The Wired Office Blog

 

The latest 2017 Ransomware and what to do about it.

 

The latest mid year ransomware is a serious threat and every computer is vulnerable. The serious threat prevention tools in Windows is exclusive to Microsoft’s enterprise customers and online exchange users in Office 365. The new threat is called Petya or NotPetya, but names are not important, it’s the actions of the rogue code. The new Petya strains are not particularly new either, but the techniques are new.

How do the new virus strains get on your computer?

  1. by stealth download from your browsers, an exploit kit is downloaded behind the stage to infect the vulnerable system.
  2. by email attachments and links, such as Word documents, resumes, fake documents etc.

How do I know I am infected?

  1. you will get an infected pop up message or warning, sometimes demanding money
  2. you may not get any warning message; if you suspect you may be infected seek professional IT help from an MCP (Microsoft certified professional) to carry out best practice diagnosis and removal procedures to mitigate risk of data encryption or MBR lockdowns.

What to do after you get a warning message and a ransom demand or similar.

  1. shut down your computer by pressing the power button and remove any network and power cables, battery.
  2. do *NOT* attempt to click off the warning message
  3. do *NOT* attempt to run a virus scan because it will encrypt all your files and possibly the master boot record rendering your drive non bootable

What to do before you get infected

  1. follow the 3-2-1 rule. Backup your data in an automated regular fashion to two locations, including an offsite backup if you have very important files, financial and customer records, family history in the form of photographs.
  2. get an annual maintenance and security checkup by an experienced and certified IT technician.

If you get the ransom warning message or a fake message like the one shown below, your system may be not yet be encrypted or your drive might not yet be locked via the MBR. Get help from an experienced computer tech at this stage to help prevent loss of data and system.

fake warning after restarting system following infection by ransomware

fake warning after restarting system following infection by ransomware

We do provide preventative bug removal via our online remote access service. It’s completly safe! We are based in Australia. Call today or email.

 

 
 
 

The perrenial problem of ipad photo storage (solved)

 

ipads and iphones do not have a lot of storage space so you can run out of space quickly. You already know this so lets get on to what we can do about it for the sake of brevity. I’m not going to talk about google photos because we are here today talking about storage, not editing, cropping, manipulating photos. We are talking about where to safely store your photos.

Backing up photos to highly unreliable external hard disks (and let’s not even mention backing up to notorious DVD’s) is probably the worst way to storage precious photos for most people. As a data recovery service our advice has always been to have very important data (photos) in at least two places. This might be on your computer or laptop hard drive and an external drive. On an ios device this might be the device plus itunes on your computer or laptop. All these above options are fraught with problems, confusion, and failure points.

Regarding ipads and iphones you could use icloud. I’ve never been a fan of icloud because it costs money to get real storage space, and photos are connected to the ios eco system with minimal or no support for editing tools like Lightroom or Photoshop. icloud also backs up all photos and I cannot micro manage them.

Now that google has created google Drive, a user friendly free app for iOS, backing up your photos is a no brainer. In Drive you can back up photos from the iOS app, and/or on your computer in Google Chrome, or using the Backup & Sync app for Windows you will find on the Google Drive website storage space. Once in the web space on Chrome you can also choose to turn on Google Photos and choose to upload only into Google photos. In the iOS app you will see the setting for upload image quality, from original hi res, the so-called High Quality but compressed image which reduces the file size dramatically, so you won’t get good quality prints from these uploads.

I personally don’t use Google Photos. But I do create sub folders to quickly and easily find the photos I’m looking for. Otherwise you might end up with a wall of photos and not very good search capabilities, especially for photos with generic names from a camera or iOS device.

The safety and security of your photos is mostly reliant on your password. Make sure you setup your mobile phone number as verification at your Google account, and choose a good password that is not in a dictionary, unlike Kirsten Dunst who apparently used the name of one of her cats who is a celebrity himself on her facebook page.

We offer a service to set google drive up for you via online support anywhere in Australia.

 
 
 

How to get Microsoft Office for Free

 

We’ve found a lot of customers over the last couple of years are not aware of the free Office 365 offering from Microsoft. If you are a small business you’re out of luck, this offer is for non-commercial use only. For homes who only occasionally use Microsoft Word or Excel it’s available free at Office Online.

The only downside is you will need to open a browser and it will not be as fast or convenient as having Office 365 installed on your computer. With the new subscription service from Microsoft for Office not a lot of people are happy to pay an annual fee to only use Office occasionally.

To get started.

Because Google’s Chrome browser is the most popular browser in use today we will setup the Office extension in Chrome.

  1. firstly, go to Microsoft and setup a OneDrive account
  2. then visit the chrome web store to download the Office extension

It really is as simple as that. You’ll get the hang of it in no time.

 
 
 

Are you getting the internet you pay for?

ISP’s have been shortchanging their customers for years, not delivering the internet speed they pay for, or throttling connection speeds to their own end when dealing with congestion and other issues. Often, over the years, I have seen businesses and domestic customers getting sometimes 1 or 2mbps because, among other reasons, they are too far from the exchange. But then why do they pay for premium speeds the connection can never even get close to? It is a good question and a fair question.

Australia’s average broadband speed was rated 56th in the world according to this report at the Sydney Morning Herald and the ACCC launched an enquiry. IT guys have known about this since the beginning of the internet post dialup. It’s been a gravy train for ISP’s who promise something most often different to the reality. If you are paying for say, 10mbps, why should you be paying the same amount for 1mbps?

Recently, some of the larger tech news websites and newspapers online have been presenting internet health checks purporting to do all kinds of magic tests, cashing in on the movement, but you will find many of these tests do little more than run average speed checks.

If you want to test your connection with industry standard testing protocols use the m-test labs Network Diagnostic Test which attempts to determine what problems limit speed, such as congestion. The results are easy to understand for network newbs.

No duplex mismatch condition was detected.
The test did not detect a cable fault.
No network congestion was detected.

Another part of the gravy train slash maximise profits business models is data allowance. Bigpond has been one of the biggest offenders of gouging customers with premium type plans and restricting how much they can download each month. You can get unlimited data plans under fair use policy at many Australian ISP’s such as Amnet in SA and WA, and many others. Do your research. I switched to an ISP who charges $50 a month for unlimited internet, and I switched my phone to an Australian firm who charges me $25 a month for exactly what I was paying $79 a month for at Telstra.

These days the updates coming out from Microsoft for Windows can be almost half the monthly data allowance for some users in lower level plans. Use the test above as a starting point to be aware of what you are paying for. If you are not getting anywhere near what you are paying for contact your ISP. But keep in mind other reasons for internet speed issues may be:

  • a faulty or outdated router
  • misconfigured wifi where wireless is your local network
  • wifi signal interferencence from neighbours can dramatically affect internet performance
  • malware installed on your router or computer

First of all, ask your ISP what speed you should be getting, what speed they see you as receiving before it hits your router. If the speed does match the test result it may be available to you after looking at the issues shown above.

Remember we offer safe remote login support for many issues including malware cleaning anywhere in Australia 7 days a week. Need help to run these tests? Just call.

 
 
 

tackling the slow computer performance issue

 

Not surprisingly one of the biggest issues we see in computer support is #slowperformance or performance related issues, such as slow browsing or slow email sending and receiving. The reasons why the computer is running slow are almost always multi-faceted but the biggest gripe of all is the sheer frustration of a slow computer.

Like anything mechanical/electrical and system dependant annual servicing will get your PC or laptop back to the performance you expect for the type of processor, ram and hard drive you have paid for.

We now offer this service type online, anywhere in Australia or the world. Maybe one day even Mars or Pluto. So give yourself a break from tedious performance and give us a call or send an email to get started.

We work weekends as well.

 

 

 
 
 

Quickfix not Quackfix – Online Helpdesk Offer

 

It seems there are a lot of people offering shonky online remote access support services. Many are not located on the Australian continent and falsely claim to have industry standard bona fides like Microsoft certifications.

We started offering local and Australia wide online helpdesk and general computer help online several years ago and have built a solid reputation for customers as far flung as northern Queensland, Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide and rural locations – all from our tiny office in Western Australia.

Our business has been running since 2005. We are Microsoft certified. Many calls are for quickfix, 30mins or less, such as setting up emails, quickly clearing annoying pop ups, installing a new program, updating your computer etc etc. So we have set up a $49 30 minute Quickfix from a qualified technician.

Call today for instant online help.

 
 
 

Best computer for music, video, photography intensive tasks

 

If you do any of the above CPU and RAM hungry tasks without the right build specs you could end up with a seriously under performing computer.

We have seen store bought systems which are barely capable of uploading one music and ¬†film combined video at a time, and very slowly. This is why it’s important to get the right advice from a computer guy instead of a salesman in a retail store.

Grey box custom built computers are popular with enthusiasts and resource hungry tasks such as video editing in programs such as Filmora, music making, song writing, singing, karaoke, and processing RAW format photographs. When you consider that big name brand computers do not give much flexibility for upgrading, and the cost of replacement proprietary parts such as a motherboard or memory, can be much greater than a generic part.

Grey box systems are made by a local tech firm so support and warranty is easy to access when you need it. Visit our page for custom built computers or contact us for advice on your new build.

 

 

 
 
 

How to clean dust from your computer – and how not to clean dust from your computer or laptop

dust build up can dramatically affect performance and lifespan

 

Let’s face it, dust is very destructive for electronic components and circuit boards. It has bacteria, human skin cells, even meteorite particles according to one wikipedia article. On circuit board dust also carries or creates static electricity. If you have doubt about the destructive power of dust in relation to computers and laptops consider that for over 20 years I have been attending to computers onsite which freeze, or especially randomly restart. On many occasions all these computers needed was a de-dust to resolve the issues. Over time static discharge can seriously reduce the lifespan of a computer, let alone affect performance and stability.

Noisy fans and PSU’s should never be ignored on laptops either and is a sure sign of dust accumulation. The big 3 no-no’s and most commonly used methods for cleaning dust are the house or car vac which is especially damaging, a garage air compressor which carries moisture and creates static by the sheer force of air, and so called canned air, which is refrigerant based and incorrectly called canned air.

With every computer service, maintenance, or security checkup (you should have your computer serviced once a year at least) we will de-dust your laptop or PC with ESD-safe equipment. Some limitations may apply, including access restrictions.

ESD safe dust cleaning

 

Please inquire to see if your laptop can be accessed for ESD-safe dust clean when having your next service.

For industrial dust build up, a de-dust should be a serious maintenance issue to avoid buying a new machine often because of dust.

 

 

 
 
 

Tip: using the date option to arrange everything

You download something, it disappears into the downloads folder and you can get frustrated scrolling down the list looking for the download that may not have a readily identifiable title. For downloads, photos, documents and videos the date arrange function can be very useful to busy people or the more organised types.

In Windows 10 you can right click the folder you would like to use the arrange by set to and choose the arrange sub menu. A small tip often overlooked.

 
 
 

Why is my internet so slow?

 

Internet performance issues can be quite frustrating because of all the different reasons why your internet might be so slow. Even for tech savvy people dealing with your ISP helpdesk can be problematic when the real problem has not yet been identified and may not be easily identified by telephone helpdesk.

Some of the common causes of slow internet are:

  • not the internet itself but a cluttered or infected computer
  • a faulty or outdated modem
  • distance from the exchange may cause slow connection

The first step to start looking at this problem is to determine your internet speed. The most reliable testing for internet is via mlab who have partnered with google to run consumer speed testing. You will find the internet speed test from mlabs here.

While you are here, how does your small business website meet the new mobile friendly standards? You can check that out at the google mobile test page.

Need online tech help? Visit our online help desk service – Australia wide 7 days a week.