You've got tech questions, we've found the answers. We help you make the most of your technology by answering your thorniest tech questions. So if you're wondering what to buy, how to plug it in, or how to fix it, we can help.
Can Facebook videos be a scam?
Q. I tried to watch a video on Facebook, but it didn't work. It made me install a new driver and then still didn't play the video. What gives?
A. I doubt that was a real video at all. This is a scam that is common on Facebook. The post looks like a really interesting or scandalous video. When you click it, it asks you to install a driver to watch it. What you actually download is usually a junk file or a virus. When you try to install the "driver," you share the scam video with all your friends so they'll be tricked. When you see a video on Facebook, do a search for the video on YouTube or Google. If you can't find the video, it's probably a scam. You can also see if the scam has been reported on sites like Facecrooks and Snopes.
Remove a stubborn virus
Q. I have a virus that my regular anti-virus software can't remove. How can I get rid of it?
A. To start, make sure your anti-virus software is up to date. Without regular updates, your anti-virus can miss the latest threats. Now, start your computer in Safe Mode - you can do this by pressing and holding F8 during startup. Run the scan again to see if the program catches the virus. If it doesn't, try a scan with another program, like MalwareBytes. If that doesn't work, you might have to use a last-ditch virus remover like AVG's Rescue CD. If none of these solutions work, you will need to wipe the hard drive and reinstall Windows.
Will my smartphone work overseas?
Q. I'm taking a trip to Europe and I'd like to bring along my smartphone. How do I know if it will work overseas?
A. Europe typically uses GSM-based cellular networks. In the past, AT&T and T-Mobile were the only major carriers with GSM networks, so if you used Verizon or Sprint, which had CDMA networks, you were out of luck. Now, all four of the big U.S. carriers have "world" or "international" phones that work on both network styles. Talk to your carrier to find out if your phone is an international phone. Your carrier might even offer discounted international rates that save some of the pain of international roaming. If not, KeepGo can rent you a phone designed to work in your destination. If you want to save money, use apps like Skype or Viber over Wi-Fi for cheap or free international calls.
Easily clean unwanted programs off your PC
Q. I just bought a new PC, and it's already loaded with programs I don't want. Is there an easy way to remove them?
A. It's unfortunate that manufacturers pre-load PCs with trial programs you don't want. This "bloatware" slows down your system from the get-go. You could remove it using Windows' built-in uninstaller, but a better solution is a program like PC Decrapifier. It can search your system and identify common bloatware, which makes it easier to remove. Just be sure you don't remove any programs you want.
Preserve your precious home videos
Q. My old VHS home video tapes are starting to fade. How can I preserve them?
A. Even with good storage practices, VHS tapes aren't going to last forever, especially if you play them often. It's a good idea to convert them to digital files, which won't fade. You can find VHS converters online that hook your VCR to your computer to make digital copies. You can store the movie files on your computer, upload them to YouTube or turn them into DVDs. All you need are some blank DVDs, a DVD-RW drive (most computers have these) and a DVD authoring program like DVD Flick. For safety, it's a good idea to store the video files in multiple places.