Do you have an "IT guy" in your life? It could be your son or daughter, or a spouse, friend or other acquaintance. Or it might be a professional IT guy you or your employer pays to help keep your gadgets running.
Whoever it is, they may not always be available and sometimes you can't always trust them. (Did you hear that Office Depot was caught red-handed in a tech support scam? Click here to see how the company was getting customers to pay hundreds of dollars for fake repairs.)
That's why it's just better when you can fix things yourself. And for a lot of tech problems, it's not as complicated as you might think. Here are five of the most frustrating issues you might encounter and quick ways to fix them.
Problem 1: Apple iCal spam
If you're starting to see annoying ads promoting products such as boots and sunglasses, you're not alone. Spammers figured out a way to use a feature in iCloud that pulls invites from your email and sends you notifications in your calendar.
In some cases, these events are so intrusive that they generate a new appointment for each day in your calendar.
This spam is spreading and there's no "ignore" button for it. Hitting "Accept," "Decline" or "Maybe," will only make matters worse.
Here's what to do:
- Using your desktop browser, access your iCloud Calendar page.
- Click the gear icon in the lower-left corner.
- Select Preferences.
- Click the Advanced icon.
- In the Invitations section, change the option from In-App Notifications to Email to iCloud Address.
Making this change will redirect the spam notifications to your inbox. However, spam filters on your email account should weed them out automatically. Click here for helpful screenshots of the steps to fix this problem.
Problem 2: Not being able to download Netflix videos
After months of teases and rumors, Netflix has finally delivered a new feature millions of subscribers have been clamoring for: downloads for offline playback.
With the Netflix's update for its iOS and Android app, subscribers can now download a large selection of TV shows and movies straight to their gadget for offline viewing.
Now, as long as your gadget's storage space allows it, you can hoard your favorite Netflix originals such as "Stranger Things," "Narcos," "Black Mirror" or "Luke Cage" and a growing selection of movies like "Boyhood," "Good Will Hunting," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and episodes of TV shows like "The Twilight Zone" or "The IT Crowd" and watch them as many times as you like even in the absence of a data connection.
Here's what to do:
- Download the most recent version of the Netflix app on your smartphone or tablet.
- A "Download & Go" tutorial will pop up the first time you open the updated app.
- Shows and movies that are available for download will show a download icon (it looks like a down-pointing arrow).
- Tap this icon and your show or movie will be downloaded on your device.
Problem 3: Weak security for your home router
If you're not careful, your router can become the Achilles heel in your personal Wi-Fi network. Recent DDoS attacks, or Distributed Denial of Service attacks, have demonstrated how hackers can target web-connected devices and use them to crash the web. If you missed our story on the latest DDoS attack where 900,000 routers were hacked, click here.
Securing your network begins with securing your router. Here's a checklist of steps you need to take to lock down your router immediately:
- Check to see if your router is outdated or known to have security issues. (Click here to learn how.)
- Update your router's firmware. (Click here to learn how.)
- Change your router's password. (Click here to learn how.)
- For new routers, skip the EZ setup option. (Click here for a better alternative.)
Problem 4: Broken iPhone display screens
A broken phone screen looks bad and makes it difficult to use. Apple charges between $100 and $150 to fix a broken screen depending on which phone you have, or you may be able to trade it in when you upgrade to a new phone. If you'd like a less expensive option, you can find a do-it-yourself screen replacement kit for under $30.
Watch this video and we'll walk you through it:
Problem 5: Annoying ads in the Windows 10 Start menu
One of the more annoying parts of Windows 10 is embedded ads in the Start Menu and in your internet browser. You can turn these ads off by going to "General" in your privacy settings. There are four toggles that should be switched from "On" to "Off." Once you do that, click the link under the four items and there's one more setting. Switch it to "off" and you'll see a significant reduction in the ads you see online, as well as eliminate them from the Start Menu completely!
See these steps in action by watching this video:
Of course, if you're really in a bind and are experiencing complex technical issues, there are easier ways to get the help you need. A service called HelloTech brings on-site and online expert support to your home or business at an affordable price.
Instead of being placed on hold or going to the local Apple or Microsoft store, you can actually order up one of HelloTech’s tech people to stop by your home or office, or have them connect to your computer and solve your problem over an internet connection. And, the nationwide service is available 24/7. Click here to see the easiest way to get your computers, smartphones, tablets and other gadgets repaired.