Computer & PC Help

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Computer & PC Help

A Word About Microsoft Updates22 Feb

In all my years of doing IT, I never thought I’d be writing a blog like this.  I am actually writing an open letter to Microsoft…

Dear Microsoft;

I realize windows updates are important and what we call “a necessary evil” however, I think you people need to do some more testing before you send out updates that virtually render machines inoperable. This is so irresponsible on your part.  Let me explain:

I deal with clients in other states via VPN and remote desktop. My clients are a small office with little IT resources maybe 10 PCs and 2 servers at most.  They do not have the money to invest in WSUS servers and contracts with Microsoft for support.  That is what I’m here for. My clients all use windows 10 pro and dell computers.  They stay up to date with updates and drivers too as it’s automatic.  Recently, they were forced, I say forced because you don’t have a choice to not update, to update; so they are running the latest version of windows 10, 1079.  If that’s not bad enough, they installed the latest updates one which included KB4074588. After installing this “lovely” update, they were unable to use their keyboards and mouse.  This update disabled all USB ports!  Good job!  The only way anyone was able to use their machine was to remote in.

After many phone calls back and forth to me and texts galore, I got to work doing as much research as I could.  I could not figure out if this was a hardware issue or a software issue, but my “gut” was, telling me it was software but I had no proof.  I started doing research and I finally found some information via my savor site Experts-Exchange.  They were able to point me in the right direction, which was update KB4074588, however this took days to figure out and in the meanwhile my clients were remoting into their PC’s to try to work.  I remotely uninstalled KB4074588 and finally the user(s) was able to use the keyboard and mouse again.

That’s not the end of the story… After that, the machines one by one decided to crash with “inaccessible boot device” and again I had to do hours upon hours of research to find a fix for that too!  Another update!

Again Experts-Exchange to the rescue and they gave me instructions on how to get around that too!  The last little surprise was one profile on a machine was corrupted beyond repair so I had to recreate a new one and that user was not happy.

So for 4 days I worked and worked with frustrated clients with no warnings,  and with help from the company that issued these fowl updates. The clients lost hours and hours of work time because they couldn’t use their machines.  If you call Microsoft tech support with these issues it’s at least $250-$300 before they will even speak with you and they caused this mess.  They should at least allow help for free since it’s their updates and their responsibility to make sure things function properly with their software. Again in my opinion irresponsible on Microsoft’s part.

I understand the security and safety issues we all face especially in business with users not being that educated enough to know when not to download something or when a web page is bogus. And between trying to keep the operating system secure from hacking it’s a tuff job and it’s a process.  However, Microsoft is now being a bit irresponsible with issuing updates that render machines basically glorified paperweights.  I think they need to do a bit more testing of things before they just blindly send stuff out and cause these type of issues.  In addition, may I say this is not the first time I’ve experienced Microsoft updates causing problems with the operating systems either, this one was just a major mess.  With windows 10, you can’t stop updates from installing!  As a result of this mess with windows updates, I disabled the service for windows updates until I can figure out a way to test each and every update and then it’s still going to be a fight to tell the machine which update to install and which update not to install. Again, almost impossible to do because Microsoft apparently does not care to have the user decide. Unfortunately, you’re dammed if you do and you’re dammed if you don’t! To be fair, I will say that the process of issuing updates is to say the least challenging, and I do understand that everything is basically catching up to what ever is newly invented however, testing is a necessary thing and I just think Microsoft should be more responsible on that end.  I’ve seen many updates crash operating systems lately and that’s not a good thing.


For anyone going through this mess this is what I had to do to resolve this issue.  I am posting it here:

This is with the 1079 update.  You’ll need to remotely Uninstall KB4074588. Then I had to do this because the machine wouldn’t boot it was inaccessible boot device:
Boot Windows 10
Go to Repair
Go to Tools/Options to get a command prompt.
Confirm the drive letter for the Windows image. Usually D: –> dir d:
Run the following to view the installed packages which will also show a date of install.
Dism /Image:D:\ /Get-Packages
Find the package(s) that were just installed by date. Run the following command on the last installed package:
example: dism.exe /image:d:\ /remove-package /packagename:Package_for_KB4014329~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~
The patch that caused my issue was from 1/6/18 or 1/10/18     Remove the latest windows update entry with Rollup Fix in it’s name.  Once complete, close command prompt, turn off computer.  Power back up.  You should be back into WIN10.
If you still receive BSOD, rinse and repeat with the next latest update, try it again.  You’ll eventually boot right back into WIN10.

In addition, I found this


Computer & PC Help

Year End Advice29 Dec

I’d like to end this year with some information about surfing the internet.  These are my tips for the new year.  Regardless if you’re a heavy user or a light user you need to protect yourself at all times.  The best way to do this is to use your head.  If something doesn’t seem right, it’s not.  Case in point…  Humans are curious by nature and the hackers’/malware criminals know this so the easiest way to infect your machine is to send you an email with an attachment.  The first thing most people do without even thinking about it is open an email and click on the attachment.  It’s that simple.  You’re infected and in most cases you don’t even know it.  That’s what these criminals rely on.  They will send you emails in the form of FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc. emails with these attachments meant to infect your computer, and most people just blindly open these without even a second thought regardless if they are expecting a package or not.  They will send you phony bank notices with links in them for you to click on and once you do that and fill out any of the information you’re infected. Just like that.  No one stops to think, why did my bank or a bank I don’t even bank at send me this?  Most people just click on the links and start filling them out.  One of my all-time favorite scams is you receive an email that you won millions of dollars and all you need to do is pay a fee to get your money.  Really?  Have you ever won something and paid for it?  You’d be surprised how many people fall for that. Or someone in some foreign country has discovered a long lost relative of yours and you have a million-dollar inheritance.  Never mind, your family has nothing to do with that country, or again you have to send a check to receive your money, which you should never do.

There’s a new con going around where you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from technical support at Microsoft and they explain that you have a virus on your machine and they offer to login and clean it for you.  Humm…. That’s interesting because how would anyone know who’s never seen your machine that you have a virus?  Answer is they don’t. It’s a scam.  But again people are easily fooled into thinking this is legitimate.

Sometimes, internet pages get hijacked, meaning you think you’re one the correct website but it’s off just enough for you not to notice and once again you’re infected.  It happens with many search engines such as google or yahoo. If you just take a second or two to look at the page, you’ll see that it’s not right. Something is either spelled wrong, or in the wrong place but because you’re more interested in getting where you’re going you don’t stop to look at where you are at.  In addition, pop ups get people to.  You’re on a web page and suddenly without warning, something pops up. “Your machine is infected with a virus download this virus scan now and we’ll clean it up free of charge” or “Your PC is running slow click on this and we’ll diagnose and fix it for you”.  What that is in reality is the virus.  Someone is relying on you to click on that link so they can infect your computer.  Now there’s even Facebook identities being stolen and I attribute that to passwords that are very simple to crack. Too often your friends accounts get hijacked and you wind up getting several invitations from friends that are already allowed on your page.  This can lead to issues too.    If you’re page does get hacked I recommend first to notify Facebook and second change your password to something more complex.


So what’s are the consequences of all this?  Well for starters the money it’s going to cost you to have this cleaned up and it’s expensive. Sometimes depending upon who’s doing the “cleaning” they just reinstall everything and you lose everything, for example you have hundreds of photos saved and once someone begins the process of reinstalling that is lost.  Also, depending upon what you’re infected with can be disastrous.  Criminals can capture your bank account information and basically steal your codes and clean out your accounts.  Identity theft is also a concern.  Once they capture your personal information they can assume your identity and kill your credit.  They can also lock you out of your own machine too.


What can you do to protect yourself?  Well remember this “curiosity killed the cat” as they say.  So you need to learn how to slow down and look at your emails before you blindly click on them.  Check the senders address.  If it looks funny, then it’s not real.  Remember if something is too good to be true it’s not true.  You’ll never win a lottery you never entered.  If your family isn’t from that particular country, then you can’t possibly have long lost relatives.  Never allow anyone you don’t know to access your computer especially remotely.  If you’re on a website and something pops up un-expectedly just close your browser.  It’s that simple.  Make sure your virus protection is up to date.  Your virus protection is only as good as your last update.  If you’re using software for a firewall (aka internet security), make sure you know how to use it and what to block and not to block. Sometimes this software can be more problematic if you don’t understand how to use it.  Apple products, macs, iPads etc. can get viruses too. So can Linux machines.


You can use extensions such as web of trust, ghostery, and adguard to help you notice what’s going on when you hit a web page.  These are all free and install easily into your browser.  They will not slow you down either they will just make you aware of things.  But the best thing of all is you.  You need to look at what you doing before you just blindly click on something.  Especially those sites like Facebook and Twitter.  When you see those incredible coupons on your pages for 95% or 75% off on something this too is a scam.  Just be aware of what you are doing and you’ll always be safe.  The internet is an open place where people take full advantage of you and because it’s mostly anonymous most of the time these people who steal from you never get caught.  You have to outsmart them.  So for 2017 let’s all pledge to do a better job of slowing down and arming ourselves with tools to help use prevent viruses and malware.

Computer & PC Help


It seems to me that people do not pay much attention to the passwords they use for things like banking, email accounts, Facebook accounts, amazon account etc.  First rule of thumb is do not trust anyone, meaning the site/company you’re dealing with to protect your password.  Companies get cracked all the time, they are exploited via malware which is mostly because someone in the organization opened an email attachment, clicked on a link or went to a website without really looking or knowing what they are doing.  All it takes is one user to set off that “bomb”. Once that “bomb” is set in motion all bets are off and passwords can be cracked and you, the user can also be exploited.  It happens all the time.

Education is your best friend regardless if you work in a business, where you have access to a PC and the internet (most of us do) or you’re a home user.  It doesn’t matter, awareness of what you are doing makes all the difference in the world and can save you from the headache of being hacked.

Being in IT for almost 20 years, I’ve heard it all.  The usual excuses range from “I don’t have time to really look at my emails because I get so many of them so I just skim them and do what I can”. “I can’t remember all those passwords so I try to make them as short and as simple as possible”.  “I clicked on that link because it popped up and it said it would clean my PC”

Well, in the two to five seconds it took you to ignore the rules, it might have just cost you hundreds of dollars, your identity stolen and your accounts hacked.  If something is too good to be true it’s just not true.  Why would suddenly coupons appear for $75-$100 discount for a store on Facebook?  Well the simple answer is because users are so gullible!  They want to believe that this is going to save them money if they simply click here and install the hidden software attached to this stuff; that’s what these people are hoping for.  In the five seconds it takes you to share that coupon for $75 from your favorite store, that cracker on the other end might have just gained access to your Facebook account, your email account and perhaps your banking information.  Is that worth it? No! If you just took the 2 minutes to really think about it you’d realize it’s just a scam.  So you might be thinking, “Well how will I know when something is real then?”  Short answer is treat everything like it’s a threat – doing that probably will protect you from being hacked.  Also consider this… If you use the same password for your on-line banking, your retailer accounts and other on-line things then once your password is discovered everything you do on line is virtually lost!  The criminal will have access to it all and believe it or not, most people use the same passwords for everything.  This is a big no-no!   You’ve basically given the “keys to the kingdom” to the criminal that cracked your password.  Use different complex password for all your different accounts.

Without getting to technical I will try to explain passwords and the need for complexity in them and why you should always maintain long complex passwords for everything you do on line and in business.  First thing to understand is the longer and more complex your password is, the harder and longer it is for a cracker to steal.  That doesn’t mean you should use 100 letter passwords you can’t remember. It simply means using passwords like password1 PassW0rd1 or even P@ssw0rd will not protect you at all.  Using your birthday for example 32356abc will not help you either.

The reason for this is the following. When a hacker/cracker for example cracks a company like a bank or for example, an on line retailer they gain access to their network.  This gives the cracker access to things like servers and databases.  All passwords are stored on a server in a database.  Basically when you type your password it gets compared to what’s in that database and if it matches you are authenticated and allowed access to whatever you’re trying to reach.  So if a cracker gains access to this database they can simply steal the database, download it to their own machines and run tools to crack your passwords. And believe me there are many tools to crack passwords.  The shorter and easier your password is, the easier it is for that criminal to crack it.  (Think about what happened to Sony.  Most likely someone within the organization opened an email that was sent to them with some type of attachment, they opened it and set off that “bomb.  This cost Sony millions not to mention the embarrassment of publishing emails.  It was so simple for the crackers to do this.)

These programs look for things like asdfghjkl (which is the second row of letters on your keyboard), or password (any variation of that), birthdays etc.  These programs are set to look at dictionary words, combinations of letters and numbers and even dates in order to obtain your password.  The longer and more complex your password is the harder it is for that program to obtain it.   That’s a simple as I can make it. So, if a person is using for example the password – P@ssw0rd1;  it will probably be stolen within the first five seconds of the program, but if the user has a complex password for example MyCh1|dr3n@! Which is more complex or My1$tb0Rn1$@b0y! It’s going to take much more time and money on the criminal’s part to figure out what that password is.  If you look at the 2 passwords I just created they are actual phrases the 1st one is my children @1 the second one is my 1st born is a boy!  All I did was take a phrase I can remember and mix it up with letters, numbers and special characters.  Doing things like this will make it much harder for the cracker on the other end to decipher what your password really is. I’m not suggesting this is 100% full proof because honestly nothing is, but the more difficult/complex you make it the harder it becomes for that criminal to steal your password.

What I want you the user to understand is that it’s basically up to you to protect your information and identities on the internet.  Being aware of what you’re doing, slowing down and thinking before you open that email and click on that attachment and going to that website and installing something that says it will clean your PC is just not a good idea.

Lastly, these criminals are getting smarter, they have ways of even misidentifying themselves on the phones, they can spoof caller ID so for example say you get a call from someone claiming to be from a technical company and they tell you that your PC is infected with a virus and they will for Free remote in and clean it. Well looking at the caller ID perhaps that is a real caller?  Really?  How in the world would anyone know on the outside that your computer is infected with a virus? The answer is they would never know and you should not fall for that.  Once you give that person on the other end of the telephone access to your PC they will have access to your mail, banking information and anything else you may do on line.  My advice is to hang up that phone.

I hope you follow these simple tips for safety on the internet

Computer & PC Help


I’m pretty crazy when it comes to spam protection and virus protection and I try to help people out as much as possible. This new strain the Ransomware Virus is a “killer”, mainly because there is no fix and there is no way out once you’ve been hit. So what can you do? Regardless if you are a business or a home user here’s some of my suggestions.

  • Awareness – This means think before you click. Or simply never click on anything on the internet without reading it! To many times I see people opening things or installing things without even knowing what they are doing. If you just take a minute to look carefully instead of mindlessly clicking on ok or yes you’d be able to catch many things that you should never install. If something doesn’t seem right to you just simply close your browser and start over. It’s as easy as that.
  • Email This is the easiest way to get caught especially in business. We are so bombarded with emails that we don’t stop to take a minute to see who they are from. NEVER TRUST AN EMAIL! Scammers use the logos of legitimate companies and make fake email letters and ads with phony links. You click on that phony link and you’re infected. Inspect all email it takes an extra five minutes to protect yourself.
    • A always look at the spelling. If there are spelling or grammar errors, then its most likely a fake
    • B – Never ever click on an attachment or a web link unless you are 100% sure of where you are going. So many people get infected because they get an email from UPS or Fed Ex with an attachment and they open it. Most of them aren’t even expecting a package! You need to KNOW that these companies if they email you will email you tracking numbers not attachments.
    • C Take the time to look at the email header – it will always tell you who it’s from. Just basically if you’re using a web mail program you can just right click on the sender address. If it has something like cpamea@msn,yahoo, etc it’s probably a fake a real one will look something like this – See my post “Is that email REAL or FAKE – How to Tell” – There a bunch of information on how to check to see if an email is real or fake.


  • If you backup your information on a device such as an external hard drive or USB drive, if you do get infected you at least have something to put back. I’m talking about pictures, documents, spreadsheets, etc. and keep it disconnected from your computer until you need it. This will save you especially if you have a home business. In a corporation there’s a saying in IT “you are only as good as your last backup”. So backup everything you can’t afford to loose

Phone Scams –

  • I’ve had people call me up telling me the IRS called them and they owe money and if they don’t pay within a specific amount of time the police will be coming to arrest them. This is phony – the IRS will never call you. There’s another scam where you receive a phone call that you have a virus on your machine and they would like to remote in to your computer and remove the virus. OK how in the world would someone calling you on the phone know you’re PC has a virus? I’ve had people call me up with computers that are completely locked and they can’t even login to them unless they pay. NEVER ever let anyone remote into your PC that you do not know.


  • Beware of website pop-ups that require immediate action (e.g., pop ups to install antivirus software or to “act now” to protect your computer). This will install a virus.


What do you do if you get infected?

  • If you are in a corporation call your IT department don’t try to handle it yourself. That’s what they are there for.
  • If you are a home user shut down your machine and call a tech you can trust to clean your machine. If you have backups, then you will be saved. If you happen to get infected with Ransomware there’s nothing you can do if you have no backups. If you pay these people you are only encouraging them to keep this up so protect yourself.

I hope these few simple tips will help protect you on the internet and when opening mail. The only way to stop these people is to do our best to avoid getting infected.  Virus protection will not protect you.

There’s one other suggestion I can make if you’re a home user who knows how to configure a router.  Symantec has something called Norton ConnectSafe which is two DNS IP addresses you can put in your router. This is ONLY for the HOME user not for Business.

It does the following:

All policies block malware, phishing and scam sites.

Pornography includes sites that contain sexually explicit material.

Other includes sites that feature: mature content, abortion, alcohol, crime, drugs, file sharing, gambling, hate, suicide, tobacco or violence.

You can find the information at

Computer & PC Help

Year End Wrap-Up – Think Before You Click14 Dec

Another year is about to end and still we are plagued by Malware and Viruses. This year we’ve seen the rise of the crypto-randsom virus which literally encrypts everything on your hard drive and everything connected to your PC. Unless you pay, your information is encrypted and therefore useless. I would hope you don’t pay because that only encourages these people to send more malware and viruses.

Remember these rules… Microsoft, IRS, FBI any and all banks, UPS, Fed ex and USPS will never ever correspond with you by email. You need to be diligent when you surf the internet and when you inspect your email. I’ve written several blogs on bad mail, viruses and how to spot phony email addresses and if you’ve been following me you are aware of all of this.

I suspect, but I have no knowledge of, or any information on, that the recent hacking into Sony Pictures was started by someone opening an infected email. This happens all the time! Someone gets an email either from someone in their company or a friend with an attachment or a link to a website, they open the attachment or they click on the link and ‘bang” the malware is let lose and things get destroyed and thousands of dollars is spent trying to locate these criminals and fix the security. But the major security weakness is YOU. Sony Pictures is now being picked apart  because they were hacked and all their information was comprised.

First of all that infected email was sent  with a false address. The display name might be from someone you know like a friend or co-worker, but the actual address is usually If you read my blog “Is that email REAL or Fake – How to Tell”, you will understand how to check for a phony email with a display name you know.

The reality is this, your virus protection is only as good as the updates and only IF the virus or malware is already known can it protect you.  Usually there’s a major outbreak of a virus before the security companies can identify how to stop it – so in a sense they play “catch-up”  That doesn’t mean don’t use virus protection because it will protect you.  There are also things you can install in your browser like WOT – Web Of Trust.  But with all that you can still get infected.  The BEST virus/malware protection is YOUYOU have the power to stop yourself from being hacked. All that is required is that you pay attention to that email in your in box regardless if your home or at work,  pay attention when surfing the internet. This will save you from unwanted problems.

  • Why would you receive an email from UPS, FedEx or USPS if you did not order a package?
  • How could you win a foreign lottery if you never played?
  • How did you get that million dollar inheritance from an aunt/uncle in Nigeria if you have no family there?
  • How did you get the job if you never even applied?
  • Why would a bank that’s not even your bank suddenly ask you to update your information on line if you don’t even have an account with them? For that matter, why would your bank ask you to do that?
  • Has Microsoft ever sent you and email to tell you your PC needs to be updated?

My mother told me long ago that curiosity killed the cat and she was right! These criminals are hoping your curiosity will kick in and you’ll open that email and click on that attachment or link and suddenly your infected with a virus or malware, your home page is changed. you have all these pop-up and now you have some crazy tool bar in your browser and you have no idea how it got there. It got there because what ever you downloaded or updated had all these add-ons attached to them. Adobe and Java updates are notorious for doing that. If you looked at it you would see the check boxes telling you that “XYZ” is going to get installed. See my blog “How’d That Get There?” That blog explains it to you.

I always ask people if they would leave their front door open with their bank book and pin number on the table next to their jewelry box. Most of the time they look at me like I’m crazy because they would never do that but what people don’t understand is that is exactly what you are doing when you get infected with Malware. Once you are infected criminals can gain access to your bank accounts, credit cards and your personal information. And all you did was open an email or click on a web link! If your a business, well just look at Sony Pictures.

All this can be avoided if YOU and ONLY YOU would pay attention and really think before you click!

Computer & PC Help

Is that email REAL or FAKE – How to Tell20 Jul

I guess you could say I’m in my own private war against spam and other phony emails. In an attempt to “even the playing field” here are some tips to determine if an email is real or fake.
Sometimes a fake email can come from an email address you recognize but the email,  it looks funny to you. What you need to do first and always before you click on any link or open any attachment is LOOK AT IT!   Examine the email – most people do not do this they simply assume that because the sender is someone they know its fine. Well it’s not fine! There is something called spoofing – spoofing means simply using a real name with a different email address attached to it, so for example – my email address is Most likely when you get that email it will just say Ilene and you will not know if it’s really me.  If the mail was spoofed it would say Ilene except the email address would be something completely different from Same with banks it can come in for example as Citibank, or Bank of America or even IRS, USPS or FedEx… You will not know unless you look at the email and read the actual address. This is how ALL viruses, hacking, phishing etc. occurs. You get an email you think it’s ok,  you click on the link and open that file. It takes 2 seconds and you’re infected. I’ve had people get infected time and time again – the worst of it all is the Crypto-Ransom virus which mainly affects businesses – this doesn’t mean an average home user can’t get infected – it means for now these people are targeting businesses. These emails come in the guise of Fed-ex or UPS emails telling the user they have a package arriving. The user thinking that they may have a package arriving and wants to check on that status,  clicks on that attachment and every document, every database and every spreadsheet gets encrypted and it is basically locked unless you pay within 24 hours. There is no cure and no way around it. All data everywhere in the business is gone! And unless you have full backups of everything you will never see it again. So basically you can be out of business. Just because you pay doesn’t mean you will get your data back and by paying you are only encouraging the offenders to continue to do it.  To avoid this all you would need to do is look at the email address and it will tell you who it really came from.  Once you know that you can just delete it and save yourself all that aggravation.
So what to do to identify an email? Well there’s something called headers – if you identify the headers you will be able to see the real email address. So for those of you using programs like Outlook or Outlook Express or windows live there are easy ways to view these headers. Here are some examples:

For Yahoo mail do the following: Go to the email and just open it. Look at the tool bar on the top it will say “More” pull the arrow down until you see View Full Header

Yahoo E-Mail Headers

Click on View Full Header this screen will show up… you need to keep scrolling down until you see the email address.  I’ve highlighted it in Blue so you can see it.  This one is a real address See 2nd example… If is wasn’t real it could say something like or or even anything but from where the mail is supposed to be from.

yahoo header 1yahoo header 2


For outlook it’s a little different… there’s a help associated with outlook 2010 and 2007 which will show you how to view headers. Here’s a good link for that. (you will need to copy and paste this in your browser)
Or within the program of outlook go to help and look up display headers – this will show you how.


This is Windows Live Mail 2011 for people with Windows 7. If you hover the mouse over the email address it will pop up like this..

windows live example

Same with Windows 8.1 if you use the mail program just click on the address and it will show you the senders address


Any program you use you can always see the senders return address by viewing the headers. This will tell you who exactly is sending you the mail. So once again just because you know that email address it still could be spoofed – look at the mail before you decide to just click on that attachment or link in that mail. Take any of the steps I’ve mentioned in this blog, you should be able to detect if that mail is real or not and this will help immensely in determining if you should trash or open the mail.   Just look at the senders return address and it will let know exactly where that email originated from.
Remember just because you open the email doesn’t mean an automatic infection – the only way you’ll get infected is if you click on a link embedded within that mail or if you click on the attachment in the mail.

Lastly I’ll direct you to this article which explains it how to view headers in all email and web-mail programs.

Computer & PC Help


Did you know that you can see your wireless security code by simply checking a box on your Windows 7 and 8 laptop or tablet? If you go to your wireless network settings, click on security and check the box “Show Characters” this will show your Network Security Key (Code) which will allow anyone who can see this to connect to your network. So let’s say you have a neighbor or a guest and you give them the code. If they live in the vicinity of you wireless they will be able to connect anytime time they want and anyone they give the code to can connect to you network too.

What can you do? Well your router will allow you to add an extra layer of security by Mac Address filtering. What is this? Well first what is a Mac Address? A Mac Address a unique address that is given to you network card. In theory no two address are the same. It is made of letters and numbers. If you go to your command prompt on your PC you can see it by typing “ipconfig /all”. The mac address will be the “Physical Address” as listed below. Now depending on how many network cards your PC has will determine how many Mac Addresses (Physical Addresses) you have. So if you have a network that needs a network cable, that too will have a physical address. If you look at my example you will see it says Wireless Lan Adapter Wireless Network Connection..

The wired Network Card will look like this:

This one says Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection. As you can see this too has a Mac Address (Physical Address) that is different from the Wireless Network adapter.

Now, if you want to Filter the Mac Address you will need to get into your Router. My in my example, I have U-Verse the Mac address filtering looks like this.

If I click on Edit Block/Allowed Device List I can add the devices I want to allow. It’s good to note that if you enable this you will need to add EVERY Device no matter what it is, a wireless phone, computer, tablet, even anything wired – regardless of what the device is, if it’s going to connect to you network, you will need to ascertain the Mac Address/Physical address of the network card that will be connecting to you network and add it to your router.  On my router it has a place for allowed devices.  So for example if you have a PC that is both wired and wireless if you want it to connect to you network you will need to add both the Ethernet (wired) Adapter and Wireless Mac Address/Physical Address to you router.  On my device it looks like this: (in order to set this up for the first time I had to check the box “Enable Mac Filtering”).

Again, if you look at this example I have all the MAC Address of my Allowed devices to my network. This includes any and all devices that will connect. So if you have a TV or Cable Boxes that connect to you network you will need to add them too. In my case I have a Rescan for Devices button which I can use to view the Mac Address should I decide to add them to my network. Should I decide to block a device I can add that too. So say for example I have a listed device that I decide I don’t want to access my network, I can use the “>>” button to move it to the Blocked Devices side or I can simply delete it from my allowed list. There is also a place that I can just add the MAC Address or Physical Address manually too. So if I already know the Mac Address of Physical Address of the device, I can just add it.

Now depending upon what router you have will depend upon where this setting is. Yes this is advanced however this adds another layer of security to you network.

Don’t forget to hit the save button so that your setting will be saved.

Once last thing you can to to protect your network is to disable the broadcast of you SSID or you network. What this mean is when you look to connect to your network you see all those networks listed

All of these networks are broadcasting. If pull down the menu next to SSID Broadcast and disable it (again this is how it works on my router – on yours it may be different), it will not broadcast and no one will be able to see it. However, If you do this then you must manually set up all connections to your wireless network.

You also MUST make sure that the box “connect even if the network is not broadcasting its name (SSID)” is checked – this will allow the wireless card to connect no matter what. Most of the time this is a default setting but you should check this to make sure  – See below.

If you want to make sure you network is most secure follow these steps.   Most importantly this will deter people from hacking in to your network because it will make it harder to connect to your network.  On what can be considered the downside, you will ALWAYS need to add any and all devices to your router MANUALLY.  But you will control who connects to you network and this will help keep your information a little safer.  This is a bit advanced so if you wish to do this and you aren’t sure consult your IT professional.  Good Luck.

Computer & PC Help


Well it’s that time of the year again when the cyber crooks are looking to get you! So once again I’ve decided to publish my tips and give some information….

First of all to any of my followers – Happy Holiday’s…

Yes its holiday time again and those “nasty” emails are upon us once again.  Here’s my rule of thumb.  If you don’t know the sender be careful because you never know what’s going to happen when you open that email and click on that link.  They say “curiosity killed the cat” well I say “curiosity can rob you blind”

So let’s review… Rule of thumb the IRS, FBI, CIA, Microsoft, UPS, Fed EX, USPS, your bank,  your mortgage company, any other government agency, etc. WILL NEVER, NEVER send you email ASKING FOR ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION!!!!    Should you receive any of this type of mail DELETE IT!  This is called phishing (pronounced fishing ) email.  They are trying to obtain your personal information in order to steal from you.   If you are not expecting a package then why would you get an email from the USPS, FED EX, or UPS?  Well as I said before “curiosity killed the cat and can rob you blind”.  These people are hoping that you allow them to obtain your personal information by clicking on that attachment in that email or clicking on that link because you are curious enough to find out what that email is for.  If UPS, Fed EX or USPS does happen to email you it will NOT ask you for information, it will only state that the package is on the way, and give you a link to track it.  But as I said, if you didn’t order anything, then you should not be receiving and email about it.

Quick story:  I had a client call me up she received one of those email from UPS.  She was expecting a package – but as I said UPS doesn’t send you emails with a link.  When they send email for a package they address it to you and there is their logo on it with the package information.  They just don’t say click on this link and install this.  She clicked the link and suddenly they couldn’t open any of their documents, spreadsheets, pdf’s or database files.  This was and is a disaster for them.  This is a “new” and improved way to steal your money it’s called the Crypto Ransom Virus.  I spoke about this nasty addition to ripping you off on my Facebook page. This one pops up a message telling you that your files have been encrypted and unless you pay you can’t get them back!  Well even if you do pay it’s not a guarantee you’ll get your files unencrypted.  What does encrypted files mean?  Well in a word it makes them unreadable.    And what’s so interesting about this one is it not only encrypts your files on your PC but it encrypts anything else that’s attached to your PC.  So for example say you’re working for a big company and you have a mapped drive to store files on a server if you happen upon this virus you’ve not only infected your computer but the entire computer network you’re attached to.  The only way to get the information back is to have a backup.  Most businesses do but for you home users not so much.  There is no “cure” for this.  You can get rid of the virus but you can’t decrypt the files so basically anything you have is useless.  This particular user didn’t think, and didn’t look at what she was doing.  Within a second of clicking on this link from this phony email she totally destroyed everything on this PC and for this record this was a small business with no backups.   Everything is gone.

My advice is either

a) Get yourself an external drive that you can simply plug into your USB port of your laptop and store whatever you can’t afford to lose on that.  Keep it safe and only plug it in when you are updating it.  So for example, I have one such device I keep pictures and my music on there and anything else I can’t afford to lose. I only attach this to my PC when I’m going to copy more information to it.

B) You can invest some money and use one of those on line backup places.  The choice is  yours. But either way that should help you out.


Check out my Facebook page for more details on the crypto ransom virus.


This one is always fun… No, you don’t have a cousin, aunt, uncle or for that matter any relative in Sudan, Nigeria, or any other country that is contacting you by email because you just inherited a million plus dollars.  What’s so interesting about this is that you have to pay for your inheritance – really?  And you didn’t win the lottery overseas either especially because you didn’t play!  Also, Publishers’ Clearing House doesn’t email you to tell you that you’ve won they show up. And you don’t have to fill out a form on line that gives your personal information or pay any money to receive your prize.

Here’s on I just received in my email about a charity – nice touch.

From: “Gillian And Adrian Bayford” <>
Date: November 14, 2013 at 4:08:36 AM EST
To: Recipients <>
Subject: Christmas Donation Funds

Send Name, Country,Age,Occupation and Phone number. My wife and i are donating 1,500,000British Pounds to Five people each, as part of our charity donation this month, for details see our interview


I have no doubt this may be a real story, but they are asking me to send them my information?  That’s not right.  Usually if you want to donate money to a charity you can do it over the web and it’s on a secure website (something secure would be https://… And a lock would appear at the bottom of the screen) So, in this case they are going to just give money to five people – any five people who happen to send the required information?  I doubt that. They just need my name, Country, Age and Occupation along with my phone number? They are going to call me?  Since when do I need to send any charity my information, I just give them a check and that’s that.  And look at the email. My wife and i?  They can’t even spell and no space between the 1,500,000 and British?  Grammar is wrong.  That’s a red flag too.  But I have no doubt people see stuff like this and click the link and give the information out.  I’m sure isn’t the last piece of mail like this that will show up in my in box this holiday season.

You can’t stop this stuff from coming in but you can ignore it by deleting it immediately.  Also, it’s very important to have some type for Virus Protection on your PC, laptop even tablet, anything that you receive and open email on or surf the web.  And yes, a Mac can get a virus too.  See my blog on virus protection vs. Internet Security – there is a difference.

Anything including your phone is a vessel for you to be ripped off. You need to be aware of what you are reading, opening and even clicking on when you’re browsing the internet. KNOW what you’re downloading, and know what you are saying yes to.  I have so many people call me up and tell me that their home page got changed and they don’t know how it happened.  My first question to them is “what did you install”?  So many times I update my “flash, Java, etc.” these are program that you do need, and there’s a check box that says install “Chrome, AVG, some toolbar, change your home page”, etc.  If you don’t uncheck this box it installs.  Again awareness of what you are doing on line is the key!

So my advice to you all this Holiday Season is PAY ATTENTION to what you’re doing on the internet and delete those unknown emails.



Computer & PC Help


I want to relay an incident that happened to me this week; the moral of this story is know your IT professional, trust your IT professional and lastly and most importantly, LISTEN to what they tell you especially when it comes to purchases.

I take care of many different clients in many different situations.  This particular client is a business client that I take care of – a few weeks ago the client told me that when the power goes out, the server shuts down.  I immediately said you need to purchase a battery backup – let me know and I’ll come by and install it.  I left it at that.  Now in all honestly, I probably should have been more aggressive in making sure this client did just that but I can’t really do that because I do have a lot going on so I do rely on my clients to do what I ask, especially when it comes to purchases.   Now also please note that I did not tell them I’d buy it because when it comes to ordering little things like that I feel that the client can take that responsibility.  Either the client will order it on line after I tell them what to buy, or just go pick it up at a local store.

I’ve said time and time again, a $50.00 battery can say you thousands of dollars!  Well, I’m sure by now you know where this is going so here’s what happened.  We had a bad storm here one day.  It was thunder, lighting, and much rain.  About 2 pm my phone rings and it was this particular client,  I answered the phone and this voice that sounded a bit panicked told me that there was a flashing amber light on the server and they couldn’t get a picture on the machine.  I asked what happened and they told me that the power blinked and the server rebooted and never came back.  I immediately when into concerned mode but thought maybe there was an issue with the monitor, so I asked questions, trying to troubleshoot on the phone and then I finally told them to change the monitor.  Nothing worked.  I told them to unplug the server press and hold the power button then to plug in back in and try to turn it on.  That didn’t work either.  I told this client I’d be there as soon as I can.  In the meantime, I asked the client to see if they had a backup of their information.  This particular client uses one company for on-line backups – which I’m not a fan of but this client insisted on this service.  I prefer the old fashioned way either tape backup or some type of external drive either in place of an on line company or in addition to an on line company.  This client called the on-line backup company and they did not have the information they needed backed up.  So now this situation is critical – this company (my client) is out of business without that information.

I arrived on site shortly after that.  I looked at this server and tried a few things and nothing worked.  I concluded that the server took a hit and the mother board was fried. Meaning in English the server isn’t coming back up.  Of course the server was out of warranty so I the manufacturer wouldn’t even let me extend the warranty.   So now I’m thinking I hope the disks are ok. I the middle of this craziness, the client informs me that she’s calling someone else because two heads are better than one and maybe the two of us can come up with something.  I’m thinking wow you don’t trust me…  So now I’m pulling out the drives and trying to explain to the client that they need to be prepared, they have no backups and they may have lost all the data if the disks are fried too. That I need to verify the integrity of these disks before I can say anymore.    The client explains to me that this guy is also a network guy and he can help and that he’s bring something to attach to the drive so we can read them.  I’m thinking ok. So in walks this guy he has an external drive reader. I quickly attach this to one of the machines to read the drives.  There were two drives – they were mirrored.  I look at the 1st drive I get in and then it dies!  I can’t read it.  This guy chimes in and say let me try.  He takes the drive and says “sometimes when you shake them you can read them” I’m thinking not a good idea you’re going to make it worse.  Well about 20 minutes later this guy is switching back and forth between the drives to try and read them – nothings working he states these drives are dead you are going to need to take them to a company to get your data off.  Now I’m thinking can’t be – I tell the client please just give me time and let me take the drives and look at them, I have tools.  The client is freaking at this point and screaming because they want this immediately.  I’m trying to explain that this is not an immediate fix and I can’t possibly get a server in here before Monday – this was Thursday.  The client didn’t understand that you just can’t buy a server ready to go off the shelf. I’m trying to explain that this isn’t an easy solution and that I need some time to assess the drives.  The other tech is insisting that the drives are dead – he’s still shaking them and getting no where.  Again I’m pleading with the client please just give me time.  Let me look at the drives and I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know.  The client is insisting that that’s not good enough and in the morning she’s taking the drive to this guy’s friend who gets data off drives.  I’m like please just let me take the drive to work before you do that and let me see what I can do before you do that.  The client is still freaking – I take one drive and leave.

Next morning I take the drive with me – the client has the other drive.  About 8:00 the client calls me to tell me that she dropped off the drive to this place that the other tech told her to go to and she paid $300.00 for them to “push” her to the front and diagnose the drive to first decide if  they can retrieve the data.  I’m truly livid at this point because all I wanted was the chance to look at this before this client spent the money.  The client insisted I didn’t understand her situation – I tried to explain I was fully aware of her situation and that if we couldn’t get this data that they were going to have to start over and they may be out of business.  All I kept saying was please just give me a chance but if you feel more comfortable with the other tech taking the lead on this, I will bow out. The client wouldn’t listen.

So with this in mind I just could have let it go, the client dropped the drive off at the company to recover it from the drive – I realize they could do it but the cost was probably going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500.00 – $2000.00 and the client still had to purchase a server too.

So I had the drive with me and I have something called a cradle which I slipped the drive into – I did it on a windows 7 machine, the client is still running XP.  And low and behold I was able to read the drive!  I quickly copied the information off and burned it to a CD.  I called the client – The client still didn’t believe me!  I kept saying I got into the drive and I copied what you needed.  Please come here and pick up the disk. The client came to me and asked how come I was able to do that and the other tech couldn’t.  My answer was I have better tools and I left it at that. She took the disk with the data.  Meanwhile for her $300.00 the company didn’t even call yet.  In just a few hours I was able to get the information back.  I didn’t know if the drives were fried – I thought that maybe windows XP just couldn’t read the drives or perhaps something was wrong with the equipment the other tech was using. I didn’t know. But I knew I at least had to try. The client did get the information back and was back up and running by that afternoon on a temporary PC. The client purchased an external drive for backups too and is going to purchase a battery backup for the new server.  We did order a server which should be there in about 10 days.

As a service profession I cannot and will not give you answers to something I don’t know the answers too myself.  I cannot raise your expectations without knowing what the outcome will be – that would be totally irresponsible of me. My client was desperately trying to get me to tell her that everything was going to be fine and that I was going to be able to fix the situation.  I can never tell you that I can get your data, repair your machine, etc. without knowing what the outcome will be. In this case I kept telling the client please just give me time – the client wouldn’t listen because she though I meant I wasn’t going to do anything before Monday.  I felt it necessary to prepare the client for the possibility of total disaster because that possibility did exist.  This client didn’t listen to my recommendations and there was nothing I could do about it.  They didn’t get the critical battery backup, they stopped doing the backups the way I had it set up because they couldn’t be bothered changing tapes and they took matters into their own hands. They jumped the gun and took the drive to a restoration company that didn’t even bother to get back to them!  So in all reality this client would still have been down if I didn’t do what I did!  I’m not suggesting that, taking the disk to such a company was a bad idea, they may have had to do that but this client should have let me do my job first which meant just waiting a little longer.

So moral of this story is if you think the person you hire to do your IT job is not trust worthy find someone who you trust. 

YOUR BUSINESS IS ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST BACKUP! Remember that rule for everything you do.  If your equipment dies it’s replaceable and it’s not an instant fix either but if you have a backup at least you KNOW you can restore it and you’re not out of business.  Lastly INVEST THE MONEY on the battery backup NOT a surge protector –  it will save your equipment from  taking a hit during a power surge or failure.  Equipment gets old and it WILL need to be replaced, better to do this on your terms and not as an emergency!

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