The Geek Squad Fixes Your Hard Drive, Wireless, Sleep Issues and More

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 Agent Jacob Golick answers YOUR questions.

The hard drive in my desktop computer seems to run almost all the time. It's very loud and annoying. What's causing this and how can I fix it? -- Tony Johnson

That's a tough one to diagnose without more information, actually. There are multiple things that can cause this including virus/malware, hardware failure, and even low system memory.

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Sometimes people think it's the hard drive when it's actually a system fan running full blast trying to keep the processor cool. This fan speed is normally auto-controlled, but a buildup of dust can hinder the fan's cooling power, causing it to constantly run. I'd advise taking it into a Best Buy or a local repair shop -- that way the cause can be narrowed down.

2. I'm trying to download a .bin file and then copy it to a CF card. Windows insists on opening the file in a program such as Adobe Acrobat reader. Are my file attributes screwed up? How can I fix this so I'm only copying the .bin file? -- David Drawbaugh

To make this answer a bit simpler, I'm going to assume you're using Windows 7 and the Internet Explorer 9 browser. When you click on the link, you should be given the options to open, save, or cancel. Click on save, it will automatically save this to the downloads folder.

Click the Start menu and type in "Downloads" without the quotes -- then hit Enter to bring up the default downloads folder. Locate your .bin file, right click on it and in the "send to" menu, select the removable drive that your CompactFlash card is in. Voila!

This is just one of many ways to accomplish this task, of course. Another simple way would be to right click the .bin file and click Copy. Then hit the Start menu, click Computer, double click your CF card, right click, and click Paste.

3. If I take my laptop from my apartment and go to Starbucks or the public library and pick up their wireless Internet, can someone use a remote device to spy on what I'm viewing -- even if I have security protection? -- John Dee

Technically, any open wireless network leaves you susceptible to having your information stolen.

If you connect to such networks often, you should have Internet Security software running, not just an antivirus. When it detects that you are on a new network, it will ask if it's private or public -- make sure you select public. This locks down your firewall tighter than it would be for a private network to keep you safe: File sharing and other services used to access your computer are blocked.

This can't protect against packet sniffers, though -- software that picks up network "packets" of data that can contain usernames and passwords as well as other information. But most important sites you'll visit from the library (such as banks and credit card companies) will have a secure site which encrypts this data, making it very difficult to acquire. You can tell if you are at a secure site by looking at your address bar where it says the http:// part. If it says https:// then you're on a secure site.

Visiting Facebook from Starbucks? Click the arrow next to Home on the top right, click Account Settings, and click on Security. In the center section, click on edit next to Secure Browsing, click the check mark that says "Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) when possible" and click save changes.

I shut down my computer and choose the "sleep" mode. Unfortunately the computer periodically wakes up and then shuts itself off again! What's the solution to this? -- Jerry Fontaine

When you say it shuts off again, do you mean it shuts down or just goes back into sleep mode again? I'm going to guess sleep mode again. One common issue is your network card, which could be waking your computer up. To find out:

1. Click the Start menu, right click on your Computer and select Properties.

2. Click Device Manager on the left side of the Properties window.

3. Expand Network Adapters (Click on the + sign to expand).

4. Right click on your network card (if you are connected through wireless select the wireless card) and select properties.

5. Go to the Power Management tab and uncheck the option to "Allow this device to wake the computer." Problem solved ... I hope.

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.