Upgrade to Windows 10 to stay clear of some viruses.
A very interesting Microsoft announcement this week about the encryption virus that is infecting external drives including pen drives.
Microsoft are suggesting that you upgrade to Windows 10 to stay clear of some viruses. The main area of concern is that these devices are normally used for backup. That means if your backup is unavailable then you are in a very dangerous position. Files on these devices were already being encrypted with other viruses.
Microsoft were saying that it only affects operating systems below but not including Windows 10. I find that announcement quite disturbing. If it is true then it will only be a matter of a few short weeks that before Windows 10 machines will also be affected.
I support Microsoft’s argument that you should upgrade to Windows 10. I’m in a strange position here because i really like Windows 10 and have installed it on all of my Windows devices but I am uncomfortable about the bias being shown by Microsoft. It almost seems that they are saying that users need to upgrade to Windows 10 because you get more protection from viruses. I wonder if they are using every argument possible for user to upgrade to Windows 10.
I think people should be given more of a choice and not pressured into upgrading, they create a clear resistance by applying pressure.
Microsoft has made it very clear that Windows 7 will be supported until 2020. It is a bit early to give up the struggle against virus writers with a full 4 years to go. Windows XP the old operating system which so being supported in 2014 is still being used. Windows 7 is used just about everywhere and it is far more widely used than Windows XP ever was. If they don’t help to support that operating system fully then I just see the virus situation going from bad to extreme.
Is this announcement from Microsoft going to push me towards upgrading? Probably no, but over time these kind of announcements will just mean that sticking to Windows 7 will make it more difficult.
If you are backing up using an external disk (USB) then the disk needs to change on a regular basis and daily is ideal. With Bytesafe Local Cloud Backup the worse case scenario you may not get the benefit from the hourly backup automated routine. You may have to revert to the retention policy of the cloud synchronisation. A layered security approach including mail filtering seems much more essential.
Dam it, workstation monitoring is very interesting.
At the heart of the Bytesafe agreement is the monitoring of the server and the workstation. Monitoring just isn’t that sexy, although I have tried my best to explain the fantastic benefits over the years.
I would even go as far to say that some of the monitoring checks could even be described as over the top. I have even heard some people say that they don’t think that monitoring on a workstation to be that useful.
Interesting will depend on your viewpoint but useful they certainly are.
We called an amazed customer this week, explaining that one of the checks had failed and it was the predictive disk failure.
“Just check your backups and we will replace the disk before it goes.”
I can’t tell you how much time and inconvenience has saved for that very busy business man.
I can tell you straight, we do not use a stethoscope on a computer. But we are making workstation monitoring checks every 30 minutes all the time the computers are turned on.
First thing in the morning there are also daily safety checks. These are like a “snapshot” in time of the health of the workstation. These in turn automatically form a workstation report that you can get sent to you weekly.
So are workstation monitoring checks really necessary?
Most viruses enter into the network via a workstation. That means if you are not monitoring what is going on, then you will not know what has hit you.
Monitoring checks are about predicting and informing you about a hardware of software failure – so you can do something about it on your schedule rather than fire fighting.
Last week we created a script for a workstation to check for the presence of Quicktime. If Quicktime is present it removed it and replaced it with the K-Lite codecs. That check alone could save an entire network in the future.
So much of our work is just that, preventative checks on workstations to prevent problems even happening.
Daniel, one of my techs called a customer this week to tell him that his machine had just filled up his disk and it had failed a check. That would render the computer useless and it would appear to have happened randomly. The symptoms would have been that the machine would close down and then on restarting, the laptop would work normally until it would again shut-down.
This man is a business owner who is on the road and brings in an astonishing amount of business for his company. The last thing he needs is a useless laptop getting in his way.
We solved the issue by removing some files and the drama was over.
My favourite top 10 workstation checks (In order of usefulness)
- Predictive disk failure
- Disk space check
- Virus or malware check
- Critical events check
- Vulnerability check
- Windows service DHCP client check
- Windows service Task Scheduler check
- Windows service Security Center check
- Windows service Windows update check
- Windows service BITS check
(We both know that the “Security Center” should be called the “Security Centre” and the “Network Neighborhood” should be called the “Network Neighbourhood” – but that’s Microsoft for you)
Apart from saving a customer from a potential disaster which is why the predictive disk failure check is my favourite all of the other save my customers time. They also save me time because when I match them with some computer behaviour they make the fixes so much easier. In some cases the troubleshooting could take hours instead of just minutes.
One of my customers has requested a report on the load of a server over a period of time. From that report we will be able to see where the bottlenecks are. It’s a science thing so it helps with decisions as to whether to replace the server or not. Depending on the success or otherwise of the process I am considering making standard practice to report on this every six months.
Our Christmas 2015 Opening times.
Systems and Solutions the best Laptop Repair Workshop in Oxfordshire.
This email is to let you know our opening times over the festive period and to tell you that we welcome all kinds of repairs over the holiday period.
Our opening times for each day is specified here. Please bring in your computer or laptop for repair or health check.
Repairs and health checks
We are happy during the holiday period to do the following; Laptop repairs, Computer repairs, PC repairs, PC Health Checks and Laptop health checks.
Drop off repairs are normally looked at within 3 days but the best way is to pre-book and bring in your laptop or PC by 10:30am that day.
Our health checks are done in between our paid work so the same day cannot be guaranteed but we normally do them on that day.
The holiday time means that there is less traffic on the roads and getting to Systems and Solutions will be easier.
There is always FREE and plentiful parking directly outside the shop and in the main car park.
We will carry the computer in from your car.
We would prefer if you called into the shop and asked us to collect the computer from your car rather than you carry it in. Computers can be heavy and awkward and we are fine to do that as a little bit of extra customer service.
Our charges are being reviewed in the new year so getting your machine in sooner rather than later could save you money.
Never an unexpected bill
If you have a specific repair issue, then our charges are £59 inc VAT. We will not go above that unless we get your permission to do so.
Our normal opening hours 0900 to 1700 and we close for lunch at 1230 until 1330
(We you need to bring in or collect during the lunchtime period we will make ourselves available to you – please just arrange.)
Thursday 24th December 2015 (Christmas Eve) We close at 1230
Friday 25th December 2015 (Christmas Day) Closed all day
Saturday 26th December 2015 Closed all day
Sunday 27th December 2015 Closed all day
Monday 28th December 2015 (Bank holiday) Closed all day
Tuesday 29th December 2015 (Normal hours) 0900 to 1700, closed for lunch
Wednesday 30th December 2015 (Normal hours) 0900 to 1700, closed for lunch
Thursday 31st December 2015 (New Years’ Eve) We close at 1230
Friday 1st January 2016 (New Years’ Day) Closed all day
Saturday 2nd January 2016 (Normal Hours) We close at 1230
Sunday 3rd January 2016 Closed all day
Monday 4th January 2016 (Back to normal) 0900 to 1700, closed for lunch
A very Merry Christmas to you, chocolate will be eaten.
From all at Systems and Solutions
FREE 21 point Laptop Health Check with a full report.
Our FREE Laptop Health Check has been running for just a little over 10 years delivering massive value to all our customers. Here is some more detail on what we check.
We check over the start up programs and we tell you why the performance has been less than optimal.
Importantly we check over your system for security updates and we check your anti-virus software.
The new part of our health check are our attention to privacy settings. We have specific privacy setting recommendations but we will set them exactly as you wish.
The Laptop Health check is all about peace of mind. We tell you how your computer really is – good or bad. This information allows you to make informed choices.
If you are not that “techy” then this service if for you.
Below are a few case studies to highlight the reasons why you might want to bring your computer to us.
Should our customers want to look at new Laptops then we have a Monthly promotion.
Case Study for a Laptop Health check – Mr Davies slow computer.
“Why has my computer slowed down?”
Mr. Davies had suspicions that his laptop was not working like it used to. The machine seemed to be slower than before and he had heard about virus infection and was worried that his machine may have been infected. Mr Davies used his laptop for his on-line banking. He had another concern, he did not want to be hacked.
As Mr Davies had been recommended by a friend about Systems and Solutions in Witney a local computer shop he had signed up to their email newsletters and this was when he found out about the Free PC Health check.
Mr Davies telephoned “Systems & Solutions” so that he could book in his machine for a day that suited him. He was told that that the machine should be dropped off before 1030 and could be collected after 1600 on that same day.
Once the computer had been checked over by the “Systems & Solutions” Mr Davies received a written 21 point report on the health of his computer. There were various checks that were made and all pointed to a clean bill of health. The report detailed what had been checked, there were some recommendations made that would speed up the machine.
Mr Davies now knew his machine was clear from viruses and know knew why his machine had slowed down.
There was no cost to Mr Davies .
Case Study for a Laptop Health check – Mr Johnson slow Laptop start up
Mr Johnson’s old Laptop needed replacing as it was 6 years old and he was tired of waiting for it to respond. On the first day that Mr Johnson had bought his computer he enjoyed the new speed and responsiveness of the Laptop. He could do everything on the new one plus it was a lot faster.
It started to slow down a lot. Whilst he didn’t time it he knew that the starting time was getting longer and longer. Not only was the time to get to the first screen increasing but it seemed to take an age to do anything on the machine. This was especially frustrating because he wanted to start up his machine and get going with his work. As he couldn’t do this he tended to switch the machine on and go and make a cup of coffee.
He visited “Systems & Solutions” shop in Witney and asked their advice. He was surprised to find out that they did a Free Laptop health check. As free meant free it meant that there was no risk to him and he picked a day when he could bring the machine in for a free health check.
Before he received his machine back he got a phone call to tell of the news. The technician wanted to ask some questions about the use of the Laptop and which programmes he used all the time. There was no mention of cost to him at this stage. Later in the day he received a text message to tell him that his machine was ready for him to collect with no charge.
Mr Johnson received his 21-point report on the health of his Laptop with some recommendations. One recommendation was that he upgraded his anti-virus software. The technician explained the reasons why this particular anti-virus software was preferable in his situation and Mr Johnson purchased a year’s subscription to the service for £39 Inc. VAT. It was fully installed for him.
Case Study for a Laptop Health check – Mr Jones’s privacy settings
Mrs. Carey had just finished ready the blog article on Windows and was worried. The article “9 mistakes you made when upgrading to Windows 10” rang a bell. She too has chosen the express installation because she didn’t even see the advanced setting option on the screen. Looking at the example on the article she could see why now – it was very small.
Mrs. Carey was concerned about her privacy and couldn’t understand why Microsoft would want to gather the information she was typing in on his computer. She also noted that Systems and Solutions would change the setting during a Laptop health check.
As Mrs. Carey had been recommended by a friend about “Systems & Solutions” in Witney a local computer shop and had signed up to their email newsletters she felt comfortable about taking his computer in to the Computer shop in Witney and telephoned them to book in the Laptop for the health check.
Mrs. Carey received a text message on her mobile phone. She had switched it on specifically to make sure she got the notification because she doesn’t normally use it during the day unless she is going out. The message said that her computer was ready to collect.
Mrs. Carey collected her computer and received a full report. All was OK with the computer and the privacy settings on Windows 10 had been set to the recommended ones by “Systems & Solutions”. There were no charges.
Those are a few of the reasons why people bring in their Laptops for a Health Check. The story on how and why we do Laptop Health Checks can be found here.
The story of our FREE PC Health Check.
We had been running the Computer shop and workshop in Witney successfully for 10 years but we had a problem.
A big problem.
The problem was caused by ourselves and we had to do something about it or we might have been in trouble. We needed to sort out our strategy.
We had a crisis meeting during which all the staff gathered around determined to solve the problem of our own making. Kevin Ackland chaired the meeting and outlined the issue to the staff.
“Since 1995 we have been making some fantastic computers. Our customers love being able to choose the components and we make a fast, a very fast computer which our customer love to use. As you all know, we select the best components based on performance and reliability. We know the manufacturers to buy from and we know the ones to avoid.
“Our customers are not coming back.”
Whilst our workshop was doing OK we didn’t have the customers coming back in that we should have. This was a serious problem to us. We currently have over 3,500 customers comping back to us for repairs.
Obviously we weren’t going to make less reliable computers.
We don’t know what to do and that was the point of the meeting.
“It gets worse. I know that our customers will come back to us when they want a better computer but some of them assume that all computers are as reliable as our and are going to large high street stores to buy them.”
“To summarise, our customers are reliable and our customer are not coming back and then they think that all computers ate that reliable and then buy elsewhere on the promise of a cheap price.”
We discussed lots of options. We discussed how we could advertise better and more often. We discussed promotions. We discussed going into different areas computing to bring in more business.
It was our retail manager a Mr. Eric Shaw that came up with the suggestion of a FREE PC health check.
“Give our customers a FREE PC health check and that will mean they will come back” said Eric.
“That is crazy, why would we want to give our services away for FREE? That would worsen the problem.” I said starting to regret the meeting.
“No, we will detail the checks that we are going to do. If our customer want us to do more we can give them that as a paid option” said Eric.
“It wont work, we will be doing too much work for FREE and that will mean that we get even less business in.” I said but I was coming around to thinking we could make it work.
“Let us give it a try, let us be specific about the PC Health Checks we do, do it in between our paid work and limit it to just a few customers to start and see where we go from there.” Said Eric.
We had in fact just started the process which would be the best business decision that we had made.
We invited 12 people in for FREE PC health checks. We checked over the machines and gave a report clarifying the health of the computers. A staggering 11 people asked for further paid work! Our repairs are inexpensive and it wasn’t a big pay day but it felt like I had won the lottery!
We had a lot of work to do defining the checks. We had to make our customer reports clear. We had to make sure that we undertook the FREE PC health checks in between our paid work. We very much wanted to make sure that we did quality work even though it was FREE.
I look back on those days very fondly. It wasn’t my idea to do this but I felt even more satisfaction that someone who was working for me was the person that came up with a brilliant idea. That meant that the onus wasn’t always on me. It also seems the rest of the industry is catching up although their PC Health Checks are nothing like ours.
The crisis was over.
We had worked out how to solve the biggest problem that we had which was to get our customers back in our shop. They were coming back in to have a FREE PC Health Check so we were giving great value to our customers.
We saw record number of people bringing back their machines to us for the PC Health Check. We stayed in contact with them and we were giving them something back without obligation.
We had a lot to work on though. Our reports had to improve and our system for inviting them back.
In 2008 we had another meeting but this wasn’t a crisis meeting.
It was a cold February in 2008 and we had taken on another workshop engineer. We could do with some more business to fully occupy him. We had another meeting.
“What other ideas can we come up with to bring in more business to the workshop?” I asked.
No one came up with any new ideas. We had thought of all kinds of different ways to promote our services but we needed to do more. It is quite frustrating to know you do good work but get out marketed by your competitors.
“Why don’t we do more FREE PC health checks by opening the checks up to people that didn’t even buy a machine from us?”
The looks around the room were priceless. The thoughts going around in peoples heads at the time were “why would we want to do that? We will be inundated with work. This quickly moved to “that is exactly what we needed to do”.
Eric had come up with the idea yet again. All we had to do was to work out the details and contact our customers for the PC Health Check for all computers.
During March we sent out an email inviting people to have their machine checked over and we waited. Before I tell you what happened I want to go through some case studies of people that had PC health checks with us.
This finishes off the story about when we invited our customers in for a FREE PC Health Check.
When we got the replies from our customers we could hardly cope even though we had a staff of 5 if need be to help with the checks.
I had my engineers coming in a 7am to do all the work in the workshop. Boy did they look tired!
We had no space in the shop and workshop, we had so many machines in and we needed to get through the work as soon as we possible could.
We broke all our records in April 2008. We actually did 2.7 times the amount of revenue that we would normally do and we did a record amounts of FREE PC checks for our customers.
Now things have moved on a lot from those days. We have tried to improve everything about or PC Health Check. These latest 9 checks that we have added are as a result of the feedback from a blog I did called “9 mistakes you made upgrading to windows 10.”
Lastly, this month sees me publishing another blog on Laptop Health Checks. This is about how and why we do them this next one is more about the detail. It covers all of the checks that we make and some case studies. I hope you find them useful.
Kevin Ackland MD of Systems and Solutions