USB Sticks

USB Sticks

I will show you how to speed up your slow USB and recover any lost data and fix ‘device not recognised’ error message

Bootable USB Stick Failing to Boot

You have just made yourself a bootable USB stick but Windows ignores it? You will most probably just need to edit the boot order in your BIOS settings. If your computer is running Windows XP, Vista or 7 you will want to tap the F2 or Delete key as soon as you turn on your computer or laptop. Once you have the BIOS screen up you will need to use your arrow keys to navigate the BIOS screen: you will want to look for something like ‘Boot Order’ or ‘Boot Device Priority’ and you will need to make sure the USB Stick is higher than your Hard drive.

If your bootable USB stick won't boot, you need to change boot priority

If your bootable USB stick won’t boot, you need to change boot priority

If you are running Windows 8 or 8.1 you can access the ‘UEFI BIOS’ by pressing the Win + C keys then click on settings followed by ‘Change PC Settings’. If you are running Windows 10 you will want to click  Start then Settings. Now you need to click ‘Update and Recovery’ then ‘Recovery’, then ‘Restart Now’ under the ‘Advanced Startup’. Finally, you will want to click ‘Troubleshoot’, then ‘Advanced Options’ and the UEFI Firmware Settings, then Restart.

USB Running Much Slower Than Normal

If your USB stick is starting to run slow or become unresponsive, you could have attached it to an older USB port. Most modern PC or Laptops should have at least one USB 3.0 port which can be recognised by having a blue insert; but many still have the older USB 2.0 slot as well. If you PC or Laptop is really old it might still be using USB 1.1 so try the USB Stick in a different Port, ideally one with the blue plastic insert so you get the fastest speed possible.

USB 2.0 & 3.0

If your USB stick is running slow make sure you have plunged it in to blue USB port

Files Won’t Save or Become Corrupted

This could be bad news as your USB stick could be faulty or a fake. A fake USB stick will appear to work normally until it reaches its real capacity this is when you will start to get problems and there is no fixing this.

Even if you USB stick is not a fake most faults are almost impossible to fix, but you might still be able to recover lost files. To do this you can download the free recover tool called Recuva, you will want to select your USB stick and click scan, Tick the files you want to recover and then click the Recover button.

USB Stick Does Not Appear in Explorer

If you ever get the message ‘USB Device Not Recognized’ you should 1st try plugging it in to a different USB port. If you are still getting the same message you will need to launch the ‘Disk Management’ to do this press Win + R, and typing diskmgmt.msc and press Enter. You will want to look for the drive labelled ‘Removable’ and matches your USB Sticks capacity. If you see it is saying ‘Healthy’ and has a ‘Primary’ partition, then Windows might not have assigned a drive letter. To do so you will need to Right-click on the partition and choose ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’. Now click add and choose a drive letter. If that still does not work press Win + R and type devmgmt.msc and press Enter. You will want to double click on both Disk Drives and ‘Universal Serial Bus Controllers’ and see if anything has a yellow triangle. If you find any you will want to right click on it and choose Properties. You will want to make a note of any error messages you find in the ‘Device Status’ and you can then search Google to see how to fix it or what the problem could be.

Your USB Stick Does Not Work In Your TV

Most modern TV’s now come with a USB port on them and will play video files straight from the USB, but the USB has to be formatted in the correct way. Window preferred file system is NTFS, but this does not always work on all TV’s so you might have to format the USB stick to FAT32 but will be restricted to the file size you can put on it. Press Win + E to launch Windows Explorer, you will then want to right click your drive and choose Format followed by FAT32 in the ‘File System’ menu and the click ‘Start’

Your USB Stick is Write Protected

If you are finding you can’t write files to your USB stick, have a look and see if you can see a physical switch, as some devices can have a small toggle that you can flip to lock and unlock. If not it could be a Registry key has become stuck with the wrong value. Before you begin you will want to back up your PC/Laptop, then press Win + R and type in regedit and hit Enter. You will then want to Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL-MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentContolSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies and look for or create a key called StorageDevicePolicies in the right-hand panel look for or create a new ‘DWORD (32-bit) Value’ and call it WriteProtect. If you need to create key or value, right -click in the relevant pane, point to New then choose the relevant option. You will then want to double click WirteProtect and set its value to ‘0’

Disable Write-Protection

Change this Registry key to allow you to write and copy files to your USB Stick

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Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)

Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)

Android Marshmallow

Hear is how to fix failed upgrades, solve wireless-connectivity problems and bring back a ‘bricked’ device on Googles new OS Marshmallow

Marshmallow upgrade unavailable

Sometimes you might have to force your device to manually check for the update. To do this you will want to Launch settings, tap ‘About Phone’ (or ‘About’), followed by ‘System Updates’, the ‘Check for Update’. If you don’t get offered the chance to update, then you will have to wait for your devices manufacture to make the new update available unfortunately this can take weeks or months. If you are tired of waiting you might be able to download the Marshmallow system image and manually force the update. This can be very complicated and the method can vary a lot between devices, so you will be best searching google how to do the update on your particular device.

Upgrade failed or phone unusable

How you recover your device from a failed upgrade depends on what went wrong, if your device is still working normally simply try again but make sure your device is plugged in and has a stable and reliable internet connection – Wi-Fi is generally better then using 3G/4G. If your device has crashed and is frozen on one screen or won’t turn on, you can reset it by holding down the power key, volume down for about 10 seconds. If this does not work and you think your device might be ‘bricked’, try and boot in to Recovery Mode: holding down both the volume up and down buttons and holding the power button for about 5 seconds, if it works you will see a text based interface that you will navigate using the volume buttons and power button as enter. From this menu you can reboot your device or wipe and restore it to factory settings.

Notations work intermittently

If you feel that the notification are less reliable in Android 6.0 you might not be imagining it: In Marshmallow there is a new battery-saving feature called Doze but has the side effect of stopping some of your apps from behaving how you might want them to. So to stop it go to settings, then Battery, followed by the menu button (The three dots, top right). Then Choose ‘Battery optimization’, tap ‘Not optimized’, then choose ‘All apps’. You then want to tap on the apps whose notifications are affected, then choose the ‘Don’t optimise’ button, then tap ‘Done’

Can’t Connect to 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi

Wireless connectivity problems are nothing new for Android devices, but Marshmallow has done little to fix them. If you can’t get a signal, then you should try turning the relevant connection on and off. To get to Android’s Quick Settings your simply have to swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen. You will then want to tap on the Wi-Fi or mobile-connection, wait a few seconds then press the icon again to switch the antenna back on. If this does not work you can always try resting your device by holding the power and the volume down button for about 10 seconds. If this does not work last resort would be to launch settings, tap ‘Backup & reset’, followed by ‘Networking settings reset’, then ‘Reset settings’.

USB connection doesn’t work

With earlier Android versions you could simply connect your device to your PC via USB and as long as your device was unlocked you could use Windows Explorer to navigate the folders on your device. In Marshmallow, you will have to do a bit more work. From the home screen, swipe down from the top left, tap ‘USB for charging’ then choose either the ‘Transfer files (MTP)’ or ‘Transfer photos (PTP)’ button.

Camera app won’t launch

Unfortunately, there is no single fix for the ‘Can’t connect to the camera’ error message in Android 6.0 – it is simply a bug that Google need to hurry up and fix. While you are waiting the one sure fire way to clear the error is to restart your device, just hold down the power button, then tap power off, then turn device back on. You can take some preventative steps to stop it from happening. If you are using apps other than the Camera app that can use the devices lens, then close them before launching the Camera: just tap on Recants Button then swipe left or right across the apps you want to shut down.

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How to Spot a Fake App

How to Spot a Fake App


We all need to be careful as the next app we download could be a dangerous Trojan. Below I will explain how to spot fake or malicious apps for your phone or tablet.

Android malware is on the rise. Kasperkys (in partnership with Interpol) latest Mobile Cyber Threats Survey found there were six times the amount of malicious apps in July 2014 than in August 2013.

You can see the attraction of targeting Android devices from a hacker’s point of view. Your Android devices contains things like your personal details, logins and passwords, private notes, messages and of cause your photos, it could even be linked to your bank account or credit card too.

Hackers simply have to create a Trojan and disguise it as something you might want and they can then get their hands on all that valuable data. Facebook fakes, video apps and too-good-to-be-true antivirus apps are circulating in there thousands right now, just waiting for you to download and install them.

Hackers, like all conmen, give themselves away by making simple mistakes.

Its ‘Facebook’ but not as you know it

Genuine social apps never ask for 'device administrator' permissions

Genuine social apps never ask for ‘device administrator’ permissions

Mobile malware makers love Facebook. According to Cheetah Mobile the makers of Clean Master, no fewer than 15,000 fake social networking and messaging Android apps have appeared between January and August 2014, More than half of these were dodgy Facebook clones. Thousands more are pretending to be WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram.

Hackers use the apps to steal your username and password, which they assume you are probably going to use the same details on other accounts to.

Malicious clones often have really poor spelling and badly reproduced branding, but you might not always notice this until its to late and you have downloaded the app and entered your password and username. By that time its to late as the app has done its job.

There are a few ways to check and see if a big-name app is the real thing before downloading it. First, see how many people have downloaded if from the Google Play Store. At the time of writing this the real Facebook app for Android has been downloaded almost 23 million times. If you are looking at a ‘Facebook’ app that has only been downloaded 200 times or only has a few “user” reviews its not the real deal.

You need to be wary of believing everything you read in the Play Store reviews. It’s very easy for app developers to buy fake reviews and ratings from feed back touts like App Reviews Mart, and get 5 star reviews from BestReviewApp. If in doubt its always best to click on the reviews name and see what else they have reviewed. If all there reviews are worded exactly the same or sound suspiciously generic (“Great App, Just what I needed”), take them with a large pinch of salt. You can report apps, reviews or comments that you think are suspicious to Google.

Lots of generic, short reviews may be a sign of a fake app

Lots of generic, short reviews may be a sign of a fake app

It’s not in the Google Play Store

If you are not sure that the brilliantly reviewed, but badly spelled app is legitimate, bookmark the Play Store page and then come back to it a few days latter. Fake apps don’t last long in the Play Store. Those that are not blocked instantly by Google’s app-scanning tool, Bouncer are usually removed within a few days according to F-Secure latest Mobile Threat Report.

Google can’t police the entire Internet; so bogus apps always find other ways to get distributed, like Facebook comments, emails, online adverts or an independent Android app website like AppBrain. All the fake apps identified by Cheetah, were downloaded from outside they Play Store.

Never download apps via adverts or links in Facebook Comments

Never download apps via adverts or links in Facebook Comments

Independent Android sites are not always dangerous, but please bare in mind they don’t scan the apps as thoroughly as Google. Earlier this year security firm Opswat found a third of all Android apps outside the Plat Store were infected with malware.

Similarly, if you are using an iPad you should only download apps from the App Store and iTunes (not that you get much choice). The tightly controlled nature of iOS tends to prohibit third party app markets and this helps keep hackers at bay, which I think is a good thing.

It’s too Good to be True

Hackers know that we can all be slaves to our desires, so if they promise to give you exactly what you want, you are less likely to trust your better instincts.

In June of last year, Ransomeware on Android arrived in the shape of Simlocker Trojan; it was packaged as a porn-video app. Not long after that, hacker’s striked again this time exploiting political fervor by spreading spyware among Hong Kong protesters, who thought they were downloading a pro-democracy app.

The Angry Birds Transformers app contained a "vandal' Trojan that destroyed data

The Angry Birds Transformers app contained a “vandal’ Trojan that destroyed data

You also need to be on the lookout for apparent collaborations, because in September last year, there was a new Angry Birds app called Angry Birds Transformers in the Google Play Store, which turned out to contain the Elite Trojan. Security researchers at Dr Web discovered the Trojan in October Last year and they categorized the Trojan as a “Vandal Program” as it destroys the victim’s data. When you launched the app for the 1st time it would ask for ‘device administrator’ permissions (These are normally only needed by apps that let you lock or wipe your phone remotely) and then immediately format your SD card if you have one installed, and block all of your messaging apps.

If an app ever says it can remove all of the manufactured pre-installed software with out you having to root you device or reveal who is looking at your Facebook profile, its lying!!


You Have Never Heard of it

New apps from companies you have never heard of that promise the earth are very unlikely to be what they seam. According to Kaspersky, fake antivirus apps are a big problem.

April Last Year, an antivirus app, called Virus Shield by the developer Deviant Solutions managed to sneak through Google’s app scanner and it was downloaded 30,000 times, and cost £2.38 the app its self was not malicious but it was totally useless (expect to its developer who became quite rich from it). When the scam was found Google was forced to refund all of the 30,000 customers who had purchased it.

Don’t be tempted by ‘novel’ antivirus apps. Most of the big antivirus companies out there make safe reliable tools to help protect your devices from malware and fake apps; they are also regularly updated to help keep your devices safe from the latest treats.

So be aware of the apps you are downloading are what they say they are. Stay safe and keep alert for the scammers, all they want is your money and to cause as much trouble as they can!!!!

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Are Scam Downloads Getting Harder to Spot?

Are Scam Downloads Getting Harder to Spot?

Scam Alert

Malwarebytes have revealed the latest strategy’s that are being used by scammers, which has worryingly shown that the scams are getting harder to stop.

You might have decided you need a new antivirus program from a trustworthy company like AVG, Malwarebytes, Norton or McAfee. It downloads without any problems, you accept the terms and conditions and the familiar installer starts, all seems to be going fine until half way through the installation when you get an error message that advises you to ring a phone number. You could easily think this is the antivirus helpline.

But you would be wrong! In fact this is the latest trick used by scammers to steal your money. The software is fake and if you call the number in the error message, you will get through to an Indian call center where they will tell you your computer is crawling with viruses and that they will clean if for a fee. Of course this is a lie.

This type of scam is easy to fall for, but what is worse is that fraudsters are starting to hack genuine security programs so that you pay them instead of the software company. Malwarebytes have detected criminals doing this. Senior security researcher Jerome segura, said: “A few weeks ago we documented a US-based company using our software against our Terms and Conditions. They were charging four times the price and worst of all the license keys were all pirated.”

Its not difficult for criminals to build fake programs that mimic legal ones. Egemen Tas, Comodo’s Vice President of Engineering said that Scammers don’t need to create a fake antivirus from scratch, instead they can “simply take a genuine AV product, modify it and distribute it”.

So how can you protect yourself? You should only download programs from the developers’ official site, or from a reputable site like CNet, TechSpot, or FileHippo. You also need to be cautious when using the Windows Store on Windows 8, as it was recently reported by technology site How to Geek as being filled with fake software.

Malwarebytes, which highlighted these scams on its blog, says that a fake version of genuine software will be flagged by Windows before you download it with the following message: ‘The publisher could not be verified’ or ‘driver have been altered’. These warnings mean the download has not been digitally signed by the programs developer, most reputable software should all be signed. You should click Cancel, not Run, and leave the box ‘Always ask before opening this file’’ ticked.

So despite the increasing deviousness of the scammers you can still shield yourself from their attack, Thankfully, it’s not impossible to spot them, but its definitely getting harder. So stay alert and above all keep safe from these scammers!!!!!

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Fix Your PC With a USB Stick

Fix Your PC With a USB Stick

PC Help

Do your family and friends always turn to you when their computers go wrong? Below I will tell you how you can fix a PC with a few good portable programs on a USB Stick.

If you are having problems with your computer you will properly turn to a trusted suite of programs, like CCleaner or CPU-Z ,and your antivirus software. But what do you do if the problem is on a friends PC or a laptop with precious little RAM? Easy, Just run your trusted suite of programs from a USB stick. CCleaner is a well-established Desktop program that can also be run from a storage device like a USB stick. Simply plug in your USB stick in to any computer and double-click on the program’s EXE (.exe) file to run the program.
That way there is nothing to install, and now junk will be left behind. Skype, LibreOffice and Firefox all have a portable version, but it’s the PC-fixing tools I am most excited about. While running Skype from a USB can be handy, running CCleaner from a USB could bring a friends PC back to life.

Find and kill viruses

The first step in troubleshooting a computer is to check for viruses and malware. McAfee Stinger is a free portable (standalone) antivirus from the same people that make McAfee Internet Security. Stinger’s tabbed window contains as many tools as you would find on any dedicated antivirus suite. You can scan a specific file or folder like the Registry or even the USB stick it’s located on. If Stinger does find any dubious files, you can kill them or quarantine them just like the full version of McAfee.

Panda Cloud Cleaner Portable (click the second blue Download button) will also let you specify directories to scan and clean. It’s not as powerful as Stinger but it will verifie the results in the clould to help avoid false positives. Trend Micro’s Portable bug identifier HijackThis will look for any unauthorized settings or modifications, as they can be evidence of malware, and log them in a report. It can also scan for data, like metadata that is embedded in files, and not visible in Windows Explorer, this can often get missed by other malware scanners.

Just keep in mind that sometimes-portable programs can be flagged as malware by some antivirus suites. The irony is that portable programs are often more secure as you can run them with out having to connect to the Internet or installing files hackers could exploit.

Diagnose the problem

cpu-z-01-557x535After you have ruled out viruses or malware, you can use CPU-Z portable to get real-time information about any computer its run on, like temperature to the status of any drivers (click Tools, then “Check for Driver Updates’), you can save the report as a text file (simply click ‘Save Report as .TXT from the tools menu) or print it if you need to go shopping for new parts. You could even give a copy to the owners of the PC for their own reference.

When you are on the CPU-Z download page, make sure you only click on the purple “Download Now!’ button as everything else is an advert. Once downloaded, extract the Zip then double click on the 32but or 64bit EXE (depending on the system you are running it on) to run the program.
The portable version of Speccy will generate a less comprehensive but easier to follow report then CPU-Z, and the latest version will now let you see the computers MAC Address.

The new USB auto-installer version of Memtest86+ is a tiny program that can check PC’s RAM. It’s extremely easy to run but it’s a little more complicated to set up than Speccy or CPU-Z. The EXE file is actually the installer, and it will only install the program on a USB stick. You will want to make sure you have a USB stick plugged in before you double-click on the EXE file, when the installer runs you will want to ‘Select your USB Flash Drive’, then click on Create to install Memtest on the USB stick.

Remove hidden junk

CCleanerA hard drive clogged with software is one of the most common causes of PC performance problems. So you will want to completely remove stubborn programs and make sure there are no left overs and the prortable version of CCleaner will help. When you first run CCleaner it will offer to scan ‘intelligtly’ for cookies that you want to keep (this is a good thing if you want to clear out the cashes and other browser related junk but keep your logins.)

If you find you ever accidently delete any important files when clearing out junk or accidently deleted a load of family photos the Recuva is the program you need. Its especially useful for recovering files from a computer that won’t let you install software on its hard drive.

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