Windows 10 version 1803: How to delay it

Please read this message carefully and print as a guide, if needed.

It’s hard to believe, but there have actually been 5 new versions of Windows released since July 2015.  All of them have been releases of Windows 10 but each was literally a new version of Windows.  Right now you should all have Windows 10 version 1709.  It first started rolling out to computers (either automatically or by a deliberate upgrade) in October.   Windows 10 version 1803 is right around the corner.  It will start being pushed out in April.  

Here’s what I think.  Windows 10 – 1709 is very stable at the moment.   You can confirm that you have it by pressing Windows key + S on your keyboard and then typing in — winver — and then pressing the Enter key.  

Let’s delay the new upgrade for a while.  Why mess up a good thing?  When all the bugs get worked out after a couple months then it will be time for the new Windows 10 – 1803.   If you forgot what the 1709 or 1803 mean, they refer to the year and month that the version of Windows was finalized.  

Come the summer, July or August, you will be ready for the latest version of Windows 10.  You don’t need to be first in line.

Here is how to delay a feature update (aka a new version of Windows) in Windows 10

1. Start Menu

2. Settings (PC Settings if you are still using the Classic Shell Start Menu)

3. Update & Security

4. Advanced options

5. Under “A feature update includes new capabilities and improvements. It can be deferred for this many days:”

6. Set it to 120

8.  Leave the days at 0 under the “quality update” section

7.  Close the window

Windows 10 is in a good place right now.  Let’s keep it there.  It’s good to have happy computing experiences without having to think too much.  I don’t know why Microsoft thinks they have to push out 2 NEW VERSIONS OF WINDOWS 10 PER YEAR.   Fortunately, we have control over the situation. It’s time to put our foot down.

** Big asterisk:  You can only delay Windows 10 upgrades if you have the Pro version of Windows 10.  If you bought your computer at Best Buy or a big box store, you have the Home (consumer) version.  Unfortunately, you have to take the new versions whenever Microsoft pushes them out.  It can be a real hassle.  If I ordered your computer for you, you have Windows 10 Pro.  You can follow the instructions I gave.

Lesson to be learned: I am not in the business of selling computers. However, I like to place computer orders for my customers by choosing major brands like HP, Dell, and Lenovo. These are not the computers sold in stores.  Let me order your Windows computer for you next time. I choose the Pro version of Windows because of the update delay feature and additional security enhancements. 

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Technology Services I Like–February 2018

1.  I found an electrical wizard for you.   I want to tell you about Ryan Eriksson from Eriksson Electric.  He knows his stuff.  Ryan can make sound recommendations but he also believes in respecting the customer’s comfort level.  He has a mind for saving on costs when possible. He believes in embracing modern technologies.  Ryan replaced three ceiling light fixtures in my home over the past few days.   He recommended LED-based fixtures that not only looked great, but are environmentally and budget friendly.   Ryan will let his customers buy their own equipment at Home Depot if they choose.  He even accompanied me on a trip to Home Depot on Friday and did not charge me for the time.   I cannot say enough good things about him.   You can call or text him at 860-236-4352.  You can check out Eriksson on the web at http://erikssonelectric.com/

2. Dropbox — is probably my #1 favorite computer based service of all time.  I have been a user since 2008.  At times I have used the free account and at times I have been a paid customer.   Dropbox gives you 2 GB of storage for free. Through various “bonuses” I have accumulated from them over the years, I have a 7 GB of storage on my free account.  After a quick installation, Dropbox will show up as a folder on your Windows or Mac computer.  Within it you can put multiple sub folders to store your files.   The beauty of Dropbox is that it isn’t really a backup service although you can use it to back up your files.   Dropbox is a file synchronization service.   That means if you put a document titled “Vacation Plans” in your Dropbox folder on your Mac / PC, you can also view that document on your iPhone, Android phone, or iPad where you have the free Dropbox app installed.  You can also easily share files from Dropbox.  Dropbox has never let me down.  Get started at https://www.dropbox.com/

3.  One Drive — Dropbox is not the only game in town for online file storage and synchronization.  One Drive is Microsoft’s answer.   It can work on all of the device types that Dropbox works on (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android).  One Drive does have a key advantage.  At https://onedrive.com you can see your files that you have save, but you can also create and share Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents right there in your web browser.  The online version of Microsoft Office is about 70% as feature rich as the desktop version of Office, but its so convenient.  It probably good enough for most consumer use cases.  And its free.  Maybe you don’t need to buy Office the next time you are required to.  You may be able to get by with https://onedrive.com .

4.  Google Drive — I should also mention Google Drive which is most comparable to One Drive.  If you have a Google / Gmail account, you should check out Google Drive.  It is an online storage and sync service, but that’s not all.  You can also create and share documents using Docs (Word equivalent), Sheets (Excel), and Slides (PowerPoint).  As with One Drive, you can also collaborate on documents live with other people.   If you and I were working on a proposal together, we could both edit using Google Drive.  Google Drive was first to the game with this collaboration technology, but Microsoft is catching up fast.  Put on your jacket and Drive at https://drive.google.com

Great Laptops at Big Savings THINK

Just in case you were in the market for a new laptop, I have a deal to pass on to you. If you’ve read my e-mail blasts over the past few years, you know that I like Lenovo’s THINK products (aka the old IBM Computer), Dell’s Latitude line, and the HP Pro Book / Elitebook lines.

I usually do not stray beyond that scope in my recommendations.

For the next few days, you can purchase a Lenovo THINKPAD laptop for 20% off by using the coupon code THINKPADSAVE20 at checkout. They rarely offer deals this good. I have already helped some customers take advantage of this special and I can help you custom configure an order. Of course there are several choices within the THINKPAD line. Here are some that I would steer you toward.

Budget Friendly — THINKPAD L or THINKPAD E
https://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpad-l/c/thinkpadl?menu-id=ThinkPad_L

https://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpad-e-series/c/thinkpade?menu-id=ThinkPad_E

The Standard Bearer – THINKPAD T
https://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpad-t-series/c/thinkpadt?menu-id=ThinkPad_T

Cutting Edge — Thinkpad X1 Carbon
https://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpad-x/ThinkPad-X1-Carbon-5th-Gen/p/22TP2TXX15G?menu-id=X1_Carbon_(5th_Gen)

Remember — THINK brand laptops are not sold in local big box stores.

Best Windows Anti Virus

My Windows clients are divided.  Some of them use a paid, 3rd party anti-virus.  The others use Windows Defender which is the built in solution provided for free with Windows 10.

It’s my aim today to end the division.  I think for most of my clients, typically age 55+ consumers, small biz, and small non-profit users, the Windows’ own Defender is more than adequate.  There I said it.  I think that a lot of you do not need to pay to renew your anti virus whether it be ESET, Avira, etc. the next time it expires.  The best security strategy is good defensive computing.  Your anti virus solution is just a tool, not the tool in your overall security plan.

However, I will offer a caveat.  Paid solutions like ESET are a good choice if you like having the comfort of a US based phone number to call when you have security concerns.  They have been very respectful to my customers over the years.  The only other anti virus that I think may be worth paying for is PC Matic.  Some of you may have seen their TV commercials.  Unlike nearly every other solution on the planet, PC Matic is an American company.  That may mean something to some users.  This company also uses a unique approach to block harmful websites. They also offer prompt support.

For most Windows users, the built in Windows Defender will be just fine.  Only pay for anti virus if that provider offers something you really want.

iPad Pro Best Mac Laptop

Apple blew it with the 2016 and 2017 Mac Book Pro.  The keyboard is simply awful.  While the 12 inch Mac Book is adorable, it has the same keyboard. They even have a support document telling users that they have to tilt their laptop a a certain angle and use compressed air to push out debris.  Apparently, it takes very little for these keyboards to start causing problems.  It’s also clear that the Mac OS and iOS are coming closer together than ever before.  These two operating systems are on a collision course.

Apple revised their iPad Pro lineup in 2017 to give us a 10.5 and 12.9 inch model.  They start at $649.  Let me be clear, the standard iPad (at $329 and up) is good tablet for most users.  However, I would like to discuss the top of the product line today.  The new iPad Pros aim to be laptop replacements.  Of course you will need a keyboard to use with your iPad Pro.  Fortunately, you have so many choices available!!

You could use Apple’s Smart Keyboard.  I think it will give you a decent typing experience

If you are willing to have a separate wireless keyboard, you could use Apple’s (desktop) Magic Keyboard for an even better typing experience.   You can even bundle this keyboard and the iPad Pro together with a cover like system called the Canopy or just use the iPad Pro with any case that has a stand built into it.

You can also look into keyboard covers from well known players like Logitech and Zagg.

However, if you would truly like a keyboard cover that makes your iPad Pro look and feel like the Mac Book Pro that it aims to be, check out this choice from Brydge.   I think it’s an awesome option that should not be overlooked.

With the iPad Pro, you have typing choices.

However, Apple could repent.  They could update the Mac Book Air in 2018 and keep its excellent keyboard in circulation.  They may also reverse course on their 2016-2017 Mac Book disasters.  I doubt it.

On this day – February 2, 2018 – I am saying that the iPad Pro with a keyboard is your best “Mac Laptop.”

Mac: Changing default browser

Tonight I got a message from a client.  “Help.  Web pages are not properly opening in Chrome.”   We all use a browser to access web pages on our Macs.  Many of you use Apple’s default browser — Safari.  However, Google Chrome is also extremely popular (and the #1 browser by worldwide usage).  A handful still like Mozilla Firefox.   You might ask, why wouldn’t everyone just use Safari?  While it is on par with other browsers today, Safari used to be quite lacking compared to Chrome and Firefox.  Some users like Chrome because it syncs with their Google account.  Firefox used to tout that it was easier to customize. Today, they want to be known as the faster and more privacy conscious browser.

Regardless of your browser of choice, you should have more than one installed on your Mac. At some point, you may have a security issue with your browser.  No problem. Fire up browser number 2.  Additionally, you may want to use multiple browsers for convenience issues.   You could do personal browsing in one browser and work / special purpose browsing in another.  You can keep multiple websites open at one time in each browser, in separate windows.  

It’s good to have a second or even a 3rd browser on your Mac.    You can install Chrome from google.com/chrome and Firefox from firefox.com .

As was the case of my client, your default browser may fail you.  We needed a quick solution tonight.  It was too late for her technology consultant to come over and take a look at the problem.   You too should know how to change your default browser on the Mac.  You may do this for short term reasons or permanently.  The process is the same. It’s a quick fix that you CAN do.

Steps to Changing Default Browser on the Mac

1. Open Safari  (You may have to go to Finder >> Applications if Safari is not on your Dock at the bottom)

2.  Click on the Safari menu at the top if the screen

3.  Click on Preferences

4. In the box that opens, click on the General tab

5.  Chose a different default browser from the menu

6. That browser will now be your default browser.   It is the browser that will open when you click on links in Apple Mail or Outlook. 

7. You can change your default browser at any time.

Backing Up Data on a Windows PC

Part I — The Hardware

Most of you have data (pictures, documents, songs, and videos) that are important to you.  You want this stuff backed up.  In addition to any possible online backup / sync services you might be using, the foundation of your backup scheme should be a local, USB connected external hard drive.  These drives are cheap and compact in size.  You should have at least one and possibly more than external hard drive to back up to.

You can’t go wrong with the Western Digital My Passport drives.  Here is an Amazon link for easy ordering. http://amzn.to/2DgHXyE  A 1 TB drive will cover basic needs.  Get a 2 TB or larger if you have a lot of data to back up.  These backup drives should be replaced every 2 to 3 years.   If its been that long, order yourself one or more. 

Part II — The Software

Windows does not have great backup software built into the operating system. Mac users have a built in app called Time Machine from Apple.  However, there are some great utilities for Windows that are available at no cost should you want a 0 dollar option.

First, you have to decide if you want to do a CLONE BACKUP or SYNC BACKUP.  You may want to do both.  Let me explain.  A clone is an exact copy of your hard drive.  A clone can be restored from if your computer crashes or dies.  Your computer can be fully restored to its last backed up state from a clone backup.   It is possible to restore just a folder or a file from a clone backup, but it takes a couple of steps.   The main purpose of a clone backup is to restore the entire computer.   My baseline for clone backup software is Macrium Reflect.  Despite the “Mac” in the name, they are a Windows product.  This is the backup software I have installed on many of your computers right now.  The free version works nicely for many.  Some of my clients have opted for the added benefits of the paid version.  https://www.macrium.com/reflectfree

A SYNC BACKUP is going to compare files and folders between your computer’s internal hard drive and external hard drive and make sure they are identical.   For example, if you have a folder called Documents on your computer with 300 documents and sync it to the external drive drive you will also get a folder called Documents with 300 documents.  Future synchronizations will only update the changes that you’ve made.   Sync backups are very accessible to you.  You can simply go into your external drive in File Explorer at any time to drag files out or work with them on the drive.  You can easily restore individual files and folders from a sync backup. It is a drag and drop process.  A sync backup is not meant to be used to restore your entire computer.  You could also take your external drive with the sync backup and easily use it on another computer.   My favorite utility for sync backups (Mac and Windows versions available) is called Free File Sync.  https://www.freefilesync.org/

Conclusion

Whether you use one or more backup drives, do a clone backup, sync backup, or both — please back up to an external drive.  Buy new drives regularly.  Get professional help should you need it.