Each week, I receive tons of questions from my listeners about tech concerns, new products and all things digital.
Sometimes, choosing the most interesting questions to highlight is the best part of my job. This week, I received questions about clean installs, social media search histories, commandeered security cameras and more.
Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?
Q: My Windows PC is a tired old nasty dog. Is there any way I can start over? It used to run much better than it does now.
A: Sometimes you need to pull out the big guns. After all, you can delete files and stop background tasks all you want and cleanse your hard drive of malware and install more memory, but if your computer is still dragging its knuckles, it may be time for a clean install.
This is a drastic maneuver, but it’s been known to work. The only catch is every file on your hard drive will be deleted. So how do you protect your data and programs from disappearing forever? You’ll have to plan this process carefully to make sure not a single byte is lost.
Luckily, with the advent of cloud storage and external drives, this process of backing up and restoring files has become a matter of routine. Tap or click here for detailed tips to clean your PC.
Fight phone stalking
Q: My ex works as a computer tech. How can I check my phone for a keylogger? He seems to know a lot about my life and it’s creepy.
A: First of all, I hope you are keeping your distance from this guy in every other aspect of your life. Technology plays a major role in regular breakups, no matter how congenial, because couples are so accustomed to sharing passwords, accounts and devices. You can spend months untangling it all.
This becomes all the more frightening when the breakup is ugly or hostile. So if you really believe your ex is capable of spying on your phone, you should take immediate action. Sadly, keyloggers and other spyware systems are often difficult to detect because they are designed to hide themselves.
The best way to find out whether you’ve been hacked is to look for the telltale evidence, which has more to do with your phone’s behavior. Tap or click here for 7 clear-cut signs you’ve been hacked.
Search history transgressions
Q: I looked up a few old flames on Facebook. How did my wife know that I was doing this? It was only out of curiosity, I swear!
A: Well, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. After all, most of us are curious about people we haven’t seen in a long time. We wonder about old classmates, past coworkers and former sweethearts who used to mean so much to us.
Even if we have no intention of rekindling old relationships, the lure of social media and all its photos and information can prove irresistible. But not everyone will appreciate innocent curiosity — especially where old girlfriends are concerned.
In your case, I think you may have a trust issue you need to work out with your spouse. But if you really need to delete your search history on both your browser and on social media, there are simple ways to do this. Tap or click here to delete your search history from social media apps and browsers.
Q: Zach King has 22 million followers and produces the most amazing videos on Instagram and TikTok. What tools does he use?
A: TikTok has exploded in popularity, and it’s no wonder — the platform has the video prowess of YouTube, the immediacy of Snapchat and the concise artistry of Instagram, making it an ample playground for aspiring influencers.
But TikTok also has a unique style and feel, and many of the most successful users are sophisticated videographers with the editing skills of pro advertisers. It’s easy to post to TikTok, but those 15 seconds of video are hard to do well.
Since you mention Zach King, you might as well hear advice straight from him, thanks to my exclusive video segment. Hear the master explain his social media success in his own words. Tap or click here to find out how real movie magic is made on TikTok.
Stop surveillance hackers
Q: I have a security camera in my house. What steps do I need to take to be sure hackers can’t see in? I’m freaked out about that.
A: As the saying goes, you can look two ways through a window. But in this case, the “window” is a video surveillance system designed to protect your house, and criminals don’t even have to be on the same side of the planet to break into your system and commandeer that equipment.
Curiously, you use the same techniques for securing your cameras as you would any other software. Is your firmware updated? Forgetting to stay up to date is a gift to potential cybercriminals.
Although it may seem like a chore, remember what is at stake — a camera that literally peers into your most private affairs and can lead to any kind of crime imaginable, from blackmail to data theft to home invasion.
At the very least, devise a decent password. Tap or click here to keep hackers out of your smart home security cameras.
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.