WINDOWS HELP HARDWARE FIXES SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS INTERNET TIPS
Get answers to your technical questions with help from our PC experts
CAN'T DELETE AN IDENTIFY SAFE VAULT
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 (www.lastpass.com) or KeePassX (www.keepassx.org/) instead, choosing the latter if you’re uncomfortable storing your passwords in the cloud.
RANDOM INTERNET CONNECTION PROBLEMS
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.piriform.com. We then checked whether Connor had installed Gigabyte’s LAN Optimizer (www.gigabyte.com/MicroSite/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.
ALTERNATIVE TO CRASHPLAN
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 (www.carbonite.com) 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
ERROR MESSAGE ON SHUTDOWN
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.bitdefender.com/files/ KnowledgeBase/file/BDRepair_ Tool_win32.exe While the 64-bit version is here: www.bitdefender.com/files/ KnowledgeBase/file/BDRepair_ Tool_x64.exe
Once you have applied the patch, the corrupt file should be fixed and the error message cease.
QUICK DIRTY BENCHMARK
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:// novabench.com/) – 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…
INCREMENTAL VERSUS DIFFERENTIAL
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.