The Wired Office Blog

 

no internet connection and the shortfalls of help desk.

Have you lost your internet connection yet have a solid DSL or ADSL light?

Having a DSL light active, green and solid on your modem can be confusing for you, and the ISP help desk people. We receive many calls where help desk or ISP support staff do not have the advantage of being onsite, and find certain difficulties to explore the possibilities with the customer who may not be very familiar with cables, modem lights, isolation testing. Many people get so exasperated by technology when it doesn’t work that stress levels can take over and helping with troubleshooting tasks gets limited by this stress and no familiarity with the hardware or its interfaces.

Recently we seen a customer with a solid DSL light. Because the DSL was active the ISP argued that the connection was active but the customer had #nointernetconnection. The ISP chimed out on the support call suggesting the problem was at the customers end.

It wasn’t. And it’s a common story. We were able to get the internet connection back by an extended isolation with line sync and port reset. This suggests the problem was with the ISP all long. For home and small business owners to deal with help desk/support people who assert the problem is at their end tends to compound the existing disaster.

Another case of the customer who had 10 IT support people come into his home in the space of a year.

The customer had wifi dead zones in bedrooms and a lounge area in an average size suburban home. He had the local computer shop IT guys come over, he had an iinet technical support team come around, he was persistent but each IT guy had a different reason why this was happening, but no one was able to resolve it. In this case the problem was a group of interrelated issues and once identified we resolved the problem within an hour and without replacing the modem.

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The end of the Outlook junk spam filter in 2017

Microsoft is ending support for the junk spam filter known as Smartscreen technology. At a time when email spam and phishing emails are at an all time high why is Microsoft ending support for Smartscreen? It’s worked well over the years because of the Bayesian technology and when your inbox starts getting 100 spam emails a day you are going to wonder how you are going to live without it. User trends such as cloud based computing is driving the change to Exchange Online Protection and ATP Advanced Threat Protection.

For those who do not use Office 365, Sharepoint, or Exchange Online, some ISP’s have some type of spam protection, others don’t. Some ISP’s will no doubt start charging (as one notable ISP has been doing for years with poor results if their forums are a gauge of spam filtering success or failure). Small business with their own domain name will probably have spam protection but it will need to be enabled, computers configured to work with the filter, and some basic education for end users.

Here are a few basic tips to help you avoid being seen as a live candidate and get on email spam lists:

  1. don’t open an email that is obvious spam
  2. don’t reply to a spammer to abuse them
  3. don’t delete email, this action is likely to send a signal that you are live. Sending an email to spam folder does not send this signal.
  4. don’t use your own email on forums and for sale sites, get a throwaway email address
  5. report unwanted (spam) email from your local liquor store or real estate to ACMA.com.au to help discourage our sacred inbox becoming a marketing portal.
  6. have an anti spam software solution in place

Don’t put up with spam every day. It uses bandwidth and is a complete waste of time and makes people angry. We provide an easy support solution via remote access to log in to your computer and configure for both home and small business, home office etc. There is a basic one hour charge to configure antispam measures which is better than dealing with spam everyday.

 
 
 

Where did all my bandwidth go? Windows 10

Microsoft may not understand that here in Australia we have less than half the internet speed and bandwidth allocated to us per month than Europe, America, and most Asian countries. The new feature in Windows 10 designed to take the load off windows update servers is the botnet microsoft has created to allow your computer to update other people computers. Here is where we can expect problems in Australia for non fibre-to-the-node, otherwise or formally known as NBN.

One of our customers for example has a 10gb monthly allowance and rang us to ask us to investigate why they used 8gb in just one day.

We looked into the “usage app” new to Windows 10. Just type usage then choose the usage overview. This is a pretty basic inbuilt app looking at the last 30 days. Then click on usage details to see which apps are chewing into your GB allowance. It is always the last 30 days, and no reset button or ability to view the last 7 days.

So, to have greater control over what we see I downloaded the windows 10 usage app which offers a two page spread sheet with a graph to give you a visual idea of where your data is going.

If your system is using too much data allowance under the system app and leaving you with a shaped internet, then you may need to turn off the Microsoft update other computers on the internet.

Need help? We offer a 7 day a week remote login service for our Australian customers.

 
 
 

Do you have an email spam problem?

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Spam in your inbox is one of the most annoying things about daily computing. There’s the occasional car yard or real estate agent testing the illegal inbox style of marketing, these types can be managed easily enough by reporting them to the ACMA spam database because it’s not just you you’re batting for, but the bulk of email spam does not come via legit email addresses (fake email addresses).

There are methods to deal with spam without tearing your hair out. If you are a small business attending to spam everyday there are solutions based on your situation. Call us for online help to setup a anti-spam system. We will log in to your computer and get your spam problem sorted out in no time. Send us an email or call today!

 
 
 

Why you shouldn’t delete dodgy emails!

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Christmas is just about here and this year you can expect to see a flood of dodgy emails using fake invoices, and bills from energy providers and the like. This last year has been one of the worst ever for fake emails.

I have seen many people is small business spend 30 minutes each morning deleting spam and junk emails. This is a good way to ensure your junk emails continue to grow exponentially. Most junk and spam emailers use the same tools as email marketers to track what happens to emails when they are delivered.

They can tell who (which addressee) opened it and read it, who clicked on it to get to a link or deliver a virus or spyware, they can even tell where your mouse traveled on some emails.

The email that opens only in the reading pane will not register generally but it is a good idea not to delete the email as this tells the spammers what you did. If you right click the email and send it to junk they will not know what you did. Using this management method for spam it will reduce over time down to just about nothing. If you are not a live target they will quickly lose interest. It is tedious at first sending individual emails to the junk folder but the Microsoft junk email filters are state of the art and will work for you.

 
 
 

Windows 10 black screen at startup – solved

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We see a lot of Windows 10 upgrade issues which are more common to legacy systems and laptops. The thing with both desktop and laptop computers from big name brands like HP, Dell, etc etc., is many consumer models are made for the operating system of the day with no upgrade path. While business class laptops and desktops can have resources for future upgrade paths.

While Windows 10 provides most drivers for its operating system upgrade, sometimes there are issues. One of these is the often reported black screen, or a delayed startup whilst on a black screen. There is no straightforward one answer fits all to these black screen issues, but one we commonly see is a problem with legacy graphics. A visit to the the vendors website might indicate the latest driver is installed and you can go no further however, Radeon released a driver external to its own automated system on its website indicating there is an issue with the current driver and we are doing something about it.

You can also try the compatibility tool to set your graphics driver software to an earlier/previous version of windows.

So this is at least one good solution for the windows 10 black screen phenomenon after an upgrade from windows 7 or windows 8.1 on a legacy proprietary system.

 
 
 

Free website templates

themeforrest

Website design and coding is expensive because of the human labour and degree of skill involved. If you are starting up a new website from scratch and have a good budget it would be a good idea to find the right firm for you to get the skills level and the right advice so ultimately you are not wasting money. In the IT world the cheaper alternative doesn’t always work out. Having said that, for those who are on a tight budget or have no budget, the sole trader and startup alternatives are free or low cost templates.

You can work out where to put your text or you can employ a freelancer to do it for you. There are many sites these days to get free or creative commons licenced website templates such as HTML5-UP site with a collection of the latest html5 standards, there is also one of my favourites, the envato showcase with low cost templates who are located over in Melbourne Australia.

Keep your eyes on our blog for future posts on our picks of the land of the free.

 

 
 
 

why is some software free?

freesoftware

I get asked all the time, why is it free? Is it any good? There are thousands of free programs out there, some you can download without joining up or logging in. The most obvious answer to the why is it free question is because it is crap software that no one would pay to download, or it is software deployed as deception to download the real payload by stealth, such as spyware, registry cleaners, or general junkware otherwise known as potentially unwanted programs or PUP’s.

But there are some excellent and really useful free programs such as display fusion’s free version of the multiple monitor software. In this case you can see there is a pro version and the free version is the upgrade path. The internet’s version of the two dollar shoes out front of the shoe shop. This is also true of many antivirus or malware programs. Some software is free because it falls into the realm of economically nonviable. It might be ok and kind of useful but these days it would need to be very essential for someone to splurge yet another computing expense. The biggest ever rort is paying for an antivirus when Windows 10 has the free Defender built in. None of them work all the time for various strains of malware as we have seen with cryptolocker and ransonware criminal theftware.

My advice, and I do practice everything I preach, is to keep third party software to an absolute minimum. The more programs you have running the more chance you will have of outdated software or drivers ruining your day, hogging your system with little to show for all the effort. System cleaners, registry cleaners and the like are examples of this. They might clear out the files you need later for a clean uninstall, or clear out files your system looks for in the future.

 
 
 

is your gmail hacked? How to get access again.

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emails accounts like gmail are used by small business and professionals as a quick and easy (free) email service but there’s a catch. If you get hacked there’s no one to call, you are out in the cold and left to your own resources.

Hacking is mostly not really about hacking, but guessing your password. We see passwords all the time that look like this:

abc1234

password

and so on. If you are running a business off this free email system you should be prepared for a disaster or you might never see your email again.

To mitigate the risk:

  1. associate a mobile phone number with your account
  2. if you are trying to regain access to a lost or hacked account it seems you should be doing this from the same computer you usually log in with, otherwise flags are raised and it will be more difficult.
  3. setup a secondary email address in your account, though if your account is hacked this might be changed.
  4. set up strong passwords, not the name of your cat you talk about on your social profiles.

You can also setup gmail to use offline so if you do get hacked you will have access to old emails. Follow the steps in this support article.

https://support.google.com/mail/answer/1306849?hl=en

 

 
 
 

How to keep backups safe from malware

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The worst of malware doing the rounds is so-called ransomare, locky, cryptolocker, rogue or fake antivirus, with new variations popping up often. It is installed covertly on the machine and may first attack your antivirus programs to avoid detection. The likelihood of detection is reduced due to the malware’s attack vectors and its sophistication. Modern antivirus programs are often found on computers with this type of active malware.

We are seeing more recent variations of this virus which bypass the ransom payload,  its purpose can also be to steal banking information, credit card details, or identity. The ransomware version may lock (encrypt) your files or even attack the MFT (master file table) which locks you out of your drive. This is the point where you can say goodbye to your data.

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Protecting your backup from nasty malware.

If you are backing up your files to any medium that backup will be at risk of the same data encryption described above. If you are a small business, a home office, or just a home user with precious family photos, you need to make sure you are using best practice to prevent the cryptolocker virus from infecting your backup. We now offer this service by safe, remote login to your computer.

Call today to get industry best practice backup mitigation for home or small office, small business.