Point of Sale Software

Here are some Articles from the Blog Subject - Computer Maintenance -

Selecting Air Cooling vs Water Cooling for your shop

POS SOFTWARE

This issue divides us from one of our competitors: computers that are cooled by air or water. So it comes up a lot now.

Picture the scene: You are busy, everyone is going flat out, and your computer is being hammered. Suddenly, your computer goes dead. You all have to wait until the computer cools down so you can use it. This scene happens all too often now. Is it time to rethink how you cool your computers? Let's break down your options, focusing on what matters most to your small business.

A short time ago, we had a client whose computer often went dead. He waited awhile, and it worked. We had to send out an engineer. The engineer had to go to the shop, buy a cooling system, repaste the chips, and install a new cooling system. It was about half a day of work, and there was no computer in the shop while it was being fixed.  

Heat Is the Enemy

Modern Point of Sale (POS) systems are incredibly sophisticated software packages. Your computer is going flat out, and almost all the energy will end up as heat. This heat is onto some expensive, tiny, and delicate circuits. Too much heat will eventually damage these circuits. If you are lucky, the computer defences will shut down the computer before it does too much damage. Generally, your computer slows down, crashes, or in time will damage parts. In a computer, typically, only one part gone is enough to render it useless. That's where cooling comes in and comes in two main groups - air and water.

Air Cooling: The Tried-and-True Option

The Basics: Air cooling uses fans to blow hot air away from your computer's components. Think of it as a super-powered version of blowing on a spoonful of hot soup.

Pros

  • Cheap: The most affordable cooling option.
  • Easy-peasy: Installation is a breeze, and usually, you don't need to worry about maintenance beyond an occasional dusting.

Cons

  • That noisy fan: They can get loud, especially when your system is under strain (like during peak hours). Many people report physical ear pain, and there have been workers comp cases over it. 
  • Bulky: Big air coolers take up space, which often means a bigger case. The computer needs to sit in many shops in small places, and it's a problem fitting a computer in many places AS IS.
  • Dust: Air coolers need a dust-free environment, and air-cooled computers need regular cleaning inside. 
  • It may not be enough: It's not as efficient. Sometimes, if your shop is very hot or you are really busy using, especially if you are using advanced software, you can find out that your air cooling might not keep up.

Water Cooling: The Powerhouse (with a Price Tag)

Basics: Think of it like a tiny version of your car's radiator system. Water loops through your computer, soaking up the heat and carrying it away to be cooled.

Pros

  • Handles the heat: Perfect for high-performance POS setups or sweltering environments.
  • Quiet: Quieter than big air cooler fans.
  • Fancy looks: Many people today want nice-looking cases to enhance the appearance of their shops, so they may need water cooling.

Cons

  • Pricey: They do tend to be dearer.
  • More to manage: They need more attention. While rare, they do get leaks, which could be disastrous.

So, Which Is Right for Your Small Shop?

  • Need it simple and cheap? Air cooling is likely a good fit.
  • Is the POS system always flat out? Water cooling might save your sanity (and your hardware).
  • Do you hate noisy computers? Water cooling would be a worthwhile investment.
  • Want a sleek setup? Water cooling delivers that modern, futuristic vibe.

A Few More Things to Consider:

  • Your Store's Environment: If your hot shop puts more strain on any cooling system.
  • Staff Comfort: Noisy fans are a pain, especially during long shifts. Over an extended period, some computer noise starts stressing me out. 
  • Maintenance: Do you have the time for the extra upkeep water cooling needs?

Testing your computer

If you are worried about the temperature on your existing computers, I suggest downloading a temperature-checking software, CoreTemp. This is one of the best temperature tools for computers. You can get it here. Now let it run for a bit and see what it says the temperature is for each of your computer cores. If you see what they are

Recommended CPU Temperature Ranges

Temp of each core

This gives you one core, but you can get all of them from the hidden icons at the bottom right.

Here are some general CPU temperature guidelines:

  • Below 60°C - Temperatures are average. No action is needed.

  • 60-70°C is an acceptable range for a computer running.

  • 70-80°C unless you are doing a lot of work on the computer and then only for a short time, it would be too hot

  • 80-90°C - Too hot! Take steps to improve cooling immediately.

  • Above 90°C - Danger zone. Risk of throttling or damage. Act now!

Need an Expert Opinion?

Overall, doing the pluses and minus, we feel that air-cooled is better. Still, if you are unsure, there's no shame in asking for help! Contact our experts, who can give you a personalized recommendation based on your needs.

Summary: Air cooling is cheap but noisy. Water cooling: powerful but pricey.

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Your scanners not reading correctly?

POS SOFTWARE

Barcode scanner

Why Is My Barcode Scanner Not Reading Correctly? Troubleshooting Tips

For retailers, a properly functioning barcode scanner is essential. When your scanner starts having issues reading barcodes, it can really frustrate everyone struggling to get labels to scan. In a worst-case scenario, you may revert to tedious manual price and inventory lookups.

But before you panic and call for a scanner replacement, you can take several easy troubleshooting steps to get your existing unit back up and running. In this post, we'll explore why barcode scanners suddenly struggle to read labels. And we'll provide actionable tips to diagnose and resolve your scanner woes.

Common Causes of Scanning Difficulties

When a previously reliable barcode scanner goes haywire, the problem typically boils down to one of several factors:

Dirty Scan Window

The #1 issue is usually a dirty scanner window filled with dust, fingerprints, or other debris. The scan window is the glass area where the beam shines when reading barcodes. Even a small amount of smudging or particulates on this glass can interfere with the scanning process.

Scan windows get dirty for a couple of key reasons:

  • Touching: People touching the scanner window and inadvertently getting fingerprints on the glass.
  • Dust and dirt accumulation: Gradual buildup of dust. This is a typical problem in our dusty store environments.

If this is the problem, then cleaning scanners is straightforward. 

First, inspect the scan window glass for any obstruction or damage:

  • Does the window have smudges, fingerprints, dust, or debris that could interfere with barcode reading?
  • Are there any cracks, scratches or impacts on the glass that could cause problems?

If the window needs cleaning, follow these steps:

  • Unplug the scanner from the power and host device.
  • Gently wipe down the window using a microfiber designed to clean optical glass surfaces.
  • Avoid using liquids; dry dusting is usually sufficient to clean scan windows.
  • Use a tiny amount of isopropyl alcohol on the cloth to help cut through oils only if really needed.
  • Finish by using a dry microfiber.

A: Cleaning in 80% of the time fixes the problem.

Misaligned Window

Barcode scanners also rely on perfectly aligned scan windows to read labels. In shops today, scanners often get dropped. This drop can cause the barcode scanner window to be thrown off its proper alignment. What happens then is suddenly, your scanner has trouble sweeping across barcodes.

A: You must inspect your scanner to check for misalignment issues on the scan window. In some cases, you can do a realignment manually.

Failing Laser or Motor

Barcode scanners are mechanical devices; like any device, they eventually degrade over time. Components age, the scanner gets weaker, and sometimes the motor slows down. This hampers sweeping smooth and fast enough across barcodes.

Diagnosing weak lasers requires specialised scanner testing tools. If the problem is the motor, sometimes you can hear unusual noise. 

A: In my experience, these failures often mean replacing the scanner, as they are rarely worth fixing.

Damaged Cable Connections

Cable connections between the scanner and register can become damaged. This could be due to normal wear and tear, getting pulled too hard, or cable pinched or crimped. Bad connections cause scanning interruptions and error codes.

A: Carefully inspect cables and connections for any damage. Swap in new wires to isolate the problem. Damaged cables will need replacement, while loose connections just need to be pushed in.

Software Misconfiguration

Software settings related to barcode and scanner operation can also get misconfigured. Suddenly, the scanner may fail. 

A: Call us if you need to reset your scanner or review its settings.

Failing Commputer Connection

Scanners connect to POS registers, computers, or other host devices that relay barcode data. Sometimes the problem is in the computer ports.

A: I suggest you test the scanner on another computer.

Final Note:

Getting your barcode scanner back up and running can generally be resolved using the above troubleshooting techniques. The key is methodically going through the potential failure points above step by step. With a little diligence and patience, you'll likely have your scanner scanning again quickly. 

 

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Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) in retail shops

POS SOFTWARE

Point of Sale Power Protection for POS Systems

Front of a UPS

For modern brick-and-mortar retail stores, having reliable, uninterrupted power for point-of-sale (POS) systems is often critical. POS systems today use electricity, and nothing about them likes lousy power. When a power outage, surge or fluctuation hits a retail store, it can knock out your POS systems, often bringing the shop to a grinding halt.

Even minor power blips we have seen have caused POS systems to crash. Worse voltage spikes and dips can permanently fry sensitive POS hardware and electronics. And sudden power loss threatens vital business data, with no time for proper shutdown.

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) tailored for retail POS systems can be essential to maintain continuity when utility power fails. A quality UPS system conditions electricity provides emergency backup power, and protects POS uptime.

Significant Benefits of a Retail UPS

The core function of a retail UPS is to seamlessly provide battery backup power when the mains electricity cuts out. This keeps POS systems, cash registers, credit card readers and more running during an outage so shops can continue processing sales. This prevents frustrating customers with halted service and protects revenue.

Beyond outage protection, a UPS conditions incoming electricity, regulating voltage and filtering "noise". This provides clean, stable electricity that prevents premature failure of sensitive POS components. By defending POS hardware from power anomalies, a UPS extends the electronics' lifespan.

During extended power failures where backup time is exceeded, a UPS will allow you to bring the POS systems to be gracefully shut down. This prevents the data corruption or loss that can occur from abruptly cutting power. This orderly shutdown saves critical business records and information.

By keeping service uninterrupted during outages and preventing damage from power fluctuations, a proper retail UPS pays for itself many times over by maximising uptime. The cost benefits include avoiding lost sales, costly POS repairs, and dissatisfied customers.

Types of UPS Systems

Back of a UPS

 

There are many different types of UPS on the market; the one we recommend above has a battery and a surge protector. It has an extended life. Also, it can protect four machines.  

 

Getting the Most from a Retail UPS

To maximise the performance and lifespan of a retail UPS system:

  • Check your requirements and what you need. The size of the UPS depends on what you need. If the UPS is not big enough, it will be a problem.

  • Let the UPS run for 24 hours before installing.

  • Ensure proper installation and maintenance according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Turn the power off once installed, and your POS System is running. This is to ensure it works correctly. I have seen people badly fit up a UPS to a POS System, so the wrong components were attached. 

  • Replace batteries periodically - most last 3-5 years under ideal conditions.

  • Test the UPS unit under full load quarterly by unplugging it and running equipment on battery power.

  • Keep the UPS as cool as possible at all times; heat ruins batteries.

  • Avoid connecting mechanical devices like printers that can cause power spikes.

  • Utilise UPS monitoring software and connectivity features for alerts and graceful shutdown. If something goes wrong, it may tell us why it went wrong.

Conclusion

A dedicated UPS unit tuned for POS systems is indispensable for reliable retail store power. When choosing a UPS, retailers must carefully assess their POS environment and requirements. Following UPS best practices for retail installations ensures clean backup electricity and recoups the investment through maximising uptime and equipment longevity. The right UPS strategy keeps the transactions flowing during outages and fluctuating mains power.

 

Note: This article was initially written by me in 2018. However, much has changed since then, so I rewrote this article after researching to reflect current conditions.

Why Slow-Running computers are Costing You Money

POS SOFTWARE

The Effect of Slow-Running computers on Business Activities and Income

Passmark speed of a computer

In the current business climate, speed counts. It results in decreased customer satisfaction, reduced productivity, and missed deadlines. People do not wait. If your computers run slowly, they will leave. People do not wait, and they will go. Additionally, employees' stress and frustration may rise due to sluggish technology. No one wants to work on the old junk that is slow.

There are several reasons for your computers running slowly.

People's perception.

Firstly it is perception are rising as computer technology advances. What they see is the constant stream of new computer models and upgrades that have entered the market at lower prices. So we see a demand for faster performance for faster and more powerful computers with higher specifications. Once these new computers start spreading, people demand that these computers do more.

Plus customers think little of a business today running old computers. I do not think much of a business image if I see this monitor in use.Noah in the ark, had something better.

Old monitor for the tip

Software

The software market has also been affected by ongoing advancements in computer technology. As the computers increase in power and time, your software can do more, improving over time; this gives you more features and options. This increased functionality means the software requires more resources. The software code needs more resources like memory and processing power to run. The reports get better, the software gets better, and the wait time increases.

Information (Data)

The amount of data we store on our computers grows over time as we use them more. Think of this five people working on a computer for a year are entering a lot of information. As your computer's data grows, its performance begins to suffer. What was a good computer now, in a few years, often cannot handle the workload. This is why on old computers, you must to manage your data by deleting old history by archiving old data, to maintain your computer's responsiveness and speed. Only by doing this, you can guarantee that your computers will continue to be productive.

The absence of routine software and hardware maintenance

Unfortunately, dealing with this issue can be challenging.

Attempting maintenance tasks like updating drivers or cleaning your registry can be risky. Attempting to resolve such problems often results in more harm than good. So we always have clients that call us with a significant problem because someone did some maintenance on their system. Systems have suffered considerable damage or become unusable. Then even if fixed, there is always the possibility that an extra issue unrelated to this issue arises. Because of this, many experts are reluctant to do maintenance tasks to avoid being held accountable for any problems that might arise later that were not their fault.Also today operating systems like Windows have evolved and now include many automated maintenance routines. Without requiring any of your time or effort, these features can aid in maintaining the smooth operation of your computer. This is why it is rare today for significant speed increases to be possible by doing routine maintenance.

Security software

This needs its own section. Computers need protection from malicious software, including viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware. These harmful programs are becoming more sophisticated. So today, security software needs to consume more processing power making it harder for older computers to keep up with their demands. Nothing we can do about this as, unlike other software, you need the most up-to-date security software. This ensures that it is compatible with the most recent threats and can safeguard your computer. As a result, older computers experience significant sluggishness, making efficient use difficult. Nothing we can do as these malicious programs can cause damage.

Preventing Slow-Running Technology

Often some simple hardware changes can result in faster speeds. Moving the faster computers where they are needed often is a significant speed increase.

If you are buying new equipment, do proper planning and research to guarantee that you buy equipment and programming that meet your business requirements.

Conclusion

In conclusion, sluggish technology can impact revenue and business operations.

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The Cost of Neglecting POS Hardware care

POS SOFTWARE

Understanding the Effects of POS Hardware Failure on Retail Businesses

Point of sale (POS) systems are essential to retail businesses. They enable customers to make purchases quickly and easily and provide the company with valuable sales data. A dependable Point of Sale (POS) system is one of the most important aspects of running a business. Unfortunately, POS equipment is susceptible to hardware failures like any other electronic device.

POS Hardware Failures

Operator upset computer not working

Printers, cash drawers, barcode scanners, and touchscreens are just a few of the hardware components that make up POS systems. Hardware failures can result from these parts getting worn out or damaged over time. Power surges, accidental drops, and software glitches are typical causes of POS hardware failure.

Effects of POS Hardware Failures on Retail Businesses

Computer failing

 

Hardware failures can disrupt retail businesses' day-to-day operations. Long lines, dissatisfied customers, and lost sales are all possible outcomes. Hardware failures can completely halt business operations and result in extreme financial losses. Also, your workers will be less productive and more frustrated.

Additionally, if your EFTPOS goes down, you won't be able to process payments, which can cost you 50% of your business, according to what I've seen. 

Early Warning Signs of Computer Equipment

Look for these warning signs that it is about to fail. Some signs are increased noise levels, sluggish performance, unusual sounds, and frequent crashes. Monitoring for these warning signs can assist businesses in preparing for a failure before it occurs. But it is impossible to predict how long the equipment will continue to function.

> Keeping an Eye Out for Warning Signs!

Equipment that isn't working correctly

If the equipment doesn't work, you can decide to fix or replace it.

Running equipment that isn't working well

 

Sometimes, though, the equipment works for a while and then starts failing more and more. Often, failure can take a long time, like the old car, where the repair bills started going up till the owner said enough.

At home, I have a ten-year-old monitor playing up but still working. So, I keep it running. For the past year, it has been a problem.

Stay away from the used market. 

Here, it's common for people to buy new equipment and then try to sell it while the old stuff works. I recommend purchasing it if it is of a reputable brand and has a good warranty.

A low-quality power supply was brought by one of my customers. It has resulted in performance issues, and system crashes. 

I've seen performance issues like slow data transfer speeds, poor signal quality, and system instability from low-quality cables.

Minimise the Impact of Computer Equipment Failure

Avoiding Critical Systems

Most importantly, if you continue using defective equipment, you must ensure that it is not a part of a critical system, such as a server. Even if this equipment fails, your system will continue to function.

> Minimize its impact by avoiding such critical systems. 

My hobby computer now uses my above monitor as a second screen. I have another working screen on a machine, so it won't bother me too much if it fails if it plays up.

Cleaning

Your computer equipment functions longer if it is cleaned regularly. Over time, dust and debris can build up and hinder the regular operation of the components. This results in overheating and other performance issues. Removing dust and debris from the fans, vents, and other areas prone to accumulation is part of regular cleaning. Someone can use a soft cloth and some elbow juice. When cleaning, it's also important to be gentle and not to blow dust around.

> Cleaning your computer regularly can help it last longer and run better.

The Benefits of getting Performing Routine Maintenance

If you perform routine maintenance on your POS hardware, you can lessen your risk of hardware failure and ensure that your system runs better. Care and regular checking can spot many potential problems before they become serious. 

Contacting Us

In the event of problems, you can contact us for help. We have a hardware department to help our customers troubleshoot and to resolve hardware issues.

Conclusion

Any retail business's smooth operation depends on having a dependable POS system. POS hardware failures can result in significant disruptions, lost sales, and decreased productivity. To avoid potential issues, consider investing in timely maintenance. Monitor your POS hardware for warning signs. Regularly cleaning the hardware components can also help the system last longer and perform at its best.

 

> Our hardware department is always available for support and assistance in resolving hardware failures if you run into any issues.

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Hard drive failure and what to do

POS SOFTWARE

Hard drive failure and what to do

Hard drive failures are among the most demanding computer hardware problems. It can cause you to lose everything on the computer. This blog post will discuss the most common reasons for hard drive failures and how to avoid them.

Current hard drive failure rates are about 1.4% a year, figures now are slightly down on last year.

 

Frequent causes of hard drive failure:

The most significant cause of failure is physical damage caused by moving, bashing or dropping a computer. 

The computer should not be moved when switched on.

Overheating

An image of a computer with dust

Nothing inside a computer likes to be hot.

A malfunctioning fan and blocked vents all limit ventilation by air to the computer will increase the temperature. A layer of dust inside the computer acts like a blanket, keeping the temperature up.

This can cause overheating and result in hard drive failures.  

To reduce the likelihood of overheating, keep your computer in a dry, clean, and well-ventilated location. Ensure the vents are not clogged with dust and the air is circulating into the computer.

Power Surges

Power surges can harm the hard drive if surge protection isn't adequate. Nothing inside the computer likes surges. Examples include electrical failures, lifts, elevators, workers nearby, malfunctioning equipment,  etc. 

It happens all the time, all you see is the light flicking for an instant, and the computer dies.

A UPS or surge protector is a good idea.

Malware, viruses, and other types of malicious software 

Some of these are designed to damage hard drives.

You should always be running a good virus protector and a current copy of windows. 

Regular use

Hard drives are mechanical devices designed to last only a certain length of time, and this design life depends on the manufacturer.  As a rule, they work on 2% a year for new computers, so your hard drive is designed for at least a 2% failure a-year rate. Interestinly now, the figure is 1.4% which means manufactures are getting better. Yet, there is always a catch. It is never simple. These failure rates are quoted for new computers used in clean airconditioned offices, eight (8) hours weekdays with regular use. If you use a computer in a shop full of dust, twelve (12) hours a day, running many programs, and people bash it all day, when the failure rate will be much higher.

In other words, failure is inevitable; it is a matter of time. 

Failure Signs

Awareness of the warning signs of a failed hard drive is essential. If the failure is due to regular use, strange error messages appear, the computer goes slow for a while, strange noises come from the computer, and system crashes are often.

If any of these symptoms appear, you should immediately contact us. We can identify the issue and suggest a course of action.

Prevention and Data Recovery

Back up your data regularly.  Data cannot be replaced, and a computer can. If something goes wrong, backing up your files will safeguard your business.

We have a free cloud backup procedure that can help.

Conclusion

The failure of hard drives can cause your important data to be lost and cause significant disruption to your shop. You can delay and prevent most hard drive failures. Your data should be regularly backed up. We have a free backup option that can help. If your hard drive fails, you must immediately stop using it and get in touch with us. Refrain from attempting to keep using a damaged hard drive.

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Problem with your Thermal printers not printing

POS SOFTWARE

An image of the interior of a thermal receipt printer with the roll of paper loaded in

 

For businesses that want to produce receipts of high quality using their POS software quickly, thermal receipt printers are the most popular option.

They function by applying heat to the thermal paper from the printhead. This triggers a chemical reaction on the thermal paper's heat-sensitive layer.

People frequently encounter this issue: they insert a new roll of paper, and the paper moves, but nothing prints.

Don't worry if you're experiencing this issue because there are a few common causes.

Please follow the steps below.

FAQ

> You may have pulled the wires or loosened the connections of the wires.

Solution: Verify that every wire and cable is connected correctly.

> Examine the receipt paper roll; you may have brought the wrong one.

Solution: There is no "one size fits all," so the roll may need to be returned. It is essential to select the appropriate paper roll. Contact our support team if you need help with what to use. They can help you choose the best paper for your needs.

Low-quality paper rolls can damage or build up dirt inside your printer, a related issue. Make sure to distinguish cheap from low-quality; I've seen low-quality sold as expensive.

> The roll might have been inserted from behind, so the paper is fed upside down due to this.

Solution: 

 1. Make sure the right side of the paper is facing up when you open the printer.

2. If not, take out the roll of paper.

3. Reload it after you've turned it over.

 

> The printer may be jammed if these solutions do not resolve the issue.

Solution: Remove the printer's power and try resetting it. Although resetting a printer may delete the document you are trying to print, our POS software allows you to reprint the receipt without losing any data.

> It's possible that the printer itself is the issue.

Solution: Unfortunately, printers are mechanical gadgets. They eventually fail, like any mechanical device. Parts can slack off.

1. First, entirely cutting off the printer's power.

2. Clean the printer by opening it up. Use a dry rag; If you have to use a liquid, only use a small amount and then dry it off.

3. The printer be assembled

4. Only then should the power be turned on and tested once more.

If it still does not print, you may need a new one or professional help to fix it.

Conclusion

A thermal printer's age does not necessarily determine how long it will last. A printer's lifespan is largely determined by how well it is used and maintained. A printer may fail sooner than anticipated if it is frequently used and improperly maintained. On the other hand, a printer may continue to function correctly for longer if it is well-maintained. It is essential to adhere to the usage and maintenance instructions if you want your printer to last as long as possible. This could mean cleaning the printer regularly, replacing worn parts, and using the right kind of paper to get the most out of your printer and extend its lifespan. 

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Computer do play up

POS SOFTWARE

Murphy's law, it will go down at the worst possible time.

When is the worst possible time in retail? Christmas, when it will be challenging to get a tech to fix your computer and you will be busy.

 

 

Give all your computers a test run now. Make sure it all works.

Also, ensure you have enough computer consumables, e.g. receipt rolls, ink, etc. 

Make sure your backups are working. Worst case, your computer is replaceable, but your information is not without a backup. With a good backup, we often need to replace the computer, and you can be back up and running in a day.

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Use a Reliable Backup Solution to Protect Your business.

POS SOFTWARE

Cloud point of sale

Our POS system comes with a free cloud backup system that you can use. With the recent floods on the East Coast, it's been a real relief that many are using it.

What it does is store a copy of your information in another location. In the case below, a disaster happened, and the people's backup information was safe. Not much else was safe.

If you have not implemented it, please look into it. The amount of work involved is trivial, and even on the basic free version, it can protect you from the most severe computer backup problems. Ransomware is about the only thing it does not cover well, but for a little more, we can make it protect from ransomware too.

It also has other advantages; notably, people found using it during the COVID-19 pandemic that they could work better from home. 

Using a cloud backup offers you the best protection now available and is vastly more dependable than other backup services.​ 

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How to clean your printer

POS SOFTWARE

Any printer needs cleaning; over time, everything gets dirty. You will see what is necessary as you will see signs of blurring and skipped lines on the printout. What is happening is the printer is getting a layer of toner and dirt. If you are using a laser, this reduces the beam reaching the drum, making it weaker and diffused. Also what you will see is the number of paper jams increase. This can cause printhead damage and replacement.

Soon the printer will be unusable.

So cleaning your printer is required.

Note:
- If it works well now, do not touch it.
- If it ain't broken, do not fix it.
- Remember, what you are about to do can break your warranty.

What you will need

- I recommend you make a solution of white vinegar and water. I have not found the prepared cleaning solutions any better.
- Microfibers clothes work well.
- A small vacuum cleaner you can get in most electrical shops helps.
- Some small brushes help.
- Some mechanical attribute

Steps to do:-

- Turn off the printer, and take all wires off it before attempting to clean. Wait a while; some printers store electricity, which can spark.

- Now open the printer up.

- Now, with a dry cloth, clean as usual. Avoid any electrical items and all electronics. Do not touch anything electrical. You can damage it.

Don't wipe back and forth because it will be wiped on the cloth and smeared when you go the other way. Get out of that habit.

- Look for dirt and gently lift it. The brushes and vacuum cleaners can help here. The spilled toner, dust, hair, and built-up old paper fragments can gum up your printer and sometimes need some elbow grease to remove.

- Only open what you can. If you take something out, take note of how it is designed and where everything goes while you pull things apart. You are going to have to put it together soon. Clean those items with a dry cloth. Gently wipe. If you need a moist cloth, be careful if it is electrical. This damp cloth must not be wet. Take care to prevent moisture from entering inside the printer.

If toner scatters on you, immediately wash it with cold water and dry yourself.

- Do not worry if you have only done, say, 70%. It should be enough. Better too little than too much.

- Above all, dry everything.

- Now, put it back together again.

- Now clean with a dry cloth outside. In some places, you will need a moist cloth. Careful you do not get any moisture in the gaps around the control panel or panels. For hard-to-remove stains, AJAX is good.

- Now dry the outside.

- Wait a few minutes to let any residual water dry off, and only then turn on the printer.

Besides being less of an eyesore in the shop, a clean printer will print better and last longer.

I hope this helps.

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Tips on battery care

POS SOFTWARE

We sell a lot of portable computers and accessories. What happens is that over time people notice that the batteries do not hold as much charge as before. A similar effect is found in smartphones, electric cars and e-bikes.

What is happening is that the batteries age over time.

Currently, it is with our client, the main cause of replacement of equipment. The problem is that the battery is most of the cost of the device. Add the obsolescence of equipment, and the cost of labour replacement means it is rarely worth fixing. So you do need to look after the battery.

What eats away at battery health is two things.

Heat

The equipment, if not used, should be stored in a cool place; the extremes in temperature should be avoided.

Do not fully charge or drain.

Doing this puts strain on the battery. Aim to have your battery always between 20 per cent and 80 per cent. This is where the adaptive charging we supply on current equipment comes in. This is aimed at reducing the damage that charging cycles have on batteries and so maintaining battery health for as long as possible.

The reality is that batteries do degrade over time but treating your equipment well can give it more life.

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Computers do go down during Christmas.

POS SOFTWARE

Computers do go down during Christmas so test all your computers for the coming holidays. It is much easier to get your computers fixed now than over Christmas. Every computer will fail. It is a matter of time, and the time they like by Murphy's law is the worst possible time: Christmas!

 

Give all your computers a test run now.

Also, make sure your backups are working. Worst case, your computer is replaceable, but your information is not without a backup. With a good backup, we often need to replace the computer, and you can be back up and running in a day.

 

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Ransomware why you need to wipe computers

POS SOFTWARE

Every week one of my clients gets hit by Ransomware. 

This is why if you get hit by Ransomware you may need to wipe the computer.

Those who are not too sure what I am referring to a person who goes to switch on their computer.  They see a new page demanding that they pay money; otherwise, they will lose everything on their computer. This is a typical welcome to Ransomware.

 

To us, it's a weekly occurrence. Some client somewhere has been hit. First, we take a deep breath and ask them do you have a backup? If yes, then we have a chance.

What disturbs me is that we see a change in tactics from ransomware in a few attacks. The ransomware is now firstly embedded in your system. So if we remove the ransomware and put your backup on, you will be working for a short time, and then the ransomware comes back. Then again, it asks for more money. This cycle will not stop. It is a program, and that is how it works.

There is only sure cure now is once a Ransomware hit, the computer should be completely wiped.

Final note: Should you pay if you cannot get your data back? 

By paying, you are contributing to the spread of ransomware. 

If you pay from now on, you are an identified person willing to pay ransoms, so you will be likely to be targeted again. 

I know people that have paid and never got their data.  What are they going to do? Sue them!

Don't Pay!

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Here is a tip on adjusting the monitor settings

POS SOFTWARE

 

Today, your monitor and computer come with a large number of settings. These can tweak your screen to make it look better for you. Many of these controls are standard such as brightness, contrast and colour. Many are quite advanced, and even experts have trouble understanding them.

So I get this question a lot, how to improve the screen.

As a rule, its the contrast that been set too high. Your monitor should not act as a light if it is then it is too high. If you look at it too long, it will hurt your eyes, so turn it down.

If I need more, what I find is that generally, the windows functions adequate, in Windows 10, you will find them in

Select Start > Settings > System > Display

If I want to go deeper, what works for me is to load on the screen a high-quality B/W image and then play with the setting. When I am happy with the B/W image, then I will put a colour image on the screen and check it out with that.

If you want to see a decent discussion on what to do, I recommend this video.

 

 

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Is it worth it to overclocking your computers?

POS SOFTWARE

 

Overclocking is about increasing the speed of your computer. 

What most overclocking get on a modern computer, get I would say at best 5% to 10% better. Often I have seen figures of 1% making it not worth doing. But anyway this is how it works. Computer manufacturer designs a computer with a specification. They then collect the components from many people and puts them together to make a computer. 

Today what happens is that components vary, the manufacturer specifications are the minimum. So, for example, I have parts in storage that can do 100, you want 90, well if I do not have 90, so I may give you some 100s. Some many of these components are better then what was asked by the manufacturer. This happens all the time. We live in a world where we see components vary in the computers in the same production run. 

Also, reputable manufacturer tends to underestimate many of their specifications, to cover themselves. Plus engineers tend to build to the lowest specifications. 

Another point is that a computer designed as an all-rounder, to do a whole lot of tasks. Yet your computer only does a few jobs so may get your computer to run faster by turning off some functions.

So what overclocking does is try to run the computer faster then the processor is designed to do.

Now there was a time when you needed a lot of specialised knowledge to do this but any more. Overclocking software exists that does most of the tasks now. Check your system board and your supplier will have a piece of software that can do it for you. 

But there is always at least one but....

Even if overclocking doesn't do any harm, it could still void your warranty. If you are thinking of overclocking a computer under warranty, you better check with your supplier first.

If you are doing a lot of data processing, most of the speed lost is in the hard drive and its severe bottleneck. So speeding up the processor often does little. 

What you are doing is running your computer faster. This will reduce the life expectancy of your computer. This will also increase your computer's power consumption, which means more heat. So I do suggest if you overclock that you buy a better cooling unit for your computer. 

Why do it, well overclocking your processor speeds up your computer. That's a pretty good reason.

You may as such keep a computer going for another year or so, and if you do it, you will find that its a lot of fun. 

Make sure you do not kill your computer, so start with a "light" overclock. Say about 5%, try it out and see if it works for you. Then when you get the hang of it, go a bit higher but stop at 10% unless you know your stuff.

I overclocked my laptop. It works fine now, but I cannot run chrome on it for long. So I run another browser opera because otherwise, the laptop gets too hot with extended use. As I said, there is often a price to pay.

 

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You need to rebooted your computers once a week

POS SOFTWARE

 

Turning off your computers at night has one immediate benefit, it saves electricity. Generally many never switch off their main computer as it is used after hours. 

The problem here is that happens is that sometimes a windows computer needs a reboot. If this reboot does not happen, weird things can happen.

As such, we recommended that all your computers get reboots regularly, at least once a week. 

- Furthermore, a reboot will flush your memory (RAM). This clears the stuff sitting uselessly in your computer memory, so making it run faster so saving you time. 

- Many software program updates occur when the computer starts up. If you never start the computer up, then they do not happen, and your computer runs old software. 

- Now with the issues on the internet, not doing a reboot will see you missing out on the security patches. 

 

If you want you can set your computer to automatically reboot at a time convenient to your business check out this video.

 

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Is monitoring your harddrives for failure worth it?

POS SOFTWARE

A hard drive is a mechanical device, and it can fail at any time. It does not have to be internal, e.g. overvoltage, high temperature, vibration etc. can do it. 

Today many people are upgrading their main computers to SSD drives for speed. Still, they tend to forget that all hard drives degrade with use.

Yet, it is true that you can see many problems long before they can cause failure. This is true of the SSDs and the older hard drives.

The problem is that Windows if it detects a problem with hard drives fixes it. So a hard drive appears healthy to the user until it dies. Then we heard about it when a client rings us and tells us that something has happened. Then the client discovers that what was valuable was NOT the hard drive but the data stored on it.

It would be best if you had backups - something I have discussed many times. 

If you feel that you need to do is a hard disk test. Many programs can do it for you. Many hard drives come with such programs inbuilt. If not here is one free program that can do it for you. Click here Crystal Disk Info and select the Standard Edition, and run it. It will give you a lot of detail about your harddrive and as well a status report. Here you can see that the hard drive I tested is in a "Caution" status. This means this disk should be changed soon.

If you do replace it, I would recommend an SSDs (Solid-State Drives) both for speed and reliability. 

Note I have never seen a need to run this software continuously or very often, but once in a while is a good idea. 

 

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Pausing Windows updates

POS SOFTWARE

Unfortunately, Microsoft do not have a terrific track record with Windows updates and looking at the current list, I can see little that most of our users really need urgently.

So what you may want to consider doing is pausing your updates, to let other people test the new features first for you. This particularly now, when every computer call center including ours is flat out.

If this is of interest to you then do the following

Select the Start  >  Settings  > Update & Security   > Windows Update

 

Now click pause updates for 7 more days

What this will do is delay your updates from Microsoft for a week so others can check it for you. If you want more details please click here.

 

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Disinfecting your keyboard

POS SOFTWARE

Now with this virus running around it is very important that any equipment eg keyboard used by several people is cleaned regularly. (Industry standard now vary from hourly to once a day). I suppose it depends on high you feel the risk of contamination is likely to be but the front counter of a shop, I am sure rates a very high risk.

As we are not talking here of cleaning but disinfecting, we have a problem as keyboard certainly does not like moisture of any type and yet to disinfect you need liquid.

You need a disinfectant. Antibacterial is not enough. You need something that kills viruses.

Do not use bleach as this causes discolouration.

So do need a non-abrasive cleaning cloth, do not use toilet paper, kitchen wipes might be okay although proper wipes are the best.

In my supermarket, I could not get any antiviral clothes as they sold out, so I went online and found a recipe. I took a small jar and filled it with 3/4 methylated spirits and the rest dishwashing solution. I then found this made a terrific cleaning solution better than the one we were using. Then put in on a cleaning cloth, so it became damp but not dripping and any excess moisture I squeezed from the fabric.

{ Note I am not a doctor so take this advice in this spirit}

Unplug the keyboard. 

Now hold the keyboard upside down if possible and wipe it using some elbow grease carefully. 

Above all, do not get any liquid inside the keyboard.

Now leave the keyboard upside down, as they say, it needs a minute to kill the coronavirus. 

Now dry the keyboard with a kitchen wipe, and then you can use it.

 

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Keyboards are dirty than toilets

POS SOFTWARE

This discussion came out of my last post when some people commented about fixing computers and brought up cleaning.

Everyone is worried now with Coronavirus, here check this video out about China. 

 

Back in Australia, a study was done of bacteria found on standard items.

Look at the keyboard that I highlighted with the red arrow and now compare it to the toilet seat.

 

Interestingly it was shown that women’s desks tended to have more bacteria than men’s. I cannot explain that!

Although I have never seen any studies of point of sale environment, I am sure with shared equipment and   

The overall crux is that we need to use something to clean desks and computer equipment on it. I use an Antibacterial Disinfectant Wipe from the supermarket, which costs a few dollars now and then and has like 600 wipes in our office. 

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