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Over the years, our customers have relied on us for accurate, sensible and useful information about everything related to information technology. We have helped home users, students, small and mid-sized businesses, public entities, organizations, and individuals representing just about every industry. Our blog is dedicated to addressing some of the questions and concerns that we hear every day, and some that are rare, but interesting. I hope that you will take a few minutes to read our blogs as they develop – and please don’t hesitate to send us suggestions for future posts!

The HB Computers Professional Team

An Overview of Outlook’s Email Delivery SystemTuesday, April 12, 2016

“Outlook” is a Microsoft brand that stands for everything related to email delivery.

  • Outlook itself is the application that comes with the Microsoft Office suite.
  • Outlook.com is a Microsoft free web based mail account (formerly Hotmail).
  • Outlook Web App (aka OWA) is the web-based mail client that is part of the Microsoft Exchange Server.

Outlook.com replaced Hotmail in 2013, and by 2014 the service had 400 million active users. The interface is similar to that of Microsoft Outlook and features unlimited storage, a calendar, contacts management, Ajax, and integration with OneDrive, Office Online and Skype.

In 2015, Microsoft announced that the ‘new’ Outlook.com would be moved Office 365, and this version began to roll out to users accounts in February 2016, beginning with North America.

Outlook.com offers free email delivery services with nearly unlimited storage on the web. The interface is easy to use on either a desktop computer or mobile device. Some of the key features include:

  • It’s refreshingly clean, uncluttered interface
  • Its compatibility with POP (Post Office Protocol), IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) or EAS (Exchange ActiveSync) so that you can receive mail in multiple ways (phone, personal PC, work PC, etc.). In addition, users can have Outlook forward all incoming mail to another address or answer emails on their behalf using out-of-office auto-replies.
  • The option for a quick-view panel on certain emails and filters for easy clean-up
  • The flexible categories for organizing mail in folders and flagging them. Outlook has certain categories already set up, but users can also take advantage of its free-form categories. There is also a simple search field so that users can quickly find emails according to certain parameters (like sender, recipient, subject, folder and date).
  • Its variety of keyboard shortcuts like: ‘N’ to start a new message, and ‘Insert’ for flagging an email for follow-up
  • Its ability to display photos directly in the body of the e-mail (if it’s from a familiar sender)
  • The ability to view and reply to content from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter
  • Its ability to integrate People, Calendar and SkyDrive so that users can manage their contacts and file on the clouds and use them in attachments
  • Its integration with Office Web Apps allows users to open, share, and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files
  • Spam protection includes the ability to set a junk mail filter, block anything from an unknown sender, block e-mails by domain, or designate messages as a phishing scam.
  • Fewer, less obtrusive ads on the free version

Two specific Outlook enhancements;

  • Outlook 2016 added ‘Groups.’ This allows users to follow a team's message history, schedule group meetings, and have a quicker back-and-forth among relevant team members.
  • Outlook 2016 that analyzes messages users are likely to ignore based on past behavior, and moves those messages to a different folder, so users can identify key emails faster.
  • Outlook 2016 has increased IT tools for Data Loss prevention and increased encryption abilities.

Outlook is surfacing in serious competition to Google’s Gmail. They both dominate the email delivery service options – and have for some time. It will be interesting to see what comes next!

Please don’t hesitate to call HB Computers if you have questions about how we can help you connect with any of your preferred email provider services at 714-969-3001.

Upgrading to Windows 10 – Important ConsiderationsMonday, November 30, 2015

When Windows 10 made its debut this year, there was a great deal of excitement generated about its faster operating system, its updated features, and its new graphics. Some users have been skeptical because the cluster of problems with Window 8.1. However, with the Windows 10 upgrade, the problems mostly occur because users not doing proper preparation before the upgrade, such as checking if their driver needs updating or if their PC has enough ram.

As a result, they are bringing their computers to service centers like HB Computers for help with situations like.

  • Lost data
  • Applications that no longer work
  • A flashing screen indicating that either an application won’t support the new version or there is an incompatible video driver
  • Anti-virus software being deleted

Microsoft is offering the Windows 10 upgrade for free to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users until July 29, 2016. More than 50% of all desktops worldwide still run Windows 7, and almost 20% still use Windows XP, which is a 14-year-old operating system. Windows 8.1 has yet to reach 10% because of problems associated with it.

The Windows 10 upgrade process should be relatively simple if you do your homework.

  1. Sign up for a “reservation” for Windows 10,
  2. Back up critical files on an external hard drive, and
  3. Check your antivirus subscription as the transition takes place.

But first make sure that your PC is up to date. Requirements for Windows 10 include.

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for a 32-bit version, or 2GB for
  • Hard disk space: 16GB for a 32-bit OS; 20GB for 64-bit
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0
  • Display:1024*600

Even if your PC meets those specifications, it still may not upgrade properly, but one way to make sure is to use the ‘check my PC’ option in the Windows 10 reservation app. Also, be aware that the Windows 10 download is approximately 3GB large and will take about 20 minutes to install in newer PCs – longer in older versions.

If you have any questions about installing Windows 10, or if you would feel more confident if a professional handled the upgrade, please don’t hesitate to call HB Computers at 714-969-3001.

How to select the best network installation and management serviceFriday, October 02, 2015

There are specific milestones in every business when it’s important to evaluate your networking capabilities: the initial opening, relocation to another facility, or during an expansion phase. Most companies have at least at five-year business plan, and the components of your network (such as cabling and patch panels) should support all of your needs computing needs during that time. Here are ten considerations to keep in mind when you are selecting a network professional.

  1. Look for a provider with experience and request references. Then follow up and ask for their honest evaluation of the provider you have in mind.
  2. Find out about customer support policies. What are the business hours of service? How soon do they respond to emergency requests?
  3. How many technicians are on staff?
  4. Does the provider offer a full, comprehensive service that includes design, installation, testing and ongoing support?
  5. Will they schedule a thorough site survey as one of the first steps after assessing your needs?
  6. Are they willing to work after hours so that there are minimal business disruptions?
  7. Ask about pricing. You may find that paying extra for a cat6 cable will allow you considerable savings in the long run. Industry pricing for installing a data network runs between $100 and $150 per cable. The site survey should provide specific price estimates on every aspect of the job.
  8. Can the network provide secure connectivity to your employees’ remote devices?
  9. Is it ready for a high volume of traffic from video and other large bandwidth applications?
  10. What about network security management: What safeguards will be in place to mitigate the possibility of viruses, spam, attacks and other threats?
These are important considerations, because if you make the right choice in providers, you will:

  • Reduce network overhead costs and increase network services.
  • Have access to a global network service without spending money for internal global resources.
  • Be able to respond to business growth at a reasonable cost without significantly increasing your staff or budget.
  • Be able to take advantage of new technologies to remain competitive.
  • Have high quality network services to meet a 24-hour demand.
  • Have access to the latest security measures.
  • Allocate your employees’ time on core competencies rather than having them attempt to manage network support.
Please call HB Computers at (714) 969-3001 to find out how we can serve your network computing needs – high excellence at a reasonable cost!

What to look for when selecting a computer repair serviceThursday, September 10, 2015

Because the reliability of computers and mobile devices is so important to your daily life, it’s important to know who to call when you have a repair need. But how do you decide which service is the best? Your options could range from a small, local computer repair shop to national chain like Geek Squad/Best Buy. But biggest isn’t always better, and it is in your best interest to do some research before you have the need.

Without a doubt, the very best way to choose a reliable computer repair service is through a referral or by searching online for a company where reviews are most often posted (such as Yelp, Google Local and Angie’s List). You may be tempted by a classy flyer, an Internet citing, or a full page newspaper advertisement – but none of these marketing techniques are equivalent to positive referrals and 5-star reviews. Just keep in mind that flyers and advertisements are not referrals.

One way to check out a repair shop once you have read the reviews is to pay a visit. Most computer repair businesses have a retail area as well – even if it is small. While you browse through the merchandise, listen and observe customers picking up or dropping off their computers. Do they seem satisfied? Do the technicians appear to be knowledgeable and respectful as they answer questions? How long have they been in business?

Computers and devices come in many shapes and sizes. Make sure that they are experienced in your device, whether it is a Mac or PC, a Desktop or Laptop, a Tablet or Smartphone. Are the technicians trained and certified? Not every shop is experienced with every possible computer repair, but it’s a plus if you can find one that has a technical staff that covers most scenarios.

For instance, in the event that your computer becomes infected with a virus, does the service you are considering clean a computer to a “just like new” status. In that case, your virus will be removed, but so will your files. You may want to find a service that offers to back up your data before working on your computer.

If you have a problem with your laptop, its repairs might involve difficult hardware repair work including soldering, replacing the LCD screen or the power jack.

Data recovery is another common problem. Although data recovery could be achieved fairly easily in most cases, it may also very well be the most difficult computer repair job where a specialist is required.

Perhaps your computer needs a performance tune-up. Find out whether the service provides a startup inspection, disk defragmentation, RAM and an analysis of your drive and security updates. And are the technicians experienced in hardware and software installations?

Some of the most obvious questions that people forget to ask include:

  • What is the charge per hour? $55 to $75 per hour is average, but it depends on the location of the shop. Sometimes you will find that a shop bills a flat rate for a specific service. Also ask for an estimate of how many billable hours are needed to fix the problem.

  • Is there a minimum charge?
  • Are there any charges other than the hourly rate?
  • Will you save my files?
  • How long will it take? Will I be notified when the repair is completed?
  • Do you have a guarantee?

HB Computers invites you to visit our shop and ask questions! We are highly experienced and have consistently received 5-star ratings on major consumer feedback sites. We look forward to meeting you and discussing how our computer repair services can meet your needs.

Learn All About the Windows 10 Built-In Mail AppSaturday, August 01, 2015

The mail feature in Windows 10 can handle the most complex email with ease. It is simple to set up, and with a touch-friendly interface and a minimalist design, it may just be the perfect default mail client for your needs.

The new Windows 10 Mail app is actually part of the free version of the Microsoft Office Mobile suite and comes along with the free upgrade to Windows 10. On Windows 10 for PCs, it is called “Mail,” but on Windows 10 Mobile, which runs on smartphones and tablet, it’s called “Outlook Mail.”

Setting up Windows 10 Mail:

When you upgrade to Windows 10, your email credentials sync seamlessly with all your devices as soon as you link your PC with your Windows account. You don’t have to set up each device separately if you already have a mail account with Windows. If you are setting up your mail account for the first time, the Mail client supports all the standard systems (Outlook.com, Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, iCloud, and any POP or IMAP account you may have). Just enter your address/password for any of the account types, and Mail will figure out the rest. And you can reply to new messages as they soon as appear in the Action Centers notification pane.

Navigating Windows 10 Mail:

Mail’s interface is a very clean design with buttons on the left that can be expanded with the three-bar “hamburger” icon. There are three simple buttons at the top: to start a new email, to switch from multiple accounts, and to access a folder. At the bottom are four buttons: Mail, Calendar, Feedback and Settings. If you have no emails open, there will be an empty cloud image on the right panel.

For touch screen users, there are swipe actions (left to right to flag a message; right to left to archive it). For keyboard and mouse users, there is a “hover-over” button for both these actions as well as deletion. Whichever mode you prefer offers a multiple-selection button so that you can check boxes in each message to archive, delete, or move them with drag-and-drop to a folder. In the Conversation view, there is a triangle-shaped pointer next to entries with multiple messages. You can expand the conversation by simply tapping with the pointer.

Composing Emails:

When you are ready to compose an email, tap the big plus sign to see a mail-compose pane. As you begin to type into the address box an autocomplete list will appear beginning with the first letter you enter. In the message box, you have options for bold, italics, and underline styles as well as a drop down box that allows you to change font, size, color and highlighting (as well as strikeout or subscript and superscript). A separate Paragraph drop down button gives you additional options for bullets and numbering, indentation, alignment, and line spacing.

You can add files, tables, pictures, and links to the email content using the insert tab. Each is a subset of options already in the free Word app so that you can customize your email’s insert the same way you can in Word document, tables and pictures (except you can’t sort columns in an email’s table). If your email is important, call attention to it with a red exclamation point; or if it has a low priority, designate it with a green “‘down” arrow. Your final step is taking advantage of the spell-check option.

A Final Thought:

The beauty of the Windows 10 Mail app is that whether you are using the touch screen or your keyboard and mouse, it is equally easy. All your devices are synced and all of your emails can be customized. It’s a tremendous improvement on the Windows 8 Mail app, and most users will be pleasantly surprised with how easy and versatile it is.

For more information about Windows 10 and it’s Mail app, don’t hesitate to call HB Computers at 714-969-3001. Our friendly technicians will be happy to assist you!

Steps to Take to be Compliant with HIPAA RegulationsMonday, July 13, 2015

If you are an entity that handles Private Health Information (PHI), it is important that you are compliant with HIPAA regulations. HB Computers has a great deal of experience in maintaining the highest security measures available for data protection. Many businesses and organizations assign a Privacy Officer (PO) charged with understanding each HIPAA regulation. We are available to work with you and/or your PO so that you can have peace of mind when it comes to data security.

There are four rules that are especially important:

  1. HIPAA Privacy Rule
  2. HIPAA Security Rule
  3. HIPAA Enforcement Rule
  4. HIPAA Breach Notification Rule
  1. HIPAA Privacy Rule:

    The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically. The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The Rule also gives patients rights over their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections. Business Associates are directly liable for uses and disclosures of PHI that are not covered under their BAA or the HIPAA Privacy Rule itself.

  2. HIPAA Security Rule:

    The HIPAA Security Rule includes three safeguard-related parts with implementation specifications (some of which are required, and some are categorized as “addressable”). These safeguards are designed to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of protected health information (PHI).
    The implementation specifications that are “required” must be followed according to specifications. If they are “addressable”, they must be implemented if it is reasonable and appropriate to do so. This decision must be documented, but if you are in doubt, it’s best to implement under the assumption of “required.”
    It is your responsibility to follow the Privacy and Security rules and also to provide notification if there is a breach of unsecured protected health information.

  3. HIPAA Enforcement Rule

    The HIPAA Enforcement Rule spells out investigations, penalties, and procedures for hearings.

  4. HIPAA Breach Notification Rule

    The Breach Notification Rule requires most healthcare providers to notify patients when there is a breach of unsecured PHI. The Breach Notification Rule also requires the entities to promptly notify HHS if there is any breach of unsecured PHI, and notify the media and public if the breach affects more than 500 patients.

The three parts to the HIPAA Security Rule are as follows:

  1. Technical Safeguards
  2. Physical Safeguards
  3. Administrative Safeguards
  1. Technical Safeguards

    This part of the security rule addresses the technology that protects PHI and how it is accessed. The security standards are “technology neutral.” That means that you are not required to use specific technologies. There are 5 standards included in this section.

    1. Access Control
    2. Audit Controls
    3. Integrity
    4. Authentication
    5. Transmission Security

    1. Access Control
      • Unique User Identification (required)
      • Emergency Access Procedure (required)
      • Automatic Logoff (addressable)
      • Encryption and Decryption (addressable)

    2. Audit Controls

      Involves implementing hardware, software, and/or procedural mechanisms to record any activity in systems containing ePHI.

    3. Integrity

      Involves implementing security measures in order to ensure that ePHI is not modified without authority.

    4. Authentication

      Involves implementing procedures ensuring that a user seeking access to ePHI is the one claimed.

    5. Transmission Security

      Encryption (addressable) to be utilized as a security measure against ePHI being modified without authority.

  2. Physical Safeguards

    The Physical Safeguards section included four standards.

    1. Facility Access Controls
    2. Workstation Use
    3. Workstation Security
    4. Device and Media Controls

    1. Facility Access Controls
      • Contingency Operations (addressable): Establish procedures to restore lost data under a disaster recovery plan in the event of an emergency.
      • Facility Security Plan (addressable): Implement policies and procedures protect your facility and equipment from unauthorized physical access, tampering or theft.
      • Access Control and Validation Procedures (addressable): Implement procedures to monitor and validate a person’s access to facilities based on their role or function.
      • Maintenance Records (addressable): Implement policies and procedures to document repairs and modifications to the physical components of a facility, which are related to security (e.g. hardware, walls, doors, and locks).

    2. Workstation Use (required):

      Involves Implementing policies and procedures specifying the authorized functions to be performed, how these functions are to be performed, and the physical attributes of the surroundings of workstations that can access ePHI.

    3. Workstation Security (required):

      Involves implementing physical safeguards for all workstations that access ePHI, so that unauthorized users cannot have access.

    4. Device and Media Controls:

      Disposal (required): Implement policies and procedures for disposing ePHI, and/or the hardware or electronic media where it is stored.

      • Media Re-Use (required): Implement procedures to remove ePHI from electronic media before the media are made available for re-use.
      • Accountability (addressable): Maintain records of any hardware and electronic media movement and the person responsible.
      • Data Backup and Storage (addressable): Create a retrievable, exact copy of ePHI, when needed, before equipment is moved.

  3. Administrative Safeguards

    The Administrative Safeguards govern the conduct of the workforce, and the security measures put in place to protect ePHI. The administrative components of HIPAA compliance are very important. You must assign a privacy officer, complete an annual risk assessment, provide employee training annually, review policies and procedures, and execute Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) with all partners who handle PHI.

There are nine standards within the Administrative Safeguards section.

  1. Security Management Process
  2. Assigned Security Responsibility
  3. Workforce Security
  4. Information Access Management
  5. Security Awareness and Training
  6. Security Incident Procedures
  7. Contingency Plan
  8. Evaluation
  9. Business Associate Contracts and Other Arrangements

  1. Security Management Process

    Conduct and document a risk analysis to ascertain where PHI is being used and stored to determine all the ways that HIPAA could be violated.

    • Risk Management (required): Implement measures to reduce these risks.
    • Sanction Policy (required): Implement sanction policies for employees who fail to comply.
    • Information Systems Activity Reviews (required): Review your system’s activity, logs, audit trails, etc. on a regular basis.

  2. Assigned Security Responsibility - Officers (required):

    Designate HIPAA Security and Privacy Officers.

  3. Workforce Security - Employee Oversight (addressable):

    Implement procedures relating to authorizing and supervising employees who work with PHI. This includes granting and removing access and ensuring that an employee’s access to PHI ends with employee’s termination.

  4. Information Access Management - Multiple Organizations (required):

    Ensure that PHI is not allowed access by parent or partner organizations or subcontractors or any other entity that is not authorized for access.
    ePHI Access (addressable): Implement and document procedures for granting access to ePHI.

  5. Security Awareness and Training:

    Security Reminders (addressable): Send updates and reminders about security and privacy policies to employees on a regular basis.

    • Protection Against Malware (addressable):

      Implement procedures for guarding against, detecting, and reporting malicious software.

    • Login Monitoring (addressable):

      Implement monitoring of logins to systems and reporting of discrepancies.

    • Password Management (addressable):

      Ensure that there are procedures in place for creating, changing, and protecting passwords.

  6. Security Incident Procedure:

    Response and Reporting (required): Identify, document, and respond to security incidents.

  7. Contingency Plan - Contingency Plans (required):

    Ensure that accessible backups of ePHI are available and that there are procedures to restore any lost data.

    • Contingency Plans Updates and Analysis (addressable):

      Put procedures in place for periodic testing and revision of contingency plans.

    • Emergency Mode (required):

      Establish procedures to be able to continue critical business processes to protect the security of ePHI while operating in emergency mode.

  8. Evaluations (required):

    Perform periodic evaluations to see whether changes need to be made to your HIPAA compliance procedures do to changes in your business or changes in the legal requirements of HIPAA.

  9. Business Associate Agreements (required):

    Create special contracts to be signed by business partners who will have access to your PHI in order to ensure compliancy. Choose partners that have similar agreements with their partners who may have access to your records.


SUMMARY

This is a great deal of information to absorb. If you any questions about HIPAA compliance as it relates to ePHI, please don’t hesitate to call us. Essentially the point to remember are that you must:

Have safeguards in place to protect patient health information (PHI).

Limit use of the PHI information unless it is absolutely necessary to accomplish your intended purpose.

Have privacy agreements in place with business associates or service providers that perform functions covered by HIPAA.

Create and implement procedures to limit access to PHI and implement a training program for your employees so that they fully understand how to protect your PHI.

Why Outsourcing Your IT Needs Makes SenseTuesday, June 02, 2015

Outsourcing your company’s IT needs makes sense for many reasons. At the very least, it helps you increase productivity and manage your time better, but the most important reason is that it will simply save you money.

Outsourcing the IT functionwill cost less than dedicating a member of your staff to do the job. Technology is becoming more complex every day, and it’s very difficult for a single staff member to maintain the specialized knowledge for optimum service. Outsourcing means that you have access to a wide range of IT specialists. If fact you have an entire company of experts just a phone call away.

With easy access to the most current technology, you don’t have to be concerned about installing software, trouble-shooting system malfunctions, dealing with database crashes, or any of the other countless things that can wrong. Instead, you can focus on what’s most important – satisfying your customers and growing your business.

Some of the basic services that an IT resource can provide include:

  • Monitoring your system and making recommendations for optimizing its performance
  • Maintaining, repairing and/or upgrading workstations and servers
  • Connecting printers, scanners and fax equipment through network cabling
  • Making sure that you have the most current virus-protection and data security measures in place
  • Running software checks periodically to make sure there are no holes in the firewall and your network
  • Managing mobile device security
  • Installing and configuring new software
  • Providing solutions for data storage and data back-up
  • Maintaining an overall high quality environment for your network

HB Computers has state-of-the-art IT systems and years of certified technical experience to provide you with whatever outsourced IT support you need. We can even do much of it remotely. We love what we do, and we make it our business to keep up-to-date on the newest industry standards and IT solutions. Give us a call at 714-969-3001. Let’s talk about how we can help you with your IT outsourcing needs!

Data Recovery in Simple TermsThursday, May 07, 2015

Data recovery is the process of retrieving data from failed, damaged or corrupted secondary storage devices. This usually involves internal or external hard disk drives, solid-state drives, USB flash drives, CDs, DVDs, and Tape Media.

The most common incidence of data loss happens with operating system failure, accidental damage, viruses or human error. This kind of data loss can probably be easily retrieved. In other cases, files may have been deleted from a storage medium. These may be recoverable because typically, the content of deleted files is not immediately removed from the drive – just references to them in the directory. However, if there is a disk-level failure (like a compromised file system or hard disk failure), recovery is more difficult.

If your drive is still functioning, you can recover the data yourself, but if the damage is mechanical damage, it’s best to send it to our team at HB Computers. One of the important things to remember when there is data loss is to immediately stop working with the compromised drive. Every second that the drive continues to be connected to a running system will jeopardize your data recovery efforts.

If your drive has failed, remove it from your PC and hook up to another computer as a secondary drive. You can do this using a USB universal drive adapter. On a Mac, it’s a little easier. Use a FireWire cable to connect your nonworking Mac to another Mac, then, "target boot" the failed machine by holding down the “T” key as you power it on. If these tactics work, your hard drive might be fine. Be sure to then offload your files and reinstall your operating system. If it doesn’t work HB Computers may still be able to salvage your data.

Drives can crash in two ways – a logical failure or a mechanical failure. In a logical failure, the components of the drive are not physically damaged; the drive just can’t find and navigate its own data – but it still exists unless it’s overwritten.

With a mechanical failure, it means that your drive has broken parts. You will most likely hear a clicking sound or no sound at all. In this case, professional help is needed. Please remember that no data recovery will retrieve your files in the order they once were – instead the retrieval will essentially consist of a data dump that will need to be completely reorganized.

To avoid these headaches right from the start, simply routinely save your files on an external back-up hard drive or let us apply a professionally set data backup. If you have any data recovery concerns at all, don’t hesitate to call HB Computers’ emergency data recovery service at 714-969-3001 so that we can discuss how we can help.

The Remarkable Benefits of NetworksWednesday, April 01, 2015

When computers are connected in a network, much more can be accomplished than simply using a single computer. With networks, people become connected – and when people become connected – amazing things happen. Networking is a wonderful technological advancement that has expanded worldwide! The greatest evolution of networks is the Internet. Whenever you access the Internet, you are already using a network.

Networks help people share resources, information, data and ideas by:

  • Simplifying communication through tools like email, video conferencing, and instant messaging

  • Allowing users to share a single device, like a printer or scanner

  • Facilitating the sharing of files, software and operating programs

  • Improving data management

There are several types of networks:

  • PAN: A Personal Area Networks is a computer network that connects a single computer to a mobile computer, a cell phone, and/or a handheld computing device.

  • HAN: A Home Area Network integrates a wide range of electrical devices into a central control process, ranging from computers to televisions and even alarm and home protection devices. With a HAN, you can control the use and function of all the devices by simply accessing the network.

  • LAN: Local Area Networks provide a networking capability to a group of computers in one location, like an office building, a school or a home.

  • WAN: Wide Area Network spans a large geographic area, like a state, province or country.

  • MAN: Metropolitan Area Networks are designed for a town or city. MANs are larger than local-area networks (LANs), but smaller than wide-area networks (WANs).

  • Campus Networks connect local-area networks within a limited geographical space like as a school campus or a military base.

  • GAN: Global Area Networks connects WANs and covers an unlimited geographical area

Computer networks can be established using an Ethernet, optical fiber or using wireless connections. The Ethernet network is most common and can be easily set up by a skilled computer technician. This type of network is formed by connecting individual computers to each other through wires using devices (like switches, bridges, routers and hubs) and different types of cables (like twisted pair wire, coaxial cable and fiber optics).

There are also Wireless networks. These are accomplished without physical welding or wiring. Wireless networks are based on the use of radio and infrared signals as well as communication satellites, microwaves, cellular systems, wireless LANs and Bluetooth.

Because networks are so versatile and offer so many benefits to so many people, it is in your best interest to schedule time with a reputable computer service like HB Computers to help you determine what kind of network is best for your personal or business needs. Our experience and skills can help you leverage the system that you currently have so that you will have maximum efficiency and capability!

Call us at 714-969-3001 to schedule an appointment today!

Which is better – a Laptop or Desktop ComputerMonday, March 02, 2015

Although prices for computers have decreased over the years, they are still an important investment, and as a consumer you want to have the very best model to fulfill all of your computing needs. One of the most frequent questions that come up when purchasing a computer is whether to buy a laptop or a desktop. There are pros and cons to each kind, and it is helpful to understand the differences before you make a purchase.

Laptops are a great choice for some customers for the following reasons:

  • They are portable. Their flexibility allows you to use them anywhere in your house without worrying about wiring. They can fit anywhere in your home if space is an issue, compared to the size and wiring of a desktop PC.

  • With abundance of Wi-Fi connections today, they are easy to take and use wherever you go. They are also great for travelling since they come in light, streamlined models in a wide range of sizes. Many laptops now have extended battery life to give you more usability.

  • They are great for older students who need to do work in a quiet area of the house, in a classroom, in their dorm, or at the library.

  • Although laptops are generally more expensive than desktops, you won’t have to buy components like a separate monitor or keyboard.

  • Since there are fewer vertical movements when using a laptop keyboard compared to a desktop keyboard, speed usually increases, and the placement of the trackpad serves as a wrist rest.

  • LCD screen on a laptop is more superior to desktop computers, resulting in better picture quality.

  • Laptops have greater resale value.

  • Laptops use far less energy than a desktop. Choosing a laptop over a desktop may translated to an energy savings of 50-80%.

  • Laptops offer you more privacy than a desktop.

  • Laptops have an important role in the business world. They are perfect for sales personnel, who with the proper accessories can make presentations, place orders and even print receipts. Managers find them useful when they travel or if they want to continue working on a project at home after hours. Field staff also finds that laptops are invaluable in their work.

Desktops are a great choice for other customers for the following reasons:

  • If you routinely work with large graphics, gaming, video or similar applications, desktops typically have more powerful components.

  • Desktops are great in a family with younger children because you can more easily the monitor usage.

  • Desktops generally are less costly than laptops, because the smaller components required in laptops are more complex and more expensive to manufacture.

  • There is more flexibility in terms of upgrades and repairs in a desktop. You can easily modify components like increasing its memory or upgrading its processor.

  • In terms of ergonomics, a desktop generally offers a more ergonomically correct workspace with an adjustable monitor, full-size keyboard and stationary location on a dedicated desk. A proper setup lessons strain on your eyes, neck, back, hands and wrists.

  • Desktops are generally not susceptible to theft or damage from dropping.

  • Desktops generally offer many more external peripherals than a laptop. Laptops often have only two USB ports, but desktops usually come with a minimum of four.

  • A desktop computer can come with a monitor display up to 20-24 inches and can add multiple display monitors depending on the number of graphic cards that can be supported.

  • If you work area is especially small, you don’t need to go to a laptop because there are space-saving desktop models now available for compact spaces. Some even feature a combined monitor and CPU for both space-saving convenience and wireless connectivity.

  • Desktops are often preferred by employers who have office-based staff – such as bookkeepers, data entry employees, and graphic designers

While laptops are more expensive than desktops, how you intend to use your computer is the primary factor in your choice. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice from a reputable store like HB Computers. Our phone number is 714-969-3001. You may find out that you can even have a computer custom-designed for your needs!

How to Protect Your Computer from VirusesTuesday, February 03, 2015

A computer virus is a software program created to invade your computer for the purpose of corrupting, encrypting or deleting files, folders and other data while also causing havoc with your operating system. A virus can be triggered simply by inadvertently opening an infected attachment from an email; downloading a corrupted file or harmful program from the Internet; or by visiting infected websites.

The first computer virus surfaced in the early 1970s. This early version was known as the “Creeper Virus.” A system that was infected with this virus would display the message “I’m the creeper; catch me if you can.” Hundreds of thousands of computer viruses have been created since then, and new ones are circulating every day.

The best way to protect your computer is to use an antivirus program to shield and scan your system for suspicious activity. HB Computers recommends using AVG, Malwarebytes and Adblock on your browser. They are free, and they work pretty well with Windows. Please note that Although Macs are less susceptible to viruses, they are still vulnerable to attacks.

In addition to protecting your computer with antivirus programs that are updated, we recommend that you follow the following basic precautionary practices.

  • Backup your data routinely.

  • Always think twice before opening email attachments or uploading disks unless they are from a trusted source.

  • Install a Firewall to prevent hackers from stealing personal information and causing other problems. Enable Windows Firewall and don’t disable it.

  • Be cautious before opening messages with subject lines like “Check this out” or attachments that use unfamiliar extensions like .vbs, .js, or even .exc. Safer extensions are .doc, .exe, .com, .xls, or .ppt.

  • Don’t click on Desktop icons that are suspicious.

  • Be careful on the Internet. Avoid pop-ups and free downloads. Viruses often hang out on gaming, gambling and social sites.

  • Scan Flash Drives and External Drives before opening them. Schedule monthly virus scans, and be sure to scan at other times if your system is running more slowly than usual or is acting unusual in any other way.

  • If your computer is clearly infected, shut it down and call us at 714-969-3001 for professional help in cleaning up the virus.

New viruses are created every day. Using safe Internet practices along with the latest in anti-virus protection is the only way to avoid costly and frustrating virus and malware problems that threaten the security of your data.

HB Computers can identify existing risks in your computer system and make recommendations for greater security. Call us today at 714-969-3001 or stop by our store location. We will offer you the very best price.

What You Should Know Before Purchasing Your Next ComputerFriday, January 02, 2015

Purchasing a computer is an important decision that you do not want to take lightly. Although, prices are more reasonable than they used to be, it’s still a significant investment, and you need to make sure that your computer will have the capacity to handle whatever you need it to do.

  • But first of all, give some thought about your needs. If you already have a computer, take a look at your existing programs and think about what programs you need but don’t currently have. Then check the minimum requirements or those programs so that your new computer can meet these requirements. All computers come with standard hardware like Wi-Fi, built-in camera, iTunes, apps, etc.

  • When choosing an operating system, think about whether it’s important to have great graphics capability or whether most of your use will be word processing. MAC is great for graphics, but a computer with a Pentium Processor is primarily designed for word processing. Both can do either function – just be sure that you purchase the one based on your primary purpose. Apple computers are suitable for most home users. Windows computers are helpful in a business environment because features like its networking and software capabilities.

  • Every task that you perform on your computer is handled by a processor. Faster processors are able to handle more tasks per second. The processor also determines its memory capacity and whether it’s capable of easily handling graphics.

  • Storage capacity is important too. If you have a large video or game collection, a hard disk drive (HDD) will be able to give you more storage space. If you have a laptop and are concerned that you might drop it, choose a model that uses a solid state drive (SSD). SSDs are not as easily damaged and are also not as hot as HDDs. SSDs may give you less storage space for video or game collections, but it is an excellent choice for a large amount of pictures and database files. SSDs also have no moving (mechanical) components, which helps with fast access. Hybrid drives or solid-state hybrid drives (SSHDs) combine the features of SSDs and HDDs in the same unit, containing a large hard disk drive and an SSD cache to improve performance of frequently accessed data. The basic computer equipment usually comes with at least 160GB storage or larger, which is plenty. If you work with graphics, video, music, or large databases, you may need at least 500GB.

  • RAM is your computer’s memory. It stores the data you are running, and the more RAM you have, the more you will be able to multi-task and keep more applications open. Minimum RAM required these days is 4GB because we open so many applications at one time on our computers. For the best performance choose a computer with 8GB of RAM.

  • If your current computer is running slow, instead of buying a new computer, you may want to invest in a SSD and more RAM. This will increase the speed 4 to 5 times faster. HB Computers sells refurbished computers with SSD and higher RAM (which may be a less expensive option than purchasing a new computer.

  • The most popular Windows version is Windows 7. However, all new PCs come with Windows 8, and we’re finding that many customers are asking us to downgrade their Windows 8 to the Windows 7 version.

  • You will find that there are many virus protection options, but HB Computers prefer AVG, Malwarebytes and Adblock on your browser. They are free, and they work pretty well with Windows. Macs are less susceptible to viruses, but they are still vulnerable to attacks.

  • Your computer case should have good ventilation. Some users like computers where the monitor and computer are built in together. Some would rather have a standard tower.

  • When selecting a brand, take time to read the reviews! You can’t trust every review, but look for patterns of similar comments.

  • You don’t have to buy the most expensive computer available – but you should buy as much as you can afford. Try to get the best you can in all components. Higher end computers cost $1500-$2000.

  • Laptops used to be companion computers to desktops, but they are becoming sophisticated enough to be your primary computer. Desktops usually have larger screens and are a little less expensive.

  • In terms of monitors, you should select a monitor that is at least 17” and has a resolution of 1280 by 1024 pixels. A 19-inch monitor gives you 20 % more screen area.

This is a lot to think about – and you probably have many questions. At HB Computers, we can walk you through the process. Give us a call at 714-969-3001 and set up an appointment. We’ll make this decision simple for you!