Miscellaneous problems solved and advice given

Another regular client asked me to visit to sort out the following:

  • Desktop icons were stretched out – solved
  • Laptop running slowly – stopped some programs from running in the background, and advised on a RAM upgrade
  • Hotmail permanently logged in – set it to log out each time so visitors can’t get to email easily
  • Favourites missing – reinstated the favourites and the favourites bar
  • Throw out old cables – advised on what should be kept and what should be recycled following old desktop PC decommissioning.

I could have done all of this via remote support (over the internet) except for sorting out her cables.

Sonos Radio Breaking Up, New Gmail Account, Adding Facebook App to Samsung (Android) phone, Talktalk email problem.

A regular client called me in to sort out several minor problems.

Their Sonos system was breaking up while playing radio stations. I suspect interference from their wireless printer, so we switched off the printer for a week to see if that helps. If so, switch it back on and see if the stuttering radio occurs again. This will be ongoing troubleshooting.

I set up a Google Gmail account for Mrs so we could install the Facebook app on her Samsung Android phone.

Talktalk are changing their email service (again) and emails are taking a long time to get to their account. I advised they should consider moving from Talktalk to Gmail; I advise that everyone should have an email account independent of their ISP (Internet Service Provider) so when they change ISPs they won’t have to move their emails in a hurry.

Non-booting PC – Fixed

A new client’s computer wasn’t booting up properly. Sometimes it would go to a “blue screen of death” and sometimes it would boot up okay, but later the mouse would freeze and and sometimes it would just shut down.

I went to do a free estimate. I suspected overheating, but it turned out it was a hardware fault that I was able to fix there and then.

Virus/Malware Removal, Memory Upgrade, Java Update Fix, New PC Set-up

Here’s a few recent jobs that I can remember off the top of my head:

istartsurf Browser Search HijackRemote Virus, Malware, and unwanted programs removal. This image shows a browser search hijack, where instead of opening a Google.com search page it opens a different search page. This was done without the client’s knowledge, probably as a result of downloading free software from somewhere.

Memory upgrade (more RAM).

Remote to fix a Java update that wouldn’t install properly.

New PC setup, including security, and data transfer.

Your Windows 8.1 installation couldn’t be completed – solved

Your Windows 8.1 installation couldn't be completed - solvedIf you can’t upgrade to Windows 8.1 because you get the message “Your Windows 8.1 installation couldn’t be completed. Something happened and the installation of Windows 8.1 can’t be completed”, then I can help. Just go to http://www.bowenracing.com/ and click the “Get Remote Support Now” link. You can then allow me to log in and fix the problem for you.


Payment by Paypal or Credit Card accepted.

SearchGol browser hijack removal

A new client called me in because they had adverts on their search page and pop-ups, and their home page was set to searchgol.com.  These browser hijacks or search hijacks aren’t just annoying, the can lead you to other websites that install more rubbish on your system, and the certainly track your internet searches and browsing history and habits.

I have had lots of this type of thing lately and usually it’s fairly easy for me to remove these search hijacks, but it was the first time I had seen SearchGol.  I removed everything as usual, but each time I restarted Chrome searchgol came back.  Internet explorer was ok, but even unistalling Chrome and reinstalling wouldn’t stop the searchgol redirect from coming back.

[EDIT: I subsequently suspect that Search Protect was being used to prevent the user (and me) from changing the search provider too.  Search Protect can also be difficult to remove]

I tried all the tools and instructions I could find when searching for a solution on Google, but none of them worked.  It had taken much longer than the time I estimated, but I was determined not to give up.  I slept on it, and had an idea.  The next evening I tried it and it worked, searchgol was gone!

I’m usually good at finding a solution on Google, but none of the solutions I tried had worked.  Sometimes, I have to rely on my own brain to solve a problem.

If you have ads showing on your search engine (or search page) then you might have a browser hijack or search hijack.  Contact me and I will arrange an appointment to remove it either in person, or by remote login to your computer.

Macbook OS reinstall

I recently had a rare opportunity to work on a Macbook.  A regular “subscriber” client called to say that her daughter didn’t need her 2008 Macbook and was giving it to her brother.  She wanted all the data removed and wanted it reset to as it was when it was new.

The sister lived in Australia, so there was no UK power supply (no power supply at all), so I recommended that the client take it to the Apple Store as third party chargers are becoming less reliable.  The new charger didn’t seem to be working properly, but it was the Macbook power socket was dirty so I cleaned it up.

There were a few problems because Mac OS had been updated, but we didn’t have the Apple ID for the person who did the update, but I overcame that problem finished the job.

Fast turnaround for new business client

A couple of weeks ago someone called me from an unknown mobile number while I was with another client.  I returned the call between that client and the next but there was no answer.  This happened again at the next client.  Heading back to the office, I called the number again and got through to someone.  It happened to be someone from the company I advertise through; I am their client, but they were asking for my help.

He explained that they are moving offices and want to get their internet wiring organised.  They have some of the equipment, but their internet wall sockets (ethernet ports) aren’t all working.  Due to the office move and change of internet service provider, they had no internet service at all at the time.  I asked where the office was, and said “I’ll be there in 10 minutes”.

We spent a little time figuring out what it was they needed, and looked at their existing equipment.  We quickly tested a socket to find that it wasn’t connected at all.  I explained that I can sort it all out for them.  This was all he needed to know at this stage.  Later I texted him to say that he doesn’t have to wait for the new internet installation in order to sort out the wiring problems.  He replied that he would be in touch soon to arrange a visit for me to do the work.

I expect to hear from them when they decide where their desks are going and which sockets they need connected.  It will be nice to send them an invoice for a change!

Non-booting PC – and hard disk errors

A client’s PC would not boot up.  The computer was a custom-built PC and the person who built is was no longer in business.

The PC would look like it was going to start, but it would get stuck.  Initially I suspected a faulty sector on the hard disk, thinking a file that Windows needs to start up was corrupt, so I took the PC back to the office to run some disk maintenance and data recovery software (it takes hours to finish).

Before subjecting the computer to hours of data recovery, I checked some other settings.  I found that there were incorrect BIOS settings.  BIOS is the basic system software that (basically) gets the motherboard and physical hardware ready to the point that it can boot into Windows.  I corrected the settings and the computer then booted up properly.  Job done, some might say.

Since I had the computer in my office, I decided to run the disk maintenance software anyway.  When a computer can’t boot properly, you have little choice but to “pull the plug” to turn it off.  Pulling the plug out is not good for a hard drive and often results in data errors.

Hard disks get 1000’s of errors a day, but the hard disk itself usually makes the corrections on the fly.  The software I use makes the hard disk check its entire surface again, refreshing the data and identifying problems that the hard disk itself didn’t know it had.  In this case, the report highlighted that the hard disk was in a worse state than it thought it was.  The errors were corrected, but I have recommended that I run the disk maintenance software again in a few months.  If the report shows that there are new problems with the data, then it would indicate the disk could be failing and I will recommend replacing it before it fails catastrophically.



Broadband internet troubleshooting

A client called to say that their BT Infinity broadband wasn’t working.  They had spent a considerable time on the phone to BT technical support without any resolution.  This sort of problem is very hard to diagnose over the phone; you need to actually be there to troubleshoot these problems.

I visited the client and tested the PC, then the Home Hub, then the Infinity box.  They seemed to working correctly but there was still no internet connection.  I checked their internal wiring (phone sockets and BT Infinity socket) and that appeared to be in good condition.  My diagnosis was that there was a problem with the BT line outside the property.  They called BT who informed them that there was a charge of over £100 to have a BT engineer come out, but they wouldn’t have to pay the charge of the problem was outside the home.  I was confident that it was a problem at BT’s end, so the client agreed and booked the BT Engineer visit.

The client later informed me that it was a problem at BT’s green box in their street, which BT fixed free of charge, and the internet is working properly now.  My charge was less than the BT Engineer would have cost, so the client saved money by calling me in.

My advice is, if you have an internet problem, call me in to troubleshoot and don’t waste your time with calling BT (or Virgin, TalkTalk, or whoever).  I will identify and fix the problem if it’s a problem at your end, or advise you to contact your provider if the problem is at their end.  It will save you time, money, and hassle.