4 tech resolutions for 2017

Eric Geier, IT columnist, Cox Media Group Ohio. TY GREENLEES/STAFF

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Eric Geier, IT columnist, Cox Media Group Ohio. TY GREENLEES/STAFF

Eric Geier is the owner of On Spot Techs, which provides on-site computer repair and IT services at homes and businesses in the Dayton and Springfield areas. For more information, visit www.onspottechs.com or call 937-315-0286.

The new year is almost here. Among your resolutions to stay healthy and young, consider some for your tech life:

Back up your files. This is one of the things I see users put off the most, and is one of their biggest regrets if their computer crashes. Sometimes files can be recovered after a crash, but sometimes they cannot. So if you have any documents, photos, or other files that you don't want to lose, I highly suggest backing them up. You can purchase an external hard drive to back up the files so they are on a separate drive from the main hard drive of your computer. Alternatively, think about signing up for an online backup service, like from CrashPlan (www.crashplan.com). Using online backup also protects your files from a fire or other disaster that might damage any local backup.

Get a checkup for your computer. Similar to how you should get checkups at the doctors for your personal health, it's a good idea to get your computer checked out by a pro at least once a year. Even if you don't think there's a problem, being proactive can help reduce the chances of problems in the future. For instance, popups might be found and removed that could have led you to a virus or scam if they weren't removed. Or a bad hard drive could be identified before it totally gives out.

Don't fall victim to a tech support scam. I get phone calls all the time from people that were scammed by fake remote support companies. They either received a phone call from the scammer out of the blue or a popup on their computer said there's a problem and to call them. Either way, the scammers are very good at convincing people that they have some sort of computer problem, like a virus or that they've been hacked, and typically say they're from Windows or Microsoft. I've heard them asking anywhere from $100 to $800 to fix the made-up issues and many times they say it includes unlimited tech support for years.

If you ever get an unsolicited phone call like I described, simply hang-up and ignore them. If you saw a popup on your computer prompting you to call, don’t call them, but you should call a local computer pro like myself for advice since your computer might actually have adware or malware that’s causing the popups. If you ever do fall victim and let a scammer remotely control your computer and/or pay them, I certainly suggest getting the computer checked out and also contacting your credit card company or bank to report the fraud, which they may reimburse you for.

Upgrade any old computers. If you still have a computer running Windows XP or Vista, I highly suggest upgrading. All Microsoft support and updates for Windows XP ended back in 2014 and the same will happen to Windows Vista this coming April. If you aren't sure which Windows version you have, here's a way to check with most older versions: Click the Start button in the far bottom-left corner of the screen and right-click Computer or My Computer and select Properties. The System window should appear with the Windows version and edition appearing near the top.

Unless a computer with XP or Vista was a high-end or custom machine back when you bought it, it’s usually not technically or economically feasible to actually upgrade the computer to a newer Windows. So it’s usually best to just buy a new or refurbished computer. If you need help deciding what to do or what to get, contact a computer pro like myself.

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