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Read This Before Buying A Secondhand iPhone / iPad

June 1, 2016 Uncategorized Comments Off on Read This Before Buying A Secondhand iPhone / iPad

If you have decided that you want to buy a new iPhone or iPad (or any other electronic device for that matter), but can’t afford a brand new one, secondhand is a great option to consider. People are constantly upgrading their phones and other tech devices and you can pick up some bargains on eBay and Gumtree if you know what to look for.

However, navigating the secondhand ads can be something of a minefield if you haven’t had much experience, and there are a lot of things that you need to be aware of, otherwise you may end up purchasing a very expensive paperweight!

Speaking from personal experience, I have purchased devices before that have ended up being reported as lost,stolen, blacklisted and have decided to document all the knowledge I have learnt as a result of this to hopefully prevent this from happening to other people! (fortunately in my case it was 1 iPhone, which didn’t cost me a huge amount of money, which I was able to re-use some of the components in other repairs for later, so my loss was fortunately minimal)

Read this article before you buy a secondhand electronic device and  you should hopefully save yourself a few headaches!

The main focus on this article will be on iPhones and iPads, however some of these steps are applicable for all mobile phones too.

  1. If not listed in the ad or clearly visible in a photo, contact the seller and ask them for the 15 digit IMEI number of the phone. Every mobile phone (or tablet if it has 4G capabilities) has a unique IMEI number. My general rule here is that is the seller refuses to supply you with this number, move right along and find another ad! From past experience some sellers believe that this number can be used to acquire their personal information. This is not true! There is no link between an IMEI number and any personally identifiable information of the owner of that device!

    So how do I get the IMEI number?

    IMEIiPhoneIf the device is an iPhone, the IMEI number can be found located on the back case of the phone, and also written on the SIM card tray. As the SIM card tray is removable and could possibly be swapped over, I’d recommend referring to the number that’s printed onto the back of the phone case (It’s still possible that the phone case has been swapped but much less likely). If the iPhone is fully functional then you can also get the IMEI number from Settings >> General >> About.

    If the phone is not an iPhone (a Samsung for example …)  you can find the IMEI number on the sticker located under the battery. If its a newer sealed device with a non-removable battery (such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S7), you can get the IMEI number out of the settings on the phone.

    If you successfully managed to acquire the IMEI number for the secondhand device you are trying to purchase, we can move on to step 2 …..

  2. Go to this website and enter in the IMEI number of the device (this is for ALL mobile phones not just iPhones). Make sure that it says “Your IMEI is unblocked”. If the IMEI number shows as blocked, the phone has been blacklisted and will not acquire a signal from any network within Australia. The phone you are buying will be unable to be used to make or receive phone calls if its IMEI is blocked.If your IMEI is unblocked, proceed to step 3!
  3. iCloud Activation Lock (Apple Devices Only) 

    Since the release of iOS 8, Apple devices have a security feature called activation lock (which is also referred to as iCloud lock or “Find My iPhone / Find My iPad”). This allows the original owner of the device to remotely lock the device to prevent it being used by another person in the event that the device is lost or stolen.

    It is extremely important that when you are purchasing a secondhand iPhone or iPad that this feature has been switched off and is fully disabled, otherwise the original owner can lock the device at any time and you will end up with a device that you cannot use. Fortunately Apple have now made a website available where you can check this information, either by using the same IMEI number used in the two steps above or you can alternatively use the serial number of the device (which is located on the back next to the IMEI number, or in the same Settings >> General >> About menu where you can find the IMEI number).

    Go to this website, enter in either the IMEI number of the device or the serial number, enter the confirmation code and click “Continue”. If the website reports that the activation lock is OFF – Fantastic! 🙂

    If the website reports that the activation lock is ON , contact the seller and request that they login to their iCloud account (either through the iCloud website or through the device itself) and disable the “Find My iPad” / “Find My iPhone” option. After they have switched this off, use the same website to check the serial number or IMEI number again and check that the activation lock is now switched OFF.

  4. If all of these above checks pass, the last thing to double check is the “iTunes And App Store” and “iCloud” tabs located in the settings of the phone. Make sure that neither of these screens are showing ANY Apple ID information and are completely empty. This means that it’s ready for you to enter your own Apple ID into and you can guarantee that the phone is fully detached from the previous owners account and will not give you any problems.
  5. Another great tip is that if the seller has reset the device and it is showing the white “Hello” screen ready to be set up again, get the seller to walk through all of these steps before you buy the device. If the device is activation locked, it will ask for the original owners Apple ID BEFORE it gets to the home screen. If the device is reset and all of the initial setup screens go through and you end up at the home screen, you know the phone isn’t activation locked.
  6. Another useful tip if you are actually meeting the seller in person to pick up the device is to get them to put in a SIM card and test calling the phone while you are stood there. The website mentioned earlier in this article for checking whether the IMEI number is blacklisted or not can be outdated by 3-5 business days sometimes, so there is a chance that the phone could still be blacklisted even if the website shows that it isn’t. When a phone gets blacklisted it is an INSTANT process. So by putting a SIM card in the phone and making sure that it successfully can make and receive a phone call before you hand over any money this confirms that it isn’t blacklisted. Of course, this extra tip isn’t possible if you’re buying the phone through eBay or elsewhere online.

Hopefully this article has proven useful and shall help anyone who is looking to purchase a secondhand device 🙂

Are Your OSX Yosemite Time Machine Backups Broken? Here’s How To Fix Them!

July 6, 2015 Backups, Mac OSX Comments Off on Are Your OSX Yosemite Time Machine Backups Broken? Here’s How To Fix Them!
OSX Yosemite Time Machine Backup Fix

Time Machine In OSX Yosemite is a great easy-to-use backup solution ……. when it works properly!

On the MacBook Pro which I use to manage approximately 300 iPads , my time machine backups stopped working after upgrading to OSX 10.10 Yosemite several months ago. As you can imagine , this left me quite nervous ……. as if the hard drive crashed I’d have to re-supervise and re-configure every single iPad (they get “tied” to the one Mac that is used to manage them)

Time machine was working perfectly fine with OSX 10.9 Mavericks , but after the upgrade I was left unable to browse through any of my Time Machine backups , and attempting to create a new backup would simply freeze forever at the “Waiting To Complete First Backup” message.

Furthermore, the Time Machine preferences window would report the correct amount of drive space had been used on the drive (so it looked like it had backed up) , but the “Date Of Last Backup” wouldn’t change.

Seeing as the only use for this particular external hard drive that I was using was for the Time Machine backups , I thought I would just reformat the drive with Disk Utility and start from scratch ….. No such luck!

Even reformatting the external hard drive so it was blank , and starting Time Machine again still caused the backups to break , it would copy all the files to the drive and then hang at “Waiting To Complete First Backup” . Attempting to browse the backup using  Time Machine resulted in an error message, and the files weren’t accessible. (I tried both encrypted and non-encrypted Time Machine backups – Same issue!)

This seems to be a pretty common occurrence, with many people reporting exactly the same issue on the Apple SUpport Forums and elsewhere around the internet. I searched every where for a fix ………. and finally came up with a solution!

Read on to find out how to finally fix your broken OSX Yosemite Time Machine backups once and for all …..

Note: You may need to do all of the steps below, only several of them, or perhaps only even 1. This is everything I did and the problem was resolved but some of the steps may not be necessary.

  1. Format the hard drive you want to use for Time Machine in Disk Utility. Apple has a great tutorial on how to do this here. Just have 1 partition on the drive.
  2. Go to System Preferences > Time Machine and turn Time Machine OFF by clicking the switch on the left.
  3. Load up Finder and click on “Go” from the top menu bar. Then click “Go to Folder” (It’s near the bottom)
  4. Type /Library/Preferences and click “Go”
  5. In the window that appears, find the file named com.apple.TimeMachine.plist and delete it (Move to trash)
  6. Restart your Mac
  7. After the Mac has restarted, go back into System Preferences > Time Machine
  8. Switch Time Machine back to ON
  9. Click “Select Disk” and choose your external hard drive which you formatted in step 1.
  10. The Time Machine backup should begin after a 120 second countdown , or you may start it manually by clicking the Time Machine icon in the Menu bar and selecting “Back Up Now”
  11. The first backup will take a while as it copies the whole contents of your Mac to the drive. When it’s finished this time however , it shouldn’t hang on the “Waiting To Complete First Backup” message. Instead you should get a message like the one below.
    OSX Yosemite Time Machine Fixed
  12. Time Machine now correctly reports the “Date Of Last Backup” , and all your future backups will work properly and be able to be browsed for recovery!

Note: Only the first backup takes a long time due to everything being copied to the Time Machine drive. All subsequent backups just back up files which have changed since the last backup , so are therefore much quicker than the initial backup.

Western Digital My Passport Data Recovery – A Very Complicated And Expensive Process!

May 20, 2015 Data Recovery Comments Off on Western Digital My Passport Data Recovery – A Very Complicated And Expensive Process!

Western Digital My Passport UltraWestern Digital My Passport data recovery is amongst one of the most complex things i have come across so far … especially with the newer My Passport Ultra drives.

In the last month alone , I have been brought 3 external hard drives for data recovery purposes. All 3 were Western Digital “My Passport” external drives (1 My Passport, 1 My Passport For Mac and 1 My Passport Ultra).

While this fact in itself is simply not enough to stop me recommending them to people , the process which then followed (and at the time of writing, is still in progress) is enough to discourage me from ever buying one again.

All 3 drives would not spin up when connected to a computer, but the USB activity light would still flash. Windows would recognize that a USB device had been plugged in , but no software could actually locate the drive and find any files on it!

In my experience of data recovery so far, a drive being unable to spin up is usually due to it either being subjected to a large amount of force (i.e dropped) or a power problem (such as the enclosure not supplying enough power to spin up the drive). None of the drives which were brought to me had been dropped or damaged in any way, they simply “stopped working”.

When people bring me external hard drives that have suddenly stopped working, there is a greater-than-50% chance that the fault is normally caused by the hard drive enclosure and not with the internal drive that actually contains the data. Over time and with general “wear and tear”, it is extremely possible for the USB connection to become loose or snap entirely.

This is a very common problem and a very straightforward solution. The drive can essentially be opened up , the internal drive removed from the faulty enclosure , and affordably transferred into a new enclosure for minimal cost , and without affecting any of the files on the drive.

and this is where things got difficult ….

After having previous success by swapping the hard drive enclosure and recovering data, I decided to go ahead and crack open the WD My Passport, only to be very quickly disappointed. (For those interested see here for a disassembly video, not of my making but its a similar process for most My Passport drives)

In an attempt to cut costs, Western Digital now integrate the USB port directly onto the main circuit board of the hard drive, instead of it being attached to a separate board which you can separate the internal drive from (and these circuit boards are completely unique to each individual hard drive!)

This prevents the drive from being connected up to another system and you can’t eliminate a fault with the USB port , making for a very expensive, time consuming and complicated repair to attempt the data recovery process.

Going from the currently available selection of external hard drives available through Dick Smith & JB HiFi , I would recommend choosing a Toshiba or Seagate external hard drive over the Western Digital My Passport series , as these drives still use traditional hard drives without any proprietary connections which will make and future data recovery much more affordable.

2 of my 3 customers who brought the drives to me decided that the Western Digital My Passport data recovery process was too risky and not worth the associated costs , my 3rd customer has chosen to go ahead with the related repair procedure (which is handled by an overseas data recovery company) I will update this post and report back with the results in a couple of weeks.

How To Install Microsoft Security Essentials On Server 2012

January 4, 2015 Security, Software Comments Off on How To Install Microsoft Security Essentials On Server 2012

By default, Windows Server 2012 doesn’t come with any security software “out of the box” , and pretty much all free and paid consumer security products will not allow you to install them.

However, there IS a way to get Microsofts free “Security Essentials” suite up and running under Windows Server 2012. And any antivirus has to be better than none at all!

Follow the steps below and you’ll have Microsoft Security Essentials up and running on Windows Server 2012 in no time!

  1.  Firstly, download the full installer and save it somewhere on your computer. Click here for the 32 Bit installer and Click here for the 64 bit installer.
  2. Right click on the “mseinstall.exe” file that you saved in the previous step. Go to “Properties” and click on the “Compatibility” tab. Change the compatibility to “Windows 7” (see image below) , and click OK twice to close the properties box.
  3. Open a command prompt with Administrator privileges. To do this, hold down the “Shift” key on your keyboard and right click in the same location as where you saved the installation file in step one, you’ll see an option in the menu that says “Open Command Prompt Here” – Click that!
  4. Type mseinstall /disableoslimit (see image below) , then press Enter.
  5. The “/disableoslimit” command stops the installer throwing an error saying that you can’t install Security Essentials on Server 2012. The installation will then proceed as normal and in a couple of minutes you’ll be running Microsoft Security Essentials on Server 2012! 🙂

Microsoft Security Essentials On Server 2012Microsoft Security Essentials On Server 2012

November 10, 2014 Network Admin Tips Comments Off on How To Connect Wireless Before Login – Windows 7 Domains

In a domain network environment, it’s common for users (especially with mobile devices) to want to login to the network wirelessly. This presents a big problem under Windows 7 , as the laptop needs to be connected to the network to successfully authenticate the username and password required to login – it’s a catch 22 scenario!
Fortunately, there is a solution! Follow the steps below to allow your Windows 7 machines to automatically connect to the wireless network BEFORE login, allowing users to connect to the domain without having to plug in a network cable.

1. The first step is to login to the laptop, ideally as an administrator (using a wired Ethernet connection as the wireless login isn’t working at this stage).

2. After logging in, you need to create a wireless profile for your wireless network. Please refer to this article on Microsofts website for an excellent step-by-step guide on how to do this:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-au/windows/create-modify-network-profiles#1TC=windows-7

3. Load up Notepad on your computer and copy and paste the code below into a new blank document. Substitute the “profile name” in the below code with the name of the wireless profile that you created in the previous step.

Note: Make sure you copy the entire code below, including both of the ending “” quotation marks.

reg add “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run” /v “WirelessPreLogon” /t REG_SZ /d “%COMSPEC% /c NETSH WLAN CONNECT NAME=” “profile name”

4. Restart the computer. As long as the wireless is switched on (some laptops have a switch to turn the wireless on and off), the computer will now automatically connect to the wireless network before the login prompt, allowing users to login to the domain wirelessly. If you have a lot of computers in your organization , you can use a Group Policy to distribute this setting across your network.

D-Link DSL-2740B Firmware v2.07 Australia Causes Slow Internet Speeds

October 23, 2013 Internet Problems Comments Off on D-Link DSL-2740B Firmware v2.07 Australia Causes Slow Internet Speeds

 

I have recently been experiencing some very strange problems with my home internet service. I’m with Adam Internet and usually get around 9MB-10MB sync speeds from my D-Link DSL-2740B ADSL2+ Wireless Modem Router. This problem appears to be caused by the DSL-2740B Firmware.

Initially , my modem was running on firmware version 2.02 EU (Europe Firmware) – Possibly because it was purchased on eBay? This all worked fine but I thought I’d get better performance out of flashing the Australian Firmware (WRONG!)

There appears to be an apparent bug in the latest available firmware from the D-Link support site (v2.07 AU Download Here, I have the F1 revision of the modem)

After upgrading to v2.07 I encountered the following issues:

  • My Internet sync speed DROPPED –  9MB-10MB to 6MB-7MB! – 30% Slower!!
  • I was suddenly unable to “Multitask” on my network. I run a business from home and back on the old firmware I could comfortable throw quite a lot at my network. I could download lots of Windows updates on one machine , watch a HD Youtube video on another and browse on another quite comfortably. On v2.07 , the whole connection dropped to an unusable speed when i downloaded 100MB worth of updates on a clients laptop. I couldn’t even browse until it had finished the download , and then the speed resumed to normal.
  • We have one MacBook in the house – this would frequently disconnect from the wireless (never used to happen on the old firmware either)

The Solution:

What i ended up doing to resolve this problem was looking on the D Link support site (Australia) for another firmware version. On the DSL-2740B you can comfortably switch firmware , regardless of region i.e Europe/America/Australia/Other by switching off the modem , and then holding down the reset button on the back while powering it on.

A simple browse on the pc to the default router address of http://192.168.1.1 brings up an “emergency firmware flash” page. Please note that the exact appearance of this page will vary according to the current region/firmware version running on your modem.

D Link Emergency Firmware

 

 

 

 

The only other available update on the Australian site was v2.04 (Download Here). 2 Minutes later and the update was complete. Remember that flashing the firmware resets the modem , so it will have to be reconfigured with your connection settings and your wireless network will have to be set up again etc. I just used all the same details as last time.

Back on v2.04 , lo-and-behold …. my network can handle a bit of strain again (Mac watching Youtube, PC watching YouTube in HD , downloading a 4GB installer file and downloading 120 windows updates on a machine i’m fixing ALL AT THE SAME TIME + I can still browse the net at a comfortable speed)  , no dropouts from the Macbook and my sync speed jumped back up to a much more reasonable and extremely stable 9MB!

I’ve reported this issue to D Link Australia and have directed them towards this post. Will update if they get back to me!

New Server + New Website Design!

February 22, 2013 Website Maintenance and Updates Comments Off on New Server + New Website Design!

Firstly, I would like to apologise to anyone who was inconvenienced by our downtime between February 19th and February 21st.

During this time, our server was being migrated over to a super fast VPS (Virtual Server).

As I am sure you have noticed, our site load times are now incredibly fast! We hope that the faster server along with our improved website redesign will mean that we are able to offer a wider range of services more efficiently than what we could before.

There are plans to add lots of new features to the website over the coming weeks, so watch this space! If there are any features which you would like us to add, please leave a comment below and we’ll consider it!

Samsung Galaxy S3 Battery Drain Fix For Jelly Bean

January 31, 2013 Mobile Phones Comments Off on Samsung Galaxy S3 Battery Drain Fix For Jelly Bean

 Samsung Galaxy S3 Battery Drain Fix For Jelly Bean.

Galaxy S3 Battery Drain Fix For Jelly BeanJust over a month ago, I woke up on Christmas morning and switched on my Galaxy S3 to find that I had a christmas present from Samsung waiting for me – The long awaited update notification saying I could upgrade from Android v4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich up to v4.1.1 Jelly Bean!! icon biggrin Samsung Galaxy S3 Battery Drain Fix For Jelly Bean

The main reason for my excitement about this upgrade was Google’s “Project Butter” which significantly improves the responsiveness of what was already a fast device. I had also heard about the Google Now functionality (similar to Apple’s Siri on the iPhone) but this wasn’t a huge deal for me.

So I connected up to Wi-Fi , waited patiently and 20 minutes or so later my phone was running on steroids! (The update had finished).

After 12 hours or so , the first issue became apparant. My battery was not lasting anywhere near as long as it did on Ice Cream Sandwich!

I leave my phone on practically 24/7 – I have an alarm set so it always stays on at night. To prevent being disturbed by any prank calls etc I switch on Flight Mode for the night and then switch it off when I wake up to conserve my battery. On v4.0.4 I lost around 6% during 9 hours. More than acceptable.

After the upgrade though, I switched my phone to flight mode as usual , went to sleep and 9 hours later woke up to find that the battery had drained 45%!!! and that was with flight mode on! This is obviously a problem – at least once I almost was late for work due to the phone going flat in the middle of the night and as a result my alarm not going off. Read on for the Samsung Galaxy S3 Battery Drain Fix though …. icon smile Samsung Galaxy S3 Battery Drain Fix For Jelly Bean

After a lot of Googling, it seemed that it was quite a common problem between S3 users, regardless of country or network.

What appears to be the main culprit of the problem is that the new Google Now feature consistently requests your phones location in order to provide you map directions etc in real-time. However, this is not necessary as whenever you load up a map – the phone checks your location then.

What you need to do is load up Maps and press the menu button. Select “Settings” and then “Location Settings”. Click on “Location Reporting” and then choose “Do not update your location”

As it wasn’t really a feature I was bothered about , I turned off Google Now too by loading it up , pressing the menu key , then “Settings” and sliding the top button to switch it off.

I then charged my phone to a full 100% and it has currently dropped 6% in 2 hours (without Flight mode on) – So this looks promising. I will update this post in the morning after seeing how much battery I lose tonight with flight mode enabled.

While i was researching the cause of the problem, Factory Reset was also suggested many times but I really didn’t want to go through all that. I may try this option after evaluating now i’ve disabled Google Now and Location Reporting.

I hope this post helps all my fellow-S3 users suffering from the battery drain issue.

Welcome to the Aberfoyle Park PC Repairs Blog

January 25, 2013 Website Maintenance and Updates Comments Off on Welcome to the Aberfoyle Park PC Repairs Blog

Hello and a warm welcome to our new blog.

I have been meaning to start blogging for a very long time but it’s one of those things which I never seem to have gotten around to.

I’ll be using this blog to provide interesting technology-related news and to review hardware. I’ll probably end up covering a lot more than that , but thats my initial starting point.

I will also be posting promotional offers for my business. More information about that can be found on my website: www.aberfoyleparkpcrepairs.com.au

Thanks for reading, I really hope that you enjoy reading my blog and I will try and add lots of interesting content for you all to read very soon!

Alex Smallwood

Owner, Aberfoyle Park PC Repairs