Got a holiday booked? Watch out for dodgy emails!


You are bound to be keen to read some news that isn’t lockdown related, so today I am pleased to share with you the latest blog from our colleague Ian Bell at Computer Troubleshooters North Staffordshire.  Not good news, I’m afraid, but a timely remind to stay on our guard as the Summer season approaches.

Ian writes:

Want a distraction from concerns about coronavirus, remote working, furloughing and un-furloughing?

EasyJet have the answer. They just announced a massive data breach, impacting around 9 million users of its website. OK, that’s not the type of distraction you want, but it is a return to pre-coronavirus normality!

What does this mean for you?

First – find out if your email address has been included in a major breach and then become available for criminals to buy on the dark web. The Have I Been Pwned? site (yes that’s the right spelling) is the best resource to find this out. Click on the image below and enter your email address.

If you get some results back, your email address is affected. You should work out what password you used on the affected site and stop using that password. At all. Anywhere. You can also call Computer Troubleshooters for advice.

You cannot stop data breaches on sites you use, but you can limit the impact to you by using a unique, hard to guess password for each login. I’ve posted about passwords several times. I suggest you read How to Escape Password Hell and We need to talk about your passwords again! for some tips on how to make up a strong password you can remember. Both posts also recommend you use a password manager to help you deal with the hundreds of passwords we all have. We now prefer Roboform Business, but you may already know of Dashlane and LastPass. In reality, almost any reputable password manager is better than none.

If you are concerned about your cyber security, get in touch to arrange a free, no strings review. It can all be done remotely via video conferencing and remote support to maintain social distancing.

And there we are – back to mentioning coronavirus issues again.

For more excellent stories from Ian Bell, please visit his website.

Stay alert, control the virus, save lives!

A gift from Microsoft which doesn’t reference Covid-19!


Have you noticed how people add the phrase “in old money” when using a new, unfamiliar way of measuring or categorising something?  You hear football pundits saying, for example, that Leyton Orient are in EFL Division 2, that’s the 4th Division in old money.  This expression dates back to the decimalisation of Sterling in 1971, when shillings, florins, tanners and 240 pennies to the pound were replaced with pounds subdivided into 100 new pence.  Shoppers would need to take a ready reckoner with them to convert prices into something more understandable “in old money”.

Why show the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, you ask?  The top hat he is wearing still has a price tag attached in old money.  It would appear that you could purchase his hat for “ten and six”, that is ten shillings and six pence or 52.5p in new money!  He also came up with a wonderfully appropriate quote for us as you will see below: Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.

In a world where we are being bombarded by emails from suppliers with a mention of Coronavirus or Covid-19 in the subject line, and ample opportunities to attend webinars on every conceivable aspect of the impact on business, Microsoft now offers us the chance to use that immortal phrase “in old money” about their product lines!

While Microsoft do have offerings which support the “new normal” – Teams allows for communication and collaboration with members of staff working from home, for example – this is not the focus of their latest announcements.  No, they have decided to change the names of their ubiquitous Office 365 brand!

The product remains the same for now, but names have all been changed, and in a move reminiscent of UK decimalisation, it is reusing terms but with different values (for example 12 old pennies becoming 5 new pennies/Business Premium no longer describing the subscription for the email and Office software combo).

You can read the rationale behind the rebranding here.  Here are the headlines:

Office 365 is now Microsoft 365

Office 365 Business Essentials is now Microsoft 365 Business Basic

Office 365 Business Premium is now Microsoft 365 Business Standard

Microsoft 365 Business is now Microsoft 365 Business Premium

Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus are both now Microsoft 365 apps.

We will do our best to guide you through the changes and remind you which product you need or indeed have “in old money”!

As a bonus present, Microsoft also have a feature update for you 2004.  Where our customers are accessing their work computers remotely, we have stopped the automatic applying of patches to ensure that the machines don’t turn off, just in case they fail to turn on again.  You can rest assured that this new update will not be installed on computers under our management until we are certain that it won’t have an impact on customers who are working from home.

As you become accustomed to the New Normal of a life of social isolation under the lockdown, please be assured that Computer Troubleshooters is still here to guide your business through the IT maze.

Unlike Microsoft, we won’t be meddling with our branding – Computer Troubleshooters – Technology Solved.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu – to Windows 7



STOP PRESS!  Windows 7 end of life is 14 January 2020.

If you are still using Windows 7, you need to act now.  Read on to find out why …


Do you remember XP?  This was Microsoft’s popular operating system (the software every device needs to allow other applications to work) which made its debut in 2002 and continued to be the system of choice for millions of users until 2014.  It proved to be a wrench for many businesses to abandon Windows XP as legacy programs refused to work on later Windows versions.

Many computer users moved their allegiance to Windows 7, shunning Windows 8 and preferring to stick with the familiar operating system when Windows 10 was launched.  Unfortunately, this won’t be an option for much longer, as Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 will reach the end of its life in January 2020.  Indeed, if you are a Windows 7 user, you may have received a friendly reminder from Microsoft in the form of a pop up on your computer recently!

So it’s time to say so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu – to Windows 7.

You may ask if this is truly necessary.

After all, your computer is working perfectly well as it is, so why should you have to make a change?

And January 2020 seems a long way off.

The short answer is CYBER SECURITY! Read more

Celebrating Apollo 11 computing power, 48 years on


It’s amazing to think that that once unthinkable event – sending men to the moon and bringing them back safely to Earth – actually took place 48 years ago, in July 1969. And it is yet more incredible when you consider that the technology available on the space craft wasn’t as sophisticated as a modern toaster.

The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) had 64Kbytes of memory and was operated by typing in simple commands.  To cope with the limited resources as its disposal, it was designed to process programs in priority order and give an alert if it became overloaded.  It did in fact produce a “1202” alarm code during the moon landing sequence, but Earth-based computer engineers were able to confirm that the error message could be safely ignored.

Of course the whole mission did not depend on this one solitary machine.  IBM supplied a whole bank of mainframe computers to cover all the requirements from the initial trajectory calculations or the safe guidance back to either.  You can learn more about the setup here.

We had the opportunity to travel back in time to see the Apollo computers in action recently when they featured in the television series TimelessRead more

A view from the past to the future: 150 years of H G Wells


September marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of H G Wells, arguably one of Britain’s finest science fiction writers.

His inventive imagination is well-known, especially as his works have been made into memorable films; The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man to name just a few.  Indeed, Orson Welles caused such a stir with his radio dramatization of the War of the Worlds that pandemonium broke out in New York when it was first broadcast as listeners feared that a Martian invasion was in progress!

Although his creations were mostly fanciful, there are a number of examples where he was quite prescient about the future of technologyPerhaps he did have a time machine after all!

Here are some of the examples of technological mentions in his oeuvre Read more

An Elephant Never Forgets


While checking out which important events are happening on 12th August, I was interested to learn that it is World Elephant Day.  Elephants have been valued for many things;

  • their importance as a species in the African ecosystem
  • their performances in circuses
  • their ability to transport heavy loads and passengers
  • sadly, the ivory from their tusks.

Elephants are also said to be endowed with excellent memories.  How useful would you find this trait?  Do you have a good memory for faces, names, numbers or miscellaneous facts?  When it comes to IT, there is one area where elephantine powers of recall could prove to be an excellent asset: remembering passwords! Read more

The Windows 10 free upgrade offer expires soon; what should you do?

Windows 10 display


With the Windows 10 free upgrade deadline approaching, this month’s newsletter takes a look at this operating system and the factors to consider when making the decision to take the plunge and upgrade.

If you are happy with your current arrangements, we have the technology to stop those persistent automatic upgrade attempts.  If you are unsure, please feel free to discuss your options with Computer Troubleshooters – 01732 300064.

Windows 10– Should You Upgrade Now?

On July 29th, 2015 Microsoft released the much anticipated operating system called Windows 10.  With a goal to have more than 2 million devices using Windows 10 within two years, Microsoft immediately launched an aggressive marketing initiative that offered free upgrades on eligible devices using Windows 7 or higher. Microsoft’s generosity only goes so far, however, and the free upgrades will only be offered until July 29th, 2016. With the regular pop-up messages reminding users of this limited time offer, many people have been asking if this upgrade is right for them. The short answer is, it depends. Read more

Movie technology I wish I could buy!


When you settle down with your popcorn to watch the latest blockbuster, do you get distracted by the gadgets that the protagonists have at their disposal?  From rom-coms, through spy movies and on to Sci-Fi thrillers, tech is ubiquitous and can be very sophisticated.

Where would James Bond be without the assistance of Q?  One of the highlights of any 007 movie is seeing what technology has been developed for our hero, and trying to second-guess how the equipment will be instrumental in the plot.  His cars are always kitted out with useful tools, including the ability to become invisible in “Die Another Day”!

Superheroes usually have great tech gadgets in their arsenal, although these are generally associated with crime-fighting rather than having everyday applications.  Indeed they become synonymous with their equipment: Iron Man and his iron suit, Captain America and his shield, Wonderwoman and her lasso of truth and not forgetting Thor and his hammer, known as Mjolnir.

When you reach the realms of Science Fantasy and futuristic dramas, the technology becomes seriously enviable.  Read more

Everything you ever wanted to know about Cryptolocker

cryptolocker from newsletter

This month we have been treated to some in-depth technical knowledge about malware and how to deal with it, courtesy of our colleagues at Computer Troubleshooters Christchurch East.

Malware originating from dodgy emails was in fact the subject of our New Tax Year blog:

“As with every financial milestone – month end, year end, financial year end – the scammers are out to catch us off our guard.  In a busy office where the bookkeepers are under pressure to meet deadlines, it is easy to give a cursory once-over to an email request for payment and not realise that they are about to fall victim to cybercrime!”

Now here is everything you could possibly want to know about Cryptolocker and advice on how to handle the threat:

Cryptolocker Removal

The Cryptolocker family of ransomware viruses and look-alikes (CTB Locker, Cryptowall, Torrent Locker, Locker, Locky etc.) are now well known as one of the major causes of data corruption and data loss across the world. Read more

Badlock: a chance to close the stable door before the horse bolts



As the Grand National weekend draws near, I expected to be drawing analogies between national hunt racing and IT managed services along the lines of planning, preparation and making sure your team is ready to overcome the hurdles and arrive successfully at the finishing post.

However we now find that we are bracing ourselves in anticipation of a new cyber threat Badlock.  We are in the unusual position of being aware both of a vulnerability and of the fix becoming available on the same day – Tuesday 12th April. Read more

Where would the boat race be without technology?

boat race

On the face of it, what sporting event could be considered a more fundamental test of human endeavour against the forces of nature that the Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race?  Young athletes are pitted against each other and the elements in a rowing race on the River Thames; surely this is one sport where technology has no part to play.

The 162nd Cancer Research UK Boat Race took place on the Thames between Putney and Mortlake on Easter Sunday, 27th March 2016.  This is now an annual fixture in the sporting calendar since its first appearance in 1829, although it premiered in Henley with the 2nd race taking place in London in 1836.

The impact of technology can actually be felt through every aspect of the Boat Race.  Let’s start with the boats themselves.  Read more

An “Easter Egg” to celebrate Easter

Easter Word Search


Who doesn’t like an Easter egg or two?  It must be up there as one of the best things about Easter and is evidently essential to the success of an Easter egg hunt.  This is probably the reason why the term “Easter egg” has been adopted in computing circles for the hidden bonuses lurking within a program.

In computer parlance, an Easter egg is a hidden joke or a secret feature.  Read more

9 great reasons to protect your devices with ESET now



We have been pleased to recommend ESET antivirus for many years.  It has so many great features that make it the ideal protection for all your computers:

Reason 1

The new generation of ESET NOD32 Antivirus delivers the same robust protection whilst maintaining the same small system footprint, meaning that the program does not affect the performance of your PC.

Reason 2

Antivirus and Antispyware provides proactive protection against all online and offline threats, including viruses, worms, trojans and other malware.

Reason 3

Enhanced Exploit Blocker blocks attacks that are specifically designed to evade antivirus detection.

Reason 4 Read more

Want to get organised? There’s an app for that!

In the olden days, which were not so long ago, a business person could rely on the administrative support of a pool of copy typists as well, of course, as an executive secretary who ensured that their diary, correspondence and reports were updated and available at their fingertips.  As technology has grown in importance in the workplace, so the administrative burden has passed largely onto the manager.  Not everyone can afford to have their own personal assistant, while remaining snugly in their budgets.


As society evolves, so do the needs and wants pertaining to technology. Being thinner, quicker, cheaper, and all the size of a quarter are ideal technology characteristics. With the evolution of technology rapidly producing new life-enhancing gadgets by the hour, it is hard to keep pace and select the features that will benefit your business. Read more

How can an eagle fight technology-based crime?



With each step forward in the development of technology, there come innovations in the way the gadgets can be employed.  Unfortunately, not all innovations benefit society as a whole, as criminals are also seeking opportunities to support their activities using the latest inventions.

Drones are bringing great benefits to businesses.  Builders can deploy them to make an inspection of a roof without the expense and inconvenience of erecting extensive scaffolding.  Film makers can provide a bird’s-eye-view of a town or country landscape.  There are even plans to arrange courier deliveries by drone, and a pizza delivery would surely be quicker via a drone than a scooter which is restricted to the gridlocked streets.

Sadly the criminal fraternity can also see ways of deploying drones.  It has been reported that drones have been used to smuggle mobile phones, drugs and other contraband into prisons.  It is conceivable that drones could wreak havoc in the hands of terrorists, allowing them to steer bombs to their intended target while keeping a safe distance themselves.  There have also been instances of drones getting into the flight path of aeroplanes with potentially catastrophic consequences. Read more

New Year, New Email System

O365 business class emailAs the new calendar flips open to 2016, our thoughts turn to New Year Resolutions.  How many of those good intentions are already by the wayside?

  • Dry January drowned in a post-Christmas drinks party?
  • 5:2 diet sabotaged by a cream cake?
  • Fitness drive scuppered by a crowded gym and overbooked classes?

So much for personal goals, but how about your business?  The New Year is a perfect time to review your processes and implement some improvements. Read more

When can a LENS rescue you?

When you think of the emergency services coming to your aid, I suspect that a lens does not feature high up in the list of equipment that you expect a firefighter to be wielding:

  • Hose: check
  • Ladder: check
  • Axe: check
  • Fire extinguisher: check
  • Bolt Cutters: check
  • Fire engine: check
  • Breathing apparatus: check
  • But a lens? No, can’t see how that would help!

Conceivably a lens is useful for a householder where it is installed in a spy-hole on the front door, allowing a fish-eye view of an unexpected caller, but this cannot really be categorised as a rescue either.

For a photographer, not having the appropriate lens to hand could spell trouble during a photo-shoot, but I don’t think that the sourcing of the correct lens would be considered to be rescuing the situation.

And, of course, lenses feature prominently in the work of opticians and eye-surgeons. Where would your ophthalmologist be without his box of lenses to select the perfect solution to your eyesight problems? These lenses can improve or even save your sight, but would you define this as an act of rescue?

rescue lens Read more

Not just “Computer” Troubleshooters

Oaks drone croppedIn this age of the Internet of Things, computing power can be found in the most unlikely places. Where you used to have a frustrating wait when your laptop decided that it would not let you on until it had finished applying updates, you could at least put that behind you when you sat down after a long day’s work in front of the telly to catch up on your favourite soap. Nowadays you could be confronted with your Smart TV also insisting that it has urgent updates to perform, and it will not let you pass go until the update is done.

So what is this Internet of Things, I hear you asking. Read more

When the going gets tough …

When the going gets tough …

… it may be time to consider getting a Toughbook!


You may have glimpsed these rugged armour-plated computers in an action-packed movie, probably toted by a soldier on manoeuvres in a conflict zone or maybe in the hands of a bomb-disposal expert as he heads in to de-activate an incendiary device strapped to a car.

Although their common habitat may well be those frequented by the military and other service personnel, their strength and durability has applications beyond the martial arena. Read more

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a DRONE!

dronePost “Spectre” and the recent story of someone shooting down a drone which was spying on his garden in the US, it has left us here wondering about a possible future with drones. In the case of the US citizen, it was declared by the judge that it was the right of the man to shoot the drone due to privacy reasons.

It is all good thinking about pizza delivery and the wonders of drones but thinking about them in regards to privacy and how they could be (and possibly already are being used) by the military, well, it’s a scary thought! Read more

What does Windows 10 have to offer to you?

windows 10Windows 10 is here – So what is new?

Latest figures released by Microsoft suggest that Windows 10 has been installed already on 75 million computers worldwide, with plenty more joining in every day.  We still advise caution before making the decision to upgrade your business computer; we have seen cases where the PC has had to be downgraded again as Windows 10 was not compatible with other business applications in use by the company.

Critically the Start Menu is back. It contains standard Windows software and Windows apps. But this time the Start menu is improved, and it may even make Windows apps useful. Look to the left and you’ll see a list of your most-used apps, just as in Windows 7. At the bottom we see an ‘All apps’ shortcut, plus shortcuts to File Explorer, Settings and – conveniently – shut down and standby.

And Microsoft has retained the functionality of the Windows 8 Start screen over on the right, with resizable Live Tiles so that you can immediately check unread mail or Calendar appointments. The Start Menu is customisable – you can resize it, and rearrange the tiles, create groups of tiles, and you can also revert to the Windows 8 Start Screen, should you wish to. Read more

Only 1 sleep until Windows 10 arrives

windows 10 laptopYes, the long wait since the Windows 10 icon first appeared on the bottom right hand side of your screen is finally coming to an end. Windows 10 will be available to download from Wednesday 29th July 2015.

Windows 10 is a free upgrade for anyone using Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, but there is no hurry to implement it. Microsoft has stated that it will remain free-of-charge for at least 1 year.

Our advice is: Wait and see. As with all new software releases, there are bound to be teething problems. Some of the software that you currently use, such as antivirus protection and accounting packages, may not be compatible with the new system. Read more

10 good reasons to consider online backup

cloud backupOnline Data Backup Top 10 benefits


Data backup is a key start to any business continuity plan. We appreciate just how important your company information and records are to your business.


‘58% of UK businesses would suffer significant business disruption if their IT systems were not available for just one day’

PricewaterhouseCoopers 2012
Moving to an online data backup system alleviates the time and maintenance costs associated with older solutions such as tape backup. It also increases security of the information, storing your data offsite in an encrypted format at our two UK data centres. Read more

Is your protection cutting the mustard?

mustard croppedViruses and spyware can launch an attack on your computer in various ways, for example:

  • Opening infected email attachments
  • Visiting corrupt websites
  • Downloading files from the internet
  • USB connected devices (eg memory sticks, external hard drives, MP3 players)
  • CDs/DVDs


These can be for any criminal intent, including:

  • Identity theft
  • Fraud
  • Deletion, theft and corruption of data (Ransomware)


Not only can viruses be bad news in regards to your data but they can also make your PC performance very poor, making the day-to-day tasks near on impossible and in many cases a PC can have hundreds of malware programs and the user is completely unaware. Read more

What a diff’rence an SSD makes …


“What a diff’rence an SSD makes

240 little GBs”

Perhaps Dinah Washington would have been moved to sing these words in 1959 if personal computers and solid state drives existed at the time! The actual lyrics do capture the euphoria experienced after struggling with deteriorating computer performance:

What a diff’rence a day makes

24 little hours

Brought the sun and the flowers

Where there used to be rain” Read more

Have you seen the Windows 10 offer icon? What should you do now?

windows 10windows 10 laptop





Windows 10 is on the horizon – what should you do?

If you haven’t already noticed a new Windows icon in your system tray in the lower right corner of your desktop, you soon will.

Microsoft is offering Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers. At this time you are welcome to click on the “reserve your free upgrade”. This doesn’t mean you have to or even should upgrade to Windows 10 once released.

Read more

Tired of business travel? Try teleconferencing instead!

virtual office offer

Looking for alternatives to business travel?

Take advantage of this offer today!


Are you ready to try 8×8’s Virtual Office?

Are you ready to say goodbye to the frustrations of business travel with cancelled trains and flights, weather delays, lost luggage and overpriced hotels?

Are you ready to say hello to the benefits of cost-saving convenience and efficiency?

Let Computer Troubleshooters introduce you to 8×8’s Virtual Office. Computer Troubleshooters will show you how Virtual Office can benefit your business by cutting back on unnecessary travel expenses while increasing productivity. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to provide you with a free consultation on the many advantages of Virtual Office. Call today and take advantage of this free consultation.

Offer expires on 30th June 2015

Teleconferencing – the smarter way to travel for business

teleconferencing“Up in the Air” about travelling for business?

In the popular 2008 film “Up in the Air,” George Clooney portrays a corporate downsizing expert who spends nearly all of his time flying around the country on business. In fact, the character actually spends 320 days per year on planes and in airports. His enthusiasm for air travel is partially based on his goal of accumulating 10 million frequent flyer travel miles. Clooney’s character does eventually achieve his frequent flyer travel goal, but by that point let’s not speculate on his health, wellbeing, social life or family relationships.

Why travel when you can teleconference?

 Up in the Air” did depict the differences between face-to-face meetings and the video conferencing technology that was in use at the time. Now, seven years later video technology has steadily improved and business travel has dramatically declined. Flight cancellations, over sold flights, weather delays, lost luggage, overcrowding and cramped seats have conspired to make business travel even more frustrating and exhausting. Thankfully there are now great video communication alternatives to time-consuming and expensive business travel. Read more

An incentive to review your unsupported IT kit

Take advantage of this offer today!

An incentive to review your unsupported IT kit!

Is Your Business Still Using Unsupported Products?

Business owners are always looking for ways to save money, but neglecting an upgrade is the wrong place to trim costs.

Is your business continuing to use legacy products such as Server 2003, Office 2003 and Windows XP? Your business could be facing a number of serious security threats and compliance issues. The problems that are likely to arise are significantly more expensive than the cost of an upgrade.

Don’t be penny-wise and pound foolish when it comes to investing in an upgrade. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to discuss necessary upgrade options to fit your needs.

Call today on 01732 300064 and take advantage of this free consultation.

Offer expires on May 31, 2015 system upgrade coupon

Is your business at risk because of unsupported IT products?

Don’t Put Your Business at Risk by Using Unsupported ProductsDo you remember Microsoft XP’s funeral from April 2014? It was a sad occasion, but hopefully you have moved on. By that we mean, we sincerely hope that you followed the migration guidelines and are no longer using Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Office 2003. If you neglected to follow through on those necessary upgrades, you already have a problem on your hands. If your business currently has a server, your life may soon be complicated by another “end of life” problem.

server 2003

Ignoring Microsoft Server 2003’s Deadline is Not an Option Server 2003 had a good run for the past 12 years, but it’s scheduled to join the legacy list with the funeral already planned for July 14, 2015. Computer Troubleshooters continues to be actively engaged in sharing important information about the dangerous ramifications of using unsupported products such as Windows XP, Office 2003 and Server 2003. If you haven’t already started on Server 2003 migration plans, consider the following important information:

  • Security Issues: The largest problem is the security of your business will be severely compromised. The UK Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance via its Get Safe Online organisation has issued an alert about the Server 2003 situation stating that your server running Windows Server 2003 will be highly vulnerable to infection by malware, with criminals being well aware of the vulnerability.. Without the security of an updated operating system, you have placed your business’ data and customer information at risk to viruses, hackers and spyware. Cybercriminals are undoubtedly waiting to launch attacks on unprotected businesses beginning on July 15. Don’t risk your most valuable assets and allow your business to become a victim of cybercrime.
  • Compliance Issues: Get Safe Online also warns that Companies that are subject to regulatory obligations and continue to use Server 2003 after July 14 are not meeting standard compliance requirements. Enterprises that don’t meet compliance requirements can face the suspension of certifications. No business owner wants to face non-compliant issues that can lead to legal peril and seriously damage your business’ reputation.
  • Upgrade Expenses: Business owners are always looking for ways to save money, but neglecting an upgrade is the wrong place to trim costs. The problems that are likely to arise are significantly more expensive than the cost of an upgrade. Don’t be penny-wise and pound foolish when it comes to investing in an upgrade.


Read more

Are you ready for World Backup Day?

cybercrimeAre you ready for World Backup Day?

Or were you unaware that there was even a day dedicated to the important task of backing up your precious documents and photos?

This year World Backup Day falls on 31st March, just in time to make sure that you do not make an April Fool of yourself. This day even has its own dedicated website – – where you can learn more about the day and the art of backing up, and even take a pledge to mend your ways as far as protecting your data is concerned. Read more

Emails about payments – think before you click

email croppedHave you just received an email with the subject: Undefined transactions (need assistance) Ref:17277VVQ? We have had a rash of these emails this morning, with similar text apart from the reference number. The text of the email has been similar in each case:

Good morning

I have recently found several payments on statement with the incorrect reference. Amounts appear to be from your company, could you please confirm these payments are yours and were made from your company’s bank account. If no then please reply me as soon as possible. Thanks.

P.S. Undefined transactions are included in the attached DOC.

It is very easy in a busy accounts department to skim through the message and click on the attachment, and this is what the malicious emailers are counting on.

Please take a moment to double-check the email to save yourself hours of aggravation. Read more

Are you putting your clients’ personal data at risk?

cybercrimeAs we rely on computers for all our business processes, we are also recording sensitive customer information electronically.  This act brings with it the responsibility to protect client data from cybercrime.  The consequences can be severe; only today the Guardian reported that the MoonPig greetings card website had left 3 million users vulnerable to attack due to a flaw in their security arrangements.  You can read more here: Your Clients’ Private Information at Risk on Your Network and Devices?There’s a long list of improvements that technology has delivered, but a major downside is cybercrime. The theft of digital information has become the most commonly reported type of criminal fraud. Surprisingly, the theft of digital information has actually surpassed physical theft. When JP Morgan Chase was hacked earlier this year, it compromised sensitive data for over 76 million worldwide customers. That’s a lot of seriously unhappy customers.


Cybercrime: A Big Danger for Small BusinessesWhile financial institutions and big retailers have been strengthening their networks against attacks, cybercriminals have begun targeting less well-defended small businesses. Small businesses are attacked every day, it just doesn’t make the news like a massive data breach at Target or Home Depot. If you aren’t convinced that it’s a major problem, review the following information based on a 2013 survey conducted by the National Small Business Association:

  • 44% of small businesses have been victims of cyber attacks. The average cyber attack costs a small business £5,500.
  • In 2011, businesses with less than 250 employees accounted for 18% of cyber attacks. In 2013, that number rose to 30%.
    • Businesses must often pay to notify customers of a data breach and also pay for credit monitoring for customers with compromised information. Companies are potentially liable for damages in lawsuits brought by customers with compromised information.


Protect Your Clients and Your BusinessComputer Troubleshooters offers the following recommendations to increase the security of your network and to safeguard your clients’ valuable personal and financial information:

  • Cybersecurity Awareness: Awareness, education and training is actually the first line of defence when it comes to protecting your business and clients from cybercrime. Establish a cybersecurity plan and policies for employees that requires the use of passwords; guidelines for handling client data and customers’ financial information; and appropriate internet use while on the job. Establish penalties for violations of the business’ cybersecurity policies. Create secure guidelines for the use of mobile devices, whether they are company owned or the employee’s personal device.
  • Secure Your Wi-Fi Network: You must password protect access to the router on your network. A common misconception is that simply having a router on your network will provide the protection you need. Without a password on the router, it is like putting a door on your office but not locking it.
  • Authentication and Passwords: Each employee must have unique passwords. Changing passwords every three months is recommended. Multi-factor authentication adds greater protection because it requires additional information to gain entry. When working with vendors that are handling your sensitive financial information, ask if they use multi-factor authentication. If not, you might want to work with a different vendor.
  • Clean Machines: Always use the latest operating system, security software and web browser. These will provide the best protection against online threats including viruses and malware. Block spam with a reliable spam filter, plus your e-mail will be easier to manage.
  • Secure Transactions: Protect client financial information from theft during online transactions by using encryption software. Encryption software also protects your business’ financial accounts, personnel files, product information and other highly sensitive data. Isolate payment systems from each other and don’t surf the internet from the computer you use to process payments.
  • Control Business and Client Information: Know exactly how and where critical information is stored, how it is used and how it is protected. Administrative privileges are only for key personnel. Limit employee access to data and always use strong and individualized passwords. Also, control physical access to computers. Lock laptop equipment when not in use. Use a reliable backup system.
  • Firewall: Consider using a reliable software firewall that prevents outsiders from accessing data on your private network. If your employees work from home, be sure that their home system is also firewall protected.
  • Mobile Devices: Require users to password protect their mobile devices, encrypt their data and install security apps to prevent cyber criminals from stealing information while the device is on a public network.


Play It Safe!You have worked hard to establish your business. Success in any business is largely built on a reputation based on the trust and support of loyal clients and customers. Don’t gamble with this hard-earned loyalty by putting your clients’ security at risk. Safeguard your business against cybercrime by taking the necessary steps to ensure the security of your clients’ sensitive information. Computer Troubleshooters can help you fight cybercrime by strengthening your business’ network with a variety of security products and solutions to cover all areas that are potentially at risk in your business. Computer Troubleshooters can also help you to establish a cybersecurity plan and policies for your business. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to help you.


The right technology for the job

The right tools

The right tools

Is Your Business Losing Time and Money with the Wrong Technology?

You have invested a lot of time and money into the technology your office uses to operate every day. When your computers do not function as they should, productivity for you and your staff is immediately impacted. You may be losing potential productivity simply because you are not using your current technology to its fullest potential?

The wrong technology

The wrong technology

Read more

Cloud computing explained

The term “cloud computing” is bandied about a lot these days, but what does it actually mean and how does it affect you and your business.

The simple fact is that you are probably using cloud computing already; web-based emails, Dropbox, data backups.

This excellent article from the Herald Sun in Australia takes us back to the basics – Cloud Computing 101 as they would say in the States!

Herald Sun Cloud Computing Article

Why we love ESET

We’ve always been impressed by ESET’s antivirus software and we have been happy to recommend them to our customers for the last 3 years.

Just as important as the quality of their software is the excellence of their technical support team. I recently advised a customer to contact them after a phone call from “MSN support” had left behind suspicious programs. ESET checked out the affected computers and removed the offending malware in an efficient and courteous manner.

It is so reassuring to know that ESET are there for you should malware get past their protective shield.

The importance of backup

Do you think a data backup solution is simply too expensive for your business?

That viewpoint is similar to thinking that insurance for your home is too expensive. Insurance might have seemed expensive until your home is wiped out in a fire and you have lost everything. After the fire is snuffed out, how do you plan to recover? Some things can probably be replaced, but regardless of the expense, certain things are simply irreplaceable. It’s similar to protecting another key asset – your business data. Even in business, certain data, documents, photographs, accounting files and client information might be nearly impossible to replace. When it comes to business data, are you safeguarding your most important company asset with a reliable backup solution?

What Causes Data Loss?

Any device that stores information is vulnerable to data loss. The causes of data loss are due to a wide range of human errors, technology failures and unpredictable natural disasters. Frequently floods, fires, tornados, earthquakes and lightning strikes destroy both the device and the data. Natural disasters are often followed by power failures that can also wreak havoc on technology.

The theft of equipment and attacks by hackers are widespread problems. Laptop and mobile devices are small, valuable and easily re-sold, making them the target of choice for thieves all over the world. Each year in the United Kingdom over 250,000 laptops are stolen with more than 65% never recovered. Hackers, viruses, software bugs and cyber-attacks grab the most media attention, but it’s actually human error and hardware failures that account for nearly 75% of all data loss occurrences.

Data Loss Can Cost Your Business More Than You Ever Imagined

If you don’t have a backup strategy in place because you considered it too expensive, let’s redefine the term “expensive.” As a business owner, try to imagine what it would cost or if your company could even operate without your business data including accounting files, client records and order information. Consider the time and expense of attempting to recreate the lost data and notifying your customers that their personal data has been compromised? If those scenarios sound terrible, then review these truly sobering data loss statistics and consider the impact this could have on your business if you don’t have a tested backup solution:

• 70% of companies that lost their data were closed within 18 months (Department of Trade and Industry)

• 43% of companies suffering from catastrophic data loss do not survive. (London Chambers of Commerce & Industry)

• 93% of all businesses that suffer data loss for 10 days file for bankruptcy within one year. 50% immediately! (British Chamber of Commerce ICT report)

• 70% of small companies (fewer than 100 employees) that experience major data loss go out of business within a year. (DTI/Price Waterhouse Coopers)

• 30% of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within a year. Seventy percent fail within five years. (UK Home Office Computing Magazine)

Be Prepared with a Backup Solution

Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of this mixed bag of data loss disasters. The only plan is be proactive in safeguarding your business’ data with a tested backup solution. To take action with a backup solution, start by analysing the needs of your business.

For example, do you need to backup your business’ entire operating system or just certain essential data? Do you want the automatic data backup performed on a daily or weekly basis? Would a desktop backup device be an option for your business or home office? Which cloud storage or online solutions provide a secure remote backup solution that can complement your local backup strategy? Have you considered a personal cloud as a backup solution?
The backup market is huge and is continuing to grow. For business owners, that means there are lots of backup options with many solutions. Plus a reliable backup solution is not really that expensive when you consider the alternatives. We understand that sifting through options and technical details can be a daunting task. You should rely on your local Computer Troubleshooters to develop a customized backup solution or confirm that your current solution is exceeding your needs.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly true when it comes to a backup protection plan for your business.

Alert about cyber attack “GameOver Zeus”

GameOver Zeus: Computer users have been given a two-week warning over a virus threat that could attack their data.

The authorities in the UK and USA have been tracking activities by cyber attackers; although the imminent threat has been averted, it is thought that the hackers could eventually find loopholes in the defences. The general advice is to beef up your security by installing robust antivirus software and to ensure that all essential data such as documents and photos are backed up. This attack may follow a similar pattern to the Cryptolocker malware where data is held to ransom.

You can learn more here:

Ebay users’ data at risk – change your passwords

EBAY has recently revealed that their databases were hacked in late February and encrypted passwords and other non-financial data are therefore vulnerable.

More details are available from news reports: this one was posted on the BBC website:

What are the implications for your business?
– If you are registered as an EBAY user, you should change the password used for this website.
– If you use the same password on several websites, you should consider employing a different password for each site.
– While inventing a new password, avoid real words and names and use a variety of characters and numbers. Our colleagues at Computer Troubleshooters of Anderson have produced a comprehensive guide to strong password creation in their latest newsletter:

Stay safe on the internet – strengthen your passwords!

XP end of support includes Microsoft Security Essentials

I have learnt from our customers with XP PCs that they have received an alert from Microsoft Security Essentials that this service is no longer supported for XP PCs and their PCs will no longer be protected from malware attacks.

The Microsoft advice is that they should upgrade their PCs to Windows 8.1. This is not always possible for PCs running legacy systems. Many PCs running XP are not suitable for upgrade to newer Windows systems.

I have discussed this issue with ESET who are the providers of NOD32 antivirus protection software. They have confirmed that ESET will continue to support XP PCs for 3 years. This is a good time to make the move to ESET, especially as Microsoft are warning that XP PCs are more vulnerable to viruses now that support and upgrades have been withdrawn.

As an extra incentive, Computer Troubleshooters can offer additional cover for new ESET customers this month. ESET are giving 3 years cover when you purchase a 2 year antivirus licence.

Routers under attack

We have recently become aware of a malicious attack which is targeted at broadband routers rather than specific computers.

As a result, all the computers linked to the router exhibit viral symptoms; initiating a Google search may lead to a redirection to an unwanted website, and there are spoof prompts to update software. Even Apple Mac devices connected to the router have fallen victim to this attack; traditionally they are considered to be more resistant to malware.

We have been successful in assisting 2 companies with this issue by making changes to router settings and cleaning up the impact on the linked PCs. ESET technicians alerted us to a recent bulletin which estimates that more than 300,000 routers worldwide could be vulnerable to this attack.

Do contact Computer Troubleshooters if you believe your router has been compromised.

Antivirus protection for Macs

The received wisdom may be that Mac computers are not vulnerable to malware attacks, but if you crave security for your Mac device, we have a specially designed product for you.

We have just installed Eset Cyber Security for Mac for the first time. This antivirus protection is available at the same price as ESET Nod32 antivirus product for Windows PCs, and until the end of March 2014 there is an offer for new customers to get an extra 25% protection for free.

We would welcome enquiries about Mac antivirus protection as well as your Windows PC protection needs.

The countdown to XP’s demise has started

The Final Countdown to Microsoft’s 8th April Deadline.

In 2002, Microsoft presented its official Support Lifecycle Policy that was based on detailed customer feedback. The predictability of support services was cited as a very important issue for Microsoft’s customers. Microsoft responded accordingly by alerting customers years in advance that the XP operating system and Windows 2003 have an “end of life” date scheduled for 8 April 2014. Although XP and Windows 2003 have been very popular, Microsoft will no longer support these products after the 8th April deadline. This information has been well-publicised by Microsoft for many years. There are still over 600 million worldwide XP users and it seems that many have chosen to simply ignore these repeated notifications. We can assume that users who have not upgraded by now fall into one of two categories. The first group includes those who are willing to take their chances and plan to continue using Microsoft legacy products that are no longer supported. The second group is XP users who are truly unaware of the deadline. Do you fall into one of these two groups?

The Final Countdown is Now!
After years of these “end of life” warnings, XP and Windows 2003 are now in the final days of the deadline countdown. Surprisingly, one of Microsoft’s latest strategies has been to ask for help. Computer Troubleshooters recently posted a story on our Facebook page about how Microsoft had begun taking a grassroots approach to spreading the word. Microsoft resorted to asking for help by seeking volunteers to remind business owners, friends, family and colleagues about the upcoming XP deadline. Via their blog, Microsoft asked experienced and technically savvy users to help others understand why it is important to make the switch to Windows 8 and to make the upgrade now!

Ignoring this Deadline is Not an Option
Some users claim a variety of reasons for resisting this XP upgrade, but don’t forget that there are a few key reasons you cannot ignore this deadline. The issues for residential users can be serious, but the consequences for businesses hold additional threats and even possible legal ramifications.

Here’s How You and Your Business Can Be Impacted by Not Upgrading
• Security Risks: Without the security provided by an updated operating system, all of your business data and personal information are vulnerable to harmful viruses and spyware. Malicious viruses will very likely be unleashed on XP’s “zero day.” Undefended computers can be completely immobilised with viruses quickly spreading over the net to PCs still operating on XP. No business owner wants to think about a virus spreading through all of their computers. All of the data that keeps your business functioning will be placed at risk.

• Compliance Issues: Businesses that continue to operate on XP can actually face compliance issues. Resulting compliance issues can lead to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organisation’s inability to securely maintain its systems and customer information. Compliance problems can place your business in legal peril and seriously damage your business’ reputation in the process.

• Upgrade Expenses: If you think a system upgrade is just too expensive, Computer Troubleshooters urges you to reconsider this viewpoint. Many technical experts consider using an unsupported product such XP, as an act of irresponsibility on the part of the business. Remember that the problems that are likely to arise can cost your business significantly more than the upgrade. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to investing in an upgrade.

• Custom Support Available for a Price: In fact, there will still be some support available to XP users after the deadline, but at the annual cost of $200 per device. Depending on the number of computers your business is using, it’s not much of a bargain. In reality, this is only a temporary, contingency plan.

Upgrade Today!
Playing “chicken” with this deadline is tempting fate and there can be serious consequences. You can find yourself in the cross-hairs of cybercriminals on 8th April and potentially face business compliance problems. If you are still using XP, take action today. Call Computer Troubleshooters and one of our experts can help you understand your XP migration options and work with you to develop an upgrade strategy. Call Computer Troubleshooters before it’s too late. The final countdown is now! Are you prepared?

Using mobile technology for your business

This month’s newsletter from Computer Troubleshooters deals with the issue of mobile technology in the workplace. Please let us know if you would like to receive your own copy of our newsletter:

Adapting Your Business to a Mobile On-the-Go World
Mobility has quickly transformed the way most of us are now working. According to research data from Ofcom, 53% of UK adult mobile phone owners now use their mobile phone to access the internet. This rate has nearly doubled over the past three years. Are you using mobile features to enhance your business?

Increase Efficiency and Effectiveness with Mobility
The increased need for productivity coupled with affordable technology has shifted employees away from being tied to a desktop PC. Workers equipped with mobile devices are now communicating with customers from their cars and accessing data from the Cloud while working at home. Employers and employees can keep projects up-to-date by easily sharing information via mobile devices at any hour of the day. Mobile flexibility is enabling businesses to move forward quickly with enhanced efficiency.

Consider some of the following mobile efficiencies that can help your business:
Continuously Connected employees have the flexibility to work from home, while on-the-go and during travel. Conducting business is now a 24/7 proposition. Accessing information from the office while you are at the airport creates greater efficiency for you and your business. Perhaps you don’t want to be at the airport? Virtual meetings can conveniently connect you with colleagues and customers while saving time and money. Productivity with flexibility has become our new reality.

• Protecting Company Data has become an increasingly important concern for business owners with the advent of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Flexibility has ushered in the trend of employees bringing their own mobile devices into the workplace. This means that company data is probably stored on employees’ mobile devices. What would happen if an employee’s laptop is stolen and it contains confidential business data? Many businesses are now protecting sensitive data by using remote wipes and encryption software on employees’ personal devices in addition to the use of mobile virtual workspaces. Businesses need to establish written BYOD policies and educate their employees about security practices. Many businesses now require employees to sign BYOD contracts. If your business doesn’t have BYOD guidelines in place, you are already falling behind in appropriate business practices.

• Online Resources can efficiently provide businesses with professional training, technical skill development and new product training with the agility of “as needed” availability. Employees can connect to e-learning opportunities through their iPhone or Android devices from home. Business owners can easily take advantage of online management guides and financial tools that can benefit their business. Webinars (online seminars) are another valuable resource that provides businesses with the opportunity to engage with customers or keep up-to-date with information sharing from industry leaders. Webinars can serve a variety of purposes with the ease of virtual convenience.

• Mobile Apps are available to help you run your business more effectively and efficiently. Business owners previously needed a core foundation of various office programs, an e-mail system and some industry-specific software to keep their business functioning. Now there is a wide array of mobile Apps that can help business owners with time management, scheduling, travel expenses, cash flow, accounting and e-mail organization. There are Apps for nearly anything a business owner needs and they are easily available. Many of these Apps enable small businesses to compete with larger companies, plus you can run your business from anywhere.

Is Your Business Prepared for a Mobile World?
Computer Troubleshooters can work with you to assess your mobility needs and develop a plan to keep your business’ technology up-to-date. If your business needs to move to Cloud services, utilise mobile Apps or strengthen data protection – we can help. Computer Troubleshooters is here to help your business stay productive and efficient through mobile technology. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of our computer professionals will be happy to help you.

Should you upgrade to Windows 8.1?

So, you’ve just purchased a new laptop, and you start it up and discover it has Windows 8. Microsoft introduced this operating system with the advent of touch-sensitive screens, but it looks pretty confusing for users accustomed to Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7; there isn’t even a start button with the familiar menu.

Now an upgrade to Windows 8.1 is available free-of-charge to Windows 8 users.

The plus points:
– The start button has returned. A left click brings up the desktop, but a right click reveals a menu allowing access to the control panel and shutdown options.
– There is an option to boot directly to the desktop rather than the new button view.
– The search facility has improved; searching covers everything, not just apps.
– There are also improvements to display settings, Windows Store and a range of applications.

The issues to consider

Before you forge ahead with the upgrade to Windows 8.1, check whether the programs and websites you commonly use are compatible with the new system. Windows 8.1 comes with Internet Explorer 11, and there are suppliers of software who have not yet caught up with Microsoft’s latest developments. It is pretty frustrating to complete the upgrade process and then to discover that processes you rely upon in your daily work are no longer available to you.

Windows 8 is here to stay, and Windows 8.1 may make the transition from XP a little less painful, but think carefully about the implications for your work processes before you take the plunge.

CryptoLocker – a new angle on viral threats

Chip Reaves of Computer Troubleshooters Anderson in the United States has alerted us to a sinister threat to computers. Here is his communication to his clients; we fully endorse Chip’s advice:

We wanted to bring to your attention a new and alarming type of computer “virus” which is being widely reported, called CryptoLocker or Trojan:Win32/Crilock.A.

This is technically not a virus – like the “FBI virus” or “Moneypak virus” which we’ve seen way too much of here in Anderson, this is a malicious program that has to be installed on your computer.

The good news is, it’s relatively easy for us to fix this infection. The bad news is, there is a 99% chance that you will lose every single file, photo, program, and shred of data on your computer in the process.

Here’s a typical scenario of what happens and what you should avoid:

1) The CryptoLocker software gets installed on your computer. This most often happens either by letting someone who calls you claiming to be “from Microsoft Support” into your computer remotely, or from downloading “free movies” or similar illegal files from torrents, or from clicking on pop-up messages from the internet that may say things like “Your Computer Is Infected, Click Here To Remove Virus” or “Your Computer Is Running Slowly, Do You Want To Fix The Problem? Yes or No”. Clicking on these ads (even if you click “No”) or letting unknown techs into your computer remotely are the primary ways people get bad software put on their PC or Mac.

2) The CryptoLocker waits a random amount of time, then encrypts your hard drive. Encryption is usually a security measure – you might encrypt your own files to make sure no one can ever get to them, even if they steal your hard drive. When you encrypt files, no one else can ever read them unless they know your encryption key.
In this case CryptoLocker encrypts your hard drive, making all of your files inaccessible without the encryption key. Some previous viruses have also used encryption, but we were able to beat them because they left a copy of the key on your hard drive. With CryptoLocker, the only copy of the key is kept by the bad guys.

3) At this point CryptoLocker will stop your computer and post a screen demanding money – usually $300. Not only that, they demand the money within 72 hours or they will destroy the encryption key, making your data completely gone forever.


Unfortunately there are no good choices.

Option 1: Pay the criminals. If you pay the $300, or $500, or $1000, they might give you the key to unencrypt your files. Or they might just demand a second payment. Even if they do unencrypt your files, keep in mind you’ve just informed the criminals that you are someone who will pay money when extorted, so they are more likely to target you in the future.

Option 2: “Nuke and Pave” – remove the virus, clean your machine, lose your encrypted files, restore from your data backup.

Option 2 will work well IF you have your files backed up. We can’t stress this enough – EVERYONE should have their files backed up, for many reasons. Every day we talk to someone who has lost important photos or business documents or financial data because their hard drive crashed, or a file was accidentally deleted. Now we have criminals encrypting your files via the internet. A simple backup to a local external drive, or to an online service …, makes these situations easy to recover from.

Our advice: Keep your virus protection up to date (we recommend … ESET Professional), have regular backups of all your important data, and never click on or download suspicious files from the internet, or believe anyone claiming to be “Microsoft Support” (or similar) when they call you.

Thanks to Chip for the warning. The moral of the tale is – ensure your back ups work and protect your systems with anti-virus programs and good practices.

The benefits of ESET – in their own words

ESET is our preferred provider of antivirus protection. As ESET partners, we are able to recommend and source the most suitable product for your needs. Here are the reasons that ESET believe you should choose them.

Better Products

• World record holder for VB100 Awards ‘Never missed an in the wild virus’ since testing began
• Pioneers in developing proactive detection and multi-layered Threatsense engine
• Cloud powered reputation scanning technology supported by over 100 million users to keep ESET ahead of emerging threats
• Extensive product range for SMB, enterprise and consumers

Better Support

• Fast response email and priority technical support lines, open 7 days a week
• Free installation assistance
• Rip and Replace service and onsite support

How will you benefit from using ESET? Low System Resources Proven protection with a small foot print leaves more system resources for the server’s vital tasks. You can free up your hardware with the consistently lower CPU usage and installation size compared to all other main vendors. Therefore you can continue to run existing servers and machines without the need to upgrade hardware to run our security solutions. Fast Scanning Speed Get more done with the faster scanning, faster boot and faster application start-up times than all other main vendors. Also, ESET Security Products run obtrusively in the background, improving the overall user experience. Increased Office productivity Employees can quickly log-on and get to work much faster, and experience no system slowdown during scans.

Award Winning protection

ESET NOD32 Antivirus has never missed a single “In the Wild” virus
ESET’s NOD32 Antivirus system is the only solution worldwide that has never missed a single “in-the-wild” worm or virus in this testing since May 1998 and holds the world record of VB100 Awards, obtaining the 80th Award in June 2013.

Mouse creep

Have you been the victim of mouse creep?

You can be happily using your computer, when your work suddenly disappears or the cursor jumps to another part of your document. This occurs when the mouse moves without any conscious input from the user. If your mouse is seated on a smooth shiny surface it is more likely to start creeping around; this can be minimised by using a mouse mat.

In-built laptop mouse pads can be particularly sensitive, being activated by as little as the brush of a sleeve. Although it makes for a more cumbersome set-up, it can be a lot less frustrating to disable the mouse pad and use an external mouse instead.

When is a back-up not a back-up?

A back-up can only be a safeguard for your precious data – photos, documents, emails – when it is a separate copy of that data, ideally stored on different media.

Moving data onto an external hard drive does not represent a back-up if the original data no longer exists on the computer or other device. A back-up created on the same device as the original data is vulnerable to being lost in the same event which affects the original data. For example, if you back up your data on your computer hard drive, the hard drive could fail, wiping out both the original data and the back-up. Both sets of data could equally be impacted by a fire, theft or flood.

When considering a back-up plan, you first need to identify what data needs to be copied and how frequently this is necessary. You then need to consider where the back-up copy will be stored; options are on another computer, on an external device such as an external hard drive or memory stick or an internet-based “cloud” solution. External devices can be taken off-site or stored in a safe to minimise vulnerability to fire or theft.

The benefits of Cloud Computing

The use of cloud-based (ie internet) applications as opposed to programs sited on physical equipment can benefit businesses in a number of ways.

More than ever, business owners need to squeeze even more productivity out of limited time, staffing and resources. Many small businesses see cloud computing as a way to access advanced technologies that were previously affordable only for larger companies. A recent survey conducted by CompTIA, a nonprofit IT industry trade association, stated that more than half of micro businesses (one to nine employees) and small businesses (ten to ninety-nine employees) use cloud-based business productivity applications. Analysts and industry leaders agree that global demand for hosted IT services will continue to expand rapidly as cloud-based solutions offer significant resolutions for organizations of all types and sizes. Can cloud computing services help your business succeed in the marketplace?

Give Your Business a Competitive Edge

Finding the right business tools is an important task. Cloud computing can help your business edge out the competition with reduced costs and enhanced productivity in a number of ways:
• The latest innovations in cloud computing are making business applications even more mobile and collaborative in ways similar to Facebook and Twitter. Consumers expect information in real time and more business applications in the cloud are heading in that direction.
• Accessing specialised computer resources as they are needed enables businesses to quickly deliver quality results with greater affordability. Faster turn-around time can propel you ahead of your competition.
• You can bring your product to market faster and generate higher revenues as customers are able to access the service immediately.
• Cloud computing can enable innovative business initiatives that generate new value propositions and revenue streams. Some companies, such as Spotify, are building entirely new business models solely using cloud services.
• Cloud computing services can help you gain “business agility” with efficient projects that allow your employees to spend their time on work that has a greater potential value to your business.
• Utilizing cloud computing services can enable your business to shift from a capital expense model to an operational expense model. By forgoing long term financial IT commitments, an organisation can complete projects more quickly without losing any investment.

Cloud computing might sound over-hyped and tech-heavy, but in reality it’s a rising trend among small business owners. If you want to learn more about the advantages of cloud computing for your business, contact your local Computer Troubleshooters office. One of our computer professionals will be happy to meet with you to explore the benefits of cloud computing for you and your business.

Ways to avoid having your email address blacklisted

There are factors outside your control, such as activity from an IP address (internet location) which partially matches that of your organisation. There are however measures you can follow to minimise the likelihood of your emails being identified as spam which could lead to your address being blacklisted.

SpamAssassin is one of the most effective spam filters on the market. It uses a scoring system to tag messages as spam if they have sufficient spam characteristics. The following features make the alarm bells ring:
– email asks you to click on link, especially if the request is in capital letters
– addressed to Dear Friend
– excessive use of larger font size
– use of phrases such as “risk free” or “no risk”; there is an extensive list of proscribed phrases
– Save $$$$ – excessive use of money symbols
– high proportion of HTML, unusual fonts and colours
– from: does not include a real name

A more exhaustive list from SpamAssassin has been provided to us by Campaign Monitor. Different spam filters will apply different rules. If you intend to send out large numbers of emails, it often pays to use a specialist mailing tool to avoid falling into a spam trap.

Windows XP – end of an era

Windows XP has been a robust Microsoft Operating System since it was launched 12 years ago. Amazingly almost 39% of Microsoft users are still on Window XP. So when Microsoft ceases support for Windows XP on April 8th 2014 what is likely to happen?

After this date Microsoft will stop releasing patches and updates to the operating system which will increasingly make it vulnerable to hackers and viruses. So the Windows XP environment will slowly decline and become more susceptible to failure the longer you stay on it. It is also likely that new applications and hardware will not be made compatible with XP, so networking will become increasingly difficult and new peripherals impossible to connect.

The good news is that the upgrade path is proven for most non enterprise sized customers with Windows 7 now with 45% of the market, which means most common applications and hardware are firmly supported. Windows 7 is also highly regarded as a faster more efficient processing system which means when you upgrade you should notice a performance increase, some say up to 15 times faster!

Windows 8 is still in its infancy with a much smaller installed base. The different look and feel of Windows 8 has spooked many users to stay with the proven & traditional look of Windows 7. Unless you plan to synchronize on multiple devices it is difficult to see a compelling need to change.

The reality is that Windows XP users will need to upgrade their operating system over the next 12 months to ensure that they will remain on a supported Microsoft platform, however every business should check networking, applications, and hardware compatibility before switching. Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters about how we can help you upgrade from XP and maintain your business continuity.

What is email blacklisting?

Blacklisting can apply to membership requests for exclusive clubs, employment applications and in the sphere of computing to emails. A blacklist is basically a record of those individuals or items which are to be excluded or prohibited.

There are organisations which protect email systems from spam and hackers, and they have various methods of determining whether they believe that spam is being sent from a given email address or IP address (location on the internet). If they believe that your address is sending spam, they can put it on a blacklist and block emails from you.

Requests have to be submitted to the specific organisation involved to get your email address or IP address transferred to a whitelist before you are able to send emails successfully to the addressee being protected.

What is Soonr?

Soonr is a file management system which we can set up for your business. Computer Troubleshooters are partners of Colt Ceano ( who have provided the following information:
Soonr is file sharing and collaboration for the modern, mobile world. With Soonr you can safely manage, organize and share files with the people you need to. You have complete control over who has access to specific projects, and as teams change, permission levels can be adjusted instantly.
Soonr’s powerful features work on all the major smartphones and tablets including iPhone, iPad, Android, Android tablets, Blackberry and many others. Soonr’s patented rendering technology allows you to view over 40 different document types on your device without having to download the file. You can also edit documents – mark-up, highlight, create free form shapes – without downloading any 3rd party applications.

Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Soonr for your business.

Why we recommend ESET antivirus software

Viruses and other malware continue to pose a threat to all computer users, and it is essential to arrange protection for your machine.

As ESET partners, we are happy to recommend ESET Nod32 and the other antivirus products that they supply. There are many good reasons to choose ESET:

– the program is not resource-hungry, so it should not have an impact on the performance of the computer
– ESET has a good record of keeping up-to-date with the latest threats
– In the very rare case that a malicious file does get past, the ESET technical support team always remove these for their customers free of charge. Eset has informed us that: “This also benefits us as we are then able to take a sample of this new file and use it to make definitions and signatures to protect all our users, something which we do constantly on a daily basis.”
– The program is very straight-forward to install, and the expiry date is updated automatically when the licence is renewed without the need to access the computer or run any special processes.

Could you have a counterfeit Office disc?

As the cost of hardware has reduced significantly over the last decade, the price of software represents a larger proportion of your purchase when you decide to upgrade your IT equipment.

It can be very tempting to source cheaper software, but there is a great risk that this could damage your PC, you are unlikely to be able to activate the licence and you certainly would not be eligible for support and upgrades from the genuine manufacturer.

So, how can you identify a counterfeit disc? Typically the packaging and licence labels don’t look right, and may be missing security features. We recently encountered a case where a Microsoft Office disc did not have the normal logo hologrammed into the CD, but instead had a label that can be peeled away to reveal a blank CD underneath.

Looking for the cheapest deal could turn out to be a false economy. Don’t compromise your PC by installing counterfeit software.

What if a server isn’t the solution …

… but your business still needs to access shared data.

We have given some thought to the file storage considerations of a business which does not make use of the additional features offered by a server. We suggest that a Network Attached Storage (NAS) unit is installed.

This is in effect an external hard drive that would be connected to the network and accessible from all of the computers. Each computer would be able to access the files via a mapped drive.

We can source the equipment for you. Installation will involve connecting the unit to your network, configuration and ensuring that all laptops are able to access it.

The data that will be stored on the NAS box should be backed up in case of unit failure. There are a number of options:

Local backup : Attach an external drive to the NAS box and schedule an overnight backup of the data. The drawback to this solution is that there is no recovery from a disaster as in the event of a fire, theft etc, the external drive will be lost as well as the NAS box. Two external drives could be purchased and then swapped on a daily or weekly basis so that one drive is kept off site. This obviously relies on manual intervention to remember to swap the drives on a regular basis.

Cloud backup: The NAS box can automatically back up to the cloud (using the internet connection). There is a monthly charge for the use of the cloud service, however it is very cheap (currently less than £10 per month); the exact figure for this pay-as-you-use service depends on how much data is stored.

Our strong recommendation is that you should definitely consider a local backup. If the NAS box fails for any reason, then you can use the backup drive, connect it to a laptop and still have access to files whilst the NAS box is repaired or replaced. If you want the added safety measure of the cloud backup, then set that up in addition.

Of course the most appropriate approach to shared data management depends on your company’s specific practices and requirements; we would be delighted to analyse this for you and provide the best solution for your needs.

Does your business need a server?

With the advent of cloud computing catering for so many business services, the decision to have a server is not so clear-cut as it was 10 years ago. We have certainly seen a trend of businesses abandoning servers in favour of central storage media for shared documents coupled with internet-based email systems.

However, there are good arguments for retaining and upgrading an office server. It allows software applications to be shared, and tight control to be kept on sensitive data. Business activities are not brought to a complete halt if access to the internet is lost.

This winter we have undertaken successful server upgrade projects for 4 of our most valued customers. As the server is so central to a company’s operations, the switchover needs to be scheduled outside office hours and involves careful planning to ensure that disruption to the business is kept to the minimum.

We would be happy to review your business IT requirements and advise whether you should consider upgrading your server, or if an alternative cloud-based approach is more suitable for your situation.

Can your business survive a data loss?

Most businesses report that they are not properly prepared to combat the risk or to bounce-back in the event they suffer a catastrophic data loss. There are a number of factors that affect the majority of businesses today and may increase their susceptibility of a data loss:

* Business owners incorrectly assume that quality backup services are too expensive or beyond what they need.
* Businesses are often using out-of-date technology for their data backup and storage needs and assume that it is working.
* The number of online security threats has increased.
* Many companies are trending towards BYOD- or “bring your own device”- and therefore there is an increasing amount of company and client data stored on employees’ personal laptops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, that is likely not protected or backed-up even if the company devices are.

What is the Real Cost of Data Loss to a Business Owner?

According to the Gartner Group 43 percent of companies were immediately put out of business by a major loss of computer records, and another 51 percent permanently closed their doors within two years. This leaves a mere six percent “survival” rate.

What about a loss that is not catastrophic? This type of data loss is an expensive problem as well that costs organizations an estimated average of $200 per record affected according to a recent survey by Ponemon Institute, though to some degree the true costs associated with data loss are difficult to measure.

What action should you take to protect your business?

Assume that every device could fail, review your current back up practice and ensure that all your essential data is protected. Back up is only effective if the data is recoverable in the case of loss. Consider how convenient the back up process is, and the location of the backed up data.

Multi-user Email Signatures Made Easy

We were recently called by a customer because he wanted each of his 35 employees to have a company standard email signature (including disclaimer). To achieve this, you would usually need to remotely access each user’s computer and set up the signatures in the email software, such as Outlook, individually; a daunting prospect, which is time-consuming and therefore costly to the customer.

To avoid this, we installed a centralised solution. It’s a fantastic piece of software from RedEarth Software, called Policy Patrol, which sits on the customer’s email server and centrally manages email signatures and disclaimers. It’s quick and easy to set up, using variable fields such as name, job title, phone number, which are filled in by the software automatically as the email is sent. Common changes to all signatures can be made in minutes and it’s simple to add or remove someone.

It also works on emails sent from handheld devices, as long as the email is sent through the appropriate server. Helping standardise your communication no matter where the message originates from.

For more information on Policy Patrol click here or give us a call.

Where has all my space gone?

One of the things that we often get told by our customers is that the pc is probably “jammed up” with too much stuff!

You can check out how much space you have left on your computer by clicking on the “My Computer” or “Computer” button from the Start menu. Check the hard disks (commonly labelled as your C: drive and maybe D: drive). How much free space do you have left?

If there isn’t much space left then you ideally need to recover some by deleting old files or removing unwanted programs. If this starts to sound daunting then call us and we can help.

Hard drive prices increasing

Thailand is the second largest manufacturer of hard drives. With factories flooded, there will be a shortfall of hard drives to meet the expected demand. We have already seen costs of hard drives rise significantly. We expect that the cost of laptops and computers will also increase through the first quarter of next year.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft has recently announced it’s “cloud” offering – Office 365.

Here at Computer Troubleshooters, we have been getting up to speed on what this could mean to small businesses. As a Microsoft partner we have access to Office 365 in-house licenses and have been trying it out. Currently we are in the process of moving our own data up to the “cloud”.

We have a number of customers already interested in adopting this new technology.

More information can be found at:

Microsoft Office 365

If you are interested in Office365 then feel free to give us a call to discuss it.

Windows Recovery Malware

We have seen three computers this week infected with a malware program calling itself Windows Recovery.
It attempts to trick the user into thinking they have a hard drive issue, with critical errors. In addition it hides all documents, pictures etc making the user think that they have been lost. Then the malware will offer a download that can correct the problem, for a price of course!

This excellent site provides further details about the malware and how it can be removed. If you do not feel confident about performing the removal yourself then please call us and we will remove it for you.

Remove Windows Recovery (Uninstall Guide)

Microsoft warning over browser security flaw

Microsoft has issued a global warning about a potential security issue with it’s web browser, Internet Explorer. The following BBC link gives more information:

Microsoft warning over browser security flaw

If you need any help in installing the update or advice regarding alternative browsers then please contact us.

CT Tonbridge recommends ESET for Internet Security

“Which antivirus program do you recommend?”

We regularly get asked this program. At this point in time, we recommend ESET NOD32. It has an excellent track record in various virus tests and it doesn’t slow down your pc as much as some other antivirus products we could mention.

Computer Troubleshooters and ESET