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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

Geek Guru Software Support

Posted on September 30th, 2013 by Emily


If you’re interested in a new software package or suite, or are looking for some software to suit a specific task and don’t really know where to begin, we’re here to help!


With our recent posts on Office 2013 and Office 365, we hope we’ve been able to provide some useful information on how to choose the best package for you,

At Geek Guru we pride ourselves on our friendly customer service. Anything that you’d like to know about any IT related subject, we’re here to help – including advice about software for different purposes.

Sometimes you may feel like it would be good if you had some software that could automate tasks, software that’s more suitable for your business or just something that can help you be more productive – in any such case, feel free to get in contact with us and we’ll do some looking around for you, and endeavour to find the most suitable software for your needs.

As part of our support packages, we can also help you to purchase and install your software if necessary. This means you’ll have nothing to worry about as we’ll do it all for you, and make sure it’s all set up and working correctly. If you purchase your software through us, we’ll make sure you have the correct amount or type of licenses required for your company or organisation, so you don’t waste some of your budget by purchasing more than you may need.

If you’ve recently purchased some software and need some advice about its functions, general usage, or how to get it to perform specific tasks, we may also be able to help. From assisting you ourselves with our wide range of experience and knowledge, to finding free online resources or paid training courses for you and your team, just let us know and we’ll do what we can to help out.


If you’d like any further information on any kind of software, hardware or anything else IT-related at all, get in touch with us, the Geek Gurus are always on hand and happy to help!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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Stopping Malware Attacks - Updates and Exploits

Posted on August 14th, 2013 by Emily


Following our blog last week on Anti-Malware software and support, this week we continue to take a look at some steps you can take to help secure your PC or network from online threats.


Did you know that as well as protecting your computer or network with software and hardware, you can protect it by updating frequently?

It may come as a surprise to hear that most malware out there right now works on the theory that people don’t update key software on their systems as much as they should, or turn off or ignore prompts to update.

Most of us have been guilty of this at some point. A box pops up telling you an update is available, but you’re working on something important, so you click “later”, “postpone” or “remind me at restart”. Next time might be the same. Eventually you end up with out of date software and several updates to apply at once.

It used to be that unpatched copies of Windows would be at the greatest risk, but with things like automatic updates and integrated security features, this is becoming one of the lesser favoured avenues of attack for malware.

Windows and Internet Explorer accounted for only 3% of total exploits in 2012, while Java was by far the most vulnerable, with a whopping 50%; Acrobat Reader came in at 28%; Adobe Flash came in at 2%. Java and Acrobat Reader have been up there on the list for a several years now. But this doesn’t mean that the software is bad – of course the vendor must always take some responsibility for the security of their products, but the fact is there are simply more attempts made to exploit holes in Oracle’s Java because so many computers around the world use it. Acrobat Reader and Flash are similar cases, although Adobe has focused on making the latest iterations of their popular software more secure.

Most often, as soon as a piece of malware is discovered, the security hole it exploits is patched by the software vendor if this is possible. If a security hole is discovered before any malware is released to exploit it, a patch is also released as soon as possible. The problem is that people do not download these updates when they should.

Essentially, if you want to keep your network or computer at its most secure, make sure you check regularly that all regularly used software is up to date, especially Java, which is used by most web browsers.

If you’d like to read in more depth about the most common exploits used, head on over to this article on the Kaspersky website.


At Geek Guru we’re interested in helping our customers and their data to stay as secure as possible online and offline. We are here to provide advice and support to our customers whenever they need it, and we explain things without jargon.

If you’d like to get in touch, you can 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 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.


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.


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 and one of our engineers will be happy to help.



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Updating Your IT - Part 3 - Security

Posted on July 12th, 2013 by Emily


In the final instalment this week, we’ll look at how keeping your IT updated affects your security.


Viruses, Worms, Trojans, Malware, Phishing – all different kinds of cyber-attacks, all out to steal valuable information or cause destruction or inconvenience in one way or another, and you could be putting your information at increased risk from these if your IT is outdated. You may have antivirus software on your computer, and assume that you’re protected. But when was it last updated? What year is it from? Do you tell Windows to shut down without installing its updates, or have Windows Update turned off? Are your machines, servers or network too slow to run up to date security software effectively? These are all things that could compromise your security.

While there are methods of making your hardware more secure, most of the real threats to security come from out of date software interacting with the internet. Slower hardware may struggle to run some of the security software available and necessary for businesses today, and if that’s the case, you may need to consider some hardware upgrades as well.

So what can you do? Well, there are some steps you can take right now:

  • Make sure Windows Update is turned on if you’re running a PC, or MacUpdate if you’re running a Mac.
  • Make sure you have up-to-date antivirus software.
  • Set your passwords to something that’s not easy to guess. A combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols is best.
  • Check that you have the most recent version of your chosen browser.
  • Check that all of your important software is up to date.

Out-of-date software can leave serious security holes open to potential hackers, (not to mention a variety of bugs,) so always use the tools provided by the vendor to update your software whenever an update is available.

Often, in larger organisations,  things like updating software and virus definitions is something that is also done by a network administrator or IT support technician, but with standalone machines or some small business networks, this may not be the case.

Unless you understand your IT fully, things like updating firmware for routers and checking network settings are something that’s best left to the professionals, and something that should be included in your IT support package.

Recently in the news, large companies like Sony have come under fire for not fixing security holes in their systems, or not having strict enough policies and allowing details to get out. No one wants this to happen, especially with very sensitive data that some businesses store, and one of the first steps you can take toward security is to keep everything up to date.


Geek Guru take network and data security very seriously.

If you’re interested in how we could help you to keep your IT updated and secure, give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or drop us an email at


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Updating Your IT – Part 1 – Compatibility & Support

Posted on July 08th, 2013 by Emily

This week’s topic of choice is something that’s actually more important than it may seem – keeping your IT equipment up to date. We’ll look at three key areas, and explain why you should keep your IT up to date, and how it can affect your business if you don’t.

We’ve all been there, and seen how slow, old or poorly performing IT can make things take far, far longer than they’re supposed to. Having to keep customers on the line longer than necessary because your system is running at a crawl, or not being able to access information or use a device that you need to because it’s not compatible with your hardware.

Just as an example of things in the technology world moving on, Microsoft will officially drop extended support for Windows XP on 8th April, 2014. This means there will be no more security patches, no more bug fixes, no more updates for XP users after this date. Specific manufacturers may continue to release updates for their software on the Windows XP platform, but there will be no more updates from Microsoft for Windows XP itself. Support and updates for Office 2003 will also cease on April 8th 2014. Windows XP was the biggest advance in operating systems since the jump from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95, but it’s now very outdated and there have been many improvements and advances made. Even on older hardware, Windows 7 or 8 may run better, but if your hardware is too old to support those, it’s almost definitely time to upgrade.

What’s the point of upgrading then? Well, that’s what we’re here to help you understand. From a support point of view, there have been many improvements made to operating systems which help us to help you, particularly remotely. Improved diagnostic tools also help greatly when problems do arise.

Operating systems, software and hardware built in more recent years are made to take advantage of things such as broadband internet and enhanced networking. USB 3.0 is also a good example of this. It’s much faster than USB 2.0, which is a plus when you are, for example, transferring large amounts of data to or from an external drive – but obviously, it doesn’t run at full speed on a USB 2.0 port, although most devices will still function due to included backwards compatibility. A lot of device manufacturers are also dropping support in their drivers for older hardware and operating systems, which means when you buy an item, it may not be fully supported, or may not work at all if your system is ageing.

Sometimes our customers have software or hardware that’s designed for older systems that they need to keep. That’s usually not a problem – Windows has many features we can use to make it backwards compatible, to make your software or hardware usable even if it was designed for an older machine.


If you’re worried or have any questions, or would like to get a quote for upgrading your systems, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us!

Give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or email us at and one of our team will be happy to help.


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Tip - Windows 8 - Lock Screen

Posted on November 05th, 2012 by Emily

Unlike other Windows lock screens, the Windows 8 one doesn’t give you any hints or info about what you should do. And when you first launch into Windows 8, the lock screen is all you’re confronted with.
Just press the spacebar or scroll the mouse wheel, or swipe the screen upward as you would to unlock a smartphone if you’re using a tablet pc or touchscreen. This will prompt you to enter the details you chose during installation, and allow you to log in to Windows.

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