Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Working From Home - Part1


The new reality for the foreseeable future for many of us will be working from home.

To maximise your productivity but also make life a bit easier I will over the coming months provide some suggestions I hope will help to make the process easier.


This is one of the key components in the mix and if the performance is weak it can make working from home a painful experience. Consider the following step if you are experiencing poor performance over wifi and you’ve checked your broadband speed. The caveat as with any solution is to identifying the issue is the first step. On possible solution is outlined below:

Wired Broadband Connection

This doesn’t mean stringing a long cable from the hallway to your sitting room!

You can purchase adapters that use the electrical wiring in your house to carry the wired (Ethernet) signal from the modem to your work area. This solution will only work if your computer has an Ethernet port, many newer laptops don’t have them. You can purchase an adapter for the laptop but that’s another discussion entirely. 

These devices are called Powerline network adapters. I recommend the non wifi models with a built in plug if possible. Models with wifi can put additional traffic loads on the connection that is not needed. The obvious exception is you will need a model with Wifi if your laptop does not have an ethernet port.

There are a few caveats on these devices:

  1. They don’t always work as they are subject to how your electric cable is wired.
  2. They don’t work well or at all when plugged into electrical extensions.

(Fyi: Fire officers really dislike electrical extensions as they are a fire hazard)

  1. From time to time you will need to pair the devices as they can lose connectivity.
  2. They provide a reduced speed as opposed to a cable connection but they should still outperform your wifi connection and be more stable.
  3. Be aware of fire hazards by ensuring you don’t overload the sockets where you use these items.
  4. Check them for excessive heat and if you have any concerns unplug the device and contact an electrician to ensure your sockets are wired correctly.
  5. You will need two Ethernet cables – one to connect to the Broadband  modem and the other for your pc.

If you have areas you would like to see articles on about home working drop me a whatsapp with your suggestion and if I get enough interest I will do an article. 

Wishing you all the best. Please stay safe.

Oliver Reidy is a computer technician and has been in the industry since 1981.You can contact him via email at, by the telephone numbers listed on this page, and whatsapp @08779707040. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

New Laptop Tips

This month with many of you or your offspring going to third level I thought I’d pen a few hints to help avoid some of the problems I encounter when laptops are presented for repair. If you heed the tips your chances of becoming a casualty of this particular technology will hopefully be reduced (fingers crossed).

Hint 1. – Generate A Recovery Image
This particular hint refers only to windows based laptops and does not apply to chromebooks or Apple laptops. Once you have all your apps installed, your accounts setup, printer added you should generate a system image of the laptop. In one of my prior articles I outlined and gave specific links to how to achieve this so there is no need to revisit it. If you can’t find the relevant article on my blog email me and I will send it to you.

Periodically you should generate additional images so should they be needed you won’t lose any apps installed or Microsoft or other app updates.

Hint 2 – Avoid Too Much Data
Most new laptops in the affordable price range now come with SSD (solid state drive) technology. This technology is less prone to damage if you drop the unit, the storage capacity compared to older hard drive systems has reduced. With Windows 10 you need to keep as much storage free as possible for updates.

Earlier models and indeed a few today came equipped with ridiculously small SSD’s which caused a lot of problems with updates.

Hint 3 – Backup Your Data
Your windows laptop will give you a certain amount of free cloud storage but I always recommend you also store a backup of your data on a local device such as a usb flash drive or hard drive. Take advantage of other free cloud storage providers to keep multiple copies of key data files.

Hint 4 – Accidental Damage Insurance
When purchasing your new laptop you can take out accidental damage insurance which is a good buy for a laptop purchased for college. Unlike extended warranties damage insurance can covers you against all eventualities but obviously not operating system or virus infections! Read the terms carefully before taking one out.

Hint 5 – Anti-Virus
Ensure that once your free trial expires you install a good anti-virus on your laptop. Virus writers have not gone away they are just more sneaky in their approach. Periodically old viruses are reworked and appear to haunt the pc user including the now infamous ransom viruses so don’t make the mistake of thinking they are gone.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Recovery Image For Windows

In this article I will discuss Windows recovery images (aka system images) for your desktop or laptop computer. If you take the time to generate one then in the event of a serious problem any experienced computer technician should be able to recovery your computer using the image subject to obvious limiting factors.

So that you fully understand what can and cannot be done with the recovery image I will explain further.

What A Recovery Image Contains:

The recovery image contains all of your data, programs, and the operating system as of the date it was created. Thus if you created your system/recovery image today and next week decided you wanted to restore it then the entire computer image would be rolled back to today. Any new programs installed, any files you changed, deleted or added locally since the backup was created would be lost. Data stored on the cloud would not be affected. However! If a competent computer technician did the job they would ensure that prior to using the image they secured the files and they would not be lost.

Recovery images are not the solution to backing up your data as you need a different process to achieve this.

Windows only allows one recovery image to be stored on a given backup device. (some fancy foot work can bypass this limitation but you need to be familiar with the process to do so)

What A Recovery Image Cannot Fix.
A recovery image cannot repair a hardware problem. Thus a faulty hard drive, faulty memory or faults with the motherboard will NOT be repaired by using your recovery image. Obviously this means if your computer suddenly stops working you should consult a computer technician and NOT rush into using the recovery image.

There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if you have created the image you are in a much better position than if you have not.

Caution: There is no way back once you recover your computer with the recovery image so exercise caution on using it.

What Hardware is Needed
A recovery image requires an external hard drive (it may be possible to use a large memory stick but I’ve never tried it) and a working DVD drive. The DVD drive is an optional part of the process and a computer technician will have their own bootable recovery media. 

Creating The Image

The following Youtube links provide instructional videos on how to create a recovery image for windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Safeguard Your Data –Part 3

If you missed part 1 & 2 of this article you will find them on this Blog.

The loss of photos can be heartbreaking so taking some time to ensure they are backed up securely is a good investment of your time. The problems I see most often with customers are: Lack of a clear understanding of Cloud backup options and/or lack of understanding on how to effectively backup to either the Cloud or a local device. The other issue of course is finding the time in busy schedules.

As we can all be accused of being a bit snap happy it is not unusual to accumulate a large amount of photos consuming a good whack of space. 

YouTube contains a myriad of HOW TO tutorials on how to backup data from a variety of devices.

This YouTube tutorial explaining how to backup your windows 10 computer to a local device was easy to understand and follow.

If you just want to backup your photos, and providing your photos don’t take up more than 64 gigabytes, you can use a usb memory stick. After 64 gigabyte usb memory stick prices start to creep nearer the cost of a 1 Terabyte usb hard drive. If you want to backup your entire computer then an external usb drive is the recommended option. 

There are a myriad of free and buyable backup apps that allow you to store multiple copies of you data on different devices or locations. At the bottom of this article I’ve listed prices for backup devices from a few Irish sources.

The Two Copy Rule
 2019 marks my 38th year in technology. During those years I’ve seen countless examples where technicians including myself fell victim to the three monkeys of disaster (hubris, arrogance, and assumption). It’s nothing new and as we all know part of the human condition. In 2019 I must unfortunately report the three monkeys continue to prosper. Facebook has just admitted to storing hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text but has assured us that they were not accessible by anyone outside of Facebook except for some 2,000 engineers and developers. As of January 2018 facebook employed some 35,587 people.  If you wish to defend yourself from becoming a victim always maintain at least two independent copies of your valuable data on two independent devices AND ensure these devices are securely stored. Take ownership of backing up your data and hopefully you will never need to use it.

Backup Device Prices

Usb Memory Sticks
Argos -SanDisk Ultra Fit 130MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive - 64GB  -  €18.99
Harvey Norman Verbatim USB 2.0 Store N Go Slider 64GB Black  €19.95 
MemoryC Online retailer with offices in Celbridge Co Kildare
64GB Kingston DataTraveler USB3.1 Flash Drive €14.75 plus shipping

Usb Hard Drives
Argos Maxtor M3 1TB External Portable Hard Drive €59.99
Harvey Norman ADATA HV300 Hard Drive | 1TB | Black € 59.90
MemoryC 1TB AData HV620S USB3.1 Portable Hard Drive Black €58.43 plus shipping.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Safeguarding Your Data - Part 2

If you missed part 1 of this article you can read it by going to the web links provided at the end of this article.

What Is My Data?
Part 1 of this article dealt with financial insurance records. This article will deal with Cloud Email.

Cloud Email:
This is an area where it is quite common for me to see total data loss due to hacking. The Achilles heels of cloud based emails such as Gmail and Hotmail are:

1.      There is no backup of the email accounts.
2.      Once it has been hacked, the hacker may encrypt the emails and demand a ransom for their return.  There is no way to undo the ransom hack attack.
3.      By residing on the cloud the email account is subject to hack attacks 24 hours a day 365 days a year from anywhere by anyone.

Action Required:

1.      Download any important attachments to your computer and follow the two copy rule (I’ll outline the two copy rule later).

2.      Save important emails to your local computer and/or print them.

3.      Avoid leaving sensitive data on your cloud based email. Work on the premise that at some point a hacker will gain access to it. So once you have secured a copy of the emails then delete the sensitive emails.

4.      If you are using an apple device make sure that your email and contacts are included in the cloud backup.

Two Copy Rule: This is where you have at least two independent copies of data in separate or different locations or devices. In a pc example your email would be backed up to the cloud and a local hard drive or usb.   

My personal recommendation is NOT to include the cloud in the count so you should have two other backup devices AND the cloud.

My next article will continue on this topic.

Oliver Reidy is a computer technician and has been in the industry since 1981.You can contact him via email at or at the telephone numbers listed on this page. This article, and all previous articles, are available to view online at or

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Safeguarding Your Data

Safeguard Your Data

By the time you read this article it will be 2019 and no doubt some fresh data breech will have been announced, hand wringing performed, perfuse apologies given, and promises that it won’t happen again issued. The truth, as we all know, is this is far from the truth. Which begs the question who is responsible for my safeguarding my data? The answer is simple: It’s you !  In this accidental digital world we live in you must take action and the time to protect and safeguard you data. The consequences of ignoring it are really very simple – you’ll lose it. Over the next few articles will outline data profiles and some steps you can take to safeguard it

What Is My Data?
Start with the question “what is my data?” and you are on the road to safeguarding it. The average person’s data is spread across multiple devices, networks, computers, and held by many institutions. When it comes to locations outside your control the most important element is to maintain a duplicate, where possible, of what they hold. To help those confused by that the following is a list of data, more will follow in the next articles:

Financial and Insurance records – Account numbers, passwords, policy numbers, access passwords, balances etc.

  • Action Required: Ensure you have paper and digital copies of this information in a secured location such a home safe or other hidden location.
Your local digital copy should be, at a minimum, stored in a file which is password protected and where possible encrypted. A usb flash drive that can be hidden is a good idea as a storage location.

 The data includes in the case of your banking, direct debit mandates, credit card numbers including expiration and security code, and emergency number for lost, stolen, or hacked accounts.

  • Financial Access passwords: Change your passwords frequently where possible and NEVER use the same password on more than one site or app. Record previously used passwords and do NOT re-use them.
If your financial institution offers double authentication use it. Double authentication is where the website sends a code to your phone which you must use in combination with your password and login information to login.

In my next article I will continue on this topic. Stay Safe and happy new year!