A while back I had a client call me up complaining that their all-in-one computer was freezing on occasion. After some over the phone troubleshooting it was evident that the computer is overheating.
The next day the client dropped it off at my workshop. I proceed to install a hardware monitor which checked CPU usage and temperature, I noticed that the cpu was getting to to temps in excess of 100 degrees centigrade! Even the GPU was over 100 degrees centigrade.
The system fans and CPU/GPU fans were running at 100%, atleast that wasnt the problem… I moved on to taking the all-in-one pc apart.
Upon removing the covers I couldnt find any visual concerns, everything seemed fine. I started up the all-in-one without the covers and low and behold the CPU and GPU was smoking hot!
Cranck up the volume to hear my finger sizzle.
I then checked the CPU and GPU temperatures with my multimeter, smoking hot indeed!
Mmm the thermal paste must be old and dried up I thought. I took the heatpipe off the CPU and GPU and applied new artic silver thermal compound. Guess what? That didnt make a difference.
Heat Pipe Failure
A heat pipe is the copper tubing inbetween the CPU or GPU heatsink and the radiator/fan cooling unit. Heat pipes transfer heat away from the CPU/GPU to the radiator/cooling unit. Without the heat pipe working correctly the system cannot draw enough heat away from these devices and they overheat.
In this particular case the same was true, the heat pipe seems to only last a specific period, after that the gas/liquid leaks out. Or just magically dissapears.
My trusty HP Probook 4320s onboard graphics chipset packed up rendering it useless. Seeing I never had any issues prior to the GPU packing up, I decided to purchase a replacement HP Probook 450 G6. Within minutes of starting up the new Probook I noticed the laptop touchpad pointer would sometimes jump to the bottom left part of the screen when I tried using the left click function of the touchpad. Needless to say I was very disappointed that my brand new laptop had touchpad issues right out of the box!
Laptop Touchpad Cursor Jumping
After running through the initial Windows 10 setup process – which was very annoying caused the pointer kept jumping around. I recorded a video for HP support. Notice in the video how the pointer jumps to the Windows start button.
Troubleshoot Laptop Touchpad Issues
The very first thing I did was to try and re create the touchpad issue, I knew that if I was to contact HP support they would want me to show them the issue. The problem was that it occurred randomly, sometimes it would take around 6 minutes to appear and at other times it would happen within seconds. I could not find a way to re create the issue, it was random.
The next thing I did was to see if the problem persisted in the HP bios. I restarted the laptop and hit “esc” repeatedly at the HP start up screen then proceeded to the “BIOS” page. The touch pad seemed to work fine in the BIOS, The touch padpointer never glitched or jumped like it did in Windows. That rules out hardware issues.
I then proceeded to removing the hardware from device manager. I removed both the “HID compliant touch pad” and “Synaptics HID compliant touch pad device” Then restarted the computer. After the restart the device was re installed but the touchpad issue was still there.
Next step was to update the touchpad drivers. I used “HP Support Assistant” to check for driver updates. The application found various firmware and driver updates which I proceeded to install. Couple of reboots later and still have the same touchpad issue.
Many hours later I get tired of this and get on the line with HP support which takes me through the entire process again of firmware updates, driver updates, bios testing, safe mode testing etc.. I even had to make a video of what was happening. The final outcome was to reset the HP laptop Windows 10. This was a big pain cause I have already installed all my typical used applications and files.
40 mins later the process was complete and the Windows 10 initial setup process started, to my amazement the touchpad buttons were not working anymore. The touch pad cursor moved but both the left and right button function no longer worked, how annoying.
I got back to HP support reporting after the Windows 10 reset that the touchpad buttons were not working at all. I was advised to try another reset. Which I did and it did not fix the issue of the touchpad buttons not working. I now started to get blue screens about a “Synaptics” related file causing a memory fault. It was evident that this is a driver issue, what made it more confusing is that the latest HP touchpad driver made it worse.
Many, many hours of testing different drivers I got a driver that works – Did I mention there are no drivers on the Synaptic website! ?♂️
Back to the driver that does work. I found it on the MSI website and it is intended for an MSI based laptop but there seems to be no ill effects, it works and that’s that.
If you are hosting a Filezilla FTP server behind a NAT firewall and/or Windows firewall you will know that connections are not allowed by default. For FTP access into your network, you must delegate access to the passive and or active FTP ports.
What is Filezilla
Filezilla provides FTP solutions:
FileZilla FTP client is a free free FTP client solution. The FileZilla Client not only supports FTP, but also FTP over TLS (FTPS) and SFTP. It is open source software distributed free of charge under the terms of the GNU General Public License.
FileZilla FTP Server is a free open source FTP and FTPS Server.
I have been using Filezilla client and server for the last fifteen years and can confess that it is an amazing product. It is free, fast and offer many configuration options. Once firewall ports have been configured, Filezilla runs without a hitch.
Passive and Active FTP ports
Filezilla FTP server just like any other FTP server can be configured to use active and or passive FTP connections.
In active mode, the client establishes a connection to the command channel but the server is responsible for establishing the data channel. Typically, TCP ports 20 and 21 are used.
In passive mode, the client establishes both channels.
However, it then requests the server (on the command channel) to start listening on a port (at the servers discretion) rather than trying to establish a connection back to the client.
Below is a quick step by step to configure active mode sessions.
Configuring A Router To Allow FTP Connections
If you are hosting an FTP server on your internal network, you will have to configure traffic destined for the FTP protocol to be forwarded via your router/firewall to the specific FTP server on your network.
The very first step to allow FTP connections to a FTP server located on a LAN network is to allow inbound FTP traffic to the correct IP address and ports.
Login to your Router/firewall and navigate to the port forward area. This option might be called NAT forwarding or pinhole configuration on some devices.
On my “EdgeRouter X” port forwarding is a straightforward affair. You specify the incoming port, destination IP address and destination port.
If you are hosting a Filezilla FTP server on your lan with a standard setup then enter a port forward entry for the FTP Control Port TCP port 21 together with the internal IP address of the FTP server and another port forward for the FTP Data Channel TCP port 20.
Now save the new port forward configuration and exit.
Configuring Windows Firewall To Allow FTP Connections
The next step is to allow FTP connections through the windows firewall. Open up the Windows advanced firewall by going to Windows Firewall option.
Click on the “Advanced settings” option.
Click on “Inbound Rules”
Click on “New Rule”
Click on ” Program” and browse to the Filezilla FTP server executable.
Click on “next” and “finish”
Next, we will add the FTP ports:
Click on “New Rule”
Input ports 20, 21 for “Specific local ports”
Confirm “Allow the connection” is selected, click “next”
The rule should apply for your specific network, if not sure select all three network places. Private, public and domain.
Give your new rule a name and optional description and click finish.
When the above has been applied correctly you should now be able to access your FTP server from the internet.
Securing your computer systems should be a top priority for any computer owner. If you are a businesses owner, be mindful that internet hosted IT systems are constantly under attack and most of the time it goes unnoticed.
• Operating systems and applications patching
• Password security/management
• Two factor authentication when accessing external services
• Mobile device security
• Drive encryption technology
Operating System & Application Patching
Any software application including operating systems, firmware, or plugin installed on a system could provide the means for an attack. Only install those applications that you need to run your business and patch/update them regularly.
Many software vendors provide patches and updates to their supported products in order to correct security concerns and to improve functionality. Ensure that you know how to update and patch all software on each device you own or use.
Recommendation: Incorporate automated patch management software. This option allows remote monitoring of devices and maintain up to date patching for operating systems and applications.
Malware (short for Malicious Software or Malicious Code) is computer code written to steal or harm. It includes viruses, spyware, and ransomware.
Sometimes malware only uses up computing resources (e.g. memory), but other times it can record your actions or send your personal and sensitive information to cyber criminals.
Install, use, and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on every device used in your business (including computers, smart phones, and tablets).
Recommendation: Setup centralised antivirus management and monitoring.
Probably the most important component to recover from malicious attacks. Backups will let you restore data in case of hardware or software failure, an employee accidentally deletes files, or a malicious program infects your system.
Conduct a full, encrypted backup of the data on each device used in your business at least once a day. Store these backups away from your device location in a protected place so that if something happens your data is safe.
Recommendation: All relevant business data is selected for backup and ensure backup application schedule is enabled for daily backup. Do monthly checks to ensure new business data is selected.
The first step to protecting an organisation from a security breach is to educate the employees because they are at a high risk of a cyberattack.
Recommendation: Each employee to do a Cyber security awareness training course
Password Management & Security
Create unique passwords that that use a combination of words, numbers, symbols, and both upper- and lower-case letters. Pick long complex passwords, at least 12 characters in length. DO NOT use common dictionary words, a name or a sequence of numbers.
Recommendation: Use a password manager, they make it easy for you to use long, complex, unique passwords across different sites and services, with no memory burden.
Two Factor Authentication
Two Factor Authentication, also known as two step verification or TFA (as an acronym), is an extra layer of security that is known as “multi factor authentication” that requires not only a password and username but also something that only, and only, that user has on them, i.e. a piece of information only they should know or have immediately to hand – such as a physical token or verification by email, telephone or text message.
Recommendation: Enable two factor authentication on all services.
Mobile Device Security
If your mobile device is unsecured and it is lost or stolen: It could be used to access your money or steal your identity using information stored on your device.
Recommendation: Set a password, Personal Identification Number (PIN), pass-code, gesture or fingerprint that must be entered to unlock the device. Install reputable antivirus. Use your device’s automatic update feature to install new application and operating system updates as soon as they are available.
Leave Bluetooth turned off or in unrecoverable mode (hidden) when you are not using it. Ensure your device does not automatically connect to new networks without your confirmation.
Enable the remote locking and/or wiping functions, if your device supports them.
Do not save passwords or PINs as contacts on your phone or tablet. Enable device encryption to protect personal data stored on the device where possible. Check the privacy permissions carefully when installing new apps on your device and only install apps from reputable vendors.
Where possible, make apps or profiles private and password protected. Ensure you thoroughly remove personal data from the device before selling or recycling it.
Disk encryption is a technology which protects information by converting it into unreadable code that cannot be deciphered easily by unauthorized people.
Disk encryption uses disk encryption software or hardware to encrypt every bit of data that goes on a disk or disk volume. It is used to prevent unauthorized access to data storage.
Recommendation: Use the built in drive encryption software that is available on your device to encrypt all data drives/volumes. The drive encryption on Windows is called “Bitlocker”. For Mac use “FileVault”
Wifi is such and integral part of our daily lives, can you imagine not being able to utilise the freedom it provides?
The convenience of being able to stream services like Netflix, Stan, Youtube, Hulu etc. all of which rely heavily on a good wifi connection. We show you how to get a better wifi connection so you can enjoy wireless freedom.
Unfortunately, wifi devices are low power and range is limited. You will notice when moving further away from your wifi router the signal drops off rapidly and with it speed. A better wifi connection will increase your speed and decrease streaming load/buffer times.
Modern day wifi routers, phones, tablets connect either on 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, in some cases high end routers provide simultaneous band access.
What is the difference between the two bands you ask? In short, 2.4 Ghz provides better range and fair speed. 5 GHz on the other hand provides very good speed but at the expense of limited range. The reason for this is higher frequencies are more affected and attenuated by objects, walls, furniture, floors etc. Typically, the more dense the material is the more it will attenuate the signal.
Examples of signal attenuation through various mediums
To get a better signal, placement of your wifi router is important. The key to better wifi performance is to reduce distance from the wifi device to the wifi access point as well as reducing the amount of walls and obstacles in the way.
Lets look at the two easiest way to improve your wifi coverage:
As mentioned before, wifi router placement is crucial.
Mount the router as high as possible, this creates a clearer path to your wifi devices. Mounting the router high on a wall or ceiling is usually the best approach.
Make sure to keep the router away from electrical noisy appliances like air conditioners, microwave ovens, fans, baby monitors, DECT phones etc.
Mount the router as central as possible. Experiment with antenna placement, theory suggests that for best performance antennas should be perpendicular to each other, my findings were that this will be unique to every environment.
Do not mount the router or antennas close to conductive materials like electrical wires, aluminium or metal plates, this could mess with S.W.R (standing wave ratio) of the antennas, affecting performance.
Get better performance by minimising neighboring frequency interference.
Use a wifi analyzer to determine what channels your neighboring wifi access points are on.
A free tool for this purpose is Wifi analyzer, the analyze option shows all detected wireless activity, band selection is manual and dependent on your hardware support.
By analysing the wifi band a recommendation is made for a clearer wifi channel.
Do regular WiFi speed tests
Wifi environments are dynamic, devices are added, channels are updated etc. By doing regular wifi speed tests you will notice when your wifi channels need changing. Try copying a large file from a wifi enabled laptop or workstation to another computer connected to the network via network cable.
If you find that you have good signal strength but your speed is slow then consider changing the wifi channel.