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Welcome to Normandy Computer Services - Computer Services Page
Repairs Upgrades Data Backup & Recovery Security Broadband & WIFI Lessons Software
Welcome to my Computer Services page. Below you will find a description of some of the services that I offer plus a few tips which you may find useful. It is impossible to list everything here so should you need help with any computer related problem or requirement then please contact me to discuss the details. I also offer a call-out service if required.

Test EquipmentComputer Repairs
I will undertake all repairs to computer systems at reasonable rates and will always advise if a repair will be cost effective so as not to waste your money! For some situations I apply a flat charge as charging an hourly rate could make the repair expensive. Please see my prices page for details of all charges including call-out fees.

The unfortunate reality is that computers do break down. Modern computers are on the whole very reliable and suffer from very few hardware faults, most problems tend to arise from software errors or rogue programs such as viruses and malware.

Tip: The sooner hardware or software problems are addressed the less likely it is that you will suffer loss or damage to personal data.

Tip: One thing that is inevitable is that the data storage device on your computer (hard drive) will eventually fail and all the data therein will be lost. It is vital that regular backups are taken to protect your documents and photos etc. Hard drives are mechanical devices that eventually wear although most do last for many years. New devices such as SSD's (solid state disks) do not have mechanical parts but I would still advise regular backups as the long term reliability of these devices is yet to be proved. If you are unsure about data backup, I can advise various simple methods or do backups for you, please see my "Data Recovery & Backup" section below.

Tip: A common problem in Normandy is damage from power surges normally caused by lightning storms which can send abnormal voltages through electrical and phone lines. Most modern homes have a trip circuit which will normally activate to protect electrical outlets but very few homes have protection on the phone line, so if your computer is connected to the phone socket either directly or via an external modem it is very wise to disconnect all items from the phone line during a storm. Please note that even trip devices can fail to protect electrical outlets with a direct lightening strike, if in doubt also disconnect everything from mains power during a storm. If precautions are not taken, damage as a result of an electrical storm can range from slight to total, so if your machine has stopped unexpectedly after or during a storm and will not restart then it is advisable to disconnect the machine from the mains power and have it inspected before further use or attempts to restart it.

Tip: Viruses and malware are responsible for many computer problems. Infections can happen even if your machine is protected by an anti-virus/anti-malware program and it is vital that these programs are updated regularly. General caution is always advised when running new programs and opening email attachments, if in doubt then don't do it. Some websites can cause infection via your browser and it is always advised that you update your browser regularly to prevent this possibility. In all cases if you suspect an infection then make as many notes as possible about your concerns such as error messages etc, and then close down the machine and seek advice before using it again. Most infections tend to worsen with continued use. Some viruses/malware represent themselves as something they are not and ask you to pay a fee or click a link to solve your "problem"....NEVER pay or click these links it is just a scam which will take your money and possibly steal your credit card details as well. If you are in any doubt as to a possible infection always seek advice before continuing to use your computer. Please be aware that generally speaking using the internet and email is very safe, some precautions can be taken to protect your privacy, please see my security section below for some tips which may help.

Circuit BoardsComputer Upgrades
As software improves and progresses it is likely that your machine will feel like it is slowing down. Newer programs tend to use more resources and require faster processors. Websites are becoming more graphic intensive and online video is now very popular which also puts a strain on resources. Digital photos from digital cameras are getting larger and require more storage space on your computer along with extra resources to handle the file sizes. You may have the latest Hi-Def digital video camera which brings your machine to a practical halt when trying to edit footage. Game players are constantly finding that their machines will not run the latest games smoothly as they are among the most demanding applications a computer can run and are forever requiring more resources. There are two answers to this problem, one being that you can buy a new computer with the latest technology the other being that you upgrade the components necessary in your existing computer to achieve your ambitions. There are many things that can be done to an older machine that will improve it's performance, and the necessary upgrade path will vary according to what you expect from your machine. I will happily advise you on the best upgrade path for you machine taking in to account the software you wish to run and the tasks you would like it to perform. Please contact me and I will happily discuss your needs with no obligation.

Tip: Installing unnecessary programs will probably adversely affect the resources available to your other frequently used applications and possibly slow them down. It is worthwhile uninstalling programs that you never use but be sure that these are not necessary to the smooth running of your computer, certainly avoid installing new programs that you are not likely to use. Programs can be uninstalled in Windows via the "Control Panel" but please use with caution or seek advice if you are unsure of this procedure.

Data Backup & Recovery
Many people rely on computers for storage of personal data including email, personal documents and photographs from digital cameras. The loss of this personal data can be devastating. There are many ways to lose data that is stored on your hard drive such as hardware failure, malicious virus/malware attack, theft of your computer, or by accidental deletion. I have personally witnessed the emotional trauma people undergo when they realise that their photo collection of many years has been lost forever or that the company accounts for the past five years no longer exist.

Under some circumstances it is possible to recover personal data that otherwise appears lost. I utilise special utilities which can retrieve even deleted information. If your machine has failed I will probably be able to recover all personal data from it and restore it to a new device. This is not possible in all cases, if your hard drive has failed mechanically then the process of data recovery is a specialised service that can be very expensive (several hundreds) if possible at all. Please see my important tips below.

Tip: If you accidentally delete personal data in most cases this is recoverable, but it is very important to cease use of the computer as soon as possible to prevent the deleted data from being irreversibly damaged. When a file is deleted only the header is erased removing the file from sight but it still "exists", if you continue using the computer it may overwrite the file with newer information making the whole retrieval process more difficult to achieve. In the case of deleted data turn off the computer and seek advice as soon as possible. It is also possible in some cases to recover data from removable storage devices such as USB keys and camera memory cards, but the sooner you stop using the device the more chance there is of success. If you need data recovered please contact me for further information.

Tip: BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!!! There are many ways to backup your personal data and many of them are extremely cheap to do costing just a couple of Euros. Most modern computers have a CD/DVD writer device which allows you to copy data to a recordable disk. The recordable disks are freely available, cheap to buy and in the case of DVD's can store over 8GB of data. There are also other good value backup devices available and I will be pleased to advise you of your options and implement the method of choice. Please contact me to discuss your requirements.

Computer SecurityComputer Security
Data theft, identity theft, and data fraud are phrases that are commonly used to invoke a fear of using personal computers for anything other than playing games. There are many steps that can be taken to prevent you from becoming a victim of "cyber crime". Please see my tips below and contact me should you require further information or wish me to implement security features on your computer.

Tip: Passwords. Almost everywhere you turn in the computer world you are required to provide a user name and password. No matter how sophisticated the security measures you put in place, a weak password will destroy all of that. NEVER use one word passwords no matter how insignificant the reason may appear. One word passwords are very easy to crack, there are applications freely available that will test a password at a rate of thousands of times per second and it will not take long for them to discover the word or name that you have used. Make up a word that does not already exist and combine this with numbers, or use a completely random set of characters. Any password that consists of names or English words even in combination are susceptible to cracking, people commonly use a word followed by a number, this is also easy to crack. Use different passwords for different sites or applications because if a site or program is hijacked then the hijacker will have the password to all of your sites if it is not varied. Having multiple passwords then brings the problem of remembering them, you should never be tempted to write them down, there are some great utilities where passwords can be stored securely in an encrypted format and recalled for use instantly, please contact me for details.

Tip: Computer Theft & Data Protection. Computer theft is common, more so if that computer is a laptop. The cost of replacing a computer is one expense, but the most costly component of computer theft could be the data it contains. If you keep any information on your computer that you would not be happy for a thief to see then this information must be protected. Some computers contain enough information for someone to be able to impersonate you and transfer money from bank accounts and credit cards or take out loans in your name. Data is often stolen from a computer and the computer is left behind, this can be worse because you would be unaware that your identity has just been compromised. The answer is simple, you must encrypt your personal data so that it is unreadable without a password. I am not talking about the windows password feature as this can be bypassed within seconds if you know how, I am talking about military strength encryption that with a strong password is completely inaccessible. Sounds expensive? no it is not, please contact me for details of how to protect your data easily and for little cost.

Tip: Shopping Online. Online shopping is fast becoming the most convenient method for obtaining goods that you desire. Generally speaking online shopping is very secure assuming that you take some simple precautions. Only use reputable companies and preferably those that you can check that they are genuine. Most reputable sites will have contact details available along with an address for their business so you can satisfy yourself that they are who they say they are. Use sites recommended by friends and family where they have completed successful transactions. Restrict your spending to just one credit card and make sure that the issuer of that card will reimburse you in case of fraudulent activities or other problems when shopping online. Sign up to a service such as Paypal because when you make purchases with Paypal your credit card number is never given to the vendor. Make sure that the site you are buying from has secure facilities, you can normally check this by checking that the URL address of the page that you are making payment from starts with "https". Buying goods on eBay is normally very safe as the vendors are rated and the history of their previous sales and activities is freely available to view along with ratings from past customers, also if you pay by Paypal they offer a purchase protection guarantee. Please contact me if you need help setting up an eBay or Paypal account.

Tip: Phishing for private data. Phishing describes the activity of obtaining personal information whilst impersonating a company or another person. NEVER reply to emails or click links within emails that are asking you to confirm your identity. NEVER pay attention to emails telling you that there is a problem and that you should log-in via a link provided within that email. NEVER pay heed to this type of email even if the person sending that email appears to be a genuine organisation such as a bank, a credit card company, eBay or an online shop etc. These types of emails are almost always going to send you to a log-in page that appears to be the same as you would normally expect but are in fact just copies of the real site and they are about to steal the information that you enter and use it too defraud you. Quite often you will get emails from banks or other institutions that you don't even belong to warning you of some crisis, just delete them. If you ever get emails like this and you are concerned if they are genuine, simply ignore the links within the email and instead sign in to your account as you would normally to see that there is no problem. No company or bank will ever ask you for your password so if they do then it is likely a scam. If ever in doubt instead of worrying about it do nothing and then contact me for help.

Network - Broadband & WIFI Installation
If you are considering a broadband connection to the internet and are unsure about setting up your computer and installing the modem then I will be happy to help. My prices for installation are often much cheaper and quicker than the service offered by the broadband suppliers. Most modern broadband modems are WIFI enabled which means that you can connect computers to the service without wires and use portable machines around the house. If your modem is not WIFI enabled then they are available for reasonable prices should you require the facility. If your house has problems transmitting WIFI signals (thick walls can cause problems) then there are devices available that will utilise your existing electrical wiring to boost connection availability. Using a wireless connection to your computer will also negate the possibility of damage to your computer through surges on the phone line during electrical storms. If you require help with broadband configuration then please contact me and I will be happy to discuss your requirements

If you have more than one computer then it is possible to connect these devices together both wired and wirelessly to be able to share resources such as a printer or transfer files between the different machines. Your existing broadband modem may already be compliant and just need configuring to enable this service.

Edit: From July 2010 under new laws it is neccesary to consider protecting your internet/wifi connection from unauthorised access. Please click here for information.

LessonsComputer Lessons
If you are new to computing and would like to expand your knowledge or need help achieving certain tasks then you may wish to consider having one-to-one lessons at very reasonable rates. A good understanding of the basics will enhance your computing experience and make many tasks a lot simpler to achieve. If you have a desire to perform a particular function with your computer then I can advise the best software to use and show you how to get started. A beginner will only need one or two lessons to expand their knowledge and help towards a better understanding. Lessons are tailored to your ability and can include computing basics, understanding the internet, basic photo editing, producing news letters/leaflets, online shopping and using services such as Skype for staying in touch with friends and family. If you are interested in learning more about your computer then please contact me for further information.

Software & Configuration
Your computer is limited to the functions it can perform mainly by the software installed. There are an abundance of software packages available to perform many tasks from typing letters to creating music or video masterpieces. There is a wide range of software that is available free of charge, much of it very professional and comprehensive. I will happily advise you on software for your computer and install it if required.

Many computers have software that is not configured properly or maybe does not run at all. If you need your computer configured for correct operation then please contact me to discuss you needs.