A small blackboard with the text, "Set up a group email list in Roundcube" written on it.
Tools & Tips, Tutorials

Create a group email list in Roundcube

An email list enables you to send the same message to a group of people. For example, you might want to send messages to a list of family members, club members, or a social group.

If you’ve changed host and were using the webmail package on your host’s server rather than a local application like Outlook or Thunderbird, you will need to recreate your lists in the webmail application provided by your new host.

With our hosting packages you can choose one of three webmail applications (Horde, Roundcube, and SquirrelMail). The instructions in this article describe how to create a group email list in Roundcube, which is the email software I recommend to clients.

To create a group email list in Roundcube, do the following:

Login to your webmail account.

You can access webmail by typing your domain name followed by /webmail, for example, www.yourdomain.com/webmail.

Open your address book.

Click the Contacts button, which is located at the top right of the screen underneath your account name.

Create a new group.

Click the + symbol at the bottom of the Group column.Give your new group a name, then click Save.

Add your existing contacts to the group.

To add a contact that is already in your address book, click on Personal Addresses and drag the name of the person over to the group list name. If you need to add a contact not listed in your address book, see Step 5 below.

Add your new contacts to the group.

Click on the group name to make sure it is selected (in the example below, the group name is My Group List). Click the + symbol at the bottom of the My Group List box, fill out the form with the new contact’s details, then click Save. Repeat until all the new contacts are added.

With all your contacts added, you’re ready to send an email to the group.

Note: When you click the group name, all the email addresses will be visible in the To box of the email you are sending. It is a good idea to use the BCC box for group emails like this, as this protects the email addresses of everyone in the group.

If you are trying to create a group email list in Roundcube and need help or have issues with any other aspect of your home or business IT, read about the range of services we offer to find out how we can help, and get in touch.

Three piles of coins, getting large, with small plants sprouting from the piles, symbolising growth, and the title French Admin Guide: How to submit your quarterly declaration online
Tools & Tips, Tutorials

How to Submit your Declaration Online as an ME in France

Anyone registered as a micro-entrepeneur (or “ME”) in France is required to a submit a declaration (Déclaration Trimestrielle de Recettes), which is used to determine the amount of cotisations (social charges) you will pay. You can choose do this monthly or, as I prefer, quarterly. These declarations and the amounts you are required to pay (called cotisations) are separate from taxation and are your “social charges” (called “national insurance” or “social security” in other parts of the world) are based on the amount of money you’ve been paid during the period you are declaring for. The good news is this can all be done online and, as long as you’ve been keeping on top of your income, it’s pretty quick and easy to do.

In this article I’ll walk you through the steps to do this online via the main Auto Entrepreneur website. The steps assume that you’ve already registered and have an online account with them.

This article is now out of date. The website has been updated so the steps are a little different – but the principal is the same.

When should I make my declaration?

The quarters align with the January to December tax year, so:

  • January, February, and March are the 1éme trimestre (first quarter.)
  • April, May, and June are the 2éme trimestre (second quarter.)
  • July, August, September are the 3éme trimestre (third quarter.)
  • October, November, December are the 4éme trimestre (fourth quarter.)

What amount should I report?

The end of the quarter is always a good time (if you haven’t already done it) to tie up your receipts with your bank account and make sure your cashbook is all up-to-date.

Once everything’s in order you should have a single amount as the total were paid in the quarter. This means the total amount of payments received in this period. It doesn’t matter when you invoiced a client; it’s when you were paid by them. Remember to include cash payments, and any payments to PayPal. And as an ME you can’t deduct costs, so that’s the amount you were paid by your client, not how much you received after fees or other costs have been deducted (e.g., Etsy or PayPal fees.)

If you’re operating in more than one of the three ME categories (professional liberale, artisan, and/or commercant) you will need a total for the quarter payments to each of your business types. You account for them separately because they are treated differently with respect to tax and allowances for purchases, so this is a worthwhile exercise as well as a legal requirement.

You need to log in in the month after the end of the quarter you need to report on. So in April you submit the info for the first quarter, then in July for the second quarter, and so on.

You do need to wait until the end of the quarter to submit this information. If you try and submit it before then you will struggle because the option won’t be available. When you log in when the system is ready, it will automatically open at the declaration page. That’s how you know it’s time.

Ready? Let’s try.

Make your Quarterly Declaration Online

Step 1. Login to your account on the Auto Entrepreneur website. You can do this using your email address (courriel) or your 13-digit social security number (N° de Sécurité sociale), which you can find on your carte vitale.

The login screen on the URSAFF Auto-Entrepreneur website

Step 2. If any cotisations are due (usually on the 1st of January, April, July, and October, for the preceding quarter), the first page you will go to is the Déclaration Trimestrielle de Recettes. This shows your name, your SIRET number, and your category. Here’s the info on my account.

The screen for submitting your Quarterly Declaration

Step 3. Under Declaration, enter the amounts you have earned in the appropriate box.

There are three rows, which correspond to the different categories of business: professional liberale, artisan, and commercant. You fill out the boxes according to the amount you’ve made in the previous quarter under the category for each regime. This is because, although many people are only registered under one category, it is possible to be registered for more than one type of business.

When you put a number into one of more of these boxes, the lower section labelled Montant á payer, updates to show the amounts you are expected to pay. After you submit your declaration, the the amount shown under the heading Télépaiement will be taken automatically from your linked business bank account, usually in the first week of following month.

If you need to make changes to your account details, click on the blue text that says Ajouter un compte bancaire and then follow the instructions.

The automated form that updates to shows the amount to be paid and from which account.

Step 4. Submit the Form

When you’re happy with the information this page, click Valider la télédéclaration to submit the form. This will take you to a confirmation page which gives you a record of the quarterly declaration you just made. Print this page and/or save a PDF to your computer to keep for your accounts.

It will also indicate when the payment will be taken from your account. Take note of this and make sure you have the funds in your account on that date.

That’s it, you’re done!

If you are trying to navigate online systems and business-related IT and need help or have issues with any other aspect of your home or business IT, read about the range of services we offer to find out how we can help, and get in touch.

A chalk board with the text: Use SkyFonts with Inkscape
Tools & Tips

Link SkyFonts to Inkscape

Two pieces of free software I like to use are SkyFonts, a font manager that you use to manage any non-system fonts downloaded from Google Fonts or Font.com, and Inkscape, a free vector graphics tool that is a good freeware substitute for Adobe Illustrator. I find Inkscape to more akin to the old Corel Draw vector software, which I always found more intuitive than Illustrator. But of course this is freeware, which means sometimes workarounds are necessary to accomplish a few tasks that you might take for granted when using paid for software. One such task is linking the SkyFonts manager to Inkscape.

By default, fonts that you add into SkyFonts won’t show up in the fonts list in Inkscape. This is because Inkscape looks in your %USERPROFILE%/.fonts directory for your typefaces. For Inkscape to find typefaces stored in your SkyFonts directory, you just need to creat a symlink.

To do this:

  1. Launch the command prompt.
  2. Type cd.. and hit return, and repeat until you get to the root directory (usually C:).
  3. Type (or copy) this command at the prompt: 
    mklink /D "%USERPROFILE%\.fonts" "%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Monotype\skyfonts-google"
  4. Hit Return and the symlink has been created.
  5. Check your list of fonts in Inkscape, and you should now see all your SkyFonts listed.

That’s it!

Are you looking for software advice or troubleshooting advice? Contact me for help and advice.

Some black and white lever arch folders on a shelf
Tools & Tips, Basics, Computer Maintenance

4 Ways to Backup Your Files and Prevent Data Loss

Whether you’re using your computer for business or just for personal stuff, the chances are there are files, photographs and other pieces of info (passwords, etc.) that you don’t want to lose. If you want to be sure you have it all, should the worst happen, are you prepared?

When did you last back up your files and folders?

We all know that computers go wrong, sometimes permanently, but in recent years they’ve become so stable and reliable many of us take it for granted that this won’t happen to us. If you can’t remember the last time you manually backed up your system – or checked that your backup tools are working as they should – this post is for you!

This reminder is timely because lately there are lots of people who fallen fowl of the latest Windows 10 update. Yes, you read that right. Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, pushed an operating system update to all their users which corrupted the hardware on some computers. One day everything was fine, the next, not so. Thank you Microsoft. It’s unlikely any big corporations were caught out by this as usually large IT departments will test a bunch of updates before rolling them out across the company so it’s mostly likely small business owners and personal computer users that are taking the hit.

Luckily, some of the people impacted had solutions in place. Others thought all was well but discovered, too late, that their backup software had failed for reasons unknown so their files hadn’t backing up files automatically. And then there are those who hadn’t thought about backups, finding out the hard way how important they are.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that this won’t happy to Mac users either. A Mac is still just a computer at the end of the day, albeit a very shiny (and usually expensive!) one. In most cases, at least where the Windows 10 update was the probably cause, data can be recovered (at a price) but what if it were some other issue and the data was gone? Accidents happen, as do power surges, and broken Window’s updates! Furthermore computer components reach their natural end. What do you stand to lose if your computer just doesn’t work the next time you try and start it up?

Luckily there are bunch of ways you can ensure your data is backed up and secured away from your local working environment. See which of these methods work best for you then stick to it.

1. Do it all your self

If you’re going DIY with this you need to set a regular backup schedule. Don’t forget! It’s a boring but necessary job that’s it’s up there with clearing your gutters or getting your car serviced. 

Decide what you need to back up and where you will back up to (a separate hard disk, network attached storage, a disc, or a simple USB key). Once you have a plan devise a system. Write it down. Do the same thing everytime. Put the date in your diary. Don’t forget!

To make things easier you can use some helpful freeware like SyncBack, which enables you to create backup or synchronisation profiles. These can save a lot of time by allowing you to back up a collection of files or folders to a pre-defined space. I don’t use this so much now but when I was studying I kept all my files on a USB key, which I then used a SyncBack profile to sync my working files to a folder on whatever computer I was working on at the time. It’s simple to set up and then you don’t need to worry about whether you missed anything important. Just remember to create a new profile or modify your existing profiles when you’ve created new storage locations.

2. Store files locally, but backup to the Cloud

We’re all in the habit of saving files to our hard disks. Many of the programs we use regularly are more flexible and feature-rich than cloud-based equivalents, and some cloud-based apps are expensive (Adobe, for example.)

Dropbox started the trend here but now there are plenty of alternatives for cloud-based storage that will sync to local folders on your laptop, tablet or phone. The advantage of these over any manual approach is that you connect multiple devices to a single account, meaning there’s a single online repository for all your files and folders.

Aside from Dropbox, there’s Google Sync, which is great for users on any platform. f you were using Google Drive before Windows 10 came out and it stopped working, it’s worth revisiting Google Sync & Backup, which now seems reliable – mine backs-up every time I power-up the laptop. It slows things down for a while, so if that’s a problem it’s useful to be able to pause it, but usually I just leave it running because once it’done it’s done. 

For Mac users there’s always iCloud and for all users there are many other paid options, depending on how much security you want/need and how much storage space.

If you’re backing up photos paid for space can quickly get expensive. An alternative then is to keep your paid for storage (or free quota, if that’s enough) for data and use something free like Flickr, which has an auto-uploader feature: just open the app on your phone and, if configured correctly, your photos will start to upload. Just run it when you go to bed and you photos and videos will be fully backed up by morning. Easy peasy.

3. Use the Cloud, always

Then there’s the option of doing everything in the cloud. If you’re happy to keep all your files online and do away with local copies of software, you can decide to create and store all your files and documents in the cloud. This won’t work for photographs of course – they are always created in another platform and always need to be moved or duplicate din order to ensure you have digital copies – but for text content or spreadsheets, this might be the solution for you.

Google Docs and Sheets is one such option. When you create any files using Google Docs copies are always stored to Drive. This means they’re always accessible – and you can still create or download local copies if you really want or need to.

Likewise, there are many online software platforms to help with managing your business. There’s Trello for project management, Wave for managing your accounts, Harvest for time recording and invoice (you can also use Wave for invoicing but I prefer Harvest). It’s also a good idea to keep your email “in the cloud” – so use Gmail or, if you have a custom domain, the webmail utility that is enabled for that domain by your host. If security is a concern there’s always Protonmail, which guarantees end-to-end encryption on all your messages.

Most of these tools are totally free, so for no cost you can keep your files away from your local drive. No backups needed!

4. Don’t forget your website!

And, if you’re running a business with an online presence, don’t forget your website! If someone manages your site for you, check with them when backups happen and where they are stored. This may be something they initiate for you or something that is automated but either way you need to know where you can find a copy of your website if something goes wrong. A website lives on a server, which is just another name for a computer, so as with all computers, sometimes these things go wrong. Your site or the server could be hacked or corrupted. And then what? You’d still own your domain but your site, your content, your online presence would be gone in a flash!

Luckily there are some very simple solutions for automating site backups. How you do it will depend on how your site is hosted (private server or web builder platform, being the main two) and what plugins or apps are available. Speak to whoever manages your site for you – and if you don’t have anyone, give me a call!

Do you need help with this or any other aspect of your personal or small business computing? Get in touch to find out how I can help.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Social Media, Tools & Tips

Facebook Pages vs. Profiles for Business

I’ve seen quite a few tech groups talking about Facebook pages lately. These discussions have come about because members of the various communities I participate in online have been impacted negatively by following this advice from a number of online “influencers” who are encouraging anyone setting up a business to do this via a Profile. This could mean running your business through your personal profile or creating a business-specific profile. An example of using a personal profile would be if Joe Bloggs sells his homemade cosmetics under his own name or creates a separate business profile called Joe Bloggs Cosmetics. Whether you do one or the other of these things, neither is recommended. In fact, you absolutely should not be doing either of these things.

The reason this is an absolute no-no is because the Facebook terms and conditions actually prohibit using Profiles for business purposes. Use them to share information about your family, friends, hobbies, whatever – but it has to be personal information.

To comply with the Facebook Ts & Cs, if you’re running a business it should be via a Page or a Group. Failing to do this is resulting in some small businesses built entirely around Facebook having their profiles shut down by Facebook. Usually if this happens they notify you – but once it’s done there’s almost nothing you can do about it. If this happens, just like that all your business contacts, all the information you’ve shared, the reputation you’ve worked hard to create – along with any personal information, such as images and updates – vaporise. For any small business this scenario would be a disaster.

So how can you avoid this happening to you?

First and foremost, do not use a Facebook Profile as the primary online platform for your business. For Facebook you must create a Page. It’s really very simple to do and also has the advantage that you can manage it via the Facebook Page app, making it easy to separate work and home, reduce distractions (you’ll only see alerts relating to your page not that your Great Aunt likes your cat photo) and also keeping your personal information hidden. 

In my view the safest way to use social media is to own the data yourself and use social media as a way of sharing it, not as the main show. So create a website that you own the content for, that you control, that you can back up, that you can build a following around, and use social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, as a way of sharing that information and building a buzz around it. Even with a Page rather than a Profile, Facebook still own all that information and can take it away just like that.

It’s so much part of life these days that we take it for granted. If you’re going to put all that time and effort into marketing yourself online you also owe it to yourself to ensure that effort is futured-proofed as much as possible.  

Image credit: iStock.com/marchmeena29

If you need help with this or any other aspect of your home or business IT, contact me to arrange a free consultation.

Tools & Tips

Your Website and GDPR: Privacy Policy and Consent

In my previous post, Are You GDPR Ready?, I suggested seven steps you should take to get ready for GDPR. In this post I’ll address numbers two and three:
How to Publish a Privacy Policy on your site to gain your user’s consent and Implement an Opt-In policy.

Publish Your Privacy Policy

Step 1:  Write Your Privacy Policy

Yes, the first thing to do, if you don’t already have one, is to write the policy. The new regulations advise businesses to use ordinary language so the best way to do this is to write it yourself. Take a look at the one on this site and also take a look at others, ideally for businesses similar to your own. Assuming you’ve done your audit already, you should understand exactly what data you have, how and why you use it, and where and how it is stored. All of that information needs to go into your policy document.

Step 2: Publish the Privacy Policy

To publish this to your site, create a new page for your website or blog and copy the policy text there.

It’s good practice to make this easy to find, so add a link to it from your website’s menu or somewhere out of the way but not hidden, like the page footer.

Step 3: Share Your Privacy Policy with Visitors to Your Site

If you have a website built around one of the many CRM platforms – Joomla, WordPress, SquareSpace, or Wix – the developers are ahead of the game, and there are a number of plugins that will make your work easier.

This site, based on WordPress, uses the plugin called GDPR by TrewKnowledge. It’s easy to set up and requires linking to your privacy policy page and some text added for the cookie consent popups. It has a bunch of other advanced features that you can use, if you need to.

Search Google and you can easily find similar tools for the other platforms listed above. If you’re not sure what any of this means, ask your web developer for help but don’t ignore the issue! It’s a necessary step in ensuring your site (and therefore your business) is compliant.

If you’ve got a static website, the simplest way to do this is make your new privacy policy page the landing page for your site. That way you know anyone who visits your site will have read it. Create a link to your main site, hidden behind the policy page, and require them to click link text that makes it clear that by clicking on the link to accept the site they accept the policy.

The downside of this approach is that it’s fairly unsophisticated: anyone visiting the site again will again be taken to the same policy page and will be required to consent on each repeat visit.

Implement an Opt-In Policy

If you collect email addresses for a mailing list or use forms, you need to ensure that users opt-in to any use of or storage of their data.

Opt-In to Mailing Lists

Most mailing list forms require the user to enter their name and email address before clicking a button to submit the form. Make sure that your text explicitly states how this information will be used (e.g., “in order to send you the weekly newsletter”, or whatever) whether or not it will be shared with or used by third parties, and anything else relevant to the person signing up in order that they can consent to it. You then need to ensure that any emails that are sent to the list, including any welcome message, makes it clear how the person who has signed up unsubscribes. That’s pretty standard stuff these days, but it’s worth checking that you have your house in order.

Opt-In for Forms

For contact forms, you must add a check box alongside a statement requiring consent for the data you provide to be used and stored. It’s also worth putting a link to your privacy policy but that alone is not good enough: you need to spell it out to the user there and then, in order that they can consent. An example of this is to say: “By submitting this form you consent to [company name] using and storing my information in order to respond to my inquiry.”

As with anything, there is more you can do but for small business and organisations it’s unlikely they will be necessary.

Disclaimer: This information is intended as guidance only. It is not a substitute for legal advice and is based on personal research conducted by the of the author. Ensuring your business is GDPR compliant is the responsibility of your Data Controller. 

Now read part 3 in this series.

In the next post find out how to makes sure files you create and store, on your laptop or other device, are secure.

Image credit: iStock.com/oatawa

Do you need help? Contact me now to arrange a personalised tech support or training session.
Tools & Tips

Spring Clean Your System: Part One

Clean Up Your Hard Drive

Regularly cleaning your computer’s hard drive, removing unwanted and outdated files, is an important computer maintenance task that can be easily overlooked but that is quick to do and has lots of benefits in terms of security and the smooth-running of your equipment.

When we use our computers – writing documents, editing photos, checking our e-mails, browsing the Internet, or whatever – the programmes that we use create and store temporary files that build up unless we manually delete them. Sometimes these introduce security vulnerabilities but more often than not they just fill up the computer and slow it down. They’re a fact of life; the computing equivalent of that fluff ball that always appears in the corner of the room.

There are various free tools we can use to remove them, all of them safe and secure. In this post, the first in the Spring Clean Your System series, I guide you step-by-step through the process of cleaning out the junk files. In this post we’ll be using CCleaner, which is a free application you find online.

Install and Run CCleaner

The very first task, if you haven’t already got the program on your computer, is to download and install CCleaner

Once this is done, open the CCleaner application.

When you first open it you will see that there is a list of programs under the Windows tab, a menu on the left hand side, and a Check for Updates link on the bottom right.

If this isn’t the first time you’ve used CCleaner, click Check for Updates and update the program before using it, to ensure you have the latest version.

Run CCleaner on Windows and your Applications

When you first open the application, the options that are selected are the recommended defaults for cleaning, so you see things like Internet Cache, Internet History, etc. apps selected. There are also a number of options that aren’t selected and are slightly greyed out underneath those that are checked. I usually check these but whether you do this or not is up to you. I would recommend you leave the as they are and just go ahead with the defaults. This will give you system a good clean but will also keep some of the useful data that is stored, such as Saved Passwords and Autocomplete Forms History, intact. Of course, if you’re happy to delete that information, go ahead and tick those extra boxes.


The same goes for the Applications tab; just leave the defaults as they are unless you want do a very deep clean, which would mean also deleting some potentially useful data, like stored passwords.

To run the application, make sure your Internet browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) is closed. If a browser window is open you will get an error when you try to run CCleaner as it won’t be able to clean the files associated with it.

Click the Analyze button. This does a dummy clean, which you can check before doing it for real. With this in progress, the Analyze button changes to a Cancel button and the status bar appears, showing you how much of the clean is complete (in the screenshot below you can see it’s at 35%).


When this is done you’ll get an overview. In the screenshot below you can see the list of programs that have been analyzed and how much data can be deleted in the clean. It’s been a while since I ran this, so you can see I have ~14GB of data to clean!

Also note, that I didn’t take my own advice when running the app, so Google Chrome, which as open at the time, has not been cleaned. I will have to run it again a second time, with the browser closed, to clean that up.


Now click the Run Cleaner button to remove the files from your hard disk.

When the process has finished (you will see a progress bar, as you did when you first analysed the clean) the Cleaning Completed screen, as shown below, is displayed.


That’s it! We’re halfway there. Now to clean up the registry.

Run CCleaner on the Registry

Click on the Registry tab from the left menu.


Again, we’ll just use the defaults. This will check the computer registry for errors.

First click the Scan for Issues button. If your system is anything like mine quite a lot of files will come up! These are usually files that are added when a new application is installed or an software update is performed.


At the end of the scan you’ll see a list of issues.

Next click the Fix Selected Issues button to run the program again.

At the prompt, click Yes. CCleaner will run the Registry scan again, this time fixing the issues that have been identified.


Navigate to or create the folder where you wish to save your registry file backup, then click Save.


At the next popup window, click Fix Issues (to go through every issue one at a time) or click Fix All Selected Issues (recommended.)


CCleaner will start to go through the list of issues and will show this screen when it has finished.


At this point you could close CCleaner and move onto the next step, but it’s always useful to run the Registry Cleaning steps again and then again until no files are found. On my system, on this occasion, I ran it a total of four times. The first time it found 991 issues. The second time it found a further 29 issues. The third time, 12 issues. Then we were done – no more registry issues, yay!

Update and Run your Anti-Virus Software

Now, one last job because it’s easily overlooked and now would be a good time to do it: update and run your antivirus software. There are too many packages available for me to be able to document instructions so if you need help specific to your system, want some help go through the steps outlined in this article, or would like me to do all of this for you, in person or remotely, call or email to arrange a personalised session. 

A full PC clean, at your home, on up to three computers, will cost 100 euros. Call today to arrange a time!

Download Links

CCleaner  https://www.ccleaner.com/ccleaner/download

Why are we doing this? Read Spring Clean Your System Series: Introduction to find out.

Image credit: iStock.com/valio84sl

Tools & Tips, Tutorials

Spring Clean Your System Series: Introduction

Spring is in the air – at last! With the increasing light, we naturally start to clear out all those dusty corners and give our homes and gardens a good tidy up, ready for the year ahead. But what about your technology?

If, like me, you use your computer for work and also have a number of other devices you use, such as a table or iPad, the chances are you have a lot of files to organise. Whether that’s photos, e-mail or documents, just like your regular paper-based filing pile, a lot of clutter can build up over time if you don’t stay on top of it. And that’s just the stuff you see.

Whenever we use technology lots of files are used behind the scenes and these also mount up over time; things like temp (temporary) files, cookies from websites we visit, and a legion of other one-time and short-time-use files. All this invisible clutter stays on your system and over time slows it down, which is why it’s worth removing it. And what better time than Spring, since that’s when we get busy tidying generally.

Now all you need is a few specialist (free) tools and the know-how. What better way to start the week than with decluttered and organised computer! To help you with this I’ve put together a series of posts that will take you through the various ways you can tidying up and also get organised.

What’s Covered

First we’ll look at ways to declutter all those invisible files using some free software designed just for that purpose.

Then we’ll look at decluttering our files and applications.

And finally, once we’ve cleaned up our act, we’ll make sure we’ve got everything backed up, either to The Cloud or to an external disk or drive.

While you’re waiting…

In the meantime, why not get out some screen wipes and give the screen and keyboard a good wipe down. And, if you have a desktop PC or a laptop with a visible vent, it’s a good idea to put the hoover up to the back of the fan vent and suck out the dust especially if you have pets. No, seriously. One of our computers was constantly overheating. When we took the back off to check that all was well with the heat-sink we found, to our surprise, an enormous ball of fluff had collected there. No wonder it wouldn’t work!

Taking that one step further, if you’re confident to open the case on a desktop machine – and can do so without invalidating any warranties – it’s well worth giving your computer’s insides a good freshen up. Just open it up and give all the dusty looking bits a blast of air from an air canister such as this one on Amazon*. No more fluff – and no more whirring fan.

Although the focus of this will be on Windows systems, many of the techniques and tips will also be relevant for Mac users. Where there are differences, I’ll provide separate info in later posts.

Credits: main image copyright iStock.com/valio84sl

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PLEASE NOTE, that this post contains an affiliate link. If you buy something through one of those links you won’t pay a penny more but I will get a small commission.