Tech Tips for Techs: God Mode

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Lately, I have been writing about little-known tips that technicians can use to assist in working on their customers’ machines. Another tip that is not well known, but is VERY cool and helpful, is God Mode.

God Mode was introduced in Windows 7, and Microsoft has carried it over to Windows 8. It is simple to do and allows you access to so many areas of the operating system — all in one location. For clients who might have a slow PC or possible virus issues, this is a great tool because it gives you access to 270 control panel functions, some of them not easily found.

Here are the steps to enable God Mode on your Windows 7, or Windows 8 PC:

  • Step #1: Create a folder on your desktop.
  • Step #2: Rename that folder this exactly: “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}” (minus the quotations).

Your folder will change to look like the Control Panel icon…

GodMode… and inside that folder, you will have a wealth of tools at your fingertips!

GodMode2This is a great tool for any technician, as it puts everything into one convenient location. You don’t have to spend time searching the OS for the right tool. They are all right here now!

 

Staying Safe in the Digital Age

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In today’s world, nearly everything is interconnected. While this provides many great conveniences it does increase the risk of sensitive information landing in unwanted hands. It seems every other week there is news about a new security breach and, while these may be out of your hands, there are things you can start doing right now to minimize having your sensitive info or data hacked.

Passwords
  • Never write passwords down, especially on a sticky note around your desk.
  • Do not use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Never share your passwords with anyone.
  • Use strong passwords with upper case, lower case, numbers, special characters, and at least 8 characters, overall.
  • Avoid common passwords like “Password1”, “abc123”, “123456”, etc.
Email
  • Do not open emails, attachments, or click links in emails from people you don’t know or are not expecting.
  • Do not click on links in emails that ask you to type in your credentials. Always visit the desired site by typing it into your web browser. A common trick called “phishing” is where you are routed to a look-alike site and have to put your info in.
  • One common method is someone gets hacked and email is sent out to people in their address book. If the sender is familiar but not the content of what they sent, use caution.
Web Browsing
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is (free games, easy money, you’ll never believe this one secret, etc).
  • Never login into an unsecure website. Depending on your browser, a secure site is usually indicated by a lock icon.
  • Avoid clicking on advertisements or pop-up ads. This is a good way to get unwanted cookies or malware on your computer.
Miscellaneous
  • Make sure all your mobile devices (cell phones, tablets, etc) have a lock screen with a password, pin, or other form of security.
  • Lock your computer whenever you walk away by pressing “Windows Key + L.”
  • Reboot once a week. Some Windows updates cannot apply until your PC is rebooted, which can prevent other updates from applying. This may also help with general performance of your PC as well.

This list only scratches the surface, but hopefully it has provided some good ideas about what you can do. Ultimately, if you are ever in doubt, get a second opinion from your IT department (if that’s Everon, call us at 888-244-1748) before clicking that link or opening that email!

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Tech Tips for Techs: Problem Steps Recorder

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Many of us engineers have a certain way we talk to a client, a certain way we interact to find the issue, and a certain way we troubleshoot issues. So when it comes to little-known tools within your Windows operating system to make your life easier, most of us wouldn’t go looking for a new way to troubleshoot. However, I would like to tell you about one tool that could change the way you troubleshoot issues with your clients.

Problem Steps Recorder

psrThis tool was originally a part of Windows 7; Microsoft brought it back in Windows 8. It is built into your OS. To find it, either type “psr.exe” in the search, or run box, or search for Problem Steps Recorder.

Once you have it open, it is a very simple tool with minimal buttons. You simply press ‘Start Record,’ and all of your movements done on the operating system will be recorded into a handy document that you can share. This especially useful for techs: if a client explains an issue, but you need to actually see what they did (in order to reproduce the error), and you cannot get on their machine, they can record everything for you with this tool. You can then review the document and assist in troubleshooting. It’s that simple.

When you hit ‘Start Record’, it begins creating a MHTML document, with screenshots of the work you are doing. Every mouse-click or typing on the keyboard creates a new screenshot. In the middle of your recording, you can click the ‘Add Comment’ button. What this does is very similar to the Snipping Tool. It greys out the screen, allowing you to highlight the area you are interested in (say you want to highlight the actual error), and then add a comment.

When you are done with the recording, you hit Stop Record, and it creates a handy zip file, which you can then email. Inside is the MHTML document. When you click on this, it opens like a web-page and gives you details on your recording, including the screenshots, which you can highlight (via mouse-over), and see the comments you made when you took that screenshot.

A recording is too long to put into this article, however here is a screenshot with a caption for an example!

A recording is too long to put into this article, however here is a screenshot with a caption for an example!

Problem Steps Recorder is a great tool to allow you to become a better-informed technician with your clients.

 

Tech Tips for Techs: Reliability History

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As the year draws to a close, people start thinking about timelines. Let’s talk about those on your computer. Not many engineers know that you can actually view a timeline of event logs on a particular machine that has Windows 7 or Windows 8 OS installed. This feature is great for troubleshooting event IDs for a client.

Say you have a slow machine, and the client complains that between 12-2 pm every day it is basically unusable. What is happening during this time? Use Reliability History to find out! This tool is built into the OS, and all you have to do is type: View Reliability History in your search bar to pull it up. Once you have it launched, you will see a nice GUI for reviewing event logs in a convenient to use time line:

ReliabilityHistoryThe view you see above shows days, highlighted by off-color columns, with the symbols for informational and warning alerts. These alerts directly relate to event logs that happened on these days. In my example I do not have any errors, but if I did, you would see the error symbol on this graph (red circle with a white X in the middle). You can then click on any warning, informational, or error symbols you see, and you will be taken to a view that shows that day, with the various event logs detailed. This makes searching and reviewing event logs MUCH easier.

Reliability2   If you would like to see a longer timeline, you can change the view of the Reliability History from “days” to “weeks” in the upper left-hand corner of the graph. This will break it down now into a few months. In my example, you can now see a few errors that have appeared over the last few months. Reliability3This tool parses the Application and Windows event logs only, so you cannot use it for security events. The blue line above the event logs gives a scale from 1-10 on how stable your OS is. Do not rely on the scale entirely for determining whether you have a truly stable OS. As you can see, my stability plummeted due to Internet Explorer crashes, and although the system was stable after that, it didn’t return to optimal usability for several months. Reliability4If you want to learn more about this tool, it also gives you a link to click (upper right-hand corner), which opens up a nice help document to discuss the tool in greater details. This is a must use tool for any technician working on Windows 7 and 8 environments.

Microsoft suing fake “tech support” company!

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Microsoft

Hello again. I read something rather interesting over the weekend that I thought would be great information to relay, as it goes alongside my previous security and holiday scams post that we published earlier in the month. According to a report on December 18th, Microsoft filed suit against a company that was claiming to be techs who worked directly for Microsoft.

Apparently, this company was using Microsoft’s name to dupe unknowing victims into paying top dollar for technical support that was “crucial” and affecting their system files. They tricked them by putting out Internet ads for tech support by Microsoft technicians. Once victims signed up, they were talked into letting the technician take over their computer to do “scans” and checks on the machine. They would present their “findings” and demand over $200 for these repairs.

These fake technicians were on-point with their technical jargon and even came up with clever reasons as to why the repairs were needed, even being as costly as they were. According to the investigative findings, the representatives would reference things like, “polymorphic infection,” “damage to core system files,” and they would warn victims that if they didn’t act in time, their systems would crash. (My guess is when the “techs” were on the computers, they more than likely infected the machines more in order to guarantee future work and future paychecks.)

As I have stated before, never trust anyone on the Internet, whom you do not know. Do not sign up for services of which you are unsure, do not let just-anyone on your computer, and never give out your credit card information without being 100% sure. My best advice is to get yourself a reputable company, such as Everon, for your computer and network needs. We have real techs, who are highly trained, and can help you in your time of need. Call us at 888-244-1748 or email us at [email protected] We’re here to support you and your business 24/7, year-round.