Are you having problems with your computers, or computer network, or websites?
Computer problems are usually either hardware (items inside the computer case) or software related.
Wizcrafts Computer Services, owned and operated by "Wiz" Feinberg, can help diagnose computer hardware failures and assist with replacing failed or failing components, or upgrading to larger hard drives or adding RAM. I can troubleshoot software problems, remove viruses and other malware, upgrade your out-dated software, install back-up solutions, assist you with new software acquitions and troubleshoot networking problems. As a Webmaster, I can create, and/or secure (see my blocklists), modernize and update your websites. Learn about my Webmaster services here.
I do onsite service calls for clientele within a 30 mile radius of Flint Michigan. All other servicing, consulting and website work is done by email, instant messaging, or, for an additional fee: remote desktop access (similar to GoToMyPC). If you need help with your computers, networks, or websites, Contact Wiz Feinberg.
Computer Hardware Problems
When hardware goes bad it usually needs to be replaced. The usual cause of computer hardware failures is heat build-up due to poor ventilation inside a computer case. Upon opening the cases of PCs that I have serviced, 90% have loads of dust and hair clogging the various vent holes, cooling heatsinks and fan blades.
Quite a few of my service calls involve replacing failing hard drives. They always seem to die at the worst possible time. If you keep your purchased music and videos, checks, invoices and expenses on your computer and the hard drive seizes up, you will lose everything on it. Prepare in advance for hard drive failures by creating "image" file backups of your entire hard drive, using Acronis True Image. It can store a snapshot file of everything on your C drive to another, less frequently accessed internal or external hard drive, or to DVDs, or online storage locations, and burn it back onto a fresh empty hard drive, if your current disk suddenly fails to spin. Using Acronis images to clone a working hard drive will save you countless hours that you would otherwise have to spend reinstalling the operating system and all of your applications, re-licensing and activating them, and updating your various programs to the current levels. Learn more about Acronis True Image here.
Endorsement: I personally use Acronis True Image to make weekly backups of my entire C drive and daily backups of websites I update, saving them to an external drive. I have already used True Image to copy the entire contents of a failing hard drive to a new replacement drive, with higher capacity than the old one. The transfer went flawlessly and I consider it money well spent. Restoring a complete saved disk image to a new hard drive usually takes about an hour, including the physical installation process. Manually reinstalling (and re-activating) Windows and all of my programs, then updating everything, used to take over 5 hours.
Read more details about various causes of computer hardware failures. You may be surprised.
Heat build-up has a long term effect on the harware inside a computer case. Eventually, critical parts can overheat and cause sudden shutdowns, or random hanging of the system. Before you have your computer serviced for shutdown or freezing up, unplug it from the power outlet, open the case and carefully vacuum out as much dust and hair as you can (use a snout attachment). Get a can of compressed air with a long thin hollow tube and aim it at the CPU and any other heatsink fins and fan blades, to clear off as much accumulated dust as possible. If your problems were caused by heat build-up, you may fix it by clearing all ventilation holes, fans and heatsink blades.
Sometimes, it's too late to save a device that has suffered from heat exhaustion. I have had bargain RAM modules go bad, after just two years of normal use. The only suspect was heat from being heavily used and components not made up to snuff to take real world use. I replace them with matched pairs of better quality RAM, which usually lasts many years.
Any part can fail, including the power supply. A computer that will not fire up probably has a failed power supply, or other major component, like a hard drive, or the CPU. CPU failures are uncommon, but do occur if their heatsinks and fans are plugged up with dust, or if the clamps holding them down to the motherboard come loose.
Sometimes, the companies that build computer motherboards may skimp on the quality of the electrolytic capacitors used on certain lines of motherboards. It is a known fact that some of the lesser quality capacitors can buldge from heat then leak corrosive acid onto the motherboard. This leaked acid will cause random shutdowns and reboots. Eventually, it can eat through the solder joints and etched metal connecting components. If your PC is suffering from random reboots, or shutdowns, open the case, shine a good light onto the motherboard and examine the little can shaped capacitors to see if they are bulging or leaking fluid. This usually requires that the motherboard be replaced.
Let us not forget that the chipset that loads the Basic Input Output System (BIOS) is powered by a wide-flat battery (usually type CR2032). Those batteries eventaully lose their charge. When that happens, the system forgets about all of the installed hardware devices and will refuse to "boot."
If you feel like fixing or building your own computer, consider buying the parts from Tiger Direct. You can get electronic components, operating systems, peripherals, cases, power supplies, fans and heatsinks from Tiger Direct, at very good prices.
Computer Software problems
Computer software problems are caused by programming instruction errors in applications (especially recently updated programs), or bad interactions between applications and the operating system. Some of the best known computer security programs have toasted the computers they were installed on, after receiving a poorly constructed, or improperly coded updates. In addition to coding mistakes, software problems can be caused by incomplete/failed upgrades, file corruption from improper sudden shutdowns, or viruses and other malware interfering with the operating system and security programs.
Problems in Windows computers caused by bad updates can often be reversed by running a system restore to a time before the problem manifested itself.
Computer Viruses and Malware
While there are many causes for irratic computer behavior, one of the most common causes of problems for computer owners comes from infections by spyware, viruses and various forms of what are commonly known as malware.
I have been fixing personal and business computers and setting up networking for over 15 years, and have seen and fought off many a computer virus.
When I got into computers, viruses used to be physically delivered via infected disks (floppy or optical). With the explosion of the Internet, what were known as viruses (delivered to each victim) morphed into self-replicating Internet Worms, which spread from computer to computer. A little while later the viruses and Worms were supplanted by spyware and key loggers, then IRC controlled backdoors, which have morphed into Bots. All of these computer threats are now referred to as Malware (Malicious software).
The threats from malware have grown increasingly more sinister over the last two decades. When I began building and servicing Windows computers, viruses were quite destructive and were distributed by miscreants seeking notariety among the hacker community.
In fact, many viruses damaged so many operating system files that we usually had to reinstall the O.S. to get things working properly.
Nowadays, computer "malware" is usually designed to either be invisible to the victim, while it steals your credentials and money, or uses your computers to send spam and launch denial of service attacks.
Other types of malware, known a rogue, or fake security or disk utility programs, display warnings about all manner of alleged problems, then harass you to death, until you either pay a virtual ransom (to fix the non-existent problems), learn to fix it yourself (time consuming), or pay someone like me to cure the problem.
Here are some symptoms of an infected computer.
- Is your computer crashing frequently, where it was working fine recently? It could be from a badly written piece of malware trying to take control of it.
- Your browser's homepage, or search results been changed (hijacked) and you can't reset it where you want.
- Your Windows desktop wallpaper or screensaver has been replaced with a warning box, claiming that your computer is infected and recommending that you download their solution to fix it.
- You constantly get popup, or popunder browser windows, with "spyware" scans, ads and distressing messages.
- When you click links to go to particular websites, or search results, you find your browser has landed on a page that says it's scanning your computer.
- You see strange popup "security alerts," in the bottom-right System Tray area, from programs you did not knowingly install, requiring payment for removal of the items it claims are present.
- Your software firewall repeatedly alerts you about suspicious incoming or outgoing traffic.
- Do you notice an unusually high amount of unexplainable network or Internet activity being shown on your modem, or in the Local Area Connection or Dialup Networking icon in your system tray, when you are not knowingly uploading or downloading anything? Does your computer become much less responsive, or do browser windows freeze up, when this activity occurs?
Sometimes the operating system needs to be reinstalled.
Despite advances in the virus/malware removal field of free and commercial security programs, some malware infections are so insidious that the operating system must be reinstalled to restore normal functionality. Click here to see how this is done.
If you have a physical CD or DVDs, with the operating system and hardware device drivers, or a hidden restore partition (accessible by a particular key press - when you first boot the computer), you can reinstall the OS yourself. You will lose all saved data if it is on the system boot disk, so, save everything of value to a thumbdrive, or another drive. After you finsih installing the operating system you may have to reinstall your device drivers, using a drivers disk.
Once setup has completed you may be faaced with reactivating your operating system license. The pertinent product key codes for Windows computers are found on a hologram stitcker affixed to the computer case, or the case that the OS disk is in. Write the product key down before you get to this point, then type it into the required input fields, then try to Activate Windows. If your computer's network card was recognized and a driver installed during setup, this should proceed without any problems. If not, you will be shown a toll free phone number to call, where you can activate by speaking the letters and numbers of your product key into the phone, or speak to a real person.
Once you have re-activated your freshly reinstalled Windows computer, the first thing you should do is install any drivers for devices that Windows did not recognize. Then, with the Internet connection working, go directly to the Windows Update website and begin the process of polling for and installing all available updates for your OS. You will have to install-reboot and install again several times, until there are no more updates available.
Once your PC has all available updates and patches, it's time to secure it against malware. Install your preferred, legitimate anti-malware security program and update it, then set it to automatically check for updates as often as it allows.
Who ya gonna call? (not Ghostbusters!)
Are you tired of paying high retail store service rates for out-of-warranty repairs?
Do you need the services of a Webmaster-website designer, but only on an as-needed, or temporary basis?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, contact "Wiz" Feinberg to be your personal guru, to solve your troubleshooting, virus, backdoor and spyware removal, maintenance, upgrading, security and website development needs! And, be sure to read Wiz's Security Blog for the latest news about program vulnerabilities, spam, threats in the wild, security program and Windows updates and patches.
I have been troubleshooting Windows computers since 1995.