How to Choose an Internet Service Provider

How to Choose an Internet Service ProviderAn Internet service provider is the company that provides you with Internet connectivity in your home or business. Generally, this business will be one of several providing these amenities in your geographic area. Review the packages available from each company to determine which one fits your needs and budget.

Package Options

Some ISPs offer Internet connection only and others bundle additional services together to create other packages. Explore the packages offered by companies and then consider what you need for your family or business. For example, you might be able to get your telephone and television services bundled together into one package instead of paying separately for these items. Many people save money with this bundling. However, consider a few caveats. Once you combine all of these items into one package, it may become more difficult to change providers for a single service at a future time. Also, many companies offer special introductory rates for bundles, and prices go up significantly after you sign a contract.

Cost and Terms

Consider the fees of each Internet service provider. Some companies charge a monthly fee and others have biannual or annual fees. Ask about other fees built into the cost, such as rental of equipment. You’ll also have to consider the terms of service. For example, the company may place limits on data usage.

Connectivity Speed

Your use of connection will determine the type of speed you need. For example, people that perform basic functions such as browsing the web and downloading emails will not need significant speed. However, those who utilize their computers or devices for other purposes such as streaming videos will require speedier connections such as cable modem or DSL.

As you explore connectivity speeds with various ISPs, remember that the advertised speeds reported will typically be a range of maximum download and upload rates. Your individual speeds will vary depending on your equipment. The connectivity speed you achieve in your home or business may not even approach advertised speeds.

Software and Features

Some ISPs require special software to use a system. Ask about the software necessary to use the service. With this software, you may receive additional features such as virus protection, parental controls, and spam blocking. Get a list of all features available with packages. Find out how the company handles email accounts. You may have unlimited email storage on a server or limitations could be in place. Other features that may be available include domain name registration and domain name hosting.

Customer Support

Explore the customer support offered by each ISP. Many companies offer free assistance, but there could be a fee for some types of support. Ask about how customers can contact the ISP with issues, and find out about the availability of technicians for resolving problems.

After exploring your options from each Internet service provider, it’s time to compare the features and prices to choose the one that fits your needs and budget. Don’t forget to review the fine print in the agreement to ensure that you know everything about the contract.

Tips To Speed Up Your Computer

Tips To Speed Up Your ComputerHas your computer become slower than an old steam engine? If it has, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and speed it up. While there are a number of tools that claim to help in boosting computer speed, the best slow computer fix lies within your operating system. Check out these ten quick tips to speed up your computer and boost its performance.

1. Clear Up Old Programs

Clicking a few buttons on an installation wizard and adding a program to the existing repertoire on your computer is easy. However, every tiny program that is added to the list can play a part in slowing down your computer. Even if you are not actively using them, some of these programs tend to run background processes that can be a huge drain on your machine’s resources. Uninstalling programs that you don’t or rarely use is the first speed fix for your machine, and can be done quite simply from the Control Panel. So get started with “spring cleaning” your computer and watch it go from slow to fast in no time.

2. Partition Your Hard Drive

If your computer runs on just a single drive, it is time to partition it. Your computer’s Control Panel’s “Administrative Tools” provides you with all you need to partition your hard drive. Simply select “Computer Management”, “Storage” and “Disk Management”. Right-click on the single existing drive and choose “Shrink Volume”. You will be prompted to specify the amount of space you would like to shrink the drive by. Once the drive has been shrunk, you will see some unallocated/free space available. Right-click on the free space and create a new partition out of all the space or part of it.

Once you’ve partitioned your hard drive, move files out of your “Desktop” and “Documents” folders. Windows loads all your files in these folders each time it starts up, and this can be a major drain on resources and can increase loading time.

3. Do A Disk Cleanup

A disk cleanup is a rather simple task, but often overlooked. As you use your machine, there are often redundant and temporary files that are backed up. A disk cleanup clears up all these files and improves performance. The Windows disk cleanup utility can be found under “Start” -> “Programs” -> “Accessories” -> “System Tools”. Choose the drive that you wish to clean up, and Windows takes care of the rest of the job for you.

4. Defragment Your Computer

The option to defragment your computer can be found in the same place as the disk cleanup utility. Defragmenting basically implies that you are managing computer space better, thereby improving performance. Over time, as you install and uninstall programs or add and delete files on your machine, there are little pockets of space over which Windows needs to travel before getting to the file or program that you are trying to open. Defragmenting works similar to re-organizing your wardrobe – it organizes existing files and programs, re-maps their indices and frees up pockets of space so that performance is improved. Defragmenting a drive can take quite a long time, but should be done at least once in 3 months to keep your computer running smoothly.

5. Turn Off Start-up Programs

Programs that are set to start up when your computer loads can significantly extend the time your machine takes to start, while causing a lot of processes running in the background. If you don’t need a program to start along with your machine, disable it. Click “Start” -> “Run” and type “msconfig”, without the quotes. You will get a System Configuration window which will give you the option to enable or disable programs at “Startup”. Deselect all unnecessary programs, leaving only your antivirus programs enabled.

6. Adjust Visual Effects

Themes, animations and visual effects sure look great on your computer, but can significantly slow it down, especially if you are running low on RAM and your hardware isn’t really up to the mark. Windows 7 comes bundled with the option to adjust visual effects under “Performance Information and Tools” under the “Start” menu. For older versions of Windows, adjust the graphics settings for optimum performance and this will have a significant impact on speed.

7. Disable Windows Indexing

If you are a frequent user of the “Search” option on your computer, chances are high that Windows has indexed and recorded information related to your searches and your files, and has stored it somewhere. Disabling the indexing service can boost your computer’s speed rather noticeably. Click “Start” -> “Run” and type “services.msc”, without the quotes. Select the “services.msc” link that displays to bring up the “Services” window. Scroll down to the “Windows Search” service and disable it.

8. Set A Static IP For Your Computer

When you start up your computer, quite a lot of time is spent in assigning it a dynamic IP address. Assigning it a static IP address is easier on the network as well as on the machine and can save a lot of your start-up time.

To set a static IP address, go to the “Network and Sharing Center” and choose “Change Adapter Settings”. Right-click on the adapter that you are using, select “Properties” -> “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)” -> “Properties”. Select the “Use the following IP address” radio button and enter the static IP that your computer will be using. This has to correspond with your network setup, so be sure to use the right IP address.

9. Get More RAM

Increasing your computer’s RAM is a simple, yet effective slow computer fix! If you use a lot of programs, you need more RAM or your machine will lag. While there is no upper limit on the extent to which you can upgrade your RAM, 4 GB should do just fine for smooth performance.

10. Clear Up Dust

Your computer’s speed issues could be more than just internal, and could also be caused by dust and dirt. Dust can inhibit free airflow and cause your computer to heat up, which in turn reduces its performance. So, get out your cleaning kit and give your machine a thorough cleaning, and you will be surprised at how well your computer works after this.

Dont Look Now But You Have Been Hacked

Don't Look Now But You Have Been HackedMost every home and business office now has a firewall that separates your internal computer network from the wild west of the world wide internet. The good news is that firewalls have become increasingly more sophisticated and properly configured can do an excellent job in securing your internal computer network devices. Modern firewalls now include intrusion detection and prevention, email spam filtering, website blocking and most are able to generate reports on who did what and when. They not only block evil doers from outside your network, but they police the users on the inside from accessing inappropriate resources on the outside internet. Employees can be blocked from visiting sites that can rob your business of valuable productivity time or violate some security compliance requirement. Prime business hours is really not the time to update your Facebook page! Nor do we want our medical and financial service folks using an instant messaging service to chat with and outsider!

The Firewall is the electronic equivalent of the “front door” to your computer network and there is an endless parade of potential evil doers spray painting your doors and windows, relentlessly looking for a way in. A properly configured, managed, and regularly updated Firewall can be very effective in protecting your computer network, both in the office and at home. Behind the firewall, must desktop computers and office servers have local software based firewalls installed that also provide virus protection. Hopefully if something does get past the firewall, the internal virus and desktop firewall solutions will provide an additional level of security.

Firewalls are both reasonable and appropriate but here is the bad news. Most of the hacking you now hear and read about is not done by evil doers coming through your firewall! The real damage is done by those inside your network! Malicious users and dishonest employees will always a treat. There is always the treat of the unscrupulous employee swiping credit card data or passing security information for money. The real danger, however, is from users who are just ignorant of today highly sophisticated security vulnerabilities. The most honest employee can unwittingly become the source of a major security breach resulting in the loss of their own personnel data, or the personal and financial data of your customers.

Take your average laptop user as a perfect example. How many times have you gone down to Starbucks and setup shop? Beautiful day, open air, sun and a high speed internet connection, wireless phone and it is business as usual! If I told you how easy it is to setup a “man in the middle” attack at Starbucks you would give up coffee for the rest of your life. You think you are on the Starbucks WiFi, but actually that kid in the back of the Starbucks with the Wireless Access Point attached to his USB connector, has spoofed you into thinking he is your door to the Internet. He has been monitoring every key stroke on you laptop since you logged in. In fact he now has your log in, password and most everything else on your computer. Now when you head back to the office and plug in, you just unleashed a bot on the company network and he will be back later tonight!

If laptops were not enough, everybody is now walking around with a Smartphone! Did you know that your Smartphone keeps a list of all the WiFi networks you have used recently? Remember when you were down at Starbucks checking your email while waiting for that cup of coffee? Now everywhere you go your phone is sending out a beacon request that sounds like “Starbucks WiFi are you there?” hoping it will get a response and auto connect you to the internet. Remember that kid we were just talking about? He decided to answer your beacon request with a “yeah here I am, hop on!” Just another “MITM” attack and what he can do to your Smartphone, especially those Androids makes your laptop look like Fort Knocks!

Sometimes for fun and entertainment, while sitting at a gate in an airport waiting room, I will net scan the WiFi to identify how many phones, computers and iPads are online and connected. Not saying that I would do this, but I think you could execute a Netbios attack in less the five minutes? It is amazing how many people leave their printer a network sharing options on when they travel. Even more people leave their “Network Neighborhood” settings in the default configuration! The drill is always the same: map the network to see what hosts are connected; port scan for known vulnerabilities; out the exploit tool kit and the rest is actually getting relatively boring for the ethical hacker. Now credit card thieves on the other hand…

Chances are your Internet browser is worst enemy when it comes to securing your privacy. Every website you visit, every email you send and every link you follow is being tracked by hundreds of companies. Don’t believe me? If you are using Firefox, install an add in extension named DoNotTrackme and study what happens. Assuming you are an average internet surfer, in less that 72 hours you will have a list of over 100 companies that have been tracking your every move on the internet! These companies don’t work for the NSA, but they do sell your “digital profile” to those willing to pay for the information. Where has your GPS been? What sites did you visit, what movies did you watch, what products did you buy, what search terms did you select – all of this dutifully reported back by you and your unsuspecting employees. Ever wonder if your competitors want to know what your viewing on line?

Voice Over IP phone systems offer an entirely new range of vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited by the unscrupulous evil doer! We recently illustrated to a client Law Firm (as a paid intrusion detection and penetration testing consultant and with the clients permission) just how easy it is to covertly switch on a conference room based speakerphone and broadcast the entire conference to a remote observer over the internet! In fact, capturing voice packets for replay is the first trick script kiddies learn in hacking school!

VoIP, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, RFid, file and print sharing and even the “cloud” all add up to a list of vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited. What can you do? You need to educate yourself and develop your own “best practice” for safe computing. You need to educate your employees and co-workers about the various vulnerabilities we all face every day as we become more “wired” and more Mobile. Hire a competent Computer Network Security professional to do “penetration testing” on your corporate network and firewall. It would be better to pay a professional to “hack” you, then pay to fix it after you have been hacked! Remember if we can touch your network, we will own your network!

 

Technology That You Can Wear

Technology That You Can WearEverything in innovation is transforming into keen contraptions, and wearable tech devices are the absolute most prominent. These more intelligent advancements can do anything from reading a clock to cautioning you of potential harm, and they’re hot things in the tech world.

Be that as it may, that doesn’t imply that they are all great quality. Despite the fact that there are many wearable gadgets available, large portions of them are erroneous and not justified regardless of the cost. In case you’re in the business for a clever device that will be justified regardless of your cash and convey results, consider these top wearable tech contraptions.

1. Apple Watch

Apple fans have been holding up with teased breath, lastly the Apple Smart Watch is here. It turned out in online stores in April, and is situated to hit stores in America and parts of the United Kingdom in ahead of schedule June. It’s additionally expected to be accessible in Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, and Taiwan, beginning June 26. The greatly appealing item is fundamentally an iPhone on your wrist.

Pros:

Good with iPhone 5 and up
Arrives in an assortment of plans and flavors, including a tradable band
Lightweight and amazingly simple to utilize
Amazing applications, including messages, mail, recreations, and most others good for iPhones
Makes and answers calls
Wellness following, including steps, calories smoldered, and heart rate

Cons:

Extreme cost that keeps running from $349 at the fundamental model and $17,000 for the strong gold
Can’t include new contacts
No alter capacities for instant messages
Doesn’t track rest
Not GPS empowered for wellness
iPhone must be adjacent for it to work completely
Not perfect with different cell phones

2. Fitbit Surge

To the extent effortlessness, looks, and exactness go, you can’t beat the Fitbit brand. Inside of the most recent year, the organization has discharged their most recent model, the Fitbit Surge, complete with extensive wellness following, GPS tracker, guest ID, and music control all in one gadget.

Pros:

Snappy look with a mixture of band hues
Simple to-utilize LCD showcase to screen progress
Tracks steps, rest, stairs, calories smoldered, heart rate, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg, and is a standout amongst the most solid wellness trackers available
Adaptable and permits you to track up to seven exercises
Join with your cell phone for Caller ID and different capacities
Included GPS chipset
Bolsters Android, iOS, and Windows Phone gadgets

Cons:

Solid band that is clunkier than conventional Fitbit styles
Non-all inclusive charger
One of the more pricey devices at $249 each
OK battery life, however in the event that checking different exercises, it won’t last more than five hours
No social networking association

3. Skully AR-1

Savvy watches aren’t the main kind of desired wearable innovation to develop throughout the most recent year. There is likewise a shiny new cruiser protective cap available that demonstrations like the innovation you find in Iron Man. Skully’s AR1 motocycle protective cap takes the best components of Google Glass and places them into a cap that is furnished with heads-up showcase, rearview camera, and GPS route. You additionally have voice control for your music and telephone. This item is intended to be discharged in July or August, however is accessible for preorder now.

Pros:

Hands free tech abilities while in travel
Simpler route with 180 degree rearview camera and GPS
Unites with cell phones
Greatly beautiful
Simple to-center screen that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines
Sun shaded screen at the press of a catch

Cons:

Weighty expense at $1500 a pop
Heavier than a typical protective cap
Not adjustable
Still in testing stage, so there are a considerable measure of crimps to work out

4. Rock Steel

This adaptation of the Pebble line keen watches was discharged in January and components both a great corrective and tech update from the first 2013 model. The Pebble Steel includes a huge presentation and a snappy configuration.

Pros:

Perfect with both iPhones and Android telephones
Expansive, simple to peruse LCD screen
Waterproof and shower/swim well disposed
Offers wellness following including step tallying
A wide mixed bag of applications accessible
Handles fundamental warnings without hardly lifting a finger
Better time-telling capacities than most

Cons:

Maturity tech that doesn’t exactly coordinate the opposition
Extremely restricted capacity with just eight openings for running applications
No heart-rate screen or other propelled wellness following
Pricey for the quality, at $199
No touchscreen, receiver, or speakers
Poor battery life

5. Samsung Gear VR

Virtual the truth is here with the new Samsung Gear VR, which snares to your cell phone and permits you to whole a universe of portable reproduction. This goggle-like headset permits you to join your cell phone and appreciate films, music, shocking landscape, recreations, and more from wherever you are. It’s just perfect with the Samsung Note 4, however there’s a VR Innovator Edition that works with the Galaxy S6.

Pros:

Moderately reasonable for virtual reality at $199-$270 relying upon the model
Incredible feeling of submersion into a virtual world
Free applications
Pack accompanies headset, 16 GB memory card, and a zippered conveying case
Great stride forward for the virtual reality industry

Cons:

Just perfect with Samsung Galaxy Note 4 cell phone
Applications are constrained and lacking, comprising predominantly of semi features and little amusements
Feature determination is grainy contrasted with customary screens
Inconvenient, ugly outline.