If you suddenly experience apps crashing, requiring you to restart the app or reboot your system, this is another telltale sign that a virus, trojan, or other malicious code has been introduced.

Your Browser Home Page is Redirected

If you open your browser and land on a homepage that is not the one you normally see, have your PC scanned for malware right away. Redirecting a home page is a common ploy of certain types of malware.

The malware will infect your system and change the system setting for your default browser home page. This may lead you to a site filled with popup ads or to another type of phishing site.

Just trying to change your homepage back in your settings won’t fix the situation. It’s important to have the malware removed.

Sudden Reboots

Another annoying trait of certain types of malicious code is to make your system reboot without warning.

This can cause you to lose the work you’ve just done and can make it difficult to get anything done. This may happen when malware is changing core system files behind the scenes. With files corrupted, your system becomes unstable and can often reboot unexpectedly.

You’re Missing Hard Drive Space

If you find that a good deal of your hard drive space that used to be open is now gone, it could be a malware infection taking up your space. Some types of malware may make copies of files or introduce new files into your system.

They will cleverly hide, so don’t expect to see the word “malware” on a file search. Instead, the dangerous activities will usually be masked by a generic-sounding name that you mistake for a normal system file.

You Run Across Corrupted Files

If you open a file and find it corrupted, this could be a red flag that ransomware or another form of malware has infected your system.

While files can occasionally become corrupt for other reasons, this is a serious issue that deserves a thorough malware scan if you see it.

PC “Processing Sounds” When There Shouldn’t Be

Most of us are familiar with those “thinking sounds” when our computer is processing something memory intensive. You’ll usually hear a type of whirring that will go away once you finish that activity.

If you begin hearing this processing sound when you’re not doing anything particularly intense on your computer, this could be a sign that malware is running in the background and it should be checked out.

Get Expert Malware Scanning & Removal

Free online malware and virus scans aren’t very reliable. Instead, come to a professional that can ensure your entire system is cleaned properly.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Should I Consider Switching to Microsoft’s Edge Browser? (Top Features)

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One of the most important applications we choose is our internet browser. When on a computer or a mobile device, we work in that most of the time because many applications are now cloud-based, so accessing them means going through your browser.

Over the years browsers have come and gone. A little over a decade ago, Internet Explorer was the head of the pack, and now that browser is retired, Google’s Chrome has been in the top spot for several years.

But just because a browser is number one today, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. One browser that has steadily been making its way up in popularity since its release in 2015 is Microsoft Edge.

Edge is the replacement for Internet Explorer, but it’s taken a while for it to become mainstream. It seems that now is its time.

Microsoft Edge recently surpassed Firefox in worldwide desktop browser market share and is now the #3 Desktop browser in the world behind Chrome and Safari. And it’s less than one percentage point behind Safari, so it is poised to jump into second place soon.

Current desktop browser market share:

  • Chrome 64.8%
  • Safari 9.77%
  • Edge 9.6%
  • Firefox 9.46%
  • Opera 2.88%
  • Internet Explorer 1.14%

Why has Edge become so popular in the last few years when it seemed to be slow out of the gate? One big reason is that it adopted the Chromium framework in 2020. This is the same background framework that Chrome uses.

This sped up the browser considerably, plus multiplied the number of extensions and add-ons that could be used with it.

Should you switch to Edge? You’ll have to decide that for yourself, but here are several great features that might make you want to give it a try.

Collections for Storing Sets of Pages

All browsers have some form of “favorites” or bookmarks to save webpage links. And these lists quickly become long and unorganized, making it hard to find what you’re looking for after a while.

Edge has a very nice feature called Collections. This allows you to save web pages in a sidebar and group them by topic. For example, you could create a topic called Vacation Planning and then save all the web pages from your trip research inside.

If there is an image on the page, that will show up to help you recognize the site. And collections are easy to access by using the “+” icon at the top of the browser.

Collections are also easy to delete once you’ve finished with them, so you won’t end up with endless webpage links, as tends to happen with bookmarks.

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Coupons

You don’t have to add a coupon app to your browser to get site coupons anymore. Edge will do this for you automatically.

If it detects that there are coupons for a site you’re shopping on, you’ll get a popup and can click to automatically try any coupons available for that site.

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This saves you from having to take the time to search for coupons on your own and ensures you don’t miss any potential savings out there.

Price Comparison

Another way that Edge helps you get the best deal when shopping online is through its pricing history and price comparison information. If you’re shopping on a website and the product that you’re viewing is cheaper on another site, Edge will let you know.

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It’s also going to provide you with a price history so you can see if this product is at its highest or lowest price related to the site you’re viewing.

This is very handy for saving money and ensuring you’re not missing out on savings by ordering the same item from a different retailer.

Security Features

There are several built-in security features to help you avoid phishing sites with malware as well as intrusive 3rd party advertising trackers.

There is a password monitoring feature that will let you know if any passwords you have stored have been involved in a breach.

You’ll also get Microsoft Defender SmartScreen protection for keeping you away from sites known to have malware or to have been used in phishing scams.

Google is sometimes criticized for lack of privacy, and Microsoft is trying to go in another direction on this. In Edge, you can choose from three tracking prevention settings to prevent as much of your personal information from being captured by advertisers as possible.

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Web Capture for Quick Screenshots

It’s easy to do screenshots and mark them up in Edge. In the browser menu, you just choose Web Capture, which will allow you to drag a rectangle across any region you like or to take a full shot of the screen, then bring that into a window if you’d like to add additional notes.

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Is Your Internet Security Where You Need It To Be?

Online security is important both at home and at work. Need some help ensuring you have the right safeguards in place? Give us a call!


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Pros & Cons of Using the Windows 365 Cloud PC

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While many companies have moved most of their workflows to the cloud, there is still a key component of office operations that is location-based. This would be employee computers.

Most companies still rely on desktops and laptops to allow employees to access critical software and as their main workstation.

This can become inconvenient if you’re doing work from one location. For example, if you work both at the office and home, in one of those places, you’ll be without your “main computer.” This can be a real problem when it comes to needing to access certain files or possibly working from a slower device than you’re used to.

Many technology companies, such as Microsoft, have an answer for this – put your computer workstation in the cloud. This is exactly what is being touted as the next big thing when it comes to Windows 365 Cloud PC.

What is Windows 365?

Windows 365 is a cloud-based PC. Your entire operating system and everything that sits on it (settings, files, software, etc.) is loaded on a cloud server instead of your own device’s hard drive. You can then access this through an online portal, and the interface will load onto your device (desktop, laptop, tablet, etc.).

Microsoft’s Windows 365 Cloud-based PC

Like other cloud-based services, Windows 365 works from a subscription plan and has different levels. Here are the current options for the business plans:

  • $31/user/month: 2vCPU, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB Storage
  • $41/user/month: 2vCPU, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Storage
  • $66/user/month: 4vCPU, 16 GB RAM, 128 GB Storage

Windows 365 can be accessed through any type of device, from anywhere, just like other cloud services. You can install applications, personalize your desktop, and do all the things you normally do on a computer. The main difference is that the computer operating system is now in the cloud.

Windows 365 Pros

Access Your Computer Anywhere

The biggest advantage is being able to use your “main computer” no matter where you are, without having to drag it around.

This can be a big advantage when traveling because you don’t have to worry about a laptop being damaged, lost, or stolen and losing vital data. You still have your PC and files safely stored in the cloud and can easily get to it from another device.

Perfect for the Hybrid Work World

Hybrid work is the new normal. Since the pandemic, there’s been a shift with more employees than ever working from home. Now many companies are planning to keep a mix of office and remote working.

74% of U.S. companies are using or planning to implement a permanent hybrid work model.

The Windows 365 cloud-based PC makes it easy to enable employees to work from home, work, or both.

Better Access to Device Security & Administration

When employees are working remotely, ensuring all their devices are properly updated can be a problem. And what happens if an employee quits suddenly and has a lot of sensitive work data on a device located in their home?

Using cloud PCs gives a company complete control of its PC assets and data. Employees log in from anywhere, but the “computer” itself is located in a cloud environment, making it easy to do things like push security updates and restrict access.

Windows 365 Cons

You Can Only Use It Online

The obvious drawback of a Windows cloud PC is that you can only use it online. You won’t have access to any data, files, or programs if you don’t have an internet connection.

This may not be as big of an issue for many people since most work is now reliant on cloud applications anyhow.

A Slow Connection Ruins the Experience

If you have a slow internet connection, then the frustration can be multiplied. Not only would this slow down a cloud app you’re trying to access but also the cloud computer you’re trying to access it from.

There is a risk when using a computer in the cloud of experiencing lag time, making it difficult to work.

There is a Danger of Service Outage

You’re reliant on the cloud provider – in this case, Microsoft – to always have the service available. Even large companies can have outages from time to time, in which case you will not be able to access your computer or any of your data stored on it.

Being too reliant on one cloud vendor is also a risk to business continuity. One way to mitigate that risk would be to ensure all data stored in Windows 365 is being backed up separately in a 3rd party backup solution.

Is a Cloud PC Right for Your Business?

There are several instances when Windows 365 offers big benefits to a company. If you’re trying to figure things out, call us for a chat. We can help you consider all angles.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Are Two Monitors Really More Productive Than One?

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When you see those people with two monitors, you may assume they do some specialized work that requires all that screen space, or they just really like technology.

But having the additional display real estate that a second screen provides can benefit anyone, even if you’re doing accounting or document work all day.

We get used to being boxed in by the screen size we have. This can lead to us struggling when trying to fit two windows next to each other or continuously clicking between layers of windows on the desktop.

Most of us have experienced clicking around to find the window we actually need in a layer of different applications. This is one of the things that eats up time during the day and that using dual screens can help eliminate.

According to a study by software developer Mavenlink, 73% of surveyed businesses say they spend over an hour per day on average just switching between different apps.

Productivity Research on Dual-Screens

So just how much can using a second monitor improve productivity? Probably more than you realize.

Jon Peddie Research looked at the benefit of using two screens connected to a desktop computer or laptop for several years. It found that overall, employees in all types of jobs can improve productivity by an average of 42%.

From three studies conducted over 15 years, it also found that between 2002 and 2017, there’s been a significant rise in the use of two monitors, with a compound annual growth rate of 10%.

The company’s namesake put it simply saying, “The more you can see, the more you can do.”

What Are the Advantages of Adding a 2nd Screen?

Do More in Less time

The biggest advantage to using a second monitor is that you can do more in less time because you’re not struggling to get to the windows you need when you need them.

With an additional monitor, you can keep programs like email always open on one screen while you work in other programs on the second screen. You’re able to work more fluidly, getting to all your apps when you need them.

Expands Screen Space for Laptops

Laptops are great for portability, especially when traveling or moving between home and work (as many employees do these days). But the more portable the laptop, the smaller the screen space.

One big drawback of using a laptop is that they will have a smaller monitor. There is also the difficulty in positioning. When using them on a desk, people will often try to prop them up, but the person is still staring down at the screen in most cases.

Connecting your laptop to a monitor can significantly improve the experience and make it like working on a normal desktop PC. You can either choose to mirror your entire screen or still make use of the laptop screen for some activities while using the larger screen for others.

Side-by-Side Comparisons Are Easier

There are a lot of tasks that require looking at data in two windows. You may be editing and comparing a finished design with the original instructions. Or you may have to pull details from notes to include in a PowerPoint presentation.

Trying to get two windows up on a single screen side-by-side can be frustrating. You may try to resize the windows just so, only to have your configuration lost when you have to maximize a screen to click a menu item or scroll.

With two monitors, you have the screen real estate you need to fully open both windows and have them right next to each other so you can easily do your work.

More Freedom During Video Calls

Have you ever been screen sharing on a video call and needed to check an email or review notes? It’s difficult to do that when everyone can see your screen. We often “sanitize” our screens (like turning off alerts, etc.) before we go into a meeting to ensure nothing that should not appear is popping up.

With dual screens, you can choose which screen you want to share during meetings, and still have apps open on the other screen that no one can see. This is a big advantage if you need to check for an email or message someone while you’re sharing your screen.

Fairly Inexpensive Productivity Booster

Purchasing another display is a fairly low investment when looking at technology. A monitor can be purchased from anywhere between $125 to $250 on average. And with a 42% average productivity boost, it can have a pretty sweet ROI.

There is also no big learning curve with this upgrade. Once the monitor is plugged in and the PC is set to see the additional screen, it’s good to go. Users can simply drag apps and documents from one screen to another as if they had one large screen.

Need Help Improving Productivity?

There are several productivity boosts that you can get using the right technology tools, and they don’t have to cost a fortune. Ask us how we can help you!


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.