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Insider’s guide to choosing an honest, reliable and competent computer technician

Many consumers have been done in by fly-by-night and dishonest or incompetent individuals in the I.T. industry and have a general mistrust in computer technicians. The computer industry has its share of unethical businesses who will try to take advantage of uneducated buyers in their greed for money. Anyone who can turn a computer on can market themselves as a computer repair technician or shop. If your “computer guru” or part-time technician is not working on PCs and networks every day, they probably only know enough to be dangerous.

It is therefore critical to look at the following when choosing a computer technician or supplier

  1. Reputation: What is the proven track record and general feedback from friends and the community?
  2. Ethics: Be wary of someone who offers to lie to your insurance to claim a replacement, if they are investigated you will also be implicated and legal action will follow. Same goes for offering to install illegal or counterfeit/cracked software on your computer; apart from opening yourself up for lawsuits your system could be compromised and infected with spyware and viruses (which is common in cracked and pirated copies of software).
  3. How long have they been in business? Can they offer referrals of satisfied clients? Is it a one-man-band or do they have a team of qualified technicians with different skill-sets to resolve a variety of problems?
  4. Warranty and consumer rights: Will they be still operating in a year or two to honour warranties? Ask about return policies and lead times before purchasing from them. Know your rights as a consumer (download the pocket guide for consumer rights
  5. Rates: You get what you pay for so don’t expect quality workmanship from someone with dirt cheap rates. Professional technicians are in high demand and may charge higher rates but the ones who work for cheap are usually just starting up without the necessary experience.
  6. Qualifications: What qualifications does the technician/s have? Does the technician/s have at least an A+ CompTIA certification? How many years’ experience does he/she have?
  7. Communication: Is the company or IT professional available to talk and can he be reached when you need urgent advise? Can you get honest answers to your questions in plain English? Any cost, risk or problem should be discussed with you before continuing with the repair.

Honest, Reliable and Competent Computer Technician or IT professional

Understanding GB vs GiB

The units of measurement in IT are components of the “International system of quantities” and defined by the “International Electrotechnical Commission” (IEC).

In measuring speeds and sizes, it can be confusing. For instance, doing a speedtest to the Internet, you might get readings such as 10Mbps or 1.25MBps. Although the former might look faster, it is actually the same speed as the latter. This is because a byte (B) consists of 8 bits(b) - 1.25million Bytes per second is the same as 10million bits per second(1.25 X 8 = 10). Always check the B vs b, divide or multiply by 8 to convert between Mbps and MBps. Bytes=Bits/8; Bits=BytesX8

More confusing can be GiB vs GB.

The Gigabyte (GB) is defined as 109 bytes, i.e. 1 000 000 000 Bytes. However, the Gibibyte is defined as 10243 which translates to 1 073 741 824 Bytes.

For e.g. you might buy a hard drive that is advertised as 500GB, but viewing the size in Windows it detects as 465GB, this is because the manufacturers actually mean 500 000 000 000 Bytes (GB) (multiples of 1000), but translating it to GiB (multiples of 1024) get you a value of 465GiB. It is the same amount of Bits and Bytes! Not all software indicates GB vs GiB correctly, which can add to the confusion. Traditionally, storage space is defined as GiB (hard disk space, RAM, etc) and data transmission and speeds (Internet and network transfers) are noted as GB.




1000KB=1MB (1 000 000Bytes)

1024KiB=1MiB (1 048 576 Bytes)

1000MB=1GB (1 000 000 000Bytes)

1024MiB=1GiB (1 073 741 824 Bytes)

1000GB=1TB (1 000 000 000 000Bytes)

1024GiB=1TiB (1 099 511 627 776 Bytes)


Security threats

All computer users should be aware of the security threats that exist and take the necessary steps to prevent this. There are many threats and they vary in degree of seriousness: spam & phishing mails, viruses, spyware, malware, Trojans, Botnets and Ransomware.

Never give a stranger remote access to your computer. If you need remote assistance for IT support, make sure you use a company or person who is trust-worthy. Many have also fallen victim to the Microsoft call centre scam where the person pretends to represent Microsoft and warns users of security threats on their PC. They gain access to the PC by giving the person instructions to follow and then informs them of the cost for support. They can even access your bank and other secure sites and mail, especially if you have passwords auto-saved.

Firewalls are the first line of defence in protecting computers. A firewall filters the network traffic on the basis of certain pre-set rules, hence protecting one network from another and watches for malicious access attempts. However, there are other tools that can be used to protect the networks like antivirus software, anti-hacker tools, etc. Protecting personal computers using PC monitoring tools, file protection tools and password security tools further enhances the security of small networks. A paid for package of security software has advantages over free software as it offers more comprehensive cover and protection like anti-spyware, a firewall solution, with simple access for the user to change or modify.  The systems will update simultaneously, and automatically using the latest virus information.

Do not give out your Wi-Fi password to any visitor as your personal shared files might be exposed if you do not take steps to protect yourself. You need to set a password to your network in order to keep it hidden from a neighbour, a good password has at least 10 characters and includes numbers, letters and various symbols. Make sure the network encryption is set to WPA2 and that all your PCs and notebooks have firewall protection. When you are accessing a public Wi-Fi network, ensure your network sharing is turned off and make sure your firewall is enabled.

Banks and secure pay portals have made many changes to security features and are therefore relatively safe to use (unless there are botnet, malware or key-logging software installed on your computer). Phishing mails often lure people into filling in their bank/e-mail details and passwords which then gives the scammers access to their bank or personal details. Never reply to emails requesting bank details, usernames and passwords! Fraud for card-not-present transactions (completed over the phone or online) increased considerably over the last decade as neither a PIN nor a signature is required when customers use their cards online, so simply stealing card numbers is sufficient for this kind of fraud.




The general idea in IT nowadays is that most things are ‘free’.  People download (mostly illegal) movies & series for free; install free apps and programs like Libre Office with word processor, spread-sheet, etc. Some even expect support and training to be free. However the notion of ‘freeware’ was not meant to be ‘without cost’ but to give users freedom. Freeware is a viable alternative to proprietary software that is mostly, but not always, free of charge for regular use.


Netflix has launched in South Africa!


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How much data does Netflix use?

·         Low (0.3 GB per hour)

·         Medium (SD: 0.7 GB per hour)

·         High (Best video quality, up to 3 GB per hour for HD and 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD)

·         Auto (Adjusts automatically to deliver the highest possible quality, based on your current Internet connection speed)


Maximum bandwidth used

Maximum MB
per minute

MB for 4 minute
music video

MB for 50 minutes



67 MB

270 MB

3375 MB



45 MB

180 MB




15 MB

60 MB

750 MB



7.5 MB

30 MB

375 MB




21 MB

262 MB


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