Q: Some time ago you wrote about how to select a VPN. I don’t know how to locate this column so if you’d be so kind as to send it to me I’d appreciate it. Friends are visiting Seattle for a month and want to set up a VPN for their time here.
— Connie DeRooy
A: I haven’t actually written on “how to select a VPN,” since I haven’t done a comparative review of those services. I can tell you that I’ve personally chosen to use NordVPN.
What you probably saw was a recent article on the pros and cons of using a virtual private network (VPN). I’ll recap briefly.
After you sign into a VPN, all communications to and from your computer over the internet are encrypted. That means that even if someone is able to tap into your transmissions they won’t be able to make any sense of it. That makes for secure communications.
The downside: Well, for starters, VPNs are subscription services so there’s that. Rates vary, but expect something in the ballpark of $50 a year. The other drawback is that using a VPN can slow down your internet connection. To be honest, I’ve only noticed that occasionally when doing something intensive, such as streaming.
If you have secure WiFi set up at your house — that is, if your WiFi router isn’t broadcasting its station name and if accessing the WiFi network requires a secure password — a VPN may be considered overkill. For my part, I don’t use my VPN when I’m connecting to the internet through my home WiFi.
Q: I have had repeated pop-ups in a lower corner of my computer screen for the past three months or longer, and have tried to deal with them by eliminating “notifications” and “extensions” — to no avail.
Can you help me? Nothing seems to work and these pop-ups are very annoying while hiding a good percentage of text while typing.
— Lois Kaplan Glickman
A: What do the pop-ups say? Are they about a program you’re using? Or operating system features? If so, and you can let me know what they say, I may be able to help you figure out how to eliminate them.
If they aren’t related to your particular programs, however, it’s more likely that you’ve got a piece of malware that is popping up those notices. And be especially wary of pop-ups that warn you that your computer is infected with a virus and you should call a specified number. That’s a common scam intended to trick you into paying a service to “fix” your computer.
I recommend installing a malware program and running a scan.
Q: Today I installed Google Chrome browser in my laptop. Then I changed my mind and wanted to uninstall it.
However, it keeps on telling me that I need to close all the Chrome applications. I checked and restarted the laptop a few times and there was no active Chrome application going on. It would not let me uninstall it.
Would you please show me how to delete the Chrome browser from my laptop?
A: No problem. Reboot your computer, just to make sure no pieces of the program are still running.
Next, launch the Control Panel and click on Programs and Features. Scroll down the list of applications and click on Google Chrome. Finally, click on Uninstall.