Which is better...PC or MAC?
For most home users, it will come down to personal preference. Both platforms perform basic functions such as word processing, internet browsing, and e-mail.
Macintosh computers are more suited for multimedia tasks like graphics and video editing. Applications like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator were originally designed to run on the Macintosh platform. The industry's best video editing application, Final Cut Pro, is only available for the Macintosh platform.
Personal Computers (PCs) most often come pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows. Business applications, computer-based games, and suites like Office 365 are designed to run on Windows.
What's the difference between a virus and spyware?
Viruses are malicious software (malware) applications designed to interfere with a computer's normal operation. Viruses can corrupt data, delete files, allow remote access to a hacker, capture logins (usernames and passwords), and even crash the entire operating system.
Spyware, as the name implies, is designed to spy or monitor computer usage. It is most commonly used to track internet usage such as frequently visited websites, searches, and even spending habits. This information is primarily used to deliver targeted advertisements in the form of pop-ups and redirect internet browsers to advertisers' websites.
Both viruses and spyware can drastically slow down a computer's performance. They run in the background, using up cpu and memory resources and are constantly reading and writing to the hard drive.
How can viruses and spyware be avoided?
Viruses and spyware can be inadvertently downloaded from malicious websites, e-mail attachments, and infected USB drives. Internet users usually encounter malicious websites when searching for illegal software, pirated movies and music, and pornographic websites. Unexpected e-mails with attachments, e-mails from unknown sources, and even e-mails from known sources that weren't expected to have attachments, should be deleted without ever being opened. Flash drives and external hard drives should be scanned for viruses and spyware before data is read or written to them.
Is it safe to backup my data to the Cloud?
It is a common misconception that the Cloud is a recent concept for web-based computing. The term Cloud is nothing more than a catch-phrase for the Internet itself. In early telecommunications diagrams, a cartoon-like cloud was used to represent anything outside the building. As all things retro seem to come back around at some point, the term was given new life as a nickname for Internet.
When data is copied to web-based storage such as Google Drive, OneDrive, and DropBox...it is being copied to an online server in a data center. Data centers are generally maintained by a minimal staff, and that staff has access to any and all uploaded data. Without the use of encryption software like 7-Zip, uploaded data can be easily compromised and should never be regarded as safe or private. External storage such as DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and USB drives are the most secure way to backup data.
How can my identity be stolen?
Online shopping, banking, and even investing have become part our normal routines. Most legitimate vendors, banks, and service providers invest in online security to protect their customers. They do so using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Most Internet users know this as using "https" instead of "http" when accessing a website. Most browsers will also show a padlock icon when using SSL. The use of SSL allows the connection between user and server to be encrypted. Encryption basically scrambles that data that is transmitted back and forth so that if it's intercepted, it isn't usable. The padlock icon can be clicked on to display the website's SSL certificate.
Before entering any personal information into any website, ensure that the connection is encrypted by checking for a valid SSL certificate. The certificate should have an expiration date that has not passed. It should use a minimum of a 256-bit encryption scheme. The encryption will be indicated by the term "encryption type", "encryption algorithm", or "key type." Fake websites are also another way personal information could be captured. Fake websites will often clone legitimate websites, but will use common misspellings of domain names. One method is to use search engines rather than trying to type the domain name manually.
Can I speed up my computer by deleting files?
It is a common misconception that performance is somehow related to available disk space. Once a hard drive reaches less than twenty (20) percent free space, Windows automatic defragment will pause until space is made available. Before a hard drive reaches that point, disk space will have no effect on performance. Performance is degraded by applications that start when the operating system boots and continue to run in the background, using up CPU and memory resources. Software such as Sysinternals Autoruns can be used to identify and disable applications that do not need to constantly run. System memory can also be upgraded to increase performance. Websites like Crucial and Newegg are great resources for identifying compatible memory upgrades.