Category: Data Backup, IT Support.

Backup solutions can vary enormously and it is important to be aware of the consequences of choosing one solution over another. While many services provide excellent protection, some cover just data while others cover entire systems. Some enable faster recovery of your systems in the event of a major problem, while others ensure that your systems are safe from physical risks such as fires, floods or theft.

Data protection policies and legalities also need to be considered as some cloud backup solutions may not be suitable for UK businesses due to where the data is ultimately stored.

Data only or full system backup?

Data only backup

Backing up your data is a great start as it means that if there is a failure within your IT system then your vital, irreplaceable business data such as documents, financial information and emails can be safely recovered.

The disadvantage of only backing up your data is that everything else on your system has to be recreated from scratch – which in the case of a server can take several days.

Read more »



Category: IT News.

Augmented reality


So 2016 is upon us so what exciting tech stuff do we have to look forward to?
1. IT Wearables for business –

Did you add an Apple Watch or a FitBit to your life in 2015?  Which of these do you think was the most successful product of the year?  Well, contrary to predictions, the Apple Watch was lagging behind FitbBit in terms of market share.

The majority of wearables were seen as accessories for fitness enthusiasts, not as essential devices for mainstream consumers.  Not only that but some early developments in the wearables market had limited capability, not to mention questionable accuracy. That led people to question their value and give up on them after only a few weeks of use.

So where is the ‘wearables’ market going in 2016?  Perhaps their best opportunity lies in the business world. Could they, for instance, replace building security cards with a more secure, biometric form of authentication?  Can you imagine them becoming the means to log into your work devices, secure websites, etc. thereby eliminating the need for resetting passwords and possibly increasing security?

Some U.S. businesses are already starting conversations with health-care organisations to collectively track the activity level and health of their employees in order to offer better insurance rates.  Big Brother implications or huge benefit?
Soon, wearable devices may be able to connect directly to the Internet, without needing to tether to a third-party mobile device. This will help set the stage for embeddable wearables, such as Chaotic Moon’s biometric tattoo, or tech tats, which attach to the skin much like a temporary tattoo.

2. Foldable displays –

One exciting development going on right now is the effort to create foldable or bendable displays and it looks like 2016 will be the year when we start to see the first examples available.  Imagine the possibilities for a moment… a tablet that turns into a smartphone, or vice versa? Tantalising possibilities!

The first versions of foldable displays will likely only be able to fold outward because it’s apparently easier to stretch the materials at the fold than it is to squeeze them together, as you would need to do for an inward-folding display.

3. Self-charging phones –

New technologies are enabling phones to charge through wavelengths. Ossia Inc. and Japanese telecom company KDDI Corp have a product called Cota, that will automatically recharge mobile phones at a distance, similar to how WiFi transmitters deliver data from routers to devices.

This follows existing technologies that take advantage of smartphones’ wireless charging standard, known as Qi. The company Qi Wireless, for example, produces pads that charge phones when placed on them.  Ikea recently began selling tables that wirelessly charge phones when the mobile device is placed on the table top.

Other companies, such as Israeli startup StoreDot, are looking to introduce instant charging and longer-lasting batteries. The company is pledging to introduce a battery next year that would charge a smartphone in 60 seconds or less.

4.  Drone technology –

The technology is being tested by many companies including Google and Amazon. Currently there is no permission from Governments to use this technology commercially, especially in built up areas. But clearly for deliveries – whether it is products from Amazon to fertilising crops will the commercial use of drones take a step forward in 2016?

5. Virtual and augmented reality –

Juniper Research predicts that 2016 will be a “watershed year for Virtual Reality”.  We will see the launch of Facebook’s Oculus Rift, the first consumer-level virtual-reality headset that doesn’t require a smartphone.  HTC Corp. and Valve’s Vive VR headset will also hit the market, after the launch was postponed in December when developers experienced a “very, very big technological breakthrough” that made the initial version obsolete.

In addition to the new hardware, 2016 will also see an increased focus on VR content in gaming and entertainment, as well as the development of consumer-level 360-degree cameras for amateur virtual-reality shooting from the likes of GoPro Inc.

Meanwhile, augmented reality may push its way into the workplace.  We could be seeing real-world applications for augmented-reality headsets, such as enhancing a person’s task on the job by interposing digital images like a map or instructions on top of objects in their surrounding environment.

On the other hand, anyone old enough to remember the TV series Tomorrow’s World knows that not everything predicted comes true. But whatever happens it’s sure to be another exciting year in tech!



Category: Business.

Award winning IT Support

As we all look forward to a prosperous New Year it’s worth taking time to recognise the achievements of 2015 and giving yourself a well-earned pat on the back.

At The PC Support Group we were pleased to win the “Service Provider of the Year” title at the 2015 Network Computing Awards. We’d love to tell you why too – but first of all, let us explain a little about us. There’s a point to this, read on…

• The PC Support Group specialises in providing “corporate quality” IT support to small and medium sized businesses throughout the Northwest of England. We have grown continuously and sustainably for nearly a decade and we now have hundreds of customers from diverse sectors

• We have achieved this success through our unique structure which combines advanced support technology with local, friendly, professional delivery to provide a flexible, high quality service at an affordable price. The unwavering focus of the business is to remove our client’s worries and concerns about their computers and anything that communicates with, runs on, or connects to them

• Our support technology enables us to monitor and manage all our client’s computers simultaneously and proactively work on them preventing problems before they occur – saving time and money. Most problems can be fixed remotely, often within minutes, but we also have engineers based in offices throughout the Northwest ready to visit clients when needed

• We don’t patronise our clients, we work with them to achieve their goals through technology, not despite it. And we don’t try to confuse with technical jargon. Our staff understand people and business, not just technology. The PC Support Group’s unique structure provides our clients with superb support and a level of service that is the envy of the industry

• The PC Support Group is also a member of the Apple Consultants Network and has qualified engineers ready to provide Apple Mac support and assistance with other Apple devices. The sheer scope, scale and quality of our offer to SMEs make us different from the rest. And it makes us the best.

That’s a lot to say – it’s a long marketing message! Certainly too much for Twitter’s meagre word count and anyway, with the information highway being fast and overloaded these days, your target market wants quick soundbites they feel they have the TIME to read! That’s where winning awards comes in and why it’s been so fantastic to win something just about every year.

What better soundbite than “Award-Winning IT Support” to encapsulate what you do and the fact that you’re excellent at it too?

Many of our awards have been won as a result of passing scrutiny by a panel of judges.  For example, being listed in the MSP Top 100 Managed Service Providers in the world, etc.

Those won by vote are just as useful.  We write to all our customers and contacts to tell them we’ve been nominated in the first place (we don’t always find out who has done so) and to ask them to vote. A legitimate reason to drop an e-mail, to remind people who we are and let them know we’re good enough for a nomination which, in itself is something to shout about – and the world of online social media gets to know about it too!

On awards evenings there is plenty to tweet about as the excitement builds but none to over-ride the joy of winning! What a great feeling going up to that stage to collect a smart glass trophy knowing that so many people have believed in your service excellence to vote for you in droves!

Now, if writing to tell everyone we were nominated is a very useful exercise – it can’t top writing again to thank them for voting and helping us win. It can’t top the new tweets, other online social media output, press releases, and a news item by the local chamber – complete with superb photos and, of course, the all-important winners logo. That smart trophy has taken its place with the others we have won down the years, and the logo is a permanent fixture on our website, our e-mails and all our marketing literature.

Indeed, from our latest corporate photos, the one we chose for our Social Media header was one of the team holding aloft all the trophies and certificates we have worked so hard for – from Excellence in Customer Service to being listed in the Top 100 Managed Service Providers in the world. Well, they say a picture paints a thousand words!

As we said earlier, nothing says you’re superb at what you do as quickly and easily as an award and we’re grateful to everyone who ever nominated us, voted for us, or judged us to be so over the years.



Category: IT News.

women in computingIt seems difficult to imagine now, but women were leaders in computer science for decades – but in 1984 they began to disappear from the field in dramatic numbers. What on earth happened?

Gender stereotyping could well be the answer.

If you’re old enough to remember the very first personal computers, you may recall that they were not much more than toys. Can you remember the marketing too? Almost exclusively aimed at boys and men.

We can’t put ALL the blame on the marketers though, because at around the same time computer geek culture also began to emerge and that led to TV shows, movies, and video games that were, sadly, reaffirming that computers were the domain of the males of our species.

So, it follows that, 1984 saw a generation of students, who could have owned a home computer, entering further education – most of them boys. Researchers had already concluded that parents were much more likely to buy computers for their boys than their girls. Naturally then, many more boys had programming experience to take along to college and university … leaving young women already significantly behind their male peers. Since computers were now pretty much considered the domain of males, young women would often face discouragement from parents, other students, and educational professionals.

This is rather sad since women were very active in the computer science up until this time. Indeed there was a large increase in their numbers between 1970 and 1984 (by which time 37% of computer science degrees were awarded to women). According to the Computing Research Association, that number fell to 12% by 2011.

Listen to “When Women Stopped Coding”, visit a 15 minute podcast that helps us to truly understand what happened during this period. Caitlin Kenney and Steve Henn unravel the mystery of what happened to cause women to drop out of computer science in astounding numbers.

For parents who would like to encourage their Mighty Girls’ interest in technology, early exposure to programming is highly recommended since many children only interact with technology passively. A great way to introduce kids, ages 9 and up, to programming is via new DIY systems that allow you to build real programmable computers on your own such as the “Raspberry Pi Ultimate Set” and “Sparki: The Easy Arduino DIY Robot”

For a wide variety of toys that introduce programming concepts and electronics to kids, check out, particularly: “Wrapped up in Science: Top 40 Science Toys for Mighty Girls”

Little Bits sets are another way to get girls excited about technology — to check out their new “Gizmos and Gadgets Kit,” for ages 10 and up,

To inspire her with many stories of girls and women in technology, visit the’s “Science & Technology” book section at

Included in the selection is a fantastic new picture book about the world’s first computer programmer Ada Lovelace: “Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine,” for ages 5 to 9 at




Category: Uncategorised.

web spyingWith the Government trying to push through a law that will force internet service providers such as BT and Virgin to keep a 12 month record of your browsing history, The PC Support Group are here to help you to understand what this means and what you can do to protect your data and your security.


What data will be stored?

Every time you visit a website your internet service provider will be forced to keep a log file of the site you visited and when you visited it. Theresa May has said that this is the equivalent of a modern day itemised phone bill. The Data will be stored by your internet service provider. This also applies to mobile devices such as smart phones that browse the web via your mobile network.


Why might you want to protect yourself?

As we saw recently, Talk Talk have been the target of a well-publicised cyberattack which resulted in the estimated theft of 4 million users’ personal data. Risks such as this have led some people to feel concerned about data security and that the information that will be stored about them could end up in the wrong hands.


What can you do?

Whilst clearing your internet history or using your browser in private mode will help to prevent people who might get onto your computer from seeing which sites you’ve visited, that won’t hide your usage from your ISP. The only way to do that is by using a VPN service.

VPN means ‘Virtual Private Network’ and it’s a way to encrypt all the things that come and go over your internet connection and the other side. A VPN service means that all your internet usage comes and goes via their service, and as it’s encrypted your ISP can’t see where you’re going or what you’re doing.

However it’s important to know the facts and to tread carefully when choosing a VPN provider. For instance, if you choose a UK based service they may also fall within the scope of any new law meaning that they will also need to store your records. Some VPN services are very slow and unreliable and some can prove unsafe. Be aware that if a criminal organisation can entice you to connect via their own VPN they’ve they’ll have access to all the data you’re sending and receiving.


For advice and guidance on data security and best practice IT systems for small business, call The PC Support Group on 03300 886 116




Category: IT News, IT Security, Uncategorised.

Heard of ransomware?  It’s important that you know about it, so read on…

Ransomware is the term given to a type of virus that enters your computer(s) and encrypts all your data in such a way that you can no longer access any of it.  Until you pay a substantial fee (a ransom) to get it back.

There’s a new ransomware virus to be aware of; it’s called Power Worm but unfortunately no amount of ransom can get your data back for you.  Unfortunately, the not-so-clever hackers have made a big coding mistake this time and one variant of their virus destroys keys that could help recover the data it has scrambled – leaving you high and dry even if you are prepared to pay a ransom.

Power Worm infects Microsoft Word and Excel files in the main,  but the latest version goes after many more types of files it finds on your machine.

Malware Researcher Lawrence Abrams makes it clear that anyone hit by Power Worm should not pay the 2 bitcoin (about £500) ransom it asks for because they will not get any data back.  He said “There is unfortunately nothing that can be done for victims of this infection, If you have been affected by this ransomware, your only option is to restore from a back-up.”

The reality is that even when the hackers do have the key they are unlikely to release it even if you pay the ransom so regular reliable backups is the only realistic way to protect your data and your business from these attacks.

Did you know:

  • 34% of companies fail to test their backups, and of those that do, 77% have found back-up failures (Source: Home Office Computing Magazine)
  • 93% of companies that lost their data centre for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. (Source: National Archives & Records Administration)

It’s worth noting that even if you avoid catching a computer virus, ALL disk drives eventually fail, regardless of brand or type and so backups are arguably the most essential aspect of any IT system.

Backup solutions can vary enormously and it is important to be aware of the consequences of choosing one solution over another. While all of our services provide excellent protection, some cover just data while others cover entire systems. Some enable faster recovery of your systems in the event of a major problem, while others ensure that your systems are safe from physical risks such as fires, floods or theft. We recognise that each business has unique requirements and so we talk to customers to diagnose their potential risks and vulnerabilities, understand what’s important to them and then design a specific BusinessCARE Backup system tailored for their situation.

Call The PC Support Group before it’s too late! You can reach us now on 03300 886116.



Category: Windows 10, IT News, Software, Uncategorised.

Windows 10 DevicesMicrosoft’s new Windows 10 offers improvements over previous versions, and some great new features. Which of these are significant for you will be determined by how you use your computer and what for. The update mostly went smoothly when it was rolled out, but a few problems have been reported by many users. These include loss of internet access, no printing options, loss of access to e-mails, web browser issues, crashes, incompatibilities etc.

Not everyone has experienced problems, but there are millions of computers out there, running many different apps and programmes, so they’re not all going to react the same way.

Many of the errors have a workaround by now, but they can take time and effort to resolve, and some issues are going to remain until third parties can catch up and deliver new drivers.

Those who ARE experiencing problems are certainly helping the rest of us – as they report such glitches, Microsoft will create “patches” (fixes) for them and push them out to computers where Windows 10 is already installed. Those who update later then, are going to get a version that has many, if not all, of the glitches sorted out.

Waiting a while to update also gives the manufacturers of software drivers the time to prepare. Software drivers are the bits of software that allow your computer to talk to devices you connect to; for example printers. You should ideally search for drivers for these devices before you upgrade to ensure Windows 10 compatible ones are available. Even devices that do have updated drivers, have been causing issues for some people. If a device stops working you will need to uninstall your existing drivers and then locate new compatible drivers.

Do backup all important files before a big upgrade like this so that if anything does go wrong, you can recover the important things.

In summary…

Becoming an early adopter is often not a good idea because even a few weeks can make a difference as Microsoft, and third party driver developers, will have been able to sort out many glitches as users report them.   After all, the free upgrade offer lasts a whole year. Why not wait until Spring?

To get on the latest, fastest operating system does seem appealing and “free” does sound good but it should not be recklessly jumped at as you need to consider if it will work with all your other bits of software. The fact that it can be installed though windows update and retain settings etc does however make it sound like a reasonably hassle free upgrade path.

We’d look to wait until it’s been out for enough time for us all to be confident that Windows 10 will be trouble free, so maybe some 3-6 months after its launch (which was at the end of July).

We would, however, encourage you to register, any time from now, on each computer for the free upgrade. That can be done by clicking on the icon in the system tray of each computer. The beauty of registering is that you’ll then be able to upgrade anytime without having to pay, whereas by not registering the free period expires after 12 months from launch.



Category: IT News.

Ada Lovelace 2Is Ada Lovelace our first tech visionary? In many ways, she anticipated our Digital Age (in Victorian times!) and is certainly a celebrated role model for women in technology.

In an article published in 1843, she imagined a future in which programmable machines would be essential to scientific progress, and might even be used to create art and music.

Ada, the abandoned daughter of the romantic poet, Lord Byron, was put under a strict regime of moral and mathematical training by her mother who hoped it would counter any dangerous “poetical” tendencies she might have inherited from her notorious father.

In 1833, age 17, Ada was introduced to Charles Babbage and one of his innovative calculating machines, the Difference Engine, at a party in his London drawing room. The introduction was made through their mutual friend Mary Somerville which relationship she used to visit Baggage and the machine as often as she could. At 26, married with three small children, she undertook maths correspondence course.

Ada made Babbage a bold proposal. She offered to work as his assistant – a remarkably bold move, especially given the stifling social conventions of the day. It worked!

By this time Babbage was working on a design for a new machine, which he called the Analytical Engine. Unlike the Difference Engine, which could only add, the Analytical Engine worked much more like a modern computer and could be programmed to carry out almost any sequence of logical steps.

Babbage was impressed by Lovelace’s intellect and analytic skills. He called her The Enchantress of Numbers. He wrote of her: Forget this world and all its troubles and if possible its multitudinous Charlatans—everything in short but the Enchantress of Numbers.

The only published description of the Analytical Engine was a French article which Ada translated for a British journal, and she added add a set of notes, describing more fully how the Engine worked. These Notes (which included some visionary statements about its potential and limitations) ended up twice as long as the original article.

The Notes also included tables setting out the sequence the machine would have to go through to find the solution to an algebra problem (e.g. Bernouilli’s numbers sequence). This is why some writers call Ada the “world’s first programmer” but these tables were not strictly computer programmes.

She does, however, seem to have understood the significance of Babbage’s engines better than he did. So – although not the forerunner of today’s coders and hackers, Ada was probably one of the first visionaries who imagine how future technology might change the world.

It would take another hundred years to recognise the significance of the extra ordinary foresight in her work. Her notes and letters to Babbage make it clear that Ada understood the potential of computers in a way that he, or nobody else ever did.

Ada Lovelace Day is now in its seventh year – it’s an annual celebration of women working the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths.



Category: Windows 10, IT News.

Microsoft’s new Windows 10 launched on 29th July – how did you respond to the upgrade?

Windows 10 Devices

The company has listened to the feedback from Windows 8, and returned to us with a much more refined and well-thought out edition – a user-friendly operating system with some nifty productivity features.

Most businesses will have had a mix of Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs and devices. If that’s you – and you’ve not yet done so – plan this year to capitalise on the free Microsoft upgrade.

There’s a year to upgrade for free so work with your IT Support team or partner to plan your upgrades, schedule them for the least active times and upgrade in phases, starting with your least critical devices.

As with all upgrades there has been (and to some extent still is) the inevitable period of bug fixes when businesses could have faced teething problems like a printer not being recognised or, more critical, a major application not working. For that reason, we advise our customers to hold back on clicking the “Reserve your upgrade” icon and instead review this around six months after the release. This allows time for the initial issues to be resolved – you don’t want your business to be Microsoft’s testing ground!

New features and capabilities coming with this upgrade are set to create better ways of working.

Terry Myserson, Microsoft’s VP of Operating Systems, said: “We designed Windows 10 to run our broadest device family ever, including Windows PCs, Windows tablets, Windows phones, Windows for the Internet of Things, Microsoft Surface Hub, Xbox One and Microsoft HoloLens—all working together to empower you to do great things.”

The hope is that Windows 10 will win hearts and minds, bringing a seamless multi-platform experience as customers swap between fixed and mobile computers and use different software and Cloud services. With a test-base of over four million people, Microsoft are hoping for an operating system that’s more user-friendly and not so reliant as Windows 8 on touchscreen functionality.

Let’s take a look at a few of the improvements…

Cortana … this is Microsoft’s personal digital assistant – a star attraction for Windows 10. Cortana is about enabling businesses to interact in a more “human” way, talking or typing simple phrases to do things like book meetings, find information and set reminders.

Edge … another major new feature – Microsoft’s new web browser. This replaces Internet Explorer and is intended to be faster, more streamlined and more personal, with the ability to write notes on web pages, which you’ll see every time you access it.

Apps … Microsoft are also hoping to win over Developers as well as end users. The new app store is the same store across all devices which means that a Developer can write an app once and put 4 different ‘skins’ on it, making the app compatible for Xbox, desktop, Windows Phone and tablet. A big incentive for Developers to have a go at creating more apps? In addition, with ‘Edge’ the new powerful web developer tools, accessed by pressing F12, look like they can compete with Chrome and Firefox in the developer tools arena. Microsoft say they are focusing more on quality of apps than quantity the concept of the app store on the desktop is really innovative. The security model of the new app store is of huge significance too.

Notifications … The new action centre brings notifications from multiple sources directly to your desktop. It supports notifications from third party applications. Notifications on Windows hadn’t really changed since the Windows XP days but the new notification area means that developers can write an app that can deliver notifications in a balanced way – they don’t need to annoy the user and they won’t get missed

Is this the start of Microsoft reclaiming its stake as a software innovator, driving customers to do things quicker, better, smarter? And will your business be taking the first steps towards that over the next 6 months?

Microsoft’s Windows 7 support ended in January and their policy is to support a product for two years after the release of its successor. Therefore, the expectation is that general support for Windows 8 will end by July 2017 but Microsoft has extended support for Windows 8.1 to 2023.

If you would like help or advice on upgrading to Windows 10 call us now on 03300 886 116



Category: Computer Maintenance, IT Security, IT Support.

Office StressDoes any of this sound familiar?

  • You have one or more slow computers, frustrating you and your staff; affecting your productivity and therefore your profitability?
  • You want to make your computer(s) run faster?
  • You’re looking for a quick, simple, cheap or free tip?

The main issues with slow computers usually lie not with the hardware but with changes that occur to the PC’s software. The two most common causes of slowdown are:

  • Every time you or a member of staff loads a program, file, or webpage, the PC’s software registry is updated with new instructions needed to operate that item. However, when the item is removed, these instructions usually remain on the PC. The result: A significantly slower computer.
  • Spyware and viruses are software programs that are loaded on your computer without your knowledge or permission.

You probably already know that the simple rule of thumb to follow is to never download programs like screensavers, emoticons, films, etc from unknown sources. In addition, you should never open any attachments to an email unless you are 100 percent certain you know and trust the sender.

Unfortunately – this also applies to software sold online that purports to “Clean Up” your PC in seconds. You will see these on offer, making claims such as “literally only takes 5 minutes to work”, “Your computer will instantly be restored and you can schedule automatic system clean-ups to keep it running like new.”

The advertisements may also go as far as to claim: “…also protect you against viruses and attack from malicious files, ensuring it runs smoothly all of the time”.

Let’s take a look what say, for example, about one such TYPICAL download …

“… a nasty rogue infection that works as a double agent. On one hand, it pretends to be a powerful system optimization and antivirus software that would fix your computer, but on other hand (in reality) it brings viruses to your computer and steals your money. Actually this virus is associated with cyber crooks who create fake programs to trick users. Once this software has been installed, it alerts you of several viruses detected on your machine (even if there is no virus in your computer). After a while, it will force you to buy the full/professional version in order to remove the viruses from your computer. That is the actual target of this nasty program. We recommend you to uninstall the software as soon as possible and do not purchase it on any condition. Please note: Manual removal may cause damages to your system if you do any mistake. Use this method only if you understand what you are about to do”.


If your PC is infected by this kind of application virus it may do the following…

  • Enter into your computer without your knowledge
  • Scan your computer without your request and claim it has found viruses
  • Display a lot of warnings and alerts popping up on the screen
  • Provoke you to buy its full version or activation code (which may not even work)
  • Collect Personal user information which may include sensitive financial data such as logins, usernames, accounts
  • It may bring further infections are direct the user to infectious sites
  • Make the computer run slow, uses a big part of system resources

That’s not a great picture is it?

It may cost a little more to ensure you use the right software to protect your systems and use qualified, knowledgeable engineers to resolve problems but ultimately it could save you thousands or even save your business.

At The PC Support Group, every computer we look after is subject to a remote weekly health check that includes:

  • Spyware protection and Anti-Virus check
  • Check for early warning signs of problems
  • Removal of unnecessary temporary files that can choke your system
  • Organisation of your disk drives to prevent your computers from slowing down over time

Call us on 03300 886116 if you want your business critical IT System to be in SAFE hands! We’re here to help!