Email remote support

icons-842848_640Happy New Year!

It was a hectic first day back in the office with a boiler service (let me know if you need someone good) and fridge/freezer delivery, but I did manage to help a couple of clients with email problems via remote support.

A small business client texted me because he hadn’t had email for a week. He has hosted business email from Fastshosts (meaning a paid-for email service, not free email like those provided by Gmail or his internet service provider), and used Incredimail software to access his emails. I’m no fan of Incredimail but he has used it for a number of years.

He suspected that the problem was with the Indredimail software that he has used for years to access his email (not my recommendation) so he uninstalled it. H couldn’t figure out how to access his Fasthosts email using Microsoft Mail on his PC. I logged in remotely and figured out the correct settings, then did some tests sending and receiving email to make sure it was all working.

The other client was a home user who had managed to lose his email icon after a Windows update. I didn’t know which software he was using to access his email, so I logged in to his computer to figure it out with him. He had been using BT Mail and accessing it with Internet Explorer, so I added a new shortcut to his desktop to make it easy to access his email again.

If you have problems with your email, or would like suggestions on a better email service, or advice on how to handle email more effectively, please get in touch. You can phone me on the numbers above-right of the page, comment below (it will be private if it contains personal information, or use the Contact menu item top-right of the page.


BT about to mess up your email (again)

Setting up new BT MailBT is about to move from BT Yahoo Mail (which sucked anyway) to new BT Mail. Most people are going to need to make some changes to their email settings in order to continue to use their BT email services.

If you use an iPad, tablet, phone, Outlook, Mac, Windows Live Mail, etc, you’ll probably have to change the settings. As BT admit, “it’s a bit technical” and they can’t do it automatically.

If you have read this far and don’t relish the thought of manually changing your email settings yourself, contact me now and I’ll make the transition as smooth as possible for you, and save you perhaps hours of frustration and phone calls to BT’s lovely call centre.

If you want to make the changes yourself, look out for an email from BT and follow their instructions. I’ve looked at their instructions, and they’re confusing (even to me) and wordy. Good luck!

My advice is to move away from BT email entirely. In fact, in my opinion, you should not use any email service provided by your Internet Service Provider. I’ll write another blog post soon about this, but contact me if you want to hear sooner.


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.

Tech support from your ISP could be a costly waste of time

BBC News reported on a Which? report today which shows that most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are using premium rate numbers for their tech support.

Why would anyone want to pay premium rates for a call to India and have to wait (while paying) for their call to be answered? Why not contact me? My time is cheaper than some premium rate tech support calls, and I’ll help you in person. Most of the calls I get are from people who have called their ISP, spent around an hour on the phone, and still haven’t got a solution. Most of the time, it’s not a problem the ISP can fix directly anyway.

Take a recent case as an example. A couple, both computer novices, had been on the phone to BT for ages because they couldn’t get their PC connected to their internet service. BT tech support had asked them to do lots of stuff on the PC to try to fix the problem, but as novice’s this was slow and frustrating. They even told them to buy an unusual type of USB cable to connect the modem/router to the PC. They did, but that didn’t work either.

I went round and started my diagnostics. I found that my laptop easily connected to their internet service, so it wasn’t a problem with the BT end of things. Their PC couldn’t ‘see’ the modem using the USB cable; the reason is that the USB socket on their BT modem is for attaching an external hard disk, not a computer, so that was never going to work. This just illustrates that the BT helpline doesn’t even know how its own equipment works.

The solution was easy. I fitted an Ethernet card to the PC (having cleaned out the dust from the inside of the PC first) and we got a connection immediately. They’ll have a good, reliable internet connection now. It’s something a novice couldn’t do on his own, and a helpdesk can’t do over the phone.

It took 90 minutes from start to finish, including cleaning out the PC, explaining everything in terms they understood, and a good chat (I know them personally). 90 minutes of personal service, compared to long phone calls, trips to PC World for unnecessary purchases, and still no solution.

I offer:

  • In-you-home PC and IT services for residential clients in Essex, UK
  • In-your-office PC and IT services for business clients nationally (if it’s cost effective for you and me)
  • Online tech support. See the link on the homepage (requires broadband connection)
  • Payment by cash, cheque, credit card, or PayPal

Whatever you need, if it involves computers or IT then please contact me by using the Contact menu item at the top of the page.