Service focused computer support throughout the UK

Enquiry Hotline 0845 2233 116

Technical Information

Do you have a technical question? Although we can’t provide answers on-line to all technical questions, we have included here a selection of common questions and, of course, their answers. All the questions are listed first. To see the answer to individual questions simply click on the question.

We hope you find the section helpful. If not then you can always contact us for help to resolve any computer problem you may have.

You can contact us now by calling 0845 2233116, or clicking on the Instant Remote Support Now button or filling the form in on the right hand side of the page.

1. What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a program (a piece of software) that can reproduce itself. Like biological viruses, computer viruses can spread quickly and are often difficult to eradicate. They can attach themselves to just about any type of file and are spread as files that are copied and sent from one computer to another.

In itself the ability to reproduce and spread may not seem too bad but they also usually contain code designed to cause various problems. While these routines may only display messages or images, they can also destroy files, reformat your hard drive, or cause other damage. If the virus does not contain a damage routine, it can still cause problems by consuming storage space and memory, and degrading the overall performance of your computer.

With email now used as an essential business communication tool, viruses are spreading faster than ever. Viruses attached to email messages can infect an entire enterprise in a matter of minutes, costing companies millions of pounds annually in lost productivity and clean-up expenses.

Viruses won’t go away anytime soon: More than 60,000 have been identified, and 400 new ones are created every month, according to the International Computer Security Association (ICSA). With numbers like this, it’s safe to say that most organisations and individuals will encounter virus outbreaks. No one who uses computers is immune to viruses.

2. What is a computer worm?

A worm is a type of virus that has the ability to copy itself from machine to machine without necessarily being sent by someone. Worms normally move around and infect other machines through computer networks. Using a network, a worm can multiply from a single copy incredibly quickly. For example, the Code Red worm replicated itself over 250,000 times in approximately nine hours in 2001. A worm usually exploits some sort of security hole in a piece of software or the operating system.

Worms use computer processing time and network bandwidth when they are reproducing, and like most types of virus, they often have some sort of evil intent.

The Code Red worm was predicted to clog up the Internet so effectively that things would completely grind to a halt. It slowed down Internet traffic when it began to replicate itself, but not nearly as badly as predicted. Each copy of the worm scanned the Internet for Windows NT or Windows 2000 servers that did not have the Microsoft security patch installed. Each time it found an unsecured server, the worm copied itself to that server. The new copy then scanned for other servers to infect. Depending on the number of unsecured servers, a worm could conceivably create hundreds of thousands of copies.

3. What is a Trojan?

A Trojan is a piece of code that performs unexpected or unauthorised, often malicious, actions. The main difference between a Trojan and a virus is the inability to replicate. If the code can replicate, then it should be classified as a virus.

A Trojan, coined from Greek mythology’s Trojan horse, typically comes in good “packaging” but has some hidden malicious intent within its code. When a Trojan is executed users will usually experience unwanted system problems in operation, and sometimes loss of valuable data. It’s also worth mentioning that because they are usually packaged in interesting or exciting software, they do replicate and spread because people copy them and send them to friends, family and colleagues.

4. What is Malware?

Short for malicious software, a generic term for software designed specifically to damage or disrupt a system, such as a virus or a Trojan horse.

5. How do I know if my computer has a virus?

You must remember that there are very many things that can go wrong with your computer and a virus is not always to blame, however if you find that your computer has suddenly slowed down significantly, is crashing unexpectedly or is behaving in a random and unpredictable way – such as your mouse pointer not moving where you tell it to – you may have a virus.

The only way you can know whether or not your computer is infected is by scanning your machine with an up to date anti-virus program.

6. What is Spyware?

Spyware (also known as adware) is unsolicited software that installs itself without the user’s consent. It tracks the user’s site visits and can send this information to designated computers from which it may be used to target advertising campaigns or worse! – All without your consent.

Spyware usually “sneaks” onto your machine when you download file-sharing services, open infected e-mails, or c6. What is Spyware?
Spyware (also known as adware) is unsolicited software that installs itself without the user’s consent. It tracks the user’s site visits and can send this information to designated computers from which it may be used to target advertising campaigns or worse! – All without your consent.

Spywalick on dubious Internet pop-up ads. They can manipulate your system, record your habits, and steal your passwords and credit card numbers. Depending on their degree of aggressiveness, they can steal your privacy or even your identity. And they can be terribly difficult to remove.

There have been numerous reports of machines which grind to a halt for no apparent reason but when scanned, literally thousands of instances of spyware have been found.

When you install or run a program that you have downloaded from the internet or indeed one that has been passed to you by a friend, you might be surprised by the growing amount that not only install the program, but also install some additional spyware.

Some of this is genuine and the software will inform you when you install the application, or indeed give you an option not to install the adware components. Unfortunately, more often these days, the spyware is installed without your knowledge and can lead to all kinds of frustration.

Be aware of free software that claims to offer spyware protection , as they can often be fake, putting more spyware on your computer rather than removing it!

7. How do I protect my computer against viruses and spyware?

There are a number of effective and good value for money products available, whilst some can be regarded as overpriced and overcomplicated.

Installing good anti-virus and anti-spyware programs ought to be high on your list. Even a standalone computer, never connected to the internet, should have anti-virus software installed, just in case someone puts in that CD or old floppy disk that contains a virus.

When choosing anti-virus and anti-spyware software, it’s very easy to assume that they all do a good job, but put simply, they don’t! There is much to think about when choosing which protection software to install, ranging from how frequently it updates and whether it is effective at its job, through to what impact it will have on the performance of your computer or network and whether it offers good value for money.

Obviously we will be happy to advise, recommend and actually install, configure and maintain suitable packages that won’t cost the earth for you. Use any of the methods on the Contact Us page to get in touch.

8. What is a firewall?

Put simply, a firewall is either a physical device or a software program that sits between a computer or a computer network and the internet to control precisely what can enter and leave. Without suitable firewall protection, you will be putting your computer or your computer network at risk of attack from the outside, or will allow any viruses or spyware that may find a way in to leave again with whatever it wants. Would you leave your front door wide open while you sleep so anyone who pleases can enter your home to help themselves and then freely leave again?

9. I think I should be backing up the data on my computer. Is this necessary?

Yes! Think about the value of the data and information on your computer. What would happen and how would you feel if you suddenly lost it all? For businesses this may be emails, tenders, research, reports, financial and customer information; for home users it may be cherished photos and music, the kids’ homework and the home finances. Whatever you use your computer for, you can be certain that the information and data you build up over time will rapidly become invaluable, often many times more valuable to you than the computer on which it sits. What if a computer breaks, gets stolen, gets wiped by a virus or important information accidentally deleted? Whilst prevention is better than cure, the risk of data loss is a very real risk and concern for every computer user, with very many people falling victim to data loss every single day.

There are two big reasons why people don’t take adequate steps to ensure their data is backed up:

One is not knowing how. You might make the occasional copy of your important files, but what about emails? What about files created or modified since the last backup that you did a few months ago? How about the contacts in your address book or even your list of favourite internet sites?
The other is time. We’re all so busy. Even if you have a good handle on how to backup your data, ask yourself whether you’re doing it frequently enough. Unless it gets done every time you use your computer, then you are not backing up enough and you run the risk of losing at least some of your data
We are experts at data backup. We can help you to completely protect yourself by providing you with tools affordable to all, which will enable you to overcome the obstacles and ensure your data is completely safe and protected – always.

How can we help?

Ask us a question and our team will respond within the hour.

Instant Remote Support »

What our customers say…

I managed to pick up a Virus on my laptop. When I turned my laptop ...

Paul Hudson, Oakley Independent Limited

Working with The PC Support Group has marked a significant turning point in the support ...

Marina Allon, Managing Director, Sam Allon

I chose The PC Support Group and I have been very impressed with their commitment ...

Peter Venables, Purely Marketing Ltd

See more testimonials »

Enterprise
IT Support

Fully outsourced IT for 20 to 200 PCs

Small Business
IT Support

For 1 to 20 PCs & home businesses

Home Users
IT Support

Local professional Home PC support

Latest Blog Posts rss

Six Things You Can Expect from the iPhone 6

Posted 29/08/14

iphone6There are a few things you can be sure of at this ...

Microsoft Office 365: What it means for your Business [Infographic]

Posted 20/08/14

With their latest Office 365 suite, Microsoft has certainly made a bold statement when it comes to the future of ...

Latest Tweets rss

Award Winning IT Support

  

The PC Support Group has been voted the Most Loved IT Support Service in the UK, named in the Top 50 IT Service Providers in Europe, Highly Commended in the National Customer Service Awards and shortlisted for best SME IT Solution category in the Channel Network Awards’

See all our awards here