Why Do Repairs Cost So Much?

Broken PhonesToday I am going to answer one of the most common questions I hear as a cell phone repair technician:

Why do repairs cost so much?

First, phones are more expensive than you think.  When you buy a phone from your service they either give you a discounted price with a service agreement or you pay for your phone with monthly installments on your bill. So while you may have paid $0 – $200 for your new smartphone, the average retail prices is $500 – $700.

Why so expensive? Well smartphones are basically pocket sized computers, with a GPS, digital camera, and telephone all in one device. The average GPS is $100 – $200 and the average digital camera with similar specifications to newer smartphone cameras is $100 – $300.

Once I explain this I usually get the following response:

But, I can find that part for only [insert number] dollars on Amazon.

Yes but is it a quality part? Can you do the repair yourself?

The repair cost is not just about the cost of the part, you are also paying for the time, labor, and skill of the repair technician. Plus, all parts are not created equal. A cheaper part uses cheaper materials and manufacturing processes. They break easier, do not last overtime, and do not perform as well as the original parts. You get what you pay for.

Here at Tech Armor for example, we use high quality OEM parts. OEM or original equipment manufacturer parts are made by the manufacturer that made the original parts for the phone. These parts are more reliable and usually backed by a warranty. At Tech Armor we offer a 90 day warranty on our parts and repairs. We stand by our products and our work. If you have ever had a repair done with us at Tech Armor you may notice us going through a few things on your phone. Before a repair we check for any additional issues and after we double check that everything is in working order.

Cell phones are full of many small, delicate parts. Disassembling and reassembling a phone may cause parts to become slightly unalined. And, no one is perfect and removing broken parts can be challenging. Removing broken glass or disassembly may cause tears in decicate ribbons. By checking a few basic functions before and after a repair we can determine if anything is out of place or damaged and resolve the issue. As you are probably starting to see, repairs take time, skill, and attention to detail. Anyone can watch a YouTube video and and replace a part but how many people can do so reliably and with lasting results.  What do you do if you lose a tiny screw? What if you misplace a part?  What if your hand or tool slips and you damage a part?  It is not always a easy as it seems.

Shattered iPhone 6Let’s break down the cost of a repair:

An iPhone 6 replacement LCD part currently ranges form around $130-$200 on Amazon. This part is the full front of your phone. The glass, digitizer, and LCD are fused together to create the screen. So whether your glass is cracked, touch screen is not functioning, or the display does not work, one part replacement fixes it all.

So if you see a replacement screen for $10 that just the glass. Removing this part and replacing it can be very difficult. The LCD is very thin and can easily be cracked and overheating when softening the glue to remove the glass may damage of discolor the LCD. Most often this type of repair is done with special machines that regulate heat and are calibrated precisely to separate the glass.

Next add in other costs like tax and shipping for the parts. Add rent and employee pay, because remember a repair store is a business with all the associated expenses.

So with the cheapest part and taking into account only the part and labor:

low cost part $130 + 5% sales tax $6.50 + average shipping $5.95 + average labor charge $50 = $192.45

This cost does not take into account the skill level of the technician or any guarantee on the labor or part.  Check out how complicated the repair can be on the iFixit website.  There are lots of small parts and delicate ribbons that can be torn.  If you do the repair yourself, you must also consider purchasing proper tools.  Many replacement parts from sites like Amazon do come with free tool kits, but these are very basic, small tools.  Believe me when I say the tools make a difference.  Better tools make the repair process go smoothly and with less chance of accidental damage.

Repair Tools

Compare the free tools (left), with some of our tools (right), and with the ones on the iFixit site.  You can see the difference in quality and how the free tools may not be the easiest to use.  A basic smart phone repair tool kit averages $20.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying don’t try a DIY repair.  There are plenty of people out there who have success.  If you are not 100% confident in your technical abilities, home cell phone repair may not be for you.

Considering all that goes into a repairing a smart phone, you can see how repairs can become expensive pretty quickly.  But, hey, I know I would rather pay $200-$300 for a repair than $650-$850 for a new iPhone 6.

So protect your investment.  Come down to Tech Armor and get a case and a tempered glass screen protector. And if you do happen to need a repair, come to Tech Armor for high quality parts, high quality service, and 90 warranty on all parts and repairs.

♦>In need of a repair?♦  

Schedule an appointment with us today!

Book now 

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Smartphone Quick Tips: Buying Used Phones

cash and cell

Too often you hear about people buying a used phone

only to find they are unable to use it.

 What a waste of time and money!

If you decide to buy a used phone follow these tips to keep yourself from being scammed.

Above all be cautious.

When buying online, find a well-known and reputable website.  There is a huge market for buying and selling cellphones online and there are many websites offering this service.  Do your research.  Make sure the site regulates what is sold.  Look for companies with a return policy.  Use websites that hold their sellers responsible for their products and how they are presented.  Stick to the big names if you are unsure, like Amazon and eBay.  One of my favorite sites is Swappa.com.  This site closely regulates how the phones are presented and sold, and only deals with clean devices that can be activated.

When using Craigslist, meet in a public place.  One of the best places to meet is at a cell phone store.  The store can check to make sure the device can be activated and help you do so.

One of the most important parts of buying a used phone is to insure you will be able to use the phone. 

So, what do you need to look for?

First, make sure it is compatible with your service provider.  For example you cannot use a Sprint phone with AT&T service.  Most cellphones are locked to a phone carrier/service provider.  Some phones can be unlocked to be used on different networks.  Phones that use the GSM network or SIM cards, such as AT&T and T-Mobile, can be unlocked to work with any SIM card.  [For questions about unlocking phones and help doing so come to Tech Armor, Hawaii’s Top Rated Cellphone Unlock and Repair Center.]

Next you need to make sure the phone has a clean ESN or IMEI.  I am sure you have seen the term “bad ESN” while shopping for used phones.  What exactly does this mean? Bad, Clean, Blacklisted?  Cellphone providers and law enforcement agencies have created a “Blacklist” to identify stolen device and keep them from being activated.  The hope is that if a stolen phone cannot be used, then phones will be less likely to be stolen.  When a phone has been reported lost or stolen the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) or ESN (Electronic Serial Number) is flagged.  These numbers are your mobile device’s unique identifier.  If that number is flagged in the system the phone cannot be activated.  There are several reasons a IMEI or ESN may be flagged: it has been reported missing or stolen, the service provider has blocked it due to outstanding balance on a phone bill, or the device is financed and the original owner is still responsible for payments.

How do you know if a phone’s ESN is clean?

First step, find the ESN.  You can do this in a few different ways.  Most phones are marked with it either on the phone itself or with a sticker.  For iPhone 4/4s you can find the IMEI on the SIM tray and iPhone 5/5c/5s on the back of the phone.  (You may want to double check these with another method as both parts can potentially be non-original.)  For non-iPhones check for a sticker under the battery.  If the battery is not removable, check for a sticker on the back of the device.

imei locations

You can also find this information in the phone’s software.  One quick, easy method to try – open the dialer and type *#06#, this will display the IMEI number.  Or you can check the phone’s settings.  On iPhone go to Settings > General > About and scroll down to IMEI.  On Android devices go to Settings > About Phone > Status and scroll down to IMEI.

So you have the phone’s IMEI, now what?

Now you need to make sure it is clean and ready to activate.  To do this you can check with the carrier by phone, website, or in person.  Also, many websites that buy and sell phones have ESN checkers.  Or you can head over to CheckESNfree.com.  Here you can check the IMEI against the USIMEI  Blacklist database.  If the results come back as blacklisted, blocked, or financed, don’t buy the phone, it cannot be activated.


Here are a few other things you might want to check.

If you are buying an iPhone check to make sure the phone does not have an Apple ID active on it and that Find My iPhone and iCloud are turned off.  Apple’s latest iOS uses the Apple ID, iCloud, and Find My iPhone to prevent access and activation by anyone other than the owner (for more details check out the Find My iPhone blog entry).  Trying to restore or activate the iPhone will cause it to become “activation locked“, rendering it useless without the original Apple ID and password.  If the phone belongs to the person selling it they should be able to remove this for you.  If they cannot, don’t buy.  It cannot be activated and you will find yourself the proud owner of a fancy, new iPhone shaped paperweight.

You should also check to make sure the phone is not passcode locked.  A safe thing to do is have the seller reset the phone with you.  This will prevent any unforeseen problems like software locks, passcodes, or spyware.

Above all, if anything seems shady or off about a potential buying situation, don’t buy!  Your gut instinct is probably right and it is not worth the time or hassle.  Possession of a blacklisted phone can get you in legal trouble even if you purchased it unknowingly.

Happy hunting and stop in to your neighborhood Tech Armor

to unlock your new phone or activate prepaid service.

Repairs: Water Damage

Phone in the surfWe are in Hawaii, let’s face it, phones are going to get wet.

Whether from ocean water or pool water, the chance of a liquid damaged phone is pretty high.

What happens when you get you phone wet?

How do you keep it from happening?

If it happens, how do you fix it?

The first step is prevention. If possible don’t even get your cell phone near water! Keep it away from the ocean or pool.  Take it out of your pocket before using the bathroom or doing laundry.  Keep it off of the kitchen sink.  Remember, not all liquid damage comes from submersion.  Rain, sweat, humidity or any exposure to moisture can cause damage.   So don’t have your phone in the bathroom while you take a hot shower – your phone will get the same treatment as that foggy mirror.  Keep it out of your pocket or waistband when exercising – try an armband.


I know, I know.  It is hard to leave your phone behind.  Especially with the great cameras they have these days.  Can’t miss that beach selfie for Instagram.  So if you bring your phone near water, protect it!  Buy a waterproof pouch or case.  Or, worst case scenario use a zip-lock bag.  Just do something.  But remember, these methods are not fool proof.  Always test your waterproofing first.  Put a dry paper towel in the case, seal it, and drop it in water.  If the towel comes out dry it passes the test.  Also make sure you dry off a wet case before removing the phone.

Headphone Jack SealMost waterproof cases are intended to protect, not to make your phone SCUBA ready.  Be sure to read the instructions.  Check to see what the case is tested for and intended to do.  Make sure to seal all openings.  I have seen quite a few phones that were soaked while in waterproof cases because the seal was broken or the case was not properly closed.  Many cases are no longer waterproof after being dropped.  Impact can damage the seals.  So be sure to re-check the case if it suffers trauma.  And be sure to check that seal over the headphone jack on your Lifeproof case before you go jumping into any swimming pools.

What can you do in those unfortunate situations where your phone does get wet?

First turn it off and remove the battery if possible.  Remove any SIM or memory cards.  Water plus electricity can equal a short or fried parts.  If it was dropped in salt water rinse it in fresh water.  The salt can damage the electronic components.

eDryNext, dry it out.  Try a vacuum hose to suck out water.  Avoid heat (hair drier) which can damage electronics.  Put the phone in a sealed bag or container with dry, uncooked rice.  Wrap it in a paper towel to keep grains of rice out of ports.  Or use packets of silica gel (you know the “Do Not Eat” packets that come with your new shoes or purse).  Leave the phone here for at least 24 hours.  There are also products made specifically for drying out wet electronics.  At Tech Armor we carry the eDry Bags.

Next, only once the phone is dry (so check ports for any signs of moisture) power the phone on.  If the phone comes you, woo-hoo it worked.  If not it could be the battery, try turning it on plugged into the charger without the battery.  If it comes on, you need a new battery.  This is pretty common with water damage.  If not, come in to Tech Armor, it could be your screen or other parts.  We can check and replace any damaged parts for you.

Just remember, although your phone may be working there are no guarantees after liquid damage.  There may be corrosion in places that cannot be reached or minor damage that can worsen over time. We do what we can by cleaning the device and replacing damaged parts, but you may still see problems in the future.  I have seen water damaged phones last days and I have seen them last years.

What exactly happens on the inside of the phone when it gets wet?

Why does liquid damage it?

You have probably heard people talk about the water sensors in phones.  They are little white stickers that turn red when exposed to water.  A few can be seen without opening the phone, they are in places like the headphone jack or charging port.  Knowing which sensors were “tripped” can help you determine how deep into the phone the water reached.  More water equals more chance of damage.Water Sensor

Corrosion Collage

Like I mentioned earlier water + electricity = bad.  Water conducts electricity and any power running through a wet phone can cause electrical connections that were not meant to happen.  This can short circuit the device’s components causing malfunctions or damage.  The phone can also corrode or rust.  Corrosion is especially a risk with saltwater damage.  Corrosion eats away at the metal in the phone and prevents proper connections from being made.  If you notice any white, green, or orange dust in or around the ports, that is corrosion.  Any corrosion will need to be removed and cleaned off.

Now our “don’t try this at home” or “attempt at your own risk” section.  You can take the phone apart and attempt to remove the corrosion.  The best method I have found is using a toothbrush and Isopropyl alcohol with a minimum 70% alcohol concentration.  If you do attempt this make sure the phone is 100% dry before attempting to restart it.  But hey, if I were you I would just take it to Tech Armor.

So to recap, when it comes to water and phones:

  • Step 1 – avoid water
  • Step 2 – waterproof
  • Step 3 – power down and dry it out
  • Step 4 – Tech Armor


♦In need of a repair?♦  

Schedule an appointment with us today!

Book now 

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iPhone Quick Tips: Jailbreaking

Love your iPhone but wish you could personalize and customize?  

Should you jailbreak your iPhone? Maybe add a few features?

iphone chains

Let’s explore the what, why, and how of iPhone jailbreaking,

along with the risks and rewards.


What does it mean to “jailbreak” an iPhone?

Jailbreaking allows the user root access to the phone.  It allows for full control of the device’s operating system permitting the download and installation of apps, themes, tweaks, extensions and other files beyond those officially available through the App Store, whether unavailable or unauthorized.

So why would you want to jailbreak your phone?

Many reasons.  Some of the most common: customization or personalization, add new apps or games, free tethering, custom looks, sounds, gestures, button press, etc…  Some specific examples of available tweaks: Default to non-Safari browser for internet links.  Have map links open in Google Maps instead of Apple Maps.  Use any song as a ringtone.  Password protect and app or folder.  Hide unused stock apps.  Change your font.  Have video or slideshow wallpaper.  Use Wi-Fi only apps on cellular data.  The possibilities are endless!

Sounds amazing!  So what are the drawbacks?

There are many risks associated with bypassing Apple’s software restrictions.  The restrictions are not just in place to limit the user, they also protect the user.  Negative results range from minor to extreme.  You may jailbreak your phone and never have an issue, or you may encounter an issue that “bricks” your iPhone rendering it useless.  On the most basic level, the software has not been tested by Apple and may not be compatible with the device.  A software bypass may weaken the phone’s security, leaving it open to malware or viruses.  Unauthorized programs can cause battery drain, performance issues, glitches, and system instability.

Remember if you chose to jailbreak your iPhone, your warranty with Apple will be void, and any software updates will remove the jailbreak and any modifications or custom software.

So you have decided jailbreaking is for you.  Now how do you do it?

Head over to Tech Armor for a quick, easy jailbreak.  We will jailbreak the phone and install Cydia. What is Cydia?  As best described by the app itself:

Cydia app“Cydia is a software installer that helps you exercise the freedom of your jailbroken device – letting you install any kind of software you want, and helping you make your device even more useful and fun by customizing it to look and work the way you like it.  Most of the packages available through Cydia are not exactly “apps”.  Instead, they are a more flexible kind of software: tweaks (extensions and modifications) and themes for your existing apps, or for the whole experience of using your device.”

Once the Cydia software is installed, open the app and start to play.  Customize your phone’s look, change the settings, download new apps, add tweaks, and experiment to make your perfect device.

Don’t expect it to be as simple as using a non-jailbroken iPhone.  It does take a little time, energy, and computer savvy.  Downloading apps may require a computer and special software.  I found the easiest place to start was exploring the Cydia app and doing a simple Google search for tweaks and extensions.  Once you discover a tweak you want to try, just search for it through the Cydia app and install.  Although there are modifications available for free, there are many that cost a little money as well.  For example, average price for custom themes seemed to range from $0.99 to around $3.99.

So what did I do while exploring the jailbreak world?

First I changed my look.  I customized my lock screen and later added quick launch app shortcuts (CustomLS, JellyLock7).   Next, I added a theme called Benzene which I loaded using the Winterboard app.  I then added an extra column of apps on my home screen, giving me more apps per page (Five-Column SB).  I swapped my carrier name for a Superman icon (Zeppeline).  Customized my control center (FlipControl, CCMeter, CCloader).  Personalized my message app (Messages Customiser). Hid my battery icon (Bolt), and added lowercase letter display to my keyboard (ShowCase).  All with free apps and tweaks.  Thanks and a shout out to the developers for the free tweaks and modifications.My Tweaks

If you decide jailbreaking is for you,

head over to Tech Armor for our quick, easy jailbreaking service!


♦In need of a repair?♦  

Schedule an appointment with us today!

Book now 

Click here and try online scheduling by TimeCenter

Smartphone Quick Tips: Google Now

Do you ever wish you had a personal assistant? 

Someone to mark your appointments in your calendar, make sure you arrive at work on time, or remind you to grab AAA batteries for your TV remote next time you go to the store?

Google NowGoogle Now can do all of this and more.  Goggle Now works with any Android phone running version 4.1 or later.  If you phone does not already have it installed, just download the Google Search App (this app works on iPhones too!).  If your phone has Google Now built in just say “Okay, Google” and ask away.  If it is not built into the phone’s software, you will need to open the Google Search App first.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to speak like a robot for Google Now to understand you.  It responds to a more conversational tone and can even built on previous questions.  What does that mean?  Let’s say you ask Google “Who created Batman?”.  You can then follow that question with “When?” without the need to restate specifics.  Google automatically fills in the blanks changing your search from “When?” to “When was Batman Created?”.

Google Now does more than searches. Works in the background organizing information that is important to you.  It presents this info in “card” form.  Google Now personalizes “cards” for you with info on your interests, important calendar dates, reminders, weather, traffic updates for your daily commute, and more.  You can give Google hints as to what info you value by entering personal data such as your home and work addresses, favorite sports teams, schedule, etc… Or you can set Google Now to collect this data through your phone’s GPS and web history.Cards

On Android phones, Google Now uses GPS to learn your routine.  It recognizes frequented locations like work and home.  Once this info is gathered Google Now will create a card with the best route to work and provide navigation, traffic conditions, alternate routes, and let know when you need to leave to be on time.  It can even remember where you parked your car.  Google Now uses your phone’s accelerometer to recognize when you have changed from driving to walking and remembers the location.  If you frequently search for scores for your favorite sports teams, Google will recognize this and create cards with upcoming game dates and times, live game scores with a link to play-by-play, and the most recent game’s final score.

photo 3 (2)Other cards you may see:  Looking for info on public transit?  Google Now has a card that will show upcoming bus/train arrivals for the nearest stop/station. Create a card to update you on when online orders are shipped and delivered.  Use cards to help you keep track of friend’s birthdays.  Locations based cards can show you nearby events and attractions, as well as spots for great photo opportunities.  Do a Google search for a movie, TV show, or album and click “Get Updates” for notifications cards on the latest info and reminders on release dates.  Sync your Chrome browser history for update cards on your favorite website or blog.  Check your Google Now settings to turn on and off different types of cards.Card settings

But it is not just about the cards.  You can use Google Now to dictate texts and emails, get directions, hear your daily schedule, search the internet, open apps, set alarms, create reminders, and so much more.  Below are a few examples of what you can ask Google Now, feel free to adjust the portions in parentheses to fit your needs.   The best part, there are no rules on how you ask.  No phrasing formulas that need to be followed.  So experiment, see what Google Now has to offer.

  • Show me a video of (a dog in a Superman costume).
  • Show me pictures of (cute cats).
  • Define (octothorpe).
  • When does (Tech Armor) close?
  • What is the status of (Hawaiian Airlines) flight (123)?
  • What is the weather like tomorrow?
  • What is a good (sushi restaurant) near me?
  • Text (mom) “(Have you seen my math book?)”
  • Create new calendar event (BBQ) at (2pm Sunday).
  • Note to self “(Return library books)”.
  • Set an alarm for (30 minutes) from now, label (game time).
  • Remind me to (get my phone fixed) when I am at (Ala Moana Shopping Center).
  • Call (Tech Armor).
  • Navigate me to (Tech Armor).   [Google will search for addresses and phone numbers.]
  • Listen to (song/artist/album).
  • What is this song? [Google will listen to the song and search for the name/artist/album.]
  • Open (Pandora).
  • What is (8+4+5+10+9+4)?

Smartphone Quick Tips: The Unlock

Unlocked CellphoneTwo years ago the decision was made by the Library of Congress to make unlocking cellphones illegal without the service provider’s permission.  This week a bill was signed into law that will allow consumers to more easily swap cell phone providers without needing to buy a new device. Although the law may be only temporary as the Library of Congress has a vote next year that may result in the reinstatement of the ban, let’s celebrate a little more cell phone freedom while we can.

So in honor of the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act let’s talk about unlocking cellphones.

To begin, a little background on the jargon.  A “locked” phone has software installed by the service provider that restricts the phone to use on their network.  For example, and AT&T locked phone will not work with T-Mobile’s service.  There are however certain phones that can be “unlocked”, allowing the owner to switch between networks and service providers.

How can you tell if a phone is unlockable?

First it has to be a GSM or SIM card phone.  In the US there are two types of cellular networks: GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).  GSM is the standard network used worldwide.  In the US there are four major cell phone carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile run on GSM networks, while Sprint and Verizon run on CDMA networks.  OK, so what?  What does this mean to the average consumer?  Well, while GSM providers attach your phone number to a SIM card, CDMA providers attach your number to the device itself.  In terms of unlocking: GSM phones can be unlocked, CDMA phones cannot.  Why, you ask?  To break unlocking down to its simplest form: an unlocked phone allows you to use a SIM card from any network.  Since CDMA phones do not use SIM cards they cannot be unlocked.  So no SIM slot equals no unlock.

SIM cards

But wait, my Verizon or Sprint phone has a SIM card, and you said CDMA phones don’t use SIMs and cannot be unlocked.  While there are custom software programs, hacks, and other methods of bypassing locks on CDMA phones with SIM cards, these phones were not intended for use on local GSM frequencies.  The SIM card slots in CDMA phones are either meant to run LTE data or to allow the phone to run on global frequencies – making the phone what is often referred to as global capable or a world phone.

Network frequencies vary around the world.  If you do find a way to bypass a CDMA phone’s locking software, do not expect it to function to its full capacity.  For example, you may be able to make a call but you will not have data service.  For the most part Sprint phones cannot be unlocked for use on local GSM networks.  There are some newer Verizon devices out there that come unlocked, but again this is intended for global use and may not function properly or to its full capabilities on the GSM networks in the United States.  On the reverse side CDMA carriers like Sprint and Verizon do not use SIM cards for their service.  No SIMs means no CDMA service on a GSM phone.  While you may find a CDMA phone that also supports GSM connection, you will never be able to operate CDMA service on a GSM phone.  So unlocked or not an AT&T or T-Mobile phone will never work with Sprint or Verizon’s service.

So now that we have a little background on locked vs. unlocked phones, let’s talk about how the unlocking process works

While there are programs that unlock phones through software manipulation, the most common unlocking process results in what is called a “factory unlock”.  A phone that has been factory unlocked remains unlocked even if the phone’s software is updated, customized, or restored to default.  This process require obtaining an unlock code direct from the phone’s service provider.

At Tech Armor, we send a request to the carrier on behalf of the customer.  If it is possible for the phone to be unlocked, the carrier responds with an unlock code.  The new SIM card is inserted into the phone and when powered on the phone will request the unlock code.  Once the code is entered the phone will run with any installed SIM.  If the phone uses data the internet settings must be adjusted in order for the phone to connect to the internet.  The APN (Access Point Name) must be changed.  The APN identifies which network the device should access for data use.  Once these steps are complete the phone will be up and running on its new network.

So now that you know basic what, why, and how of cell phone unlocking,

remember to head over to the experts at Tech Armor for all you unlocking needs.


♦In need of a repair?♦  

Schedule an appointment with us today!

Book now 

Click here and try online scheduling by TimeCenter

Computer Repairs: Malware

computer virus

You have probably heard about computer viruses.  You may have even been victim to one of their attacks.  Computer viruses are just one type of harmful computer software known as Malware.   Malware – short for malicious software – is used to disrupt computer operations by causing damage or performing unwanted tasks.  But what is the point?  Malware can be used to corrupt files, gather personal data, or access private systems.  It can be used to manipulate you in to purchasing fake software.  Sometimes malware is simply just a way for hackers to brag about their skills.

How do you know if your computer is infected?

How can you protect against malware?

What do you do if your computer is infected?

Let’s first take a look at some of the different types of malware.

  • Probably the most well know is the computer virus.  A virus attaches to files and spreads through storage devices.  Viruses self-replicate and are intended to cause damage.  They can corrupt or delete files, reformat disks, and cause a system crash or failure.  E-mail attachments, internet downloads and illicit software are common virus sources.
  • Worms are self-replicating and spread through network connections.  Unlike viruses, worms do not need to attach to a file to spread.  Worms cause network performance and stability problems, consuming bandwidth and slowing internet speeds.  The worm often begins as an e-mail attachment.  Its code scans files collecting e-mail addresses to help it spread.   The worm spoofs e-mail addresses gathered from your computer, posing as an e-mail from one of your contacts.  Worms can encrypt files and send documents over e-mail that help hackers gain “backdoor” access to a system.
  • Trojan horses can be disguised as useful or legitimate programs, or can be hidden within other software.  Trojan horses cannot self-replicate.  These files are usually downloaded and installed by the user, or they can be spread with the help of viruses or worms.  This type of malicious software places code in the computer’s operating system which allows hackers to access the infected computer.  This access can be used to disrupt operation, steal data, download or upload files, delete files, view the user’s screen and monitor keyboard strokes to collect sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and PINs.
  • Spyware gathers and transmits information such as web history, browser information, system information, IP addresses,  and personal data.  It can change computer configurations, collect advertising data, track frequent internet searches, and cause your browser to redirect to other websites.
  • Adware and browser hacking software are malware geared toward advertising.  Adware can cause ads to pop-up whenever the computer connects to the internet, whether the browser is open or not.  Browser hacking software can reconfigure the internet browser changing the default homepage or search engine, add search bars or toolbars, create desktop shortcuts, cause pop-ups, and redirect to sites that advertise or collect internet usage information.
  • Rogue security software is a type of malware intended to mislead you into believing your computer is infected and then offer downloads to remove the virus.  This malware often appears as a pop-up warning notification or message.  It can prevent applications from opening and misrepresent important operating system files as viruses.rogue securitry software
  • Ransomware will lock down your computer and display a message (often claiming to be from a law enforcement agency) requesting payment to restore computer functionality.  Like its name suggests, ransomware blackmails the user demanding money to release control of the system.ransomware
  • Rootkits are software that conceal malicious programs and hacks.  They can keep malware code from being read or removed.

How can you tell if you have malware on your computer?

Here are a few common symptoms that may indicate the presence of a virus or other malicious software:

  • Your computer or internet is suddenly running slower than normal.
  • Programs unexpectedly open or shut down.
  • Your computer frequently freezes or suddenly shuts down.
  • The hard drive is running more than normal or non-stop.
  • The computer’s hardware is functioning on its own (i.e. CD tray randomly opens self).
  • You receive unexpected warning, pop-up, or error messages.
  • You are suddenly locked out of your computer.
  • Programs become inaccessible.
  • Files or folders disappear.
  • Settings have been changed and cannot be adjusted or restored.
  • There are messages in your e-mail sent folder that you did not send.
  • You find posts on social media that you did not make.

How can you keep your computer from being infected?

The symptoms may not always be obvious.  So make sure you protect yourself from malicious software.

  • First, familiarize yourself with the types of malware and common sources.  The more you know the less likely you are to become a victim of malicious software.  Lucky for you, you have done just that while reading this blog!
  • Use protection.  Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date.
  • Update your computer regularly.  Operating system updates can fix bugs that may be exploited by hackers.
  • Back up your computer regularly in case you need to reset or recover it.
  • Be cautious of third-party software or applications requesting access to programs or system info.  If it seems fishy it probably is.
  • Do not open unexpected e-mail attachments or attachments from unknown sources – especially any computer command files that could possible run a program (files ending in .exe, .com, .bat).
  • Do not click links in e-mails.  Especially avoid links for banking or other websites with personal data.  Use a link you have bookmarked or retype the website into the address bar.
  • Do not click on links in unexpected instant messages.
  • Do not open documents or run programs from unknown sources (i.e. file sharing sites, pirated software or media).

What do you do if your computer becomes infected with malware?

Although these tips will help prevent infections, nothing is completely foolproof.  If a virus or malware happens to slip into your system, come see us at Tech Armor.  We can have your computer cleaned up and running again in no time!

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Accessories: Selfie Sticks and Tempered Glass Screen Protectors

The holiday season is rapidly approaching.  It is almost gift giving time of year.

Looking for a great holiday gift? 

Need a stocking stuffer? 

Don’t know what to get for secret Santa?

Look no further than Tech Armor!

Our two favorite smartphone accessories make the perfect gifts!

Selfie StickI’m sure you have probably seen or heard of the “selfie stick”.  I know I have seen them everywhere from the restaurants of Waikiki to the top of Diamond Head to the beaches of the North Shore.  The selfie stick, or monopod, lets you take the perfect selfie or group shot.  Never again leave anyone out of the photo so they can snap the pic.  Always get the perfect shot without having to rely on others.  Get shots from those hard to reach angles.  The selfie stick extends from 9-40 inches (235-1005mm), and connects to your iOS or Android device over Bluetooth.  Simply clamp your phone to one end and press the button on the handle to capture the perfect pic.  Take advantage of those great smartphone cameras and capture that perfect moment.  Your Instagram followers will thank you.

Tempered GlassOur other favorite accessory is our new Tech Armor tempered glass screen protectors.  If you have not tried these screen protectors now is the time.  It is the perfect addition to that new iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy.  The tempered glass screen protectors are custom fit to your device.  They are thin (0.33mm) and are practically undetectable.  Made of Gorilla Glass, these screen protectors are shock absorbent, anti-shatter, anti-scratch, sensitive to touch, and completely transparent.  Protect your cellphone without loosing the look and feel of the touch screen.  Let’s face it we all drop our phones (some more than others).  Add an extra layer of protection.  Because with all our phones do for us today, we are lost without them.  Check out the hammer test here!

So if you are looking for a great holiday gift or just looking to treat yourself, head over to Tech Armor for a Selfie Stick or Tempered Glass Screen Protector today!

Apps for the Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is over, Christmas trees and lights are up, the holiday season is here.  It is time for shopping and travel.  Here are a few great free apps to help keep you organized and get through the madness.  Let’s face it, there is a lot to do and little time.  The quicker and easier it is, the more time you get to spend with your loved ones.

Whether you are traveling by plane or car, or picking up family from the airport, these apps can help take the stress out of your journey.

Flight+ AppWith Flight+ gather info about flights, airlines, airplanes, and airports.  Search flights, airports, or airlines.  Track flight progress and view tables on airport info, flight boards for arrivals and departures, local weather, terminal maps, and flight maps.

Flight MapFlight Info

iExit appWith iExit Interstate Exit Guide view a map of highway exits and places of interest.  Select from a list of preset searches with categories like fuel, food, lodging, and attractions, or create your own search.  You can even setup alerts for upcoming exits.  The app will alert you when you are less than five miles from your exit.

Points of InterestHighway Exits

Between party prep, holiday feasts, and gift giving there is a lot of shopping to do and purchases to track.

Slice appWith Slice track orders and shipments and view current and past orders.  The app imports receipts from popular merchants directly from your email, or you can enter information manually.  See lists of purchases by category or merchant.  Track your spending or browse price drops and product recalls.


Add a little adventure to your holiday shopping and earn rewards while you shop.  Shopkick appWith shopkick you can earn points by walking into a store, scanning products, or making purchases.  Points or “kicks” can be redeemed for gift cards, products, or even trips and cruises.  Search products, stores, and deals.  Got a bored shopping buddy?  Send them on a scavenger hunt to scan barcodes.

shopkick Deals shopkick Stores


iPhone 5S Screen Repair


techarmoraward2013Tech Armor 2012 TrophyHawaii’s fast convenient iPhone, iPod, iPad repair and unlock experts. If your iPhone 5, 5S, 5C suffered any kind of damage give us a try before you throw it in the can or go buy a new one. You could save hundreds with one of our repairs, plus we have a saying, “Repairing is recycling.” Feel good about fixing your device by reducing your carbon footprint through recycling. All of our repairs come with a 90 day warranty and take about an hour to complete. You also don’t have to make an appointment. Call us today at 808-955-7470 and see why we are Hawaii’s #1 iPhone experts.iPhone Repair Experts