Century IT blog

Sonos causes Draytek Router to Randomly Reboot

May 14th, 2014

 

You may notice that your DrayTek Router randomly reboots if you have a Sonos music system on your network.

 

This problem seems to be associated with the combination of Sonos and DrayTek router on the same local area network (LAN) There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to this DrayTek random Router reboot, although we have noticed the Router reboot issue will occur in the following scenarios:-

 

  • Streaming Radio from the Internet
  • Streaming Music from Spotify or Napster
  • Just the Sonos app running on a Smart Phone or Tablet
  • Any Combination of Sonos Play 1 or  Sonos Play 3, Sonos 5, Sonos Playbar

 

The Sonos equipment runs in an unusual configuration which is different to a lot of other network devices in that it uses Mesh Network Topology to maintain its own network connections to each of its peer Sonos devices which are on the same Local Area Network (LAN).

 

Although from our investigations the problem would appears to be with the STP Protocol implementation on the DrayTek router, which causes the random router DrayTek Router reboot issue.

 

The DrayTek Router random reboot issue doesn’t seem to be limited to just one model, we have tried the following DrayTek Routers with Sonos equipment:-

 

  • DrayTek Router 2820n
  • DrayTek Router 2750n
  • DrayTek Router 2830n
  • DrayTek Router 2850n
  • DrayTek Router 2860n

 

 

After spending many, many hours on this annoying issue, we believe we may have a work around until DrayTek produces a fix for this issue:-

 

  • Turn off UPNP Services
  • Turn on IGMP Services

 

 UPNP

 

IGMP

 

 

 

Mesh NetworkMesh Network Technology Theory

1)     Each Device makes a network connection to the Bridge / Router

 

2)     Each Device also makes a network connection to every other Mesh device

 

 

 

 

If you have a problem configuring your Draytek Router or have any questions about your network give us a call. We are experts in just about anything I.T

 

Century IT Services are based in Totton, Southampton. Hampshire and can help you with the installation or on going I.T support of your computer, server and network. We offer a broad range of I.T services covering, internet, email, anti-spam, anti-virus solutions, we are experts in virtually anything Microsoft Server based and have extensive troubleshooting skills.

If you have an ever growing list of I.T niggles or need a server, or network installed, you have come to the right place. You can contact us on Tel. 023 80 070101 or email us at sales@century-it.co.uk for a confidential, no obligation discussion of your requirements

 

Building Your Own Computer

May 27th, 2013

 

 

So what are the advantages behind building it yourself?

I.T Support Hampshire

 

There’s a whole host of advantages to building your own computer, and as complex as it may sound, overall it’s a relatively simple clip and screw process. You’re unlikely to have to pull out the soldering iron and any other tools besides a Phillips screwdriver or two.

 

There’s the advantage of the money it will save you. Buying an off the shelf computer is by no doubt the easy way out of things, but if you choose to build your own, then you’ll find out that you’re going to be paying less for a machine that does more for you.

 

There’s also the psychological advantage once the computer is built. When everything is put together and you plug it in for the first time and power it up, there’s a feeling of satisfaction knowing that you built it and you made it work. Further advantages to building your own computer include that should you ever want to upgrade it, doing so should be a painless process. The computer cases are designed for easy access and the components you put in are often more versatile.

 

iStock_000007925866Small - transparentWhat do you want your PC to do for you? Each of us will want our computer to do something different for us. You may just be looking to use a computer for simple web browsing and looking at family photos, playing a bit of music etc, or you could want to build your computer to be the meanest machine out there, capable of running any game you throw at it at lightning speed without the slightest hesitation. Whichever is the case, you can build a machine to meet your demands.

 

Are you building to a budget? Chances are that if you’re planning on building the mean machine I mentioned in the previous section, you’re not going to be too concerned on the money front, though it’s still going to save you a chunk of money going with a home build as opposed to buying a known branded gaming PC. If you’re a home user who wants the computer for little more than web surfing and a listening to a bit of music and maybe are running on a bit of a tight budget, you could still be saving yourself a fair bit of money for a machine running the same specification as the computer you saw on offer in the shop the other day.

 

 

29-11-2011

 

So where do you start?

 

You need to plan what you are building! It’s going to be a real downer if you just pick parts off at random and when they all arrive become disheartened when your shiny new CPU doesn’t fit into your shiny new motherboard because the two are incompatible.

 

Putting together a shopping list for your new computer is almost essential. As a rough guide, below is a short list of the parts a generic home user will need: –

 

  • Motherboard
  • CPU/Processor
  • RAM
  • Hard Drive
  • Power Supply
  • Disk Drive
  • Case
  • Cables and screws
  • Operating System

 

…and if you’re planning on building a gaming machine you need to take into consideration the following items as well: – Graphics Card/s – Sound Card – 3rd Party CPU Cooler/Water Cooling/Fans

 

As a general rule of thumb when you find a part you want to include in your build, go back and check the motherboard specification. All of the components lead back to here so you want to make sure that they’re all compatible! It’s often a good idea to work out what processor you want first and then choose the motherboard based on the socket type. It should narrow down your selection considerably and make life a lot easier too. With computer parts, as with most things, you generally get what you pay for, so it’s often worth spending a few more pennies going for a reliable brand as opposed to shipping cheap unbranded parts over from China.

29-11-2011

 

How do I go about the build?

 

Once you’ve got your parts you can start piecing things together. There’s not any particular order to do things in, but of course you’re going to want to put your CPU in before you try and put the heat-sink and fan in. Once everything is plugged in correctly inside the case and all the components are screwed or clipped down securely, you can put all the cables in the back and start it up. Your new computer’s not going to do much for the very first time you turn it on as no operating system is installed. This will most likely be in the form of a CD/DVD that you need to put in and boot up from. Once the operating system is installed and updated, you’re almost good to go. Make sure that you install any drivers that the components you bought may have come with so that everything works as it should and then you can sit back and admire your work!

 

 

Century IT Services are based in Totton, Southampton. Hampshire and can help you with the installation or on going I.T support of your computer, server and network. We offer a broad range of I.T services covering, internet, email, anti-spam, anti-virus solutions, we are experts in virtually anything Microsoft Server based and have extensive troubleshooting skills.

 

If you have an ever growing list of I.T niggles or need a server, or network installed, you have come to the right place. You can contact us on Tel. 023 80 070101 or email us at sales@century-it.co.uk for a confidential, no obligation discussion of your requirements.

 

Offline Data Backups vs Online Data Backups

April 20th, 2013

A Discussion on Business Continuity and Disaster Planning

 

 

Let’s first discuss what constitutes an offline and online backup as some people immediately jump to the conclusion that all online backups are something which holds data in a Cloud somewhere.

 

 

Offline Data Backups

Offline data backups are generally ones where you backup company data to one or more types of removable backup media, for example removable tape, WORM drive (Write Once, Ready Many times), DVD, USB memory stick etc. etc.

 

 

 

 

Online Data Backups

Online data backups are generally ones where you backup to an external hard disk or network NAS drive, or perhaps copy your data to another computer, laptop or server.

 

 

Both in essence are great for making a backup of your data, but why would you choose one type of backup over the other?

 

Offline backups will be far more reliable and robust in a number of different scenarios

 

  • Fire, Flood or Theft
  • Office Break In
  • Virus or Spyware on the Computer System
  • Hardware Failure
  • User Error

 

Offline backups can be removed from the office and kept securely at a separate physical location and therefore not susceptible to erasure, change or deletion.

 

Viruses and spyware can corrupt, change or delete data on your computer network and your online backups, again, data within offline backups should remain unaffected.

 

Also if your office is broken into, the computers are likely to be stolen, along with the online data backups.

 

If there was a fire or flood in the office, again online backups would be destroyed whereas offline backups are likely to be safe at a different physical location.

 

Generally online backups and medium tend to be at the budget range of backups and generally require the least amount of effort to maintain, but that doesn’t mean that an offline backup will be hugely expensive.

 

Offline backups in the least can be a DVD or a USB memory stick that contains a backup of the company data and is kept at a separate physical location.

 

So What Should You Do

There is an old adage in the I.T industry that you can’t have too many backups, and often relying upon a single type of backup certainly has its weakness.

 

In the best interest of business continuity and disaster planning, generally we would advise:-

 

  • A Series of Offline Data Backups going back over a period of time
  • Use at least a couple of different mediums for the Offline data backups
  • A Series of Online Data Backups going back over a period of time

 

 

Each company is different and has its own challenges and there isn’t necessarily a one size fits all solution and in the first instance we would advise that you obtain tailored advice from a reputable and qualified I.T expert.

 

Century IT Services are based in Totton, Southampton. Hampshire and can help you with the installation or on going I.T support of your computer, server and network. We offer a broad range of I.T services covering, internet, email, anti-spam, anti-virus solutions, we are experts in virtually anything Microsoft Server based and have extensive troubleshooting skills.

 

If you have an ever growing list of I.T niggles or need a server, or network installed, you have come to the right place. You can contact us on Tel. 023 80 070101 or email us at sales@century-it.co.uk for a confidential, no obligation discussion of your requirements.

 

Dangers of Employee Access to Social Networks

September 17th, 2012

Southampton City College - National Apprenticeship Scheme

Should Employees have access to social networking sites whilst at work?

 

This is a discussion document by Declan McWilliams as part of my I.T Apprenticeship (My LinkedIn Profile)

 

This document offers arguments on whether businesses should allow employees/staff to have access to social networking sites (for and against arguments)

 

Since about mid-2007 social networking has had a huge boom in popularity, leading us to a point now where if you were to approach anyone around you and ask if they have Facebook or Twitter, you’ll most likely get a “Yes!”

 

Dangers of Employee Access to Social Networks

 

Sites like Facebook and Twitter have grown and grown over the past few years and have proved to be both useful and troublesome websites, with people posting their every waking move to much more unkind and cruel posts mocking or insulting others. But Facebook can also be an enormous advertising tool, to the point that many posters and billboards and even television adverts are making a point to mention their Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Should Employees have access to Social Network Sites

 

But should employees have access to these websites whilst at work?

 

Are there any benefits behind it?

Or will giving them access only prove to give wasted time and less completed work?

 

Social Networking for Business

There are of course two ways of looking at this, and, believe it or not, there are a number of advantages to allowing employees access to social networking sites.

 

Social networking can, as mentioned above, provide a huge amount of advertisement for a company and with over 1 billion users on Facebook, as well as over 500 million users on Twitter followed by a further 400+ million users on the recently started Google+, the chance of a huge worldwide audience can be guaranteed.

 

Purely business based social network LinkedIn also boasts a further 200 million users and for a company could prove a valuable tool to help build connections.

 

A further advantage to allowing social networking sites is that it is an easy and fast way for an employee to call out for help or ideas with something. A quick status update to Facebook or a tweet on Twitter and the user may receive the help they need.

 

The argument against this of course, is that an email system will provide this function just as well.

Dangers of Employee Access to Social Networks

There is of course many a disadvantage to allowing employees to access social networking sites.

 

The temptation to stay on one of these sites for longer than necessary is extremely high for many and it becomes all too easy to lose track of how long you’ve spent on one website. This of course means that the time spent on social networking sites, is time that could be spent on working. This point alone may make you think that blocking or banning access to social networks all together is the appropriate response.

 

However, you could also consider limiting the period of time that the site is blocked for. For example, the blocking system could be set to be lifted on social networking sites for an hour or less over the lunch period.

 

A very valid disadvantage to allowing social network access in the workplace is the possibility of a virus infection or the possibility of personal data being stolen.

 

Social networking sites have been targeted by hackers and scam artists simply because of such a huge number of people.

 

This of course should be a major concern for any company as this can cause sensitive information to be exposed, damaged or deleted. This can, for the most part, be solved with the installation of a network wide security system, but the risk is still there and is still very real.

 

If you like the idea of social networks, but still don’t want to allow access to the commonplace ones, there is an alternative social networking solution which may work within your business however, and that is an entirely internal one. Companies such as Noodle and Yammer can provide a solution which is entirely business related and only accessible by employees. This however may not suit the wishes of those employees that wish to talk with friends outside of the company within their break or lunch period.

 

Southampton City College - National Apprenticeship Scheme

Whether you block access to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter within your workplace is up to the employer at the end of the day. Just consider the pros and the cons before making a decision either w

ay, perhaps introducing policies regarding the use of social networking websites allowing limited usage of it.

 

Written by Declan McWilliams of Century IT Services

(My LinkedIn Profile)

 

Century IT Services are based in Totton, Southampton. Hampshire and can help you with the installation or on going I.T support of your computer, server and network. We offer a broad range of I.T services covering, internet, email, anti-spam, anti-virus solutions, we are experts in virtually anything Microsoft Server based and have extensive troubleshooting skills.

If you have an ever growing list of I.T niggles or need a server, or network installed, you have come to the right place. You can contact us on Tel. 023 80 070101 or email us at sales@century-it.co.uk for a confidential, no obligation discussion of your requirements.

 

Full Data Backup / Differential Backup / Incremental Backups

July 10th, 2012

Different Types of Backup.

 

Backing up the data within your business is a business critical event

More than anything, it helps to make sure that you don’t lose any important files, whether they are quotes and order forms or customer or employee details. The loss of either would be a disaster to the business. Whichever way you look at it, investing in a backup system of some sort, is a something that needs to be done.

 

There are numerous different backup mediums that can be used, ranging from flash storage to tapes to hard disk drives and choosing the right one for your business or home use is purely based on your personal requirements and preferences.

CD’s and DVD’s if you have very little data to be backed up and a lot of time in which to do so, or flash storage if you have a bit more money to spare but need the fastest backup possible.

 

More importantly, there are different ways of backing up your data. Three of the most common of these, are Full Data Backup, Incremental Data Backup and Differential Data Backup.

 

Here’s a little further explanation on what each one does, and the good sides and the bad sides to each of them.

 

 

 

Full Data Backup

This form of Data Backup is fairly self-explanatory with its name and does what it says on the tin. It performs a full data backup of every folder and file that is specified to be backed up within the backup software whether the files it backs up are newly created or several years old since they were last opened, it backs it up either way.

 

The advantages to this sort of data backup are fairly clear in the respect that it is the most thorough form of data backup possible. But the other up-side to this form of backup is that should you ever need to restore the system from one of the created backups, then the process is the quickest and simplest of all the methods.

 

This method of course does have its downsides however, the most obvious being that it takes far longer to run a full data backup than any other, as absolutely everything is backed up, not just select files. The other disadvantage to this method of backup is the fact that you will need far more backup storage space available because of the amount of files that are going to be backed up.

 

Because of how long this way of backing up usually takes, it is often either run on a server in the very late hours of the night when the server is not being used or accessed, or over a weekend on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

Incremental Data Backup

This type of data backup works by only ever backing up files that have been modified, changed or created since the last data backup was made.

 

In turn, this results in a very fast data backup service as opposed to the full data backup option as well as needing a lot less in the way of storage requirements because of the considerably lower amount of files being backed up. On the other hand, there is the downside that if you ever need to restore data at any point, the restore process will take considerably longer than any other backup method.

 

 

Differential Data Backup

The final type of backup is Differential Data Backup. Essentially this is just a combination of the two above mentioned methods.

 

For example, a full data backup could be run late on a Sunday night and the rest of the week to follow would just use differential data backup methods. Making sure that only files that had been modified or created since the last full data backup, were backed up that time round.

 

Like the other methods, there are still slight disadvantages to this method, but all round it proves itself to be a good way to back up on a regular basis without using an excessive amount of storage space. Restoring data from the backup is faster than form incremental backup, but slower than a full data backup and likewise the backing up process is slower than the incremental data backup alone but still slower than a full data backup.

 

 

Summary

 

  • Full Data Backups take the longest to complete but the backup will contain a complete set of your data

 

  • Incremental Data Backups are the quickest types of backup to complete, but it will only contain a subset of your data, data that has changed since the last Data Backup

 

  • Differential Data Backups only backup data that has changed since the last Full Data Backup and are likely to be quicker than a Full Data Backup

 

 

Choosing the right style of backup for either personal or business use is a choice left up to you, but the above information hopefully leaves you a little more clued up as to what to expect from each type of backup before making a decision on one.

 

90% of businesses that found themselves without data for 10 days or more filed for bankruptcy inside 2 years*

 

Advice

We would advise that you seek expert advice before embarking on a suitable backup regime for your company. A mistake made in the planning of data backups can have a catastrophic consequences if the need to restore data arises and you do not have a complete set of your data.

 

 * Source – London Chamber of Trade & Commerce

 

 

Century IT Services – Getting IT Right

Providing Computer Support and I.T Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex and Berkshire

Backup Tape Life Expectancy

June 25th, 2012

How Long Can You Expect a Backup Tape to Last?

 

Everything wears out eventually, be it your computer or your bicycle, they all come to a point in time where they deteriorate, wear and break.

 

Backup tapes are no exclusion from this unfortunate truth.

 

If you have a routine to cycle the same five backup tapes around (Monday-Friday) then it is very likely of course, that all of these tapes will go wrong within a reasonably short period of time from each other if they are all stored and handled the same. To combat this, it is always worth having some spare tapes to hand should one or multiple tapes decide to stop working.

 

Alternatively, you can cycle tapes round so that you have two tapes for each day of the week marked up as one and two respectively (E.g. Monday -1, Tuesday – 1, Monday – 2, Tuesday – 2 etc.) This way each tape only gets used once a fortnight.

 

There are many factors contributing to the life expectancy of a backup tape though.

 

In optimum conditions, and if the tapes are extremely well looked after and used infrequently, then the life expectancy of an Ultrium tape can be up to 30 years. However, it is unlikely that a tape shall be kept in these perfect conditions and not receive damage over the course of ten or more years.

 

This figure of 30 years however, is how long that the tape should last and hold its data successfully for not necessarily how long it will last under constant use.

 

With the tape under normal use in a weekly or bi-weekly rotation, an Ultrium tape can be expected to last for around 260 full successful backups. It is however strongly advised that the tapes are changed before the breaking point so as not to end up in a situation where a backup will fail due to a lack of tapes to perform the backup on.

 

There are many factors contributing to the life expectancy of a backup tape

 

A few of the things that would contribute to lowering the life expectancy of the tape would be:

I.T Support, Server Support, Network Support

 

  • Dust and dirt in the area that they are used and stored

 

  • Humidity of the environment that they are used and stored in

 

  • Whether the tape runs back and forth during backup

 

  • How often the tape is used

 

One of the major contributions to the shortening of the life of a tape is a process commonly known as “Shoe shining.” This process is where the tape drive is faster than the server itself, and the tape drive has to stop, reposition itself and start up again to continue writing many times so that it can allow for the slow speed of the server.

 

This in turn causes excessive wear to the tape from all of the unnecessary movement across the tape, rapidly reducing the life of it. Newer drives and tapes can detect when this is happening and attempt to stop or reduce it, though this in turn does mean that the full capability of the tape drive is not being used.

 

 

Century IT Services – Getting IT Right

Providing Computer Support & IT Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex & Berkshire.

 

Random Password Generator

March 22nd, 2012

People nowadays are very much security conscious when it comes to their personal security and protecting their private information when using the internet, but a very much overlooked and understated fact still exists, people prefer convenience over security!

 

People Prefer Convenience Over Security!

The first line of defence in many networks, websites, portals, email accounts is still the password! But people still prefer an easy to remember (and easy to guess) password and tend to use the same password across numerous websites or computer systems.

If you find it difficult to think of a password, why not use a password generator to create yourself a complex password?

 

(Century IT Services are not responsible for the content of external websites)

 

Century IT Services – Getting IT Right

Providing Computer Support & Network Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex & Berkshire

 

Sending Eshots Through Exchange Server

February 8th, 2011

Hopefully if you are here – you are looking to send an Eshot out through your Microsoft Exchange Server to a database of email addresses and are looking for some advice on the best way to tackle this.
 
 
 

 

 

There are several main considerations you need to think about and the main one is how long do you want to give your mail server indigestion for? A small eshot might be completed in several hours but a larger one can go on forMicrosoft Small Business Specialist days, during this time you will probably find other business emails are being delayed going out.


Instead of sending and eshot  via Outlook & Exchange consider using an online service like MailChimp, IContact or Constant Contact. There are plenty of benefits of using an online company

 

 

  • Your Exchange Server will not get indigestion
  • Your IP won’t run the risk of getting blacklisted
  • You can upload your mailing / contact list
  • You can test your email to see if will get caught in SPAM systems before you send it
  • You can see who has opened your email and clicked on linksMicrosoft Partner
  • You can easily manage unsubscribers

 


Century IT Services – Getting IT Right
Providing Computer Support & Network Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex & Berkshire

Sophos – Cant change expired trial login to purchased licence

October 11th, 2010

Sophos partner-program

 If you have downloaded yourself of Sophos Secuity Suite SBE and have found every time you input your ‘purchased licence’ details from the Sophos PDF you get a ‘Timed Out’ error message and the new licence details are not saved, here is the fix for this problem:-

 

1) Firstly, please could you make an exception for the following, so they are not blocked, in your firewall and Internet proxy server:Microsoft Small Business Specialist
*.sophosupd.com
*.sophosupd.net

 

This is the main reason why SUM updating fails. To test the exceptions, try downloading the following – they should both work, creating
files that are about 24 KB in size:

http://d1.sophosupd.com/update/736ed2bae19829f6cedf64f194fa1730x000.dat
http://d1.sophosupd.net/update/736ed2bae19829f6cedf64f194fa1730x000.dat

 

2) After ensuring the above, please could you stop the SUM services as follows:

Sophos Silver Partner

 

Start > Run > Services.msc


Stop the Sophos Update Manager service.
Stop the Sophos Agent service
Leave services open for now.

 

In Task Manager, please stop any SophosUpdateManager.exe, SUMService.exe and ManagementAgentNT processes that are running.

 

3) Start > Run > \\[your_server_name]\sophosupdateMicrosoft Partner

Clear the contents of this ”sophosupdate” share.
Leave the window open for now.

 

4) Start > Run > explorer

Browse to C:\Program Files\Sophos\SCC\SUM
Delete the file ”specialactions.xml”, ”specialactions.xml~” and ”sum_status.xml”

5) Back in Services.msc, start the Sophos Update Manager service once again. Then start the Sophos Agent service.

6) In Sophos Control Centre, Change your updating Credentials from configure updating click ‘Update Now’ in the top-left.

 

At this point, it may take a while to start downloading. Please leave it a good 15 minutes.

 

Century IT Services – Getting IT Right
Providing Computer Support & Network Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex & Berkshire

Microsoft Office 2010 – Remove Formatting Marks

September 20th, 2010

 

If you are finding that there are some strange formatting marks in your Microsoft Word document that you haven’t seen before you may have inadvertently turned on the option in Microsoft Word to ‘Show/Hide Formatting Marks’

 

It should be easy to turn off the Formatting Marks option in Word – See Below

 

 

 

 

 

Otherwise follow this link to the relevant Microsoft Article

 Microsoft Show or Hide Formatting Marks

 

Century IT Services – Getting IT Right

Providing Computer Support & Network Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex & Berkshire