• Posted on July 9, 2017 10:48 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    A Guide to the iPad Recovery Mode Resetting the iPad to its factory default settings is the nuclear option when it comes to troubleshooting.  For most issues, simply rebooting the iPad will fix the problem.  It's amazing what a simple reboot will do for the iPad, although it is important to follow the right procedure when rebooting.  When that fails, choosing to erase all settings and data and start from scratch becomes an option.   But what happens when you can't even reset the iPad?   If the iPad is locked or continually gets stuck at the Apple logo, you'll need to go beyond nuclear and force the iPad into recovery mode. The iPad's recovery mode is a process that uses iTunes on your PC or Mac in order to bypass the normal operation on your iPad.  If the iPad has been disabled or something went wrong with a previous update and it now freezes at the Apple logo, this process can force the iPad to reset to its fresh-out-of-the-box factory default settings. Remember, this should only be used when you cannot get into the iPad to operate it.   If your iPad boots up but freezes often while you use it, you can use some basic troubleshooting steps to help fix the problem. And before you try this option, make sure you have tried forcing a reboot.  If you iPad is merely frozen, even if it is at the Apple logo, try holding down the Sleep/Wake button for a full thirty seconds to see if it will power down.   Once the iPad's screen goes completely dark, wait a few seconds and then press the button again to power it back on.  If the iPad reboots but gets stuck at the Apple Logo again, or it simply won't reboot, you will need to continue with these instructions. If you do not already have iTunes installed on your PC or Mac, you can download it from Apple's website. How to Enter Recovery Mode on the iPad: Connect a USB cable to your PC. The cable that comes with the iPad can be used to connect it to your PC. Only connect the USB cable to your PC, not your iPad. Connecting the cable to your iPad must be done in the proper order. Turn off your iPad. You can accomplish this by holding down the Sleep/Wake button at the top of the iPad until a red slider appears on the screen. Activate the slider to turn the iPad off. Hold down the Home Button. The Home button is the round button at the bottom of the iPad, below the screen. While holding down the home button, connect the USB cable to the iPad. Your iPad should power on at this point. Keep holding the Home button down until you see the iTunes logo appear on the screen. If you see a battery on the screen, you will need to let the iPad charge for a bit and then repeat these steps. You are now in the iPad's recovery mode. You will receive a message on the screen alerting you that you have entered recovery mode. At this point, you can restore the iPad through iTunes using these instructions. This process will work from any computer, so if you don't own a PC and never turned on Find My iPad, you can go through this process using a friend's computer.  If you have backed up your iPad using iTunes or iCloud, you should be able to recover everything up to the point of your backup. But even if you haven't backed up your iPad, you can still recover any apps that you have previously purchased by downloading them from the App Store. What if you don't have access to a computer? If your iPad is locked and you don't have access to a computer, you can use Find My iPhone/iPad to wipe it remotely. You can either use the Find My iPhone app on your iPhone or you can go to www.icloud.com from any device that can connect to the web and then simply log on using your Apple ID. To wipe your iPad remotely, choose your iPad (click the blue button if you are on the map screen) and then choose "Erase iPad".  Get more help erasing the iPad remotely by getting in touch with us through our contact form.

    Blog Entry, Data Recovery, Hardware
  • Posted on January 31, 2017 11:22 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    The Advanced Startup Options menu, available in Windows 10 and Windows 8, is the central fix-it location for the entire operating system. From here you can access Windows diagnostic and repair tools like Reset This PC, System Restore, Command Prompt, Startup Repair, and much more. Advanced Startup Options is also where you access Startup Settings, the menu that includes Safe Mode, among other startup methods that could help you access Windows 10 or Windows 8 if it is having problems starting. The Advanced Startup Options menu should appear automatically after two consecutive startup errors. However, if you need to open it manually, there are six different ways to do so. The best way to decide which method to use to open Advanced Startup Options is to base your decision on what level of access you have to Windows right now: If Windows 10/8 starts normally: Use any method, but 1, 2, or 3 will be easiest. If Windows 10/8 does not start: Use method 4, 5, or 6. Method 1 will also work if you can at least get to the Windows 10 or Windows 8 logon screen. Time Required: Accessing Advanced Startup Options is easy and can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on which method you use. Applies To: All of these means of getting to the Advanced Startup Options menu work equally well in any edition of Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 unless I note otherwise. Method 1: SHIFT + Restart Hold down either SHIFT key while tapping or clicking on Restart, available from any Power icon.​ Tip: Power icons are available throughout Windows 10 and Windows 8 as well as from the sign-in/lock screen. Note: This method does not seem to work with the on-screen keyboard. You'll need to have a physical keyboard connected to your computer or device to open the Advanced Startup Options menu this way. Wait while the Advanced Startup Options menu opens. Method 2: Settings Menu Tap or click on the Start button.Note: In Windows 8, Swipe from the right to open the charms bar. Tap or click Change PC settings. Choose Update and recovery from the list on the left (or General prior to Windows 8.1), then choose Recovery. Skip down to Step 5. Tap or click on Settings. Tap or click on the Update & security icon, near the bottom of the window. Choose Recovery from the list of options on the left of the UPDATE & SECURITY window. Locate Advanced startup, at the bottom of the list of options on your right. Tap or click on Restart now. Wait through the Please wait message until Advanced Startup Options opens. Method 3: Shutdown Command Open Command Prompt in Windows 10 or Windows 8.Tip: Another option is to open Run if you can't get Command Prompt started for some reason, probably related to the issue you're having that has you here in the first place! Execute the shutdown command in the following way: shutdown /r /o Note: Save any open files before executing this command or you'll lose any changes you've made since your last save. To the You're about to be signed off message that appears a few seconds later, tap or click on the Close button. After several seconds, during which nothing seems to be happening, Windows 10/8 will then close and you'll see a Please wait message. Wait just a few seconds more until the Advanced Startup Options menu opens. Method 4: Boot From Your Windows 10/8 Installation Media Insert a Windows 10 or Windows 8 DVD or a flash drive with the Windows installation files on it into your computer.Tip: You can borrow someone else's Windows 10 or Windows 8 disc (or other media) if you need to. You're not installing or reinstalling Windows, you're just accessing Advanced Startup Options - no product key or license breaking required. Boot from the disc or boot from the USB device, whatever your situation calls for. From the Windows Setup screen, tap or click Next. Tap or click on the Repair your computer link at the bottom of the window. Advanced Startup Options will start, almost immediately. Method 5: Boot From a Windows 10/8 Recovery Drive Insert your Windows 10 or Windows 8 Recovery Drive into a free USB port.Tip: Don't worry if you weren't proactive and never got around to creating a Recovery Drive. If you have another computer with the same version of Windows or a friend's computer with Windows 10/8, see How To Create a Windows 10 or Windows 8 Recovery Drive for instructions. Boot your computer from the flash drive. On the Choose your keyboard layout screen, tap or click on U.S. or whatever keyboard layout you'd like to use. Advanced Startup Options will begin instantly. Method 6: Boot Directly to Advanced Startup Options Start or restart your computer or device. Choose the boot option for System Recovery, Advanced Startup, Recovery, etc.On some Windows 10 and Windows 8 computers, for example, pressing F11 starts System Recovery. Note: What this boot option is called is configurable by your hardware maker so the options I mentioned are just some that I've seen or heard. Whatever the name, it should be clear that what you're about to do is a boot to Windows's advanced recovery features. Important: The ability to boot directly to Advanced Startup Options isn't one that's available with a traditional BIOS. Your computer will need to support UEFI and then also be configured properly to boot directly to the ASO menu. Wait for Advanced Startup Options to begin. What About F8 and SHIFT+F8? Neither F8 nor SHIFT+F8 is a reliable option for booting to the Advanced Startup Options menu. If you need to access Advanced Startup Options, you can do so with any of the several methods listed above. How To Exit Advanced Startup Options Whenever you're finished using the Advanced Startup Options menu, you can choose Continue to restart your computer. Assuming it's working properly now, this will boot you back into Windows 10/8. Your other option is to choose Turn off your PC, which will do just that.

    Blog Entry, Security, Technical Support
  • Posted on January 14, 2017 11:45 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    Do you have a wireless router that has been quietly serving Wi-Fi to your household for many years? Does it have a thick layer of dust on it? Chances are, if you answered yes to either question, you may not have upgraded your router’s firmware in quite some time. If you have, congratulations, you can stop reading this article right now, if not, read on. What the Heck is This Firmware Stuff? Your router’s firmware is basically the operating system that is specifically designed to run on your specific make and model of router (unless you are using a multi-router compatible open source firmware such as DD-WRT). Usually, your router manufacturer will provide firmware updates for your specific make and model of router, via their website, or via a tool within the administrative console of your router (typically accessible via a web browser.) Why do I Need To Upgrade My Wireless Router’s Firmware? There are many reasons you may want to consider updating your router’s firmware, here are several of them. Security Features and Fixes: One good reason why your router manufacturer may put out a firmware update is because they are trying to fix a vulnerability that was detected in the current firmware, updated firmware is similar to system updates (as in Microsoft’s Windows Update). As bugs are found and corrected, updated firmware is released. Router manufacturers may also issue a firmware update to upgrade fwatures such as outdated encryption modules or they might add entirely new security mechanisms that weren’t in previous versions of the firmware. Performance Enhancements Besides security fixes, your router manufacturer may have found a way to enhance your router’s overall performance, which is always a good thing. If you don’t update your firmware then you won’t be able to take advantage of any speed boosting upgrades that your router manufacturer might release in an update. How do I Perform a Firmware Upgrade? Every router is different, but usually they have a similar process for upgrading the router’s firmware. Here are the basic steps for performing a firmware upgrade, check your router manufacturer’s website for specific instructions for your make and model. Step 1: Login to Your Router’s Administrator Console: Most modern routers use web browser based administration which means you basically type in the IP address of your router in order to access it’s administrative functions. This IP address is almost always a Private IP address which is usually accessed from inside your home network. This helps prevent outsiders from attempting to administer your router. Each router manufacturer uses different default addresses so check your specific router manufacturer’s website for details on which one your router may be using. Here are some common default addresses fro some of the more popular wireless router brands. Apple – 10.0.1.1 Asus – 192,168,1,1 Buffalo Tech – 192.168.1.1 Dlink – 192.168.0.1 or 10.0.0.1 Cisco/Linksys – 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 Netgear – 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.0.227 After you enter the IP address of your router in your browser's address bar, you will likely be prompted for the administrator name (typically “admin” or “administrator”) and the default administrator password. These credentials can likely be obtained from your router manufacturer’s website or they might be located on a label on the bottom or back of your router, typically located near the serial number of the router. Step 2. Locate The Firmware Upgrade Section of the Administrator Console: Usually there is a dedicated firmware upgrade section within the router administration site. It may be located under the Router Setup page, the "About This Router" page, or perhaps under a “Maintenance” or "Firmware Update" heading. Step 3. Download and Install The Router Firmware (from a trusted source) Newer routers will likely make it very easy to download and install the firmware directly from within the router administrative console. Some routers may require that you first save the file to your computer and then select the firmware file via the administration console. Regardless of the method, make sure you are downloading directly from the macnufacturer or from another trusted source (if using open source router firmware). If possible, scan the file for malware before performing the firmware upgrade. IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t interrupt a firmware upgrade that is in progress or you could potentially damage (brick) your router. Try to avoid doing an upgrade during a lightning storm as firmware upgrades and power outages don’t mix well.

    Blog Entry, Hardware, Patches
  • Posted on January 13, 2017 12:48 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    So, you just bought a shiny new wireless router. Maybe you got it as a gift, or you just decided it was time to upgrade to a new one. Whatever the case may be, there are a few things you should do to make it more secure as soon as you get it out of the box. Here Are Some Tips on How to Secure Your Brand New Wireless Router: 1. Set a Strong Router Admin Password As soon as your prompted by your new router's setup routine, make sure you change your router's admin password and make it a strong one. Using the default password is a horrible idea because hackers and pretty much anyone else can look it up on the router manufacturer's website or on a site that lists default password information. 2. Upgrade Your Router's Firmware When you bought your new router, chances are, it may have been sitting in a warehouse for months, then on a store shelf for quite some time. During this time the manufacturer may have found some bugs or vulnerabilities in the firmware (software/OS that it built into the router). They may have also added new features and other upgrades that may improve the security or functionality of the router. In order to make sure that you have the latest and greatest version of the router's firmware, you'll need to check your router's firmware version to see if it is current or if there is a newer version available. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to check the firmware version and how to perform a firmware upgrade. 3. Turn on WPA2 Wireless Encryption When you set up your new router, you may be prompted to choose a form of wireless encryption. You should avoid the outdated WEP encryption, as well as the original WPA. You should opt for WPA2 (or whatever the most current form of wireless encryption is). Choosing WPA2 will help protect you from wireless hacking attempts. Check out our article on how to enable wireless encryption for full details. 4. Set a Strong SSID (Wireless Network Name) and Pre-Shared Key (Wireless Network Password) A strong wireless network name (SSID) and a strong wireless password is just as important as a strong router admin password. What is a strong network name you ask? A strong network name is a name that is not a default set by the manufacturer and is also not something that is commonly found on a list of most common wireless network names. If you use a common network name, you may be leaving yourself open to Rainbow Table-based encryption attacks that might allow hackers to crack your wireless network password. A strong wireless network password is also a crucial part of your wireless network's security. Check out our article on how to change your wireless network's password for details on why you need to make this password a complex one. 5. Turn on Your Router's Firewall And Configure it Odds are pretty good that your new wireless router features a built-in firewall. You should take advantage of this feature and enable and configure it to protect your network. Make sure to test your firewall to ensure that it's working after you have set it up. 6. Enable Your Router's 'Stealth Mode' (if available) Some Router's have a 'Stealth Mode' that helps to make your router, and the network devices behind it, less conspicuous to hackers on the Internet. Stealth mode helps to hide the status of open ports by not responding to requests sent by hackers to check for the presence of open ports that might be vulnerable to attacks. 7. Disable Your Router's 'Admin Via Wireless' Feature To help prevent hackers from doing a 'drive by' wireless attack where they pull up nearby and attempt to gain access to your router's admin console, disable the "Admin via Wireless" option on your router. Turning this off makes your router only accept administration via one of the Ethernet ports, meaning that unless you have a physical connection to the router then you can't administer it.

    Blog Entry, Internet, Security
  • Posted on January 12, 2017 12:00 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    Have you ever needed to open your CD or DVD drive (generally referred to as your "optical drive") but couldn't? Just your luck, your favorite movie, video game, or music was probably stuck inside. Maybe the laptop's power died, maybe the drive in your desktop just quit responding, or maybe the door was just stuck or the disc came loose from a try just enough to jam things up. Regardless of what's happening, or what you think might be happening, there's no reason to rush out and replace the disc or drive just because the eject button doesn't do what you expected it to do. Fortunately, one of the following two methods almost always does the trick to get the drive open: How to Force Eject a Disc From Within the OS We'll start with the easiest way to get the drive open - skip the physical button on the outside and ask your operating system to force eject the disc. You can only try this if your computer has power and is working. Skip down to the next section if that's not the case. Time Required: Forcing your CD, DVD, or BD drive to eject via your operating system's commands is very easy and should only take a few seconds to try. Open File Explorer if you're using Windows 10 or Windows 8. Search for it or use the WIN+X menu to open it quickly.Open Windows Explorer in earlier versions of Windows. Once open, navigate to the optical drive from the menu on the left. This drive is often auto-named based on what disc is inside the drive but there's usually a small disc icon to help identify it.Tip: If you have trouble finding it, look for This PC on the left in Windows 10 or 8, or Computer in earlier versions. Click the icon to the left to expand this if it's collapsed. Right-click or tap-and-hold on the optical drive and choose Eject from the menu that pops up or down. The drive bay or disc should spin down and eject within seconds. Using a Mac? Similar to the method described above for Windows, find the disc icon, right-click on it, and then choose Eject. Here are some more ideas. If this doesn't work (Windows, macOS, Linux, etc.), it's time to get physical with it! How To Open a CD/DVD/BD Drive... With a Paper Clip It sounds strange, yes, but most computer optical drives, including external ones and those you'll find in your game systems like Xbox and Playstation, have a tiny pinhole that's designed as a last resort method to get the drive bay open. Time & Tools Required: You'll need a single, heavy-duty paper Clip - not industrial sized, but not one of those flimsy plastic ones, either. The whole process will take less than a few minutes and is very easy. Unfold the paper clip until there is at least 1 to 2 inches (2 to 5 cm) that is as close to straight as you can get it. Look closely at your disc drive. Directly under or above the drive bay door (the part that "ejects" the disc) there should be a very small pinhole.Tip: If you have one of those desktop optical drives where a large door flips down before the drive bay ejects, pull that down with your finger and then look for the pinhole. Tip: Some older desktops require the opening of the front panel, sort of like a large "door" to the computer's housing, to get to this pinhole. Insert the paper clip into the pinhole. Inside the drive, directly behind the pinhole, is small gear that, when rotated, will begin to manually open the drive. Remove and reinsert the paper clip as often as needed to eject the drive bay enough to grab hold of it. Slowly pull on the drive bay until it's fully retracted. Take care not to pull too quickly or to continue to pull when you feel resistance. Remove the CD, DVD, or BD disc from the drive. Slowly push the drive bay back into the drive until closed or press the open/close button if the drive is still working. If these steps don't work, or you find yourself using the paper clip trick often, it may be time to look at some other options... No Luck? Here's What to Do Next At this point, there's likely something physically wrong with the drive or another part of the computer. Here are some things to consider doing: If your drive is external, unplug and plug back in both the data cable and the power cable. Check internally that the power and data cables are firmly connected. Restart your computer and try again. Replace the drive. Optical drives are relatively cheap - Amazon sells many for around $20 USD. Note: Those are not necessarily in a step-by-step troubleshooting order. What steps you take depends a lot on the type of computer and optical drive you have, as well as your specific situation.

    Blog Entry, Hardware, Technical Support