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Kim's column

5 common tech problems gone with these easy solutions

As someone who has answered numerous questions about all things tech and digital for years, I can tell you the problems never end.

I’ve heard from many people genuinely concerned their phone or computer is being watched. Have you ever had that feeling? It’s eerie. Tap or click here for warning signs your tech has been infected with a virus or keylogger.

Other problems are a little more mundane but no less frustrating. Maybe it’s a computer that won’t stop crashing, lost logins, or Bluetooth devices that won’t stay connected.

Luckily, so many of these issues are easy to stop in their tracks with the right know-how. That’s where I come in.

You can ask me your tech questions on my site. I also run a busy question and answer forum. Post your tech questions and get solid answers from me and other tech pros. Try it now.

1.  Problem: Your Wi-Fi is spotty, and you can’t figure out why.

It’s difficult to diagnose lousy Wi-Fi. It could be your internet connection, your internet gear misbehaving, interference or noise issues. Before you do anything, power down your router and modem.

Don’t just go turning things off haphazard. Tap or click here for the correct way to reboot your internet gear.

Next, make sure that the internet connection speed you’re paying for is what you’re truly getting. Run a connection speed test a few times during the day. Be sure to test around 8 p.m. With so many streaming videos at night, it puts a strain on getting a steady, reliable connection.

One of the most well-known internet speed test services available is Speedtest by Ookla. This service measures your connection’s ping response and download and upload speeds from a remote server.

If your connection speed is not what you’re paying for, call your provider and complain. Otherwise, look to your environment. Techs use a specialized program that analyzes connection issues. Since you’re reading this, you get to be an internet pro, too.

Netspot works on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Once the app is installed, you can run a complete analysis of your home network. Tap or click here to learn more about how Netspot works and get the download links.

If your network analysis shows dead spots, don’t give up. You can change wireless channels, use dual-band broadcasting, enable QoS (Quality of Service) and more. I have these steps outlined on my site. Tap or click here to learn what settings you can adjust to boost your Wi-Fi coverage in your home.

2. Problem: You need to get rid of old gear, but all your personal data is on it.

You need to remove all your data totally. Unfortunately, you cannot simply put all your files in the trash or recycle bin. Specialized tools readily available online can retrieve data you think is long gone.

If you don’t wipe your device, your data can be found later on down the road. All those deleted letters, financial documents and compromising photos are still lurking on your old devices. All it takes is a little know-how to recover them.

When a file is deleted, your operating system removes the file’s link and marks the space as free. Until it’s overwritten by new information, that file will still exist on your hard drive.

Before you donate an old computer or phone, take a few minutes and remove your data for good. Free programs like Eraser, Free Eraser and CCleaner will handle the task for you. Do a complete factory reset on your phones and tablets.

Tap or click here for the links and step-by-step instructions to remove data for good.

3. Problem: You need to shop secretly on Amazon, but you share a computer or an account with someone else.

Maybe it’s a gift or it’s a personal item. Your Amazon account’s entire purchasing history is recorded. While this is great for reviewing your past orders, there may be times when you want to hide items you’ve purchased, browsed or searched for in your Amazon history.

One way to avoid Amazon gift spoilers and hide purchases from your family is by setting up an Amazon Household Account. This account is available for Amazon Prime members and lets you share Amazon Prime perks and your library of purchased digital content with another adult in your household.

To share your Amazon Prime membership with another adult, go to Amazon Household > Add Adult and choose whether to invite them by email or simply sign up together to verify the accounts.

If that’s a hassle or you’re not an Amazon Prime member, there is the option to archive orders. When someone is looking at your order history, they don’t see archived orders. It’s a great way to hide purchases you are embarrassed to reveal.

Tap or click here for the steps to hide purchases and remove your Amazon browsing history.

4. Problem: You need to scan or fax documents, but you’re working from home.

Missing all that handy office equipment you don’t have access to anymore? There are other ways to scan and fax, for free, using your phone or your browser. No trip to an office supply store or print shop necessary.

Scanning is surprisingly simple on your iPhone. You don’t even need to download anything. Just open up the Notes app. Here’s how to use the scanning feature:

  • Create a new note by clicking the note and pencil icon in the bottom right corner.
  • Tap the camera icon at the bottom of your new note, then choose Scan Documents.
  • If your phone is set to auto, the app will detect the document and scan it. In Manual mode, you need to snap the photo. Swap between modes at the top right of your screen.
  • Tap the photo shutter button at the bottom of the screen to complete the scan, then tap Save.

On Android, your best bet is Google Drive or Adobe Scan. Tap or click here for download links and all the steps you need.

If you need to fax a document, try FaxZero. It’s free if you send no more than five faxes per day and only three pages at a time. To send up to 25 pages per day with no ads, it’s $1.99 per page.

To receive a fax, eFax gives you a virtual fax number to get up to 10 faxed pages per month for free. There are paid options if you need more.

Editing PDFs can also be a pain away from the office and special software. Tap or click here for great free options.

5. Problem: You’re trying to download a new file, program or app and your device doesn’t have enough space.

Today, most computers, tablets and smartphones have enough space to hold all our files. But if it’s been a long time since you cleared yours out or you’re using a model without a ton of storage, there are steps you can take to clear out space.

Take a peek at your downloads folder. All that clutter is taking up valuable storage, and most people forget to delete the contents from time to time. Here’s how:

On Windows 10:

  • Open File Explorer and select the Downloads folder, either under Quick Access or This PC.
  • Select any number of files you wish to remove and hit the Delete key on your keyboard. You can also right-click the files, scroll down the pop-up menu and click Delete.

On a Mac:

  • Click the Downloads folder in the dock, select the files you want to delete. Drag them to the trash can in the lower right corner of the dock.
  • You can also hit Command + Delete to send your files to the trash.

Don’t forget to empty your recycle bin or trash can when you’re done.

Is your phone the problem? Tap or click here for ways to clear out storage space on your iPhone or Android. 

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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