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Get an­swers to your tech­ni­cal ques­tions with help from our PC ex­perts


I set up a Nor­ton Iden­tity Safe Q a while back, but did noth­ing with it. I’ve for­got­ten the pass­word, but de­spite fol­low­ing the ad­vice on­line, I can’t see an op­tion to delete and recre­ate the vault from scratch af­ter fail­ing to en­ter the cor­rect pass­word three times. Can you help me please? Kyle Watkins Rob’s so­lu­tion It sounds as if you’re try­ing to log on through your web browser, Kyle. Although it’s not men­tioned in the sup­port ar­ti­cle, you can only re­set the vault us­ing Nor­ton In­ter­net Se­cu­rity – the desk­top ver­sion of Iden­tity Safe was re­cently dis­con­tin­ued. If you’re a Nor­ton user, open the main ap­pli­ca­tion, then click Iden­tity fol­lowed by Iden­tity Safe. You’ll be prompted for the pass­word – en­ter­ing it in­cor­rectly here will en­able you to delete the vault and cre­ate a new one with a fresh pass­word. You will need to re-en­ter your Nor­ton ac­count pass­word as part of the vault cre­ation pro­ce­dure.

If you’re not us­ing other Nor­ton prod­ucts, we’d rec­om­mend ditch­ing Iden­tity Safe for LastPass ( or KeePassX ( in­stead, choos­ing the lat­ter if you’re un­com­fort­able stor­ing your pass­words in the cloud.


I have a prob­lem whereby my Q in­ter­net con­nec­tion ap­pears to stop work­ing or oth­er­wise slows down – there’s no pat­tern as to when it oc­curs and it’s par­tic­u­larly no­tice­able when down­load­ing im­ages in emails or from the in­ter­net. Can you help me re­solve this is­sue please? Con­nor Hat­ton

Ian’s so­lu­tion We an­swered a sim­i­lar ques­tion a cou­ple of years ago. We asked Con­nor what moth­er­board he had in­stalled – it was a Gi­ga­byte. You can see which moth­er­board is in­stalled in your com­puter us­ing the free Speccy sys­tem in­for­ma­tion tool if you don’t al­ready know – get it from www.pir­i­ We then checked whether Con­nor had in­stalled Gi­ga­byte’s LAN Op­ti­mizer (­ga­­croSite/300/ lan-op­ti­mizer.html), which is used to reg­u­late net­work con­nec­tions. Dis­abling this im­me­di­ately im­proved mat­ters. The pro­gram has a rep­u­ta­tion for dis­rupt­ing in­ter­net con­nec­tions and not per­form­ing as it should, so Con­nor was happy to re­move the pro­gram and fi­nally fix the prob­lem.

Ran­som ware and net­work shares

I back up a fail-safe copy to my Q net­worked hard drive, but I have learned it may not be im­mune to a ran­somware at­tack. What can I do to pro­tect it? Alice Thomas Nick P’s so­lu­tion The best way to pre­vent ran­somware from in­fect­ing any net­work shares is to make sure that your net­work cre­den­tials aren’t stored in Win­dows. This is a two-step process – first, make sure your Win­dows user ac­count doesn’t have ac­cess to the net­work share in ques­tion (in other words, cre­ate a ded­i­cated user­name and pass­word for ac­cess­ing that share – eas­ier to do when log­ging on to a NAS drive). And sec­ond, when you log on to a net­work share, re­sist the temp­ta­tion to tick the box marked ‘Re­mem­ber my cre­den­tials’ – you’ll have to man­u­ally en­ter a user­name and pass­word each time you log on, but it re­duces the share’s exposure to po­ten­tial in­fec­tion.

If you cur­rently have saved net­work cre­den­tials in Win­dows, you can eas­ily re­move them: type ‘cre­den­tials’ into the Search box and then click ‘Man­age Win­dows cre­den­tials’ to ac­cess the built-in Cre­den­tial Man­ager tool. You should see en­tries for each saved net­work pass­word un­der ‘Win­dows Cre­den­tials’ – next, click the ‘v’

“The pro­gram has a rep­u­ta­tion for dis­rupt­ing in­ter­net con­nec­tions”

but­ton fol­lowed by Re­move > Yes. This should clear it.

If you’re back­ing up to a net­work share, check to see if your backup tool can save those net­work cre­den­tials in­de­pen­dently of Win­dows – for ex­am­ple, in Macrium Re­flect, select Other Tasks > Edit De­faults > Net­work tab. Click ‘Add’ to man­u­ally add a net­work path, user­name and pass­word and then click OK twice. You can now back up with­out ex­pos­ing your net­work share to ran­somware.


I’ve been re­ly­ing on Crash­Plan Q for the past three years to keep my PC backed up and it’s saved my ba­con two times al­ready. But now I’ve dis­cov­ered it’s be­ing shut down. What should I do to pro­tect my­self go­ing for­ward? Stu­art Waite Rob’s so­lu­tion There are many on­line al­ter­na­tives of­fer­ing sim­i­lar func­tion­al­ity – Car­bonite (­ is one such tool, but given the is­sues with cloud-based back­ups (on­go­ing costs, se­cu­rity and even the long-term vi­a­bil­ity of such ser­vices), per­haps now is the time to ex­plore more per­sonal so­lu­tions. Sea­gate’s Per­sonal Cloud Wire­less NAS Drive of­fers 3-5TB of stor­age for un­der £200, and in­cludes op­tions for back­ing up to USB or an­other Per­sonal Cloud drive for ex­tra peace of mind. You could site the drive away from your main com­puter to pre­vent dam­age or theft to one af­fect­ing the other. Per­sonal cloud drives in­clude apps for en­abling you sync data to and from all your com­put­ers and mo­bile de­vices, plus they can be


Both my wife and I are get­ting Q the same er­ror when we shut down our PCs, run­ning Win­dows 7 and 10 re­spec­tively. It’s linked to Bit­De­fender Threat Scan­ner, and it reads: ‘A prob­lem has oc­curred in Bit­De­fender Threat Scan­ner. A file con­tain­ing er­ror in­for­ma­tion has been cre­ated at C:\WIN­DOWS\ TEMP\Bit­De­fender Threat Scan­ner. dmp.’ Can you help us re­solve this prob­lem please? John Wal­lis Cat’s so­lu­tion The er­ror is a very well-known one, and is linked to a cor­rupt file in Spy­bot Search & De­stroy. To its credit Bit­De­fender was quick to is­sue a patch that should re­solve it. You need to know which Win­dows sys­tem type (32-bit or 64-bit – press [Win] + [Pause/Break] if you’re not

sure), and then down­load the ap­pro­pri­ate patch. The 32-bit ver­sion is avail­able from: www.bit­de­ Knowl­edgeBase/file/BDRe­pair_ Tool_win32.exe While the 64-bit ver­sion is here: www.bit­de­ Knowl­edgeBase/file/BDRe­pair_ Tool_x64.exe

Once you have ap­plied the patch, the cor­rupt file should be fixed and the er­ror mes­sage cease.


My four-year-old PC has Q served me well, but I’m won­der­ing if it’s time for an upgrade. I’ve scoured on­line ar­ti­cles and fo­rums, but I can’t re­ally tell how much of an in­crease in per­for­mance a new CPU would bring. I have a fourth-gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor, on­board graph­ics and 16GB RAM – is it worth up­grad­ing? Geraint Pow­ell Nick P’s so­lu­tion The jumps between In­tel CPU gen­er­a­tions isn’t quite as dra­matic as it once was, but there may still be value in an upgrade. You will have to fac­tor in the cost of a new moth­er­board – and pos­si­bly RAM and a graph­ics card too. Per­haps the best thing to do is bench­mark your cur­rent setup us­ing a free tool called No­vaBench (https:// no­ – it only bench­marks your CPU, RAM, graph­ics and sys­tem hard disk, but once com­plete, you can sub­mit your scores on­line (anony­mously if you wish) and then com­pare them against the lat­est mod­els.

Geraint re­ported back that his bench­mark scores re­vealed that the jump in speed over the pre­ced­ing few years had con­vinced him to splash out on a new PC. And hav­ing tested the pro­gram our­selves on our sim­i­larly spec­i­fied ma­chine, we’re sorely tempted to in­vest in a PC upgrade our­selves…


My backup tool of­fers both Q in­cre­men­tal and dif­fer­en­tial back­ups to save on drive stor­age space. What’s the dif­fer­ence? Lewis Adam Mayank’s so­lu­tion Both types of backup take up less room be­cause they only record the changes made since the last backup was taken. Dif­fer­en­tial back­ups record the changes taken since the last full backup, while in­cre­men­tal back­ups record the changes made since the last in­cre­men­tal backup. In­cre­men­tal back­ups are there­fore smaller than dif­fer­en­tial back­ups, but more prone to fail­ure be­cause you need all pre­vi­ous in­cre­men­tal back­ups as well as the par­ent full backup to re­store your sys­tem. Dif­fer­en­tial back­ups only re­quire them­selves and the full backup.

If your backup tool sup­ports both types of backup, a typ­i­cal sce­nario is to take one full backup a month, then weekly dif­fer­en­tial back­ups and fi­nally daily in­cre­men­tal back­ups – the lat­ter be­ing based on the last dif­fer­en­tial backup to re­duce the num­ber of back­ups you need should you want to re­cover your sys­tem.

“The jumps between In­tel CPU gen­er­a­tions isn’t quite as dra­matic as it once was, but there may still be value in an upgrade”

Delete vault You need Nor­ton In­ter­net Se­cu­rity to help recre­ate your vault.

Thwart rans omware Us­ing Macrium to store your net­work pass­word, rather than Win­dows.

Per­sonal cloud A net­worked hard drive leaves you in full con­trol of your PC back­ups. con­fig­ured to give you re­mote ac­cess to your data from out­side your net­work too.

Bench­mark heaven No­vaBench lets you quickly poll your PC’s core com­po­nents.

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