Keep it simple when buying a new computer or laptop.
It took me quite a long time to buy a mobile phone recently. There is so much choice, so many models, specifications and prices. Where I bought it from was also another decision that I needed to make as I didn’t have much loyalty to a supplier.
I also had quite a few people nagging in my ear telling that I needed to buy what they had bought or something that they had seen advertised.
Guess what I did.
Well what do we do when we can’t decide?
Normally we do nothing and that is what I did for all that time because it’s important to make sure that you do make the right decision.
I have been doing some thinking about how my customers also have the same problem when buying a computer or laptop from here at Systems and Solutions and here is what I have come up with:
1. Do you need to buy a new Computer or Laptop, you hardly use it?
2. You are not sure what to buy
3. You are not sure where to buy it from
4. You get conflicting advice
Later on, in this article I will let you know some little known legal facts when you buy direct from the Internet.
Do you need to buy a new Computer or Laptop? you hardly use it.
Most people’s needs are for email, the internet and writing documents. Sometimes that includes using spreadsheets. That hardly seems like you need a heavy duty computer or Laptop. Surely a cheap one will do.
Do not get carried away with everyone else using a computer so heavily that steam is coming out the sides as they type. Most people are using computers for email and Internet use.
The faster the machine, the better it is to use and the longer it will last you. Buying a faster machine rather than the cheapest one will save you money in the long run because it will last you that much longer.
You are not sure what to buy?
You are not sure what to buy and whilst you may have used a small independent shop like ours in the past, you wonder if things have moved on. Part of the problem are the adverts and being seduced into the latest so called bargain.
Looking at the sheer range on offer its nothing less than confusing. I’ve read an entire “Which” and come away thinking that they are completely biased as to their recommendations.
At this point having a sit-down discussion without any pressure is a good idea. You can gather some facts, ask some questions and ask for our opinion if want.
I don’t employ any staff here that are not technical experts and whilst everyone has their own specialty that works here the idea of sitting down with an industry expert is going to lead to a better understanding of your needs and whether you need to buy something or not.
You are not sure where to buy it from
You don’t have enough knowledge on the marketplace and you get confused by reading all the product information. Adverts from the big companies seduce you into thinking that you should be buying from them.
Not sure what to buy and where to buy it from are normally connected, you want to get the best deal but you don’t want to make compromises on service.
Whilst we have customers that buy from us every 4 years and trust what we say, we also have customers that want to work out if we are still the place to come and whether we still have the right packages at that moment.
Over the past 4 years we have really made some serious improvements in the delivery of our Bytesafehome anti-virus and IT support offerings. We have a lot of existing customers and we have been responding to their needs to make home IT support a lot easier for them. This is contrast to the larger stores offering extended warranties on their goods.
I know that the larger companies can’t and don’t do the kind of things that we do with support so I’m really happy to be judged on the progress that we have made with regard.
But the discussion needs to be had.
The little known legal fact
If you were to purchase a laptop or computer directly via the Internet, you do have to make sure that you are buying the right goods. By enlarge you will make a saving on the purchase price.
Because of distance selling rules you can also return any item you don’t like which sounds like you cannot lose. However, the rules also state that when you send it back you have to pay for the carriage to send it back. There are some instances that the suppliers will get it returned free of charge for you but they are going beyond the distance selling rules. It could be that you order some goods, they aren’t right for you and you are out of pocket because you have to send them back. It’s not like a guarantee you don’t have a year or so to decide, it’s a just when you first get it.
Buying from the Internet can work for some people but for many of my customers, buying from the Internet seems to be the start of their problems. For me the worst thing that happens is that you spend an huge amount of time getting the goods returned, packaging, arranging a courier and hoping that you have done everything right and that you will get you money back.
You get conflicting advice
Should I buy an Apple MAC? I’ve been told that they are really what I would need. I maybe that you haven’t come across an AppleMAC before and you respect the person that is giving you that advice.
We do sell Apple MAC’s and sometimes the price of them is justified but that really all starts with your needs. Apple have announced that they are putting up their prices by 25% across the board on all of their products in the UK. It’s going to be interesting to see if the pull of the brand will extend to even bigger price hikes. I know the Apple MAC well and sometimes use one, they are nice and stylish but they should only be compared to PC’s of a similar price bracket.
Those are are the main issues when looking at a new computer or laptop.
My suggestions for a solution are the same for everyone regardless of your needs.
It starts with phoning and checking when the best time to come into the store would be. For best results call Richard on 01993 706161. That way we can do at least a small bit of preparation for you coming and sitting down for a discussion which will save you time.
It may be a small point that you would come in and sit down but you might have noticed that the larger stores don’t actually have any seats for you to have a discussion at least not in Witney anyway. This discussion will take around 30 minutes so getting comfortable is a good start.
We have a number of easy to answer questions to ensure that we can recommend the right kind of computer or laptop for you. Personal computers are very personal from us. Once we get the answers to those questions we know that we will be able to recommend the right computer or laptop for you.
We need to get what I call the “red carpet” treatment.
When you receive your new computer or laptop, everything that is possible to setup is done for you. The idea for us is to refine the buying process for you so that when you receive your new computer, you turn it on, connect to WiFi and away you go.
If there are any issues, we can talk on the phone and with your permission view your screen. You can show us the issues and we can solve them. This is about as good as it gets. I’m hoping this would make you happy.
Just in case you still have doubts, here is a reminder as to why you got here in the first place:
1. You get what you pay for
2. There will always be another bargain
3. Larger companies cannot offer service, they offer promises
You know and I know that “you get what you pay for”. That cliché is almost always true. Cheap computers are cheap for a reason. They are cheap because use poor quality or slower components.
The larger stores employ very expensive marketing people that seduce you into buying from them. That’s why there is always a bargain that you have to decide on now or lose it.
We get lots of calls from people having issues with their Internet purely because they just can’t stand the thought of speaking to a call centre. Life is too short to waste on people that don’t really care about your situation.
Lastly, we will ensure that you get the right software including whether you need a “home” version or a “pro” version of your Windows because that decision alone might cost you £200.
It’s not your fault why you can’t fix your PC and here are the 10 reasons why!
The first reason is the most important:
- Computing wasn’t even taught when I was at school
- Your job didn’t require you to use a computer
- Technology moves so fast that no one can keep up with it
- Technology is really for young people
- You only want to do email and get on the internet
- You don’t know who to trust with all the scams around
- Trickery is everywhere
- You have a son or grandson that can sort you out when you need them
- You just want it to work
- You know lots of other things but computing doesn’t interest you.
Number 1 – Computing wasn’t even taught when I was at school
No only was computing not taught in my school but they would not allow pocket calculators into the math exam. The rationale was that we needed to know how to do mental arithmetic. Logarithms were the thing. Calculus needed to worked out by hand.
There wasn’t a sign of a computer in my school.
When they did get computers into schools they all seemed to be completely out of date so that didn’t help and most of the kids knew more that the teachers.
So you are completely correct it isn’t your fault you don’t know how a computer works.
This is just one of the reasons why you need to be considering upgrading you home IT support package to Bytesafehome Premium. This package covers everything you need from an IT supplier.
Number 2 – Your job didn’t require you to use a computer
Jobs in the 70’s and 80’s didn’t require you to use a computer so you were not going to get much experience of a computer for that fact alone. I recall that in the 80’s there was a fear that using computers would loss typing jobs. There rumors of the typing pools not being needed because word processing was going to take over. In some ways that happened but not the job losses, they just got deployed elsewhere in the organisation and the managers had to learn how to two finger type.
When computers started to come into service they cost around £3000 which must translate to about £ a million (or so it feels like). They were not on every desk, computers in companies were reserved only for specific jobs – like accounts.
Things have really changed in so far as most jobs require the use of a computer.
Number 3 – Technology moves so fast that no one can keep up with it
Very true. I will be honest if I wasn’t working in my IT Support company I would be mucking about with a computer somewhere else. I use them in the evening, when I wake up – all the time. I love them, I read books on them, I read magazines about them and I’m passionate about them. This is not like work for me so keeping up with the latest technology is just not a problem for me, it is something I enjoy.
I know that is a bit odd but I’m OK with that.
That said, the pace at which technology moves on is unbelievable. At one time computers were doubling in their speed every 18 months. New processor, new RAM speeds and sizes, Solid State disks, USB 3 even now USB C. Everything changes and it changes all the time. We quoted £2600 for a particular graphics card the other day, this graphics card has so much processing power it beggars belief.
You do not need to know all that to use a computer today. Just plug it in, use it. If you have a problem then just call us for support. I specifically designed our Bytesafehome support packages for the very reason that most people can’t keep up with technology. You don’t need to, you just need to trust that we have it covered for you. Our support packages are not free but they represent real value from people that you can trust.
Number 4 – Technology is really for young people
Yes and No. Yes, I’m in my late fifties and I’m young and no, not all young people are any good at technology apart from checking their smart phones.
If you were brought up on a diet of smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops then maybe you would be really into them. So in a way technology is for young people but it’s really about an era. The information era is here and it’s not going to go away anytime soon.
I’ve seen most young people not admit they don’t know about technology when they don’t and I see that they are not really intimidated by technology either. I have talked to many a person that has said “I know know anything about technology” when in reality they know just the same as young people.
Number 5 – You only want to do email and get on the internet
If I only want top get some shopping once a week you don’t really want to understand how to service your car.
Starting your computer, checking your email and getting on the internet is not a complex operation for a computer. If this is all you want to do then you are not going to get a lot of experience if the whole thing goes wrong.
Do you want to know how I learned about computers? Do want to know how I can fix them so quickly and taught my staff to fix them? I found out everything when something went wrong. The difference was that I was prepared to stay up until 3 in the morning to get it fixed. Those early days set me up with the knowledge that I still use today.
We don’t think of computer engineers as crafts people but when I look at the progress of my son Martyn who works in the business, he knows how to fix computers even better than me now because he did the same. I may have given him some clues on some of the problems but mainly he had a lot of patience and stuck at leaning it.
Some of the issue that we solve are really complex but because we have done it so many times before we can do it quickly.
Number 6 – You don’t know who to trust with all the scams around
I am astounded by the amount of criminal activity around the internet. If you have read anything from me in the past you will know I have written about Cybercrime and have had some speaking engagements talking about the subject. I have personally spoken to a person that lost £27,000 of his savings through an Internet scam.
I’m going to make this really simple for you. You do have to put your trust in someone. Personally I think that as a company we have been in business for 21 years, we have a good reputation and we will look after you. You can come in and talk to us. The same people that serve in the shop or visit your business are the same people that connect up remotely. We are not strangers and we haven’t been around for 5 minutes. We respect your privacy and wont look at any personal stuff.
Whilst we are a small company we have designed some packages that means that we can deliver great value for money and keep you safe from scam. I’m getting to really dislike the scam artists. They were portrayed as lovable rogue but when they target pensioners and steal their money they are low life.
Number 7 – Trickery is everywhere
Every time I have seen the trickery of a computer scam which actually works it has been because something happen by luck.
I had a very experienced computer user that regularly got hundreds of rogue emails actually fall victim by being tricked by a UPS delivery infected email. He had these types of emails every day and they had never posed a problem to him before. Because he was waiting for a delivery and because it was something he really wanted and because the email suggested to him that it was late – he went and opened and email. This was something that he would never normally do. Just a moment off of his guard and he had been infected.
Little wonder that we get people come in with lots of problems on their home computers.
You could get protected with our Bytesafehome Premium package.
Number 8 – You have a son or grandson that can sort you out when you need them
Most of us know of people that are great at technology. They just seem to know what they are doing including fixing the TV working out how the HDMI leads go together. They even know about Apple and the iPAD. When it comes to computer they also know how to download and install programs like free anti-virus. If they are living with you or are on call all the time I don’t see a real problem if you rely on them and they have a busy life themselves then you could be a burden. All of our customers have sons and grandsons and they use us because of our professional expertise.
Number 9 – You just want it to work
Technology should just work but in fairness, it is quite complex and there is a lot to go wrong. Sadly you just wanting to work doesn’t really help when it comes to working out why your email isn’t coming in or sending.
Most of the work we do here is I’m afraid quite boring. We spend most of our time getting systems to be reliable, whilst that isn’t that exciting but it is what our customers have been telling they want from us. You can do without the excitement of virus infection or failed backups or.. you get the picture.
Number 10 – You know lots of other things but computing doesn’t interest you
This is something that we respect. We do not think of ourselves as really clever and knowing something that you don’t know. My whole company would have collapsed years ago if all my customers were computer experts. We need people that are not interested in computing and want us to fix their problems.
My dad was a diamond sorter. Every day he measured, graded and recommended where was the best place to cut the diamond was. He told me that he learned something every day about diamond sorting. I on the other hand know nothing about diamond sorting and to be honest I don’t really want to know either.
If any of the above list resonates with you then you might want to consider spending some money on a home IT support package so that you don’t have to be talked to like an idiot and you have a small personal company behind you every step of the way.
A question on everyone’s lips is “should I upgrade to Windows 10 or wait?”
Firstly congratulations on not jumping in and making a complete mess of your computer system! No one has the percentages of successful or unsuccessful upgrades to Windows 10 but we have seen a few that have gone very badly wrong. Within our computer workshop and amongst our business customers we have performed hundreds of Windows 10 upgrades and we were early adopters of the operating system within the company.
Considering your options is a good thing and I expect this article to help make it a successful upgrade for you should you wish to take that path. You could always get us to do it if you prefer, our rates are very competitive.
There are a few things to consider as to whether you should upgrade to Windows 10.
- How long do you have to take advantage of the Windows 10 free upgrade?
- Can you go back if the Windows free upgrade goes wrong?
- Do I need to upgrade to Windows 10?
- How long does it take to upgrade to Windows 10?
- Is there a time limit if you want to go back if you don’t like it?
- What preparations do you need to make before upgrading to Windows 10.
- Are you technical enough to solve any issues if required.
- Do you know someone that can help you if there are problems and you are out of your depth.
- Can I get someone else to do the upgrade to Windows 10?
- Will my applications all work after the upgrade?
- Will my scanner work after the upgrade?
- Will my printer work after the upgrade?
- Is my computer compatible with Windows 10?
- Will my data still be available after the upgrade?
- Are my email programs compatible with Windows 10?
- What Windows 10 privacy settings should I make?
- Are there any Windows 10 mistakes I can make?
“Should I upgrade to Windows 10 or wait?”, I cannot answer that with a straight yes or no for you but what I can do is to set out the pluses and minuses for you to decide. I can also answer all the questions above.
Question 1 is how long do you have to take advantage of the free upgrade? You have plenty of time. The cut off date is July 2016.
Question 2 is “Can you go back if the upgrade to Windows 10 goes wrong?” The answer is yes you can. You can go back where you were before.
Question 3 is “Is there a time limit if you want to go back if you do not like Windows 10?” The answer is you have 30 days from the time of upgrade to revert back to your old operating system.
Question 4 is “Do I need to upgrade?” The answer is, no you do not. This is an option. It is a great operating system and it the one that Microsoft are going to support going forward but you could stay where you are.
Question 5 “How long does it take?” The short answer is – flipping ages! The process can take nearly all day depending on hardware. Unfortunately you need to keep and eye on it but it take a while. It is a major upgrade though and it is worth it.
Question 6 “What preparations do you need to make.” AQnswer is a lot. Do a full backup. Make sure your windows updates are competeled. Get all of your hardware details just in case you need drivers. Scan for viruses. I would leave you anti-virus software on but be prepared to re-install if required. Above all, backup your data.
Question 7 “Are you technical enough to solve any issues if required.” Answer, you know the answer.
Question 8 “Do you know someone that can help you if there are problems and you are out of your depth.” Answer, yes you know me and I can help you.
Question 9 “Can I get someone else to do it?” Answer, yes you know me and I can help you.
Question 10 “Will my applications all work?” Answer, I will need to know your critical applications before I answer that. You could ask the software vendor for their advice and support for that specific application.
Question 11 “Will my scanner work? Answer, probably yes but there are lists of compatible scanners for you to check.
Question 12 “Will my printer work? Answer, probably yes but there are lists of compatible printers for you to check.
Question 13″ Is my computer compatible with Windows 10?” Answer, probably yes but I have known computers that are not compatible. This was confirmed with the manufacturers. This is probably the best question to ask.
Question 14 “Will my data still be available? Answer, yes provided you chose the right option to keep your data but pay particular attention to Question 6.
Question 15 “Are my email programs compatible? Answer, probably yes but check with me or your software provider. Microsoft programs later than Office 2010 are OK for sure.
Question 16 “What privacy settings should I make?” Answer, go through my list and instruction relating to Windows 10 mistakes.
Question 17 “Are there any Windows 10 mistakes I can make? Answer, yes is you do not pay attention. When prompted with do you want to keep all your data the answer you give is clearly important. The other mistakes you can make are listed on another blog title “the 9 mistakes you made when you upgraded to Windows 10”
Have I answered all of your questions to “should I upgrade to Windows 10 or wait?
Please contact me if I haven’t.
We have upgraded hundreds of computers in our workshop and I have found this period to be one of the most interesting eras of my 20 year stewardship of Systems and Solutions.
If you are able to is to contact me by phone or in person we could talk through all the options. It is always a pleasure.
Should I install Windows 10 or wait – yes install it but get me to do it!
Don’t take my word for it have a look at the FAQ’s on the Microsoft site
Speed Up MY PC
Welcome to part 2 of our speedy spring computer series. If you missed part 1 then you probably won’t know just how fantastic SSDs (short for Solid State Drives) are. I highly recommend you check it out, not only because they will make you love your computer again (or maybe just like it a bit more than you do now!), but if you don’t you’ll miss out on the chance to save yourself some money on our SSD upgrade promotion (which runs out 31st March so get your skates on). The link is here.
When I wanted to speed up my PC I wanted to do so for a reasonable cost. RAM, sometimes referred to as memory, can be a good place to look. RAM is thought of as the short term (also called working) memory of your computer. Looking at it rather simplistically the more RAM you have the more you can do/have running at once. So if like me you tend to have a large number of programmes running, and have loads of browser tabs open (at the time of writing this Chrome was using almost 1GB of memory on my computer), lots of RAM is your friend. If you go from a small amount of RAM to a large amount of RAM you will also notice your computer starting up quicker.
In the current era of computing we are in the magic number you are looking for is 4GB of RAM (though more will never hurt – unless you are running 32 bit software when 4GB is the maximum you can have). The fortunate thing is (because of the relatively low cost of RAM) most modern computers will come with at least 4GB of RAM. Don’t assume this though! We’ve seen some computers with as little as 1GB recently in our workshop, and it was because of the RAM that the computers were slow. Some older budget laptops like to use 2GB to shave a bit off the price. Something to note is that you get diminishing returns with RAM so much beyond 4GB won’t make much of a difference; and you’re better off putting the money into an SSD. The exception to this is if you are dealing with large files, particularly when doing things like video editing, photo editing, technical drawings, large spreadsheets, or databases. In those examples the more RAM you can bring to the party the better! So if your looking to speed up a PC and you have less than 4GB of RAM then that can be a good place to start.
If you want to speed up a PC then the CPU is a good place to look. The CPU is like the brain of your computer. Slow brain, slow computer, simple! Often you’ll find that a lot of cheaper/budget computers skimp in this area. Sadly manufacturers are all too aware that they can cut some of their costs by downgrading the CPU and increasing the RAM to 6 and even 8GB, and the hard disk to 1TB and beyond, thus they have an appealing product on paper, which runs at an acceptable speed now, but later on down the line will suffer because of this cut back. Really it comes down to the fact that on paper processors are quite hard to compare, 1TB of hard disk space is always better than 500GB, and 8GB of RAM is always better than 4GB of RAM, but a 3.9GHz processor might not be better than a 2.8GHz processor.
Typically the guilty parties to look out for are the following series of processors:
- Intel Celeron
- Intel Pentium (the i range are now so good and the price difference is negligible you really should stick with them)
- AMD E series
- AMD Sempron (Semi-retired now)
- AMD Athlon (2014 onwards – the old Athlon series were a mid-range component)
In reality processor upgrades are pretty uncommon due to the relatively high cost of processors and the fact that you are unlikely to be able to use it in a new computer (where as you with RAM or and SSD you probably will be able to use them again – unless you buy a computer once every 10 years!). That said if your processor is in the list above and your computer is newish (2 years and under) a CPU upgrade might be worthwhile. One thing you could look at doing if your using an Intel processor is change up to either the i3 or i5 model, they really are fantastic and have featured in our desktop of the month through most of 2014 (the i5 is our firm favourite). If you’ve got a laptop then I’d say forget about it, laptop processors are pretty rare, and because of these are very expensive.
So in conclusion if you want to speed up a PC there is plenty that can be done.
First off I can whole heartedly recommend upgrading to an SSD (read part one to find out why). I’ve seen a solid state drive make all the difference to an old computer. I’ve upgraded two laptops and that I use, one of them being a laptop from 2007 so it’s no spring chicken. Just to be a boring geek (and to show you just what a difference an SSD will make) I pressed the restart button and was back typing into this document in 65 seconds, and that with me putting my password in wrong twice! (The pressure got to me).
Also make sure that you check the amount of RAM you have, if it is under 4GB then definitely upgrade it, it isn’t going to have as dramatic an impact as an SSD but for about the £50 mark it’s a pretty cheap and easy upgrade. A great example is that Internet browsers (the likes of Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Fire Fox) eat up memory, and so do the tabs you have open. If you find yourself with loads of windows open (I normally have about 30 different web pages and programmes running) the bumping your computer’s memory up to 4GB and beyond is going to work a treat for you.
Third and finally look at the CPU you have. They are an expensive upgrade, there is no doubt about it. You’ll typically be looking at £100-200 for the part plus some labour to fit it, but if you are going to go down this route and upgrade a budget processor take one simple bit of advice: Do not be tempted to skimp. If you skimp you will still be buying a budget processor, all be it a slightly more expensive one, the likelihood is that you will not notice any difference. Mid-range processors start at around the £100 mark (the i5 ranges starts at £145 and goes up to £205).
On a final note we are doing a special promotion this March on SSDs. We are offering a free HDD to SSD consultation, so you’ll know exactly what you need and how much it will cost. On top of that we are slashing our labour rate from £59 to £25 for any HDD to SSD upgrades – so if you on the verge of throwing your slow computer out the window then give us a call. This is valid on any computer booked in with us before 31/03/15. So even if we can’t look at your computer until the beginning of April as long as you call before then the discount will still apply.
How to Speed Up A PC (part 1)
Put a Spring in your computer’s step this March…
There are few things more boring in life than waiting for a slow computer. Especially when all you want to do is check something quickly. I’ve often been told by our customers that they avoid using their computer because they know that it will take an age just to start up.
Well in an effort to help you speed up a PC we’ve got a 2 part series that takes a look into why the hardware in your computer may be responsible for slowing the show down and what you can do to sort it out.
Inside the box
There are 3 main components involved in the performance of your computer. They are the processor (or CPU for short), the random access memory (otherwise referred to as RAM), and the hard disk drive (also called an HDD). If you’re playing games, and doing heavy graphical work then a component called the graphics card will also come into play too, however we are going to focus on the basics in these two articles.
In this fortnights instalment I’m going to talk to you about hard drives, and why you really (and I do mean really!) should ditch your hard disk and get a solid state drive to help speed up a PC.
Hard Disk vs SSD
I’ve started with hard disks because frankly they are one of the most likely culprits when it comes to hardware related speed issues. This is due in no small part due to how they work, and the increased likelihood of failure.
Unlike the other components mentioned the hard disk is a mechanical device, and it is due to this that they are considerably slower than the other components in your computer. You wouldn’t be far off by thinking of a hard disk as a miniature record player. A hard disk consists of several spinning disks (platters), and an arm (or arms) that read and write information to or from those platters.
It is this process of reading or writing information that that is quite slow. Now don’t get me wrong I mean slow in a relative context here, and hard disks are still pretty quick by our standards, hard disk seek times (the length of time it takes to find the information) are measured in milliseconds and range from 4ms to 15ms, with the average desktop hard disk being 9ms, and laptop hard disk being 12ms. Compare this to say RAM (one of the other components mentioned) latency which is measured in nanoseconds, and is down at around 1.5ns. In simple terms your RAM is about 2 million (2.66666667 million!) times quicker than the fastest of hard disk! (Which you are unlikely to have!)
The other problem you face (as with all things mechanical) with hard disks is that they wear out. This wearing out process starts off with a gradual slow down, finally ending in complete failure. Let me tell you that hard disk failure is no laughing matter, it’s even less amusing if you don’t backup your data. (Read this article on how to).
So… what can you do about all of this? Really I think the most sensible option is to replace a mechanical hard disk with a solid state hard disk (SSD). For more information about how SSDs work have a look at one of our articles from last year by following this link. There are 3 main reasons for this:
- As everything (your data, your programmes, and your operating system) is stored on the SSD it makes everything faster, from start to finish your computer will be quicker, and not just bit quicker either,
- They are less likely to fail, and they will not fail under the same circumstances as a mechanical hard drive (e.g. if you drop your laptop),
- They draw less power, which means your computer will be cheaper to run and if you have a laptop your battery will last longer,
- (Here’s a forth thrown in for free!) We are running a promotion until 23rd March 2015 on SSD upgrades. So now has never been a better time, follow this link for more details and a call back,
This is why I love them…
I’ve genuinely never been more excited about a component than I have with SSDs. They are remarkable. They make new computers feel as fast as they should be, and they breathe new life into old computers too. Regardless of the conditions they really do speed up a PC. Outside of exceptional circumstances I don’t think you could gain as much benefit from upgrading another component as you do when you change out your HDD for an SSD. If you are looking for bang for buck then an SSD is the way to go. I have put an SSD in all of my old laptops. For a bit of sad “geekery” here is a picture of how fast my old (almost 8 years old!) starts up.
That is 32 seconds in normal money. So, if you want to speed up a PC and have a computer that starts up that quickly follow the link below.
Stay tuned for the next instalment which will cover what you can do about the RAM and CPU in your computer to help speed up a PC.
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How to Avoid Costly PC Repair
PC repair can be expensive, and some of that expense can be avoided with regular maintenance. Quite a few of our regular customers take us up on a free health check to avoid expensive PC repair bills. If you’ve not had a free health check before then think about why you last had your computer looked at… if you’re like most then you probably only have your PC repaired if there is a problem. Well regular maintenance can avoid costly PC repair bills.
To sweeten the deal we are even offering £10 off our usual labour rate for all work carried out after a health check, really there has never been a better time to have your computer looked at. But hurry this offer is only available until Christmas Eve, so get your skates on!
What sort of things do we look at in our health check I hear you ask… well let me tell you…
We look at…
The Specification of Your Computer
If your computer is a few years old there is a good chance that an upgrade may do the trick in speeding it up. Even something as simple as upgrading the computer’s memory (RAM) can help breathe new life into slow computer. What’s more you may even be able to upgrade your hard disk to an SSD (to find out why you’d want to do that follow this link).
The Performance of Your Computer
We check how fast your computer starts up and shuts down. The fastest computers will do so in 30 or so seconds (watch this for proof!), whilst the slowest we find it best to measure by how many cups of tea you’re able to drink before the thing is up and running (our record is 40 minutes, and they only just started to think it was slow). Anyway – speed is a good indicator of other issues. Sometimes a computer is slow because it is old, and there is not going to be much you can do about that, though a lot of the time it is a hint that something isn’t quite right. This can range from too many things trying to start up alongside Windows (Skype you are a pest!), to more serious issues like hard disk failure! PC repair because of hard disk failure can be very time consuming, and thus very expensive. But if caught early on it can be a very straightforward PC repair.
The Cleanliness of Your Computer
The number of mummified spiders we find in computers is actually quite shocking (at least 2 a week!). A clean computer is a happy computer! Dust causes all sorts of issues, chief amongst those is overheating. In extreme cases over heating will cause your computer to shut down, though even before it gets to that stage overheating can shorten the lifespan of components causing premature failure of memory, processor, power supply, motherboard, or the hard disk, none of which you want to fail. Whilst power supply failure, or memory failure is no big issue (the parts are comparatively cheap), new processors and motherboards can be expensive, or unobtainable, meaning a new computer will be on the books for you. A failed hard disk is going to cause you a lot of grief… especially if you don’t backup (read more about that here). For such a cheap PC repair task (cleaning the thing!) a dusty computer sure can lead to an expensive PC repair bill.
Whether Your Computer is Infected
We will take a look at your computer to see whether or not it is infected. I think this is probably the most common reason a computer will fail a health check, and whilst not always an expensive PC repair, virus infected machines can open you up to all sorts of cybercrime. Having said that a lot of the time viruses are relatively trivial things like adware programmes that advertise stuff to you, or browser tool bars that spy on your browsing habits and report them back to who knows where. Though there are some really problematic viruses about at the moment, what you need to be particularly aware of is that there a lot of viruses that will sit on a system where their only job is to pull in other viruses – and with viruses with the likes of cryptolocker about (find out more about that here), it’s not a chance I’d want to take.
The Event Viewer
The event viewer is a bit like the black box of Windows. It contains a fair amount of drivel, however it can also give a fantastic insight into what’s going wrong on your computer. Want to know about a crashing programme? The details of it will be in the event viewer. How could you tell if your hard disk is reporting errors? Event viewer will tell you all. It’s not the be all and end all, but it is a very useful diagnostic log and can help with discovering problems you didn’t even know you had! It is definitely a useful PC repair tool.
Patches & Drivers
Out of date software is a big issue these days. The main concern is that out of date software is used to get viruses on to your computer. With such a vast array of programmes to update these day’s you’d be forgiven for having a few that have slipped through the net. We check all the critical software on your computer to ensure that it is up to date. This step alone can prevent a virus from getting on to your computer and prevent the need for a PC repair.
Your Anti-Virus Software
We also check to make sure that your anti-virus has a current active subscription, and that it is up to date. We’ll also let you know when it runs out so you know how long you’ve got left to run.
You can see from that list it’s a pretty extensive look over your machine for free. It can definitely help to prevent expensive PC repair bills, keep your machine clear of infection, and to help keep your computer performing at its best.
So click on the button below and fill out the form – we’ll get in contact with you during business hours (0900-1230 and 1330-1700 Monday to Friday, 0900-1230 Saturday) about booking in your computer.
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Service Your Computer Too…
For those of you that own a car let me ask you a question… Do you service it? From my informal survey of customers most seem to, and most do so in order to reduce the likelihood of encountering big (and expensive!) problems, and to reduce the chance the thing will breakdown. Now you’re unlikely to find yourself stranded 100 miles away from home because your computer stopped working, but the same is true of a computer, if you regularly service it you are less likely to encounter a major problem. If you service your computer you are less likely to be the victim of identity theft due to malware. Almost (and I do mean practically every single one!) all of the computers we perform a health check on have some form of infection on them this is even with anti-virus software installed.
To highlight the value of our health check service here are some of the recent health checks we carried out…
Health Check One (T20140616.0013)
This customer brought in a laptop to us because it was a little slow and had a problem with the track pad. We ran through our health check and it transpired that the reason the laptop was running slow was due to a faulty hard disk. It became evident that this was also the reason that mouse cursor seemed jerky on the screen. In this type of case what we like to do is to perform a clone of the hard disk to a new one, in essence this copies everything from your old hard drive to the new hard drive and you’re back were you last left off (less the hard disk problem of course!). Unfortunately in this case the hard disk was too badly damaged to clone, this meant that we had to reinstall Windows and the customers software, drivers (the software that controls the hardware), and copy their data across from the old hard disk. All of this is much more manual, and as a result is quite a bit more expensive. Whilst not an ideal situation it could have been much worse, left to go on the hard disk would have failed completely, leading to data loss. This is exactly the type of case it is important to service your computer.
Health Check Two (T20140211.0005)
This customer brought in their computer after having problems installing Skype. They also complained that it was a little slow. So we put their computer through its paces with our health check. After running extensive virus scans on the computer it became apparent that they managed to download a fake copy of Skype (which is very easy to do now), this fake copy of Skype installed lots of viruses onto the computer which was causing it to run slowly. The infection was so severe that it required manual removal, which is quite a rare occurrence. What is meant by manual removal is that the automated tools we use have failed to remove the infection, they detect it and attempt to remove it but for whatever reason are unable to do so, and in these cases a technician manually looks for the files related to the virus and removes them. It is quite specialised work as you’ve got to know what you’re looking for, and you’ve got to know what can be deleted with damaging Windows. If you service your computer regularly you can avoid nasty virus infections.
Health Check Three (T20140704.0002)
This customer brought their computer to us because they were getting lots of pop ups, was slow to start up, and was slow generally (are you noticing a pattern here?). It turned out that computer was heavily infected with various different types of virus. Once these were removed (and we updated their software) he said it ran like it was new! Which is good because it was under a year old!
The last two health checks are classic examples of the sort of problems that people put off getting looked at, and the type of thing that if you service your computer you can deal with before they cause you a major headache. If you do online banking or online shopping on your computer it is very important to know that your computer is secure. In cases 2 and 3 both computers were heavily infected, there is some very advanced malware these days that can detected when you are logging into a bank account (or otherwise) record your login details, and send that to a 3rd party. If your computer is slow get it booked in with us. Health checks are free of charge, and there is no obligation to go ahead with any work we recommend.
I’m sure you’ve been sat on the edge of your seat waiting for part 2 of why you need a server (sorry about the delay!). If you missed part one (which you can find here) then you won’t know about how a server can help to avert an IT day from hell, manage the settings across all of your computers, help with file sharing and collaboration, help you put in place a centralised backup system, and help secure your network against outside (and inside!) threats. Well that’s not all a server has to offer. In this article we are going to take a look at the other benefits of a network managed by a server.
We live in a world were working from home is becoming common place. A server can manage all of your remote traffic allowing people to work from home, which means that it will be just the same as working from the office. You’ll have access to all your files, and all of your programmes.
Centralised Application Management
Your server can also have programmes installed on it. So if there is a need for a few people in the office to use a particular programme this can be a fantastic time saver, and can help reduce software costs too. It also saves going round and installing the latest version of said programme on each individual computer, or the need to install it on new computers. If there is a database (like with programmes such Sage and QuickBooks) that it is kept up to date, and everyone is able to access up to date information, and remotely if need be. The remote part is very handy as there is no need to have said programme installed on a computer at home.
Centralised Device Management
Have you ever found yourself having to turn on Pauline’s computer because you need to print or scan? You wouldn’t be alone in that. A lot of business without a server rely upon a printer or scanner that is shared from individual’s computer. This is fine if it turned on, but if the computer that the printer is being shared from is off then the printer is offline. With a server you’ll be able to share the printer/scanner/whatever from the server so everyone is able to access it, you could even access it remotely! It also means that the server manages the drivers for the printer, so new computers that connect to the server will get the correct software automatically. So no more having to install printers, yey!
Network Security Management
If I was being critical I’d say I was being a bit cheeky slipping in two benefits around security in the same article. I’m not the critical sort though, and security is important so there! A server less network has pretty basic security options. If someone gets on to your wireless network then they probably have free reign over your computers, at the very least they will be able to see the computers on your network. Whether you believe it or not, people do try and gain access to their neighbours’ wireless networks. Not only could they do damage to your network, they could also get you in a spot of bother if they cause you to exceed your download limit (we’d advise you go unlimited anyway) or use your network for illegal activity. We have had several cases of customers getting blacklisted (this is where they are prevented from sending e-mail) due to being on one or more spam list. Only to find out that it was due to handing out wireless passwords to guests, visitors, and neighbours. It was completely unintentional, but in each case that new computer that connected was infected and was sending out spam. If you let unknown computers on your network (even home computers of employees) you are exposing your network to possible attack. That’s it for this edition. Our next edition will be taking a look at how proactive maintenance can help to keep you up and running and save you from expensive repair bills.
Windows 7 is coming to an end
It wasn’t that long ago that you were unable to buy Windows 7 retail version and now Microsoft have set a new deadline for ending the sale of Windows 7 premium.
Although Windows 7 is coming to an end you might be able to buy some odd copies on Ebay but you run the risk of buying counterfeit software. Microsoft allow you downgrade rights from your Windows 8 to Windows 7 but that calls for a reinstall which is even more costly after you have paid for the labour.
So why are Microsoft forcing us down this route?
Microsoft forced us all to stop using Windows XP in 2014 and bearing in mind that it was first released in 2002 it was well due to be shelved. Moving away from Windows XP is a good idea, it was a great operating system and it was loved by users but it had its day. From a technical stand point it was 32 bit software and you haven’t been able to buy a 32 bit computer for 10 years because they have all been 64 bit.
If you are considering buying a new machine and you want Windows 7 premium you have to buy it before October 2014. Windows 7 pro is unaffected at the moment which will be a huge relief to business users.
In readiness for Windows 7 coming to an end, we have a number of special deals on new workstations that you could take advantage of. Hardware is great value at the moment and as a support based company we are well placed to satisfy your needs.
I am asked a common question which is “can I get it cheaper on the Internet” the answer is of course you can. You cannot get our service on the Internet and you have to be the expert when buying and hope that you can set it all up correctly. The premium that pay us is massive value for money, so the question should really be “can I get more value by buying on the Internet” and the answer is – no.
With Windows 7 coming to an end I would get in before Windows 8 is your only option.
My view is that Windows 8 is a huge disaster, users do not like it, techies do not like it and Microsoft have been spending a year or so defending it whilst Apple have been rubbing their hands.
Roll on Windows 9
Please call my office on 01993 706161 for any enquiries or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
PS Fortunately the support doesn’t end for Windows 7 until 2019.
Let me paint you a picture; something came up before you left work yesterday and you’ve really got to get it out the way early on. You decide to go in early. The peace and quiet will do you good, and if you get it done before 9 it won’t impact on your day (other than having gotten up early). You get into work; sit down at your desk only to find out that your computer won’t turn on! What a way to start the day! You faff around with it for a bit (trying the obvious things, but you’re not that technical), as far as your concerned it’s dead! It’s OK; John is off today so his computer will be free. You know his password (which originally enough is Password1 – as a side note if you or anyone uses password1 as a password stop now!). You get on to his computer, except John doesn’t have that particular file (in fact John doesn’t seem to have a lot on his computer – might need to speak to him about this later!); not to worry trusty memory stick to the rescue! Fortunately to share work across the office (you can’t e-mail it because the files are too large) you all use a memory stick, it also means you can work from home when need be (you’re on your 4th, they keep getting lost, there hasn’t been anything too confidential on them so far!). You spend 20 minutes searching frantically for the aforementioned memory stick (looks like you’re on your 5th now!). What a way to start the day! Your only hope is that Janet (due in at 10 because she’s at the doctors in the morning) saved a copy of the file to her computer. You’d call your IT people but they don’t start till 9 (it’s only 8; remember that early start you wanted). With any luck they won’t be doing anything and will be able to call out straightaway (hey it’s worth a shot!). It’s a good job you came in early really!
If that sounds like the sort of day you’d like to avoid (or have even had!) then read on and find out why a server could have saved you from this disaster, and the other great benefits a server will bring to your computer network.
Whilst centralised management might not be two of the sexiest words in the English language (then again little is in the world of IT – trust me!), it is a very important concept when it comes to managing a network of computers. Centralised management is one of the main benefits a server provides. Once a network of computers gets to around 3 or 4 machines managing them becomes a pain in the neck (as well as other places!). All of those computers will have different settings, different files, different user accounts, and different security settings, and possibly different devices (e.g. printers) available to them. A server can manage all of those things and ensure some uniformity is introduced to your network. Moreover it also provides a technician (e.g. us) the ability to make a change on the server and push it out to the computers, rather than go round 9 computers to change the setting 9 times. This makes our life easier (thank you), and saves you time and money, both in labour fees and because of the reduced down time.
Another benefit a server will provide you with a single place to store files. Centralised file storage would have prevented the scenario above from ever happening for two reasons. Reason number one is that rather than being saved to your computer the file would have been on the server (for all to access if need be). The second reason is that you’d have just been able to log in as you on John’s computer; it would as if you were access the files from your computer. With centralised file storage gone will be the days of files being saved to Bob’s or Sue’s computer. As your files are all in one place sharing them is easy (certainly easier than using and then losing memory sticks!). Due to centralised file storage you can also centralise your backup (if you don’t backup at the moment please pick up the phone dial 01993 768 301, ask for Matt and say “Matt I don’t backup please help me”) It can’t be put any more simply than this: Your data is your business, if you aren’t backing it up, you’re putting your business at risk. If you need to be scared into taking action read this from the London Chamber of Commerce. Here is the summary for those of you too busy to read it “90% of businesses that suffer serious data loss go out of business within 2 years.”
Centralised Security Management
A server is also a central place from which to manage security settings – ensuring that they are consistent across the network. Your network is only as secure as its weakest point. We often come across networks where most of the computers have the same security settings, only to find one or two (normally new ones) that have completely unrestricted access to the network, where the anti-virus is out of date (and a different programme to the others), and none of the software has been updated since the day they were bought. Guess what? It’s those two computers that will bring down your entire network! If you don’t think this is you, trust me, it probably is, and we could prove it to you without too much effort! Your network is even more vulnerable to this this if you allow people to bring in laptops from home. A server can take care of all of this for you by enforcing the same security settings across any computer that connects to it, even laptops brought in from home.
That concludes part one of why you need a server. Part two will follow in a fortnight’s time and will cover the other fantastic benefits a server will bring to your IT infrastructure.