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How to check the status of your hard drive using SeaTools


Today I will show you how to check the status of your hard drive.  There are tools built into Windows which will accomplish such tasks (eg chkdsk) however they are useless if you can’t boot into the system to use them.  For situations like this you need SeaTools.

Seatools is a diagnostic program that can be run from a CD and allows you to perform preconfigured tests on your hard drive.  For the purpose of this tutorial I will use SeaTools on a Windows 7 system which is hosted as a virtual machine within Virtualbox.

Ok first thing to do is download a copy of Seatools and burn it to a disk.  Now we shall boot the system with the disk to get the screenshot below.

Accept the license agreement to start the program.  Once started you should get the screenshot below.

Now highlight your hard drive and click on Basic Tests – Short Test.  The short test is usually sufficient to tell if your hard drive is experiencing issues.

Once the test has been carried out Seatools will show the test results on the right hand side under Test Results.

If the Test Result is Passed then you have no issues.  If however the result is Failed then you have a problem.  You can go back and try the Long Test which can sort out any bad sectors etc but in my experience if a hard drive fails the Short Test it needs replacing.

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 in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

BIOS sees memory upgrade but Linux Mint 12 does not


Good afternoon.  Today I upgraded my main Linux Mint 12 system to 8Gb of RAM (I do a lot of software testing with virtual machines).  Came across one little problem though. The RAM upgrade was recognised in BIOS but not by the operating system.  Time to do some research.  It turns out the default 32-bit installation of Linux Mint 12 does not have a PAE (Physical Address Extension)-aware kernel installed.  Well that is easily fixed.

Open up a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install linux-generic-pae linux-headers-generic-pae

And then restart.  Upon restarting, the system will have the full complement of RAM to play with!!!

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 in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

 

 

 


							

How to format a hard drive on Ubuntu 12.04 using Fdisk


Today I will show you how to format a hard disk using Fdisk.  Fdisk comes already installed on most modern Linux distributions by default.

For the purpose of this tutorial I will be using Fdisk on Ubuntu 12.04 to format a 16Gb USB penstick with the ntfs file system.

First we need to see what our 16Gb USB penstick is mounted as so open up a terminal and type:

sudo fdisk -l

and type your password when prompted.  You should get a screenshot similar to the one below.

In this case my 16Gb USB penstick is mounted at /dev/sdc1.

Next type:

sudo fdisk /dev/sdc1

and you should get the command prompt shown below.

Now we need to check the existing partitions on the penstick so type:

p

to get the screenshot below.

Now we know what is on the drive it is time to delete it so type:

d

You will then be asked for the partition number (1-4).  In my case I have 4 partitions on the disk and I need to delete them all.  So I will type 1 and this will erase the 1st partition only.  I would then be left with partitions 2 – 4 and to remove these I would repeat the procedure until all the partitions have been erased.

We now need to set up the new partition so in your terminal type:

n

Because this is the first partition on the drive type:

p

You will now be asked for a partition number.  Choose 1 and then press return.  When asked to specify the First Sector choose the default by pressing Return.  Again accept the default Last Sector by pressing Return.

Now that the partition parameters have been specified we need to write them to the hard drive and we do that by typing:

w

All that is left to do is to make the filesystem on the hard drive and to do that we type:

sudo mkfs -t ntfs /dev/sdc1

Next time I will show you how to accomplish the same task using GParted (for those who like a GUI).

About the Author

P1020114

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

 

Emails keep on getting stuck in Outlook 2007 outbox

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Came across this last week while working on a clients laptop with Microsoft Outlook 2007 installed.  The problem they had was now and again they would send an email but it would get as far as the outbox and then get stuck.  Sometimes they could delete it and other times they couldn’t and all other emails would stack up behind it.  After doing some research this seems to be a bug in the software but there are some ways to mitigate this.

Below are some suggestions on how to deal with this issue if it happens to you (I haven’t tried these on Outlook 2010 only Outlook 2007 but I am guessing they should work very similar)

1. Set server interval to 6 mins 50 secs.

By default the server timeout interval is set to 1 min but this can be insufficient if your antivirus program is scanning all outbound emails.  Setting this to 6 min 50 sec allows enough time to scan thus not timing out and sticking your email in the outbox.

2. Put outlook in Work Offline mode.

Click on File – Work Offline and then restart the program.  Once Outlook restarts you should be able to delete the stuck email.  Don’t forget to switch Outlook back to Online mode when you are finished.

3. Forward the stuck email.

Highlight the stuck email and forward it to the original sender.  Once it has gone use one of the other suggestions here to delete it.

4. Export all your contacts to excel and then import them back in again.

I noticed that an email would get stuck if I used the auto complete function for addresses in the contact list.  If I typed the full address then there would be no issue.  I exported all the contacts to Excel (CSV file) and then imported them back in (overwriting the existing ones) and this did seam to solve the issue for the most part.

If anyone knows of any I have missed please let me know!!

About the Author

P1020114

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

 

Send / Receive is very slow in Outlook 2007


Today I will discuss the send /receive function in Microsoft Outlook and in particular why it sometimes runs very slowly.  These suggestions have been tested on Microsoft Outlook 2007 but should also work on Outlook 2010.

1. Disable Outlook Add-ins you no longer use

You need to expand Tools – Trust Center and click the Add-ins tab. Uncheck any add-ins that you no longer use (e.g GoogleDesktop, iTunes etc).

2. Reduce the size of your Outlook personal pst file

Remove any deleted emails you might have and any emails in general you don’t want to keep (especially emails with large attachments).  Once you done this you need to compact the pst file by going to File – Data Management select the file you want to compact and click Compact.

3. Disable all RSS Feeds

Microsoft Outlook 2007 installs by default with a set of RSS Feeds.  If you are not using Outlook for RSS Feeds then it is best to disable them aotherwise resources will be wasted during synchronization.

4. Split your personal pst file

If you have a lot of email accounts coming into Outlook then you might want to consider splitting each email address into its own pst file. Instead of having one very large file you would then have lots of smaller files which would make synchronization much quicker.

If anyone can think of anything I have missed please let me know!!

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

Microsoft Office 2010 Invalid product key


You have purchased a new shiny copy of Microsoft Office 2010 and are in the process of installing it.  Up comes the product key screen so you enter your product key and get the error message: Your key is not a valid Microsoft Office product key.  Hey?  The solution to solve this is as follows.

Chances are your laptop came with Microsoft Office 2010 trial software already installed.  The key you have purchased will not work on a trial version of Microsoft Office 2010.  In order to install the copy of Microsoft Office 2010 you have purchased you first have to remove the trial version as it is not possible to install one copy over another. If you have issues removing the trial version using Control Panel (I have had this happen in the past) then use a tool like Revo Uninstaller which allows you to delete registry entries for the software you are trying to uninstall.

Hope this helps.

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 in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

How to take screenshots on the Blackberry Playbook


For all its bad press I have found the Blackberry Playbook to be a serious piece of kit.  It is very intuitive to use and comes with some great features.  One of these is the ability to take screenshots which I shall discuss today.

Taking screenshots on the Blackberry Playbook is pretty straight forward.  You press both volume control buttons simultaneously on the top of the tablet.  The screenshot is then stored in pictures and can be transferred to another computer via wifi.  This tutorial will show you how to transfer files via wifi.

Below is a screenshot of my home page on the Blackberry Playbook taken using this method.

 

 

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

How to set up WSUS on Windows Server 2008 R2


Good morning my fellow readers. Today I am going to show you how to set up WSUS on Windows Server 2008 R2.  WSUS is fantastic for centralising management of Windows Updates throughout your network.  Installing a WSUS server makes deploying patches and security fixes much easier and so by default makes your life easier too!!

For the purpose of this tutorial I will be using Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 with 1.5 Gb of RAM (you would use much more than this in a production environment).

Open up Server Manager.  Right click on Roles and then click Add Roles.

When asked to select which roles you want to install click Windows Server Update Services and when prompted Add the additional roles that are required (eg Web Server IIS)

During installation you will be prompted to accept the license agreement and then you will be asked where do you want to store all the updates.  Either choose a new folder or accept the default C:\\WSUS location.

You will now be asked to choose whether you want to install the Windows Internal Database or use an existing one instead.  I tend to just install the database on the C drive in C:\\WSUS but the choice is yours.

Next you will be asked for your web site preference.  You can use the default IIS web site to access WSUS over the network or you can specify your own one.  Again I quite happily choose the default for this.

On the last page page review your options and then click next.

The installation itself takes a long time but once installed the first thing we need to do is synchronize the WSUS server with Microsoft Update (or another WSUS server on the network) so expand Server Manager – Windows Server Update Services – Update Services – Options – Update Source and Proxy Server.

For the purpose of this tutorial I will synchronise with Microsoft Update.

Next we have to choose which products to download updates for so click on Products and Classifications.

Choose all the products which you require updates for and click OK.

Next we have to decide what languages to download the updates in (if you select all available languages your downloads will take a long time and take up a loads of disk space).  Click on Update Files and Languages and then the Update Languages tab. Choose your language and then click Apply.

We now need to decide when to check for new updates and when to download them.  To accomplish this we need to click on Synchronization Schedule (shown below).

You can synchronize manually but it is better to synchronize automatically on a daily schedule.  Once you have set your daily schedule click Apply.

With all the housekeeping done all that is left to do is to perfrom the initial synchronization so expand Server Manager – Windows Server Update Services – Update Services – Synchronize and then right click and go to Synchronize Now. This will start the synchronize process.

That is the configuration for the WSUS server complete.

Distributing Updates across the network

To accomplish this we need to set up a Windows Update Group Policy and then distribute it to all computers in the domain.

To do this expand Start – Administrative Programs – Group Policy Management. Once the Group Policy Management Console is open expand Group Policy Management – Forest – Domains – “your domain” – Group Policy Objects. Right click on Group Policy Objects and go to New.

When the New GPO box appears eneter a name for the new GPO and then click OK.  Your new GPO should be visible on the screen (as shown below).  Right click on it and go to Edit.

Now in the left panel expand Computer Configuration – Policies – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Update to get the screenshot below.

The first setting to configure is Specify intranet Microsoft update service location. Right click and go to Edit.

As shown above set this to enabled. Enter the location of your WSUS Server where required and then click Apply.

The next setting to configure is Configure Automatic Updates.  Set this to enabled and specify how the downloads should be installed and at what time.  Once configured click Apply.

Next we have to configure the Automatic Updates Detection Frequency policy.

Enable the policy and set to 1 hr.  Click Apply.

Last thing we need to do on the GPO front is link it to the domain.

The next time the computers on your domain restart their group policy settings will be updated and they will be pointed to the new WSUS server (screenshot of client computer shown below).

 

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 in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

 

How to Schedule a Task in Windows 7


Today I will show you how to schedule a task in Windows 7.  This is very handy when you want to schedule tasks that are carried out on a frequent basis.

Ok go to StartAll ProgramsAccessoriesSystem ToolsTask Scheduler

Now go to ActionCreate Task to bring up the following screenshot.

For the purpose of this tutorial I will schedule Internet Explorer to run at a specified time.

On the General tab enter a Name for your Task and also a Description.  Also choose if you want the task to run when a user is logged in or not.  When completed click OK and then click on Triggers.

On the Triggers tab click New to get the following screenshot.

You can now choose when your task should start.  You get the options of One time, Daily, Weekly or Monthly schedule.  I will pick One time for the purpose of this tutorial.  When you have chosen click OK and then the Actions tab.

On the Actions tab click New to get the screenshot below.

Select Start a Program and then browse for a program to start.  So in this case I have chosen to start Internet Explorer.  When you have chosen click OK.

Now click on the Conditions Tab.  You will be given options for what to do if the machine is on AC power, idle etc.  Browse through all the options and choose what is relevant to you and then click OK.

Finally click on the Settings tab.  Again you are given multiple settings for your task. Review the options and then choose what is necessary for you.  Once you have chosen click OK.

All that is left to do is to check that the task is stored and scheduled to run at the specified time.  Click on Task Scheduler Library to get a list of all scheduled tasks.  In the screenshot below Internet Explorer is scheduled to run once on 13/06/2012 at 17.08.

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 in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

How to customise a Windows 7 ISO


Today I will show you how to customise a Windows 7 ISO before you install it on a system.  This can come in useful if you are installing onto a tiny hard drive (eg netbook) or if you don’t want certain features installed automatically during the installation (eg media center etc).

The first thing to do is get your hands on a Windows 7 ISO and copy all the files into a new folder called Win7 Files (you can change this) on your desktop as shown below.

Next we need to download and install a package called RT Seven Lite.  RT Seven Lite allows you to remove components that you don’t need prior to installation. I was originally planning to use vLite, however vLite is not fully compatible with the new WAIK so by default is not fully compatible with Windows 7.

Time to get customising!! Start RT Seven Lite to get the screenshot below.

We now have to locate the Win7 Files folder so click on Browse and navigate to it.  When the windows installation files have been confirmed RT Seven Lite will then ask you to choose which version of Windows the installation files are for.  Choose your version and click ok.

The image will now be uploaded ready for configuration.  Once loaded we can start configuring so click on Task (top left under Home).

This is where we are given loads of options on what we would like to do with the installation files.  For the purpose of this tutorial we shall choose Components Removal and remove all media files so click Components and then Features Removal.

Tick the box next to Multi-Media and then click apply.  This brings you back to the main page where you need to click commit.  The Multi-Media files will now be removed from the Windows 7 Installation Files.

Now that we have removed the Multi-Media files we need to create a bootable ISO so click on ISO-Bootable.

We need to change the mode to Create Image and then enter a name for the volume (e.g Windows7 Lite etc).  Once done click Make ISO.  Choose a place to save the ISO and then click save.

The new image will now be created.  Burn the ISO to disk using your favourite disk burning software.

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 in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

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