Located in Reading, Berkshire, in the UK, Computer Advice Centre, is a small team of friendly, mature and qualified computer specialists, who positively enjoy troubleshooting your computer problems, in the convenience of your own home or at your office.

During our day-to-day visits to our customers, occasionally, we come across problems that could easily be avoided. So we thought it would be useful to publish a blog that would help our customers to avoid some of the most common computer problems, before they arise.

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Thursday, 12 April 2012

My Emails have suddenly stopped working!

We often receive calls from customers saying that their Emails have suddenly stopped working.

Frequently, the first thing that those customers who are using Outlook Express, Outlook, Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail, do, is to make changes to their Email settings to attempt to get them working again. Unfortunately, these changes can just compound the problem. Why?

More often than not, the reason your Emails have suddenly stopped working is because your Internet Service Provide has a temporary Email server problem. In most cases, these temporary problems are restored quickly and normal service is resumed. But, occasionally, the problem may last several hours.

Now if you are unaware that your ISP is experiencing a problem, some assume that the problem is with their Email settings. Email settings don't change by themselves, so unless someone has made changes to these settings, there is no logical reason to assume they are wrong.

If changes are then made to these Email settings, there is a very high likelyhood that the changes will prevent the Email software working correctly. So when the ISP has solved his temporary Email server problem, the changes made to the customers Email software settings will prevent emails working correctly.

Therefore, our advice to those who experience a sudden problem with loss of their Emails is to wait for at least several hours to allow your ISP to solve any problems they might be experiencing with their Email servers. If after several hours the problem still exists, then we suggest you call your ISP to enquire whether the problem is at their end. If it is, then all you can do is wait until they solve the problem. However, if they advise you that they are unaware of any problems with their service, then ask them to assist you in re-establishing your Email service.

If you experience any communication problems while discussing the problem with your ISP, and would prefer Computer Advice Centre to become involved in working together with your ISP to resolve the problem, then please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

How to store your Passwords securely

Today, we all need passwords, login names, user names, and PIN numbers to access our Bank accounts, log onto the Internet, access our Emails etc. We are advised not to use the same password for different accounts, and we shouldn't write them down, in case somebody else finds our notes. If you are like many of us and have problems remembering them all, here is an idea that may help.

The principle is to create a file containing a list of all our confidential information. Then encrypt the file, so it cannot be opened without a password.

You can use pretty well any program to create the list, including Windows Notepad, Windows WordPad, or Microsoft Word.

To encrypt the file, you could use WinZip, WinRAR or the free 7-Zip utility.

If you decide to use 7-Zip, which uses strong AES-256bit encryption,  you can follow the instructions below:-

Download 7-Zip from the 7-Zip website :-


Once it has downloaded, install it.

Then open your preferred text editor program, such as Windows Notepad, Windows WordPad or Microsoft Word, and make a list of all your  passwords, login names, user names, PIN numbers etc.

Save the file, and remember the file name, and the location where you saved it. Open Windows Explorer and right mouse click on the file you just saved. A pop up menu should appear. Choose the menu option "7-Zip", then the option "Add to archive…" The next window shows you the new name of the file in the box under "Archive:". The file name should end with ".7z" Type a password in the boxes below "Encryption" then click on "OK".

You have now created a password protected file with your confidential information. All you need to do now is delete the original unencrypted file.

When you wish to open the new encrypted file, in Windows Explorer, right mouse click on the encrypted file and choose the option "7-Zip" then, "Open archive" In the next 7z window, right click on the file you wish to open, and select "Open". You will then be asked for your password.

If you forget the password all your file data might be lost. There is no way to recover this data unless you recall the password or somehow break into the file. So password protect only those files which are absolutely necessary.

Although your file or folder is password protected it still can be deleted, so always backup all your files, even those protected by passwords.

Friday, 21 October 2011

How to prevent scammers accessing your computer and then charging you.

Recently, several of our customers have reported receiving telephone calls, some claiming to be from Microsoft, saying they have received a report from our customer's Internet Service Provider, telling them that they have a serious virus problem.

The caller then scares the customer, by saying that the computer will become unusable if nothing  is done to remove the viruses. The customer is then directed to a Windows utility, called Windows Event Viewer, where a list, looking very much like error messages, is displayed.

Once the caller has convinced the customer that their PC is infected with viruses, they talk you through a procedure for installing software so the caller can take control of the computer, remotely. After the caller has installed, what they describe as "various fixes", they ask for a fee, often around £79.00, and become very aggressive if the customer indicates they will not pay up.

The problem is that there wasn't a problem with the computer, the caller doesn't work for Microsoft, and, through installing the remote access software, the caller has had access to all data on the customer's computer.

Luckily, the customers who reported this scam to us, realised the call was not genuine, before parting with any money.

We hope that this article will help prevent our customers from falling for this particular scam, in the future.