Edge Won’t Stay Running After Creators Update

This kept me up for a bit.  Microsoft Edge dies after 30-60 seconds of opening, Event id 10010 logged in the system log, application failed to register with DCOM in the time period…

many people on forums are blaming security software, citing Palo Alto or Malwarebytes in a couple of reports I’ve read.

In my case it’s been all Trusteer Rapport, but this is an easy one to check for.  Uninstall Rapport and you will hopefully be launched into a faultless Edge session!  Bingo.

I have yet to see if reinstalling Rapport will bring the problem back, but when the computers go back to the customers we’ll find out.  It definitely seems linked to the Creators Update though.

I don’t personally care for Rapport. I’ve never installed it however hard my banks pushed and have never regretted it, but then I am slavishly set on complex passwords which will never be aired on a post-it note.

How Safe Is Your Data?

The internet is full of scare stories about the latest viruses and ransomware that will encrypt your files, or simply delete it without trace.  These aren’t just scare stories, I have customers on my own little address list who have lost data to scammers.

You can’t underestimate the dangers of losing critical data.  Yet the complexity of managing backups for yourself can be daunting.  If you copy it to an external disk, how do you make sure the disk is safe?  What if it’s swept off the shelf by a passing tea trolley?  If it’s stolen, have you done enough to make the data unreadable to whoever gets their hands on it?  Data protection is a hot topic these days, so handing over all your customers’ names and addresses could be as much of a disaster as losing your data altogether.

Many backup processes have fallen flat because no-one checked the logs to make sure they completed successfully, or because no-one ever thought to run a test and make sure the data was usable when it was copied back off the device.

The answer nowadays is refreshingly simple.  With the increased availability of high speed internet connections (yes, I know, it’s never as quick as you’d like,but that’s beside the point), backing up to remote locations is now feasible for most businesses.

Your checkpoints:

Is my data going to be far enough away from the office if it burns down or there’s some natural disaster and an ark appears out of nowhere?  Yes.  Internet backups can have your data at the other end of the country.

Is my data going to be secure?  Yes.  Thanks to all the work that the banking sector has put into encryption, both when transmitting across the internet and when storing in a datacentre, these technologies are now available to the rest of us.

What if the datacentre suffers some catastrophic event – will my data disappear from their systems?  No.  Any datacentre provider adheres to strict regulations to make sure that there is at least one other copy of your data at least 25km away.

What about restoring all that information in the event that something goes horribly wrong?  If you’re not going to another site with super quick internet connections, you can request that your data be recovered to a conventional disk drive and couriered direct to your new location.

Is it safe?  Yes.  You will set the encryption key and you can make it as complex as you like.  The staff at the datacentre won’t know it and they won’t be storing it for any hackers to pick up.  Of course, if you want to set your encryption key to “abc123” we can’t stop you!

How do I know the job is running regularly?  You will control how often it runs, though we usually recommend overnight when your lines are quietest.  If something stops a backup from running at its scheduled time you will be free to start it again manually.  If the job repeatedly fails and you haven’t noticed, someone from the datacentre will make contact, just to make sure you’re aware.

Are you sure it will have time to backup all my data every night?  Well, the first copy will take some time, but after that the software will run “block level copies”, transmitting only the chunks of a file which have changed, not the entire thing.

Isn’t this going to cost me an arm and a leg?  No.  Prices start from £1 per GB per month for this fully managed, security compliant service that could have you sleeping at night again.

Now isn’t that the cheapest IT technician you ever hired?

For more information, please get in touch using one of the channels on our contact page.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Great Value Laptops

It’s never been easy to pick out the great deals from the huge range that’s available in store and on the internet, so if you’re looking for a new computer why not start here?


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Here is a selection of handpicked Dell laptops at great prices.  We’re starting with the i3 Inspiron with 4GB memory, rising to the 7th generation i7 with 16GB memory and an NVidia GTX 1050Ti graphics card.  It comes at a price but we think it’s worth every penny.

Moving Your Website Forward

There are lots of ways to move your website forward. For many small businesses it’s a question of writing short articles to let the adoring public (ok, the Googlebot) know that you’re not on an extended sabbatical in Nassau. For others it may be a facelift and for many it is a foray into social media.

If you branch out into Twitter, Facebook or Flickr, these things can be easily integrated so that what you do in one place doesn’t need replicating elsewhere.

But I digress. The reason for this article was a terrifying piece I stumbled across on Twitter. Actually I didn’t find it terrifying. As a seasoned WordPress author I loved it, but there are many out there who would sweep it away as gibberish and technobabble, but it needn’t be.

If you love the techie side of WordPress, here’s the article: WordPress Plugins

If your website has been crafted for your needs then everything you do within your comfort zone can pay dividends.  What you do may be creative, rather than technical, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach your digital (international) audience without leaving your comfort zone.

Everything that I’ve touched on relates to problems that I have personally dealt with recently, so if you’re feeling a little out of touch with your internet audience, do drop us a line at 11December.  There is an easier way forward with your digital shopfront and it needn’t cost you the earth.

Why Cleanliness is Next to Godliness for Your Laptop

Laptop, server, much maligned aging desktop.  All computers can suffer when the dust builds up inside the case.

Electronic equipment doesn’t deal well with extremes of temperature, tiny components expand and contract or their innards react.  Capacitors are like little batteries that take on an electrical charge and release it to sensitive modules and processors at a controlled rate, but they have the same issues with extremes of temperature that their bigger cousins have.

The symptoms are likely to include:

  • Increased fan noise
  • Reduced performance as the computer slows down the processor to try and reduce the heat build up
  • In laptops you may feel hotspots on the keyboard and surrounding plastic
  • In extreme cases the computer may shut down suddenly to prevent damage to the internal workings
  • If the failsafes aren’t enough, irreversible damage can be caused to the hard drive or the processor, resulting in expensive repair bills and possible loss of data

What can be done about it?  Well, there’s no way of avoiding a dust build up.  Bizarrely, the cleanest houses and offices turn out some of the fluffiest computers (I am personally convinced that’s because the inhabitants keep cleaning, disturbing the dust in the process).  Tumble driers put out a quantity of fibres, which are easily pulled into a computer case and cigarette smoke will coat any particles with a sticky tar-like residue which will cause them to adhere to each other and accumulate even faster.

Computers almost seemed designed to catch dust.  The cases are engineered to draw air in through small gaps and pass it over nooks, crannies and ledges.  The surface area inside your average computer must be immense.

So as long as a cleanroom is beyond our budgets, we’ve ruled out prevention; so what’s the cure?  I’ll tell you what I do and then you can decide whether you are confident (and competent) enough to try it for yourself.  And if not, drop me a line and I’ll book you in for an annual service and make the problem disappear for a while.

Desktops and servers.

Remove the mains power cable and hold down the power button for a minimum of 10 seconds.  This discharges the capacitors and although most are no risk to you, causing a short while there is still power inside the computer could cause damage.

Open the case and using a vacuum cleaner and a bristle brush – not nylon – carefully dislodge all the built up dust and suction it off.  Watch out for knocking delicate parts with the nozzle of the cleaner, whether it’s plastic or metal, although obviously metal has it’s own complications.  You may want to invest in a can of compressed air to make life easier, but clean out the loose stuff first; it can fly for metres!

Remove the front bezel as this is usually the in-flow for the air, and dust will build up in and around the holes behind the plastic panel.

Press the vacuum nozzle up against the vent in the rear of the power supply.  You will only remove some of the build up but I would never advocate taking it apart.  The coils inside carry dangerous voltages and should only ever be inspected by trained personnel.  You can use your compressed air through any vent holes here and then vacuum again.

While you’re in the case, inspect any cables to make sure they’re secure and not dangling near a fan.

Look at the capacitors.  If any of them appear to be swelling or leaking, now is a good time to get professional advice.  They are easily replaced and could save an expensive repair in the near future.


More difficult.  There are an awful lot of screws holding a laptop together and it’s not always clear as to what the order of play should be.  If you’re determined to have a go, YouTube is an excellent resource.

For a quick DIY attempt, I would suggest the compressed air here.  Turn off your laptop, unplug the mains cable and remove the battery, then press and hold the power button for 10 seconds to discharge the capacitors.

Along the edge of the laptop will be an exhaust vent.  This is often on the left towards the back and if you blow compressed air through it you will usually send the dust into the fan area where you can pick it out through the tiny grille with a pair of tweezers.  The dust collects just inside the exhaust vent, often in a thick layer of felt, so it’s quite easy to work with and you’ll get good results.

Another problem that can crop up with any type of computer is the failure of the thermal paste between the processor and the heat sink and for this you should consult a professional.  Although the processor has a highly polished pad for transferring heat away, and the heat sink has a similarly smooth contact pad, a metal paste is used between the two to eradicate any air pockets which could slow the flow of heat.  Over time this paste becomes dry and shrinks and should be cleaned off and replaced with fresh.

Prices for an annual service are from £50 for a clean out, or £80 to include a health check of the operating system.  Everything is looked over for out of date files, from drivers to Java, Adobe, Skype and antivirus to name a few.  Advice will be given on future upgrade paths and current specification.

We are pleased to offer SSD (solid state drive) upgrades for £60 plus parts.  Solid state drives represent the single biggest performance boost that you can give your computer (desktop or laptop).  Please get in touch via the Contact form for more information.


Step away from the hard drive!

I had a text message from a friend of a friend over the holidays.  Her hard drive had failed and she didn’t have a backup of all her photos and please would I take a look.  I love these jobs.  There is a certain amount of stress (I’ve lost data of my own in the past and I know how much it hurts), but there is no better feeling than picking up the phone or clicking Send to say ‘I’ve got your data’.

When the lady arrived on the doorstep, she handed me the offending drive and the first thing that jumped at me was the tear in the label.  The small, circular tear which exposed one of the securing screws for the top cover.  “Yes,” she said, a well-meaning family member had taken the top off in an attempt to get the motor to kick in.  I had to be honest and tell her that there was every possibility that the resulting contamination could be the final nail in the coffin.

She took it extremely well considering my bedside manner is far better suited to computers than to human beings – one of my many faults….  But, I assured her, I would give it my best shot.  A couple of hours later, after sorting out the contacts between the motor and PCB, her data was backing up to my server.

At the moment, it looks like the whole lot came back and the biggest hurdle (time-wise) was the NT ownership and file permissions.  I’m astounded and if the well-meaning family member is smug, then so be it.  I do love a happy ending.

If you have been affected by any of the issues…..  no, sorry, scratch that, but if you do suffer a hard drive failure, please don’t take the lid off to see what you can see.  If you approach a data recovery company, make sure they are reputable and similarly won’t feel the need to whip the top off.  There are good firms out there who operate on a no-fix, no fee basis.  In the last 7 days I have heard two quotes ranging from £80 to £600 to recover data from a failed hard drive and I’m not sure how much faith I have in either of them.

If you’re lucky enough to have a personal recommendation it’s a good place to start, so tell everyone you know if you’ve had a disaster – there may be a solution on your doorstep.

Beware virus alert scammers!

I’ve taken great delight in my second call from someone who wanted to tell me that my computer was distressed and sending their server lots of error messages.

In both cases, the callers were probably in nappies when I started my first job in IT, but still they persisted in the story that I simply MUST help them to get remote control of my computer.  Sadly, I got frustrated by the first one (who professed to be calling from Microsoft) and I hung up on her.

Second time around I kept the call going to the bitter end.  This one said she was calling on behalf of my broadband provider and when pushed, she reeled off the names of half a dozen companies that she and her colleagues were ‘working for’.  To my delight, my ISP wasn’t one of them and she eventually hung up on me.

Your computer will not notify anyone if it’s in trouble.  If you work in a large office with a state of the art IT department, they may notice if your computer starts flooding their network.  On the otherhand, their systems may just deal with the problem and cut you off, but no-one will call you.

If your computer is running particularly slowly, or sending you to websites you didn’t ask for, then feel free to call us!

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