Computer Maintenance

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Computer Maintenance

Ransomware why you need to wipe computers

POS SOFTWARE

Every week one of my clients gets hit by Ransomware. 

This is why if you get hit by Ransomware you may need to wipe the computer.

Those who are not too sure what I am referring to a person who goes to switch on their computer.  They see a new page demanding that they pay money; otherwise, they will lose everything on their computer. This is a typical welcome to Ransomware.

 

To us, it's a weekly occurrence. Some client somewhere has been hit. First, we take a deep breath and ask them do you have a backup? If yes, then we have a chance.

What disturbs me is that we see a change in tactics from ransomware in a few attacks. The ransomware is now firstly embedded in your system. So if we remove the ransomware and put your backup on, you will be working for a short time, and then the ransomware comes back. Then again, it asks for more money. This cycle will not stop. It is a program, and that is how it works.

There is only sure cure now is once a Ransomware hit, the computer should be completely wiped.

Final note: Should you pay if you cannot get your data back? 

By paying, you are contributing to the spread of ransomware. 

If you pay from now on, you are an identified person willing to pay ransoms, so you will be likely to be targeted again. 

I know people that have paid and never got their data.  What are they going to do? Sue them!

Don't Pay!

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Here is a tip on adjusting the monitor settings

POS SOFTWARE

 

Today, your monitor and computer come with a large number of settings. These can tweak your screen to make it look better for you. Many of these controls are standard such as brightness, contrast and colour. Many are quite advanced, and even experts have trouble understanding them.

So I get this question a lot, how to improve the screen.

As a rule, its the contrast that been set too high. Your monitor should not act as a light if it is then it is too high. If you look at it too long, it will hurt your eyes, so turn it down.

If I need more, what I find is that generally, the windows functions adequate, in Windows 10, you will find them in

Select Start > Settings > System > Display

If I want to go deeper, what works for me is to load on the screen a high-quality B/W image and then play with the setting. When I am happy with the B/W image, then I will put a colour image on the screen and check it out with that.

If you want to see a decent discussion on what to do, I recommend this video.

 

 

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Is it worth it to overclocking your computers?

POS SOFTWARE

 

Overclocking is about increasing the speed of your computer. 

What most overclocking get on a modern computer, get I would say at best 5% to 10% better. Often I have seen figures of 1% making it not worth doing. But anyway this is how it works. Computer manufacturer designs a computer with a specification. They then collect the components from many people and puts them together to make a computer. 

Today what happens is that components vary, the manufacturer specifications are the minimum. So, for example, I have parts in storage that can do 100, you want 90, well if I do not have 90, so I may give you some 100s. Some many of these components are better then what was asked by the manufacturer. This happens all the time. We live in a world where we see components vary in the computers in the same production run. 

Also, reputable manufacturer tends to underestimate many of their specifications, to cover themselves. Plus engineers tend to build to the lowest specifications. 

Another point is that a computer designed as an all-rounder, to do a whole lot of tasks. Yet your computer only does a few jobs so may get your computer to run faster by turning off some functions.

So what overclocking does is try to run the computer faster then the processor is designed to do.

Now there was a time when you needed a lot of specialised knowledge to do this but any more. Overclocking software exists that does most of the tasks now. Check your system board and your supplier will have a piece of software that can do it for you. 

But there is always at least one but....

Even if overclocking doesn't do any harm, it could still void your warranty. If you are thinking of overclocking a computer under warranty, you better check with your supplier first.

If you are doing a lot of data processing, most of the speed lost is in the hard drive and its severe bottleneck. So speeding up the processor often does little. 

What you are doing is running your computer faster. This will reduce the life expectancy of your computer. This will also increase your computer's power consumption, which means more heat. So I do suggest if you overclock that you buy a better cooling unit for your computer. 

Why do it, well overclocking your processor speeds up your computer. That's a pretty good reason.

You may as such keep a computer going for another year or so, and if you do it, you will find that its a lot of fun. 

Make sure you do not kill your computer, so start with a "light" overclock. Say about 5%, try it out and see if it works for you. Then when you get the hang of it, go a bit higher but stop at 10% unless you know your stuff.

I overclocked my laptop. It works fine now, but I cannot run chrome on it for long. So I run another browser opera because otherwise, the laptop gets too hot with extended use. As I said, there is often a price to pay.

 

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You need to rebooted your computers once a week

POS SOFTWARE

 

Turning off your computers at night has one immediate benefit, it saves electricity. Generally many never switch off their main computer as it is used after hours. 

The problem here is that happens is that sometimes a windows computer needs a reboot. If this reboot does not happen, weird things can happen.

As such, we recommended that all your computers get reboots regularly, at least once a week. 

- Furthermore, a reboot will flush your memory (RAM). This clears the stuff sitting uselessly in your computer memory, so making it run faster so saving you time. 

- Many software program updates occur when the computer starts up. If you never start the computer up, then they do not happen, and your computer runs old software. 

- Now with the issues on the internet, not doing a reboot will see you missing out on the security patches. 

 

If you want you can set your computer to automatically reboot at a time convenient to your business check out this video.

 

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Is monitoring your harddrives for failure worth it?

POS SOFTWARE

A hard drive is a mechanical device, and it can fail at any time. It does not have to be internal, e.g. overvoltage, high temperature, vibration etc. can do it. 

Today many people are upgrading their main computers to SSD drives for speed. Still, they tend to forget that all hard drives degrade with use.

Yet, it is true that you can see many problems long before they can cause failure. This is true of the SSDs and the older hard drives.

The problem is that Windows if it detects a problem with hard drives fixes it. So a hard drive appears healthy to the user until it dies. Then we heard about it when a client rings us and tells us that something has happened. Then the client discovers that what was valuable was NOT the hard drive but the data stored on it.

It would be best if you had backups - something I have discussed many times. 

If you feel that you need to do is a hard disk test. Many programs can do it for you. Many hard drives come with such programs inbuilt. If not here is one free program that can do it for you. Click here Crystal Disk Info and select the Standard Edition, and run it. It will give you a lot of detail about your harddrive and as well a status report. Here you can see that the hard drive I tested is in a "Caution" status. This means this disk should be changed soon.

If you do replace it, I would recommend an SSDs (Solid-State Drives) both for speed and reliability. 

Note I have never seen a need to run this software continuously or very often, but once in a while is a good idea. 

 

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Pausing Windows updates

POS SOFTWARE

Unfortunately, Microsoft do not have a terrific track record with Windows updates and looking at the current list, I can see little that most of our users really need urgently.

So what you may want to consider doing is pausing your updates, to let other people test the new features first for you. This particularly now, when every computer call center including ours is flat out.

If this is of interest to you then do the following

Select the Start  >  Settings  > Update & Security   > Windows Update

 

Now click pause updates for 7 more days

What this will do is delay your updates from Microsoft for a week so others can check it for you. If you want more details please click here.

 

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Disinfecting your keyboard

POS SOFTWARE

Now with this virus running around it is very important that any equipment eg keyboard used by several people is cleaned regularly. (Industry standard now vary from hourly to once a day). I suppose it depends on high you feel the risk of contamination is likely to be but the front counter of a shop, I am sure rates a very high risk.

As we are not talking here of cleaning but disinfecting, we have a problem as keyboard certainly does not like moisture of any type and yet to disinfect you need liquid.

You need a disinfectant. Antibacterial is not enough. You need something that kills viruses.

Do not use bleach as this causes discolouration.

So do need a non-abrasive cleaning cloth, do not use toilet paper, kitchen wipes might be okay although proper wipes are the best.

In my supermarket, I could not get any antiviral clothes as they sold out, so I went online and found a recipe. I took a small jar and filled it with 3/4 methylated spirits and the rest dishwashing solution. I then found this made a terrific cleaning solution better than the one we were using. Then put in on a cleaning cloth, so it became damp but not dripping and any excess moisture I squeezed from the fabric.

{ Note I am not a doctor so take this advice in this spirit}

Unplug the keyboard. 

Now hold the keyboard upside down if possible and wipe it using some elbow grease carefully. 

Above all, do not get any liquid inside the keyboard.

Now leave the keyboard upside down, as they say, it needs a minute to kill the coronavirus. 

Now dry the keyboard with a kitchen wipe, and then you can use it.

 

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Keyboards are dirty than toilets

POS SOFTWARE

This discussion came out of my last post when some people commented about fixing computers and brought up cleaning.

Everyone is worried now with Coronavirus, here check this video out about China. 

 

Back in Australia, a study was done of bacteria found on standard items.

Look at the keyboard that I highlighted with the red arrow and now compare it to the toilet seat.

 

Interestingly it was shown that women’s desks tended to have more bacteria than men’s. I cannot explain that!

Although I have never seen any studies of point of sale environment, I am sure with shared equipment and   

The overall crux is that we need to use something to clean desks and computer equipment on it. I use an Antibacterial Disinfectant Wipe from the supermarket, which costs a few dollars now and then and has like 600 wipes in our office. 

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Some tips to save costs on a computer repairs

POS SOFTWARE

Point of sale systems is excellent, till something goes wrong. Then for some reason, people seem to lose all sense of reason and proportion. The fact is that they are all mechanical devices and all of the parts will sooner or later fail and everything will be replaced. I know we run a comparatively big computer repair business.

If your computer or one its components are not working or acting very strange. Here is a simple checklist you should try before doing anything.

1) The first question to ask yourself, is it used to work, what has changed now? If you can think of that something, check that. 

2) Make sure that nothing is stuck down, and it looks like it should work, is the computer keyboard keys stuck, is the paper free on the printer if the printer is the problem, etc. Try to isolate the problem to find *the problem*.

3) Switch off the part and wait a minute, use the time to take some deep breaths. Now switch it on and test it. 

If that does not fix it, try switching off everything the computer and the part, wait a minute and then switch them on again and test it.  

4) If that does not fix it, check the cables from the part to the computer, check the cables to the part/computer, often the problem is a cable is not incorrectly. They are loose and then came out a bit.

Check the connections of the wires, if they are not firmly in, that may be the problem. Give them a push.

5) Even if you have not found anything here, I would suggest that you turn everything off and wait for a minute and try again, sometimes a miracle happens, and it works.

By now, I would say about 3/4 of all problems are solved but if you are now and it is still a problem, well the reality is that there are numerous ways that your system can break down and malfunction and it depends on your level of computer skill on how much you can fix.

If you have the time and you want to get hands dirty you can put the problem into Google, and ask for some troubleshooting assistance be careful even with an experienced technician, the challenge and expenses can quickly snowball. 

If the problem is still there, then its time to give us a call or your hardware supporter. If so note:

What exactly is the error
If possible write down the errors or take a photo of the error.

How do you get the error
The hardware engineer first instincts will be to try to reproduce the error in his mind. So how did it happen? Was there anything happening when the error appeared, does it come and go, etc 

Make sure you have a backup
 

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Lights go out does your business too

POS SOFTWARE

Suddenly the electricity cuts off, an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) may be the difference between you still working, or you are having everyone just sitting around till the power comes back on. I also do believe that the performance and longevity of your Point of Sale equipment will increase if you use them.

Here are some tips if you are interested in such technology.

1) You need to decide how long you need the UPS to function, in the city often the power goes down for a few minutes, but in the country, it can be an hour. Generally, it is best to spend a little more and get something that lasts a bit longer. No one is going to complain if it is slightly too loud.  

2) They need testing. I have seen the battery inside fail with no warning. They are easy to test; just switch the power off. One problem with UPS, far too often they fail straight out of the box, so they need testing.

3) Check for noise, some of them are very nosy in operation

 

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