Trust & Ethics in Computer Repair


Trust is an essential factor in selecting someone to repair your computer or mobile device. Anyone you choose will have access to your entire digital life on an expensive machine.

Just like most people hire a motor mechanic to work on their car when it breaks down, most people don’t have the technical expertise to fix their own computers.

There is no shame in not having the technical expertise to repair your own computer, just like you might not have the skills to repair your car.

Not all PC repair services are the same. Different businesses have different specialities and skillsets. Some are more trustworthy than others. Some spend a lot of money on marketing, while others purely rely on word of mouth. This blog post will give you some ideas on picking someone you can trust to work on your computer and mobile devices.

Understanding Online Reviews

Not all online reviews are the same. Some sites offer fake positive online reviews to businesses. They’ll try to fake it until they make it or worse still fake it to cover failings. Fortunately, if you know what to look for, you can quickly tell fake reviews apart from genuine reviews.

Generic Names Or Imageless Profiles

Some fake review services will use large numbers of fake profiles with names like John Smith or Alice Roberts. These services rarely go through the effort of uploading pictures to their fake profiles. If they do, often the photos don’t match the nationality or genders of the names.

Check The Spelling & Grammar

Fake reviews are often outsourced to content farms in countries where English is not the native language. Such reviews are riddled with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors and tend to sound the same thanks to being based on the same script.

Look For Reviews In The Middle

Most people only go to the effort of posting a review if they have a really great experience or an abysmal experience. Even someone with excellent experience may post about some minor gripes. Someone with an abysmal experience could have some positive remarks.

Lots of Reviews In A Short Time

Fake Review services will often post their entire order of reviews in a short time. If you spot lots of positive or negative reviews that all sound the same with similar mistakes, you’ve found someone who has used a fake review service. Or is the victim of a rival using such a service in the case of negative reviews.

Resources For Learning More About Fake Reviews

Lifehacker – How To Tell If An Online Review Is Fake

ACCC – Managing Online Reviews

Word of mouth

How often do you tell your friends about the latest café or restaurant you have enjoyed? Ask your friends for recommendations for a computer repair business that they trust. Ask them about places they have had bad experiences with and why.

Things to ask about include: Price, Warranty, Timeframe customer service, Did they come to you and speciality.

The best place to find a trustworthy computer technician is through friends and family’s experiences.

Some complaints can be a good thing. For example, people complaining about a technician refusing to reinstall their pirated version of Windows or Office.

It is illegal for a technician to install pirated software, and pirated software is a common vector for malware infection.

Another example is a legitimate technician will not help you hack your neighbour’s wifi for free internet.


Did the business discuss costs with you during the booking? Will you be paying per hour, or will it be a fixed price for the job? Did they mention the possibility of needing to replace parts or having to wait for long scans to finish?

I’ll give an example of my own pricing here. If I am doing an onsite job, I charge by the hour, but I will quote a fixed price for the job if I am doing the job back in my workshop.

The difference is that at my workshop, I can work on multiple machines at once. I can examine system logs on one device, looking for crashes while running long scans on another machine.

If I was at your site, I could only work on your devices. I must charge for the time I am at your location, even if I am sitting around waiting for automated scans to complete.

If I discover that a long scan is required through my diagnosis, I will suggest that the machine be brought back to my workshop and quote a fixed price for the rest of the job.

Another thing to consider is that do you actually need the parts? A good technician will provide you with the diagnostics or a proper explanation of how they concluded that a part needs replacement.

Are they trying to sell a whole new computer when all you need is a RAM upgrade or a solid-state disk upgrade? Modern computers tend to last a lot longer than previous generations of hardware. The most common upgrades in modern times are RAM and solid-state disks.

Sometimes, even if your system could use an upgrade, do you even need one if you only use the machine once a week and are happy to wait for things to load?

A good technician will work with you and take their time to adequately explain why things need to be done and work with you to create the solution that best suits your needs and budget.


The goal is to find someone you can trust to repair your machine without ripping you off or stealing your data.

I hope these few tools that I have given you will help you find the right person to best fit your needs, even if it isn’t myself here at Small Space IT. I recommend that once you find someone, you trust you should stick with them.

If you want to use Small Space IT’s services to repair your computer please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

How to use an iPhone as a mobile hotspot

Have you ever been in a situation where you need an internet connection for an iPad or laptop, but there is no Wi-Fi available? If you have an iPhone with a mobile plan that has a large data allowance, then you have a solution to your problem at hand.

There are a couple of problems to keep in mind when using your iPhone as a portable hotspot but are solvable with some prior planning. Firstly, using your phone as a hotspot will eat through your battery life, so make sure to have a charger handy. Battery life is not a problem if you are at home or work and have an internet outage. If you are out in the field, you can easily pick up a car charger or power bank at many service stations.

Another problem is that many mobile plans come with low data limits. If you only need email or light browsing, then you should not need to worry too much about data. If you need a large volume of data, you should either upgrade your mobile service in advance or obtain a mobile plan with a large data volume.

This menu will allow you to enable personal hotspot and to get the network password.

To enable the hotspot feature on your iPhone, you need to enter Settings then navigate to Personal Hotspot. By default, anything sharing the same Apple iCloud account can connect to an iPhone’s mobile hotspot, but access for other devices must be manually enabled. To do this, select Allow others to join, and below is the password required to connect.

Allowing others to join will allow either non apple or apple devices not sharing an iCloud account to connect using a network password.

If you need to know the name of the network to connect to, you can find it under Settings > General > About. This menu can also tell you how many songs, videos, photos, and apps are stored on your phone, total storage, and free storage.

This menu will tell you how much space you have left on an iPhone.

Your internet speeds will be determined by how many other mobile users are in the area and what sort of signal strength your phone receives. To get the best speeds using your phone as a hotspot, you need to place it in an area that receives a good signal. You can buy dedicated hotspot units that work with an external antenna if you are in a spot with inadequate coverage, for example, are on a farm or in a forest.

In a future article, I will talk about using a dedicated hotspot and external antenna to get coverage in more challenging or remote areas.

5 Free Antimalware Programs in 2019


In 2019 cybersecurity is more important than ever before; last year cybercrime cost the Australian economy approximately 1 billion dollars. Locking the doors is an option to keep the crooks out but, a digital bouncer in the form of antimalware software will allow legitimate access while keeping the crooks away from your files. Some of the software I talk about will detect an infection the moment it begins and stops it in its tracks while other software will only pick up infections afterward during a scan.

No software will protect you from all threats, particularly newly discovered threats, and while some antimalware programs can detect and stop ransomware early in the process, having up to date backups is still required for proper protection from ransomware attacks.

Antimalware programs with plugins for your browser of choice can even protect you from malicious links that try to phish your passwords or redirect you to malware downloads.

Below I will talk about five different antimalware programs in no order.

  1. Windows Defender – Windows Defender is a free antimalware program that comes bundled with Windows. It won’t beat a paid antimalware suite but, it will hold its own against some of the free offerings. It can have a small to moderate impact on performance, protect all web browsers and has basic parental controls. If you don’t think you have any antimalware software installed and are running a recent version of Windows, then you are probably already using Windows Defender.
  2. AVG Free Edition – Excellent scores in tests but slower scanning times. AVG and Avast share the same parent company, but AVG lacks in features like browser plugins compared to its sister product Avast Antivirus.
  3. Bit Defender Antivirus Free Edition – Uses the same engine as the paid version but lacks some of the advanced scanning features. The free edition of Bit Defender does include browser plugins to block known phishing and malicious web links.
  4. Avast Free Antivirus – Developed by the same company as AVG Anti-Virus but includes more features at the expense of performance and is better for more powerful systems. Some of the extra features include a Password manager and a network security scanner to perform basic audits on your network devices.
  5. Avira Antivirus – Great scores in testing but has fallen by the wayside over the years since it was the best. Avira is heavy on system resources and does not always detect the latest malware. It does have many features, but often they are just trials for the paid version.

I feel that Windows Defender is enough for most users, but everyone has different requirements. Ultimately it is up to you to research and determine which product, either free or paid, suits your needs the best so, here are some websites that you can use to find a product that best suits your individual needs. Please note this company owns AVG and Avast Antivirus. I have included them because they talk about rival products.,review-6003.html

The basics of spam filtering

Unsolicited marketing and scam emails are called spam, and it is a big business with around 45% to 50% of emails sent being spam. Experts estimate that the top 100 cybercrime groups involved in spam are responsible for 80% of the total volume.

Different groups have different motives for sending out such emails. Some groups are trying to sell fake products or drugs; other groups are trying to find targets for larger financial scams or phishing attacks to harvest details for future cybercrime.

There are many different methods to protect yourself from spam, and they can be client side in your email client or server side on your domain’s email server.

Client-side filtering is the most flexible and can be trained based on a user’s requirements. Email clients such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird include a spam filter which can send suspected spam to a quarantine folder for inspection. If you know a sender is good, you can whitelist them, or if you don’t want email from someone, you can blacklist them.

Server-side filtering is a bit different as the filters live on the mail server you connect to for email. They are less flexible as you will need to contact your administrator if you want to whitelist or blacklist anyone. Filters on a mail server are often tuned to try, and best fit the needs for an entire domain or organization rather than individual users and as such can filter out the bulk but not the entirety of spam email.

Email services such as Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s include spam filtering which you can train per an account basis, but the downside is you get a generic email address rather than something like which can better stand out to clients.

Email headers are easy to forge as security was not in mind when Email was created back in the 1980s. Since then new extensions to the standards have been created so that spammers can’t send email while pretending to be someone else.  These technologies are called Sender Policy Framework and Domain Keys Identified Mail.

These two additions ensure that only the email servers specified in a Doman’s DNS records can send email from that domain, an imposter pretending to be from that domain will have their messages dropped by the receiving server or automatically flagged as spam depending on how the administrator configured the filters.

If a spam email is sent from a server in Australia or is representing an Australian company, you can report it to the Australian Communications And Media Authority using this web link:

While you may receive only a small number of spam emails per day, experts estimate that email spam costs the global economy over 20 billion dollars per year in lost time and fraud.

A properly configured and trained spam filter may save you five minutes per day but that time adds up over a year especially if you have multiple email addresses or employees.

Preventing Data Loss

Keeping an eye on the health of your system is important to prevent failures and loss of data.

Many forms of data loss are preventable with regular system health checks and backups.

I recently noticed some performance issues and stuttering on my desktop. As a part of the troubleshooting, I used a program called Crystal Disk Info to view the health of the disk. This handy program can show you the features a disk has, the age of the disk, how many hours has been in use for, the general health of a disk and if it’s a good idea to replace the disk in question.

This scan has shown that the disk has over 400 bad sectors which indicate that data loss is a possibility. Fortunately, I have captured the problem early, and data loss seems to only be within the Steam game library which is easy to restore by re-downloading off the internet.

My backup method is what’s called a hybrid cloud strategy. My devices are set to back up to my NAS (Network Attached Storage) which is backed up to a cloud backup service, in this case, One Drive since I get 1TB of space free with an office 365 subscription. The NAS is also backed up to a local external USB Hard Disk so that I have the speed of local drives for recovery with the security of cloud if something serious such as a lightning strike or robbery happens.

What is your backup strategy? It could be as simple as a USB hard drive and Windows File History or as complex as a hybrid local cloud backup solution. If you need help installing the right backup solution for your needs, please contact us at Small Space IT today.

Three Reasons Your Small Business Needs A Website



Having a website for your business is essential to showcase your business to new customers while building credibility. You may think that your business is too small to have a website, but the truth is that no business is too small to have a website. A website can be affordable, is easy to set up and build yourself and will improve your business.


Today’s world has moved past shopping between the hours of 9 to 5 on weekdays and many customers like being able to shop for items at a time that suits them. A website is available 24/7/365 and is with modern smartphones is available to the 9 to 5 office worker or the night shift worker.

An E-Commerce website can take orders from your customers 24 hours a day for a convenient shopping experience no matter if they are at work or the beach then ship the product directly to their door.


Having a good-looking website can go a long way in making your business look professional. Trades and craftspeople can show a portfolio of previous work and shops can show off their range of products.

Another advantage of having a website is having your domain name be a part of your email addresses. There are other benefits such as not having to update marketing material and customers if you change ISPs or deal with being blocked by spam filters if you use a free email service.

Sales & Marketing

Being able to take orders online opens your business to a potentially worldwide audience. With an E-Commerce site, you can sell directly to customers online without them even being in the same region as your physical store. Even if you decide not to sell online having a showcase of your products can give potential customers a taste for what you sell and give them enough information to save your staff time in answering customer inquiries.

Other advantages of having a website are that you can add it to your social media presence, use tools like Google Analytics or the Facebook Pixel to see demographic information such as customer’s interests, where they are from or how they found your website to determine where to focus your marketing budget.


We at Small Space IT can sit down with you and discuss any questions you have about an online presence for your business. We can help you with creating a website, setting up an E-Commerce store, product photography and all your other business and personal IT and computer needs.

Some Password Tips

Security is an important consideration as a password could be the difference between staying safe and having your savings plundered or identity stolen.


  • Never use just a single password for everything. – If that one password gets stolen, cracked or phished the attacker will have access to everywhere that you have used that password from social media to online banking to even workplace logins.
  • Ensure Your Devices Are Secure – Having up to date antimalware protection and keeping your operating system and other important programs updated will help protect your devices from keyloggers and other malware that can steal saved passwords and other data such as pictures from your devices.
  • Longer Passwords are better – Each extra character for a theif to have to brute force ads exponentially more time to the cracking process. I suggest a minimum of 12 characters these days but longer is better.
  • Use Passphrases – Passphrases are several words strung together with a mixture of upper and lower chase characters, numbers and special characters added, it’s easier to remember passphrases. An example of a passphrase is: laUghing&l0bster<wheel
  • Use a Password Manager – A password manager such as Lastpass can store your passwords safely on your computer in a way where they are encrypted using a master password. A password manager allows you to use a separate strong password for each site that you can unlock with a strong password or passphrase that you can remember. You should treat it like a digital post-it note though and keep the master password secure.
  • Keep it out of plain site. You should keep your password out of view. If you must write it down don’t stick it on a post-it note on your monitor. Keep it somewhere safe like in a wallet, lock box or safe where only you have access to it.
  • Use multifactor authentication – These days many services offer the ability to verify your identity using a second factor such as SMS message, email, hardware token or mobile app to provide a code which you must enter to be able to log in. Once a device is known you may not have to use a second code to login again from that device but if someone does get your password they will not be able to log in without the multifactor code sent to you which can also let you know that someone is trying to hack your account.

There are online passphrase and password generators that can help generate secure passwords such as and if you want to use random characters in passwords another site you can use is

New Website

We at Small Space IT are proud to announce the launch of our new website. While it is ready for general viewing we are currently adding more features to enhance your experience while visiting our website. Our goal is usability so if you have any feedback regarding our website please don’t hesitate to contact us.


We are also in the process of launching new products and services that we feel our customers will find quite useful and will post more about them as they near completion. Some of our projects include an image hosting service, a budget web hosting service and providing VoIP services to our customers.

Another project in the pipeline are a series of video tutorials on how you can easily setup websites and online stores using our web hosting services. We expect to have these videos ready in the new year.

What is Ransomware and How to avoid it?

Many of you have probably heard of something called Ransomware on the news and are wondering what it is and how it can affect you. Ransomware is a type of malicious software or malware as it is known that after infecting your computer will search for many kinds of files including documents, videos, game saves amongst many other types of file and encrypts them with a key known only to the creators of the malware then attempts to get you to pay the creators to get your files unlocked.

You can get ransomware from infected emails, compromised websites, dodgy internet advertisements and even potentially from infected USB drives. Most decent antivirus software will pick up most variants of ransomware but not all variants. New malware is created as fast as the antivirus companies can detect and block it in an everlasting arms race between security professionals and criminals. In another guide I will be providing reviews of various antivirus software with the pros and cons for each but for now I will be just helping you deal with the risk of ransomware.
The best way to avoid having to pay up after getting your files locked is to keep regular backups. Regular backups will also protect your data from other problems. The most common form of backups is to just copy your files onto a USB drive. If you have Windows 8, 8.1 or Windows 10 then you are in luck as Microsoft have a backup application called File History which is able to automatically backup your files to an external USB flash or hard drive. File History can also backup to a Network Attached Storage also known as a NAS box. Apple computers are also at risk of ransomware but not as much as windows computers. Apple includes a backup program called Time Machine which can back up to an external drive or a NAS.

USB flash drives are cheap and easily obtainable even many supermarkets stock them in this day and age. USB hard drives cost more but are able to store far more then USB. USB drives also have the advantage of being able to be easily disconnected when you are not actually using them which helps a lot in protecting the backup from also being compromised by ransomware. Network Attached storage has the advantage of being able to backup multiple computers at once, always on for constant backups and able to easily share your media with all your devices but has the disadvantage of being vulnerable to malware able to scan the network for files to lock.

If you are infected with ransomware and your files are locked your options are either to start from scratch, restore from a backup if you have one or pay the criminals for your files to be unlocked. If you are in the unfortunate situation where you have to pay for precious family photos or important business documents to be released you will likely have to pay the criminals in what is known as bitcoin, a semi anonymous internet equivalent to cash making the criminals hard to track down and often they are in countries that place them out of reach of the Australian authorities. It is still a good idea to report them to the police though because something may be able to be done in the future. You may get lucky and be able to negotiate down the fee to get your money back as to the criminals some money is better than none at all but it is not guaranteed.

In conclusion the best defence against ransomware is to mitigate your risk using good antivirus software and have regular backups so that if you happen to get infected not much is at risk of being lost. Small Space IT can help you pick what backup strategy best suits your needs.