Thursday 20 September 2012

Running HMRC Basic PAYE Tools on a network with multiple users

This post will only be of interest to UK readers.

If you run a small business, then you probably know that HMRC provide a free tool to enable you to do your PAYE calculations.  In its basic installation, it installs on a PC and stores it's data locally on that PC as well - and you can't easily move that data onto a central server for multiple user access and easy backup.

However by ringing up HMRC tech support and jumping through numerous pointless hoops, you can find out how to move the data to a location on the network that suits you better.  Here is how to do it.

First take a backup of your existing database (using the backup function inside the PAYE program) - you will need it later towards the end of this process so do not skip this step.

Navigate to the Program Files directory on the computer HMRC PAYE Tools is installed on. Go to the [HMRC] folder then the [payetools] folder. On a 64 bit PC you will probably need to look in 'Program Files (x86)'. Open the file called “bpt-sys.cfg” with Notepad.

Inside the ”bpt-sys.cfg” file, change the “userdatamode=0″ to “userdatamode=2”. Changing the userdatamode value to 2 will enable the HMRC PAYE Tools application to recognise the custom userdatadir location you specify in the same bpt-sys.cfg file (in this case, we want to store the database on the network drive instead).

Change the “userdatadir=” field to the location where you want the Database Location to be stored. In my case, it will be stored to: Z:\HMRC\PAYE where Z:\ is a mapped network drive on the server

Close and save the file.

Open up HMRC PAYE Tools, and go into [Options]
Navigate to the [Application Settings] tab at the top and you’ll now notice the “Database Location” field has now changed to the location you specified in the bpt-sys.cfg file earlier.

You can also modify the “Backup Location” to be stored on the server as well rather than on the local computer.

Now restore you database back and your HMRC PAYE Tools database should now be stored on the network drive instead.

With thanks to whoever posted this guide upon which these instructions are based

Sunday 12 August 2012

SBS 2008 Slow Shutdown

Let me be clear from the start that I am not claiming credit for this; That goes to a chap called Gordon Carlisle who posted this solution to SBS 2008 slow shutdown in his own blog a while ago.  I'm just repeating it because it is so useful and it has helped me.

Consultants like myself often bemoan the fact that some SBS 2008 installations take an age to reboot. In my experience, taking 10 minutes to shutdown is not unusual.  I knew that it was Exchange causing the problem but had not realised the solution was so simple.  All you need to do is add a script to shutdown in group policy that will shutdown Exchange first.

First create a file named Exchstop.cmd and save it to C:\Windows\Exchstop.cmd. In this file needs to be the following.

net stop msexchangeadtopology /y
net stop msftesql-exchange /y
net stop msexchangeis /y
net stop msexchangesa /y
net stop iisadmin /y

Now in the Default Domain Controller Policy go to

Computer Configuration > Policies > Windows Setting > Scripts > Shutdown

Click Add and browse to c:\windows\Exchstop.cmd

Click OK

Now see how fast your server shuts down.

Internet Explorer opens then immediately closes

This one has been driving me mad for a few days.  I have a customer's PC on the workbench and the one remaining problem is that when you open Internet Explorer, it flashes up for a fraction of a second then immediately closes again.  Because of this, I can't even run Windows Update.

The PC is running XP SP3 and has IE8 installed.  I tried resetting IE8, I tried reinstalling IE8 all to no avail.  None of the suggested Microsoft fixes worked.

Whilst trawling the web for a solution, I came across a fix suggested by Kai Sch√§tzl who has written a simple program that re-registers all the dll's that IE uses.  And it worked a treat!!  The fix apparently works on IE7, 8 and 9 and on XP, Vista and 7.  It supports both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows and IE.

So if you have the same problem, go here and grab the fix.  Thanks Kai.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Westen Digital warns of fake hard drives on sale in the UK

Buyers beware.  This text is taken from the PCR news site. It was written by Matt Grainger and was published on 11 June 2012.

UK retailers need to be on the lookout for ‘too good to be true’ deals involving Western Digital hard drives.

The vendor has acknowledged the presence of fake internal and external hard drives in the UK channel and talking to PCR, one WD executive revealed that the vendor had first become aware of the issue when some faulty devices were returned. When the serial numbers were checked, they were found to have been fake and therefore ineligible for warranty – leaving the retailers out of pocket.
Apparently, the process of identifying where the devices were being brought in was a relatively simple process but due to ongoing legal investigations, we are unable to identify the companies involved.

“WD is aware of the situation that some faked drives were discovered in the English distribution channel; we are taking this very seriously and are currently carrying out an investigation. All parties involved have co-operated fully with WD’s investigation of this matter – the numbers we have seen or heard are extremely small in proportion to many millions of drives we ship quarterly,” said Western Digital’s EMEA head of public relations, Daniel Mauerhofer.

“Specific to this case, internal hard drives are at issue, and they were easily determined to be fake due to inaccuracies on the drive labels. We don’t believe this is a completely new problem. WD is making a concerted effort, with the help of law enforcement agencies, to protect consumers from WD hard drive counterfeit activity. The flooding in Thailand last Autumn was not a starting point, and we can’t say for certain whether or not it has increased those illegal activities. WD is recommending to buy through authorised distribution channels.”