Basic Tips and Images
People often call about things that could be a simple fix and are given a few simple things to do to fix the problem (such as plugging in a device, or turning it on) and their favorite reply is "Yes, I've tried all of that already." Sometimes it is a simple matter of pressing the power button on the screen. This actually happens quite often. Here you can see a network cable unplugged on the back side of the machine (on the left side). Simply pushing it in until the little tab on the connector snapped in and restored the connection. On the right side you can see the light indicator is blinking now that the cable is plugged in. People just don't realize how often their networking issues are just cables that have come unplugged.
Here are the two ends of a network cable (cat 5e) for a computer with "no internet" that couldn't seem to connect to anything else. If you look closely, you will notice that the one on the right side is broken. The little tab that holds the connecter in has snapped off creating a "loose end". With nothing holding it in place, the connector just worked its way out over time until the connection finally failed.
Here is an example of spill damage. The customer spilled water or soda in their laptop and to their surprise, it didn't break - at first. Laptops are notoriously resistant to spills. People spill things in their laptop computers and think all is well as long as it is still working. What happens, though, is mold eventually starts to grow where the spill didn't get a chance to dry properly. This mold then spreads to the circuitry where it then shorts out and destroys the computer. At this point your computer will never be the same IF it works all. Chances are the mold will continue thriving like a healthy little forest until it eventually does enough damage to render the computer useless. This could all be avoided by either taking the laptop apart as soon as the spill happens and allowing it to dry properly. If you can't do it, take it to someone who can. It will probably save your laptop.
Here is another example of spill damage. Mold started growing inside and within a few weeks it spread to something important. Once again, there is nothing you can do to save this one. The mold is inside the connector and it is there to stay. You may be able to get most of the mold, but you will never get it all and it is only a matter of time before it just grows back. If the inside components had been dried out properly shortly after the spill this problem could have easily been prevented. But it's too late now.
It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it! Please take a look at your computer before you call a service tech. If it is filthy, please clean it. A good mixture of water and rubbing alcohol works well. People often send a laptop for service with mystery goo stuck to the keys and years worth of remains from snacks sprinkled about the surfaces we have to touch. Please, do not feel insulted if someone refuses to work on your machine. No offense is intended, but disgusting is what it is.
The condensation from the AC vent overhead has been dripping on this keyboard. At the very least, this will eventually cause mold to grow and short out the keyboard. Or, the water could accumulate inside and cause a short right away. In a really unlucky case this could cause a fire and have a very bad ending.
A lot of fake antivirus out there uses really generic names like "Antivirus Security Pro" as seen circled in red in this image. If if you don't recognize the name and it looks really generic, it's probably fake.
This type of virus is called ransomware. It is malicious software program designed to encrypt all your files so that you can no longer access them. Basically, your files are held ransom unless you pay the ransom before they are destroyed. You are given a specific amount of time to purchase a key from the attacker, which can be used to recover your files. After receiving payment, the attacker may, or may not, restore your files for you. Good Luck!!
This virus disguises itself to look like the Adobe Reader EULA. It looks exactly like the real one, but clicking the "accept" button will make things much worse. If you haven't just installed a fresh copy of Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader and neither were recently upgraded with your knowledge, then it's probably malicious. Typically, clicking any of the buttons will install rogue antivirus software. Rogue antivirus software is a type of virus that pretends to be your antivirus. It will display a message trying to make the user think it has always been on their computer and that the subscription has just expired. It pretends to find lots of viruses on your computer. Then, it will offer to remove all of these viruses for a small fee. It will tell you to "renew me so that I can remove all these viruses I have detected." They just want your credit card info - ALL of your credit cards. They will lie and say that your credit card was rejected and insist that you try another card. Lots of people will try all their credit cards and they will all be "rejected by the credit card company." In reality the attacker is not even charging your card just yet. They just want to collect the info for as many of your cards as possible. Next they will use your credit cards however they want.
This is called scare-ware. Usually it will lock down your browser so that you can no longer browse the web. Next, the attacker will make up a scary story hoping the shock will prompt you to send them a bunch of money through Western Union. They pretend to be part of a federal agency, like the FBI, and demand that you go to Walgreen's, or CVS, or a gas station, or anywhere that you would have access to Western Union to submit your "fine". Do you actually believe the Feds are going to send you to Walgreen's? A lot of people fall for this scheme. The reason the attacker uses Western Union is because it can't be tracked. There is no paper-trail leading to the attacker. This is much safer for them to do than stealing your credit cards.
There are also the annoying optimizers everywhere. Sometimes these programs are innocent and other times they are just malicious. Either way, they usually do more harm to your computer than good. Many times these programs pop up with false claims that hundreds or even thousands of errors have been detected on your computer, and all they need is your credit card info. Sometimes the "fix now" button does nothing and they have just collected a few dollars and now they have your credit card number. At best, these computer optimizers will fix a few minor issues that may have never cause a problem at the risk of tampering with things that could render your computer unusable. There are many different ones out there and they love using falsified credentials such as "Microsoft Gold Partner" or "Better Business Bureau", etc. Use caution when you encounter these programs. Some of them are notoriously difficult to remove.
Many websites will tell you things are out of date, such as Java or Adobe Flash Player, and will trick you into clicking an update or install button that will install a virus. Unless you absolutely trust a website, it is much safer to go to the vendor's website and update the program yourself. To update Flash Player, for example, you could just go to adobe.com and download the newest version of Adobe Flash Player.
Some users are savvy enough to open up task manager and see what is slowing down their computer. They disable and shut down everything they can, but their computer is still running slow. They saw some of these programs in task manager, but didn't realize they were just viruses with trusted names. Here you see a bunch of files with the names of commonly used programs like chrome, skype, and spoolsv (printer) in a place where they don't belong - right inside the user profile. These are likely all parts of the same virus. If you shutdown any one of these programs, one of the others will just immediately start it again. This is a common sight for DOS viruses (denial of service). There are multiple types of these, as well. one type checks all the running processes on your computer and shuts down the ones it is programed to. Another type just makes the computer so busy doing nothing that it doesn't have time to do anything you think is more important, like working. The latter is the more common of the two, slowing your computer down to a halt. If simply clicking delete on all of these files would remove the virus that would be great, but unfortunately it is usually not that simple.