Monthly Archives: January 2013

Computer Viruses: What You Can Do To Stay Protected

VirScan LogoIf you’ve ever had one, you know how frustrating virus can be. Not only do they take over your computer making it difficult to work, but they can do damage to files, send out spoof emails on your behalf, obtain critical personal information from your computer, and other scary stuff.

So how do you keep from getting viruses?

Keep Your Antivirus Software Updated

By running a trusted antivirus software for starters. Although it is simply not

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enough to just have the software loaded on your computer, you must also keep it updated.

Think of your antivirus software like a dictionary. When new words come out, do they automatically get added? No, instead a new edition is produced and distributed. (Okay, so this has changed a little a lot since the Internet, but you get the idea).

Similarly, when a new virus comes out, your virus software doesn’t necessarily know about them. Instead, it needs to be updated so that it knows that there is a new virus out there. Once it knows about the virus, it will know to look for it and will quarantine it if found so that it doesn’t impact your computer.

But, simply keeping your antivirus software up to date may not be enough. Sometimes you have to take extra steps to ensure you don’t get a virus.

Scan Files Individually Before Running Them

While it’s important to only download and run files from trusted sources, sometimes stuff happens and the person sharing doesn’t realize they have shared an infected file until it’s too late.

If you are unsure of a file, particularly if you downloaded that file from the web, an email attachment, or other source that could potentially be questionable, check the file before running it.

Sure, it may seem like an extra step, but typically viruses can’t get into your system until they are executed, such as by opening a file or installing software, so if you check your file before you even open it, you could be saving yourself a lot of work later. (*Note while executing is the typical way to “activate” most viruses there are many different types of viruses that operate differently from one another, so the actions taken to become infected may vary.)

Most of the time your files will probably be clean, but all it takes is one infected file to ruin everything. While you can use your existing virus scan software to scan individual files (most virus software has this option), sometimes you just don’t have the time to wait on software.

When this happens, there are other options, such as checking your files online, using an Internet virus scan built for scanning only files (as opposed to scanning your entire computer).

There are some great places online to scan files, but one site we like is VirSCAN.org. This free site allows you to upload as many files as you like, but there is a 20Mb limit per file. Simply upload the files you are concerned with, and scan them. VirSCAN will tell you whether or not they’re infected.

If the file is infected, DO NOT run it. Have your virus software quarantine and remove the virus. Or you can manually remove the virus if know how to view and delete system files, program files, and registry entries (potentially).

It’s important to keep in mind that while VirSCAN won’t replace your antivirus software, it is a good tool to use for spot checking files before you run them.

Using both an antivirus program and spot-scanning individual files, can be an effective strategy for ensuring your computer stays virus free.

Do you have a favorite antivirus software or website? Leave us a comment and tell us about it.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you keep your computers virus free. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Cool New Features in Office 2013

Office2013 Sky Drive Sync

The Sky Drive Sync is available for all the programs in the new Office 2013 suite.

Office 2013 has debuted for businesses, although it won’t be available to the general public until the end of January (*current scheduled release date). While it may look similar to recent versions, Office 2013 has made some changes and added in some cool new features that are sure to be helpful.

Last Location Feature

Have you ever closed a document, only to open it a day later to spend several minutes figuring out where you last left off? With Word and PowerPoint 2013, this is now a thing of the past, as the software automatically remembers where you left off.

When you open a document you’ve been working on, a little box will appear on the right that says “Welcome Back, pick up where you left off.” Just click the box, and the document jumps to where you were last.

PDF Editing

Word just got a whole lot more robust, thanks to the increased PDF editing capability features. In the past, if you wanted to edit a PDF in Word, you would have to convert it first, and then edit it. But the new Word can now do this extra work for you. To edit PDF documents, all you have to do is

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open them in Word, make your changes, and save your work. It’s that easy. No PDF editing software required.

Sky Drive Integration

It used to be that OneNote was the only Office produce to have access to the Cloud, but that’s not the case anymore. With Office 2013, any program can now sync to Sky Drive (Microsoft’s free large file storage service) allowing you to save your documents in the Cloud, and access them from anywhere.

Sky Drive integration is also what makes this next feature possible.

Syncing Across Devices

Now you can access your documents from anywhere, regardless of which device you’re using. Create a Word Document on your laptop, but need to edit

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using your tablet? No problem, as long as your document is synced to your Sky Drive account, you can access it from wherever you are, and whatever device you’re using. All you need is internet access.

This is just a taste of some of the great features available in Office 2013. Additionally, each software component within the suite seems to have some great changes that are sure to boost productivity (once you learn how to use those new features to your advantage).

*Note if you bought, or are planning on buying, Office 2010 between October 19, 2012 and April 30, 2013, Microsoft will give you a FREE upgrade to Office 2013. Click here to go to Microsoft’s site for more details.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you figure out the latest advances in software, and whether or not it is worth it to upgrade. (In the case of Office 2013, it is.) Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Windows 8: Beneficial Even Without a Touch Screen

Windows 8 Start Metro Screen

Windows 8 Start Screen With Metro Tiles

After a recent install of Windows 8, I found myself scratching my head wondering, “What did I just get talked into?”

While most upgrades require a little bit of relearning, particularly when it comes to new or updated features, it is obvious from the start that Windows 8 is drastically different and requires a learning curve. That’s because Windows 8 was built for tablets and touch screens, and how you use Windows is more like how you would use your smartphone and less like how you would use a traditional computer.

But when you don’t have any of the touch screen or tablet capabilities, such as with a traditional desktop or laptop, should you take the time to upgrade, knowing the learning curve will be steep?

For this computer

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user, the answer is a resounding yes. While I’ve only been using the new operating system for about a week now, there are several reasons why I already prefer it to the prior versions of Windows.

More Places to Go, More Things to Do

One of the biggest changes about Windows 8 is that it’s no longer desktop centered. Instead of logging in and going straight to your desktop, the first thing you see is now the Start screen – a screen with colorful, flashing live metro tiles begging for attention.

Click on any of the tiles, and the app opens up in full screen mode, a feature that is similar to today’s tablets. To flip between open apps, access the hidden menu by placing your cursor on the left corner of the screen and dragging down. This will show you any apps that are open and will allow you to jump from one to another as you work.

The result is that you feel like there are more places to go and more things to do on your computer than ever before, because you don’t have to access everything through the desktop. Of course, not all programs function like apps, and more traditional software will only open on the desktop for use, just like the traditional Windows you are accustomed to.

Take Advantage of Apps

Taking a hint from smart phones and mobile OS’s like iOS and Android, Microsoft now makes the Windows Store available to all users. Download apps, games, media and more,

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and make the most of your computing needs.

While Apps and the Windows Store may seem like a silly thing to be excited about on a desktop or laptop, it actually gives you more options and flexibility with your software and computing needs.

Makes Your Computer a Hybrid

Overall, Windows 8 does a great job of making computing “feel” more modern. That is, because of all the changes and features that are tablet driven, the new OS goes a long way to making your computer feel more like a mobile, touch screen device, even if it isn’t.

This can be good news to those longing for a tablet, especially if you’ve held off buying one because you are concerned about the cost or the ability to produce work on an actual tablet device. Windows 8 on a laptop or even a desktop alleviates these concerns because it allows you to still produce work like you’re used to, while also being able to take advantage of mobile features like Apps and being constantly connected to the Cloud.

Of course, these are just a few of my initial reactions to the new OS. There are many more reasons, including some good technical reasons, to upgrade to Windows 8. The more I use the operating system, the more I find I enjoy the extra usability the new features bring to the system.

If you are sitting there wondering if you should upgrade to Windows 8, don’t let the lack of a touch screen or other tablet features hold you back. You may just find that you are pleasantly surprised with all of the additions and extra features. (I know I was.)


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you figure out if the latest OS is right for you. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.