Category Archives: Online Tools

Meltdown and Spectre


Happy New Year … Not!

With the New Year comes a new class of malicious attack that can impact IT systems. This time, the attack is hardware based, affecting mostly Intel based systems, and to some extent, AMD systems as well.

Here is a list of resources that highlight what it is all about and how to mitigate against this new threat. In the words of Microsoft, “Don’t panic.”

Reading, Viewing, Recovering files – OST, PST, PDF, MDF, DOCX, XLSX, PPTX, MPP and more

It has been a while since I looked into these kinds of tools.

For example, the OST File Viewer – – is a simple and effictive tool to reading OST files where the Exchange server is offline or has been damaged.

To recover these types of data files, it is best to purchase a decent product. There are a number of products that handle a variety of files. Most will allow you to view the recoverable data before you purchase the product.

One such product that appears to cover a number of file types is

Another company,, provides numerous recovery and conversion tools.

If you are totally stuck with a failed Exchange server, Ontrack PowerControls, will be a very useful tool. However, it can be fairly expansive for a once off operation to recover a single mailbox.

StorageCraft’s Shadow Protect Granular Recovery for Exchange – – is a great tool for easily recovering Exchange server mailboxes from ShadowProtect backups. Once great benefit is that you can license this on a project based 60 day version, which is quite inexpensive.

Online Tools for working with PDF files

I recently needed to extract all the pages from a PDF file into separate documents. Previously, I had an old version of Adobe Acrobat. This was lost during a recent rebuild, and I could not justify paying for the latest version. Thus, I had a look into freeware and online tools. Since I do this quite infrequently, I decided to try out a free online service. This service has 6 functions:

I tried out the PDFsplit. It was a simple and quick process – Drop the file into the line, make some choices, click Split. The file is extracted accordingly and a ZIP file is produced with the desired results.

Would I recommend this for sensitive and confidential PDFs? No. But if you have open and simple PDF files that need to be processed, this is a great service.

Product Review: Kernel Data Recovery

From time to time, I have been asked to provide a review of software for evaluation. I found products from Kernel Data Recovery ( to be simple to use and well worth the reasonable purchase price.

If you have ever lost data on your hard drive, or on a camera flash card or similar, the Windows Data Recovery tool (USD $49) will come in handy.

Using the tools is as easy as 1, 2, and 3.

ONE: Start the program and select Quick Scan.

TWO: Select the Drive to recover data from.

Confirm the Drive Information.

You will see the progress of what the program has found.

When it is done, click OK to acknowledge that you can use the more advanced tools to recover even more data if required.

THREE: Select the Files and Folders to be recovered.

Point the recovery path to another location on your computer.

Let the magic begin!

And when the process is complete, all the recovered files will be shown in the location that was selected.

The cost of losing data is often priceless, especially when considering that many digital photos could be the only memories from an event or of a loved one. If you have no backups, Kernel for Windows Data Recovery may be your only course of action.


  • Before you run the tool, did you look in the Recycled Bin?
  • Run the tool as soon as possible BEFORE trying any other invasive data recovery techniques.
  • This is a good time to remember to back up your data to other locations.








Major Bug Alert: CVE-2014-0160 aka Heartbleed Bug


A serious vulnerability has been discovered in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library which allows an attacker to steal information that would normally be protected by SSL/TLS encryption. This vulnerability allows anyone to compromise and steal data that is normally protected by this protocol, which can lead to further attacks and the compromise of IT systems that are breached.

There are many popular firewalls and systems that are exposed on the Internet that use this protocol, which makes this vulnerability a serious threat. Many common Linux based operating systems are vulnerable, and the vendors have released patches to fix this issue. It is recommended that firewalls, servers and appliances that use OpenSSL be patched immediately.

For more information on this threat and some answers to common questions, read this –

To test your system for this vulnerability, go to this site –

How to create a bootable USB from Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012R2 ISO media

We’ve previously looked at this subject when Windows 7 was released. With the release of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012R2 on MSDN and Technet, there are many who will want to begin testing and checking out the final RTM versions of the products. For some, this usually means reformatting the USB drives and transferring the ISOs back to the USB disks.

I found a free new tool today – WinUSB Maker by Josh Cell Software. ( This is a simple, easy to use, portable application, which works fast.

The process is simple.

  1. Right-Click and Run the EXE with Administrator privileges
  2. Select the USB drive
  3. Select Setup to USB, then browse and choose the ISO
  4. Click on Make Bootable
  5. Click OK (or Enter) to acknowledge that the application will format the USB drive.

That’s it. In a few minutes, the process will be completed.

Check your IP against global email blacklists

Here are two good online tools to check an IP address against the number of DNS anti-spam databases.

  1. MX Toolbox –
  2. WhatIsMyIPAddress –

Both of these online tools also provide other useful IP based tools.

How to verify shortened links are safe

A client sent me a shortened link via Skype this evening which looked suspicious. This got me to look around to see if there were tools that could verify if shortened were safe. I found two useful tools for this.

  1. CheckShortURL. This online tool will automatically expand a shortened link so that you can verify if the link is dubious or a real link.
  2. Online Link Scan. This online tool will scan links for viruses, malware, spyware and trojans by checking the link against a number of scanning tools.


Microsoft End User License Tool

Someone asked a question about a specific detail in a Microsoft product, and about whether something was permitted in the End User License. Unless one had the paper copy of the EULA, you might not be able to find it. However, Microsoft have a EULA Tool to help you find them easily. Just go to this page –

I need help with Office 365!

The Microsoft Online Portal is a wealth of information, but now easy to navigate. Here is a direct link to the help page where you can find information on how to set up Outlook, setting up your iPhone for Office 365 and many other articles.

The Getting Started page is a very good place to start!