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Windows Xp support expires in April 2014

On April 8th 2014 Microsoft's support for Windows XP will end.
Updates that patch security holes in Windows, will no longer be produced by Microsoft for windows XP after this date.
Should someone write a virus, or malware program, for a newly found security bug found in windows xp after this date, Microsoft will
not produce a patch for it.
About 60 percent of pc's in the work place and possibly home, if the reports from various sources are to be believed, are still using windows xp
and a recent visit to a well known bank, would seem to add to this evidence.
Three versions of windows, have arrived since windows xp, The ill fated and at times slow sluggish Vista, the somewhat more sucessful Windows 7,
and in the last year or so Windows 8 with its not very well received user interface.
It would seem that none of these windows versions have been enough of an improvement over xp for many users and companies,
to warrant the time and expense to upgrade. The state of the world's economy may also be playing a part.

So what happens in April next year ?
Microsoft have just announced that they will supply updates for there malware scanner, that is Security essentials, and there paid for
Antivirus server products for Windows XP until July 2015.
This of course has nothing to do with windows update patches.
Continued support from Virus, firewall, web browsing and email protection support from many well known Software companies, will no doubt help, although, they
can not of course patch xp with windows updates, so keeping your virus protection up to date will be of paramount importance. If your xp pc is old, this would be a good time to upgrade and windows 8 can be made a lot more user friendly by downloading one of the many
Start button windows menu programs available on the web. Windows 7 is also still available at this time, but we are not sure for how much longer.

As an update to the above story,
around April the 15th a bug in Security Essentials, caused many XP pc's to crash or become unresponsive.
The simple fix was to uninstall Security essentials. Since that time microsoft have provided a fix in a later update.
You may also notice now that the familiar green icon in the tray on the right hand side at the bottom of the screen, has gone red and stays
that colour. It is not because, you have been infected but rather it is microsoft's way of telling you to upgrade your version of
windows because they no longer believe Windows XP to be secure.
Of course this does however make it difficult to tell if you have some kind of Virus or Malware threat or definition update problem on your pc.
If you must stick with XP and a free Antivirus program, we suggest trying one the other free, well known and respected programs out there.

In case you are wondering about the expiry dates for Vista and Windows 7 ?
Vista will continue to have security patches produced as updates until April 11th 2017 and Windows 7 until January 14th 2020.

Help of course is what we are all about at ABC computer support
and we have some of the best virus protection, for home and business
at very reasonable prices.
New pc's can also be made to your order and we specialise in transferring
your existing data, and settings to a new version of windows.
We can also take the strain out of setting up a new pc for you in your business or at home.



When does Windows 7 Support expire?


Security updates will be made available for Windows 7 with the latest service pack until January 14th 2020.
After Windows XP this has proved to be one of Microsoft's most popular operating systems.

The Cloud what is it ? Do I need it ?


The term Cloud is cropping up more and more in almost anything to do with computers over the last couple of years.
Is it just a new hyped up acronym dreamt up by a sales department hoping to sell, something old in a new disguise perhaps ?

In some ways it's been with us for a long time, interactive web pages, such as those provided from Ebay, your bank and even Google search
are a sort of cloud type application.

Microsoft’s office 365 is an example of today's more typical cloud application.
It seems like an ordinary program installed on your pc, but in the background it is connected to internet, this means it can be
provided to you as a pay as you go system, usually requiring for you to pay a monthly fee, rather than the buy once and
use as long as you like program of say Microsoft's Office 2013, but it may also have the advantage of storing your data on the internet
or cloud if you like and have it available where ever you are connected to the internet.
These new types of services go under the new catchy heading of the "Cloud".

Putting it very simply, it’s a move by large and not so large, software and internet companies, to have you do what you have done locally
on your pc in past years and change now to logging on or registering with someone who provides the same service on the internet instead.

The registration model means you will most likely be kept updated automatically with those programs upgrades.
You will also sometimes be offered better per user licences
deals as an incentive to go with the programs monthly registration model, but
in some cases this is just a way getting you to pay a monthly fee for their software, rather than buying it outright.

For businesses it offers other benefits as well by supplying a service that was only previously available locally from your companies
server and can now be provided as a server service remotely from the internet instead. This may mean you can cut down on the hardware costs
of having your own server or servers and local IT maintenance of the servers, and it's installed programs.
One example is Microsoft’s email server program called Exchange.
There is also a well known accountancy program that has also been made available as a cloud model and of course having these services
available where ever there is an internet connection may be an advantage for sales staff and other mobile users.

Not all server services
that are provided by your company servers may not be available as a cloud service and also may not be convenient or cost effective if they were.
Loss of control over configuration and features should also be something to consider.

There is also security to consider.
When using a cloud designed application often this means your data is stored out side of your work place on the web,
or at least you may have the option of storing it on the web.
This may be a good thing if your work requires you to be away from the office a lot, as you should have access to your files as long as
you have an internet connection.
From a security and legal standpoint this is something to be aware of, because you may have no control over where in the world it may be
stored, and if it contains a certain type of data such as medical records, the location of the data storage and the type of security for the
cloud connection provided may have legal ramifications and this could well be a critical factor when deciding on a cloud provider.

Clearly there are some advantages and disadvantages to the cloud approach.

You will need a reliable internet connection.
If your internet connection goes down every so often during the day, as some do,
or your connection is painfully slow, no matter how many phone calls you have made to your isp support,
Then a cloud solution may not suit.

Often Applications are specifically tailored for your business and these
could be very expensive to have them reprogrammed for a cloud service.
This may or may not be worth the time and expense involved for the gains the cloud may provide.
There is also the need of course to consider the costs of ongoing Registration fees and compare it to the initial one off costs of a
local computer system taking into account, future upgrade costs and the difference in type of IT support costs that will be needed
with either approach.

Research is defiantly required before deciding to join the cloud and decide if it's a worthwhile future technology.


The Crypto Virus


You no longer have access to your document files or family pictures.

A window pops up on your screen telling you that you need to pay, to have your files unlocked or they will be deleted.
This is the typical symptoms of the encrypto virus.

There is no known way to get access to your files once you have been infected by this virus.
You can only restore them from a backup once your computer has been cleaned.

The ABC television service in Australia aired a program on the 7:30 Report just before Christmas 2013 on the 20th of December detailing
what the Crypto virus was all about.

A key is used to encrypt your files on the infected computer.
This could be a random group of numbers and letters. This key is then used with a program routine
written by the virus writers to jumble up the files bits and bytes, and can then only be unjumbled (unencrypted) with the random key
that was used for the encryption in the first place.

A message will pop up asking you to make a payment before supplying you with the key.
If you ignore it, after a certain amount of time it informs you that your files will be deleted unless payment is made.

They have been smart with this ransom demand and ask for relatively small amounts, sometimes less than a regular computer service charge.

The infection comes from attachments to fake emails that may look official and appear to be from a courier company or bank.

So what can you do prevent this from happening ?

If you don't know who the email is from delete it. Then empty your deleted items in your email program.
A bank or even a courier company are very unlikely to send you an email unless you have initiated the contact first.
If you are in doubt phone your bank or courier company first before opening the email.
Next make sure you are using a reputable Antivirus program, and make sure it is kept up to date.
Use a good backup program, important files, such as business documents and family pictures, should always be backed up
not just for virus protection, but also for many other reasons that may cause data loss,
such as Hardware failure, accidental deletion and theft to name a few.

We have attended to many computers here at ABC, that have suffered data loss over the years, and we cannot stress to highly
the need for a reliable backup.

Our recommendation is to pay for a commercial backup program that creates a whole image of your windows installation
and all its programs on your computer.
The backup should be configured as a scheduled backup that can be restored from at least a week ago.

So far at this point in time, December 2013 we have not seen any of the crypto virus infections in our workshop,
but the 7:30 Report reported that the Queensland University had been infected, and that infection in Australia was around 2 %.
So we expect to see some crypto virus infections in the near future.
In America and certain parts of Europe the infection rate is a lot higher.

There has been a lot of thought put into this latest infection by the people who created it and this may be a growing trend among
virus writers.
Backing up your pc will mostly likely become as important if not more important than having a good virus detection program.

Please don't hesitate to consult us at ABC for any backup or virus solutions that you may require.
We can configure, individual home and business computers, as well as supply and configure robust backup solutions for business servers.


Windows 10 upgrade was available until 29th of July 2016.

This was an upgrade release and was available for users of Windows 7 and windows 8.1 both Home and Professional
and was offered as a completely free upgrade.
The user interface is much improved and this is much apreciated after the previous issues in this regard with windows 8 versions.
Although windows 10 has not been without its problems, Microsoft seem to be fixing them quickly and common issues are quickly disapearing.
The rule of thumb with problems seems to be; first check your hard drive is ok, second you have no viruses or malware on your pc
and thirdly download all the updates that are available and check for any device manager issues.
And if all else fails or it all just seems too hard, bring your pc in to our ABC Computer workshop and we will fix the problems for you.

Other interesting features are:
The new web browser is called "Edge" and is an updated verson of Internet Explorer.
There is also a new start menu in windows 10 and a right click will give you a menu with access to most of the technical areas.
If you want to know more about previous windows versions and why we are seeing windows 10 after such a short
time after windows 8.1 release there is some more information from previous computer news reports below.

Well what happened to Windows 9?
That is anybodies guess, it might have something to with Apple Mac OS name, or it may just not be a lucky number for Microsoft programmers; who knows.

And what was wrong with windows 8?
Windows 8 was designed largely to take advantage of a tablet touch screen environment. Our experience even on windows
tablets, has seen the controls to be very difficult to use in this environment, partly due to the size of objects, text boxes etc,
which were never really designed for a touch screen.
We have found many users are plugging in a mouse to avoid the frustration of using the touch screen with windows 8.
It also often seems to have a considerable time lag, when compared to it's Android and Ipad tablet competitors.
Unfortunately the added features in windows 8 to make it a better touch screen OS has frustrated many desktop pc users, who were saddled with these
difficult to use features, in a mouse and keyboard environment. The disappearance of the easy access menus of past
windows versions made it all together a frustrating at best OS to use for many users.

Microsoft have long held the desktop market, and for good reason, business's have found it to be more productive to sit at desks
and type to enter data.
The continuing popularity and efficient use of the Microsoft office suite for documents, emails and spreadsheets has also meant that a pc
with a good keyboard and screen is still the most useful type of computer for many users to carry on their daily computer work.
More than a few home users also have similar needs.

Let's hope that windows 10 will improve upon the needs for this sector of the market and not detract from it.


Windows 8 and 8.1

The latest update to Windows 8 has arrived called 8.1
8.1 will not be made available from windows update. It can be downloaded using the metro apps screen.
It is however completely free to existing Windows 8 users. So what does it provide ?
The missing desktop start button is probably the most complained about feature, or non feature in windows 8
and as soon as 8.1 was anounced, users started asking, will it return ?
Well it seems Microsoft have been listening

A new feature in 8.1 has been made available that enables the pc to go straight to the desktop, rather than the new tiled icon look.
Enabling easier access to other none tiled programs, and windows settings.
The new start button is there, but left clicking on it will bring up the icon to go back to the tiled icon view, or Metro view as microsoft
have labled it.
To get it to be more useful you can right click it, or hold down the left mouse button for a longer time and a menu of Links,
with access to other windows settings will present it self. I guess this is better than nothing.

There are also other added tweaks for personlizing your windows 8.1 that were not available under windows 8.
The last notable improvements to speak of are mostly of a technical nature, that have been asked for by technicians serving in
large computer enviroments.
These are to do with ease of access in a secure manner to large corporate computer systems where mobile devices, such as ipads, Android and Windows
tablets brought in by staff where causing security concerns and were difficult to setup and control access to a companies business data.

Competition in the mobile market, has been heating up in recent years, and microsoft don't won't to be left out, hence there recent strategy,
to move to being a device and services company. What this means to the average and or business user we will have to wait and see.


SBS 2003 support ending soon ?

Security updates will no longer be provided for SBS 2003 after July 14th 2015.
The exact expiry for this very popular Microsoft's Small Business Server product is confusing due to the amount of featured programs it often includes.
Primarily these are Exchange mail server, Share point server, and Sql server. These programs have already expired over the last 2 years. The last, 2003 Server, expires on the 14th of July 2015.
The latest server product from Microsoft at this time (May 2015) is Server 2012, but there is no 2012 small business server product available and in fact Small Business Server 2011 was the last SBS operating system to be produced by Microsoft and is sadly no longer available for purchase.

Small businesses, that need an on premises server, are offered The Server Essentials 2012. Which is essentially a 2012 Server with a strict license limit of 25 users. Exchange mail server for on premises is no longer provided bundled with any server product. Small businesses who need exchange mail server, are being asked to take up a cloud subscription with an internet provider who offers the Exchange service, or use the mail service provided in Microsoft's Cloud office version called 'Office 365'
It is still possible to install exchange on premises. It requires a dedicated server and purchase of MS exchange and user licenses, but the purchase price of this combination may not suit many small businesses.
There are other on premises mail server programs, that can be installed on a companies single Windows Active Directory and or File sharing server. Whether they can provide the same popular features for Microsofts email client Outlook is yet to be determined.

What is Malware? and How did it infect my PC?

There are lots of people out there in the computer world writing programming code and dreaming up new nasty ways of spreading Malware programs
to the every day pc users around the world.

Often they are writing these programs to try and scam you for information and sometimes your money.
To do this they might ask for, passwords, credit card number, and other personal identification information.
Somtimes the Malware infections may be harmful and stop your pc from working, or just be plain annoying. Your may notice your pc starts to slow down
as the Malware programs start to take up your computers resources.
They can plague your pc and browsers with popup adds, redirect you to malicious web pages, or pages you don't won't to go to,
they can even stop your protection programs, such as virus protection from even starting up.
Still other types of Malware track you with the data you enter on your pc and may be sold off to advertisers, such as your email address, and what
items you have purchased or looked at on the internet.

Thats a lot of bad stuff to happen to your pc and you.
Trying to get rid of some of the worst Malware can sometimes be very difficult.
At ABC Computer support we have been fixing problems with malware infections and viruses for many years, please call us or drop your pc into our worshop if you need help.


Of course prevention is better than cure.
So How did it get on my computer in the first place?
The main tactic a lot of Malware uses to lure you in, is called social hacking.
You may for example receive an email claiming to be from a courier company and claim a parcel is waiting, telling you to please
click on the following a web page link for more information. This link may then ask you for personal identification information, or payment by credit card.
In some cases it may just be a phone number that you must call, and a scammer will be on the other end asking for the same information and maybe remote access
to your pc.

Don't let the wolf in the door!

Other common email scams come from what seem to be well known sources such as banks, goverment, even the police force.
They often even have the logos of those companies on the headings of the email. Take a closer look at the from address, it may not even have the companies email
domain name in the from address, or it maybe a weak attempt, like user@cba-bank.com. If you are at all unsure look up the bank or institutions real phone number and
and ask them. Most banks and other companies are only too happy to know about scams using their company names.
In these scamming emails or web sites you maybe asked to click on a link.
Unless you are expecting an email from such an institution they will most likely be fraud emails.
Remember most, if not all legitimate email from these sources will not be sent to you unless you have requested them to.

So delete it imediately, and or use your email program to block the sending email address.
These emails often come with an attachment that is becoming a vehicle for spreading viruses and in particular ransomware or encrypto type viruses.
These types of viruses will lock you out of your commonly used files, Word documents, Adobe pdf documents, and others.
and then ask for payment to give you a key to unlock them, hence the name ransomeware.
Downloads are also a common source of infection. Free music or movies are very often infected unless they are coming from a legitment site, such as Itunes,
HDtracks etc.
You may have a new pc, but it may not have adobe reader installed, so you decide to download it from the web.
You open up Google search and type in 'Download Adobe Reader' and a bunch of sites pop up all claiming to have the Adobe reader download.
You click on the first one, and a big green button pops up on your screen, with words 'Download Now'. Over the next few hours or days you notice,
adds are popping up in windows on your screen, your home web page is different, and links in web pages don't seem to go where you thought they should have.

The link that you thought was for adobe reader, was more likely a download filled with scamming-advertising programs.
The lesson here is to make sure you are only downloading from the original web site.

In the case of adobe, look at the website link, the URL should have 'adobe.com' in it. If it comes up as something like 'www.soft-adobe.com' it will be a website
that is trying to scam you into thinking it is the real website. Only adobe will have the rights to use 'adobe.com' as in www.adobe.com or maybe au.adobe.com etc.
Of course some name brands don't use there product name in the URL, such 'Fire Fox' who use 'mozilla.org'
So be careful and try and outsmart the scammers.

There are many programs out there that can be used for cleaning malware, but beware there are just as many fraudalent cleaning programs claiming to be
Cleaning programs as well.

We will only mention one well known cleaning program that has been doing a very good job in the battle to clean malware for many years and it is called
Malwarebytes available from www.malwarebytes.org

There are other good programs, but this one is the easiest one to use for the average user and has a very low chance of causing extra pc
problems for the average user. It also comes in free and paid versions. The paid version comes with automatic active scanning. The free version
must have scans and updates done manualy by the user.

Other good cleaning programs have features that may cause proplems if not used correctly and are best used for cleaning by a pc technician.
Some malware may also have rendered your pc from being able to run any cleaning programs including your antivirus program.
This problem may well be beyond the average user to fix.
This is where computer repair company will be needed and ABC Computer Support with it's experienced technical staff will be able to help you.
Please click on the contacts details above to call or just bring in your pc to our workshop.