One of my long time customers contacted me today saying he was seeing all sorts of strange messages coming up on his PC including very “inappropriate” ads and even a spoken message from “Microsoft” telling him that he had been infected with a rootkit virus and that if he turned off his PC it would never come back on.
Thankfully he called me and I was able to remove all viruses and malware from his PC and get him back in action in no time. I also installed the awesome web browser add-on called adblock plus to remove a lot of the annoying ads you see on websites. If you’ve never tried it, you really should – I wouldn’t browse the internet without it!
I had the pleasure of helping a customer this week with his Windows 10 PC that was displaying the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) at random intervals while he was using it but most especially when trying to play videos from YouTube. The error messages didn’t really have any common theme to them but all seemed to point to some sort of hardware failure. I initially suspected his video card as it was a Nvidia Geforce 650ti froma few years back.
He had already had 3 technicians look at the PC and charge him quite a lot of money without actually fixing the problem. As you can imagine he was quite dissapointed and frustrated by the whole situation and desperately wanted it resolved.
I proceeded by assuring him that I will get to the bottom of the problem and began by removing any unneeded software and scanning for viruses. Even after removing all suspicious programs the computer was still crashing in under 5 minutes of playing YouTube. Time to dig deeper…
Next up was hardware testing. I started by removing his graphics card and replacing it with one in my workshop but unfortunately the PC was still crashing in the same way. Testing the RAM with memtest was next and while all tests passed for over an hour of solid testing the PC still crashed in Windows just the same. Next I tested all of his hard disks by simply removing all but his primary SSD… still crashing. Lastly I ran a linux based stress test program outside of Windows that tests for motherboard faults etc and it didn’t miss a beat. Strange…
So after all my testing I concluded that the hardware was fine and the problem must lie elsewhere. Reinstalling Windows 10 was the final option but before I went down that road I had another idea to make life a lot easier. I disconnected all of his hard disks and connected only an SSD from my workshop to his PC to eliminate all risk of data loss for my customer (data loss for my customers is NEVER an acceptable outcome in my books). Now I was able to safely reinstall a fresh version of Windows 10 as a test to see if something had corrupted his installation. Everything worked OK and was rock solid stable with the fresh install of Windows 10 with nothing but device drivers installed so this finally proved where the problem lay… Windows 10 and not his hardware. I was relieved for him that this was the case as his PC was quite a high spec model with a nice i7 4770 processor, 16GB of RAM and plenty of other high quality upgrades so it would have been a shame to say he needed to buy a whole new PC.
So the story ends by safely reinstalling Windows 10 on his primary SSD, installing his device drivers then moving and merging all of his personal data and profile back to their original locations. Just to be extra sure everything was fine I tested his PC by leaving YouTube running for over 8 hours playing 15 videos simultaneously and it never crashed once. As you can imagine he was quite happy with the end result and was finally able to use his PC again without it crashing every 5 minutes and didn’t have to buy a whole new system.
I was down in the southern suburbs of Seaford today installing one of our Digital Insite Eco-system PC’s to dual 27″ LED screens while also setting up printers for a plumbing business so a new staff member is all ready to go for Monday.
I recently overhauled the specs of both our Eco-system and Powerhouse PC’s to include an SSD as standard and I can tell you that it makes an absolutely huge difference to performance vs a system with a standard mechanical drive. Less than 20 seconds from a completely powered off state to fully loaded showing the desktop and ready to use. I can’t state enough how much SSD technology has changed computers. Really cool tech 🙂
Today I’m helping a plastics company in Lonsdale with some network issues that have been preventing them from getting on the internet since their NBN install. A business without the internet these days is as good as a fish out of water so they we’re keen to get it sorted and back online asap.
After some detective work and some network troubleshooting I went on to replacing their ancient 100mbit network switches, sorting out a mess of network cables and configuring the IP settings for their modem and network to avoid the congestion issues they were having previously.
Once that was all sorted they were running faster than ever. Before my visit today they were getting network dropouts every 10 minutes and around 21mbit for their NBN speeds on speedtest.net but are now getting around 47mbit and a rock solid connection all day every day.
One of my favourite spots in Adelaide… The Brighton Jetty. No special effects added to this photo whatsoever. Just an incredible sunset with the last rays of light peeking through the railing and drawing amazing shadows on the sun drenched pavement.
I had a very interesting job early this week. A customer in Glengowrie called me saying she had a problem where certain websites on her laptop would redirect to porn and ad pages after around 30 seconds. I naturally assumed like anyone else would that there must be some sort of virus or malware on her system so I began by scanning her laptop with some tools designed to get rid of this sort of thing (malware, rootkits, hijack viruses etc).
Her laptop had a few bugs in it which I removed but the redirection problem strangely still occurred. After trying every single virus removal program I know and trust and getting 100% clean results on her laptop yet the website redirection bug still existing had me a little puzzled. I said to her I would take the laptop back to base to do some deeper testing using Linux and other methods but everything always came back clean. Here’s where it got very interesting… I then got a text from the lady saying that she was getting the same website redirection bug when using her Windows 10 work laptop and even seeing the same problem on her daughter’s Samsung tablet. I tested whether the laptop I brought back to base was still doing the redirection and even more strangely it now wasn’t redirecting.
This led me to believe that it must be a network issue and most likely modem related. I told my customer to call her internet provider but they shrugged it off saying something like that isn’t possible but I knew it had to be the case. The next day I returned to her house and logged in to her modem and found that the DHCP settings that assign an IP address to any device connected to the modem (wired or wireless) had a custom DNS server applied. I knew this wasn’t normal as the standard procedure is for people to automatically get their DNS settings from the internet provider without needing to input custom values.
Long story short, I removed these custom DNS settings and the redirection stopped as I expected it to. The real mystery is how the custom DNS settings got into her modem in the first place though as she didn’t put them there and had no knowledge of how to do that sort of thing. Very strange but glad to have it sorted in the end 🙂