Recent jobs

Here’s a selection of recent work I have done.

20 minute remote support for a regular client to fix a sounds and mic (microphone) problem. I installed one Windows Update for him too. We also scheduled another remote support session to upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. We had blocked the automatic upgrade because the client wanted me to oversee the upgrade process.

Remote support session to revert to Windows 7 after an unwanted automatic upgrade to Windows 10.

Troubleshooting a failing disk drive.

As always, backup! If you don’t have a second copy of those files and photos, it’s only a matter of time before you hard disk fails and you lose them. Contact me for help and advice on backing up.

 

You need a (local) backup of important photos and files before you get an encryption virus

Encrytion viruses such as Cryptolocker, Cryptowall and Teslacrypt silently encrypt your files (photos, documents, everything) so you can’t open them without paying around £400 to the bad guys for the decryption password. Antivirus might not protect you. The new viruses also encrypt online storage and backup, so having an online backup or online storage might not help you. What you need is a memory stick or an external hard disk that you can connect whenever you want to do a backup and disconnect when the back is done.

Please, if you value those photos and files, make sure you have a proper backup that you control (ie more than one copy, not online). If you want me to help you set it up, including recommending any memory stick or hard disk you need, then please get in touch.

Cryptolocker – a new virus that can destroy your files, even your backups, unless you pay them $/€/£300

This ransomware, called Cryptolocker, encrypts the files on your hard disk and any memory stick, external hard disk, or other storage device attached to your computer. This may include any online storage that you’re connected to. It then flashes up a warning saying your files have been encrypted and you can’t decrypt them unless you pay $300 / €300 / £300 for them to give you the decryption key. They give you a maximum of 36 hours to pay, or they destroy the key, and your files are lost forever.

A virus that extorts money from you is called ransomware.

This is a variant of the Metropolitan Police, FBI, and other types of ransomware that I have cleaned up for many clients. This one cannot be cleaned up though. Once your files have been encrypted, no-one can decrypt them without the correct decryption key.

It comes in usually through an email that have a link to a website or an attachment that you might click. It may appear to be from a friend, a bank, or anyone else. It wouldn’t surprise me if this link will be put on hacked Facebook accounts soon too. Once you click it, it executes a file and you’re infected. You pay up, or you lose your files.

If you reached this page by clicking a link on Facebook or in an email then you could have just infected yourself. You haven’t, but it’s that easy! Never click links in emails, or on Facebook or anywhere else! Go to your web browser and type in the www. name of the page you’re looking for, or google for it.

Antivirus won’t prevent infection (most of the time) because by clicking the link you run the software and most antivirus vendors don’t have protection against this yet. Let me make this clear, antivirus cannot clean this infection; it cannot decrypt your files without the decryption key! You can only get the decryption key from the scammers, and only within 36 hours of infection.

Your backups won’t help you if the backup device is connected when you get infected; they will encrypt the backups too.

Advice:

  • Never click links in emails
  • Have good backups, but don’t keep your backup device attached all the time. Only attach the backup device when you actually need to do a backup. Ask me about backup solutions.
  • Although it doesn’t help yet, have a good antivirus to prevent infection. Ask me about the one I recommend, it’s £20 one-off payment (no annual fees)

Recent Jobs – Pre-holiday tech worries, unopened new laptops, and another order for backup devices

I wrote about these clients earlier.  I had visited to sort out an internet connection problem, and arranged for a free wireless router / modem upgrade, and lower monthly internet bills.

This recent visit was just a quick maintenance visit. The clients are going on holiday, and would have a 24 hour window in which to print their boarding passes before flying off. They were worried because their old Windows XP computer and printer had been acting up lately. It turned out that they had bought two new, identical laptops and a new wireless printer a few months ago, but hadn’t even opened the boxes yet because they wanted me to sort it all out and set them up after their holiday.

I tested the old PC and printer and they appeared to be working. I told them that if they have a problem on the day they need to print the boarding passes, they should call me and I will come to sort it out. In view of the short time window, I will take my laptop and portable printer to make sure I can get things printed in time.

On a previous visit, I had shown them how to backup their documents by dragging a copy of the documents from their PC to the memory stick. They couldn’t remember how to do it and hadn’t backed up since. This is often a problem for people, even though the process of doing a backup only involves a few steps, it’s a problem to remember how to do it, if they remember to do it at all.

I showed them one of the new backup devices I recommend, and explained that once the software is installed, all they have to do is plug the device into the computer, and press the button on the device marked ‘Backup’. Their backup would complete automatically and tell them when it’s finished. That ‘one-click’ backup solution appealed to them very much.  Although I explained that one device could backup both their new laptops, they ordered one for each laptop ready for my visit after their holiday. Just for their peace of mind, I did a backup for them to their existing USB memory stick.

They signed up for the CBits by Subscription service too, and we arranged an appointment in March for me to set up their new laptops and transfer their documents from the old PC.

These new backup solutions are proving very popular with my clients.  If you would like to know more about them, or have anything else you need help with, please leave a comment.  Personal details are extracted from the comments by me before any comments are published, so feel free to leave your contact details.

Remember, I provide remote support over the internet too, so contact me even if we’re miles apart.

Recent jobs – Backup device

I client had read my client newsletter and emailed me to express an interest in the new backup devices I recommend.  A phoned him and logged in to his computer from my office to see how much data he needed to backup.  He has quite a few photos, and plans to add many more.  I gave him my recommendation for a one-touch backup USB memory stick, and suggested the capacity (amount of storage space) he should have.  He agreed and I offered to order one for him, and we arranged for a time for me to visit to set it all up for him.

A couple of days later I arrive to do the set-up.  The installation went well, but the initial backup got stuck on one file and wouldn’t continue, and wouldn’t even respond to the ‘stop’ command.  We restarted the computer to try again.  Yes, I am aware of the cliché about turning it off and on again, but it does often solve such problems.  In this case, it didn’t solve the problem and the backup got stuck again on the same file.  The client then informed me that the backup method he previously used had also got stuck on that file.  This meant that the problem wasn’t being caused by my backup method and device, and pointed towards the file itself being the problem.  Anyway, a few troubleshooting steps later and the file was fixed.  The next attempted backup went perfectly.

Teaching him how to do future backups was very easy; “Plug the device into your laptop and the program will automatically start.  When you see the backup program screen, just press the button on the backup device marked ‘Backup’.  Job done, get 0n with something more interesting!”

Fixing the problem with the file took quite a while.  For the techs amongst you, we had to do multiple reboots due to lockups, and he’s on Windows Vista with only 1gig of RAM so it took a while; I told him that if he finds his computer too slow we can get more RAM, but it’s his first computer and he finds it works well enough for his needs.

Due to the file problem, the fairly large amount of data, plus the initial work to establish the amount of data to backup, the whole process took about 90 minutes.  I only allocated 60 minutes against his Subscription account though.

If you want information about my recommended backup devices, or any other services, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.  Personal information will be extracted from any comments before they are published, so feel free to leave contact details in the comment.  Thanks.