Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

The most frequently asked questions in /r/techsupport.

Why won’t some videos or content play?

Alternatively: Why are there green stripes/odd colors on my YouTube videos?

Ever since the release of the iPad in 2010 and Apple refusing to support Flash, sites finally had a reason to switch to an alternative system to Flash. Many browsers and content deliverers have switched to the new standard in content delivery, HTML5. The latest versions of Google Chrome, Opera, and Mozilla Firefox support HTML5 and can play HTML5 content.

If you’re still using Adobe Flash Player, we highly recommend that you remove it. Adobe Flash Player is outdated, slow, buggy, and attracts viruses. Google has deprecated Adobe Flash support in Chrome and has disabled it by default. Firefox only allows flash on their Extended Support Release (ESR) versions and it is deprecated in the main versions.

If that doesn’t fix it, the cause could be GPU hardware or drivers. A work-around is to disable Hardware Acceleration.

I have multiple monitors and my mouse doesn’t move between them correctly!

This is caused by your OS detecting the positions of your monitors incorrectly. You can simply go to the Display settings of your OS and you’ll see your monitors with numbers on them. Simply drag and drop these in the correct position and you’re good to go!

What is the best anti-virus program?

There is no best anti-virus program. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some don’t slow down your computer as much, while others have better detection rates (the number of viruses a program detects). Some scan your system live, while others scan only when you tell them to. However, any of the top tier anti-virus programs should be enough for the average system. Many tech sites will have regular reviews or comparisons of anti-virus programs. There are also groups that do independent testing.

Most anti-virus programs will allow you to scan your entire system or individual files. Ideally, you’ll want a program that offers real-time protection, which means it is running all the time.

If you need to scan just one file, consider uploading it to VirusTotal. This service takes your file and scans it with over 50 different anti-virus programs. Therefore, it is extremely thorough.

Many people also recommend a general anti-malware software like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This is designed to be used in conjunction with real-time protection. The free version does not have live protection, so you will need to manually conduct scans.

Highly Suggested Free anti-virus software on /r/techsupport:

  • Windows Defender (called Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows 7)
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (to complement other AV software)

Independent anti-virus tests:

Note: Only install one anti-virus software on a single device since multiple ones can conflict. Malwarebytes is an exception.

What is the difference between viruses and malware?

Malware is the catch-all term for all bad software, including viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware, and rootkits. In the most general sense, malware is software that does something detrimental to the computer without the user’s permission.

These days, the term “virus” is used as a catch-all term to cover all types of malware. This might lead to confusion because a virus does have a specific definition, but true viruses do not really exist anymore. Modern Anti-Virus programs will try to remove all types of malware.

The definitions are mostly academic. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s bad, you need to get rid of it.

Worms are programs that replicate and spread across a computer network. Some worms simply exist to replicate, but can cause damage to networks due to bandwidth usage. Some spread and infect computers with viruses or trojans.

Trojans are malware that pretends to be legitimate software. Trojans are often used to allow other malware onto the computer. This infected computer can now be used to send spam or attack websites. Another common type of trojan is a fake anti-virus program that asks the user for payment information in order to remove a non-existent virus.

Rootkits are malware that hides from the operating system. This makes it difficult to find with anti-virus programs. The most effective way to detect and remove rootkits is by scanning the system outside of the installed OS. This is done either by a scanner that runs before the OS loads, or by a live session that bypasses your OS entirely.

Spyware is software that watches the computer and collects information about the user’s activity. This information can range from financial information for direct theft or it can be used to track web activity which is then sold to advertisers. Not all spyware is malware, but it often is. One example of non-malware spyware is the telemetry and usage statistics in Windows 10.

Adware is software that displays ads on the computer. This can be in the way of pop-up ads or via plugins installed in the web browser. As with spyware, not all adware is malware. For example, your web browser and Windows 10 will display advertisements, but they are not malware. Adware doesn’t technically doing anything detrimental to the computer except annoy the user.

Attackers will often use several different types of malware to attack a computer. For example, a worm may spread onto a computer and install a rootkit that hides a trojan. Removing one kind of virus does not guarantee that your computer is secure. Most Anti-Virus programs will remove all of these types of malware.

What is a firewall? Do I need a firewall? Is Windows Firewall enough?

A firewall is a network component that blocks network signals unless they’re explicitly allowed. Most users should stick with the default firewall software on their computer. Unless you know that you need them, we do not recommend users install 3rd party firewalls.

If you wish to understand why, you need to know what they do and what the danger is. In general, if you leave a Windows PC unprotected on the Internet, it will soon be infected with malware. This is because there are so many infected machines running that are constantly sending out malicious code. If an infected PC connects to an unprotected PC, then it will also become infected.

A computer behind a router will typically have Network Address Translation. NAT allows many computers to use the same IP address. The router then forwards ports to a specific machine on the local network so that it can use the Internet. NAT should protect the computer against unsolicited incoming connections. You might still be vulnerable to malware, but not in the same way.

  • NAT does not protect you from computers on your local network, such as in your house or a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • NAT does not protect you from malware you download from websites, or malware on your computer connecting to the Internet.

Most firewalls only block unsolicited incoming connections. If it blocked all connections, then networking wouldn’t work. So if the connection originates on the computer, then the router will allow the response. If you try to load a website, your router will allow the connection and once it receives a response, your router will allow it in.

You also have the option of controlling outgoing connections. When you load your web browser, the firewall would ask you if you want to allow that outgoing connection. If you are in a secure environment or suspect you have a virus, this can help control what data gets out. However, this is very annoying and difficult to use, so we don’t recommend this.

The reason some people recommend programs beyond the built-in Windows Firewall is because it is relatively easy to get around. You might not even know you have a firewall because it allows most programs through. Malware that is able to circumvent anti-virus protection can probably get around the local firewall as well.

In conclusion, we recommend that a user just keep their default firewall, sit behind a NAT-enabled router (all routers basically), keep their anti-virus up to date, and not run any suspicious programs or scripts.

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