Thursday, November 7, 2013

Online Data Backup Solutions

Pacific NorthWest Computers is a reseller for several different online backup providers and recently partnered with BackSync. BackSync Backup is a secure online backup and recovery solution with unlimited retention, centralized management and industry leading features. Small to Medium Business who are looking for Enterprise class backup at a fraction of the price. We don’t waste your time by offering consumer grade products re-branded with a “Pro” label.

BackSync Backup Features:
  • Exchange 2000 thru 2010 - Database, Mailbox and Mail item level restore 
  • Synthetic Full Backup - Exchange Database and regular file backups 
  • VMware ESX/ESXi – Guest level backup of licensed servers 
  • Microsoft SQL 2000 thru 2008 
  • SharePoint - 2003 thru 2010 and WSS 
  • MySQL Server 
  • Oracle Databases 
  • Active Directory and System State 
  • Open File Backup 
  • Normal Flat File Backup- Select disks, folders and files 
  • Network Drive Backup – Agent-less backups of other computers 
  • NAS (Network Attached Storage) Backup 
  • Outlook PST files 
  • Windows Registry 
  • Native Clients for Windows, OS X and Linux 
  • Backup to Local Disk, NAS, File Share or Online 
  • Unlimited file retention 

BackSync Backup Security
  • Encryption – Up to 448 bit strong encryption. 
  • Transmission – Backups are transmitted via a secured encrypted (SSL) link to the backup server. 
  • High Availability – All data is stored on high availability RAID storage networks with the ability to replicate around the world. 
  • Data Center- Backup servers are located in secured SAS70 Type-II data centers that are staffed and monitor 24x7x365. These facilities have redundant cooling, power and Internet. 

BackSync Backup is Simple!
  • Automated – Backup jobs can be scheduled from every minute to once a year or continuous as the files change. 
  • Continuous Data Protection (CDP) – Live monitoring and backup of files and folders for continuous data protection. (Great for laptops and mobile workers). 
  • Retention - Retain data on a per backup job basis up to 10 years for both live and deleted files. 
  • Consolidation – Backup as many computers as you want under a single account for easy management. 
  • Rapid Restore – Restores are performed quickly from the client. Larger restores can be done in in the data center and delivered or shipped directly to you. 
  • Easy to Manage – All backup clients and servers can be managed from a web browser. 
  • Seeding – Large initial backups can be quickly seeded with a USB drive into the data center. 
  • Reporting – Each client maintains detailed reports on every backup with the option to send notifications. 

If you are looking for a standard/non-commercial data backup services, here are some of our top picks!

  • provides unlimited and inexpensive data storage solutions; starting at $5 a month.
  • If you went with a business package, from Carbonite you would have the easiest access to your data as well; you could access data from any type of device. You could also use it like an online file storage/access portal as well! Unlike some of the other online data backup providers, Carbonite does provide backup services for iphones and ipads!
  • SOS's Online Backup plans aren't the cheapest but it's hard to compare apples to apples in this industry. For example, SOS's continuous data backup feature, which backs up a new version of a file the instant it's changed, is a killer feature that I haven't seen elsewhere!

There are other "alternative" solutions such as NAS Drives (Network Accessible Storage Drive) and other alternative services like Google Drive, DropBox, SkyDrive, Etc. But we will get into those later :)

Let us know if you have any questions or comments!

Jon Pienkowski
Pacific NorthWest Computers

New Virus Alert: CryptoLocker!

A New Virus Has Surfaced ~ CryptoLocker

CryptoLocker is a new, nasty piece of malicious software that is infecting computers around the world; encrypting important files and demanding a ransom to unlock them. If you get hit with this virus you risk having your personal data encrypted and lost for good!

This sophisticated malware is delivered the old-fashioned way – an executable file hidden inside an attachment that looks like an ordinary ZIP file or PDF. One small business reports being compromised after clicking on an email attachment that was designed to look like a shipping invoice from the U.S. Postal Service.

The CryptoLocker virus can be removed from an infected system, but unfortunately at this time there is no way to retrieve the private key that can be used to decrypt your files without paying the ransom. Brute forcing the decryption key is not realistic due to the length of time required to break the key. Also any decryption tools that have been released by various companies will not work with this infection. The only method you have of restoring your files is from a backup or Shadow Volume Copies if you have System Restore enabled. Newer variants of CryptoLocker attempt to delete the Shadow Copies, but it is not always successful.

Preventive Measures:
  1. BACKUP ALL OF YOUR DATA ASAP! That’s the only way to reduce the risk of losing your files forever. Also, to avoid getting your backup's encrypted your backup device should be disconnected from your computer until the next time you need to access it or run a backup. 
  2. Download and install a free utility called 'Crypto Prevent'. Crypto Prevent is a small utility that changes a few settings in your computer to help prevent the CryptoLocker infection from happening in the first place! Its not a golden bullet however, so having current data backups is your ulitimate defense. You can downloading the Crypto Prevent utility directly from the link below!

If you need any assistance we can setup a visit to help secure and backup your computer for you!

Let us know if you have any questions or issues!

Jon Pienkowski
Pacific NorthWest Computers

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Browser Redirect Virus Fix! Search Conduit, DefaultTab, MyWay Web Search, Etc.

The majority of computers coming in with virus infections all have the browser hi-jacks, and other browser related malware infections. A browser hijacker is something installs onto a computer system and attaches to an internet browser in order to change internet browser settings; such as the home page and default search engine. This causes the now infected internet browsers to start up using their search bar or their search engine OR even just redirect you to where they want you to go. This type of infection can generate browser pop-up’s while you’re surfing the internet, slow the computer's overall performance as well as lead to further and more severe virus and infection issues!

As with a vast MAJORITY of BHO's (browser helper objects such as tool bars) most use unethical practices and are utilized by ethical and unethical third-parties, including cyber criminals and scam artists, in an effort to generate revenue through sites tied they are working for/partnered with as well as other third-party domains and advertising based search services.

Products and software associated with the browser redirection infections:
  • Activeris AntiMalware
  • Ado System Protect
  • AnyProtect
  • Any Send
  • AssetsManager
  • Babylon Toolbar
  • BFlix Toolbar and TheBFlix
  • BlockandSurf
  • Boost Shopping
  • Browser Guard
  • Browser Protector
  • BrowserRedirector
  • Bubble Sound
  • Chromium (Dregal)
  • CinemaPlus vX.X
  • Conduit
  • Consumer Input Firefox Extension
  • Coupoon (two 'oo')
  • CrossBrowse
  • DefaultTab
  • Delta Toolbar
  • Dregal (Chromium)
  • Driver Pro
  • Driver Restore
  • Driver Updater (No Publisher/Specifics)
  • File Type Assistant
  • FLV Runner Toolbar
  • Free Ride Games Player
  • Games Desktop vX.X
  • GeniusBox
  • HashBrat
  • IdleCrawler
  • IE Web Protect
  • IE Web Protect Plus
  • Linkey
  • Linksicle
  • MapsGalaxy Toolbar (and other random/various related 'MapGalaxy' products)
  • MediaPlayerEnhance
  • MixiDJ  
  • Mobogenie
  • MyPC Backup
  • MyWayWeb Search Toolbar
  • NewPlayer
  • Optimizer Pro vx.x
  • OneSoftPerDay
  • Pasta Leads
  • PC Fix Speed vx.x.x
  • Plus-HD-x.x
  • PC Optimizer Pro
  • PC Pro Cleaner
  • Powerful Browse
  • QuickRef
  • Remote Desktop Access (No Publisher/Specifics)
  • Search Conduit
  • Search Protect
  • Search Results LLC
  • Shop To win
  • Shopper Pro
  • Shoperz
  • SmartWeb
  • Software Updater (No Publisher/Specifics)
  • Software Version Updater (No Publisher/Specifics)
  • Special Savings
  • Unico Browser
  • Wajam
  • Web Companion
  • WebProtector
  • Web Protect for Windows
  • WiseCare 365
  • Yontoo
  • Yontoo Layers
  • YTDownloader

Removal Process:
1st Step
Uninstall all programs listed (and any others "odd" programs that have a similar install date) through "Programs and Features" aka "Add/Remove Programs" found through your computer's control panel.

2nd Step
Download and install MalwareByte’s Antimalware and Spybot Search and Destroy (1.6.2) to use in conjunction with your antivirus to run full virus scans on your computer! Remove (or at lease quarantine) anything that the programs identify!
*If you don't have a current anti-virus we recommend one of the following AntiVirus titles; Microsoft Security EssentialsAvast! Antivirus or Bitdefender Free.

3rd Step
In all of your web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc) you want to examine all installed add-on's and extensions. Remove anything that is related to the software programs listed above. Additionally you can use ADWCleaner and JRT to get even further "under the hood" to make sure all of your web browsers are clean from Adware and Browser Hi-Jack software.

4th Step (EXTRA)
Download and run TDSKiller from Kaspersky Labs to check your systems for any types of rootkit infections.

For direct download links to the software listed above, visit "Pacific NorthWest Computers' Links and Recommended Software" page on our Blog Link below!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Clean up a Slow Performing Computer ~PLUS~ a few Mac tips too ;)

Many think that when a computer starts performing poorly that it's time to buy a new computer. Does your desktop or laptop often hang on the hour glass or swirling circle for several minutes at a time? Does "Not Responding" sound familiar to you? Is it slow to load files or applications, and does it take a long time to boot? Even if you're extremely careful about how you use your computer and never download questionable material, over time it is inevitable that your system will accumulate unwanted registry entries, errors, clutter and debris. Here's how to clean your computer up and get it running faster again!

Steps To Take:
  1. Update your antivirus software and run a full scan. Antivirus software helps protect you from viruses and other suspect files that can spread by simply opening email. It performs regular system checks and detects when foreign files are trying to infiltrate your computer. Click the link below for a list of the security software that Pacific Northwest Computers' recommends and use:

    **Do not use Registry Optimizers or so called Clean Reg Tools.!! 
    Most of these cause more harm than good in the future with your PC!!!

  2. Clear up some space on the hard drive. Deleting unnecessary files that your computer stores is an easy and simple way to free up memory and improve overall performance. To do this, access Disk Cleanup in Windows and delete Temporary Files on a Mac.

    *For Windows XP, Windows 7, and Vista: Click Start, click All Programs, clickAccessories, click System Tools, and then click Disk Cleanup. If several drives are available, you might be prompted to specify which drive you want to clean.

    *For Mac: Go to Applications, click Utilities, and click Command Prompt. In the Command Prompt, type in "sudo rm -fr /tmp/*" and hit Enter. The temporary files that have been left behind on your computer will now be cleared.
  3. Uninstall useless programs or programs you rarely use. These can include games or media files that you or your children never use, as well as programs that have become redundant or obsolete.

  4. When uninstalling programs be sure you don't need them! Some programs are needed for the operation of the computer. So if you are unsure about a program then leave it alone or do a quick search on Google to see if you can find out whether it's good or bad.
  5. For Windows: Follow the Start Menu to Settings and then to Control Panel. From this screen click on Add/remove programs or Uninstall a program and uninstall programs that are no longer needed.

    *When uninstalling programs, be sure you don't need them before removing! Some programs are needed for the operation of the computer. So if you are unsure about a program then leave it alone or do a quick search on Google to see if you can find out whether it might be good or bad.

    *For Mac: Kill unwanted or redundant programs by dropping the program files into the Recycle Bin.
  6. Remember to empty your Recycle Bin after deleting these files because they are still on the hard drive and taking up space; just right click the icon and navigate to “Empty Bin.”
  7. Download and install and run spyware removing programs like Spybot Search and Destroy. Spyware is a kind of malicious software installed on computers that tracks certain information without the user's knowledge. For both privacy implications and the health of your computer, it's best to delete spyware and other "malware."

    *You can download Spybot and other security software for your computer for free by using this link:

  8. Defragment your hard drive. Fragmentation basically is when your computer's files get disorganized, hurting your computer's ability to lay data out sequentially. Defragmentation is the correction to this process.

    *For Windows: click on My Computer, then click Properties, then click the "Tool's" tab. From this tab just click on the Defragment button and then run the program. You can set it up so that your computer automatically defragments at set intervals.

    *Besides the Windows Defragmentation utility, we recommend MyDefrag (formerly JKDefrag). MyDefrag is a disk defragmenter and optimizer for Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/2008/X64 computers. It's very easy to use, fast, low overhead, with several optimization strategies, and can handle floppies, USB disks, memory sticks, and anything else that looks like a disk to Windows!
    *For Mac: Mac operating systems rarely, if ever, need to have their disk space defragmented.

  9. Check your RAM. RAM stands for Random Access Memory. These are the computer's memory chips. If there are not enough of them or they are not very large in size, you computer will use your hard disk to store intermediate results. But this is a much slower process. The computer will appear busy and will also be slow to write and read things from the hard disk. You can hear it, and the LED on the computer itself will light up and just stay on. Right click on the My Computer icon, then select properties, then read what is said on the 'General' tab. For Windows XP it should be 1GB or more and 2GB's or more for Windows 7 or 8. Anything less then those numbers and that might be the problem.

    *If RAM is the real problem, your computer will be slow whenever you start a new application. If your computer is only slow when you turn on your computer or reboot, it is more likely that it is some other problem.

    *Before you rush out to get some additional RAM in a computer shop, make sure you know exactly what type fits in with your computer, and convince yourself that there are still empty slots (inside your computer) that can be used to put the RAM in. For most people it is best to make a computer repair shop responsible for all this; you can give us a call and you can bring your system if you need help!!

  • Never install software that you don't intend to use regularly.
  • Be careful about what you install; most free downloads from certain sites can come with some form of spyware/malware/grayware or possibly a virus.
  • Make an effort to defrag your computer weekly.
  • To insure safe broadband internet browsing install a firewall program (Microsoft has one built in with XP) or buy an external firewall router.
  • Always preform a spyware scan and virus scan weekly if you do minimal file/program downloads. If you do many downloads weekly, then the suggested performance is daily.

  • When uninstalling programs be sure you don't need them; some programs are needed for the operation of the computer.
  • When using the spyware removal program, be sure to go over the directions thoroughly. Since this program makes changes to the registry you can actually make the computer perform worse than before. If you are not an avid computer user, just clean the detected items that appear in red, or consult a friend who knows about computers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

If you're trying to keep cool, your computer probably is too!!

If you're trying to keep cool this summer, your computer probably is too!! 

Simply put, if your computer becomes too hot, it is possible to destroy and shorten the lifespan of the hardware inside your computer, leading to irreparable damage and potential data loss. Besides losing your data, heat pecks away at your computer's internal organs (the motherboard, CPU, and more) significantly shortening its lifespan.

If it's hot in the room where your computer is, get a little fan pointed toward the system to help circulate the air around it. Or, if you are VERY careful (and want to try), turn the computer off, take the side cover off and blow the fans out with canned air and/or very carefully vacuum the inside of the computer out. That can sometimes give you a computer a night and day difference in temperature as well as keeps your computer fans from sounding like jet turbines!

*Here's a word of caution: If your computer is overheating, resist the urge to take the side of the case off the computer. Most computers are very carefully designed to ensure that cool air is delivered to critical components. Removing the side of the case disrupts the circulation or air for the system.

If cleaning and what not does not help you with to get your computer running cooler, you probably want to start planning some system-cooling upgrades; which we can help with!!

Any questions or ANYTHING, drop us a line or give us a call!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

PNW Computers' Links And Recommended Software

PNW Computers' Links And Recommended Software

A basic list of software, tools and utilities that we use and recommend!
We will update this list as much as possible! 

Tools and Utilities:

  • Hirens All-In-On Boot CD - Great utility CD with TONS of diagnostic software; HD manufacturers included!
  • CCleaner - Ccleaner is an EXCELLENT freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool.
  • GParted - GParted is a free partition manager that enables you tor resize, copy, and move partitions without data loss. Some repair capabilities as well.
  • Memtest86 - MemTest86 is a free, thorough, stand alone memory test for x86 architecture computers.
  • Offline NT Password & Registry Editor - This is a utility to reset the password of any user that has a valid lcoal account on your Windows System.
  • HFSExplorer - HFSExplorer is an application that can read Mac-formatted hard disks and disk images. It can read the file systems HFS (Mac OS Standard), HFS+ (Mac OS Extended) and HFSX (Mac OS Extended with case sensitive file names), including most .dmg disk images created on a Mac, including zlib / bzip2 compressed images and AES-128 encrypted images 
  • IsoBuster - IsoBuster is actually a CD/DVD and BD/HD DVD data recovery software that can interpret, open and extract various CD/DVD/Blu-ray disk image files, including DMG.
  • Revo Uninstaller Free - Revo Uninstaller lists the installed programs and components for all and current user. With a choice of views, as well as a context menu, information on program components is available: program properties, their registry entries and links to manufacturer's web site, for a start. The "Search" option finds installed applications just by typing the first few letters of their name. Revo Uninstaller Free scans for "leftovers" with advanced algorithms that are precise, fast and very effective in searching for leftover Windows Services, Drivers, File associations, Shell Extensions, COM components, Windows Installer components, program settings and more!
  • MyDefrag - MyDefrag (formerly JKDefrag) is a disk defragmenter and optimizer for Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/2008/X64. Completely automatic and very easy to use, fast, low overhead, with several optimization strategies, and can handle floppies, USB disks, memory sticks, and anything else that looks like a disk to Windows.
  • CUTEpdf Writer - Create PDF documents on the fly for Free! Portable Document Format (PDF) is the de facto standard for the secure and reliable distribution and exchange of electronic documents and forms around the world. CutePDF Writer (formerly CutePDF Printer) is the free version of commercial PDF creation software. CutePDF Writer installs itself as a "printer subsystem". This enables virtually any Windows applications (must be able to print) to create professional quality PDF documents - with just a push of a button! ALL FOR FREE!
  • VideoLAN VLC Media Player - VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols without external codec or program. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.
  • Sumatra PDF Viewer - Sumatra PDF is a slim, free, open-source PDF reader for Windows. Sumatra has a very minimalistic design and is no where NEAR the security risk that Adobe Reader can be. Simplicity has a higher priority than a lot of features with Sumatra. It's small, secure and starts up very fast.
  • Piriform Recuva - Accidentally deleted an important file? Lost something important when your computer crashed? No problem! Recuva recovers files deleted from your Windows computer, Recycle Bin, digital camera card, or MP3 player. And it's free!

Security Software:

What is a rootkit!? A rootkit is a program or a program kit that hides the presence of malware (or itself) in a system. A rootkit for a Windows systems is a program that penetrates into the system and intercepts the system functions; Windows API. It can effectively hide its presence by intercepting and modifying low-level API functions. Moreover it can hide the presence of particular processes, folders, files and registry keys. Some rootkits install their own drivers and services in the system and they also remain “invisible".  

Software Sites:

  • - Great site that hosts TONS of updates and software titles; anything you can think of really.
  • - Great "update-all-at-once" site that lets you install/update multiple programs without dealing with individual installers, prompts, etc. One download, one install; as many programs as you like!

Let us know of any issues with inks!

Updated 11/1/2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

DC Jack ~ Laptop Repair

Is your laptop 'jacked' up? ;)
We know what to do! 

If you give Pacific NorthWest Computers a call today!!
We can get your 'jacked' up laptop FIXED for CHEAPER than the competition!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Data Backup - Whats Out There Other Than Online?


Other than an online backup solution, what is a basic setup that you recommend for keeping your computer data backed up?

Answer: Pacific NorthWest Computers recommends getting a small portable hard drive for each individual computer you may have at your home/office. We have seen clients use one hard drive for multiple computers but that usually ends up being more of a hassle rather than a convenience. Plus if that one drive was to fail, everyone's data could be lost! So with an individual drive for each computer, backups can be scheduled and completely automated.  Additionally, in the case of hard drive failure, you only have to worry about the data for that one user versus potentially losing all of the data for multiple users!
If you want to make sure you data is REALLY secure, A Network Accessible Storage drive (also known as a NAS drive) is another option to take a look at. A NAS is like an external hard drive that is setup over your network. Besides creating easy access to data from any computer connected to that network, it also uses multiple hard drives to protect your data in the event that one of the drives was to fail. With a NAS, all your data and information is mirrored to additional drives so in the event a hard drive fails you don't lose any data OR have any down time! For businesses, no down time is VERY important!

So there are some other options as well, but this is a good starting point :)

If you have any general data backup questions or questions about your data backup system, give us a call or shoot us an email today!!