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.
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
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.
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/
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.
As the year draws to a close, I start thinking about best and worst experiences with technology.
Laptop Mag is a website that puts out in depth reviews of laptops all year. Just this week, they published an article on the best laptop keyboards of 2017. Some of you need to type a lot of documents or emails on your laptop. You may not use your laptop so much for media consumption, but see it as a productivity device. For you the keyboard is going to be very important. Laptop Mag did not try all of the laptops on the market, but they have seen enough of them to make some serious recommendations at various price points should the keyboard be a deciding factor. It’s no surprise that Lenovo’s Thinkpad T series comes in at #1. The Thinkpad line is put out by IBM’s former business computer division which is based in North Carolina. Their keyboards are a typist’s dream. A $299 Chromebook also makes the list. While Dell’s business class Latitude 5000 and 7000 series laptops are not included, I would definitely move them to the front row of the class. Interestingly enough, Apple’s 2017 Mac Book Pros are not on here. Apple did make minor improvements to the keyboards this year compared to their pitiful 2016 cousins, but they cannot compare to the typing experience of the 2009 – 2015 Mac Book Pros or even the Mac Book Air — which is still being sold. Check out the article for yourself for the complete survey. https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/best-laptop-keyboards
It is going to be a “worst experience” for you if your computer crashes and you don’t have a proper backup of your data. In addition to online backup and sync services that you may use, an external hard drive is an essential component of your backup scheme. How usable is your data if your backup drive is no good? Therefore, if your drive is more than 3 years old, you need to buy a new one. While there are other brands I can recommend, you really can’t go wrong with a WD My Passport. They are easy to buy and priced right. A 1 or 2 TB model should serve most of your needs. Here are the Amazon links for easy purchasing.
Windows formatted: http://amzn.to/2z5BCGb
Mac formatted: http://amzn.to/2yk9Xh6
Print these out or save them. They will really help you be more productive.
1. Take a screen shot of your desktop.
Windows key + Prt Scr (print screen)
This will save a screenshot to the Screenshots folder your Pictures folder. You can then attach that screenshot to an email to get help from your technology consultant, a friend, or colleague.
2. Search all of your files
Windows key + S
A search box pops up for you to search your documents
3. See your files and folders — File Explorer
Windows key + E
The Adobe Flash player has been a frequent topic of my client updates for you over the years.
I have covered…
– What it is: It is a multimedia content player for Windows and Mac. It is still the video format of choice for many major news and TV sites. Flash is required to play live or On Demand video from Comcast on your computer.
– Why it needs to be updated: Malware can infect out of date versions of Flash Player.
– Flash baked in: For years Google’s Chrome browser has included the ability to play Flash content without having Adobe Flash Player installed separately. Though few of you probably use it, Microsoft’s new Edge browser in Windows 10 mimics Chrome in this manner.
– The shift to automatic updates: Flash Player for Mac and Windows will update on your systems automatically. These updates rarely fail. However, you need to be careful of….
-Fake Flash Player updates: Never respond to a prompt on your screen asking you to update Flash Player. This is likely malware. Should you use the Safari browser or Firefox and need to install Flash or manually update it, the only website you should be going to https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ . Accept no substitutes! Keep in mind that Chrome and Edge keep Flash updated automatically.
– Moving beyond Flash: The industry is moving beyond the Flash Player. Even Adobe admits that they have lost the market. HTML 5 is the preferred player these days and does not require separate software to be installed on our computers. Netflix now uses HTML5 on the computer. HTML 5 is the standard playback format for iOS and Android devices.
All of those topics are old news for most of us. Should you need a review, I would be happy to speak to you via e-mail or phone.
What’s new: As the PC (Mac and Windows) is moving further away from the Flash Player, your browsers will now have an “opt-in” policy for playing Flash content. That means if you go to a video or game site and you want to use Flash, you will have to deliberately turn it on. Apple and Google are claiming they know what’s best for you by trying to protect you from rogue Flash content. Should you come across legitimate Flash content that appears to be blocked, you need to know how to turn on Flash in your browser.
Some of you may have no need to play Flash at all, so if that is you, there is no need to take action at this time. Save this as a resource and cross the bridge when you come to it.