Lowest prices on Norton Antivirus renewals

cheap norton security discountBeing asked often about where to find the lowest priced Norton Antivirus renewal made me come up with this article. Symantec offer a renewal by credit card that is often too pricey for most people. With Norton Anti-virus being a capable product, it’s a shame to uninstall it so here are a few tips to get a new and fully licensed program at a much reduced price. And there’s nothing illegal about it!

You don’t have to uninstall your current product, simply buy another package (at much less than the price to renew your licence!) from our software shop which will open in a new window for you. When you open it up, use the serial number you find inside. Type this into your existing product and you’ll get another 12 months of updates (or more if you buy a 2 year package).

Remember to match the amount of user licences you have, eg if you have 3 PCs buy a 3-user licence.

Not got Norton Antivirus? Click here for the cheapest Norton Internet Security renewal or click here for the cheapest Norton 360 renewal

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Who or what is [email protected]?

 

root notty whm ssh hackedIf you’re looking through WHM’s process manager and you see [email protected] mentioned as one of the processes, don’t be alarmed. It’s perfectly normal and it’s definitely not some hacker called ‘Notty’ who has suddenly got root permissions. Be honest, you’re here because you thought that 😉

You may also have seen sshd: [email protected] in the output of ps aux too.

Why notty?

The term ‘notty’ just represents ‘no tty’ which roughly translates as meaning ‘no terminal’. When you login locally to any Linux machine the terminal will always appear in the process list as ‘tty’. If a connection is made via SFTP or you are copying files with SCP (as I did here on a test server prior to bringing up the screenshot above) then it will show as no tty (notty).

Where does TTY come from?

Many years ago, user terminals that were connected to computers were clunky and noisy Electro-mechanical Teleprinters also known as Teletypewriters. They took the latter phrase and chopped some characters out to get the TTY abbreviation:

TeleTYpewriter = TTY

Since then, TTY has been used as the shortened name for a text-only console. Here’s a teletypewriter in action:

 

 

Now you can’t say that things haven’t progressed!

 

 


Cheapest Norton 360 renewal

cheap norton security discountI’m frequently asked by customers how to get the cheapest renewal price on Norton 360.  Symantec’s renewal price is really one of the highest for any Internet Security product.  It is a capable package though and worth keeping on your PC. The best way by far is to purchase a new fully licensed program at a reduced price and install that. Nothing underhand, just a new product at a price much lower than Norton currently quote for renewal.

The beauty of this is that you don’t have to uninstall your current product if it is the same ‘family’ as the one you are installing, simply match the product family. For example, if you have Norton Security, get a Norton Security package with any version number as they all qualify for Norton’s free upgrade to the latest version anyway! If you have the older Norton 360 then get Norton Security and uninstall Norton 360 first.

Do Norton really offer a free upgrade?

Yes, most versions of Norton qualify for a free upgrade to the latest version in that product family. If you download the latest installation program, Norton will auto-detect and remove your older version and then install the newer one too, making it even simpler to install.

Please note

You can change to another security software at this point. From doing lots of virus clean-up work and labs testing, I would recommend uninstalling the Norton product and installing my preferred security suite and consistent labs test winner Kaspersky Total Security. Norton is quite capable but Kaspersky definitely has the edge on speed and low resource usage.

A word of warning. Norton products such as Norton 360, Norton Internet Security and Norton Antivirus are now retired in favour of “Norton Security” and “Norton Security with Backup”. Confused? This article explains more: New Norton product family (opens in a new window).

So to recap, if your Norton 360 has expired, then take a look in my software shop (opens in a new tab) and buy either a Norton or Kaspersky product at prices cheaper than Symantec’s renewal rates. If you want to upgrade to another software product (such as Kaspersky) then simply uninstall the existing Norton software, restart the computer and then install the Kaspersky product.

Don’t forget to ‘Tweet’ or Facebook ‘like’ this article if it saved you some cash!

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Kaspersky Pure replaced by Total Security

Since I am getting a lot of questions on where Kaspersky Pure has gone and how to upgrade, I’ll try to clarify a few things. Yes, the main Kaspersky.com website has now dropped Pure as a product, seemingly without notification. The localized websites (such as .co.uk etc) have followed too. It seems that Kaspersky Pure has been phased out in favour of ‘Total Security’. There are a lot of Pure installation CDs out there so what to do?

OK, so here comes the terminology first:

  • KTS stands for Kaspersky Total Security
  • KIS stands for Kaspersky Internet Security
  • KAV stands for Kaspersky Anti-Virus
  • Changing from one installed product to another is called ‘migrating’

If you have an active or expired Kaspersky PURE 2.0 or 3.0 license, you have special options of migrating to Kaspersky Total Security. You can also migrate to Kaspersky Total Security from Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Anti-Virus or vice-versa.

Who can’t upgrade to Kaspersky Total Security?

Note that free migration to Kaspersky Total Security is not possible for the oldest versions of Pure. These were the original ‘version 1’ programs but are called:

Kaspersky PURE
Kaspersky PURE R2 (note that this is NOT the same as Kaspersky Pure 2.0)

They can’t be upgraded because their activation codes are incompatible with Kaspersky Total Security.

Now we know what versions can’t be upgraded, let’s upgrade those that can…

Free upgrades to Total Security

Successful upgrading depends on the current status of your license:

  • If you have an active licence for Kaspersky PURE 2.0 or Kaspersky PURE 3.0, you can simply use your current activation code for migration (upgrading) to Kaspersky Total Security.
  • If your license for Kaspersky PURE 2.0 or Kaspersky PURE 3.0 has expired, you can visit my shop here to buy Total Security at a cheaper price than renewal, then install it which migrates the licence for you automatically.

Migrating the Pure licence key to Total security

If you have Kaspersky PURE 2.0 or Kaspersky PURE 3.0 installed on your computer, do the following to upgrade to Kaspersky Total Security:

Download the Total Security package here (opens in a new window for you). This is what you should see:

kaspersky download total security

Grab the top one in my screenshot above, Total Security, and download it. Now we have 2 options, either installing over the top of Pure or removing Pure and installing your downloaded KTS. I have listed both below:

Option 1 – Install Kaspersky Total Security without removing Kaspersky PURE

When you install Kaspersky Total Security on top of Kaspersky PURE 2.0 or Kaspersky PURE 3.0, the following data is preserved:

  • License information
  • Quarantined objects
  • Product settings (config settings including Backup tasks)
  • Encrypted containers (including all data)
  • Password Manager databases for all user accounts. All data that was available when working with Password Manager, such as passwords to programs and accounts, identities, notes, etc.
  • Anti-Spam databases (if the Anti-Spam component was previously used)
  • Backup stores

This makes it the easier option for most users. If you are not experiencing any issues with Pure then do this. If you have slowdown issues, configuration problems or just want a fresh install (which is always nicer) then jump to Option 2 below.

Screenshots of the installation process when installing over Kaspersky Pure:

install-kaspersky-total-security

installing-total-security

finish-restart-total-security

This took about 3 minutes for us to complete including the restart, just accept the defaults.

Option 2 – Install Kaspersky Total Security, removing Kaspersky PURE first

CAVEAT – You must have your licence key available which can be found on the card inside the product case.

CAVEAT 2 – You will lose any saved passwords in the Kaspersky Password Manager. Not everyone uses this and it won’t affect other password managers such as LastPass, Roboform, Keepass etc.

CAVEAT 3 – You will lose any quarantined files, backup stores, encrypted containers and spam databases (if used) which are again specific to Kaspersky Pure

  • Fully uninstall Kaspersky Pure via your control panel.
  • Reboot your PC
  • Install Total Internet Security from the file you downloaded earlier or from a packaged CD

If you have never installed a program before, here is some help how to do it:

 

I hope that this helps answer your questions on installation, upgrading and compatibility. Kaspersky remains the most effective of all the antivirus and Internet security suites that we have tested in our workshop and Total Security is a worthy replacement for Pure.


Slow Windows 8 update speeds fixed

Slow update speeds in Windows 8 (and slow network speeds in general) are often because of the ‘poisoned’ DNS cache. This is because it can contain invalid or expired DNS records. Symptoms may be difficulty in opening websites or even problems with Windows updates. What we’ll do here to attempt to rectify this is to clear the DNS cache by simply flushing the invalid or expired DNS entries.

How to Flush the DNS Cache to speed up Windows 8

  • Logon to your Windows 8 computer with an administrative account.
  • Click on the desktop tile from the Start screen to go to the desktop window.
  • Hover the mouse over the bottom right corner of the window.
  • From the displayed options, click “Search”.
  • On the opened Search pane at the top right, ensure that the Apps category is selected.
  • Type in “cmd” without the speech marks.
  • From the displayed results on the Apps window, right-click on Command Prompt.
  • From the displayed advanced options at the bottom of the window, left click on “Run as administrator”.
  • When you see the User Account Control box, click “Yes” to provide the administrator approval to open the command prompt with the elevated privileges.
  • At the black command prompt window, type “ipconfig /flushdns” and press enter. This will delete the DNS cache.
  • Close the command prompt window when done.
  • Restart the computer.

After flushing the DNS cache, the IP address of any website or network device is then automatically resolved by the DNS resolver using a DNS server.

 


Install Irfanview and resize images easily

Here’s a quick tutorial how to resize images quickly and easily using a great free program called Irfanview.

First, if you haven’t already, download and install Irfanview from http://www.irfanview.com

When starting the program for the first time go to the top menu and select:
Options > Set file associations > Images only > OK
Now all images will open in this nifty program, it’s good and fast.

 

Resizing an image with Irfanview

Resizing images really depends on what you want to achieve as an end result. There are a few common scenarios here:

  1. You want to resize pictures to keep the file size down because you are sending by email. This option is usually when sending family pictures or work images to a colleague.
  2. You want to create an avatar, logo or smaller image from the original image.
  3. You want to crop a section of the image and resize it afterwards.

In each of these cases, we shall be using the resize dialog box so let’s see how to open this now.

Open Irfanview from the shortcut or All Programs menu, and click on File > Open.

In the box that opens, navigate to the image you want to resize. Double click it or click on the Open button.

The image will open up in the main Irfanview window.

Irfanview resize image tutorial

From the toolbar menu at the top, click Image and select Resize/Resample. This will open the Resize/Resample image dialog box which is where you will select the settings that will be applied to your final image.

Now we want to either use some of the handy presets you see to the right side or manually add our image sizes. Think of 800 x 600 pixels as a landscape orientation, postcard sized image and you won’t be far wrong. This is an ideal size to send pics to family and friends by email and not have them clogging up their inbox. Most digital cameras now have extremely high pixel count so your original could be something like 2992 x 2000. This is obviously a landscape image because the first figure quoted is always the width, the second being the height. Resizing this image to 800 x 600 would work as landscape photos are generally close to a 4:3 ratio (although that example of 2992 x 2000 is not quite 4:3). Because some stretching of the image would occur in that case, we can actually check the box preserve aspect ratio. Now, typing in your desired width should alter the height accordingly and vice versa, resulting in a non-stretched image. It’s up to you if you want to apply sharpen after resample, this is generally better when going to a very small image such as used for icons and avatars, so I would generally avoid it for larger photos. For images on web pages such as WordPress powered sites, a width of 500 pixels (px) is usually sufficient for the content areas, going down to 150 px where we are wrapping text around the image.

In the Size Method box, put a tick next to Resample (better quality), and using the dropdown arrow, select Lanczos filter (slowest). What we are doing when resizing is effectvely getting rid of pixels, so the image needs to have a degree of loss applied to it that the human eye can’t see that well. The jpeg format is called a ‘lossy’ format for this reason. When you see a pixellated image, this is generally because it has been compressed a bit too much and too many critical pixels have been lost.

When you have the settings the way you want them, click on the OK button. Irfanview renders the image in its new size, although it may still be zoomed in or out. Use the + or – magnifying glass on the toolbar to zoom in or out until you see 100% displayed on the lower toolbar of Irfanview. This is your actual image size, as rendered by your monitor.

IMPORTANT NEXT STEP

You currently have the resized file in the main Irfanview window but it isn’t saved. Most photographs are better quality when they are original and making them smaller reduces quality, so we generally don’t save the image at this point. We do a File > Save As. Think of this as duplicating the file and you won’t go wrong, we are saving another copy of the image but in a different size. You have the chance to navigate to a new folder (I usually create one called Resized) and save the image with a descriptive name, something like:

dave-birthday-party-may-2014.jpg

I like to keep all filenames lowercase and separate words with hyphens as it’s much better for search engines and for web server semantics when uploaded to the web.

Saving in Jpeg format is generally good for photos, it results in smaller file sizes. Slide the quality slider up to 100 for best quality though.

Resize image irfanview jpeg quality

Now all that remains is to click on Save and you are done.

I hope that helped to clear up a bit of resizing mystery, please drop me a comment below if you have any questions or just to let me know it helped.

 


Failure configuring windows updates reverting changes do not turn off your computer

This is quite a common fault on systems I have seen on PC systems ranging from XP through to Win 8. There are various ‘fixes’ mentioned out there, some of which are potentially damaging, so I thought I’d share my method of repair here. It has worked on 99% of computers we have had through the repair shop.

The fault often is triggered by a single downloaded update that does not want to apply itself. Subsequently, all the other downloaded updates fail too. If left, these updates will grow in quantity every week until they are difficult to diagnose, so do this sooner rather than later.

  • First off, check you are logged in as an administrator on the system.
  • Make sure that your clock set to the correct time, date, year and timezone. Don’t skip this, double check it!
  • In the following steps, make sure you download the correct version for your operating system, eg Windows 7 64-bit etc. If you are not sure which version you have, look in Control Panel, Select “View by small icons” then click on System. Here, you’ll see your Windows Edition and Sytem Type. While you are in here, check that you can see “Windows is activated”. If not, this is your problem and you need to activate Windows. To do this, click Start, type in “activate” then click on Activate Windows.
  • You can disable your antivirus temporarily but this is not necessary unless you try this method and it fails. Make sure if you do this that you are behind a firewall, either the Windows one or one in your router.
  • Open ‘Computer’ and navigate to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download then delete everything you find in this folder.
  • Now, go to Windows update history on the computer (Control Panel, Windows Updates and select View Update History). Look at the ones that failed and note the KB number. You can then go to Microsoft Download Center and download each one individually by searching on the KB number. Use Internet Explorer for this, not Firefox/Chrome etc. After manually downloading and installing each one, restart the computer and repeat the process until each update is applied. Don’t skip the restart, this is necessary to apply many updates.
  • Once the list of downloads is finished you can create a restore point and then try an automatic Windows Update again, it should work now.

 

You can also give this a try – Windows Update Troubleshooter.  While this is, in theory, an automatic fix to the ‘failure configuing Windows updates’ issue, it doesn’t always work so I prefer to use my method above first which can isolate the problem to a single download. Good luck!

 


Cannot modify header information – headers already sent

So what exactly is ‘modify header information’ anyway? Well, it’s quite a common problem and one that has no definitive answer because there are many different code reasons why it occurs. That said, if you understand why it’s happening you should be able to diagnose your issue more easily. I’ll give an explanation first and then go on to provide a fix for WordPress template files as these seem to be the most prevalent code examples that get hacked and chopped about.

Headers sent to your browser explained

So, this issue rears its ugly head when someone visits your website and requests a page. Your server duly sends the page but before the visitor’s browser has completed the rendering of that page on the screen, it gets told to redirect to another page. This is unacceptable and the browser doesn’t like this so you see the error “Cannot modify header information – headers already sent”. Take this code example:

It’s simple enough php code where the object is to redirect the user’s browser to another website. This will not work though because the <html> line has started to output the code to the browser already. Remember that header() must be called before any actual output is sent and this can be by standard HTML, via PHP or even via the presence of blank lines.

The blank lines header error

The presence of blank lines within PHP in a file can cause errors. Here’s another example:

Spot the mistake? It’s a common one but the extra space after the final question mark is actually output to the browser and can be the difference between the page working or not. Extra whitespace where it shouldn’t be is tricky for coding beginners to spot, so work logically through the code and try to structure it as cleanly as possible. Compare any modifications you have made to the original file and try the original again to see if that triggers the error. Typical problems include whitespace or new lines before the opening <?php or after the closing ?> which works in many cases but often causes this error. Try to code more cleanly and remember this can cause big problems later on.

If your code has more than one PHP block in it and they are directly after each other, remove any spaces in between them. Try to consolidate the PHP into one block if possible here too.

 

Modify headers error where session_start() is used

Here’s another scenario:

So what is going wrong here? Well, the session_start() function attempts to send headers with the session cookie to the client. Unfortunately, PHP already sent headers when it wrote the title element to the ‘output stream’. To resolve this, you would need to move the session_start() code to the top, above the <html> line.

Often, the error indicates exactly where you should be looking in your code so look for php and html output around there.

Script encoding errors, UTF-8 and BOM

The Byte Order Mark (BOM) is a Unicode character used to signal the byte order (aka ‘Endianness’) of a text file or stream. Still with me? If you’re not, don’t worry, all you need to do is to try to make sure you don’t have any Byte Order Marks in your code as this messes up the headers too. There is, in my mind, little place for BOM on a WordPress installation. The Unicode standard permits BOM in UTF-8 but doesn’t recommend it.

Errors caused by the inclusion of BOM are generally because

  • You viewed the source in a bad text editor and saved it (hint use Notepad++ which is free and brilliant)
  • You used a poor FTP client (hint: use WinSCP, also free and brilliant)
  • You had the BOM in there originally (hint: don’t download files from dodgy sites).

The simple solution is to open up all the offending files in Notepad++ (or a similar good text editor) and swap the file format from Windows/Mac to Unix and turn off the BOM.

For advanced users, you can run this nifty ‘find’ code on the server to remove all BOM code. Use with caution as it can modify any file.

If you prefer to tread cautiously, use this code to simply display those BOM files:

The code above cleverly looks in the first line only which is where we find the BOM byte sequence (the UTF-8 representation of this is 0xEF,0xBB,0xBF). This means it runs pretty quickly.

Code your way out in functions.php

Well, I said I would give you a solution that works for WordPress and here it is. Please note, I would thoroughly recommend attacking the other solutions above first but if you are at your wits end try adding this to your theme’s functions.php file:

PHP will now not send any input to the browser until the page is fully loaded. This in turn allows your WordPress installation to redirect users as it sees fit.

Summary

Remember, what you are trying to find is basically two lots of output to your browser and this is often via HTML code and PHP code being run at the same time. Track it down and your error should be removed. Don’t underestimate the widespread duff code in 3rd party plugins too, disable these one by one and try again.

Hope this helps you to sort out your ‘headers already sent’ issues, please use the social links to recommend this page to others before they pull their hair out too 🙂

 


How to clear the DNS cache

clear dns cache mac windows

Your DNS cache stores IP addresses of webservers. These servers have delivered pages which you and others have recently viewed. If the location of the web server changes for any reason before the entry in your DNS cache automatically updates, you will find yourself unable to access the website. You may also see a lot of 404 error codes, which generally happens when your DNS cache is messed up.

This is particularly prevalent for Webmasters who are setting up a new website and suddenly get presented with an old page or no page at all. Often it is visble on another computer or mobile phone which makes it even more frustrating.

By clearing this DNS cache, your computer will then re-query the nameservers for the new DNS information.

How to clear your computer’s DNS cache in Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 or 8

  • Click the Start button
  • On the Start menu, click Run
  • If you do not see the Run command in Vista/7/8, enter “run” in the Search bar just above the start orb
  • Type the following in the Run text box: ipconfig /flushdns
  • Press Enter

Pay attention to the space between the g and the forward slash.

Close the command window and retry your browser.

How to clear your computer’s DNS cache in Mac OS 10.7 onwards

Please note that for this to work you require the Admin account password.

  • Click Applications
  • Click Utilities
  • Double click the Terminal application
  • Type in: sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder

Close the terminal window and retry your browser.

How to clear your computer’s DNS cache in Mac OS 10.6 and below

  • Click Applications
  • Click Utilities
  • Double-click the Terminal application
  • Type in: dscacheutil -flushcache

That’s it and you should now be able to fire up your browser and get a fresh version of the page.


How to make WordPress secure

Want to make WordPress secure? Then let’s harden it now! OK this is going to be a long article that I’ll add to as “best practice” changes with new releases.  For starters, let’s clear up what I’m trying to teach.  What we are doing here is limiting access by people who are trying to compromise your WordPress installation. And they are out there, believe me.

So first off, the easy stuff….

  1. Keep your WordPress and Plugins updated. You can lock down WP all you want but if you have a dodgy plugin you could be wide open to the world.
  2. Keep your server up to date. Vulnerabilities in older versions of php and various scripts mean that an attacker could get in outside of the WordPress installation.
  3. Shared hosting. I personally don’t use this as it can severely compromise security. Even if you do all the locking down possible, someone else may leave wide-open gaps on the server.  If you want reliable VPS hosting I recommend taking a look at  Servint dedicated and VPS hosting.
  4. Use a decent antivirus and antimalware on your own PC.  The largest amount of compromised servers come from password attacks and if you have malware on your PC that gets your FTP password then it’s ‘Game Over’. Use Kaspersky and MalwareBytes for a great solution.
  5. Choose strong passwords. Never underestimate how easy most passwords are to crack with a computer. Passwords such as “Password”, “abc123”, “Letmein” are crackable in minutes. Pets’ names, people’s names, car names are all easily guessable too. Consider putting non-alphabet characters in there too such as $ or !

 

WordPress file permissions

Now let’s move on to WordPress file permissions.  These are most people’s nightmare but it doesn’t have to be difficult.  All files should be owned by your account and writable only by you. For directories, if you use SuPHP on your server (and I recommend you do) they should all be 755. If not using SuPHP then follow these rules:

  • /wp-content/plugins/ These are the plugin files. All files should be writable only by your user account.
  • /wp-includes/ WordPress’s ‘logic’ files.  All files should be writable only by your user account.
  • /wp-content/themes/ Your theme files. If you want to use the built-in theme editor, all files need to be group writable. If not, all files can be writable just by your user account
  • /wp-admin/ This is the WordPress admin area. All files should be writable only by your user account.
  • /wp-content/ This is for your content which should be writable by everyone (owner/user, group, and public)

For other directories under /wp-content/ you should read the relevant plugin or theme documentation.  Err on the side of caution here though, locking down first and working backwards to release permissions where required.

For novices looking for a quick guide, if you are not using SuPHP then do this:

Set all directories to 755 and all files to 644.  If you are on a shared-server, set your wp-config.php to 750 so no other user will be able to read your database username and password!


From WordPress version 2.7, there has been the facility to automatically update the WordPress installation.  It is remarkably stable and well tested so I recommend this is used.  The great thing is that after the update, all files are set to 644 and all directories to 755  and writable by only the user.  They are still readable by everyone else, including the web server.

This now leads us on to ‘security by obscurity’. In other words, making the default stuff different so attackers spend more time at the first hurdle. Here are my top tips for quick and easy fixes.

  1. Stop showing the WP version you are currently running. Why? Well, if you are running an older WordPress version with a known vulnerability then you effectively display this to the world. There are numerous plugins to do this for you but you can simply add <?php remove_action('wp_head', 'wp_generator'); ?> to your theme’s function.php file. Note that there are other ways of finding out the version that a WP website uses but this works well to hide the obvious.
  2. Rename the admin account. I do this on a new install from within Fantastico but you can also create a new Administrative account from WordPress’s back end and delete the default admin account. You will get prompted to pass ownership of all the deleted user’s posts to the new Admin which is recommended.
  3. Change the WordPress database table prefix. A lot of the  WordPress-specific SQL injection attacks assume that the database table prefix is “wp_” , so changing this blocks many (but nit all) SQL-injection attacks.

Finally, 3 words I can’t stress the importance of……Backup, Backup and Backup.  Don’t hesitate to make this a priority. For a complete backup AND a brilliant way to clone your entire site check out the excellent WP-Twin WordPress Clone Software. This not only creates a FULL backup of WordPress’s database, but it backs up all other files and folders for you. It will enable you to move your installation across servers too, something most backup software won’t do. Most blogs can be completely cloned and backed up in a few minutes without any technical knowledge.

Good luck and hope this helps you to make WordPress secure.