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Tag Archives: failure

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!

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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!

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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 info@geek-guru.co.uk

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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.

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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.

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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 info@geek-guru.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help!

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Posted in: It 4 business Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
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IT Tips - Avoiding Overheating Issues

Posted on July 17th, 2013 by Emily

 

At the moment we seem to be going through something of a heatwave, and while there’s many different opinions about how great or awful it is for us, excess heat always spells trouble for IT equipment.

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The symptoms of overheating IT are many, and sometimes confused with other problems. It can happen if there’s poor ventilation around the unit, or if the vents become clogged, or even if a device is left in direct sunlight.

Even one of our engineers had problems recently when his iPhone popped up an error message telling him he could not operate the unit until it’d cooled down. Needless to say, he switched it off and put it in a cool place and it was soon working again, but in a world where technology is ever decreasing in size, heat becomes more of a problem. It’s also something that very few people will consider when they’re experiencing problems with IT. Overheating can cause machines to slow to a crawl, cause problems with monitors, or even cause equipment to break completely or temporarily stop functioning. Most IT equipment available has inbuilt safety mechanisms to turn off the device or machine if it becomes too hot, and will most often not turn on again until it reaches a safe temperature or until a certain amount of time has passed.

If you want to prevent your IT equipment from being damaged by heat, here’s a few important things to remember:

  •  Leave space around any IT equipment. This allows air to circulate more freely.
  • Clean off any dust or dirt that accumulates around the outside. This is best done with a dry cloth, or with specially designed computer-friendly wipes. DO NOT blow directly into the equipment, or do anything to allow moisture to enter the unit.
  • Keep IT equipment out of direct sunlight. This is especially important for smartphones, tablets and laptops.
  • Have your equipment serviced regularly. Just like other machinery, it gathers dust and dirt and needs to be cleaned to function correctly.
  • Don’t put IT in an area where there’s lots of dust or debris generated. Special equipment is required for working under these conditions.
  • Don’t put IT equipment near to heat sources (eg. heaters or radiators).
  • Don’t block any ventilation holes on your devices or equipment.
  • Get a special server cabinet for your servers. These also help to keep things organised, secure and reduce noise levels.
  • Ensure equipment is turned off when it is not needed.
  • Use any provided software tools to monitor temperatures.

 

If you suspect a device is overheating, the best thing to do (unless it’s a server!) is to turn it off and leave it to cool down. If you’re in any doubt, get in contact with an IT professional.

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Geek Guru provide all-round IT advice and support. If you’re worried about heat problems, have questions or need anything else IT – related, be sure to get in contact with us and we’ll do what we can to help you. Our support is second to none!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk and one of our engineers will be happy to help.

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Posted in: It 4 business, Tips n Tricks Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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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Hard drives - Part 2 - Why do they fail?

Posted on April 24th, 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 do they fail?

Hard drives fail for many reasons but a lot are due to wear and tear caused by drive movement. In yesterdays blog we pointed out the mechanical nature of hard drives. When spinning a drive generates a great deal of gyroscopic force. Think of a spinning top and how it wants to stay spinning in the same orientation. Pushing the top over when it is spinning is actually quiet hard and this is much smaller and slower that the platter in a hard drive. When a drive is rotated when it is spinning, those forces are transmitted to the bearings which cause them to wear prematurely. They can also cause stresses in the drive head which is moving very rapidly across the platter.

Even more serious are hard knocks and drops of the laptop (and with it the drive). These can cause the drive head to actually hit the platter causing data loss and at worse complete drive failure. The term crash actually refers to the drive head ‘crashing’ in to the drive platter on a hard drive. When this happens physical damage occurs which can render the data stored on the drive completely unreadable.

The last major cause of failure is simply general wear and tear. Hard drives are precision instruments and whilst the technology has matured significantly in the last 10 years (to the point where treated well they will last many years) they will still be more prone to failure than a solid state device.

Next Time – How can you prevent damage to your drive?

A hard drives mechanical nature means it must be treated differently to most other PC components. Keep an eye out for our next instalment when we look at why hard drives fail.

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Hard drives - Part 1 - What are they?

Posted on April 18th, 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 hard drive?

Hard drives come in many sizes and formats. You get large ones for desktops, small ones for laptops, fast ones for servers and eco friendly ones to reduce power requirements. A traditional hard drive is basically a magnetic platter that stores bits of data as magnetic 1s and 0s. This magnetic platter is circular and spins around its central axis at many times per second. A typical consumer hard drive will spin at either 5400 or 7200 RPM. That means that every second your drive will have spun 120 times around it’s axis.

The data on a drive is read via a drive head that scans over the platter a fraction of a millimetre above the platters surface. This drive head can move around very fast to locate specific data stored on the platter and is the reason for the very slight clicking you can sometimes hear from a working drive.

Aside from the CD drive your hard drive is almost certainly one of the only electro-mechanical devices left in your desktop PC or laptop. Most other components such as the motherboard and CPU are what we call ‘solid state’ and do not contain any moving parts.

Next Time – Why do Hard Drives Fail?

A hard drives mechanical nature means it must be treated differently to most other PC components. Keep an eye out for our next instalment when we look at why hard drives fail.

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