Q: I have a Dell Desktop running Windows 10 and Norton Antivirus. My usual browser is Chrome, though I use Edge and Internet Explorer at times. I receive frequent notices from Dell’s SupportAssist that ZDNET has updated in the background.
I do not know where ZDNET came from or where it resides. This doesn’t seem to be causing a problem but I am uncomfortable with not knowing what this is and why it is there. I’m usually pretty good at researching things but this has me stumped.
— Alan Robertson
A: What’s going on is that Chrome is by default configured to run background apps when the browser is closed. The idea is that websites will load more quickly when you visit them if they’ve updated in background. The downside is that the browser is using system resources while you’re not using it. That may or may not affect your computer’s performance.
If you want to prevent Chrome from updating in background, click on the three dots in the upper-right corner of Chrome, then select Settings, then Advanced, then System. Finally, toggle off the switch next to “Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed.”
Q: Would it be safe to save your passwords on your computer in an encrypted Excel spreadsheet?
— Debbie Haggman, Blaine
A: When it comes to data security, it’s always a questions of degrees of security. Yes, encrypting your Excel password file would make it safer. But if a hacker gets access to your computer and knows — or guesses — your encryption password … well, you get the idea.
The key thing here is that if you want to make that encrypted file even safer, use a secure password, meaning one that isn’t easy to guess. Yes, secure passwords — without words and with special characters – are difficult to remember. Which means you’ll be tempted to record that password somewhere. So make sure that password is recorded in a secure location.
Q: Since retiring from a large corporation, I miss tech support.
I have an HP laptop and run Windows 10. I use the computer mostly for web, pictures and email. Occasionally, I have issues I just don’t know how to address.
Currently, I have a paid subscription to Office Depot’s Tech services. They have helped me on some occasions, but their customer service model makes a simple question a trial that can take hours and several calls.
Who are their competitors, and are there any that you think are better than the others?
— Linda Richardson-Duff
A: The biggest name in consumer-level tech support services is probably Geek Squad, which is owned by Best Buy. But there are a number of other services available. HelloTech offers general tech support, either with an in-person visit or online. And Eugenius is a local company that specializes in home networks and telecommunications.
I haven’t used any of these services so I can’t rate them. But you can find customer ratings if you search for tech support services on a site such as Yelp or HomeAdvisor.