Ask The Geeks

The Geek Squad Solves Your Technology Problems

The Geek Squad

 (The Geek Squad)

You've got tech questions, we've found the answers. We've asked the tech experts at the Geek Squad to help you make the most of your technology, answering your thorniest tech questions. So if you're wondering what to buy, how to plug it in, or how to fix it, the Geek Squad can help.

This week, Geek Squad Virtual Agent Cody Hughes answers YOUR questions.

ask the geeks

"What is 'IPv6' and should I be concerned about purchasing hardware and software that can handle it?" -- Jay Mitsuru

IP is an abbreviation for "Internet Protocol" -- it's what the language computers use to talk to each other on the Internet. Anything online (computers, Blu-ray players, gaming systems, eReaders, etc.) is assigned an IP address: Think of it like a phone number for a website or network device.

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When the Internet was first built, there were very few networkable devices. Today there are millions of products connected to the Internet, and the limits of the current IPv4 structure are showing: 

The web is running out of "phone numbers," in other words. IPv6 will alleviate the need.

You won't need to do much on your end -- most of the changes from IPv6 will be handled by your Internet Service Provider. However, there are a (very) few routers that may need a simple firmware upgrade when the IPv6 changeover occurs. Check your router manufacturer's support website for  details.

"My brother lives in a house that overlooks his horse business about 1,000 feet away. What type of equipment is needed to connect them on a network? He has DSL at the home. How much would it cost to have that set up?" -- Gary Sharp

A good directional Wi-Fi antenna could accomplish this. It's important that you do have a clear view and your connection to the network is strong. 

Once you have the antenna, connect it in place of your router's current antenna. If you're not getting the desired results, a Geek Squad Agent can provide you a repair estimate or help get things working.

"I have five components, plus a set-top HD box and a surround sound system ... all designed to be hooked into the flat screen on the wall. Is there a component available that I can plug all these into and have the picture with sound on the TV?" -- Jay G.

Many affordable receivers have the ability to do this -- depending on their age and capabilities. Since HDMI cables handle both video and audio, it's generally the best mode of connection to accomplish this. If your components don't have HDMI, don't worry: You should still be able to get the audio to pass-through.

Connect all components directly to the receiver and then plug an HDMI cable from the receiver output to the TV input. From there, it should be a matter of checking audio options within the receiver's menu. Typically, these options allow you to choose where you'd like the audio to output -- either though the television speakers or the speakers connected to the receiver.

"My HP’s IP address was totally erased. I called the service department about the problem and they said I was most likely hacked and that I would have to pay them $50 just to look at the problem … or $129 to fix it. Should I take my PC in to a repair shop or give HP more money to fix a problem that may just be related to their shoddy firewall? HELP!" -- Brad Hugens

If you're currently unable to get on the Internet, there are a few things to check before bringing your computer in for repair. Test the connection from the computer to the modem -- just connect the Ethernet cable from the modem directly to your PC. Does it get online? If not, call your provider -- they can verify your connection is active and determine whether or not it's a bad modem or a poor connection to your home.

Viruses, spyware, and even broken antivirus software can prevent your computer from getting online. If you have an AV program installed or used to -- try rebooting your computer into Safe Mode with Networking. Just power off the computer, find the "F8" key on your keyboard and tap it repeatedly after powering on the PC. You should see a menu that lists "Safe Mode with Networking" -- use the arrow keys on your keyboard to highlight that option and press "Enter."

You'll then see the screen scroll past system files and eventually load into the operating system. Once you're in, don't let the large icons and stretched-appearance worry you: It's normal for Safe Mode.

Go ahead and open your Internet browser and see if it connects -- if it does, you'll want to restart the PC and try uninstalling your current antivirus. Make sure you remember to write down your product key though -- you'll need that to reinstall it later on.

Got a question? E-mail us at and we'll relay it to the Geek Squad. Next week, the Squad will answer the most interesting or most frequently asked questions.