Everyone always says, ‘keep your data backed up.’ Not many people actually do. We’ve been having a high number of customers come to us with hard drive problems recently. If they’re lucky we’ve been able to retrieve their data (fortunately, this was the case most of the time)…in other cases, documents, music and photos are lost forever…save for very expensive specialist data recovery often costing the best part of a few hundred pounds. We recommend backing up your files to an external hard drive or USB stick, and additionally backing up up your photos to DVD. A few DVDs and a couple of hours will probably be all you need. This way your priceless photos will be on your computer, removable drive and DVD. You can never have enough sets of backup considering the cheap cost of external HDs and DVD disks being so low. Please backup now! – If you don’t know how and want a lesson or use to do it for you, please get in touch.
We thought it would be good to share a busy and very varied day of work from last week for Horncastle Computer Services.
The day started with a trip to Minting to drop back an iPad who’s screen we replaced.
Coming back towards Horncastle via Hemingby we checked out an issue with a MacBook Pro screen. It turned out the graphics chip was causing the system to crash soon after booting, so we took the details needed to research how much a repair/replacement logic board would cost to be able to get back to the customer later.
Returning back to base was the next port of call to continue two jobs.
First was backing up; wiping; reinstalling a fresh copy of Windows; setting up drivers, setting up necessary and useful programs; and finally restoring user data. We do this job all the time and it takes a lot of time to complete, but it’s worthwhile because the user gets their computer working as well as it possibly can (without a hardware upgrade), and we can be sure the computer is completely clean and working so the customer won’t be coming back with an issue we somehow otherwise could have missed.
Second was changing the system fan on an ageing Sony Vaio laptop. The machine sounded like it was taking off – the ball bearings on the machine had worn out. We changed the fan, applied new thermal paste between the processor and heatsink and also cleaned the heatsink grill so it was free from dust and grime. After putting it all back together and switching it back on the system sounded almost silent compared to before.
In the afternoon, there was another three callouts. The first was fixing ‘no Internet’ which turned out to be a problem with the network configuration on a desktop PC. It took some sorting but the job was done within the hour was done and the customer satisfied.
Next job we had was in Woodhall Spa with a customer we have been out to several times before. They wanted their ‘passwords sorting out’ – meaning, in this case, to change all their different passwords to just one they have to remember. We do not recommend doing this, especially if the new password is short, made of dictionary words and/or easily guessable, but we also understand there has to be a balance between security and ease of use. We discussed all of this with the customer and followed their instructions to change all the passwords they could remember (Amazon, eBay, Apple, Microsoft, BT account, BT email, TomTom, Samsung, Google, Argos, Spotify, EON and some others we can remember). I feel happy the customer is able to put in this amount of trust in me to do this – it’s not something I would ever recommend unless you trust the person. The process took just over an hour involving speaking to an apple representative to unlock their account and other complications for what should usually be a simple password reset process for any service…I think the customer realised it would have taken them far long and caused them significant stress too.
Next we went to Tattershall for an old favourite job of speeding up a Windows Vista machine (don’t get to do many Vista machines these days). The machine was used for business and was required to run only two programs – upgrading wasn’t practical because the license for one of the programs required to run on a new machine would have cost £1200! The machine was in constant use except for about the only 2 hour window possible today so a callout was required. The machine was in such a slow state, but we managed to get it useable again for £70 and the customer was happy with saving all that money. We also informed them that if things start to fail on the computer it would still be possible avoid the £1200 cost by replacing parts rather than getting a whole new machine (If a computer is not used for the internet it’s perfectly acceptable to keep it on an outdated operating system).
We returned back to base for a customer to drop off a laptop for a screen replacement; another to drop off a desktop PC for a physical internal clean; and for the customers to pick up the two machines we were working on earlier. It was a long day but satisfying being able to help so many people.
Thought we’d share with you some recent work we’re done:
- Upgraded several laptops from traditional hard drive to super fast SSD drives – huge performance improvements (Coningsby)
- Replacement Full HD screen for a PC Specialist laptop (Wragby)
- Got web browsing working again on an aging Windows XP system (Horncastle)
- Moved a customers from a locked out BT email address to a new email address (Horncastle)
- Resolved a crashing gaming pc (failing PSU) (Woodhall Spa)
- Replacement screen from a Macbook Pro Retina (Horncastle)
- Many power jack replacements for various brands of laptops (Horncastle, Spilsby and more)
- Backed-up, wiped, reinstalled windows, configured drivers and programs and restored user data, on many machines to give for best performance on current hardware (Horncastle, Tattershall and Spilsby)
Any many other things – not always just computer related (anything technical).
Please have a read of this article about URL spoofing and how to stay one step ahead:
Lots of people use Google Chrome as their web browser because it is good and has useful features such as syncing bookmarks across any device you can use Chrome on. However, it can also become quite slow. As quick google for something such as, ‘speed up google chrome’ will return some good results. The Guardian published an article with tips to speed up the web browser and I have summarised it below (link to full article at the bottom of this post for full info.
Note: Be sure to only do what you feel comfortable to do. We take no responsibility for any damaged caused.
- Remove any plugins your don’t want/use – type ‘chrome://plugins’ into the address bar to disable any plugin.
- Make plugins ‘click to load’ – settings > show advanced settings > privacy > content settings > plugins > let me choose when to run plug-in content. (This tips appears to have been moved in more recent versions of chrome)
- Remove/disable unnecessary extensions – type ‘chrome://extensions’ into address bar and remove what you don’t need.
- Suspend your tabs – install the extension called Great Suspender and follow it’s guide
- Create saved browser sessions – install and use extensions TabCloud+ or Session Buddy
- Turn off background prefetching – settings > show advanced settings > Privacy > untick ‘use prediction to load pages more quickly’.
- Use data saver – install the ‘Data Saver’ extension.
Link to original article with more details: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/21/seven-tricks-to-speed-up-google-chrome
Here’s a few photos of some jobs we’ve completed recently.
Bottom lines are:
- If a company calls you, don’t let them take control of your computer
- If they have control of your computer and you suspect something isn’t right, don’t let them know, just unplug your router (which kills the Internet connection and their control of your PC).
Common scam techniques and the truth, these are some we have heard:
- Your computer is running slow and we can fix it. Maybe true, but who is this company and how do they know your computer is slow? Most computers get slow so this will be correct for many cold calls they would make.
- You computer has a virus and we can fix it. Same as above.
- Your computer is affecting your neighbours and we can fix it – it’ll crash their computers, phones, break the smart TVs etc. Unless your neighbours share your WiFi, this isn’t possible for nearly all domestic situations. Sure viruses can spread across a network and this should be a concern, but if this is a concern you’re probably more able to be aware of this sort of scam in the first place.
- You have illegal software on your computer. Even if you have pirate versions of software, the software company would have to work at NSA level to match a telephone to the computer running the software (unless you give it to them). Software is harder to pirate now than ever, so if you are running pirated copies you have really gone out of your way to do so – you are unlikely to have or will ever pay for it. The amount of effort a software company will have to go to in order to receive money of you…it’s very unlikely to be worth their time (pursuing businesses is a different matter). If you’re concerned you have pirate software take it to a local computer shop like ourselves who can probably tell you in an instant.
If you have been scammed:
- If you have paid money, tell your bank immediately. They have systems in place that should prevent further money being taken from your account and they may be able to get your money back.
- If you have allowed remote control of you machine, disconnect it from the internet. Check that no unexpected or unknown programs are in the background. Unfortunately it’s very hard to tell if the machine is completely clean without doing a complete wipe and reinstall of everything (and backup your files first).
- Installing a good firewall can show you all connections into and out of your computer – you can investigate each and block/remove any necessary.
Just a warning about data usage if you have an iPhone and have upgraded to iOS9 – read this article to disable wifi assist, a feature that uses mobile internet over wifi if the wifi speed is lower than mobile broadband. Check this out: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/phones/2015/09/iphone-warning-if-youve-upgraded-beware-the-data-trap. HCS.
There has been some alarm over the default privacy settings in Windows 10. We’ve found a few guides that can help you tweak them to as you desire.
If you have a good read of these you’ll be in good stead.
If you have problems with Windows 10 or any other computer problems just contact Horncastle Computer Services and we’ll be glad to help.
If you’re going for the Windows 10 upgrade in the next few days…good luck!
Our advice: wait a couple of months for the worst bugs to get ironed out and then upgrade.