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Wireless Access Points

Do you suffer from a weak wireless signal?  This is a very simple question to answer.  Either you do or you don’t, it’s a yes or a no.

The solution to the problem however is not quite so simple.  A poor wireless signal can be caused by a whole spectrum of issues.  In this short article, we hope to tackle some of the more common issues.

The most common issue with a weak signal is access point placement.  Before you go out buying new equipment, you should first determine if repositioning the access point will give you better coverage.  Place the access point in a central location in your home and see if that helps cover your entire house.  Access points broadcast their signal outwards in a circular pattern. Depending on the material used to build your home, the walls will distort and reflect the signal causing dead zones.

If placement of the access point doesn’t help because there are too many obstructions in the house, adding additional access points may be of importance.  In this configuration, you want to move your access points so they evenly cover the household.  You don’t want them bunched up in the middle of the building and you don’t want them on the very edges either.

Once you have the right placement and right quantity of wireless access points to cover your entire home, you want to make sure that your devices are talking on the right frequency.  Newer access points operate in the 5Ghz spectrum.  This spectrum typically requires a direct line of sight for a fast reliable connection.  If there are obstacles in the home, 5Ghz speeds will tend to drop off quickly and you may be better off using the 2.4Ghz wireless signal.

Moving beyond just the speed, making sure your access point is capable of handling more devices is important.  In todays modern world, its not uncommon for a typical family household to have 3-4 ipads, 2-4 smart phones, 3-4 wireless televisions and 2-3 laptops computers.  When you do the math, we are talking about 20+ devices for a family of 5.  When looking for a good access point, you want to make sure it has MU-MIMO technology.  MU-MIMO stands for Mult-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output.   This technology opens up the lines of communications with the router and allows all devices to talk simultaneously without crowding each other out.

We configure and deploy Meraki Wireless Access Points in areas like schools where WIfi is mission critical to the learning of the students.  When you have 30 students in a classroom, and 20 classrooms across the campus, Meraki Wireless Access points offer advanced capabilities to smooth out issues and offer detailed reporting when issues arise.

For residential and commercial businesses, we deploy Unifi wireless access points.  These offer a cheaper alternative to Meraki because they do not require an active subscription to function.  These offer equally high performance to their Meraki counterparts, but require a little more hands-on knowledge to setup, configure and troubleshoot.

 

If you need help with a wireless problem, if it’s a new install or a wireless installation that isnt working like you expect it, we can be of assistance.

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What is a blue screen of death

What is a blue screen of death

The dreaded Blue Screen of Death, AKA BSOD

Have you seen this screen?  We have seen it thousands of times!  Customers bring their computers to us with this issue.  The biggest issue with this screen is that the fix is not always the same.  

The screen always displays some clues about the underlying issue.  Sometimes its a hardware error, sometimes its a sofware issue.  If the error happens when you are not at the computer, it can be diagnosed by searching your event logs for specific eventID’s.

One blue screen of death may be harmless and safely ignored as windows does have a hiccup from time to time when software tries to access memory it doesnt have permission to access.  Typically this happens with driver software since its interacting with hardware.  

Its when you see this blue screen often that you should be concerned the most.  Thats where getting to the root of the problem is important so it can be addressed.  A software called Blue Screen View from Nirsoft will find files called memory dumps so you can isolate which software caused the blue screen.  From there its practical to update the sofware or driver and see if the issues are resolved.

In more extreme cases, hardware may have to be replaced, but these issues are typically less common.

If you are still having problems you cant resolve, we have technician trained to sniff out the cause of these blue screens.  You can contact us for help.

 

Submit Request for Help with Blue Screens

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Finding the perfect laptop

Finding the perfect laptop

Laptops come in many different sizes.

When choosing a laptop, a primary consideration is the size of the keyboard and screen.  Laptops can range in size from 13.3 inches up to 17.3 inches.  I am sure that there are small and larger, but those sizes are outside the norm.  The sizes typically come down to user preference.  How often you travel with the laptop may be a consideration.  Nobody likes to lug around a large heavy laptop while travelling.  On the same token, if you don’t travel often, but want that flexibility, a larger laptop will grant you faster speeds.

Laptop Features

Laptops have come a long way in recent years.  Many features are now built directly into a laptop.  Microsoft has gone through great lengths to make the device more secure in the event that its stolen.  Microsoft can now secure the computer using biometric data.  It may require you to swipe your finger print, or smile for the camera so it can detect who you are by facial recognition.  Failing to pass one of these biometric locks would prevent unauthorized access to the computer.  Bitlocker is an encryption technology that was designed and implemented by Microsoft.  Even in the event of the theft of your laptop, you can be sure that the thieves would not have access to your encrypted data without that biometric key.  

Laptop Speed

Nobody likes working on a slow computer.  Its important to make sure your system specifications are ideal for a laptop.  Beliefve it or not, the budget models may still use clunky old hard disk drive technology.  When you purchase a laptop, you will want to make sure you have a solid state drive, also known as SSD.  You will also want a minimum of 8gb of Memory and an Intel Core i7 processor or equivalent from AMD.  By ensuring you have the right specs, you can enjoy hours of mobile computing.

System Warranty

Because laptops are mobile, you want to make sure you carry the appropriate warranty.  You want to make sure your warranty is from a reputable source and that they have a good rating.  You can find the ratings of your warranty provider on services like Yelp.  Many third party warranty services require you to mail in your computer and takes weeks on average before you get the computer back..

We sell Dell laptops and the Dell warranties are rated in class.  The Dell warranties on the computers we seel are good for 3 years and they come to your home/business the next business day when a part needs replacing.

We also highly recommend you get the accidental coverage as everyone knows, accidents to happen and basic warranty coverage does not cover accidental damage.  Accidental coverage covers most issues like water damage and cracked screens from falls.

Data Recovery

Data Recovery

hard drive

Technology is a part of our daily lives.  The amount of time the average person spends interacting with their digital devices continues to climb with each passing year.  The amount of data being processed and stored accumulates and the size of our storage devices continues to grow.

At one point of another, for many various reason, access to the data is lost.

Corrupted Data

Corrupted data referes to errors that occur duing writing, reading, transmission or processing which introduce unintended changes to the original data.  Data corruption in an image file can manifest as artifacts on the image that shouldnt be there. In an audio file, it could be garbled or skipped audio.  In a word document, it could be jumbled characters. For any of those file types, it could be so bad that they are no longer recognized as images, audio or text and they no longer open in your favorite application.

Hardware Failure

Common ways for data corruption to be introduced is due to faulty hardware.  Failing random access memory, or RAM for short cause introduce corruption as the data is commited to the hard drive from RAM.  There are various technologies that help mitigate memory corruption.  ECC Memory is a server technology not normally available for consumer grade computers and is generally much more expensive than normal memory.

A hard drive can also begin to have problems with individual sectors/blocks that can introduce corruption.  When a sector/block goes bad, one peice of the stored data becomes inaccessible.  Windows has the ability to recover from some of these errors with utilities such as Check Disk.  When a hard drive has a large amount of failed sectors, the operating system itself can become corrupt and unable to boot.

Data Recovery

Its important when dealing with data that special care is taken to ensure that the data corruption is not made worse.  There are ways to preserve the original state of the data incase more than one attempt is needed to recover the data.  Cloning is the term used when a service technician makes an exact copy of the old drive.

Once the drive has been cloned, utilities like checkdisk can fix corrupted data.  Sometimes the built in utilities are not enough and 3rd party utilities can be used to peice the data back together again.  Often these utilities have a free version you can test to see if they can recover the data with additional fees to recover all the data.

If the problem is severe and the physical device is bad, the device can be sent to an advanced data recovery facility where it is disassembled and physically repaired.  These types of services usually cost in the thousands of dollars for the basic tier.

Cowabunga! Data Recovery Services

We offer basic data recovery services.  We do a free assesment of the drive and offer a quote for recovery.  If we cannot recover any of the data, there is never any charge.  We can then refer you to a mainland partner that provides clean room disassembly services. 

Microsoft will be disabling SMB1 by default for Windows 11 Home Insiders

Microsoft has been recommending systems administrators to disable SMB v1 on their network for years now. SMB v1 is vulnerable to a number of exploits which include Man in the middle attacks, insecure guest authentication and security downgrade attacks. Even exchange is vulnerable to issues surrounding SMB v1.

A few of the major viruses circulating in the wild also take advantage of the flaws in SMB v1. These include, but are not limited to EternalBlue, EternalRomance, TrickBot, Emotet, WannaCry, Retefe, NotPetya and Olympic Destroyer.

Disabling SMB v1 is easy, but not without issues. Many old applications require v1 to function as they are not compatible with the newer SMB v2 or SMB v3. Migrating off of legacy applications and devices will make for an easier transition when Microsoft finally puts SMB v1 to rest permanently.