WINDOWS HELP HARDWARE FIXES SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS INTERNET TIPS
Security PROTECT NETWORK WITH OPEN DNS
QI understand that I can use DNS settings to secure my computers at the network level. How do I do this? Craig Jarvis you can both improve security and performance across your entire network. For it to apply to every device on your network, log on to your router through your web browser and go hunting for its DNS settings – these may be on their own tab, on the main screen or under the DHCP settings.
For basic OpenDNS, set the primary DNS to 188.8.131.52 and the secondary DNS to 184.108.40.206 respectively. This should deliver noticeably faster response times when accessing web pages. Some protection is built-in, but if you’re happy to apply a network-wide pornographic filter, set the router’s DNS settings to 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 instead. Now all adult content will be blocked automatically from all connected devices.
If that’s a step too far, leave the basic OpenDNS settings in place and sign up for OpenDNS Home Free at https://signup.opendns. com/homefree/ – once done, you can log in and set up custom filters utilising over 50 different categories. Set up your home network, then choose a basic filtering level: High, Moderate, Low, None and Custom are all available. Work through the various options for protecting your network from malware and botnets to phishing.
Finally, if your public IP address changes over time, tick Dynamic IP Update under Advanced Settings and download the Dynamic IP Updater client on a PC that’s on 24-7, so changes are automatically
“Internet accelerator tools attempt to tweak various system settings to fine-tune network and Internet performance”
forwarded on to your account; otherwise you’ll need to log in whenever the IP changes to continue being supported.
Internet BEST INTERNET ACCELERATOR
QI would like to speed up my broadband connection. What’s the best free Internet accelerator tool for Windows 7? Peter Claxton Rob’s solution Internet accelerator tools basically attempt to tweak various system settings to fine-tune network and Internet performance. They won’t have any effect on your physical connection, but you may find they have a minor performance benefit (it’s unlikely you’ll see major improvements, however). We could only find one free tool – Internet Accelerator, which you can download from www.pointstone. com (look under Software > Freebies). Although Internet Accelerator will run on Windows 10, it’s not been designed for it; we recommend trying it on older versions of Windows, and take a System Restore point or drive image first, just in case it makes things worse and the Restore Defaults option doesn’t work.
Windows UPDATE CRIPPLED MY USER ACCOUNT
QMy main – and only administrator – user account has lost key functionality after a Windows feature update: no Start menu, search facility, library files or drive access. I’ve tried various solutions, and even performed a refresh install, but it hasn’t fixed the problem. Strangely, my wife’s non-administrator account is unaffected. Please can you help? Kevin Riddick Nick P’s solution Kevin had managed to create another user account, but it was a standard user, with no apparent means for elevating to administrator. Thankfully, this can be done by temporarily enabling the system Administrator account. First, while logged into your
CLONE AND COMPACT VIRTUAL HARDDISKS
QI’m running out of space on my VirtualBox partition, where I keep multiple virtual machines. Can I reclaim drive space without having to move them? Craig Hurst Rob’s solution There are two different techniques we’ll look at – start by browsing to https://forums.virtualbox.org/ viewtopic.php?t=22422 where you can download and extract the portable CloneVDI tool. Then follow the steps outlined here… non-administrator account, right-click the Start button and choose ‘Command Prompt (admin)’ or ‘Windows Powershell (admin)’. Enter the password for your corrupt administrator account, then type the following command: net user Administrator /active:yes
Close the command prompt window, then log out. You should see a new Administrator account appear, select this to log in (it’s not password-protected). Now go to Start > Settings > Accounts > ‘Family & other people’. Select your new account and click ‘Change account type’. Select Administrator and click OK.
Log out of the Administrator account and back into your new account – click Start > Settings > Accounts > Your Info to verify the account is now an administrator one. You can now open another Command Prompt (admin) window and type: net user Administrator /active:no
Once you’ve transferred any files or settings across from your old user account to your new one, you can then delete the old account.
Data recovery RECOVER DATA FROM A USB FLASH DRIVE
QMy flash drive got knocked out of my laptop at work and now I get a message that it needs formatting on whichever computer I plug it into. Can you recommend some decent recovery software that I can use please? Fred Pearce Cat’s solution Assuming the drive hasn’t been damaged, you may have luck recovering the files using DMDE (www.dmde.com), which we featured in last issue’s lead feature. Choose the Physical Disk option and DMDE will scan for lost or corrupt partitions – hopefully it’ll be immediately visible, enabling you to select and mount it, then copy the files off intact.
If this fails, you may need to take a risk and try a quick format when prompted by Windows. Once complete, DMDE or even Recuva (www.piriform.com) should be able to detect any recoverable data. As always with data recovery, avoid writing any files to the drive until you’ve recovered what you need.
Microsoft Office UPDATE A SLIDESHOW ’S LOOK AND FEEL
QI want to update a slideshow’s look and feel without having to rework it all from scratch. What’s the best way to go about this? Hannah Gillespie Rob’s solution If your slideshow’s existing layout is based on templates created inside a slide master, then simply switch to the View tab on the ribbon and click Slide Master. You’ll see all the slide template slides,
“The act of plugging the PC’s Ethernet cable into a new router may have triggered the problem”
complete with available layouts for each slide. Editing these – including updating fonts and styles – will automatically update any of main slides in your presentation based on the layout in question. You’ll then need to go through the slideshow to see how the changes affect your slides – you may still need to tweak individual slides.
If slides aren’t affected by these changes, simply right-click one and pick the closest possible match from the Layouts sub-menu, then tweak accordingly.
Hardware FLAKY ETHERNET CONNECTION
QSince upgrading to fibre broadband my PC’s Ethernet connection has kept dropping out. I have a Wi-Fi adaptor, which works fine with it, and none of my other Ethernet-connected devices have any problems. What’s the cure? Tom West Mayank’s solution This could be either a driver problem or a hardware glitch. Tom tried a different Ethernet cable as well as router port, all to no avail, plus verified he had the latest drivers installed. The upgrade to fibre appears to have been coincidental, although the act of plugging the PC’s Ethernet cable into a new router may have triggered or exacerbated an underlying issue. Tom revealed that his Ethernet port – which was part of his PC’s motherboard – did wiggle when touched, which suggests a loose connection caused by a dry solder joint.
Tom wasn’t confident with a soldering iron, but he had a spare internal PCI-Express slot, so we directed him towards the TP-Link TG-3468 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet card (http://bit.ly/2hTDmZQ), which is available for around £8.50 online. Installing and using this resolved Tom’s connection problem.
Windows SYSTEM RESTORE PROBLEM
QI’m stymied with regards to upgrading to Windows 10. My Windows 7 Ultimate PC refuses to carry out a System Restore, which I regard as vital when upgrading. The fault is 0x80070005, which appears to be a common one, but with no simple fix. Can you advise? John Ellinghouse Nick O’s solution System Restore isn’t needed during an upgrade – it’s not required should you subsequently want to roll back your system to the previous version. A more effective fallback would be to take a system image using Macrium Reflect Free (www.macrium.com/reflectfree) or the built-in Windows Backup and Restore tool – then if anything bad does happen, you will be able to restore Windows 7 effortlessly.
There’s little point in trying to fix System Restore ahead of the upgrade – a better bet is to wait until Windows 10 is in place and see whether it’s magically fixed by the update. System Restore will be switched off by default – switch it back on by typing ‘System restore’ into the Search box and clicking ‘Create a Restore point’. If the problem persists, get back in contact and we’ll continue to examine the problem.
Mayank’s solution OpenDNS (www. opendns.com) offers several ways in which
Protect your home network Tighten security at the router level with OpenDNS.
Elevate access Use a system Admin account to upgrade a Standard User.
Web booster Fine-tune your PC’s network performance with the Internet Accelerator tool.
Quick refresh Make changes to your master slides to update your presentation.
Network fi x Onboard Ethernet port playing up? Simply swap it for a PCIe card.