Computers

What to do when internet pages freeze computer; how to find right level of computer security

Every tech support task you should do for your family this week
Written by Publishing Team

Q: I keep getting “Page Unresponsive” drop down messages at irregular intervals when accessing the internet on my computer. I am using Google Chrome and Windows 7 (I know — I should move to Windows 10). I have tried various techniques suggested on the internet, but nothing stops the freeze-up. I have to restart the computer to get back into what I am doing. My internet connection is strong, and the other two home computers have no issues like mine.

Mike Diamanti, Coupeville

A: In checking to see if you get the same behavior on other computers, you’ve taken the first step in tracking down the problem. Since you’ve narrowed it down to that one computer, the next step would be to see if you’re also having that problem when using a different browser.

If the problem persists, I’d suspect you’ve got some malware on your computer.

If the problem is only with Chrome, it is most likely the result of a problem with the browser’s cache or a misbehaving extension.

The first and most likely cure is to clear Chrome’s browsing data. To do so, click on the menu button in the upper-right corner and then on Settings. Next, click on “Security and Privacy” and then on “Clear browsing data.” You’ll be able to specify the time frame for clearing data, but if this has been going on a while I’d just select “All Time.”

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To see if the problem is with an extension, in the Chrome menu, go to “More Tools” and select “Extensions.” Turn off all extensions. Then you can add them back one at a time to see if the problem recurs.

Q: I have been told by the computer security company that my husband purchased a security system to “protect” us. I have gone online to research the different security programs, but none of them are defined as being effective. I do email with friends and some family, I read articles and follow the news on the internet. Our current security system is not what I would consider productive. I constantly get notices from them with some reference about needing to update this or update that.

Computers are not so secure, and I just want to be sure that I have done what is reasonable.

Roselee Warren

A: First, a disclaimer. There is no practical way to make your computer 100% secure. That said, the issue then becomes one of how much effort and money do you want to put into making it “secure enough”?

For most users, the security programs that come with current versions of Windows are sufficient. You just need to make sure they’re turned on. That means especially the anti-virus and firewall software included in Windows Security.

At least as important as the security programs are users’ behaviors. Above all, don’t click on links in emails unless you trust the source.

And just because an email purports to come from a company you recognize doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. I get several emails each day from a delivery company saying they’re trying to deliver a package and asking me to click on a link or from a company saying I need to click a link or my password will expire. Don’t click! If you think the email might be legitimate, contact the company directly.

As for websites, don’t visit ones you don’t trust.

There are, of course, further steps you can take to up your security. Since I do a lot of exploring on the internet I use Malwarebytes to add protection against malware that may not be detected by Windows Security. And Malwarebytes also warns me when I try to visit a suspicious website. Yes, there’s an added cost: $39.99 per year for one device. Would I spend this if I was just visiting sites I trust? Probably not.

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Publishing Team