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Computer Guys For Your Business

Expert online computer maintenance and repair for your business

Updated: 2014-10-03T01:05:08.784-04:00


How e-mail works ....


Last week I touched upon etiquette. This week I’ll touch on a little about how it works.

According to Darwin Magazine, the first e-mail message was sent in 1971 by an engineer named Ray Tomlinson. Until then messages could only be sent to users on
a single machine. We are still using the same email protocols today.

These were not designed for what we use it for. It was originally designed to carry messages within a closed collection of military institutions and universities. It simply was not designed for the volume that email has reached today. And that really is the problem with it.

Because of this, e-mail is considered a “Best Effort Service”. Meaning there are no
promises. Nobody guarantees the delivery of email. This is true no matter who your
service provider is. But how does it work? There are two basic protocols involved here, POP3 and SMTP.

POP3 stands for “Post Office Protocol”. This is the instruction set that sends email
from your local machine to the e-mail servers. SMTP, “Simple Mail Transfer Protocol”
is the protocol email servers use to download your email or transfer messages
between e-mail servers.

Now to read your messages you need an “E-mail Client” on your system. This is
normally a piece of software like Outlook. There are others, Outlook Express,
Netscape Mail, Eudora, Pegasus or Thunderbird are all examples of what we call an e-mail client.

These are not to be confused with web mail services like Yahoo, MSN or G-Mail. Web mail does not pull messages down to your local system. With these the e-mail client is based on their website.

The e-mail client allows you to do several things. It lets you create and send email.
It lets you send attachments like pictures and documents. It displays the number of
messages in the inbox, and it lets you choose an email to read.The large e-mail
suites offer many more features, but those are the four basic functions of an e-mail

Now when you hit the send / receive button several things happen. First, if you are not already connected it will dial up to your provider. Then it send your login info thru port 110 and then sends any mail you may have waiting to go out. When that is completed, the client then uses port 25 to query the SMTP server for incoming messages. They are then downloaded to your system.

When it works it works fine but when it breaks, it breaks. The e-mail system we have
today is taxed to the max and according to studies as much as 3/4’s of all email traffic is spam. If we were able to get a grip on spam email we would be alot better off.

(Read E-mail survival/etiquette...Here)
By Chris Kaminski,
Head Tech for Computer Guys Live

Dont' Let Congress Gut the Internet's First Amendment


Save The Internet For Small Business!!

Make NET NEUTRALITY the Law in 2007

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The Vista Dilemma


If you should talk to a tech about Vista, most will tell you to hold off for awhile. Not that there is anything really wrong with Vista, but because there is a severe lack of driver support. Many of the devices you normally use are behind in issuing new
compatible drivers.

The problem is all the big box stores are only selling Vista loaded machines. It is not uncommon to get your new computer home only to find out printers, scanners, cameras and other accessories will not work. We are also finding that Vista does not always work well in mixed network situations. We have been dealing with this since the January release.

Complicating this further, Vista is a "technology break". This means many older accessories and software simply will not work and the manufactures have no plans to update. This means you will have to buy new accessories. The situation is more critical if you purchased Vista to up-grade an existing machine. You could suddenly find that your video card is not supported. You just spent $200 on Vista and now you have to purchase new hardware.

Now, in fairness to Microsoft and the other manufactures they have made this information available. If a little time was spent reading about the compatability issues, many surprises could be avoided. Microsoft makes available on their web site a list called the Hardware Compatibility List or the HCL as we techies call it. Just Google Microsoft Vista HCL.

This list is compiled by Microsoft and only contains hardware that has been approved. A little time spent with this list can save a ton of grief, pain and money. For those of you who don't have time for fun and games, XP is still available. It will be available for at least another year, but you cannot get it at the big box stores. To get XP you will have to seek out your local computer shop (like us). They will have Retail and OEM software and will still be able to build you a new XP machine.

So, bottom line, if you have that itch to go out and get a Vista machine, be prepared for some of accessories not to work. If you upgrade, be prepared for driver and hardware issues. Most of these problems can be avoided if you first do a little homework and check the HCL. Do this BEFORE you put your money down.

Chris Kaminski is head technician for Computer Guys Live Inc., an online computer repair company based in Asheville, NC. He has been working in computer repair for the last 18 years. Visit the techs at Computer Guys Live for your computer repair and tech support.

Memory Upgrades for Vista Operating Systems


Now that Vista is officially out, many of you are dying to run out and buy it. I know that many will upgrade without first checking system requirements or system compatibility. This article is for you. When you try to install Vista, you may quickly find out that something will need to be upgraded. Most likely it will be RAM, video or both. First we will look at memory. I am talking about system memory or RAM. Before we go further, my associate says I need to write about something more important. That is the peripherals, things like mice, cameras, scanners, printers. For most of these, you will find that there are no Vista compatible drivers available. The chain stores are going to be pushing Vista systems, but be patient and wait for the hardware to catch up. Here is where you will do better talking with your small neighborhood tech shops to find out if your computer will work with Vista.For those who want to upgrade for Vista, additional memory may have to be installed. RAM (Random Access Memory) is used by the system to run applications. You can never have enough RAM. The current standard has been 512megs. But as the software becomes larger, system resources really become an issue. This is true with the new security suites like Norton or McAfee. Today, I would not consider a system with less then 1gig of RAM. You can run Vista on 512megs, but you would not be able to enjoy all the features and your system may perform very poorly.To speed up your system and upgrade your RAM, you need to know a few details. You need to find out how much RAM you have, what type/speed, and how much your system will support. To find out how much, go to your START button, right click on My Computer, then select Properties. After the dialog box opens, look down to the bottom right. You will see information for the type and speed of the processor. There will also be a number indicating the amount of RAM installed. It will read 265, 512 or 1024 gigs. On many of the mass produced machines, there may be an odd number like 448. That is because system memory is shared with the video. To find out the type and how much the system will support, check the system documentation. Check the specs in either the printed materials or check online. Sometimes there are stickers on the front. Look for something that reads like DDR XXX, (DDR400 for example), or PCXXX (PC3200 as another example). If you have never done this, or are not comfortable opening your computer, you may want to get a service technician to install the RAM. They will still need all the above information. Now we can open the computer and install the memory. 1) Unplug the power on the computer. Most motherboards still are powered, even with the power switch off. So remove the plug completely. Ok, pull the power and unplug everything that is attached to the tower. Mark them if you need to, so you can put them back.2) Lay the tower on the right side and remove the left side cover. Inside you will see many colored wires and cables. Carefully part these until you can get to the memory slots. They are called DIMM slots. There can be two or more depending on the motherboard. They will be located close to the processor (big metal fins with the fan motor). You will also see the existing memory stick.3) On each end of the DIMM slots there is a white clip. Make sure they are pushed back to the opened position. Look at your new stick of RAM. You will see 1 or 2 notches. These will match up with dimples in the memory slot. Carefully line up the stick and firmly press it into the slot until you hear it snap into place. Now, secure the two locking clips and you are done.4) Stand the system back up (leaving the cover off at this point). Plug in the mouse, keyboard and monitor. Plug in the power and fire the system up. One of 2 things will happen. If everything is alright, the system will boot like normal and you can watch the new amount of RAM count up on the screen. If this happens, then you are finished installing the RAM. Th[...]

Vista For Business


If you read my other review of the new Vista Home products you may have noticed I was not too impressed. That opinion steps up a little with the new Vista Business version.This version is where you can really see and take advantage of the many new features. Though I would like to warn you again, that to take full advantage of these new features you will need a pretty strong machine. This is especially true in the graphics dept.

First, of course, are the before mentioned security improvements. On top of that, wehave improved integration with other office technologies, phone, fax, wireless, andhand held devices etc. There is improved network capabilities, new search and collaboration tools. The goal for Vista was to greatly improve the ways a businesscan search, create, store and share its data. There is a new file sharing wizard thatallows you to assign access privileges to other users on the same computer. One ofmy personal favorites is the collaboration tool, “Windows Meeting Space”.

With Meeting Space you can connect up to 10 people in the same workgroup. Youcan share desktops, applications, and files in a common work space … And allow you to jointly edit those files. Another new feature is the way Vista will integrate with the new Windows Office 2007, which in itself is brand new and has many new features a small to mid-sized business would appreciate.As mentioned, there will be two business versions, Vista Business, $199 for the up-grade and $299 for the full version. You get all the new features except the new“Media Center”.

The second is Vista Enterprise which will not be available to us mere mortals and only available to larger organizations. Overall, if you are a small business and have security issues Vista would be a goodchoice but pricey. You will have the cost of the OS plus the cost of the hardware up-grades and the cost of the learning curve. If you are starting out brand new, you maywant to look into Vista. For the rest of us, if everything is running fine on XP then it wont hurt you to wait awhile..

Chris Kaminski is head technician for Computer Guys Live Inc., an online computer repair company based in Asheville, NC. Visit The Computer Guys Live for your secure, online computer repair and tech support.

That Surge of Power


That surge of power ....Back in 2000 we did a 10 episode television program on LBTV and one of the first segments on the first show was about surge protection. It is something so forgotten that most do not realize that this is really the first line of defense for keeping your computer healthy. For office computers, battery backup devices are a must have when the power surges hit.

What are power surges? Ever see the lights in your office suddenly go dim and then come right back on? Or may be the TV flashed when something else in the home turned on. These are examples of power spikes, and for your computer, these are very very bad. Another source of power problems are lighting strikes and summer brownouts. If your office or home computers have been subject to any of these, it is classified as what we call the walking wounded.

The computer may act fine but you can be sure something happened and that it is now just a matter of time. Power spikes and brownouts can damage several parts including the processor, memory, chipsets, harddrive, motherboard and the power supply to name the major components.

How do you protect yourself? Well the answer is simple; surge protection devices. These DO NOT include those so called surge strips you get in the hardware store. Contrary to popular belief, these provide NO protection at all. These are so cheap there is no way they could respond fast enough to absorb the spike and they do nothing to even out a brown out. If this is what you are using then replace it now.

What your office computer network needs is called a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). These are actually self contained batteries that charge off your house current. If the power spikes they absorb and filter it. If the power fails, most give you 15 minutes of power to correctly shut everything down. In the case of brownouts they make up the difference so the computer has the proper voltages for it components. As far lighting strikes, there is nothing that can protect you totally but to cause damage it would have to hit extremely close.

What UPS do you need? This really depends on your setup and how much power you will need. For the average office or home, get one around 550/300VA (volt/amps) and you can expect to pay from $50.00 to $100.00. Plug all your computer devices into this to insure that your system is protected. This is cheap insurance if your computer system costs hundreds or thousands of dollars. This also includes the protection of your business data that can be damaged with power surges.

Contact Computer Guys Live Inc. for additional help and online computer repair for your home or business.

Is Your Office Safe?


Many businesses handle client's financial data and confidential data. There are many security issues to address because of liability. And if you are a business I want you to stop and think for a second. Is your business network secure online, or in your own office?

Many businesses don't have security and handle this sensitive client information that can include account info, financial info, and medical info to name a few. Knowing this, look around your office, do you use wireless, do you have a network, how is your file security, what is your intrusion protection like? Do you have off site backups? That is the short list, now ask yourself the bigger question. What is your liability if this data is lost or stolen?

Here is a partial check list:

1) Is everyone in your office required to login and do they use strong passwords
2) If you're on a wireless network have you taken the necessary steps to secure it (check our article on our free tech tips weblog for steps to secure your wireless). Does your wireless signal extend outside your building?
3) Do you use anti-virus and firewall protection, are they configured right?
4 ) What do you use against spyware and intrusion?

That is just for your computers and network but what about the data itself?

1) Do you store it on disk or on the computer (this makes the above questions real important). 2) Are you using file encryption?
3) In case of theft or damage to you have off site backups?

Like I said these are the short lists and any one of these can put you out of business. But what are you to do? You can read up and do this all yourself but in reality this isn't going to happen, you are to busy with the business of running your business. This is one of the rare occasions where you would be well served to call in a professional (like us). But this article is to make you aware of the dangers around you and that you should address them before you find out the answer to that liability question.

Contact Computer Guys Live Inc. for online computer security advice and professional tech support.

Defrag the hardrive to improve performance at work


Defragmentation is the one simple step your business can take to improve your computers performance and it is probably the one step that never gets done. When was the last time you defraged your computer? If you answer "what is defrag", then chances are it has never been done. What is Defrag?

Well, as you work with your files and pictures, Windows breaks these files into pieces and stores them all over the drive. It also keeps an index of where these pieces are located. What happens is the more you work, the more the files are broken up. So it takes the Windows Operating System more time to search for these fragments until it has enough to present you with the file. As these pieces become smaller and more scattered it has an effect on your system performance. And as hard drives become larger, this fragmentation of data slows the computer's performance considerably.

Fourtunately the defrag process is really easy:

1)First go to the Start button then Control Panel.
2)In the Control panel select Administrative Tools.
3)From the Administration tools window select Computer Management.
4)Now select Disk Defragmenter from the right hand window panel- high-light the drive you want to defrag (normally C:)
5)Then click the bottom button that says Defragment.

What you will see is a bar that shows Estimated Usage Before Defragmentation and it will show a bunch of different color stripes all mixed up.The goal is to get large blocks of uninterupted color and you will see this happening in the bottom window- Estimated usage after defragmentation.

The larger the hard drive the longer this is going to take, so plan on doing it at night when your business is closed. There is after market software that will do this same function but you can get by nicely with the built in Windows function. You can even make this easier by using Scheduled tasks to have your defrag run at night, all you have to remember is to leave the machine on. This is also a good place to schedule your virus and spyware scans ... but make sure you schedule them to run on different nights to keep the machine from choking.

Also, disable your screensaver, if you have one turned on. Just right click on your desktop and go to properties, then screensaver, then change it to none before starting the defragmentation process. This defrag of your hard drive should increase your system's performance and speed up work at the office.

By Chris Kaminski, head technician for Computer Guys Live Inc., providing state of the art remote access tech support to the USA. For answers to your wireless connection problems,
check out our Wireless Guide for step-by-step instructions.

Computer security against data loss and identity theft


This week I was going to write about upgrading system RAM but while watching the news I saw the story about and their data theft. Last weeks big story was the data lose at the Veterans Administration. NOW .. to be clear, these were not computer security breeches but people actually carrying the data out on disk. But the point is data is valuable and this leads to computer security

This past week alone we had 5 machines that were so loaded with spyware the machines literally stalled and were unusable. Now, knowing how low the response is when we run spyware ads I know many of you are not listening. Then, when you head to the repair shop it is already too late. Add to this the cost of the repair /clean out which usually costs many times is more then the actual machine is worth.

If ever there was a case for the fabled “ounce of prevention” this is it. Anyway identity theft is the fastest growing, most damaging and expensive crime we have today. It can take up to a year to detect and by then the damage can be extensive, but with a few simple steps you can avoid it. The problem is getting you to take those steps so I’ll go over them again.

Before you go near the Internet your computer needs three types of software, first, a good anti-virus program. We recommend products like Norton Anti-virus, Trend Micro and if you are looking for a good freebie, get AVG. Now if one is good two should be better right ... wrong. This not true with virus software. Very often they will conflict and cause system performance issues.

Next you need a firewall, if nothing else use the built in Windows firewall that comes with XP Sp2, if you have an earlier version then you seriously need to run Windows updates. This is not just for the firewall but you are missing a large collection of security updates. Finally, you need a spyware scanner and you need two of these, one pro-active (scanning threats as they come in) and one that is reactive (scans for threats that are let in by hiding in something else). This is especially true if you use Yahoo, MSN, or Google search bars.

Also AOL is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to collecting and selling info on their subscribers. But they hide it well by keeping you focused on the competitors spyware they are removing. You also need two spyware scanners because neither will get all the threats and one will get what the other missed. We recommend Pest Patrol and Ad Aware. Avoid Spybot at all costs. This is just a spyware suite disguised as a scanner. Well there you have it, again. The Internet is a safe place if you take the proper precautions. Contact the pros at ComputerGuysLive for all your online computer repair. Also check out our step by step wireless connection guide.

Back up your important data


Businesses require both security and data backup to run efficently and productively. Many business owners want to save money and scrimp on data backup protection then get stuck with lost data and valuable time. Here's a case in point that happened within the last two weeks before the holidays last year.

I’ll simply call them client A. Client A runs a business that survives on shipping their product out through UPS. When we first met back in the early spring it was to fix the shipping computer. He had installed an anti-virus program and it wiped out his e-mail in box.

This is a known bug with MaCAFEE anti-virus and it was a matter of a simple file recovery. In the process of fixing that problem we found other problems and the system was acting very un-stable and nothing was backed up. At that point and several others through the year I tried to encourage him to back up his important records.

Well guess what, he never did and a week before the holiday it crashed. Suddenly he couldn’t access UPS, couldn’t access his mailing lists and postage. Essentially he was out of business with a warehouse full of employees sitting around. Now he is losing thousands of dollars a day because he was trying to save a few hundred and put off getting a back-up device, the business owner went into shear panic and called us.

Now just as suddenly he tried to put the responsibility of saving his business on us, if we couldn’t recover his data he was out of business. I wouldn’t accept that
responsibility. We will do our very best, we will do everything possible to fix the
situation but if the data was lost it was his fault for not backing it up. People, things happen, so if it is the least bit important … BACK IT UP.
Fortunately, we were able to save about 90% of his data and get him running but it took 3 days and cost him thousands. Did he get a back-up device, not yet.

This is the one single problem we run into and it comes in many forms. "My inbox
became corrupted and all my e-mails are gone, can you recover them"? Were they
backed up, no. Address books, family photos, your accounting records, what ever it
may be, if it is the least bit important, BACK IT UP. If you are a business and your
data is mission critical, BACK IT UP.

If it is a bad crash and we have to send it out for professional data recovery, I've seen bills as high as $12 thousand dollars. Data recovery can become expensive, not to mention the down time involved. So make sure to purchase a backup device that automatically backs up your important data every day. If you need data recovery, call us at Computer Guys Live for affordable
recovery services.

Call Computer Guys Live!


We guarantee a trusted service for online computer repair.
Give us a call at 866-300-8181 with any questions.

When to Update or Upgrade Your Business Computers


A couple of weeks ago a client went out and bought new and expensive software for their business. They couldn’t get it to work so they called us. There were multiple problems; two of the machines didn’t have enough hard drive space. All of the machines lacked enough RAM and three of the machines had un-supported operating system (WIN98) and we couldn’t find drivers. This prompted me to re-run a past article “Why you need to upgrade”. What I didn’t cover was how do you know when, so here are some general rules.
1- If you have a dated operating system and your system doesn’t meet the minimum requirements to install a new one. If you run Windows this would include WIN95, WIN98 and ME. Macintosh would include OS7 thru OS9. (Another note: putting a new OS on an older machine could slow you down more or not leave enough resources to run software.)
2- If you need to upgrade three or more major components. This could be a combo of say RAM, hard drive and video card. Or maybe a hard drive, operating system and a new optical drive (CD, DVD), you get the idea. Also keep in mind, a new computer will include many of the extras you would add or upgrade to.
3- If you’re contemplating an upgrade of the processor or the motherboard it is definitely time to upgrade.
4 – If the total cost of the upgrade is $400 or over, then consider a new computer. Depending on what you want, a new machine can cost $500 or more but you will be good for another 3-4 years instead of just 1 or 2 with the upgrade.
Of course there are other considerations, you can add external hard drives and optical drives if your system has enough USB ports or a strong enough power supply. If your power supply is less then 350 watts you want to consider an upgrade because of the extra load placed on it by the external drives or the new more powerful video cards.
So there you have it, old computers don’t die they just fade away. If you have a computer that is 5 to 6 years old, it may be far more cost effective to purchase a new system that will increase productivity and reliablity in the work place and save future repair costs. Many nonprofit organizations gladly accept computer donations from businesses. For more technical advice and reliable online computer repair, visit

Chris Kaminski has been working in computer repair and web development for the last 20 years. Kaminski is CEO and head technician for, an online computer repair company based in Asheville, NC.

Remote American Tech Support


Thank you for choosing Computer Guys Live!
When we started this business we wanted to accomplish three things.Number one is to supply first class computer support by providing our customers with the quality and security they deserve. Second, to do our small part to provide what jobs we can to replace those lost overseas. Because of that outsourcing, there is a high concentration of qualified technicians in our area. And finally, to provide a unique work experience for our technicians. By using a blend of todays technologies, such as VoIP, the Internet and the latest in desk top and security software we are able to provide a work environment like not other, their own home. Many of our technicians
are single parents and we are thankful to be able to provide such an opportunity. All our technicians are trained and qualified and waiting to serve you now!

Computer Guys Live, for your Business


Hello and welcome, my name is Chris Kaminski, one of the founders of Computer Guys Live and I would like to introduce you to our services crafted for business like yours.

What we do is simple, we fix computers and service networks. What makes us special is how we fix them. We use the latest in secure remote access software to meet your computer service needs. All you need to do is contact us through either our web interface or toll free number then allow one of our talented technicians fix your problem. I know that sounds over-simplified, but it is really that easy.

All our technicians are trained and experienced, some of our business specialists have 18 years or more experience. This benefits you the business owner because it is like having your own IT person on staff without the cost and headaches associated with an employee.
And, we get it done fast, no waiting for an appointment or dragging you computer to a shop, just pick up the phone or click on

We can perform normal maintenance tasks like regular virus and spyware scans, making sure your protection is up to date and working. We can handle file maintenance and backup operations, software installs and configurations. Email configurations, printers scanners, cameras, just about anything an onsite technician can do sitting in front of the computer with out the cost.

If you have a network no problem, whether you have two computers or two hundred we can service your needs. Backups, security, user management, server maintenance, databases. We can also act as your user help desk.

We offer a range of services and contract options to keep your business going or we can custom design one to your needs and the best part is we can accommodate your budget. So please, contact us for details call our administration line 828.658.8954 or

We take the worry and work out of the IT side of your business and give you the security of knowing that help is just a phone call away. This will allow you to do what you do best, run your business.

If you have a business and your business relies on a computer or computers all you need to remember is