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Hellertown IT Guy Makes House Calls (SPONSORED)

Est. Read Time: 6 mins

Editor’s Note: Allan Bach, the subject of the following interview, is the owner of Allan Bach Consulting, a mobile PC repair and software training/support business based in Hellertown.

1. How did you get started in computer repairs? What is your experience/background?

The year was 1995. I worked at a small, family-run software support company that specialized in supporting Peachtree, an accounting program. After five weeks as an employee, I left. The job had no challenges, just solutions read from a script. It was time for me to offer my knowledge of Windows and Microsoft Office to people who needed help. In 1995, most people did not have Internet access, cell phones or a personal computer. Companies were using Microsoft Office and employees needed training. My first client was a commercial painter. He wanted to use his computer for accounting and to produce brochures and other documents. I developed the documents and provided him training in the software. From this start, I received referrals to other clients.keyboard-66386_1280

As I helped business employees with their software training, people asked if I set up or repaired personal computers. I added these services to my offerings. Soon I was training people to use software and repairing computers.

Today I continue to help businesses and home users learn Microsoft Office, QuickBooks (an accounting program), and I fix problems with their computers. I also instruct at Lehigh Carbon Community College, teaching courses in Microsoft Office software.

As for my background, I am self-taught in this field. Though I have attended many seminars, I have learned most of what I know by experience. I am constantly training myself in new and existing technology, spending up to 20 hours per week educating myself.

2. What are your specialties? Do you work on Macs in addition to PCs?

My focus is training people to use Microsoft Office–Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access and Outlook (Windows only). Most people use Word or Excel–yet few have had any training. They end up using only about 5 percent of a program’s features. Many never use Styles in Word or Functions in Excel. Their PowerPoint presentations are very weak. Most people are not aware of OneDrive, a cloud storage of up to one terabyte offered free by Microsoft. By not using these built-in tools, they are taking more time than necessary to create their documents. With training–even as little as one hour–they discover tools that make using a program more efficient and their documents more professional, with less work.

I also support QuickBooks, a very popular accounting program used by many businesses. Though QuickBooks is easy to use, it can appear intimidating. I help users remove the fear of using an accounting program to track their dollars by explaining the Chart of Accounts, expense categories, etc.

I can customize any Office program by programming with code. This allows for automation of many types of tasks specific to a client’s needs. For example, I have developed Microsoft Access databases to track customers, patients and other data for local companies, at a much lower cost than buying a packaged database product.

In the area of computers, I specialize in PCs and tablets running Windows or Android operating systems. Many users have problems with error messages, clutter and other symptoms of a computer that needs some attention. Malware, ransomware and a host of other issues attack users every day. Their computers need to have the latest installed protection.

I can help Mac users with most problems. I have noticed, though, that Macs do not seem to have as many issues with malware, etc. However, that is changing as hackers realize many people own this type of operating system.

Another vulnerable item is the smartphone. Hackers are increasing their attacks on these devices, so protection is becoming necessary.

I do offer remote problem solving. This allows me to fix a problem online–with the user’s permission, of course. All that is needed is a working Internet connection.

3. What are “ransomware” and “malware” and how do you combat them?

A few months ago, I had a call from a client. She was looking at a screen with a message from the FBI claiming that her computer had been locked due to terrorists using it. The message instructed her to pay $300 to reclaim usage of her computer. She was unable to use her computer with this warning visible. Fortunately, she did not pay the “ransom.” I stopped by and fixed the problem. Lately, this “ransomware” has become more deadly. Today, ransomware will encrypt a user’s files, making them unreadable to the user. Ransomware hackers will demand payment to unencrypt the files. The biggest problem with the latest ransomware is, once you are infected, it may be impossible to recover your files. If you choose to pay the ransom, you most likely will not get the code to unencrypt your files. Protection and common sense can prevent this ransomware from infecting your computer.

Malware has been around for a while. Malware will cause a host of problems. Some Malware will log your keystrokes, sending everything you type (usernames, passwords, personal information) to a hacker’s computer. Malware can also take a picture of your monitor or use the camera on your computer to send images to a hacker. This happened to the client with the FBI message. Her picture appeared on the screen with the request to send money. Anti-malware software and common sense help prevent malware.

4. What are some other common problems you see among your clients?

Lately, the majority of calls I receive concern malware. Someone opens an email, clicks a link and then notices they cannot get to certain web pages, or they see pop-ups. I also notice when I visit a client that their wireless router is not protected properly. Wireless routers have a default username and password. If this is not changed, hackers can more easily get into a router. For example, a Linksys router will have a blank username and the password is admin. Unless this is changed, it may be quite easy to access.

Another problem is clutter. Junk files accumulate on the computer and slow it down. Fragmentation can be a problem. Fragmentation occurs constantly. Files on the computer are scattered, in little pieces, all over the hard drive. Over time, this will affect the performance of the computer. Windows has a built-in defragmentation tool, but it is a weak tool. It does not defragment certain files (Master File Table or Page File). I recommend a more robust defragmenter.

5. Why do you recommend a twice-yearly computer tune-up?

As mentioned, computers become cluttered with junk files, affecting their performance. If the junk is not cleaned or the file system is not defragmented, the computer will eventually take a long time to start or use. In addition, many programs load when the computer starts, many of which are not necessary and slow down the computer. This becomes very frustrating to the user.

I also cannot stress enough the importance of backing up important files. Many people use a program like Carbonite, an online auto backup program that copies important files to computers on the cloud. However, this type of program does not offer a solution to restore a computer’s hard drive. If a computer has a problem such as a hard drive failing, a cloud backup will only allow the restoring of user files. I recommend an imaging program to copy all of the file system, allowing a restore of the entire computer, usually in less than one hour. At a price of less than $40 for the imaging software, it is a worthwhile investment.

6. Do you offer a satisfaction guarantee on your work?

If you are not completely satisfied with any of my services, there is no charge. On repairs, I offer a 30-day guarantee. If the same problem reoccurs, I repair it for no charge. I will discuss some minor exceptions to this with my clients.

7. How can someone schedule an appointment with you?

All my services are offered at the client’s location. In other words, I do house calls. If someone has a problem, I can be reached by email–in**@ab**********.com–or phone–610-248-0237. I have a “less than 5 minutes, it’s free” policy on phone support. If a client has a question and it requires a simple answer that requires less than 5 minutes, there is no charge. Many of the questions I receive fall into this category.

8. If you could give someone one piece of computer maintenance advice, what would it be?

Use common sense, especially when viewing emails with links to websites. If you do not recognize the sender or the message looks suspect, do not open it. Call the sender if you know them or delete the email. It is much better not to let curiosity get you in trouble. Keep your software up to date and find a good IT person who will get to know your computer and help you with any problems. Technology is changing rapidly. You will need competent help.

For more information about Allan Bach Consulting and the services he offers, please visit his website or call 610-248-0237. To learn more about how to feature your business in a sponsored post on Saucon Source, please click here.


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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