October 11, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
It seems that browser wars have been around forever. During the early 1990's, the browser of choice was Netscape's Navigator. Netscape's massive successful IPO in 1995 got the attention of Microsoft. Microsoft began delivering their Internet Explorer bundled with their operating systems. The browser wars were underway. Some readers may recall the 1995 battle between Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer. There was a back and forth war of adding new features by both companies. Microsoft with its successful OS and huge cash reserves was no match for Netscape. Microsoft practice of delivering their Internet Explorer bundled with their operating systems for no additional cost caused the downfall of Netscape.
Netscape was subsequently sold to AOL in 1998 and the Netscape browser saw a quick demise. Microsoft was called into court in 1998 on anti-trust charges for their practice of embedding their IE browsers into their operating systems and making it hard for consumers to install competing browsers on their Windows OS computers. Microsoft lost the case and was instructed to separate their OS business from their software business. However, before this could be fully implemented, the appeals process removed much of the enforcement. In 2002, 96% of Windows users were using Internet Explorer.
Since that time, there have been several browsers start up. Its is interesting to note that one of them, Firefox, came from the soul of Netscape. Microsoft's once monopolistic control began eroding as a result of good-old competition. The browser war continues today.
Below is a chart showing the average percentage of browsers that have been used during the past 6+ years for folks visiting the www.pcmatic.com web site.
The data shows that the combined usage of Internet Explorer and its new replacement , Microsoft Edge totals approximately 38% in 2016. Chrome has been ramping up and currently comes in a close second at approximately 36%.
Regardless of what your favorite browser might be, the Netscape - Microsoft war during the mid-1990's likely played a role in the fact that all of the mainstream browsers today are freely distributed.
October 05, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
The PC Pitstop Research Memory Trends chart
shows that the percentage of PCs that have more than 4 GB RAM is accelerating.
The chart below shows the average amount of Memory found on PCs for each year since 2008. The overall average found on PCs in 2016 is just under 6 GB.
The chart shows that the increase by year has been fairly linear and that Desktops are growing at a bit faster of a pace. RAM or Random Access Memory consists of integrated circuits of transistor memory cells that are used by the computer to transfer data extremely fast by your processer. Your PC uses this memory to store and access much of the data used in its low level processing. RAM can also be used by your PC to automatically and temporarily store data from your hard drive that it determines is needed to support your current activities.
Adding additional RAM to your system is generally considered a easy and cost effective way to increase the speed of your PC.
September 27, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
Back in the mid-1990, the optical drive was introduced for use in PCs. One of its primary purposes for the CD-ROM player was to replace diskettes for distributing software. It also allowed users to play their audio CDs on their computers. The optical drive quickly caught on quickly. The technology evolved to include CD-ROM writers followed by DVD players and burners. During the first decade of 2000, Blu-ray high definition technology gained popularity.
Then came advances in internet bandwidth. Video on demand and online streaming replaced the need for the PC hardware required for multimedia tasks such as playing audio and video discs. Software could be downloaded efficiently from the internet. A paradigm shift was well underway.
The following chart shows the decline in attach rates for optical drives on PCs since 2010.
The data shows that Laptop PCs have always trailed the Desktop for the presence of optical drives. It's intuitive that just by the nature of portables, weight considerations often led to the removal of the optical drive from its configuration. While there will always be some demand for these drives, research shows that technology is changing the role that they once had.
September 20, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
When a PC Matic customer scans their computer for the first time, we ask them in what year they bought their computer. Our analysis shows that folks are not replacing their aging PC as in years past.
This chart shows the age range of computers from 2008 to 2016.
The data shows that in 2008 only 33% of PCs were 3 years or older. In 2016, the percentage of 3 years or older PCs has increased to 56%.
Looking at the same data for the average age of home vs. business PCs, both home and business used computers showed a general increase in average age during 2008 - 2013. Since then, however, the average business PC age has somewhat flatten out while the home PC users continue to hold on to their aging systems.
September 13, 2016 by Lyle in Research,The Pit Blog
The PC Pitstop Windows PC form factor chart
shows that the overall percentage of folks using portable PCs reached the 50% mark during August 2014. The portable percentage has grown at a very gradual but consistent rate over the years.
The chart below shows the portable PC usage rate by generational groups.
The data for this report comes primarily from our customers running the PC Matic scans for their PC systems each month. (Note: The erraticness of the Millennial generation plot line is likely the result of the smaller sample size of that group in our customer base.) While all groups have seen a portable form factor increase over the years, the older generations lag in their respective usage of portable PCs.
As a member of the "older generation", this author doesn't find it too surprising. Usage habits and possibly some resistance to change likely play a role in the explanation of these results.
Research testing is an important factor in determining the best security available…
Overall, testing agencies help us conclude the “good vs. bad” when it comes to security solutions, and research testing helps us understand which solutions to trust. With ransomware on the rise, one way to find out which security solutions work is to look to testing agencies to find product test results and how they differ from the competition.
In a recent study conducted by IDG, the world's leading technology media, data, and marketing services company, 211 IT professionals across the US were surveyed to find out important information on security platforms being utilized in the workplace. This survey asked IT pros to identify the most damaging types of cyberattacks, their consideration of deploying whitelist technology, as well as where they turn to get product results on buying the best security solutions. From these survey results, it was found which testing agencies were most acknowledged within the IT industry.
The IDG survey asked IT professionals if they read or followed any testing house or reports when looking to information on security solutions. The results were revealing, as Virus Bulletin was reported as the most respected research testing agency. Virus Bulletin is a testing agency that focuses on the prevention, detection, and removal of malware and spam. Virus Bulletin features analyses of the latest virus threats and produces evaluations of current anti-virus products.
Taking a look deeper into preferred testing houses among IT professionals and the correlations between different industry sectors, it was no surprise Virus Bulletin ranked highly among all industry sectors; however, it was found government and trade sectors preferred AVTest.
Interestingly enough, when compared to other sites within the transportation and utilities sectors, research testing sites like AVComparative, WestCoastLabs, and AVTest ranked among most respected within this particular sector. However, Virus Bulletin continued to be the preferred research testing house among all IT professionals within the combined industry data.
So, it’s clear-- when IT professionals are considering different security solutions and platforms, they commonly look to public research published by research testing agencies for insight on product testing results. What works and what doesn’t? Research testing sites hold the answer. The information provided by testing agencies give professionals a deeper look into the solutions that offer the best product and protection.
Computers are an investment. Many of us may not have the means to buy a new one each time something goes wrong. So how do you take care of yours? One key piece all PC owners should know is the importance of removing dust from the inside of their computer.
We have spent a lot of time focusing on PC security, which is imperative. However, we also need to reiterate the importance of basic computer maintenance. When we forget about basic computer maintenance, even the best security software won’t do us any good in the long run.
I often give this analogy when educating people on the importance of this issue. A computer is like a car and every 3000 miles you have to change the oil. Now, you can go longer than that and not experience any problems. But if the neglect goes on for 2 years you probably won't have a car to drive. The older the car gets the more things that are going to go wrong with it physically.
The same thing goes for our computers. Dust is hazardous to computer components and can cause overheating which results in events like unexpected shutdowns, blue screens, slowness etc.
The great thing about this is you don’t need to be a computer genius to do the necessary maintenance. All you need is a screwdriver and a can of compressed air (that’s it). With the computer turned off, unplug it from the outlet or power strip. Once unplugged, press the power button to discharge any residual power. Open the sides of the computer, and touch some bare metal, to discharge any static electricity in your body, then spray the can in an upright position for 2 to 3 seconds at a time. Repeat this until all the dust has been eliminated. Best practice is to perform this procedure at least once a year.
For Laptops, this process is slightly different and you will need to consult your product manual for instructions on how to remove the battery and remove the keyboard to spray inside. Hope this helps. Cheers!
surveyed 275 IT experts in the month of January and the results are surprising...
Over half of those surveyed, did not identify ransomware as a top security threat.
Yet, 65% of those surveyed reported having a moderate to extreme concern regarding ransomware affecting their customers.
Perhaps, had they known that ransomware was going to explode the way it has, they would've placed more emphasis on it. But they did not. In fact, 92% of the IT experts underestimated the impact ransomware was going to have in 2016.
Below is a graph from Proofpoint
regarding the significant increase in ransomware variants from the end of 2015 to the end of March, 2016. Although very few of these variants have reached the destruction level of popular ransomware viruses such as Locky, it does not mean the potential is not there.
As if this graph is not alarming enough, according to Neowin
, ransomware actually had a 158.87% increase from March to April in 2016.
It's time we start taking this epidemic seriously.