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Which Browser is the Best for Your System? | Apple Valley Computers

Which Browser is the Best for Your System?

The era of the modern web browser recently celebrated a significant milestone. In 1993, two researchers from the University of Illinois released Mosaic, the first graphical web browser that would later be developed for widespread installation and use. Back then, the web was called the World Wide Web, the WWW or the WEB; after the arrival of Mosaic, this digital information system became synonymous with the internet.

On the day that Mosaic turned 25 years old, Google and Mozilla announced new major versions of their Chrome and Firefox web browsers. Chrome 64 and Firefox Quantum are packed with new features that are clearly designed to compete for greater market share. In the case of Chrome, Google is going out on a limb by providing native ad blocking features while Mozilla is offering greater speed and smoother performance with Firefox Quantum.

Aside from Google and Mozilla, two other major combatants in the battle for browser supremacy are Microsoft and Apple; other worthy fighters include Vivaldi, Opera, and Maxthon. Your choice of browser boils down to two factors: system capacity and your browsing needs. You can always have more than one browser installed in your system since virtually all of them are offered for free. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Chrome: If you are constantly using Google services such as Gmail, Docs, Translator Toolkit, and YouTube, this is the browser you should use, but keep in mind that its extensions and plugins are being deprecated.

Vivaldi: If you find Google Chrome boring on the desktop, this browser will liven things up with improved performance and interesting features.

Firefox: The most recent Quantum version boasts the fastest rendering and performance on the market. Unlike Chrome, Mozilla has no intention of deprecating extensions and other third-party tools for Firefox, which makes it the best browser for customization. Firefox is highly recommended for Linux distributions.

Edge: If you run Windows 10 and use cloud services such as Outlook and Office 365, this is the browser you need. According to extensive testing by Microsoft and third-party reviewers, Edge will go easy on laptop, tablet and smartphone batteries.

Opera: Without a doubt, this is the best browser for mobile devices. Chrome for Android is great for accessing Google services, but the Opera smartphone browsing experience is superior.

Maxthon: There are two versions of this browser: Maxthon Cloud is a desktop app loaded with interesting and useful features while Nitro is a lightweight browser that focuses on speed.

Custom Computer Builds for Cryptocurrency Mining | Apple Valley Computers

Custom Computer Builds for Cryptocurrency Mining

Not a single day goes by without news headlines reporting on the world of cryptocurrencies, which collectively amount to a market capitalization higher than $530 million. As the oldest, most valuable and controversial of all digital currencies, Bitcoin tends to dominate headlines, and this has a lot to do with the volatility of its exchange rate and the way its mining operations have developed over the years.

All cryptocurrencies operate on a blockchain, a peer-to-peer (P2P) software network that serves as a public ledger as well as an authentication tool to clear transactions and set the monetary value of the digital coins. Transactions are cleared by means of complex calculations that require considerable processing power; these blockchain calculations are performed by on a P2P basis by computers connected to cryptocurrency networks, and the individuals who keep these systems operational can be rewarded with digital tokens, this creates the financial incentive known as cryptocurrency mining.

The Big Hype Surrounding Cryptocurrency Mining

Bitcoin mining has become a very controversial activity for various reasons. The original cryptocurrency was developed in a way that makes mining extremely difficult for average individuals; these days, mining cartels control the Bitcoin blockchain by means of outlandishly expensive rigs that consume lots of electricity. Unfortunately, Bitcoin mining has virtually become off limits for individuals; however, this is not the case with other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, which has been developed in a way that makes mining a more democratic operation.

Ethereum is not as valuable as Bitcoin, but its advanced blockchain has prompted financial regulators in Russia and Singapore to develop digital versions of their national currencies. This is a cryptocurrency with a more stable and definite future than Bitcoin, and it does not require impossible mining rigs. In fact, a custom computer build can be easily put together for the purpose of Ethereum mining.

The basic system requirements for an Ethereum mining rig include:

  • A 64-bit version of Windows 10.
  • A motherboard with various PCI slots for the purpose of adding graphics processor units (GPUs).
  • A modern CPU with 4 GB of RAM, preferably DDR4.
  • A power supply unit that provides sufficient wattage to keep the GPUs running efficiently.

The complex blockchain transactions are mostly handled by GPUs manufactured by Nvidia and AMD. These graphics cards should be powerful enough to handle virtual reality games; in fact, gaming rigs are often put to work as Ethereum miners.

In terms of power consumption and broadband access, prospective miners should evaluate their monthly electricity and internet bills and search for Ethereum mining calculators to determine if this would be a profitable activity. For questions about custom computer builds, contact A Plus Computers today.
Personal Computing Trends to Watch for in 2018 | Victorville Home Networking

Personal Computing Trends to Watch for in 2018

As is often the case after every holiday season, High Desert residents who received personal computing devices as presents are happy and enjoying the wonders of advanced technology. Think about previous systems you have used in recent years and how far we have come along since then; as impressed as you might be with your new desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you should expect to be even more impressed in the near future.

With the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas just around the corner, tech analysts expect to see an even greater shift towards portable and mobile computing with the possible exception of custom gaming rigs, which are getting a major boost thanks to new and exciting virtual reality titles.

If you plan to get into VR gaming this year, feel free to stop by A Plus Computers in Apple Valley to learn more about custom computer builds. In the meantime, here are some personal computing trends that will likely make headlines in the tech sector during 2018:

Laptops Are Here to Stay

Even though netbooks and tablets managed to make a huge impact in recent years, they have mostly failed to dethrone laptops. Even Microsoft has taken a break from tablets and hybrids to introduce a clamshell Surface laptops, which means that sleek, slim and powerful notebooks will continue to dominate in 2018, but this does not mean that hybrids are over; in fact, speech and gesture recognition technology will make these portable devices even more powerful and attractive.

Touch and Gesture Control

As previously mentioned, the kinetic input will be a major new development for new laptops, and we will likely see more touchscreen, motion and eye recognition sensors. A major driver of this trend will be the incorporation of Android apps that will work with Chrome OS; this will move more new Chromebook model to feature touchscreen technology since users are already used to tactile operation mobile apps. Eye-tracking technology will be incorporated into portable computers that will allow users to open apps and even move screen cursors and pointers by simply directing their gaze.

Low-Power Laptops

Even the fanciest laptops in 2017 could not manage battery life longer than five hours per charge when streaming HD video; however, next-generation processors being developed by Intel and Qualcomm may be able to reduce power requirements by as much as 50 percent this year, which means that new laptops could handle full operational loads for more than 12 hours on a single charge.

Trends in Custom Computer Builds for 2018 | Apple Valley Laptop Repair

Trends in Custom Computer Builds for 2018

Have you made a tech-related New Year’s resolution? If not, you may want to consider making 2018 a year when you will treat yourself to a custom computer build or upgrade your current rig. Building your dream desktop system does not cost as much as you think; in fact, one of the most attractive features of custom computer builds is their low prices when compared to off-the-shelf options.

Although custom computer builds tend to be associated with video gaming enthusiasts, custom desktops can be assembled for any purpose. Graphic designers, musicians, and digital video producers often prefer to build their own systems to suit their needs. In recent years, individuals interested in the potentially lucrative world of cryptocurrency mining have been keeping computer shops busy with orders to build custom crypto-mining rigs. Interior designers are also placing custom build orders for clients who want to make a visual statement with stylish PC cases.

Entering the PC Gaming World with Properly Built Custom Computers

If your gaming interests have thus far been confined to video game consoles such as the Sony PlayStation and the Microsoft Xbox, 2018 would be a good year for you to get into PC gaming. Video game developers are increasingly shifting their focus to virtual reality, and the titles that have been released thus far are performing better on PC gaming rigs than on consoles. Games such as “Doom VFR” and “Rez: Infinite” have received accolades from critics who have played both PC and console versions, and the consensus is that consoles are not worthy competitors to desktop rigs when it comes to virtual reality.

In 2018, one of the most anticipated video game titles will be “Wipeout,” a futuristic racing classic that is getting a detailed VR treatment to the delight of fans who grew up playing this game on their early Pentium PCs. Current VR horror titles such as “Narcosis” and “Resident Evil 7” have proven to offer a much better experience on PC gaming rigs outfitted with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets.

Getting started with custom computer builds in 2018 is easy; the seasoned PC technicians at A Plus Computers in Apple Valley can help you choose the motherboard, graphics card, CPU, power supply, hard drive, case, and peripherals that will suit your computing needs. All systems are properly tested and benchmarked to ensure top performance, and your custom system will have the advantage of being guaranteed and supported by local customer service.

Optimize Your Computer to Start Off the New Year | Apple Valley Virus Removal

Optimize Your Computer to Start Off the New Year

New computers make great holiday gifts, but not everyone is lucky to find a shiny new desktop or laptop under the tree in December. Being able to start off the New Year with a new computer is an ideal situation for just about everyone; if this is not your case, you still have the option of speeding up your old system with a computer optimization service or an upgrade from A Plus Computers in Apple Valley.

Just about any PC or Mac can be optimized to work as it did when you turned it on for the first time; in some cases, performance can be improved through hardware upgrades so that your system will run even better than it did straight out of the box. If you use your computer for school or business, optimizing it early in January will help you boost productivity for the year.

Start The Year With Comprehensive Computer Maintenance

The level of optimization your computer should get for the year will depend on the configuration of your system, intended usage, and goals; for example, a Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 tablet or hybrid can be easily restored to its factory settings after your data has been backed up. PCs and desktops running Windows 7 can be optimized by means of cleaning up old files, repairing the registry, updating drivers, and running a defragmentation utility on the hard drive.

Mac desktops and MacBooks can also be brought back to an out-of-the-box state through various optimization strategies that make the SSD unit more efficient. Reinstalling Mac OS X after backing up your software and personal data is always an option.

If your system can support an upgrade in 2018, you should strongly consider this option. Windows computers are easier to upgrade than Macs, and they may last longer if the memory, graphics card, and hard drive can be replaced with new and modern components. Owners of very old computers that no longer support upgrades can still use their systems for browsing the web if they choose to install a new operating system based on the Linux kernel.

Another reason to bring your system to A Plus Computers in January is to inspect the hardware. Faulty capacitors, dusty fans, bad memory, and ailing hard drives could result in systemic failure and loss of important data. To learn more about computer optimization and upgrade options, contact our office today.

Custom Gaming PCs Make Great Holiday Gifts | Apple Valley Personal Computers

Custom Gaming PCs Make Great Holiday Gifts

If you have loved ones who are passionate about video games, a custom gaming desktop is one of the best gifts you can surprise them with this Christmas. Even if their gaming lifestyle is focused on video game consoles, all gamers know that PC games always deliver that extra boost to maximize their experience, not to mention that PC gaming also offers a wider range of titles that are often not available on the Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony consoles.

In video gaming parlance, custom desktops are known as PC gaming rigs; these are powerful systems configured in ways that guarantee the high performance demanded by today’s modern PC titles such as “Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus,” a game that has been praised for its storytelling, outstanding graphics and incisive political commentary that is very apropos of our times. Another game that is being praised for the full sensorial experience it delivers is “Rez Infinite,” a musically driven shooter that is a remake of a Sega Dreamcast title but is now available on PC as a virtual reality game.

If you are not familiar with the specifications of custom gaming rigs, the technicians at A Plus Computers in Apple Valley recommend that you consider the two aforementioned titles and their requirements when you think about gifting a system. Although both games have minimum requirements, you will want to look at the optimum requirements, particularly for “Rex Infinite” since this is a virtual reality game; with this in mind, here are some ideal specs:

  • Central Processing Unit: Intel Core i5, 7500 which runs at speeds of at least 3.4 GHz.
  • Graphics Processing Unit: 8 GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070.
  • Random Access Memory: 8 GB DDR4.
  • Storage: 1 TB Seagate or Samsung HDD or SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10 with Fall Creators Update

As for the display, you can choose a 4K 1080 monitor or take advantage of a television set at home that already offers this resolution. For Rex and other VR titles, you can choose between the Oculus Rift or HTC VIVE headsets. When it comes to controllers, it is better to let gamers choose the ones they feel most comfortable with.

At A Plus Computers, we build gaming rigs with liquid cooling and attractive cases that feature lighting effects. Our systems are benchmarked and tested for the best performance, and our work is always guaranteed. Contact us today to learn more about custom gaming rigs.
The Dangers of Online Shopping During the Holidays | High Desert Personal Computers

The Dangers of Online Shopping During the Holidays

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday already behind us, retailers across the United States are looking forward to the rest of the holiday shopping season, which is poised to break sales records previously set in 2016. On Cyber Monday alone, sales were expected to surpass the $3.5 billion mark, which is what happens when 49 percent of American shoppers go online to find deals.

The holiday shopping season is followed with great interest by economist and market analysts, but there is another professional sector that is keeping a close eye on this annual retail extravaganza. Information security experts are concerned about the steady rise of malicious hacking during the holidays, and they expect hackers to be very active this year.

If you plan on getting some holiday shopping done online this year, you should also plan on staying safe. At A Plus Computers in Apple Valley, our information security experts recommend that you take the following precautions:

  • Use only systems you can actually trust. When was the last time you updated your antivirus software? When was that last time you conducted a full scan of your desktop or laptop? If you do not trust your computer to be 100 percent safe for online shopping, feel free to bring it to A Plus Computers for an evaluation.
  • With the above in mind, you should never do any online shopping at internet cafés or public terminals. Hackers are known to install keylogging malware as well as wireless data sniffers on public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Be very careful when checking your email during the holidays. Phishing scams tend to multiply in the days before Thanksgiving, and they tend to continue until late in December. Never click or tap on attachments that seem suspicious, and the same goes for links that you do not fully trust.
  • The browser you utilize for online shopping should support protocols such as HTTPS and secure socket layer. Always look for icons that look like locks and keys, and keep your browser up-to-date. Check the settings of your antivirus software for browser integration.
  • Practice good password and PIN safety by changing them every month; this is something that you can turn into a habit by using a solid password manager.

If you are in doubt about the security of your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, you should first make sure that the device is protected before getting online shopping or banking done during the holidays. Contact A Plus Computers for more information.

New Ransomware Alert for the High Desert | Apple Valley Computer Repair

New Ransomware Alert for the High Desert

Information security researchers have detected a new malware threat deployed by malicious hackers days before the start of the holiday shopping season. The threat has been identified as a ransomware attack called Scarab, and it is being distributed by means of a massive botnet known as Necurs, which is sending out phishing emails at a very fast rate.

In just a few hours, the botnet delivered millions of email messages that contain a scanned document as an attachment. The content of the email instructs recipients to extract the zipped document so that it can be evaluated; in some cases, the attachment is purported to be a receipt for a recent online purchase. In reality, the attachment is a Trojan that downloads a Visual Basic script and executes the Scarab ransomware.

Symptoms of Malware & Ransomware Infection

Computers infected with this ransomware will display a message explaining that the files have been encrypted and hijacked. Once encrypted, users will be locked out of their files unless they pay a ransom and receive a key from the hackers to remove the encryption. As has been the case with previous ransomware attacks, the hackers offer an incentive: affected users who get in touch with the attackers soon after they see the message will pay less than those who take their time; however, the ransom amount appears to be negotiable.

One variant of this attack features subject lines such as “Scanned from Epson” or “Scanned from Lexmark,” which is a standard subject line used by popular scanners connected to office networks for the purpose of delivering imaged documents via email. What this subject line suggests is that hackers are expecting to trick business users who routinely use network printers, copiers, and scanners.

The fingerprint of this malware is being updated by antivirus software providers; as usual, A Plus Computers in Apple Valley recommends that computer users in the High Desert ensure that their antivirus definition files are up to date. Furthermore, computer users should keep in mind that malware and phishing attacks tend to intensify during the holiday season since this is when online shopping tends to be more active.

The best security measure to protect against ransomware attacks is to constantly backup files. Should your hard drive be encrypted maliciously, you can always reformat, reinstall the operating system and restore your information without having to make ransom payments. To learn more about protecting your computer against malware, contact our information security specialists.

Known Issues With the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update | Victorville Computers

Known Issues With the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

In the middle of October 2017, tech giant Microsoft released the most significant update to its flagship operating system, but things did not go as smoothly as planned. According to technical bulletins posted on the Microsoft TechNet website, the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update has created issues for users whose personal computing devices share a certain configuration of data storage technologies and motherboards.

Users Report Issues With Windows 10

One reported issue has come from Windows 10 users whose machines feature a combination of Kingston solid state drive (SSD) storage and a motherboard manufactured by Gigabyte. The problem specifically referred to an inability to complete the update process and a sudden reboot to the BIOS with an error message that indicated that the system failed to initialize. Users who encountered this issue also reported that their SSD devices were initially locked up and only resumed operating after they were reset.

Even more, issues were reported by users whose systems are powered by ASUS x299 motherboards and Samsung SSDs. The problems were first noticed after downloading the Fall Creators Update, which requires a reboot; at this point, users were treated to a Windows error code 0xc00000bb, which prevented them from accessing their desktop, apps or files. Other ASUS motherboard reported that they were able to apply the update only after reinstalling Windows 10 and trying again; incidentally, a few of them had multiple hard drives installed in their systems.

Troubleshooting Operating System Problems

Most of the reported problems were eventually solved with a clean Windows 10 installation followed by the Fall Creators Update while recovering personal data from a backup file, but this can be largely considered to be a hassle. As can be expected, this has not been an issue for owners of Microsoft Surface devices.

An even more commonly mentioned issue is known as error 0x800F0922, which is related to spotty internet connections or by users who are connected through a virtual private network. In these two instances, users have been able to solve the issue by resetting their connections and disabling the VPN.

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update has been highly anticipated due to many new features and fixes; for example, the OneDrive cloud service is now fully integrated with the operating system, and the new protection system against ransomware attacks has been applauded by the tech community. If you are having problems applying this update, contact our Windows technicians at A Plus Computers in Apple Valley today.

Should You Switch to the Microsoft Edge Browser? | Apple Valley Computers

Should You Switch to the Microsoft Edge Browser?

One of the most prominent upgrades of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which you may have already received on your desktop, laptop or tablet computer, is the overall improvement of the Microsoft Edge browser. If you have not been using Edge as your default browser on Windows 10, you may want to know that Microsoft has been busy trying to improve it.

In terms of web browser market share, Google Chrome commands the lion’s share with more than 50 percent while Microsoft has a paltry seven percent with Internet Explorer and Edge combined; for this reason, it is not surprising that the company is working to improve the functionality of Edge.

Here are five new features of the Edge browser that were included with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update:

Full Screen Browsing

This may seem like a minor upgrade, but many users found the old full screen mode, which featured a small address bar at the top, truly annoying. To activate the new full screen mode, just press F11 or look for it in the menu.

Improved eBook and PDF Reading Experience

If your Windows 10 computing device is equipped with a touchscreen, the Edge browser is now your best option for reading PDF documents and eBooks. You are now able to sign PDF documents, make persistent highlights and even add comments, which means you no longer have to print out a document just to sign it and scan it. In the case of eBooks, the reading experience has been enhanced for touch gestures, and you can now also add notes via the keyboard or with voice comments recorded by the Cortana virtual assistant.

Text-to-Speech Narrator

Web pages and documents can now be read aloud as you are browsing in a voice that sounds natural and pleasant.

Taskbar Pinning of Web Pages

This used to be a standard Windows 8 feature, and it makes sense to bring it back to Windows 10. If you want to quickly access a favorite website from the taskbar at the bottom of your screen, choose the “Pin this page” option from the Edge menu.

Bookmark Manager

The next time you touch or click the star icon on the address bar, you will notice that the bookmark manager has been improved with a new layout and better organization features. There is a new option that allows you to edit the URLs of your bookmarks right from the folders where they are kept.