ComTech: IT Support Stirling

When you buy a new machine make sure you know what you are buying

It has happened. You woke up one morning and realised that the old and trusty laptop (or PC) is no longer upto the job and it needs replacing.  No problem you say I will go along to somewhere like PC World and just pick up a new one.  For a home user this approach works well but what about when the laptop or PC is used for business?

You see if you are in the market for a Windows machine (as most businesses are) you may not realise that there are different versions of Windows.  Taking Windows 8.1 as an example, there is Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro and also Windows 8.1 Enterprise. Which one you choose will depend on what you want the machine for.  If you are a small business user then you should go for Windows 8.1 Pro but if you buy from somewhere like PC World, Argos, John Lewis etc most of the machines come with Windows 8.1  and not Pro.  So what is the downside of just getting Windows 8.1 then?

The two main reasons are encryption and connecting to a server. Windows 8.1 Pro comes with BitLocker which allows you to encrypt your hard drive and keeps all your data safe if someone steals it. At present I don’t know of any way to successfully encrypt a Windows 8.1 system  (if anyone does please let me know).

The second reason is perhaps more pressing.  If you have a Windows server installed on your network you need Windows 8.1 Pro (or Windows 7 Professional) to be able to connect to it.  Home versions of all Microsoft operating systems can’t connect to a Windows server.  I have been to clients in the past who had maybe 5 or 6 Windows 7 Home Premium systems who wanted a server to backup all their data to.  Straight away a Windows server was out the window and I ended up installing a Linux one instead (personally a better choice anyway in this instance).  If you have an onsite Exchange server for your emails home versions of Windows are also a no goer. I have even seen business critical applications being run on a Windows 7 Starter netbook before which should never happen.

So before you go out and spend your companies hard earned on something which doesn’t fit your requirements do yourself a favour and check what software it is running.

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter




What is encryption?

Today I shall talk about encryption, what it is and the different types available on the market.

Encryption is basically taking a computer algorithm and applying it to a piece of data and making it unreadable to a third party. In essence the only person who can read that data is the person who has the key to decrypt it.  If you had data on your hard drive which was sensitive (e.g financial records etc) then you could encrypt it so no one else could read it.

What are the different types?

There are loads of different types of encryption and which one you use will depend on if you want t0 encrypt transmissions, databases or files / folders.  I am going to concentrate on files / folders because that is what most people will be looking for – making files unreadable to third parties.

This is where I shall introduce you to two of the most popular pieces of encryption software, TrueCrypt and Bit Locker both of which work on Windows.  Truecrypt is open source while Bit Locker is proprietary software from Microsoft.  Both can encrypt and decrypt a hard drive and both are virtually unbreakable (at time of print!!).  TrueCrypt is easy to set up and does not require repartitioning of your hard drive, whereas Bit Locker does.  Bit Locker requires a 1.5 Gb partition to be set up prior to installing the operating system.  If not you will have to repartition your hard drive and restore Windows from a backup.

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of encryption?


1. Data is safe as no one else can read it without the decryption key.

2. Once set up it requires little or no user input.


1. If you lose the encryption key you will not be able to read your data EVER.

2. Uses more system resources (ie CPU)

3. If Windows becomes corrupt and will not boot you have to decrypt your files before you can recover them which takes time (I recently had to decrypt a 160Gb hard drive encrypted using TrueCrypt which took 8 hours!! Only then could I recover the user files and restore the system)

Hopefully this has given you an insight into encryption and the advantages and disadvantages of using it.  Just remember don’t lose the key!!!

About the Author


Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients throughout Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!



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