Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

The most frequently asked questions in /r/techsupport.

Why won’t some videos or content play?

Deprecated Question: 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, it is highly recommended that you should remove it. Adobe Flash Player is outdated, slow, has issues, 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’ve connected multiple monitors and my mouse doesn’t move between them correctly!

This is caused by your OS detecting the monitors incorrectly and thinking it is right. On older OSes, you need to physically move them, or the cables around. On newer OSes, however, you can simply go to the Display settings and you’ll see your monitors being numbered, starting from “1”. 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, so you will need to manually conduct scans (or set them up automatically)

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

  • Windows Defender
  • MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials)

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 malware?

Malware is the catch-all term for all bad software. It is shorthand for malicious software and in can include 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 knowledge or permission.

Most people use the term virus to cover other types of malware (basically substituting virus for malware). This might lead to confusion because a virus has a specific definition, but in reality, most anti-virus programs are now anti-malware, so the process for removing a virus isn’t too different from removing a worm, for example.

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

The most common definition for a Virus is a program that attaches to data or another program, replicates itself and then spreads to other computers. A virus typically causes data loss or corruption, though some can operate without the user’s knowledge.

A Worm is a program that replicate and spreads itself across a computer network. It differs from a virus in that it doesn’t need to attach to a program; it is self-contained software. 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.

A Trojan is malware that masquerades as legitimate software. They are often used to allow a bad guy to control the infected computer. This controlled 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.

A Rootkit is malware that hides itself from the operating system. This makes it difficult to find with anti-virus programs. Rootkits can be used to hide other malware. The most effective way to detect and remove rootkits is by scanning the system outside of the installed OS, via a scanner that runs on the hard drive before the OS loads.

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. Some examples of spyware are your operating system’s telemetry and usage statistics, which Windows 10 especially has plenty of.

Adware is software that displays ads while using 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, Windows 10 will display advertisements, but the OS itself is not malware. If the program asks for permission and warns the user about the ads, then it isn’t technically doing anything detrimental to the computer. However, many people still find this kind of software annoying.

Often several different types of malware will be used in order to attack a computer. For example, a worm may spread onto a computer and install a rootkit that hides a trojan. So removing one part of the problem does not guarantee the problem is solved.

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

In a nutshell, 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. Although 3rd party firewalls can be helpful, it is often recommended that users don’t install them. 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 infectious code to every port at random IP addresses. So if that infected PC tries to connect to your unprotected PC, then yours will now be infected.

A computer behind a router will typically have Network Address Translation (NAT) which allows many computers to use the same IP address and ports must be forwarded to a specific machine on the local network to be used. NAT should protect the computer against unsolicited incoming connections. You might still be vulnerable to malware, but not in the same way.

Notice that is 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. For example, if you load your web browser, and type an address, it will send out the request, your router will allow the connection and once it receives a response, your router will allow it in.

A software firewall allows you to filter and control all network connections. When you load your web browser, the software firewall will ask you if you want to allow that outgoing connection. It also is important to have in situations where a malicious computer may already be on your local network, such as when visiting a friend or when using the Internet service at a coffee shop.

The reason some people recommend programs beyond the built-in Windows Firewall, is because it is relatively easy to get around. For example, you might not even know you have a firewall because a lot of standard programs are allowed to get through.

Now, you may think outbound filtering is a good idea, since if you have malware, you would want to prevent it from getting out. So if why don’t people recommend them as consistently as anti-virus programs? Well, partly because they are annoying. Most people don’t need to micromanage every single connection to the Internet that a computer makes. It’s just another thing that needs to be updated and monitored. It’s more trouble than it’s worth in most case.

Additionally, any malware that is able to circumvent anti-virus protection can probably get around the local firewall. Once the system is compromised, the entire system should be considered untrustworthy. There is never any way to tell what things are hidden away, waiting to reinfect the PC.

While a software firewall doesn’t really prevent malware from being run on your computer, it can log or block strange connection requests (however, that’s not even a guarantee), and the rest of the time it is just annoying you.

So that’s why it is often recommend a user just keep their default firewall, sit behind a NAT-enabled router (all routers basically), keep their anti-virus up to date (because it will protect against most malware), and not run any suspicious programs or scripts.

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