Category Archives: Anti-Virus

The Gadget Man – Episode 162 – Working From Home During the Coronavirus / Covid-19 Crisis

Such are the strange times we live in, many of us now face working from home for the first time along with caring for our children.

I have worked from home extensively over the past 20 years and I thought I would try and share some tips on how I have been able to work effectively in a home environment.

This morning I spoke to James Hazell at BBC Radio Suffolk about the trials and tribulations about working from home. Listen in to the stream to hear what I had to say and especially the advice at the end.

Stay Safe and Healthy

If you have been given a laptop to use at home, then there is a danger that you may find yourself sitting in an armchair trying to work and you will soon find this isn’t going to work well.

  1. Set up a work environment in a spare room or even your bedroom where you can away from disturbances and distractions as best as possible.
  2. Find a comfortable chair and if possible sit near a window so you can get fresh air while you are working.
  3. Set up your computer, so that is a semi-permanent environment and will allow you to separate work from home and give you a place to ‘go to work’
  4. Get dressed, you don’t go to your place of work in your pyjamas, so again, getting dressed gets your prepared for work.
  5. Take plenty of breaks. If you have children at home, you will need to be able to give them attention. If you can set specific times during the day to stop work, get up and walk around and make yourself a drink.
  6. Try to begin and end your work-day as you would if you were going to your place of work. Let your employer know that these are your work times. Setting these boundaries will mean that you aren’t on-call 24/7.
  7. Most home-working requires an internet connection. Over the coming months, our communications links are going to be under a great deal of strain. The video streaming services are going to be used extensively and this will put a great deal of pressure on internet connection speeds. Home internet is very different to work internet due to what’s called ‘contention ratios’, so you should be prepared for slower than normal connection speeds.
  8. Ask your employer to provide you with a mobile device that can be used as a ‘tether’. This means that should traditional broadband experience issues, you can fall back onto connecting to the internet by connecting via a ‘personal mobile hotspot’.
  9. Make sure all of your internet-connected devices are up to date. This means ensuring anti-virus is updated where applicable and any operating systems updates on your computers, set-top boxes, TV’s, IpCams etc are updated
  10. Keep all of your battery-powered devices charged up, but don’t leave mobile phones plugged in all of the time as the batteries don’t work as effectively if they all continuously charged.
  11. Use a trusted VPN connection to secure your broadband connection further. I recommend Ivacy VPN. Using a VPN or Virtual Private Network secures your connection.

Finally, regardless of whether you are working at home or not, you WILL find the number of scam calls you receive will increase, mainly because you will find yourself at home so much more. NEVER give out any personal bank details over the phone including PIN numbers or passwords. Ignore all automated calls and just hang up. These people care little for the health or financial wellbeing of their victims. If in doubt, speak to a trusted friend or member of your family before taking any action that will cost you money.

Stay Well and see you soon!

Matt
www.thegadgetman.org.uk

Why Is My Computer So Slow?

A slow computer can be frustrating to use. Whilst PCs tend to slow down naturally with age, there are many individual factors that can cause a computer to perform slower. If you’ve noticed recently that your computer is taking ages to load, here are a few possible causes that could be worth looking into and what you can do to get your computer running normally again.

Computer is Slow

You need to restart your computer

This is a fairly simple cause, but one that many people overlook. If your computer is often left in standby, there could be background processes piling up. In most cases, whenever you close a programme, certain processes from that programme continue to run. These can start to slow down your computer as they build up.

You may be able to manually end these processes in task manager, but because it’s not always easy to determine which processes are which, shutting down your computer can be a much easier way of ending these background processes. Ideally, you should shut down your PC at least twice a week – this can also be important for downloading the latest software updates.

You need to declutter your computer

Too many files on your computer could be causing you to run out of hard drive space. Once your hard drive gets to 95% capacity you’ll notice that it starts to seriously slow down. However, many computers may start to slow down well before this simply because data is being stored in the wrong place (defragging your computer can solve this).

There are all kinds of ways to declutter your computer. Deleting unnecessary files is one way to free up space and help speed up your computer. When doing this, you may be able to move certain files to an external hard drive or the cloud so that they’re not taking up space on your computer’s hard drive. You can also find ways of freeing up application memory, such as deleting unwanted programmes and browser extensions – you can follow this link for more information on freeing up this type of memory. Defragging your computer could also help.

You need to upgrade your RAM

Even by clearing out your computer, you may find that certain files and software take up too much memory. Cheaper and older computers tend to suffer from this problem more and may not be built to meet the demands of today’s complex and flashy programmes (the likes of Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop are some of the biggest popular culprits).

Upgrading your RAM could give you more memory to work with, allowing you to use these more demanding programmes – you can find out more information on this here.

There are too many start up programmes

Does your computer take ages to load when initially starting it up? This is likely to be the result of having too many start up programmes. These are programmes that automatically load up when you turn on your computer.

Changing the settings of a few of these programmes so that they don’t automatically open up could help your computer to load more quickly during start up. It’s worth allowing certain programmes to automatically start up like anti-virus software, however you probably don’t need Spotify or Steam to automatically load up.

Your hard drive is faulty

A slow computer could be the result of a hardware issue. Hard drives can naturally wear over time and may often cause a computer to act slowly. It may only take two to three years of consistent use for this to happen. Hard drives can also be damaged if you happen to drop your computer or spill something on it. Dust may also accumulate in fans and cause a hard drive to overheat.

In all cases, this is something that may require the help of an IT technician. A new hard-drive may be the only solution – if you catch the problem early enough, you should be able to salvage all your files, allowing you to transfer them to a new hard drive and continue on as normal.

You’ve got a virus

It’s possible that there could also be a virus on your computer causing it to act slowly. If you’ve also noticed a rogue programme on your desktop or weird ads appearing in your browser, it’s possible that you could have malware installed – this is a malicious programme that will install itself on your computer and usually try to generate income by clogging your browsers full of ads. Some malware may even disguise as anti-virus software and tell you that you have viruses on your computer when it is in fact the cause of the virus!

A robust security programme should be able to detect and block these viruses. That said sometimes a virus may sneak past, especially if it’s a new virus and your anti-virus software hasn’t been updated recently. Taking your computer to a technician could help you to get to the bottom of the issue.

Your anti-virus software is being overprotective

Occasionally, anti-virus software can be to blame. Such software can use up a lot of processing power simply by scanning your computer in the background.

You may find that it does scheduled scans at certain times of the day – changing the time of these scans to late at night when you’re not using your computer could prevent them from interfering with your day-to-day computer usage. Make sure that you also don’t have two conflicting anti-virus programmes installed that may be working against one another, resulting in your computer acting slowly.