Planning to work remotely during imposed isolation

Planning to work remotely during imposed isolation

As Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread and infect more and more people worldwide, we wonder if or how businesses and people are ready or planning the possibility of working remotely in isolation at home? This poses a lot of questions and setup options for many in a variety of different fields. All businesses rely on office roles, to one degree or another to help keep their business running smoothly using cloud-based services, video conference & chat scenarios, file sharing while allowing secure access in increasing world of cybercrime. Trying to keep this simple yet broad and informative we have compiled a list of possible scenarios to help or prompt what course of action to prepare your business, staff or self to keep working in this critical period. Something that will be easier to setup and plan now rather than after a probable isolation period for us all.

Some of these options do cross over to a certain degree or tie in with each other:

  • Remote to individual work computer or to take it home? – Think about the best option for each user or business. Your IT support person more than likely will have to setup internal services and privileges to enable external access for you to remote in or if you take your computer with you. Your support people may even need to remote to that external computer whilst setting up for that external access.
  • Cloud based services – Lots of fields use cloud-based subscriptions or services and can just work remotely relatively easy. Remember safe password sharing practices to avoid unwarranted external access. There are also user privilege levels that can be assigned eg, Admin, Editor, Viewer etc to many of these services. Turn on and use 2 Factor Authentication where possible. More suggestions in following subject.
  • Password availability and sharing – Rather than just handing users a password list, think about password managers as there are options to share passwords to users without disclosing the actual password. Once the user does not require access to that system then remove them from that shared password. This will be much quicker than changing passwords for everything in future that you more than likely will not get around to doing.
  • Video calls, conference and chat options – Video suggests via camera so the majority of users will be fine having access to a laptop or phone however if you need a webcam, you may want to look at buying one sooner rather than later. There are a number of chat programs that allow individual messages or to groups, so all see the all members can converse at the same time.
  • File sharing – Crossing over with the above topic is sharing files with other team members as these chat programs will do. However, remembering to update your master/source files may need some thought especially if have multiple users accessing and updating the same files.
  • Email access options – Most users and businesses will have email systems or services that allow people to use an email client (outlook, thunderbird etc) or login via webmail for quick access rather than needing a potential setup on a user pc. Shared mailboxes are an option within these mail services or mail forwarding and alias options can be setup to suit the individual or businesses scenario.  

We hope all people stay safe during this tough time and businesses can keep functioning as best possible. Keeping in mind working via remote access and external to companies will be at greater cybersecurity risk and scams.

Staying safe online – helping to spread the word

We at iRepair PC Adelaide are always trying to make computer and technology users aware of ways to stay safer online by our stories on passwords, scams, backups and safer internet day 2018. We are now putting in that extra effort and spreading the word further by assisting and teaming up with other groups, media outlets and technology specialists for a more secure and safer internet.

 

 

Do you have a backup strategy

Do you have a backup strategy

Well its that time of year again. World backup day is almost upon us, and my aim is to get you motivated and ready to backup your computers, phones, pics, documents. Whatever it is and where ever it may be located. What would you do if you lost those work files or memories that are of utmost importance to you?

We all own or have access to so many devices and services and this list may prompt you to rethink how, where and why to backup as I guarantee there is something you totally forgot about.

What files to backup or sync elsewhere

  • Email, contacts and calendar – most services these days like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com or business services using in-house Exchange services or Office365 are synced to servers. Some of these services do allow the export of email, contacts and calendars. If not, you can read, view and export them using Microsoft outlook or windows mail.
  • Pics and videos – Whilst most people use the My Pictures and My videos default folders in windows, we have all edited some of these pictures, scanned images or created images for websites as example and these installed programs may have different default save locations. Find where they may be hidden.
  • Documents – The same as above, My Documents are the common location however also remember the scanned pdf’s. Where did the installed software save it to?
  • Browser Bookmarks – Browsers these days sync online or with plugins or extensions sync with each competitors’ browser, eg chrome to firefox but not many of us do have browsers signed in so you can easily export the bookmarks for safe keeping.
  • Passwords – not the ideal document to have in Microsoft Word or Excel format but there are many encrypted password tools available with export functions. Don’t forget this important file. If you want more tips on securing your password read this story “Welcome the new year with new more secure passwords” and be safer online.
  • Software – Not all software that you have purchased or downloaded in the past is easy to find again and download. Or becomes unavailable as a next version is and that doesn’t run on your pc for some reason. Keep a copy for no matter what reason.
  • Complete system – There are a myriad of software developers out there that have system or partition backup functionality. This can save you in the event of a complete system crash like hard drive failure, virus, theft of device etc. The system image can be restored to a new computer or opened retrieving any files like any of the above list.
  • Websites – Do you have a personal or company website? No matter what system you use, be it WordPress, Joomla or the host level CPanel you can back this up and download, save to an alternate location. The company that set up the site might cease operation or same with the hosting company. This could save you a great deal of money in new setup and design charges.

Why to backup

Most of these are out of our control but can happen at any time when least expected.

  • Hardware failure (Hard drive or solid state drive)
  • Theft
  • Natural events/disaster – Fire, Flood, Lightning Strike (power surge)
  • User error – accidental move or delete
  • Virus or ransomware
  • Accidents – Dropped or damaged laptop or device

How to backup

  • Manual copy – If there isn’t much data or just one folder that you need backed up then just manually copying (Drag and drop, Copy and Paste) to the location of your choice as explained in the section below.
  • Windows Backup – Windows 7, 8 & 10 have a system image and file backup option built in. This can be setup with schedules or to a specific USB drive when it is plugged in.
  • Third Party software & service – Companies like EaseUS, AOMIE, Macrium Reflect, Cloudberry or Carbonite are all reputable and have Free, home, business and enterprise versions for use or purchase. All giving the option to make a partition image, system image, scheduled backups, incremental and differential backups and to pretty much any location of your choice.

Backup types

There are a few backup types as listed above. A quick explanation of them should help you make sure you get the right back set for your needs.

  • Image – An exact copy of an entire drive or partition (defined region) enabling full system recovery with boot information possible.
  • Full backup – A copy of all the selected folders and files are backed up
  • Incremental backup – A copy of data that has changed since the last backup whether incremental or full backup.
  • Differential backup – A copy of data that has changed or has been added to since the last full backup.

Where to backup to

This section is nearly the most important as you need to think a lot of “what if’s” like house fire, burglary or surges during lightning storm so think offsite also. Eg if your backup drive is up to date but in the next room and you have a fire then sorry it will be gone.

  • DVD, USB Flash or USB Hard Drive – All of the above “how to backup” suggestions can be done to these drives. USB hard drive is a good solution for large amounts of data and cheap.
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS) – These are great devices for large amounts of storage and aren’t huge like the traditional server and with much more functionality and services that can be added to it. However, from the backup point of view mirrored drives are options, so if one fails you don’t lose your data. Put a new drive in the failed drives place and they sync. For offsite then automated sync to cloud services can also be done. Or plug USB drive in and take offsite after backup complete. Also think of this as your own cloud service. You can access this anywhere in the world and its on your premises.
  • Cloud Services – Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive, Google Drive etc offer up to 15gb of free space. Their software will automatically sync your files or you can manually copy to these services. If you use more than one of these services then you can opt for software to manage these like Multcloud or Air Explorer. Both the software and cloud services are constantly changing with new features and data limits.
  • Online backup services – Carbonite, Backblaze, Acronis etc provide the software and the cloud space. They tend to charge for the space you occupy with your backup and different for personal or business services.

Along with “where to backup to”, this bit of advice would have to also be the most important. Its good that you are doing backups and “anything” is better than “nothing”. But have you checked that they work? After all, things go wrong and that is why we do backups. Double check the backup files can be accessed, that image file can be opened or will restore back and be of real value to you.

If everything works then automate it and regularly check it. If you ever need to recover and it works, I guarantee you will feel a great sense of relief.

Telco Solutions have a great Disaster recovery guide for businesses if you are in need of additional resources.

World Backup Day is on the 31st of March each year – http://www.worldbackupday.com/en/

Is your computer slow, freezing or rebooting constantly?

Is your computer slow, freezing or rebooting constantly?

After regularly being asked this question and as a repair option, I thought I would point out some of the reasons why your computer or laptop could be slow, freezing or randomly rebooting. Below are the common reasons (in no particular order) that you can check or attempt to fix to the technical level you feel comfortable with.

  • Faulty power connection – Check possible extension leads, power boards, power leads from wall power point to lead into back of computer or the power adaptor to socket in your laptop. Most desktop motherboards or laptops will have a power LED so you know if power is getting to the computer or device.
  • Faulty power supply in desktop, power adaptor in laptop or DC power jack in laptop – Same again check if there is an active power LED illuminated.
  • Dusty and overheating – A clear sign of this is the fans will be running at a high speed trying to cool the system down. On a normal cooling system the cooling fans will be quiet and may at intervals of more intensive use speed up and be noisy for short periods.
  • Faulty hardware. RAM, GPU (Graphics card), HDD (Hard Disk Drive), SSD (Solid State Drive) – This may not be an easy check unless you have spare parts that you can use for the time being to see if the problems go away. If you have multiple RAM Modules installed then you can try taking some out, rotating through them one at a time until you find the faulty one. For the HDD/SSD, you can try check your systems even viewer, click here if you are unsure how. https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa996634(v=exchg.65).aspx . Look in Windows logs then System. If you see Hard Disk errors appear then you could try to do a check disk and potentially fix the problem. Two ways to try are, in windows go to This PC (Win10) or My Computer (Win7) and on the drive that shows the issue in event viewer eg C: Drive right click, then Properties, Tools Tab at top, then Error Check. The other is a command line as per this link https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee872425.aspx . AND take backups of your system and/or files. As for the graphics card if you don’t have a spare some motherboards have built in graphics so you could revert back to that for the time being to see if you still have problems.
  • Insufficient RAM for amount of running programs or background services – There are potentially too many background services running or there are too many programs open and running at the one time. Both of these could be taking you over your limit. To check open your Task Manager, Performance tab and check your memory usage. One way to do this is right click on the taskbar at the bottom of screen by default and select Task Manager. Look to see if you are close or over limit when you would normally have these problems.
  • Damaged or incorrect drivers installed for devices – For one reason or another your hardware drivers could be corrupt or outdated for your current operating system. All manufacturers regularly update their hardware drivers for security patches, known problems or new features. It’s a good idea to regularly check
  • Virus, Malware etc – Depending on the severity of the infection. It could be just a quick scan and clean with your current antivirus program installed on your computer or eg Malwarebytes. It could need an offline/bootable rescue disk to do a deeper scan and clean like AVG, ESet or Kaspersky to name some you may know of.
  • Incorrect Bios settings – System bios settings have so many variants and names from motherboard features to manufacturer. CPU Clock speeds are one to not change unless you know what you are doing. Best solution when in your BIOS setup is find the “Load Defaults” or “Load Optimised Defaults” (or similar) to put settings back to normality in case things have changed for what ever reason.
  • Faulty external devices – If you have USB flash drives, Hard drives, Card Readers and other devices of this nature, they could be faulty or have a faulty USB or power cord causing your computer problems.
  • Old computer – After 3 years all these types of devices do need replacing or upgrading the parts that can be as much as we don’t like to accept that. For example. In that time, three plus series of CPU’s have passed and new technology has evolved. It is also the reason most companies and accountants depreciate them.

If your computer or laptop is older, then there are plenty of cheaper upgrade options to speed it up. Keep the operating system clean by removing software that you no longer use, remove printers from printers and devices in the control panel that you don’t have connected anymore. Programs like CCleaner can help to clear registry, unused files and some more difficult to uninstall programs.

If you wish to upgrade to much newer technology than you currently have then work out your needs or tasks for the new machine and set a price. What we like to suggest with rather old or failed machines is put the old hard drive into an external USB Case or the new desktop computer.

Just some of my thoughts and suggestions.

Andrew

Safer Internet Day 2018

Safer Internet Day 2018

Tuesday 6th of February 2018 is an important day in the online world. It is SID2018 or better known as Safer Internet Day. It’s main focus is to acknowledge and recognise the “Respect” aspect that what you share can have a hurtful or degrading affect to others. We’ve all seen and heard the dreadful news stories of cyberbullying, stalking or the vulnerable being sculpted online.

However, I would like to use this occasion to focus on being safer online in all aspects. Not only watching what you post and say about others but what you put up about yourself. It’s in our nature to want to be seen and liked for something we did or possessions we have. But there are people all over the world that are opportunistic and will look to take advantage if too much info is “put out there”. All these little bits of information can make you a target to scammers and other fraudulent activity.

Some technology tips and reminders in an attempt to help keep you safer are, keep your software updated (Operating system and Antivirus), don’t click strange links in emails (no you haven’t won US$4,000,000), avoid FREE download and software sites, update your password or change to a passphrase (not some easy to find info you posted online like your street name, birthdate or best friends name) and Microsoft don’t ring you saying you have a problem with your computer.

The eSaftey site has some great links and information regarding all of the above, however if you are still not sure on the technical aspects then don’t hesitate to send us a message. For more information on SID2018 and other online help then check out Australian Gov’s eSaftey site at https://www.esafety.gov.au/

For password ideas then this link will give you some great tips for being more secure. https://pcrepairsadelaide.com.au/2018/01/welcome-new-year-new-secure-passwords/

#SID2018 #ichoosesa #pcrepairsadelaide #computerrepairsadelaide #onlinesafety