Use a third party modem with eircom EFibre connection instead of bridging

Configuring a modem that Eircom haven’t supplied to work with your EFibre connection isn’t actually that difficult but if you look at the Eircom website or you talk to their support team you will only find the settings for the ADSL connection. The reason that I needed to configure a new modem for an Eircom EFibre connection is the Eircom FT2000 router that the supplied to one of our customers has a defect. The bridging mode does not work. It should disable the NAT, DHCP, wireless, firewall and VOIP features of the modem. When you enable bridge mode by going to Internet>VDSL>Edit and change the connection type to Bridging, some of the options on the page such as NAT become disabled however when you save your settings you will still be natted, DHCP is still enabled and so too are all the other features that should be disabled once bridging is enabled. In my opinion this was disabled or broken intentionally. My investigation shows that in the past few months a lot of users of bridging functionality have encountered serious bugs such as a rebooting loop and bridging being disabled after power is disconnected from the device. My personal experience is that ISP’s don’t want you to use bridging so it wouldn’t surprise me if this was a very low priority bug to fix. The problem is, I have spent at least six hours working on the bridging problem and a further eight hours working on trying to source, collect, install and configure a replacement router. All while a busy office has no Internet connection. So if you have...

Windows 10

At computer support services we have really fallen in love with Windows 10! With the truck load of fixes and improvements, you will really notice the benefits when moving from both Windows 7 and 8.1. Take the new start menu.  Gone is the start screen from Windows 8 when you are using a standard keyboard and mouse.  Disconnect the keyboard and mouse to use a touch screen and an updated and cleaner start screen returns to make touch first access more efficient. The new start menu shows a list of your most commonly used or most needed applications and utilities on the left.  On the right it shows a few live tiles for quick access to weather, news, music, the Windows store, search and photos.  At a glance seems to be the main objective here. Speaking of at a glance, we just love the new quick access view in Windows explorer.  It shows commonly used files on the bottom of the screen and commonly used folders at the top.  It’s the largest time saver to come to windows since search came to the start menu in Windows Vista. When notification centres came to mobile phones we wondered how we ever kept track of everything without them.  With notifications in Windows 10 you’ll think the same.  Jump to them quickly by pressing windows and A or swipe / drag in from the right of your screen. Another great time saver is virtual desktops.  By far our favourite feature.  This has been available in Gnome in Linux for example for at least ten years or more.  We are delighted that this...

Do you have backups at home and at work?

If you don’t, now is the time to start getting organized. A local company in Drogheda called me in a panic a few months ago.  They had a type of virus called a crypto locker.  This infection sits silently on your computer, encrypting all the files you save and open.  Quietly preparing to block access to every file you are likely to open. If you get this virus, or as they are more commonly known as scamware, you have two choices.  Either pay using a potentially dodgy pay method to have the decryption key sent to you to allow you to unlock the files or restore your files using a previous backup. The real problem comes when you don’t have a backup and you’ve paid to have the decryption key but it either doesn’t work, or worse, you pay over the money and no key is sent. You absolutely must have a backup.  It isn’t just best practise, it’s vital. Please don’t think that this infection is only caught by a minority of Internet users.  It is far too prevalent to be taken lightly. To make matters worse, this company had a central file share so when one person infected with the virus accessed a file on the shared directory, that file became encrypted so even if another computer on the network didn’t have the virus, on the day that the virus cut off access to the files it had encrypted, no user could access the file from any computer. This was having a major impact on the business and for five days they were unable to find someone...

Disaster recovery

When your systems are down and you have 6, 60 or 6000 clients unable to access your network, there’s only one thing you want to hear. “Leave it with me and I’ll get it fixed”. With the best system in the world, you must prepare for disasters. Have a plan in place so that when everything goes wrong, you know how you are going to handle it. Here are a few things that we advise: Define terms and language that you are going to use to describe this temporary setback. Explain that the problem is a temporary glitch. You will most likely be unable to provide a clear expectation as to how long it will take to resolve the problem but what you can assure customers is that you will call them back every hour to provide them with an update. When your customers need your systems to work, a call to say that no progress has been made is better than no call at all. Ensure that you don’t use words with bad connotations such as “crash, Corrupt or deleted” to describe the problem. Customers need to feel assured that you have things under control. Be assertive in your language. If you know that this will take four hours, don’t tell the customer that you think it will take four hours. This potentially shows that you don’t have enough exposure to the solution of the problem. Confidently communicate your message. Stay away from terms such as “I think, I’m not sure and I don’t know”. Don’t be afraid to use partial templates for calls and Emails to customers....

Regular checks

While administering any computer system there are a number of checks that are needed to ensure all systems are functioning correctly. Depending on the size of the system, you may be required to perform these checks a number of times or just once a week. It’s usually a good idea to have some kind of checklist that you can tick off to show that you’ve completed these tests so that if a problem emerges, you can show with your logging that problems started after a specific date or time. Here are a number of the checks I run on systems. I have broken them into monthly, weekly and daily. Monthly checks Clean server room and coms room. Remove dust build up from server casing. Check air conditioning fans and vents. Check room security. Check Active Directory for old or unused computer or user accounts. Ensure all updates are downloading to Windows Server Update Services. Clean up Windows Server Update Services. Apply Updates from the previous month to Servers. Note, if there are hundreds of servers this would be a weekly task. Run a test restore from a random backup job. If there are clustered systems for redundancy, check a random service to ensure it fails over correctly. Weekly checks Check temperature of server rooms. Do a visual inspection of all servers. Distribute updates to workstations. Check server logs for errors. Check priority workstations for errors. Check that all anti-virus and other software is up to date. Check Anti-Virus logs for outbreaks or irremovable infections. Check logs from CCTV and door access systems to ensure there are no issues. On...