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Tag Archives: data loss

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What About Cabling?

Posted on October 02nd, 2013 by Emily

How much difference can the cabling you have make to your network? Read on, you may be surprised!


We don’t often hear this come up as a point of discussion when people are installing or upgrading their networks, but it’s actually quite important.

If you’re getting a new network installed, you should always choose a specialist when it comes to cabling your workplace. For your network to work at full capacity, you’ll need good quality cabling, which is installed correctly, without cutting corners.

If your cabling is of poor quality, it can affect the quality of signal sent along it, which in turn can affect the speed and reliability of your network. Having the best hardware in the world won’t help if your cabling is subpar or incorrectly installed. Poorly shielded or badly situated cabling can mean the difference between a network that runs smoothly, and one that makes you feel like tearing your hair out!

Ideally, total cabling to each machine should equal no more than 100 metres. If it’s longer than this, general research says you’ll begin to see a drop in performance from your network. Cabling with low-quality impure copper cores can also cause signal degradation, which will show itself as errors, lost packets and slower speeds. Cabling should be as flat as possible, as bending it too much can affect its performance.

Each cable should also be of similar quality – it’s not really useful having your building cabled up with top-of-the-range, super quality cable if you then go and use a low quality patch cable to connect your computer to the network. Mixing different qualities of cable can also cause even more interference in the signal.

Your network cabling should ideally not be near any kind of power cabling or pass close to large devices, as this can result in electromagnetic interference and cause problems with data transmission across the network. It should also not be near any water sources or pipes, as this could cause condensation to form inside the cable which in turn causes the cable to fail.

Finally, one point to remember is that cabling doesn’t last forever! Cables can stretch, warp, break, twist or otherwise wear out just like other equipment. Your network will need re-cabling eventually, and while it may not seem like a top priority, if you’re experiencing problems or considering upgrading or replacing your network hardware, you may want to get your cabling professionally tested to make sure it meets the standards required for smooth performance!


If you’d like any more information on cabling, cable testing, networking or anything else IT-related, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us, we’ll be happy to help!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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Geek Guru Shield

IT Essentials - Malware Emergency?

Posted on August 12th, 2013 by Emily


Last week we covered anti-malware options for businesses and individuals – but what can you do if you think there’s a problem, and your computer doesn’t have anti-malware software?


The software we recommend is MalwareBytes anti-malware, and Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool. For home users, MalwareBytes is free, and very efficient at quarantining and removing threats. It’s important to remember that the free version of this software does not provide any real-time protection and will not stop your machine becoming infected, but it is useful if you suspect there is a problem. Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool is freely available to all owners of a genuine copy of Windows.

Network administrators can purchase a business version of Malware Bytes for use in an office setting, which is specially built for their business size.

If you suspect there’s a problem with some of your equipment but are not comfortable with running software like MalwareBytes or are unsure of what to do, we recommend that you contact an IT professional or Network Administrator as soon as possible.

The most important thing is that you DO NOT turn off or restart your computer. Doing so could cause further damage.

If you are unsure of any of the steps in the following list, we recommend that you consult an IT professional who can help you out.

When you’ve downloaded MalwareBytes and the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool, you can use these steps to help you remove malicious software from your computer:

  • Disconnect your computer from any networks. Remove the Ethernet cable or turn off/unplug the wireless adapter.
  • Disable System Restore.
  • Run MalwareBytes, choosing a quick scan.
  • Run the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool (MMSRT).
  • Quarantine or remove any threats as suggested by these tools.
  • Restart your computer in safe mode.
  • Repeat the scan with Malware Bytes and MMSRT.
  • Follow any instructions given by these tools, and repeat scans/restart as necessary.
  • Ensure all program patches and security updates are applied, e.g. Windows Update.


Please remember that this information is provided only as a suggestion, and that Geek Guru cannot be held responsible for any damage caused by attempts to follow these instructions. If you are unsure of anything at all, we recommend leaving the work to an IT professional.


If you’d like more information on protecting your computer from malicious software, want to know what Geek Guru could do for your business, or if you want to chat to us about anything technical, drop us a line and we’ll do what we can to help.

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at


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Viruses Malware and Spyware

Viruses, Malware and Spyware - Are You Protected?

Posted on July 31st, 2013 by Emily


Even with the large number of potential threats lurking around on the internet, 1 in 6 Windows PCs are still not protected by antivirus software. Are yours?


Whether it’s people bringing in files on USB sticks or other media from home, downloading from the internet, being the victim of a browser exploit or email scam, there are many potential ways your computers and network could be infected, and in turn, ways your systems and data could be compromised.

It’s not just viruses either. Malware and spyware can sit on your computer and steal information as you type it in, or slow your computer down to a crawl.

A recent study by McAfee showed that 1 in 6 Windows computers are not protected by any form of antivirus. Protecting your business network is just as important as protecting your home network, if not more so – a much greater volume of sensitive and critical information is often contained on business systems.

Contrary to popular belief, owning a Mac does not automatically protect you either. You’ll still need some form of antivirus protection while using a Mac computer, as there are still vulnerabilities that can be exploited, and as Macs have seen a surge in popularity, so have viruses made specifically to infect them.

Many personal users can now download Microsoft’s Security Essentials package which offers basic protection for those who are generally conscientious online, and many of apple’s inbuilt security features help to protect home Mac users. But what about something more robust, or something that offers centralized control? Will it slow down your system? What will it cost?

In future posts we’ll be looking at the options you have when choosing an antivirus package for your business – but if you don’t already have one, or it’s very out of date, make sure you get some advice as soon as possible and get your network scanned and protected against malware and viruses.


At Geek Guru we’re well-versed in dealing with many types and sizes of business, so we’ll certainly be able to find something to suit you. If you’re in any doubt, or want some advice, give us a call or drop us an email.

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at




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Surge Protection

Posted on July 29th, 2013 by Emily


No matter where you are in the world, electricity surges and spikes can be a real threat to sensitive equipment.


There are two main kinds of devices on the market designed to protect against electrical overloads. One is an RCD or “Circuit Breaker”, which protects users from electrical shocks from equipment, such as lawnmowers or other power tools. The other is a surge protection device, designed to protect sensitive equipment from electrical spikes or surges.

Power surges are very brief (around 1/20th of a second) increases in the voltage that can be incredibly destructive. Spikes are even shorter, lasting only one or two nanoseconds – but can be equally as destructive. Most IT equipment has some built-in safety functions, but these are not always successful in preventing damage to equipment. Power surges and spikes can occur at any time, but they can be especially prevalent at times of peak usage when electricity grids are pushed close to their maximum capacity, and before or after a power outage.

If you have a lot of IT equipment – you’ll want to protect it against these potentially destructive surges and spikes, since it can completely destroy equipment in its path if it is severe enough.

The idea behind a surge protector (sometimes also called “surge suppressors”) is that if/when a destructive surge or spike is sent down the power lines, the protector acts as a buffer and grounds the surge or spike instead of letting it hit your valuable equipment. Surge protectors let through a specific voltage, and are designed to keep your equipment running with the correct voltages despite being hit by surges and spikes. In particularly severe cases, such as a lightning strike, this can lead to the surge protector being destroyed – this is just a confirmation that your equipment was protected and the surge protector did its job.

You may be wondering “what spikes and surges can do to my equipment? How can they be so destructive?” Allow us to explain that one! Computers and other IT equipment are actually very sensitive to voltage changes. Too much or too little voltage can cause them to fail, and using too much for too long can cause components to melt or pop. Heat is a common enemy of all IT equipment (as we discussed last week in our blog on overheating) and surges can cause very rapid overheating of components, which leads to device failure and potentially thousands of pounds of broken equipment. Even if the equipment doesn’t fail because of one surge, repeated exposure to surges and spikes can leave lasting damage that will eventually cause it to fail.

We think of surge protection as a kind of insurance for IT equipment. It’s far cheaper to replace a few surge protectors than it is to replace a whole office full of roasted IT equipment! They’re fairly cheap to buy and we certainly wouldn’t operate our equipment without them. If you’re looking to buy some for your equipment, make sure you look for safety and production standards on them, and beware of buying too cheaply, they may not provide enough protection for your equipment.


If you’d like some advice or recommendations on protecting your IT equipment from surges and spikes, or you’d like to ask us about anything IT-related, we’re here to help!

Give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or send us an email at



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IT Essentials - A Backup Plan

Posted on July 19th, 2013 by Emily


Most of us know what it’s like to lose or break something important, whether it’s real or digital. It always seems to happen when you need it the most.


Fortunately for the digital world, there’s the option to back up your important stuff so that it’s accessible in the event of a hardware failure or some other unforeseen circumstances.

There’s a fair amount of choices when it comes to backing up your data. You can back up using cloud services, an additional drive, and external drive, removable media and more.

If you’re running a business, it’s vitally important that you back up any kind of critical or sensitive information securely.


Don’t wait until it’s too late!

If you don’t have a backup plan in place, we advise getting one as soon as possible.

If you’d like some advice on getting a backup system implemented and supported, want to discuss suitable options or if you’d like a quote, get in contact with us!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at and we’ll do our best to help!



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Hard Drives - Part 7 - Protecting Externals

Posted on May 06th, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at hard drives. What are hard drives, why do they fail and what can you do to extended their life and prevent data loss?

Why Protect External Drives

Just like their internal cousins, external drives are reasonably fragile. They contain numerous moving parts and are very susceptible to damage when they are spinning. This is compounded by their usage which often sees them hanging from a laptop when powered meaning they tend to fail far more often than both desktop or laptop hard drives.

Whilst the chassis of an external hard drive offers some protection they are  still far more fragile than a drive safely housed inside a PC or laptop. A standard external drive may have a few millilitres of plastic around the drive but that doesn’t offer a great deal in terms of shock protection and  provides almost nothing if the drive is spinning and then dropped.

How to Protect External Drives

  • Don’t move external drives when the are connected.
  • Sit them carefully on a solid surface when they are connected and treat them with care to avoid knocks and bumps.
  • If you are using an external drive as a backup on a server. Disconnect the drive and wait 5 seconds before moving it. Don’t pick it up whilst it is still connected.
  • If you are worried about a drive getting damaged in transit – Chose a model that offers some physical protection such as rubberised case or bumpers.
  • Would a USB pen disk suit you better – These are solid state (i.e. no moving parts) and are therefore less unacceptable to movement damage.

Next Time – Data Protection

With so much data stored on an external drives, data protection quickly becomes an issue. Check out our next blog entry for some great tips on protecting the data stored on a drive.

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Hard Drives - Part 6 - External Drives

Posted on May 03rd, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at hard drives. What are hard drives, why do they fail and what can you do to extended their life and prevent data loss?

What are external drives

External drives are in many cases exactly the same technology as their internal counterparts – indeed often the exact same drive. Internally a hard drive is mounted in either a laptop or desktop PC drive cage and then connected to the motherboard via its on-board interface (usually a SATA cable). With external drives the same drive is mounted in a plastic case which is then connected to some form of intermediate interface – usually a USB or eSATA connection. The important thing to realise here is the drive within the plastic case is exactly the same as the drive in your computer and is subject to the same mechanical issues as those drives.

External drives comes in two flavours:

  1. Portable Drives – Contain a 2.5″ laptop drive; are smaller and lighter and do not require a separate power supply.
  2. Desktop Drives – Contain a 3.5″ desktop drive; are larger in physical size and data sizes and cheaper per MB but usually require a separate power supply.

External hard drives have numerous uses in the business including:

  • Bulk storage for data that is not used frequently (such as music or movies).
  • Backup of laptops, desktops and even servers.
  • Bulk movement of data around the office.
  • Bulk movement of data between offices / home / clients etc.

Next Time – Protecting External Drives

Because of their flexibility we find external drives in use throughout most of our clients. However, by their very nature external drives are subject to even more risk that their securely housed internal brethren. Next time we’ll be looking at the various options to protect your data.

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Hard drives - Part 5 - SSD Drawbacks

Posted on May 01st, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at hard drives. What are hard drives, why do they fail and what can you do to extended their life and prevent data loss?

So what’s the drawback?

These days very little apart from cost. SSDs are now relatively mature and the technology has come on a long way. However, price per MB is still far higher than traditional drives which means that laptops generally don’t come with SSDs as standard until you start looking at premium machines or ultra-portables.

Because the price per MB is high laptops that do have SSDs often come with lower sized drives such as 128MB or 256MB. This is fine for most business use but not great for storing your large iTunes Store or large numbers of music and video files. If you are considering an SSD then you need to think very carefully about what data you will need on your laptop and what could be moved off to alternate storage. Do you really need to carry 100GB of music to every business meeting or would that be best on a desktop PC in the office (or an external drive)?

Next Time – External Hard Drives

External drives by their very nature are subject to even more risk that their securely housed internal brethren. Next week we’ll be looking at the various options and what you can do to protect your data.

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Hard drives - Part 4 - Solid State Drives

Posted on April 29th, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at hard drives. What are hard drives, why do they fail and what can you do to extended their life and prevent data loss?

What is a solid state drive? (SSD)

If you read the last few days blog posts you’ll have a pretty good idea how a standard hard drive works. They are a tried and tested form of bulk storage. They are cheap, relatively reliable and pretty much represent the basis for data storage in most modern laptops and desktop machines. The are however relatively old technology and, as the previous blog posts show, subject to mechanical failure in a way that most other computer parts are not.

An SSD is a hard drive that uses flash chips to store data instead of a magnetic platter. Just like a USB pen disk stores data on a portable stick an SSD stores data on a hard drive sized array of chips. SSDs are preferable for a number of reasons but these all boil down to one thing. They contain no mechanical parts. This leads to a number of benefits:

  • They are less likely to fail through movement or knocks as there are no moving or spinning parts.
  • They do not suffer from mechanical wear in the same way (although they do wear in other ways).
  • They are faster, as there is no delay whilst the read head moves across the platter to accesses data
  • They are cooler and use less power, as there is no loss through mechanical heat – this means better battery life for your laptop

Next Time – It’s not all good though

Whilst SSDs are certainty bringing huge benefits it’s not always a win/win situation. Keep an eye out for our next instalment when we look at some of the drawbacks of solid state drives.

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Hard drives - Part 3 - Preventing Damage

Posted on April 26th, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at hard drives. What are hard drives, why do they fail and what can you do to extended their life and prevent data loss?

What can you do to prevent damage to your hard drive?

In the last blog post we discussed the mechanical nature of most hard drives and how that can cause damage and data loss if they are mistreated. The majority of desktop PC drives will sit in the PC chassis and never be touched or moved. Because of this they are very unlikely to suffer from damage due to movement. Laptops on the other hand are constantly on the move and it is for this reason that we see so many more laptop drive failures.

Here are some tips to avoid damage to your laptop hard drive and to ensure that the drive lasts as long as the other components in the laptop:

  • Don’t move a laptop when the laptop is on and the drive is spinning.
  • If you absolutely must move a laptop that is on, try to keep the laptop flat – I.e. the drive spinning in the same plane – never tilt a laptop when it’s on.
  • Don’t drop or bang a laptop – this may sound obvious but this includes dropping it on a soft bed or on the car seat after using it – it may not damage the laptop but will certainly wear the drive.
  • Try to avoid using the laptop where it will suffer from excessive vibration when in use.

Next Time – Solid State Drives

With all these issues with mechanical drives you wonder why they haven’t invented an alternative… Enter the solid state drive. Keep an eye out for our next instalment when we look at this exciting technology and how it is changing data storage.

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