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  • 0407 108 869
  • john @ efixit.com.au

eFixIT.com.au is a registered business in NSW.

ABN 73 436 034 752


 


Frequently asked questions:

1 - Backups

To my mind, one backup is not much better than no backup at all. If you have a backup disk connected to your computer and it suffers a failure, if there's a blackout, if a virus infection such as Cryptolocker finds its way onto your computer or someone simply bumps the plug out of the wall, you can lose the lot. For the same reason I do not recommend leaving a backup disk permanently connected.

Therefore what I suggest on a PC is that you have two backup disks, each at least double the size of the hard drive on your computer. From Control Panel go into Backup and Restore and create a recovery disk (this is a DVD which you'll burn) and then do a full system image backup onto each of the external drives. You should refresh these backups every 6 months or so, or whenever you've installaed any new programs of significance. These backups will help to ensure that we can recover your computer and all the installed programs with as little fuss as possible.

That simply leaves the day-to-day changes that you make to your documents, music, photos, MYOB, email and other files. For this I recommend using Microsoft's Synctoy program, which is a free download from Microsoft. Unfortunately it's not completely trivial to set up but that's a task I can perform remotely. This program will keep a copy of your files, and when its run it will echo any updates, deletions and additions onto the backup. The reasons I suggest this program is that it stores your files in a usable format on the backup device in the same folder structure as on your computer, unlike many proprietary systems which bundle the files up into a form that can only be decoded by the backup program itself, and also because it works well with multiple drives.

Once the two drives are set up, I then suggest you keep one off site in a secure location. Every time a significant amount of work is done, which may mean daily, weekly or whatever amount of time you feel comfortable having to re-do work, then manually run the backup and rotate it with the offsite copy.

In a Mac environment this is much simpler as you can just use Time Machine. Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 have a File History program which functions similarly to Time Machine, but since it only supports a single drive I can't recommend it.

For maximum paranoia I also suggest creating a cloud account such as Dropbox and storing your day-to-day working files in its folder structure. This will cause files to be backed up to the cloud every time you change them and also gives you the added benefit of storing old versions which can be recalled in the event of unwanted changes or errors being made.

2 - My new computer

I get asked about this a lot. I don't sell computers but I can help you choose one, set it up for you, and install it. The first obvious question is whether you want a laptop or a desktop.

For a desktop I generally recommend purchasing one from Alfa Computers. This company builds computers to order and has been in business for well over 20 years at the same location in Alexandria. I like using them because they only use quality components and good solid cases, they build to order so you can customise the best package to suit your needs, and they offer a 3 year warranty with the first year on site at your place. I can usually get you a firm price same-day and they generally take 3-4 business days to build your computer.

For a laptop I generally suggest a brand like Dell or Toshiba. The failure rates of most of the major brands are fairly similar and really it comes down to what you want in the package that's available at the time you want it. Be aware that the sleeker, sexier and slimmer the computer is, the more the spare parts are likely to cost and often the labour costs are higher due to longer repair times, but this is often a trade-off between robustness and weight and portability.

The other usual question is around the specification. The typical modern computer will come with an Intel i3, i5 or i7 processor, and I generally suggest that most people opt for the i5. In my experience the i3 is often a bit slow, and while the i7 is a faster processor it does come with a price premium and has processing power that most users won't require. Typically 4GB of RAM is sufficient for most users however the extra cost to get 8GB isn't that great and may well be worth it in future years as more and more features find their way into the operating system. Very few systems come with less than 500GB of hard drive capacity, and generally the extra cost to get a 1TB drive is minimal. The best guide is to look at how much disk space you're using now, and unless you plan to start storing a lot more music, videos or photos simply double what you have now to be safe.

3 - My Windows 10 start menu does nothing

This seems to happen a lot - I'm seeing several computers every month with this issue. Either you click the Windows 10 start menu (or press the Windows key) and nothing happens, or you get a message saying "Start menu and Cortana have stopped working - log out and in and we'll fix it for you". Of course, it never fixes itself.

The following procedure will normally fix it :

  • Close all open documents and press ctrl+alt+del
  • Select Task Manager
  • In the menu bar at the top left of Task Manager, click File and select Run New Task. If you don't see a menu bar but the words "more details" appear at the bottom left of task manager, click there and the menu bar should appear.
  • Enter the word msconfig into the box and check "run with admin privileges"
  • When the program starts, select the "boot" tab and check "safe boot", then press OK. When prompted, allow the program to reboot the computer.
  • When the computer reboots, repeat the above procedure and deselect "safe boot"
  • After rebooting, your start menu should function properly again

I DO wish Microsoft would fix this because on some computers it happens frequently. It appears to be a bug in Windows 10. At least, when you know how to fix it, it's not rocket science.