• 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 29, 2017 11:30 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    In wireless networking, dual band equipment is capable of transmitting in either of two different standard frequency ranges.  Modern Wi-Fi home networks feature dual band broadband routers that support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels. The History of Dual Band Wireless Routers First generation home network routers produced during the late 1990s and early 2000s contained a single 802.11b Wi-Fi radio operating on the 2.4 GHz band. At the same time, a significant number of business networks supported 802.11a (5 GHz) devices. The first dual band Wi-Fi routers were built to support mixed networks having both 802.11a and 802.11b clients. Starting with 802.11n, Wi-Fi standards began including simultaneous dual band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz support as a standard feature. Two Examples of Dual Band Wireless Routers The TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router (buy on Amazon.com) has 450Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1300Mbps at 5GHz, as well as IP-based bandwidth control so you can monitor the bandwidth of all the devices connected to your router. The NETGEAR N750 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (buy on Amazon.com) is for medium to large-sized homes and also comes with a genie app, so you can keep tabs on your network and get help troubleshooting if any repairs are needed. Dual Band Wi-Fi Adapters Dual-band Wi-Fi network adapters contain both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless radios similar to dual-band routers. In the early days of Wi-Fi, some laptop Wi-Fi adapters supported both 802.11a and 802.11b/g radios so that a person could connect their computer to business networks during the workday and home networks on nights and weekends. Newer 802.11n and 802.11ac adapters can also be configured to use either band (but not both at the same time). Dual Band Phones Similar to dual band wireless network equipment, some cell phones also use two (or more) bands for cellular communications separate from Wi-Fi. Dual band phones were originally created to support 3G GPRS or EDGE data services on 0.85 GHz, 0.9 GHz or 1.9 GHz radio frequencies. Phones sometimes support tri band (three) or quad band (four) different cellular transmission frequency ranges in order to maximize compatibility with different kinds of phone network, helpful while roaming or traveling. Cell modems switch between different bands but do not support simultaneous dual band connections. Benefits of Dual Band Wireless Networking By supplying separate wireless interfaces for each band, dual band 802.11n and 802.11ac routers provide maximum flexibility in setting up a home network. Some home devices require the legacy compatibility and greater signal reach that 2.4 GHz offers while others may require the additional network bandwidth that 5 GHz offers: Dual-band routers provide connections designed for the needs of each. Many Wi-Fi home networks suffer from wireless interference due to the prevalence of 2.4 GHz consumer gadgets. The ability to utilize 5 GHz on a dual band router helps avoid these issues. Dual band routers also incorporate Multiple-In Multiple-Out (MIMO) radio configurations. The combination of multiple radios on one band together with dual-band support together provide much higher performance home networking than what single band routers can offer.

    Blog Entry, Hardware, Internet
  • Posted on January 28, 2017 11:46 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    Private Branch Exchange Explained A PBX (Private Branch Exchange) is a system that allows an organization to manage incoming and outgoing phone calls and also allows communication internally within the organization. A PBX is made up of both hardware and software and connects to communication devices like telephone adapters, hubs, switches, routers and of course, telephone sets. The most recent PBXs have a wealth of very interesting features that make communication easy and more powerful within for organizations, and contributes in making them more efficient and in boosting productivity. Their sizes and complexity vary, ranging from very expensive and complex corporate communication systems to basic plans that are hosted on the cloud for a two-digit monthly fee. You can also have simple PBX systems at home with basic features as an upgrade to your existing traditional phone line. What Does a PBX Do?  As mentioned above, the functions of a PBX can be very complex, but basically, when you talk about PBX, you talk about stuff that does these things: Use of more than one telephone line in an organization, and management of outgoing and incoming calls. Splitting of one single phone line into several internal lines, which are identified through three or four-digit numbers called extensions, and switching calls to the appropriate internal line. This saves the organization from having to pay for several lines, and allows all departments to be reached through one single phone number. Allow free phone communication within the organization. Empower the whole communication with VoIP (Voice over IP), which has a tremendous amount of features and enhancements over traditional telephony, the most prominent being the cutting down of call costs. Ensure good interface with customers through features like call recording, voicemail, IVR etc. Automation of response to calling customers with IVR (interactive voice response) whereby the system can automatically direct users to the most appropriate line through voice menus. It is the kind of feature where, as a caller, you hear things like "Press 1 for the Finance Depart, Press 2 for complaints..." The IP-PBX PBXes changed a lot with the advent of IP telephony or VoIP. After the analog PBXes that worked only on the telephone line and switches, we now have IP-PBXes, which use VoIP technology and IP networks like the Internet to channel calls. IP PBxes are normally preferred due to wealth of features that they come with. With the exception of old already-existing but still-working-fine PBXes, and those chosen because cheap, most PBX systems used nowadays tend to be IP PBXes. The Hosted PBX You do not always have to invest on the hardware, software, installation and maintenance of your in-house PBX, especially if you are running a small business and the cost of ownership prohibits you from benefiting from those important features. There are numerous companies online that offer you the PBX service against a monthly fee without you having anything but your telephone sets and router. These are called hosted PBX services and work on the cloud. The service is dispensed through the Internet. Hosted PBXes have the disadvantage of being generic such that they cannot be tailored to your needs, but they are quite cheap and do not require any upfront investment.

    Blog Entry, Hardware, KnowledgeBase (KB)
  • Posted on January 26, 2017 11:55 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    Keeping track of passwords can seem like a hassle. Most of us have multiple sites we visit which require password logins. So many, in fact, that it's tempting to use the same username/password combo for all of them. Don't. Otherwise, it takes only the compromise of a single site's credentials to have a toppling domino affect on the security of all your online assets. Fortunately, there is a fairly straightforward way to have different passwords for each site you use but still make the passwords easy enough to remember. Creating Unique Passwords Before you begin creating strong passwords, you need to consider the use of those passwords. The intent is to create strong passwords unique to each account, but easy enough to memorize. To do this, first begin by splitting the sites you frequently login to into categories. For example, your category list might read as follows: social networking sites auction sites ecommerce sites email accounts banking sites forums A word of note here about forums. Never use the same password for a site's forum as you would for logging into the site itself. Generally speaking, the security on forums is not as strong as it is (or should be) for the regular site and thus the forum becomes the weakest link in your security. This is why, in the example above, forums are split into a separate category. Now that you have your categories, under each appropriate category, list the sites to which you must log in. For example, if you have a Hotmail, gmail, and Yahoo account, list these under the category 'email accounts'. After you've completed the list, you're ready to begin creating the strong, unique, and easy-to-remember passwords for each. Creating Strong Passwords A strong password should be 14 characters. Each character less than that makes it a little easier to compromise. If a site absolutely won't allow a password that long, then adapt these instructions accordingly. Using the 14 character password rule, use the first 8 characters as the common portion to all passwords, the next 3 to customize by category, and the last 3 to customize by site. So the end result ends up like this: common(8)|category(3)|site(3) Following this simple rule, when you change your passwords in the future - which, remember, you should do often - you'll only need to change the first common 8 characters of each. One of the commonly recommended means of remembering a password is to first create a passphrase, modify it to the character limit, then begin swapping characters for symbols. So to do that: Come up with an 8 letter passphrase that is easy to remember. Take the first letter of each word to form the password. Substitute some of the letters in the word with keyboard symbols and caps (symbols are better than caps). Tack on a three letter abbreviation for the category, also replacing one of the letters with a symbol. Tack on a site specific three letter abbreviation, again replacing a single letter with a symbol. As an example: In step 1 we might use the pass phrase: my favorite uncle was an air force pilot Using the first letters of each word, we end up with: mfuwaafp Then we swap some of those characters with symbols and caps: Mf{w&A5p Then we tack on the category, (i.e. ema for email, and swap out one character of ema: e#a Finally, we add the site abbreviation (i.e. gma for gmail) and swap out one character: gm% We now have a password for our gmail account of Mf{w&A5pe#agm% Repeat for each email site, so perhaps you end up with: Mf{w&A5pe#agm% Mf{w&A5pe#aY%h Mf{w&A5pe#aH0t Now repeat these steps for the additional categories and sites within those categories. While this may look hard to remember, here's a tip to simplify - decide in advance what symbol you will equate with each letter. Be sure to check out these other tips for remembering passwords. You may be surprised to learn that some of the oldest advice may just be the wrong advice.

    Blog Entry, DATA, Internet
  • 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
  • Posted on January 11, 2017 2:04 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    Plan Your Windows 7 Clean Install Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 1 of 34. Most of the time, a Windows 7 clean install means to remove an existing operating system(like Windows XP, Linux, Windows 7, Windows 10, Windows 8, ... doesn't matter) and replace it with a fresh or "clean" installation of Windows 7. In other words, it's the "erase everything and start from scratch" process for Windows 7, a procedure referred to as a "clean install" or sometimes as a "custom install." It's the ultimate "reinstall Windows 7" process. A clean install is often the best way to solve very serious Windows 7 problems, like a virus infection you can't get rid of completely or maybe some kind of Windows issues that you can't seem to solve with normal troubleshooting. Performing a clean install of Windows 7 is usually a better idea than upgrading from older version of Windows as well. Since a clean install is a true start over from scratch, you don't risk inheriting any buggy situations from your previous installation. To be 100% clear, this is the right procedure to follow if: you want to erase whatever you have have and install Windows 7 you want to reinstall Windows 7 you want to install windows 7 on a new hard drive This guide is broken into a total of 34 steps and will walk you through every part of the Windows 7 clean install process. Let's get started... Backup & Locate Your Product Key The most important thing to realize before performing a clean install of Windows 7 is thatall of the information on the drive that your current operating system is installed on (probably your C: drive) will be destroyed during this process. That means that if there's anything you want to keep you should back it up to a disc or another drive prior to beginning this process. You should also locate the Windows 7 product key, a 25-digit alphanumeric code unique to your copy of Windows 7. If you can't locate it, there is a fairly easy way to find the Windows 7 product key code from your existing Windows 7 installation, but this must be done before you reinstall Windows 7. Note: If Windows originally came preinstalled on your computer (i.e. you did not install it yourself), your product key is probably located on a sticker attached to the side, back, or bottom of your computer's case. This is the product key you should use when installing Windows 7. Start the Windows 7 Clean Install Process When you're absolutely sure sure that everything from your computer that you want to keep is backed up, proceed to the next step. Keep in mind that once you delete all of the information from this drive (as we'll do in a future step), the action is not reversible! Note: The steps and screen shots shown in these 34 steps refer specifically to Windows 7 Ultimate edition but will also serve perfectly well as a guide to reinstalling any Windows 7 edition you may have including Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Home Premium. Important: Microsoft has changed the clean install process for every new Windows release. 2 of 34 Boot From the Windows 7 DVD or USB Device Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 2 of 34. To begin the Windows 7 clean install process, you'll need to boot from the Windows 7 DVD if you're using a Windows 7 DVD, or boot from a USB device if your Windows 7 installation files are located on a flash drive or other external USB drive. Tip: See my Windows Installation FAQ if you you have Windows 7 as an ISO image that you need on a  flash drive or disc, or a Windows 7 DVD you need on a flash drive. Restart your computer with the Windows 7 DVD in your optical drive, or with the properly configured Windows 7 USB flash drive plugged in. Watch for a Press any key to boot from CD or DVD... message similar to the one shown in the screenshot above. If you're booting from a flash drive, the message may be phrased differently, like Press any key to boot from external device.... Press a key to force the computer to boot from the Windows 7 DVD or USB storage device. If you do not press a key, your computer will attempt to boot to the next device in the boot order, which is probably your hard drive. If this happens, chances are your current operating system will boot. Note: If you existing Windows installation begins to boot or you see a "No Operating System Found" or "NTLDR is Missing" error here instead of the screen above, the most probable reason is that your computer is not setup to boot first from the correct source. To correct this problem, you'll need to change the boot order in BIOS to list the CD/DVD/BD drive, or External Device, first. Note: It's perfectly fine if, instead of the screen above, the Windows 7 setup process begins automatically (see the next step). If this happens, consider this step complete and move on. 3 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 Installation Files to Load Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 3 of 34. You don't need to do anything at this point but wait for Windows 7 to finishing loading files in preparation for the setup process. Note: No changes are being made to your computer at this time. Windows 7 is just temporarily "loading files" into memory for the setup process. You'll be removing everything on your computer as part of the Windows 7 clean install in a future step. 4 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 Setup to Finish Loading Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 4 of 34. After the Windows 7 install files are loaded into memory, you'll see the Windows 7 splash screen, indicating that the setup process is about to begin. You don't need to do anything at this point. 5 of 34 Choose Language and Other Preferences Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 5 of 34. Choose the Language to install, Time and currency format, and Keyboard or input method that you'd like to use in your new Windows 7 installation. Click Next. 6 of 34 Click the Install Now Button Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 6 of 34. Click on the Install now button in the center of the screen, under the Windows 7 logo. This will officially begin the Windows 7 clean install process. Note: Do not click the Repair your computer link at the bottom of the window even if you're completing this clean install of Windows 7 as part of some larger repair project for your computer. The Repair your computer link is used to start a Windows 7 Startup Repair or perform another recovery or repair task from System Recovery Options. Important: If you're performing a clean install of Windows 7 as a solution to a major problem but have not yet tried a Startup Repair, do that first. It could save you the trouble of completing this clean install process. 7 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 Setup to Begin Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 7 of 34. The Windows 7 setup process is now beginning. No need to press any keys here. 8 of 34 Accept the Windows 7 License Terms Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 8 of 34. The next screen that appears is a textbox containing the Windows 7 Software License. Read through the agreement, check the I accept the license terms checkbox under the agreement text and then click Next to confirm that you agree with the terms. Note: You should always read "small print" especially when it comes to operating systems and other software. Most programs, Windows 7 included, have legally binding limits on how many computers the application can be installed on, among other limitations. Important: You are not breaking any laws or contracts by reinstalling Windows 7 via this clean install. As long as this particular copy of Windows 7 is only being operated on one computer, you're OK. 9 of 34 Choose the Type of Windows 7 Installation to Complete Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 9 of 34. In the Which type of installation do you want? window that appears next, you're offered the choice of Upgrade and Custom (advanced). Click on the Custom (advanced) button. Important: Even if you are upgrading from a previous operating system to Windows 7, I highly recommend that you do not follow the Upgrade installation. You'll get better performance with less chance of issues if you follow these clean install steps. 10 of 34 Show the Windows 7 Advanced Drive Options Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 10 of 34. In this screen, you'll see each partition that Windows 7 recognizes. Since a clean install involves the removal of all operating system related partitions, if they exist, we'll do this now. Important: If, and only if, you're installing Windows 7 on a new hard drive, which of course does not have an operating system on it to remove, you can skip directly to Step 15! Windows 7 setup considers partition management as an advanced task so you'll need to click the Drive options (advanced) link to make those options available. In the next few steps you'll delete the partitions containing the operating system you're replacing with Windows 7, be it Windows Vista, Windows XP, a previous installation of Windows 7, etc. 11 of 34 Delete the Partition Windows is Installed On Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 11 of 34. Now that all available drive options are listed, you can delete any operating system related partitions from your existing hard drive(s). Important: Before continuing, please be aware that deleting a partition will permanently erase all data from that drive. By all data I mean the operating system installed, all programs, all data saved by those programs, all music, all video, all documents, etc. that might be on that particular drive. Highlight the partition you want to delete and then click the Delete link. Note: Your list of partitions may differ considerably from mine shown above. On my computer, I am performing a clean install of Windows 7 on a computer with a small 30GB hard drive that has previously had Windows 7 installed. If you have multiple hard drives and/or multiple partitions on those drive(s), take great care in confirming that you're deleting the correct partition(s). Many people, for example, have second hard drives or partitions that act as backup drives. That's certainly not a drive you want to be deleting. 12 of 34 Confirm the Partition Deletion Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 12 of 34. After deleting the partition, Windows 7 setup will prompt you to confirm the deletion. The message says "The partition might contain recovery files, system files, or important software from your computer manufacturer. If you delete this partition, any data stored on it will be lost." Click the OK button. Important: As I spelled out in the last step, please be aware that all the data stored on that drive will be lost. If you have not backed up everything you want to keep, click Cancel, end the Windows 7 clean install process, restart your computer to boot back into whatever operating system you have installed, and backup everything you want to keep. To be clear: This is the point of no return! There's no reason to be scared, I just want it to be very clear that you can't undo the deletion of the drive you selected after you click this OK button. 13 of 34 Delete Other Operating System Related Partitions Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 13 of 34. If there are any other partitions that need to be deleted, you can do so at this time. For example, the Windows 7 installation I had on my PC previously created this special 100MB (very small) partition to store system data in. This is most definitely related to the operating system that I'm trying to completely remove from my computer so I'll delete this as well. Highlight the partition and click the Delete link. Note: As you can see, the partition we deleted in the last step is gone. It may appear like it's still there but if you look closely, you'll see that that same 29.9GB space is now described as Unallocated Space, not as a partition. 14 of 34 Confirm Additional Partition Deletions Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 14 of 34. Just as in Step 12, Windows 7 setup will prompt you to confirm the deletion of this partition. Click the OK button to confirm. Important: Just as before, please be aware that all the data stored on this particular drive will be lost. 15 of 34 Choose a Physical Location to Install Windows 7 On Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 15 of 34. As you can now see, all the space on the installed hard drive is unallocated. No partitions exist on this computer. Note: The number of partitions displayed and whether those partitions are unallocated portions of a hard drive, previously partitioned spaces, or previously formatted and blank partitions will depend on your specific system and which partitions you deleted in the last several steps. If you're installing Windows 7 on a computer with a single hard drive on which you've just deleted all the partitions from, your screen should look like the one above, aside from your hard drive being a different size. Choose the appropriate unallocated space to install Windows 7 on and then click Next. Note: You do not need to manually create a new partition nor are you required to manually format a new partition. Windows 7 Setup will do this automatically. 16 of 34 Wait While Windows 7 is Installed Clean Install Windows 7 - Step 16 of 34. Windows 7 Setup will now install a clean copy of Windows 7 to the location you chose in the previous step. You don't need to do anything here but wait. This is the most time consuming of any of the 34 steps. Depending on the speed of your computer, this process could take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. 17 of 34 Restart Your Computer Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 17 of 34. Now that the Windows 7 clean install process is nearly complete, you need to restart your computer. If you do nothing, your computer will reset automatically after 10 seconds or so. If you'd rather not wait, you can click the Restart now button at the bottom of the Windows needs to restart to continue screen. 18 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 Setup to Begin Again Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 18 of 34. The Windows 7 clean install is now continuing. You don't need to do anything here. There are a few more automatic Windows 7 setup steps to come. 19 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 Setup to Update Registry Settings Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 19 of 34. Windows 7 Setup is now updating registry settings in preparation for the final stages of the operating system clean install. 20 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 Setup to Start Services Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 20 of 34. Wait while Windows 7 Setup starts various necessary services. This starting of services will occur during every Windows 7 boot as well but you won't see it like this again. Services start in the background during a normal Windows 7 startup. 21 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 Setup to Complete Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 21 of 34. This last Windows 7 Setup screen says "Completing installation" and may take several minutes. All you need to do is wait - everything is automatic. If the Windows 7 Setup process is complete, why are we only on step 21 of 34? The remainder of the steps in this clean install process include several easy but important configurations that need to take place before you can use Windows 7. 22 of 34 Wait for Your PC to Automatically Restart Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 22 of 34. Wait while the Windows 7 setup process automatically restarts your computer. Important: Do not restart your computer manually at this point. Windows 7 Setup will restart your PC for you. If you interrupt the setup process by restarting manually, the clean install process may fail. You may then need to start the Windows 7 setup over again from the beginning. 23 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 to Start Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 23 of 34. Wait while Windows 7 starts. No user intervention is required here. 24 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 to Prepare Your PC for First Use Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 24 of 34. Windows 7 Setup is now preparing your computer for "first use." Windows 7 is now loading drivers, checking to make sure everything has been setup properly, removing temporary files, etc. You don't need to do anything here. Note: Remember, this clean install of Windows 7 has completely removed your old operating system. Windows 7 is being installed and configured just as it would on a brand new computer. 25 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 to Check Your PC's Video Performance Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 25 of 34. Wait while Windows 7 checks the video performance of your computer. Windows 7 needs to know how well your video card and related hardware works so it can properly adjust performance options for your computer. For example, if your video system is too slow, Windows 7 may disable features like Aero Peek, translucent windows, and other graphically intense features of the operating system. 26 of 34 Choose a User Name and a Computer Name Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 26 of 34. Windows 7 needs to know what use name you'd like to use and how you'd like your computer to be identified on your local network. In the Type a user name (for example, John): text box, enter your name. You can enter a single name, your first and last name, or any other identifiable text you like. This is the name you'll be identified by in Windows 7. Note: You're more than welcome to use the same user name that you used in your old operating system installation. In the Type a computer name: text box, enter the name you'd like your computer to have when being viewed by other computers on your network. Note: If it makes sense in your specific situation, I recommend using the same computer name you used in the operating system installation you've deleted as part of this clean install, especially if any other computers on your network connect to resources on your PC. Otherwise, a good computer name might be Office-PC, Windows-7-Test-PC, Bob-Dell, etc. You get the idea. Anything identifiable that makes sense to you will work. Click Next when you're done entering both the user name and computer name. Note: Planning on having more than one user on your computer? Don't worry - you can set up more users inside Windows 7 later. 27 of 34 Choose a Password to Access Windows 7 Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 27 of 34. Microsoft recommends that you choose a password that will be required when starting Windows 7 before access to your user account will be allowed. Don't treat this as a recommendation - consider it a requirement. In the Type a password (recommended): text box, enter a complicated but easy-for-YOU-to-remember password. Retype the same password in the Retype your password: text box. Type a hint to give yourself in the Type a password hint (required): text box. This hint will display if you enter the wrong password when logging on to Windows 7. As you can see in the example above, the hint I entered was What is my favorite food?. The password I entered (which you can't see above) was applesauce. Note: Feel free to use the same password as you used in the operating system you've just removed from your computer as part of this Windows 7 clean install. However, this is as good a time as any to choose a stronger password than you might have used before. 28 of 34 Enter the Windows 7 Product Key Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 28 of 34. Enter the product key that came with your retail purchase or legal download of Windows 7. If Windows 7 came as part of your complete computer system, enter the product key you were given as part of that purchase. Note: If Windows originally came preinstalled on your computer, your product key is probably located on a sticker attached to the side, back, or bottom of your computer's case. Important: You may be able to avoid entering a product key at this point but you will eventually need to do so in order to continue using Windows 7. I highly advise that you enter your product key here and choose to Automatically activate Windows when I'm online. 29 of 34 Choose a Windows Update Option Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 29 of 34. On this Help protect your computer and improve Windows automatically screen, Windows 7 is asking you do choose how you want to automatically install updates from Microsoft's Windows Update service. I recommend that you choose Install important updates only. This option is the safest because it restricts Windows 7 from doing anything with your data or to your computer automatically except when important security and stability updates are available. You are more than welcome to choose Use recommended settings but I do not recommend that you choose Ask me later. Note: These settings can easily be changed within Windows 7 after you're done stepping through these configuration questions. 30 of 34 Choose the Correct Time Zone, Date, and Time Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 30 of 34. On the Review your time and date settings screen, choose the correct Time zone, Date, and Time. The time and date is likely already correct but be sure to verify the time zone and change if necessary. If your area observes Daylight Saving Time be sure to check that box here. Note: If the date and/or time of Daylight Saving Time changes, Microsoft will issue an update via Windows Update to change the automatic time change so don't avoid checking this box assuming that DST changes won't occur correctly. 31 of 34 Choose a Network Location Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 31 of 34. In the Select your computer's current location window you see now, Windows 7 is asking where your computer is located at so it can setup the proper network security - tighter security for public areas and lighter for private ones like home and work. Choose Home network or Work network if that applies to you. Most of you reading this will choose Home network. Choose Public network if you use a mobile computer and you connect to the Internet or other computers away from home. Also, be sure to choose Public network if you access the internet via a mobile broadband network - no matter if you're at home or not. 32 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 to Connect to the Network Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 32 of 34. Windows 7 is now connecting your computer to the network. You don't need to do anything here. Everything is automatic. Note: If Windows 7 detects another computer on your network running Windows 7 that also has a homegroup setup, you will be prompted to choose what kinds of files you'd like to share on that homegroup and for the homegroup password. You can enter this information or Skip the setup entirely. I do not show this additional screen in this guide. 33 of 34 Wait for Windows 7 to Prepare the Desktop Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 33 of 34. Windows 7 will now put all the "finishing touches" on your clean installation like adding icons to the desktop, prepare the start menu, etc. You don't need to do anything here. All of these changes are done automatically in the background. 34 of 34 Your Windows 7 Clean Install is Complete! Windows 7 Clean Install - Step 34 of 34. This completes the final step of your clean install of Windows 7. Congratulations! Important: If you chose not to enable automatic updates (Step 29) then the first step after installing Windows 7 is to visit Windows Update and install all the important service packs and patches that have been issued since the version of Windows 7 on your DVD was released. In other words, any service packs and patches installed on your old operating system are obviously no longer installed. If you did enable automatic updates, Windows 7 will prompt you about any important updates needed.

    Blog Entry, Patches, Software
  • Posted on January 10, 2017 12:10 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    You might sometimes find yourself with just one internet connection point--a single wired connection for your laptop at the hotel, for example, or your smartphone tethered over USB to your computer. But what if you have other devices that need internet access, such as your Wi-Fi-only tablet or your friend's or family member's laptop? The good news is you can share your laptop's wired or mobile broadband internet connection wirelessly with other devices. The bad news is, with Windows 10, it takes a bit of trickery in the command prompt to turn your computer into a Wi-Fi hotspot. ~ August 18, 2015 To share your computer's internet connection, you'll need to open the command prompt in administrator mode and type in a few commands. The instructions below were adapted from the excellent guide on NirmalTV, which offers screenshots of the process. Open the command prompt in administrator mode by right-clicking on the Windows Start button and selecting "Command Prompt (Admin)". Alternatively, you can use this keyboard shortcut: Windows key + X (Win+X) then select the Command Prompt (Admin) option. When the "Administrator: Command Prompt" window opens, type the following command:  netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=[networkSSID] key=[password]. Replace the "networkSSID" and "password" fields with the name you want for your new Wi-Fi hotspot network and its password (you'll use these to connect other devices to your computer's Wi-Fi hotspot). Then hit Enter. Next, type in the following command to start the network: netsh wlan start hostednetwork and hit Enter. This enables and starts the ad-hoc wireless network connection. Next, head to your Windows' network connections page (type in "network connections" in the search field in the taskbar in Windows 10 and click on "View network connections" or navigate to the Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network Connections). Right-click on the network connection that is your computer's source of internet access (e.g., the ethernet connection or the 4G broadband connection). Choose "Properties" from the context menu. Go to the "Sharing" tab and check the box next to "Allow other network users to connect through this computer's internet connection" From the dropdown list, select the Wi-Fi connection you just created. Hit OK and close the properties window. You should then see your Wi-Fi hotspot in Windows 10's network and sharing center. From your other devices, select the new Wi-Fi network in the wireless settings and enter the password you set to connect to it. These command prompt steps for setting up an ad-hoc network aren't as user-friendly as having a built-in method with a graphic user interface, but it's what we have so far in Windows 10 and will do in a pinch. If you're using an older version of Windows or are on a Mac, you can accomplish this "reverse tethering" in other ways: Use Internet Connection Sharing (e.g., when you have a laptop wired to a router or modem and want to share the connection via your Wi-Fi adapter or a second Ethernet port) Use Internet Sharing on Mac OS X Use Connectify, a free app that shares a single Wi-Fi connection wirelessly (so you don't need a second network adapter). It requires Windows 7 or above. Finally, to stop sharing your internet connection over the new Wi-Fi hotspot you created in Windows 10, enter this command in the command prompt:  netsh wlan stop hostednetwork

    Blog Entry, Hardware, Internet
  • Posted on January 8, 2017 12:07 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    Make Sure Windows Updates Help, Not Harm, With These Preventative Measures Let me first preface all of the following with this: updates provided by Microsoft rarely cause problems. This includes those pushed out on Patch Tuesday and others made optionally available in Windows Update. I said rarely, not never. Ask anyone with a house full of nonworking computers the day after Patch Tuesday and you'll swear that Microsoft deliberately sabotaged the world's computers running Windows. Again, problems don't occur that often and are rarely widespread, but when they do they hurt. Luckily there are some really simple things you can do to minimize the chance that a patch from Microsoft will do more harm than good: Tip: If it's too late and the damage is done, see How To Fix Problems Caused by Windows Updates for help. One-Time Preventative Steps Most importantly, make sure your important data is being backed up! When your computer crashes, regardless of the reason, you probably have little emotional attachment to the physical hard drive itself but I bet you're pretty concerned about the stuff you have stored on it.There are lots of ways to backup data, from manually copying your saved documents, music, videos, etc. to a disc or a flash drive, all the way up to setting up instantaneous backup with an online backup service. Regardless of how you do it, do it. If your only way out of a post-Patch-Tuesday system crash is a full clean install of Windows, you'll be very, very happy that your valuable information is safe. Change Windows Update settings so new patches are no longer automatically installed. In most versions of Windows, this means changing this setting to Download updates but let me choose whether to install them.With Windows Update configured this way, important security and other updates are still downloaded, but they won't be installed unless you explicitly tell Windows to install them. This is a one time change so if you've done this before, great. If not, do it now. Important: Don't get me wrong: I still recommend that you install all available updates. However, this way you are in complete control, not Microsoft. Check the free space on your main hard drive and make sure it's at least 20% of the total size of the drive. This amount of space is plenty for Windows and other programs to grow as necessary, especially during installation and recovery processes.Specifically, System Restore, which is the primary recovery process if a Windows update causes a major problem, can not create restore points if there isn't enough free space on your hard drive. Just Before Installing Updates Now that your automatic update settings are changed and you're pretty sure System Restore should be in working order if you need it later, you can actually get these updates installed: Plug in your computer if it's not already. You desktop users are already covered but laptop, tablet, and other mobile devices should always be plugged in during the Windows update process!Along these same lines, avoid applying Windows updates during thunderstorms, hurricanes, and other situations that could lead to a sudden loss of power! Why does this matter? If your battery drains during the update process or your computer loses power, there's a significant chance that it will corrupt the files being updated. Important files that get corrupted often lead the very thing you're trying to prevent here - a complete system crash. Restart your computer. Be sure to do so properly, using the restart feature from within Windows, and then make sure your computer starts up again successfully.Why should you restart? On some computers, when Windows restarts after Patch Tuesday security updates are applied, it's the first time the computer has been restarted in a month or more. Many issues first appear after a restart, like problems caused by some types of malware, certain hardware problems, etc. If your computer does not start properly, see How To Troubleshoot a Computer That Won't Turn On for help. Had you not restarted and found this problem now, you would have been trying to solve the issue as a Windows Update/Patch Tuesday problem instead of the completely unrelated issue that it really is. Create a restore point manually before applying updates. A restore point is created automatically by Windows Update prior to installing any patches you select but if you'd like an extra layer of protection, you can certainly create one yourself.If you'd really like to be prepared, you could even try restoring to your manually created restore point. This would prove that the System Restore process is functioning properly in Windows. Unfortunately, some users find out that System Restore was somehow broken exactly when they need it most. Temporarily disable your antivirus program. Disabling your antivirus program while installing a program can often help prevent installation problems. Based on my own experiences, and those of many readers, doing the same prior to updating Windows is also wise.Tip: The part of your antivirus program that you want to disable is the part that's always on, constantly watching for malware activity on your computer. This is often referred to as the program's real-time protection, resident shield, auto-protect, etc. Install Updates One at a Time Now that you've properly configured your computer and prepared for the updates, it's time to get to the actual installation procedure. As the heading suggests, install each update by itself, restarting your computer after each one is applied. While I realize this might be time consuming, this method prevented almost every Patch Tuesday issue I've ever experimented with. Tip: If you're feeling particularly brave, or have never had problems with Windows updates before, try installing updates together as a group, something that I've also had a lot of success with. For example, install .NET updates of a particular version together, all of the operating system security updates together, etc. The order of installation has never seemed important but let me know if you discover otherwise. Warning: You may need to disable your antivirus program's real-time feature each time Windows boots again after your post-update-installation restart. Also, be sure to check that your antivirus program is fully enabled once you're done installing updates.

    Blog Entry, Patches, Technical Support
  • Posted on January 5, 2017 11:24 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    You’re not really sure How the Heck They Got Your Password, but they did, and now you’re freaking out. The password to one of your accounts has been cracked and you don’t know what to do to get control back of your account. Let’s look at several things you can do to get control of your account and get things back to a secure state: If Someone Cracked Your Password But You Can Still Log Into Your Account The worst case scenario is that your account password gets hacked and the hackers change your password. Hopefully the security questions that you answered when you set up your account will help you regain control of your account and allow you to reset your password back and lock them out. What if there aren’t any security questions? Many accounts have a password reset process that will allow you to initiate a reset using an email account that you have on file with the account provider. Unless the hacker has changed this email address, you should be able to regain control of your account by having the password reset link sent to your email. If They’ve Taken Control Of Your Account and Locked You Out By Changing The Password If the person who cracked your password has locked you out by changing your password then getting it reset might be a little more complicated. You may need to contact the account support line of the account provider and explain the situation, they should be able to verify that you are who you say you are via other means such as by looking at the phone numbers you have on file, verifying your address, or reviewing the answers to your security questions. Make sure that you inform the account provider that this just happened and that any new information recently added to your account is false and that you want to place your account on hold until everything is sorted out. Reporting the password hack quickly is essential to limiting the damage. If The Account Was Your Main Email Account If your main email account is hacked then things can become even more complicated because, chances are, you have a lot of other accounts pointing to your email account for password reset purposes. Thankfully most email providers have multiple ways of verifying that you are whom you say you are. Follow their account password reset procedures and if all else fails contact their account support. The next step you should take after resetting your main (hacked) email account password is to change all passwords for any other account that you have that point to that account for password reset purposes. The reason: the password crackers could have initiated password resets for those other accounts. Steps to Take To Prevent it From Happening Again: Make Your Next Password Much Stronger When creating passwords to replace ones that have been cracked, you need to create a much stronger, longer, and more complex password. For tips on creating strong passwords, check out our article: How to Make a Strong Password. Use Two-factor Authentication If It’s Offered Another way to prevent future account compromises is to enable two-factor authentication on the accounts that support it. Two-factor authentication usually requires some kind of token, such as a PIN that is sent by the account provider via an already established communication line that you have verified, such as a mobile phone or secondary email account. Other methods of two-factor authentication use fingerprint readers such as those featured on newer iPhones, iPads, and some Android devices. Linking these devices to your account works in two ways.  If you never lose your phone, you will always be notified of when someone or you are accessing online accounts.  If you lose your phone, then someone has your whole life in their hands.

    Blog Entry, DATA, Data Recovery
  • Posted on January 5, 2017 10:12 am
    Joseph Forbes
    No comments

    The problem begins with Microsoft's attempt to update things for Operating Systems (Like Windows 7), to be compatible with the newer Windows Update methods.   Since the release of Windows 8 & 10, including the 8.1, and 10 AU updates, Windows 7 has fallen behind in the care and love from Microsoft.  However sometime in July some patches were applied that broke the Windows Update process for Older Windows 7 systems.   This really affected people with clean/new installs of Windows 7, that haven't had all the updates applied since June/July 2016. I've had this problem with virtual machines I've recently setup that had clean installations of Windows 7, but Service Pack 1, is pretty far behind.  I haven't done my "due diligence" in slipstream Windows Updates into my Install ISO. After awhile, I found out that letting the Windows 7 machines just idle (tax at 100% CPU & RAM) for three days, until finally Windows Update shows a list of available updates to apply.  Then once more, having to apply those updates, and do it again to finish up with any updates that were not discovered beforehand. Step 1. Make sure you have KB 3078601, 3109094, 3138612, 3145739, and 3164033 installed You only have to do this once. To see if you're missing any of them, you can check the Windows Updates installed updates list (Start, Control Panel, under Windows Update click View installed updates). But it’s probably easier to download all of them and try to install them. If one is already installed, the installer will tell you -- no harm done. Step 1a. Make sure you know if you have a 32-bit (so-called “x86”) or 64-bit (“x64”) version of Windows 7. If you’re not sure, click Start, right-click Computer, choose Properties, and look under System type. Step 1b. Use any browser to go to each patch download site: KB 3078601  x64 x32 KB 3109094  x64  x32 KB 3138612  x64  x32 KB 3145739  x64  x32 KB 3164033  x64  x32 Step 1c. On each of those sites, Click Download. You’ll get an MSU file. In Chrome and IE, by default, you see an offer to either Open or Save the file. Save it. In Firefox, by default, the file downloads. These Microsoft servers are notorious for freezing -- sometimes the download won’t start, sometimes it won’t finish. If that happens to you, try reloading the page (click the circle-arrow near the address bar). You can also switch browsers. In any case, if you experience oddities while trying to download you aren’t the only one. Step 1d. Turn off Windows Update. The least confusing way to do that is to click Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools. Double-click on Services. Scroll down the list of Services and click once on Windows Update. Then, in the upper-left corner, click the link marked Stop. Step 1e. Double-click to run each of the five downloaded files. If the installer says you already have the patch, smile and go on to the next. Running those five updates will get you set up for the one significant update you need to run each month. Unless something weird changes (hey, this is Windows), you never need to go through Step 1 again. Step 2. Find this month’s favored patch and install it Unfortunately, the patch itself changes from month to month -- or at least, it has changed in every month since March. Here’s how to finish the job: Step 2a. Go to wu.krelay.de/en and find the latest magical patch. It’s listed at the top of the first table on the wu.krelay.de/en site. In July, the magic patch was KB 3168965. No doubt there will be a new one in August and another in September -- for however long we have to struggle with slow Win7 updates. Step 2b. Armed with the knowledge about whether your Windows 7 installation is 32- or 64-bit, use the links in that first table with any browser to download the correct patch. Step 2c. Save the patch but don’t install it. Step 2d. Make sure the Windows Update service is stopped. See Step 1d above. Step 2e. Double-click to run the downloaded patch. Step 2f. Reboot, as instructed after the patch is installed. (The Windows Update service will restart itself.) Then click on Start, Control Panel, and under Windows Update click Check for updates. If all went well, the check should take a few short minutes. My thanks -- and deep admiration -- to Dalai, ch100, and EP.

    Blog Entry, HAPPINESS, Patches