Poorly PCs

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Warning about PC support telephone calls

We’ve had a lot of feedback from our customers, which suggests that many of you are still receiving telephone calls from ‘Microsoft’ or your ‘Internet provider’. They will normally claim that your PC has been hacked, or has viruses.

THESE ARE ALL SCAMS, even the ones that can provide you with personal details or account numbers. They will usually ask for access to your PC, so that they can show you fake error screens, then they will ask for a payment to put it right. We’ve seen some cases where data has been accessed on the PC, and other cases where the computer has been locked with a password until a payment is made! The best thing to do is simply hang up if you receive a call like this.

Late last year, TalkTalk admitted that a number of records were stolen, which included names, addresses, phone numbers and account details. This data has then been used to make convincing calls to customers, in order to gain access to computers and/or ask for payment details. We believe that this is probably happening in other companies, too – perhaps in call centres abroad, where customer information is being downloaded and sold on.

To read more about this scam, to find out what you can do about it, or report a fraudulent call of this nature, please go to Action Fraud: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/watch-out-for-microsoft-scam-calls-to-fix-your-computer-jan15

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Email scams

Many of our customers have also been targets of phishing scams – typically receiving emails ‘regarding your email upgrade’ or ‘Your bill is ready’ or ‘You have a secure message / video waiting’ – these emails usually look very convincing and ask you to click a link and log in. This is a twist on the banking email scam – but in some ways it’s worse, because once they have access to your email address, they can obtain your personal details, lock you out of your email account and request password resets for other online accounts (such as shopping accounts, eBay, banks etc). Please be vigilant – if in doubt, open your browser and visit the company’s site, rather than clicking on links in the email. More info on spotting fake emails here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/security/online-privacy/phishing-symptoms.aspx

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Windows 10 Coming Soon

We are cautiously looking forward to Windows 10, which should arrive later this year. For the first 12 months after release, customers currently using Windows 7 and Windows 8 should receive a free upgrade to Windows 10. Microsoft are moving to a ‘lifetime upgrade’ system, which should mean that for the life of the computer you’ll get free upgrades to the latest version of Windows, provided that your computer can handle it. It’s early days, and we haven’t seen a finished, stable version of Windows 10 yet, so we can’t wholeheartedly recommend that you upgrade when the prompt pops up on your screen. If you’re thinking of upgrading to Windows 10, contact us in the Autumn and we’ll let you know what we think of Windows 10!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

World Backup Day

Have you done a backup recently?

If not, here's your excuse to take an hour out - it's World Backup Day!

To find out how to do a backup, click here: http://www.worldbackupday.com/

Friday, 27 March 2015

Visits and workshop repairs

For your convenience, both Matt and Chris now offer home visits as standard, with a workshop repair available by appointment.

Previously, Chris spent some time in the workshop and some time on visits. Over the past 4 years, the trend has been heading back towards more visits, and fewer workshop repairs.

Poorly PCs was created with home visits in mind - as we believe that this is generally the most convenient option for most people. This has certainly proved to be the case!

Of course, there are still occasions when a workshop repair is necessary, so if this is the case, please give us a call and we will arrange a visit / collection, or we will arrange to meet you at the workshop. Just remember to call first to check our availability!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

What would you do if your computer failed today?

What would you do if your computer failed today?

Most people I ask reply with one of the following:

1) I would get it repaired under the insurance or pay for repairs
2) I would replace it

In reality, the real answer, more often than not, tends to be

3) Panic. Then call in an expert to recover my documents, pictures and music.

But this shouldn't be necessary. I am still finding that the vast majority of users still don't have a backup in place. Even though we are seeing hundreds of computers that have failed. Since I blogged about backups last year over 40 of our customers in Herne Bay and Whitstable have lost significant amounts of data due to accidental damage, theft, and plain old hard disk failures.

So please please please make a backup today. It doesn't cost a lot to do. It might only take you an hour. We can repair your computer - but we can't re-take your photos or re-type your letters and emails.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Storm damage

There's one thing that's sure to get the phone ringing during the summer months - damage caused by thunderstorms.

From broken Internet connections, to dead computers and laptops - we've seen it all. It's a little less common than it used to be, probably because most devices now connect wirelessly, rather than through a cable that gets struck by lightning.

There's a few simple procedures that you can follow when a thunderstorm approaches - and they could save you the cost of a new router or computer:

- Unplug your router(s) from the mains AND the phone line. Quite often, lighting will strike a neighbour and will send a surge down the telephone line. This may earth through your router, and out through any connected computers / printers - causing serious damage. Routers often reset to factory settings during a storm - so it's best to completely unplug at the wall.

- Disconnect your computers from the mains. That means physically unplugging it from the wall. Don't forget to unplug any devices from the mains if they also connect to your computer, e.g. via USB or Ethernet.

- It's probably best to leave a phone connected in case you need to call someone in an emergency. Most DECT phones aren't too expensive now.

If your phone or Internet doesn't work after a storm, the filters may have been damaged. As these are inexpensive, and you may have spares, try replacing them with a new one, one at a time.

Friday, 2 May 2014

What to do if your email is hacked

Here's a post that sums up quite nicely what to do if your email account is compromised by a hacker:


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

XP support has ended

Windows XP extended support ended on 8 April 2014. If you’ve been doing everything right, updating your computer when updates become available, you’ll have seen pop-ups on your screen telling you that support has ended.

But what does that actually mean?

In short – Microsoft don’t want you to use Windows XP any more, and won’t help you keep your computer up-to-date with Windows Update. It also signals to other program makers, printer manufacturers, service providers and so on – that they no longer really need to cater for Windows XP users any more.

In practice, your Windows XP computer will generally continue working like it did before – there probably won’t be a compelling reason to upgrade or replace your computer immediately. Gradually, you’ll find things don’t work – perhaps a software update won’t work, a webpage or webmail service will stop displaying correctly.

Some companies will have underlying reasons for dropping support for XP. For example, Microsoft are dropping support for Microsoft Security Essentials, Windows Essentials, Onedrive and probably Skype – after all, they want you to buy Windows 8! Google have dropped support for Gmail on Internet Explorer on XP – they would rather see you using Google Chrome.

Antivirus companies are more likely to offer support for a year or more – after all, customers have paid upfront for 1-2 years service so it’s unlikely that the service will dry up quickly. Even Microsoft Security Essentials, if already installed, should work for another year (albeit with warnings). But antivirus is only part of your system security – if Java or Flash Player stop receiving updates, you may as well invite the hackers in to your PC.

 Printer companies may decide to include XP software on their discs and websites for a while to avoid a backlash from those that have just picked up a shiny new printer to use on an old computer – but don’t count on it – some companies were very quick to remove Windows 98 drivers in 2010!

So what should you do?

Replace the computer as soon as you can, or when something breaks. Or upgrade to Windows 7 / 8 if your computer was built after 2006 and has plenty of power. If you can’t replace it right now, keep your antivirus up-to-date, use a modern browser like Firefox or Chrome, and keep away from sites you don’t trust. And keep your fingers crossed that nothing breaks.

-          We are available for advice on what to do next. Give us a call or drop us an email, and we will let you know what you should do.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Why didn't Microsoft announce XP retirement sooner?

Windows XP support ends on 8 April 2014.
As of January 2014, up to a third of computers were still running Windows XP but Microsoft are pressing ahead with plans to discontinue support for the 13-year-old operating system.
Despite recent media coverage, Microsoft actually announced at least 8 years ago that support would eventually end for XP. But it got things wrong with actually letting people know – putting messages on Microsoft websites with 6 months to go, and only displaying messages on Windows XP screens a month or so before the deadline.
Things get more complicated because, although XP was replaced with Windows Vista in 2006 – Vista required a lot more power than XP and ran a lot slower. Vista was released at a time when 2GB and a dual-core processor were quite expensive, so it ran like treacle. It also arrived at a time when sub-£200 netbooks were flooding a market where £600 laptops were the norm – but these low-spec devices were suddenly running Microsoft Windows XP to fight off a threat from Linux-based netbooks that ran better than any small Vista device ever could. So XP remained in the market until Windows 7 entered the market just 4 years ago, in 2009. This happened even though XP mainstream support was scheduled to end in 2009.
Windows XP has clung on much longer than Microsoft ever intended. It did (and does) what it should, so there’s little reason to change. Vista users can quite easily upgrade to Windows 7 (and should, because Windows 7 is so much better than Vista). XP users don’t have that luxury on most older machines. So that means an expensive replacement of each Windows XP machine.
Microsoft don’t want to be supporting XP in addition to Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1. But it feels like Microsoft are forcing users to stop using XP, rather than actually providing a cheap and easy way – with compelling reasons – to get Windows 8. But that’s another story.
-          Microsoft have already announced the dates when Windows Vista, Windows 7 and even Windows 8 will no longer be supported. For more, click here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/lifecycle

Monday, 18 November 2013

Backup warnings

We are hearing from lots of customers about performance warnings and backup notifications appearing on their computer screens.

Whilst it is really important to do regular maintenance and backups, if you’re seeing a big pop-up on your screen, this is not a genuine Windows warning and has probably been installed by a dodgy download!  Many of these programs fail to do exactly what they say – and even if they do, should you trust a program with your data, if you don’t know where it came from?

Your best bet is to use a reputable online backup, such as LiveDrive, or buy an external hard disk and use the backup software provided (or backup software built into Windows Vista, 7 or 8).

If you need any advice on backups and maintenance, let us know.

Monday, 21 October 2013

It used to be all about PCs...

Matt and Chris have been tinkering with, and fixing computers, since the early 1990s. Back then, computers were measured in Hertz and Megahertz (not Gigahertz), Kilobytes and Megabytes (not Gigabytes) – and printers sounded like chainsaws. The primary reason for getting a family computer was to play games or print a letter – the Internet didn’t exist until the mid-90s.

Once the Internet arrived – it gave people another reason to get a computer. But with less than 56KBps speeds until the late 90s, browsing was painfully slow and ultimately non-essential. It took several more years before broadband, online purchasing and billing, emailing and online encyclopaedias really took off. But the PC was still a big chunky box and screen in the corner.

Arguably, it was the invention of the flat screen (or rather, the popularisation of it) that really pushed the PC into home computing territiory. That, and wireless Internet. It’s hard to believe that both these technologies have only really been popular for 10 years or so – but it’s lead to an explosion in sales of computers, then laptops, netbooks and then tablets and smartphones.

 According to the Office of National Statistics, 36 million adults (73%) in the UK now access the Internet every day. 83% have Internet access. But not everyone does that from a computer – smartphone usage appears to have doubled in just 3 years!

We are at the point now where the desktop computer, for home usage, is in decline. Laptop usage is still high, and tablet/smartphone usage is still increasing. Like the general public, we are always embracing changes and development in technology, and if you need any support with your new table or smartphone, we are always here to help.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Windows XP support ends on 8 April 2014

On 8 April, 2014, Microsoft will officially end support for computers running Windows XP - an operating system that is nearly 13 years old.
Back in 2010, Microsoft ended support for Windows 98 and Windows ME. By that time, Windows XP had matured and most users had already upgraded to Windows XP or Windows Vista - because there was a compelling reason to do so. However, with Windows XP, users were still demanding XP long after Windows Vista had been released in 2006 - so there are still lots of XP users out there!

Here's what it all means for Windows XP users:

Before 8 April 2014:
  • Internet Explorer will be stuck at version 8 (IE10 available for Windows 7 and 8). Many sites will prompt you to upgrade - but you can't. The next best option is to install Firefox or Chrome.
  • Websites may stop working in your browser.
  • Microsoft and other software vendors may withdraw products from distribution - e.g. Skydrive, Windows Live Mail, Skype. Other Windows features may be discontinued.
After 8 April 2014:
  • No more security updates. Your computer will be more susceptible to viruses.
  • Antivirus vendors may stop releasing updates.
  • Printer and scanner software may not be available for download.
  • New products in shops may not work with Windows XP.
  • New software may not work with Windows XP.
  • Websites may not work properly in your browser.
  • Compatible downloads may disappear from download sites.
  • The data on your computer may be less secure (hackers, viruses etc)
  • It will become more difficult to fix problems with your computer.
  • You may get warnings on your screen advising you to upgrade. Some of these may be scams.
So, what does this mean if you're running a computer with Windows XP? Basically, you'll need to upgrade or replace it. If your computer has a Windows Vista or Windows 7 sticker on it, you should be fine. If it's got a Windows XP sticker, your options depend on the specifications of your PC - so give us a call for some free advice.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Home page changed?

Has your homepage changed? More toolbars in your browser? A search result from a company you don’t recognise?

You’ve probably got adware on your computer.

Many free programs (and some paid ones!) install extra software during the installation. This way, the product can be offered for free – instead, money is earned via advert commission.

However, it concerns me that most of the time, users can’t remember agreeing to the installation of extra adware – either because they didn’t agree, or the terms and conditions were unclear.

Adware can slow your computer down, add extra adverts, clog your screen with toolbars, and potentially steal your information or change secure websites to make them insecure.

These adware programs often appear through fake ‘download now’ buttons (actually adverts), dubious music download sites, fake gaming sites, dubious download sites, adult sites and more. However, it’s important to note that it’s easy to be tricked into installing adware, even from genuine looking sites.

If you think you have adware, and your antivirus program hasn’t helped, give us a call.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Seeing adverts you shouldn't be seeing?

Sometimes it may seem like websites are completely covered in adverts, and sometimes these may seem inappropriate – such as ads for gambling, dating, miracle weight loss or skin rejuvenation.

While some sites do have a lot of adverts, most sites take care to make your visit pleasant. Unfortunately, some forms of malware and viruses may add their own adverts to webpages, in order to make malware authors some extra money.

 If you’re seeing more than usual, ads in unusual places (such as your search homepage), or ads that look out of place – then the ads may be put there by your own computer – instead of the website. This means that your computer could be infected, may be running slower, and your personal information may be at risk.

We often see our own website covered in adverts – even though we don’t actually put any ads on our site. This is a sure sign of an infected PC!

If you think that your computer is infected, update your computer using Windows Update, update and scan with an antivirus program, use a reputable anti-malware program, and disable any add-ons in Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox.

If you’re in any doubt about the safety of your computer, give us a call.