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How often do you check your backups?


Recently I had a client (call him Jeff) ask me would I be able to take a look at his Windows 7 laptop which had become infected with a virus.  After inspecting the laptop it was obvious that it was in a sorry state of repair so I suggested to Jeff that the quickest way to recover the system would be to wipe the hard drive and reinstall the operating system.

“I did a backup last week to an external hard drive so go ahead and wipe it” I was told.  Great I thought as not having to recover files saves a lot of time so I happily wiped the hard drive and reinstalled Windows 7.  Jeff then went to get his external hard drive.  When he returned he plugged it in and it wasn’t recognised. I then plugged it into my netbook (Linux based) and again nothing happened.  Houston we have a problem!!

Unbeknown to Jeff since he had made his last backup the hard drive had been dropped and all of his files could no longer be accessed.  I did suggest sending it off to a lab to try and retrieve the files but when I told him it would cost hundreds he didn’t look very well!! He had made the common mistake of making backups but not checking them.

Now Jeff is a home customer and home customers in my experience hardly ever take backups (never mind checking them) but I also see this happening in the workplace.  A lot of businesses I deal with do some kinds of backups (one backs up to floppy disks!!) but hardly any of them ever check them.  When I do suggest they check them I am usually told there is no need.  Personally I would rather know there is a problem before I need to try and restore your systems from backups that may or may not be corrupt in some form.

So people yes take your backups but for your own sake check them too!!

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

 

Should you upgrade to Windows 8?

Last week saw the release of Windows 8 the biggest change to to the Windows operating system since Windows 95.  If you listen to all the marketing blurb it is faster, leaner and full of new features but after all the dust has settled one question still remains.  Should you upgrade to Windows 8?  Lets take a look.

Advantages

1. New touch screen enabled interface looks bang up to date.  If you do a lot of work using a tablet or smartphone then you are going to love the new interface.

2. New features like Windows To Go and Boot speed are nice inclusions.

3. You now have the same interface across multiple platforms (smartphone, tablet and PC).  If you use Microsoft technologies a lot for your daily tasks this could be a huge bonus as the interface will look the same no matter what device you are using.

4. Sync all your data with the cloud.  Windows 8 has been designed with the cloud in mind and Windows 8 makes it very easy to store all your data online.  No more data loss when your hard drive dies (if you use it of course).

5. You can upgrade directly from Windows XP.


Disadvantages

1. There is a steep learning curve.  The interface is completely different so you will have to re-learn how to use the system.  For a lot of users this will prove to much of an inconvenience.

2. Without touch screen the new interface doesn’t really work.  Should work well on a tablet though.

3. Windows 8 will require new hardware to really shine.

The new interface has completely split opinion.  Personally I don’t think it will work very well on a traditional laptop or PC as using a mouse seams ‘wrong’.  Windows 8 has been designed for touch screens and on a system with touch screen technology it should work fine. Saying that you would have to forget most of what you already know about Windows and learn the new interface.  On your Windows XP system with 1 Gb of RAM and a mouse? Um…………………………..

As for business adoption I think Microsoft is going to have problems convincing companies to upgrade to Windows 8.  Companies would have to retrain users and this takes time and money which could be spent elsewhere.

So to conclude if you ‘need’ the latest Windows operating system I would go out and buy a touchscreen enabled laptop or tablet as this will bring out the best of Windows 8.  If you already have a Windows 7 system which is fully functional with no issues I wouldn’t bother upgrading and if you have XP go for Windows 7 instead.

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 undelete files in Windows 7 using Recuva

I have been updating my software repository recently so decided to take a look at what was available on the market to recover deleted fields. During my research I came across Recuva.

Recuva is distributed as freeware (with no support) which can be downloaded off their website.  It works on all versions of Windows and you can purchase the Professional or Business Editions if you require the piece of mind of technical support should you need it. Below I will show you how to use it.

When you start the program you should get the wizard as shown below.


If you click next you will be asked what sort of files you are trying to recover.

Choose your file type and then click next.  On the following page you will be asked for the file location (if known).

Click next. That is all the information that is required right now for Recuva to recover your files.

Once Recuva has finished its scan it will present you with a list of all the files that can be recovered (shown below).  A word here about the colour next to the files.  The colour indicates the chances of recovering the file.  For example green =  excellent, amber = acceptable and red = unlikely.

Choose the file you want to recover and then click on Recover.  Hopefully you should be able to recover your files. Good luck!!

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

 

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.

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.

How to convert a physical machine into a virtual one


Today we are going all virtual!!  We shall have a look at converting a physical machine into a virtual one by using VMware Converter.  For this tutorial our test system is an Acer Aspire One running Windows 7 Home Premium. First thing we need to do is download and install the VMWare converter software onto our test system. Once installed you should get the screenshot below. Next we have to click on Convert machine (top left corner) to get the following screen. Make sure you set the source type as Powered-on machine and specify the powered-on machine as This local machine (shown above).  Click next. We now have to specify where to save the virtual machine.  Set destination type as VMWare Workstation or other VMWare virtual machine.  Set VMWare product as “Whatever VMWare product you are using” and then browse for a location to save your image to.  Don’t forget to name your image. We now come to the options screen shown below.  Browse the options and edit if needed. When you are happy click next. We finally reach the Summary screen.  Again browse your configuration choices and when happy click Finish. Your physical machine will now be converted in a virtual one which can be imported into virtual software of your choice.  Depending on how big your hard drive is the conversion may take some time.

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

 

How to make a bootable Windows 7 USB stick


Today I will show you how to install Windows 7 without using a DVD.  Yep today we are going to make a bootable Windows 7 USB stick.  This comes in really handy when you are installing Windows 7 onto netbooks or computers that don’t have DVD drives.  It is also a lot quicker than DVD installations too!!

The first thing we need to do is download a piece of software called  Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool from the Microsoft website.  Once downloaded and installed you should get the following screenshot.

Choose the location of your ISO file and click next.  On the next screen you will be asked to choose your media type.  Pick USB device.

You will then be asked to pick your USB device and when you have done so click Begin Copying.  This installs the ISO image onto the USB stick and makes it bootable.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in and around Stirling.

 

Clonezilla Tutorial


Today we are going to take a look at how you would clone a system and deploy it on another computer. To do this we will use the open source software Clonezilla. I have been using Clonezilla for a couple of years and found it to be a very versitile piece of software and ideal when cloning systems (and its free!!).  For the purpose of this tutorial I will be using Windows 7 and Clonezilla running from a live cd.

Before you use Clonezilla (only use this section if you intend to deploy to new systems otherwise skip to live CD)

You have to prepare your Windows system before you can clone it.  The first thing to do is to add all the applications you want on the new system.  Once you have done that we need to remove all the unique identifiers (e.g passwords, activation codes etc).  For that we need sysprep.

Go to:

Start – Computer – Local Disk (C:) – Windows – System32 – sysprep – sysprep

Once you start sysprep you should get the screenshot  below.

Make sure that you set the System Cleanup Action to OOBE and that the generalize box is ticked.  You should also set Shutdown Options to Shutdown.  Once configured click ok. This will start the sysprep tool and once complete will shut down the system.

Starting Clonezilla

It is time to boot the system from the Clonezilla live cd.  On the startup screen leave the default and press return.

On the next screen you will be asked to pick your language.  Press return when you have chosen.

On the next screen you will be asked for your keymap configuration.  Unless you know what you are doing I would recommend you don’t touch this and use the Don’t touch keymap option.

You will now be asked if you would like to start the Clonezilla software or enter a shell (for those so inclined).  For the purpose of this tutorial chose Start Clonezilla.

We will now be asked where we would like to save the cloned system image file. Clonezilla gives you several options of where to store the file.  For the purpose of this tutorial I will store it on a local device (ie my 16Gb usb penstick).  When you have decided where to store the image press return and Clonezilla will mount the device.

On the following page you need to configure a device as /home/partimag.  Chose the same device that you mounted to store your image on so in my case it will be sdb1 as this is my 16Gb usb penstick.

The next option you will have to configure is where on your device do you want to store your image.  As you can see from the screenshot below I have a lot of files and folders on the usb penstick.  If you don’t want the image stored in a specific folder then pick / and press return.

After deciding where to store the image file Clonezilla lets you configure advanced features and options by means of a wizard.  You will need to decide if you want the Beginner or Expert wizard.  Chose Beginner unless you have some specific options that you want to configure as this is sufficient for most peoples needs.

On the next page of the wizard you want to choose savedisk as this saves the local disk as an image for you to deploy later.

When presented with the next screen you have to enter a name for your image as shown below.

Clonezilla will now ask you to pick the source disk that should be imaged.  If your computer only has one disk then Clonezilla will highlight it for you.  If you have multiple disks then you will have to choose which one you want to image.

To make sure your image is restorable choose Yes check the saved image as shown below.

Now we come to the final screen shown below.  Check that you are happy with the choices shown and when ready press Enter.  Your hard disk will now be imaged and saved in the location you specified earlier.  You will need to be patient as this can take some time depending on the size of your hard drive.

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

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

 

 

How to set backups in Windows 7

Today we will be taking a look at the one thing everyone should do with a computer – back it up!!  We will be using Windows 7 Home Premium and backing up our files to a 100Gb external hard drive.

Ok go to Start – Control Panel – Backup and Restore

Once opened we need to backup our data so click on Set up backup.

By default Windows 7 will not allow you to back up to a network share so it is CD, DVD or external hard drive.  Choose your external hard drive from the backup destination list and click next.

On the next screen Windows will ask you what you want to back up.  You can either let Windows decide or if you need to back up specific files you can do that instead.  Once you have decided click next.

On the final screen you will be asked to review your settings.  Pay special attention to the backup schedule.  By default Windows will schedule the backups to occur every Sunday at 19.00.  If this is not satisfactory then click on Change Schedule and set accordingly.  Once you are happy click on Save settings and run backup.


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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