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Tech tips

Your top 8 IT questions answered

Do you ever feel stumped when working on your computer during the day? Our computers don’t always behave how we want them to, and finding answers online is often easier said than done.

You can Google anything, but you can’t Google trusted advice. That’s why Kim and the smart IT pros at Komando HQ answer your questions in the Komando Community Tech Forum. Want to try it for yourself? Get 30 days free at getkim.com. After that, it’s a few bucks a month, and there are discounts for military, seniors and service personnel.

If your computer is acting up, we don’t blame you for wishing you had an IT person on deck to answer your questions. If you’re stuck on a computer question or fix for an issue, don’t worry — we’ve put together a list of the top eight IT questions Kim receives, along with solutions you can try for yourself.

1. I need a password and I can’t find it. Where can I check if I saved it?

Losing a critical password can be a heart-stopping moment. And if you use your browser to save passwords, you know sometimes autofill fails or formatting issues with the websites you visit can prevent them from loading.

To check if your passwords are hidden on your computer, your best bet is to look at your web browser’s list of saved passwords. Here’s how:

Chrome:

  1. Click the three-dot icon in the upper-right corner of your browser and click Settings
  2. Click Autofill from the left-hand panel, followed by Passwords.
  3. Scroll through your list of passwords until you find the one you’re looking for. Click the eye icon to make it visible. You may be asked to enter your system password to verify your identity.

Firefox:

  1. Click the three-line icon to open Firefox settings.
  2. Click Logins and Passwords.
  3. Scroll through your list of passwords until you find the entry you’re looking for. Click the eye icon to make it visible. You may be asked to enter your system password to confirm your identity.

Safari:

  1. Click Safari from the menu bar at the top of the screen and click Preferences.
  2. Click Passwords.
  3. You may be asked to enter your system password to confirm your identity.
  4. Scroll through your list of passwords until you find the entry you’re looking for. Click the three-dot icon to make it visible.

Edge:

  1. Click the three-dot icon in the upper-right hand corner of the browser.
  2. Click Profiles from the left-hand sidebar and click Passwords.
  3. Scroll through your list of passwords until you find the entry you’re looking for. Click the eye icon to make it visible. You may be asked to enter your system password to confirm your identity.

If you still can’t locate your password, you need to reset it. To prevent this from happening again, your best bet is to use a secure password manager like our sponsor, Roboform. Roboform saves your passwords all in one place and its high-grade encryption protects them from hackers and prying eyes.

Save 50% on RoboForm Everywhere and manage your passwords with ease and security when you use discount code KIM50 at checkout.

2. I’m getting weird pop-ups on my computer. Do I have a virus?

Pop-ups are fairly normal depending on your browser settings, but if you’re seeing tons of them no matter where you go online, you may have a malware problem. The best way to know for sure is to run a virus scan and see what’s lurking in your system. Tap or click here for free tools you can use to scan your PC or Mac.

To protect yourself from this kind of malware in the future, here are a few simple pointers to remember:

  • Stick to familiar corners of the internet as much as possible, and avoid clicking on unfamiliar links or pop-ups — especially if you don’t seek out those links in the first place.
  • Never click a link you get in an email or download an attachment you aren’t 100% sure about. It never hurts to contact the original sender (if it’s someone you know) and verify the reason they sent it. If you don’t know the sender, delete the email and don’t even bother.
  • Only download software and content like music and movies from trusted resources and official websites. Many third-party download sites are absolutely riddled with malware.

3. There’s a program on my desktop that I didn’t install. How do I remove it?

If you see an unfamiliar icon on your desktop or in your start menu, malicious software could have installed itself on your computer without you knowing it. And even if it’s not strictly malware, there are still plenty of shady programs that can clog up your computer and make it run poorly. To fix the issue, you need to uninstall the software.

For Windows PCs:

  1. Click the Start menu button and scroll through your app collection until you find the app you want to remove.
  2. Right-click on its icon, then choose Uninstall.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions (if any) to complete the uninstall.

For Macs:

  1. Click the Finder icon in your dock. This is the blue icon that looks like a smiling face.
  2. Click Applications on the left-hand side of the Window. If you don’t see the icon, click Go from the menu bar at the top portion of the screen and choose Applications.
  3. Find the icon for the app you want to remove and drag it into your Trash can. You can also right-click the icon and choose Move to Trash.
  4. Click on the Trash can in your dock and click Empty in the upper-right corner of the window to complete the removal.

If you’re not able to install it or suspect something shady is lurking behind the scenes, do an antivirus/anti-malware scan. Tap or click for the top antivirus options if you need help selecting one.

4. Why is my laptop running so hot?

A hot laptop is not a good sign, but there can be multiple reasons behind the heat you’re feeling.

Most of the time, laptops heat up due to poor ventilation. This can be caused by placing a laptop in an enclosed space that blocks its vents or on top of a plush surface like a bed or pillow. You can even cause your laptop to heat up by keeping it on your lap for too long. Your body heat can prevent your computer from fully cooling down.

To cool down your computer, make sure it’s elevated and sitting on an open space like a desk or table. You may also want to stack a large book or two and place your laptop on top for extra ventilation. Bonus: This might make using your laptop easier on your neck, too.

If you do all that and your computer is still heating up, it’s time to run a malware scan to see if something is happening behind the scenes. Malware uses up your laptop’s resources, which can also explain the heat.

Tap or click here to see the best ways to keep your hardware cool.

5. I got an email that accused me of watching porn. The sender is now trying to blackmail me for money. Should I be worried?

Believe it or not, you should ignore that email — even if the sender knew a detail like one of your passwords. What you’re dealing with is a scam called “sextortion,” which involves fabricated blackmail designed to trick you into handing over money.

Usually, the scammers involved will scrape your email address (and potentially other information) from data breaches or public listings. They’ll compile this information to make it look like they know who you are. The truth is, they’re actually sending similar emails to as many people as possible. It’s just another form of spam mail to deal with! It is pretty unnerving, though, and that’s what cybercriminals count on.

Here are some red flags to watch out for that can help you spot sextortion scams:

  • Poor English, punctuation, spelling and technical jargon in the email you received.
  • Generic language that sounds like the message could have gone to anyone.
  • Overly-threatening and urgent language.
  • Links or file attachments you didn’t request (never click or open either of these).
  • Requests for a ransom payment in Bitcoin or gift cards.

6. My computer keeps bugging me to update, but I don’t want to deal with it. Do I need to?

We understand how frustrating it can be to update — especially in light of buggy new software and having to learn new menus and settings all over again. But it’s still worth keeping up to date if only to stay secure and one step ahead of hackers and cybercriminals.

If you need to make the jump to the latest version of Windows, it’s critical to back up your system first. This will make sure you don’t lose any information and can help you recover important data if your update has issues.

To back up all your files securely, we recommend our sponsor IDrive for cloud storage. With IDrive, you can backup all your PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices to a single account. Just go to IDrive.com and use promo code Kim to get 50% off 5 terabytes of cloud backup. 

Alternatively, you can use a physical external hard drive to store your data.

Backing up is only step one before you hit “Update.” You also need to remove third-party antivirus (these don’t play well with software updates) and disconnect peripherals like printers, webcams and headsets.

Once you’re ready to go, follow the directions below:

For Windows PCs:

  • Open the Start Menu. Click on Settings, and choose Update and Security.
  • If an update is available, you’ll see it ready for download. If you don’t see an option to download anything, your computer might have already installed the update on its own.

For Mac:

  • Click on the Apple icon from the menu bar at the top of your screen and click System Preferences.
  • Click Software Update.
  • Follow the on-screen prompts that appear to complete and install your updates.

7. Are incognito mode or private browsing actually private?

Most browsers feature a private browsing mode that won’t save your history or other data. In Chrome, the most commonly used web browser, this feature is known as Incognito Mode. But is using incognito and other private browsing modes actually protecting your identity?

As it turns out, there are a few things that it does and does not conceal.

Incognito/Private Browsing stops your computer from saving the following items to your system memory:

  • Your web browsing history.
  • Cookies.
  • Website data.

Incognito/Private Browsing does not hide the following items:

  • Your IP address.
  • Your browsing history from your ISP.
  • Your identity from the websites you visit.

It helps to think of private browsing less as a full-fledged privacy tool and more like a browser window that automatically clears out browsing data at the end of a session. Other websites and entities will still know who you are, but your own computer will have no recordings of your activity. Private browsing will also not protect you from malware or viruses.

Still, there are plenty of reasons why you’d want to use incognito or private browsing over an open session.

Tap or click here to see six practical uses for private browsing.

8. What’s the best way to actually hide my browsing history from ISPs and web-trackers?

If you’re actually looking to browse anonymously, you need a VPN. Virtual Private Networks route your internet connection through another network. This hides the true source of your data and keeps your identity protected.

You may thinking, “But don’t VPNs slow you down?” Back in the day, they all did. And today, some still do. But not ExpressVPN.

If you’re looking for a secure VPN that won’t sacrifice connection speed for privacy, we recommend our sponsor, ExpressVPN. It’s fast, safe and encrypted for maximum protection.

Try ExpressVPN for 30 days free. Get 3 months free when you sign up for one year at ExpressVPN.com/Kim.

Have another tech question you need help with? Tap or click here to get in touch with Kim and submit your burning tech questions.

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