Backup error

Backup, Backup, Backup!!!

I have to admit it is starting to effect me that I have received another phone call with someone requesting to help with missing files and not having a good backup (this time emails in Outlook). It is very frustrating that for such a small amount of money we can ensure your files and information is safe. In this case this gentleman’s archive had lost numerous emails dating back six years.

He let me log into his laptop and it turns out he is using a backup company called Mozy which is working, however it only keeps a copy of the current files, and no history. Now this is an important point; if you delete a file on your computer, it is gone from the backup once it updates. Not Good! No history. No recovery.

So what should you look for in a backup? Well the key points that we think are a minimum requirement

  • minimum daily (we do a backup every 30 mins)
  • it must have settings to include how long the backup is retained (1 mth – 3 mths – 3 yrs)
  • able to restore an individual file or the whole computer
  • it must be monitored and email you when it fails
  • test on a regular basis (at least 6 monthly)

It really isn’t hard to keep your files safe. So please check that your backup is actually working for you if the worst case scenario happens. At SOHOCS, we can provide both onsite and offsite backups, but as a minimum use our monthly service for your Peace of Mind.

For more information go to our information page on backing up your computer, and hopefully you will realise the importance of backing up your systems or files, and just as important, making sure they are working for when you need them.

 

(Still) Don’t Rely on Your IT Guy

My heading might appear to be a strange statement to make considering I run an IT company.  But I stand by it.  Let me explain:  Many small businesses I come across are initially hesitant to meet with me or my staff.  “But we already have an IT guy”, they declare.  And indeed they do; it’s the owner’s son-in-law, or the guy from the computer shop across the road, or an employee’s brother who is studying IT at university, or the guy they called once from the yellow-pages.

In any case, they’re making the assumption that my company wants to become their “IT guy”. Well  not our intention at all.  We aren’t the “IT guy”.  The IT guy is the guy they call when a computer breaks, or when email isn’t working, or when they want to know how to stop those damn pop-ups.   But I’m here to tell you that the IT Guy is a dying breed.

As technology becomes more and more ubiquitous and it penetrates deeper within core and critical systems and processes throughout small businesses, you don’t want to be relying on your IT guy.  He’s usually a whiz on computers, but he’s not necessarily full bottle when it comes to business consulting.

You see, the line between technology consulting and management consulting is becoming increasingly blurred.  Technology underpins and provides the tools for so many critical business functions that companies like mine employ business experts to provide true ongoing business solutions and services that fundamentally improve our customer’s businesses.   And small businesses really must engage in a long term partnership with a technology company that understands their business, first and foremost, if they truly want to maintain a competitive edge and be innovative.

You need an IT technology partner

If you don’t have a partnership with a technology company that understands business you’re likely to be left behind in the wake of your competitors.   IT companies are changing their business models to a more consultative partnering approach, and most are dropping the old fashioned adhoc break/fix type support altogether.  So if you rely on your IT guy there will inevitably be one day soon he’s not available to assist you when you need urgent support. You might just find yourself up a familiar creek with-out a paddle because you don’t have a strong partnership with an IT company.  I believe the number of IT companies willing to answer your call to provide adhoc support will reduce as their business models shift to managed services with long term clients who look to them for business improvement, not just IT support.

So if you only have an IT Guy, do yourself a favour and make a commitment to have a meeting with an IT company. Be sure to talk to them with an open mind about how they can help you be a better business.

You want your PC fixed ‘cause it’s broken? – call the It guy.  You want to make an ongoing and long term improvement to the way you do business?

Call SOHOCS: your technology partner. 08 9200 4465

Keyboard doesn’t work after logging in to Windows

I had an interesting problem today where a client rang to say that after they logged into Windows the keyboard stops working, which makes it very difficult to do anything. It turns out there’s a feature in windows that is designed to help make the keyboard easier to use. Well in this case it was quite the opposite. It’s designed to ignore repeated key strokes, but instead it’s ignoring all keystrokes. To correct this problem luckily you only need the mouse.

Symptoms
The keyboard stops working after I log in to Windows.

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The Cause
Windows mis-configuration: Filter keys is turned on.

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How we Fixed it

  • Start your Windows machine.
  • Go to Start > Control Panel > Ease of Access.
  • Click on the Make the keyboard easier to use link

SOHOCS

  • Scroll down to the Make it easier to type section.
  • Clear the turn on Filter keys check-box.

SOHOCS

For Windows 10

  • Go to Start > Settings > Ease of Access.
  • Click on Keyboard and turn off Filter Keys

SOHOCS

Search words:
“Unable to use keyboard after login to Windows”, “Keyboard is not working after login to Windows”

Protect Your Personal Information

After seeing some clients lately with lots of malware, trojans and suspicious programs I was wondering how they seem to so easily get them. So I decided to come up with some sound advice on how you can protect your personal information when working online. After looking at various posts, long winded  information pages I came up with the following advice.

SOHOCS

I guarantee that you would have received emails from reputable companies asking for sensitive information like your password, username or credit card info? These types of emails are known as 'phishing' emails. It’s important that you know how to identify this kind of suspicious activity.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR?
When you receive a message that you think doesn't look quite right, these are some tell-tale signs that you might have been sent a phishing email:

  • Poor grammar and spelling
  • Incorrect business logos, email addresses, colours and fonts
  • A request for urgent action, with the threat of your account being closed.
  • Or telling you that your account has been compromised and you need to update your password.
  • And then there are the really authentic looking emails that even link to a page that looks like the original.
  • And of course there's the "You've won a prize, click here!", and so on...

 

PROTECTING YOUR COMPUTER AND DEVICES
When you're online, it's important to be aware of internet security issues such as viruses, hackers and other threats to your privacy. Companies work hard to help minimise possible internet security issues on their network, but it's also important that you have the latest anti-virus software installed on your devices.

If you don't have any anti-virus software installed on your computer or devices, we offer our Peace Of Mind package that also includes backup software and monitoring.

WHAT IF YOU RECEIVE A SUSPICIOUS EMAIL?

Interestingly, the day after I wrote this blog (Christmas Day!) I received this email (PayPal phishing email) asking me to update my credit card card. The first suspicion is the email is not from a PayPal address, the second, is the grammar (This meesage send to), and lastly the "Login Now" link is not a PayPal Link. What a horrible thing to do on Christmas Day to steal someone's credit card details and rob them.

If you receive an email that's asking for any of the private information we've mentioned or it just doesn't seem right, here's what you can do:

 

DELETE IT!

SOHOCS

It's that simple.

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Peace Of Mind Support

SOHOCS

This month we have been working on a new idea, and we’re proud to release our ‘Peace Of Mind Support” offering.

We have done a crazy thing and tailored an irresistible solution for SME’s that will keep your computer safe and fully backed up. Included in this we will monitor for virus’ with our antivirus software, monitor the backup as well as monitor your computer for just $20/month/computer with no lock in contracts.

We provide you peace of mind knowing your computer is well looked after, but when you need extra support, we can remotely assist you when needed.

So check out this link and please contact us for more information.

 

It’s us that need to stop Virus’ and Malicious Software, not antivirus programs

SOHOCS
Seen an email like this lately? Now to most techie types we would know that this certainly smells like some form of malware, but what about to a “normal” user? The following scenario really happened, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

User - “My machine says that it is infected with spyware”
Techie - “Where does it say that?”
User - “Down the bottom right hand side of the screen. It says Windows has detected you machine is infected with spyware”
Techie - “Do you have anti-virus and is it up to date?”
User - “Yes, I have PC-cillian and it is up to date”
Techie - “Ok, I’ll remote in and have look”

Sure enough the machine appears to be infected with spyware, however after running a full system scan with PC-Cillian nothing is detected.

Techie - “Did you open email attachments today?”
User - “Yes, I opened one from UPS"
Techie - “Why? Did you send a parcel via UPS?”
User - “No”
Techie - “Are you expecting a parcel from UPS?”
User - “No”
Techie - “So, why did you open it?”
User - “I thought I was getting a surprise package”

SOHOCSWell, ladies and gentlemen the user sure did get a surprise package. For when they opened and ran the attachment it installed a hidden service in multiple locations on the disk, in the registry and so on. Thus, the machine was now infected.

Techie - “What did you do after you ran the attachment?”
User - “I went and did my Internet banking”

This story just keeps getting better and better doesn’t it? Firstly, the user gets their system infected with spyware by actually RUNNING an unknown attachment, which infects their system. Then, even though the system warns them there is an issue they simply ignore that fact and go and do Internet banking. We pick up the story again….

Techie - “I think you had better go and check your bank balances because there is chance someone has stolen your passwords”
User - “They can do that?”

Sure enough, checking the bank balances on a “known” clean machine, it turns out the maximum daily withdrawal amount has been transferred to an unknown account today, strangely not that long ago.

Techie - “You had better go and change all your Internet banking passwords"
User - "I don't want to do that it is such a pain"
Techie - "Well if you don't they are going to keep taking money out of your account"
User - "They can do that?"
Techie - "They have your password remember?"
User - "Better go and change my password eh?"
Techie - "Very good idea and in the meantime I'll try and clean up this machine"

Very interesting that this UPS_service.exe spyware had completely slipped through PC-Cillian. After searching the web there didn't appear to be much about how to clean up the infection. So it had to be manually removed from the registry, the disk system and then the system restored to a previous time. After running multiple scans on the machine it WOULD APPEAR to be clean, but you can never now be 100% sure.

User - "Whatta you mean you can't be 100% sure"
Techie - "Look, I have done everything I can think of to remove it but if PC-Cillian isn't even detecting it how can you be 100% sure?"
User - "But I want to be 100% sure?"
Techie - "Wipe the disk and start again"
User - "WHAT???"
Techie - "Sorry. Once a bad guy has control of your system, it ain't yours anymore. You can try and throw them out but who knows what other tricks and back doors they have created for themselves"
User - "All that because I opened an attachment?"
Techie - "Yup"

This is why the bad guys are ALWAYS going to get around any technological protection you put in place. If they can fool the human being to over ride all these safe guards then why even attempt to try and circumvent the technology? Go straight for the human weakness because you know it will work EVERY time.

Education is the key. NEVER EVER trust something unsolicited from the Internet and THINK before opening ANY attachment.

You have been warned!

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Download Windows 10 Files

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If you have multiple computers, downloading the full install on each computer is going to take a very long time unless you're on the NBN. So what can we do about it?

Well you can create your own USB stick and install W10 from it. It really is easy to do, and all you need is a 16GB USB thumb drive and a little bit of effort.

So here are a couple of links to download the Windows 10 Install files. You will need a valid windows license, but if it's too difficult you can give us a call and we'll organsie to upgrade your computers for you;

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/techbench

https://www.reddit.com/r/Windows10/comments/3ee1gx/windows_10_10240_esd_download_here/

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FOUR PRINCIPALS OF EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGEMENT

In a 1954 speech to the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was quoting Dr J. Roscoe Miller, president of North Western University, said:

 

“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important.”
The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.

 

This “Eisenhower Principle” is said to be how he organized his workload and priorities. This is often represented in the following quadrant type diagram:

PropertyMyWay

Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal.

 

Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.

 

1. Important and Urgent
There are two distinct types of urgent and important activities: ones that you could not have foreseen, and others that you’ve left until the last minute.
You can eliminate last-minute activities by planning ahead and avoiding procrastination.
However, you can’t always predict or avoid some issues and crises. Here, the best approach is to leave some time in your schedule to handle unexpected issues and unplanned important activities. (If a major crisis arises, then you’ll need to reschedule other tasks.)
If you have a lot of urgent and important activities, identify which of these you could have foreseen, and think about how you could schedule similar activities ahead of time, so that they don’t become urgent.

 

2. Important but not Urgent
These are the activities that help you achieve your personal and professional goals, and complete important work.
Make sure that you have plenty of time to do these things properly, so that they do not become urgent. Also, remember to leave enough time in your schedule to deal with unforeseen problems. This will maximize your chances of keeping on track; and help you avoid the stress of work becoming more urgent than necessary.

 

3. Not Important but Urgent
Urgent but not important tasks are things that prevent you from achieving your goals. Ask yourself whether you can reschedule or delegate them.
A common source of such activities is other people. Sometimes it’s appropriate to say “no” to people politely, or to encourage them to solve the problem themselves.
Alternatively, try to have time slots when you are available, so that people know they can speak with you then. A good way to do this is to arrange regular meetings with those who interrupt you often, so that you can deal with all their issues at once. You’ll then be able to concentrate on your important activities for longer.

 

4. Not Important and not Urgent
These activities are just a distraction – avoid them if possible. You can simply ignore or cancel many of them. However, some may be activities that other people want you to do, even though they don’t contribute to your own desired outcomes. Again, say “no” politely, if you can, and explain why you cannot do it.

 

If people see that you are clear about your objectives and boundaries, they will often avoid asking you to do “not important” activities in the future.

Where do you spend your day, in what quadrant are you working?

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The PC is alive and growing stronger

This weeks post is about a subject that has been raging for quite some time, and that is the PC verses the tablet. For the Apple die hards that I know, they're of the opinion that the PC is on it's way out, and tablets are the thing of the future. With cloud computing becoming more accepted and more services become available, you could be led into this being a fair hypothesis. But the truth of the matter, and something that I have believed infor quite some time, the tablet is just not able to meet the needs of the more complex functions that a PC does. Photo editing, online web services, accessing files, printing and the list goes on. Sure there are apps that you can get, but they're not the same and more often than not more cumbersome.

That's where companies like Intel are now getting creative and building new "PC's" that come on a stick. You can plug them in your TV, in your friends computer and any other device that can support it. Add to that a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and you're up and running

SOHCS

There is a linkedin article written by John Fortt where he talks about this new concept, but I wonder if this is just an interim step to us going back to a terminal screen, or Web Computer. In the early days when I started in computing we used a "terminal" which was a screen that talked to a main fame computer that executed all the commands, which then displayed the results back to the terminal. Although primitive compared to today's systems, it was the baby brother to the cloud. Now, the main frame is "The Net", and through any device you access "Your Account". Maybe the tablet will evolve to be more PC like, as is the case with the PC becoming more tablet, but for the moment I'm not sure how usable these are for everyday use.

SOHOCS

That's where Microsoft are staying competitive with the Surface Pro 4. Although a little more expensive, this platform for me is the best solution so far. I have a Dell XPS 12 with a flip screen, and it has been a solid and fantastic unit. It's portable, can be used on my desktop, I link it to multiple screens through a dock, and all the functionality I need is in this one device. Gizmodov reviewed the Pro 4, and like them, I think it's a solid unit that ticks all the boxes. The Surface is the next generation PC that I will be looking at purchasing.

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OUTLOOK 2013 – Not sending emails

Today I had an interesting problem that took a couple of days to realise, but thanks to Google I found the solution very quickly.

 

Outlook 2013

 

After my computer crashed and I reinstalled everything and put all my files back in place from my backup, my Outlook 2013 refused to send emails unless it was through my Exchange server. Added to this my CRM provider which I also use for email is under a Denial Of Service attack. So I assumed the problem with these emails was related to the DOS. It turns out it wasn't, as my emails after the weekend were still not being sent. It turns out there is a known problem with Outlook 2013 and Windows 10 where Outlook 2013 will not send out emails. However, when you set up the account under setting and click on the test button, the test email gets sent. This gives you the false impression that your settings are working, when in fact they aren't. Now don't go change any settings as there is nothing wrong with them, but the fault is with some system files that get installed or upgraded from Windows 10. 

 

So how do I fix this?Outlook 2013 Fix Part a

Good question, and luckily the answer is an easy one. You will need to run a command that will check and repair system files on the computer. First we need to start a command box in Administrator mode. To do this click on the sindows icon and type in cmd. Once you have done this you will see the command prompts icon, RIGHT click on this and select "Run as Administrator" (see photo on the right)

A black screen will appear (command window), and you type in sfc /scannow, and then hit Enter. This will run the program that will fix the files. Once it's finished (about 10 mins), restart your computer and your email will be back to normal again.

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