A guide to the differences between a PC and a Macs.

Have you wondered what the difference between a PC and a Mac is?

I have experience with both PC’s and Macs and have felt the need to share some of my observations. I currently have an older 2009 MacBook, a 2015 Mac Mini and a wide variety of windows based PC’s. I will be covering just the basics in this article and try not to go too into detail.

Some of the main differences are:

1. Design – Apple like to differentiate their selves from the competition with stylish but unified design across their devices. They use a single piece of aluminium as their case where possible. This looks quite good but can make servicing difficult. Whereas PC’s come in many different looks and styles even from the same company. There are many different companies building PC’s and each has their own style. Some higher end devices use aluminium as their main material but many cheaper devices particularly laptops and tablets stick with plastic.
2. Software – Apple devices use the apple created OSX as their operating system which looks and behaves differently to windows. Software designed for Windows will not work for OSX and software designed for OSX will not work for Windows but some companies will make software for both platforms such as Adobe. There is Microsoft office available for OSX but it is lacking features compared to Office for Windows. It is not just possible but quite easy to install Windows and OSX onto a Mac to enjoy the best of both worlds but you have to pay for a windows license.
3. Security – For a long time Macs have been seen as more secure then windows but in recent years this trend is slowly reversing as Macs become more popular exploits and malware targeting Macs is becoming more lucrative for hackers while Windows has been tighting security with Windows 7,8 and 10. Windows is still the largest attack target because of the higher amount of users. The days of Mac’s not needing anti-virus are over and all computer users should have some form of Anti-Virus. Avast and AVG work on both PC’s and Mac’s
4. Reparability – Modern Macs are designed to be the bare minimum size which limits what can and can’t be repaired within the device unlike their PC counterparts. For example, in modern Mac’s the RAM chips are soldered onto the motherboard while in PC’s the RAM chips are on a circuit board which clips into a socket on the motherboard. This can prevent faults where a RAM module is partially dislodged but limits your ability to upgrade since the amount of RAM you buy is what you are stuck with for the life of the device. On the other hand, Apple tend to have better support and warranty for their devices. Often if there is a serious fault with a device you can take it into an Apple Store or Authorized reseller and leave with a replacement device whereas with a PC you either have to send it back to the manufacturer under warranty or bring it to your local computer service business. But when it comes to PC’s computer repair businesses are able to quickly diagnose and repair the fault. Most PC parts are universal across brands unlike Apple parts which only fit the one model of device.
5. Value – Macs tend to be high end devices and have a price to match. Even older devices retain their value while PC’s come in all price points from low end all the way to high end. Things move so fast in the PC world that used PC’s can lose their value quite fast and older devices can often be picked up on special because newer devices are in.

Overall

The only person who can choose what you want is you. Once you figure out your needs and price range my advice is try out as much as possible in your price range to find a device you enjoy using and will last for as long as you want the device. You might want to try something new or stick with what you know don’t let a sales person talk you into a device you are not comfortable with using. Macs are only needed for developing iPhone and iPad apps just about all other uses can also be done on a PC.

What is Ransomware and How to avoid it?

Many of you have probably heard of something called Ransomware on the news and are wondering what it is and how it can affect you. Ransomware is a type of malicious software or malware as it is known that after infecting your computer will search for many kinds of files including documents, videos, game saves amongst many other types of file and encrypts them with a key known only to the creators of the malware then attempts to get you to pay the creators to get your files unlocked.

You can get ransomware from infected emails, compromised websites, dodgy internet advertisements and even potentially from infected USB drives. Most decent antivirus software will pick up most variants of ransomware but not all variants. New malware is created as fast as the antivirus companies can detect and block it in an everlasting arms race between security professionals and criminals. In another guide I will be providing reviews of various antivirus software with the pros and cons for each but for now I will be just helping you deal with the risk of ransomware.
The best way to avoid having to pay up after getting your files locked is to keep regular backups. Regular backups will also protect your data from other problems. The most common form of backups is to just copy your files onto a USB drive. If you have Windows 8, 8.1 or Windows 10 then you are in luck as Microsoft have a backup application called File History which is able to automatically backup your files to an external USB flash or hard drive. File History can also backup to a Network Attached Storage also known as a NAS box. Apple computers are also at risk of ransomware but not as much as windows computers. Apple includes a backup program called Time Machine which can back up to an external drive or a NAS.

USB flash drives are cheap and easily obtainable even many supermarkets stock them in this day and age. USB hard drives cost more but are able to store far more then USB. USB drives also have the advantage of being able to be easily disconnected when you are not actually using them which helps a lot in protecting the backup from also being compromised by ransomware. Network Attached storage has the advantage of being able to backup multiple computers at once, always on for constant backups and able to easily share your media with all your devices but has the disadvantage of being vulnerable to malware able to scan the network for files to lock.

If you are infected with ransomware and your files are locked your options are either to start from scratch, restore from a backup if you have one or pay the criminals for your files to be unlocked. If you are in the unfortunate situation where you have to pay for precious family photos or important business documents to be released you will likely have to pay the criminals in what is known as bitcoin, a semi anonymous internet equivalent to cash making the criminals hard to track down and often they are in countries that place them out of reach of the Australian authorities. It is still a good idea to report them to the police though because something may be able to be done in the future. You may get lucky and be able to negotiate down the fee to get your money back as to the criminals some money is better than none at all but it is not guaranteed.

In conclusion the best defence against ransomware is to mitigate your risk using good antivirus software and have regular backups so that if you happen to get infected not much is at risk of being lost. Small Space IT can help you pick what backup strategy best suits your needs.