WIndows Vista – what to do when it is “retired” in April.

Each version of Windows has traditionally come with a 10 year life cycle of security and reliability updates by Microsoft. This is the time Microsoft is prepared to pay it’s software engineers to fix these issues and roll them out to the world (it’s costly)

Windows Vista was released in 2007 and its time is up in April this year. This means that computers being operated after this date increasingly run the risk of being exploited by malicious websites or emails or by other means, eg music, games, movie downloads.

So, what are the options for people with Windows Vista?

1) Upgrade to Windows 10

This is the route you would need to take if you are running special software that needs a version of Windows to run under. For example, Photoshop, Sage Accounts, A CAD program and most games, although website-based games should run fine under any modern operating system.
The advantage is that existing programs will almost certainly be compatible with Windows 10. The downside is that you will need to buy a licence for Windows 10 which is about £100. Windows 10, like all versions of Windows is more prone to malware than other systems, such as Mac, Linux or Apple’s iOS (as used on iPads)

2) Install an alternative to Windows

If you are only using the computer for surfing the Internet, Facebook, YouTube, Skype etc, you might be interested in an alternative called Linux, which comes in many different flavours (or distributions.) The one I recommend to most Windows users is Linux Mint. All versions of Linux are more resistant to malware than Windows. Linux is also free, and you don’t have to worry about licence keys or getting installation media which are freely available online etc. The downside is that it won’t run all Windows software and may not have drivers for hardware such as printers, or cameras, but in most cases it does.
Here is more information on Linux and here is more information on Linux Mint

If you need help with anything computer related, please give Adam a call on 01646 429233 / 07934453989

How to stop Windows 10 installing itself!

If you are getting fed up of the constant and intrusive spam messages on your computer trying to bully you into “upgrading” to Windows 10, the good news is, it can be stopped.

Microsoft seem to be desperate to get people onto Windows 10, and this is so different to Windows 7 that a whole new learning curve has to be made. This is quite stressful to many people, especially the elderly. The strange thing is, Microsoft have committed to updating Windows 7 until April 2020, so why the hurry?

Many people have reported that it is now installing itself without being agreed by the user. In my opinion, this is a clear example of “Big Brother” type tactics. Sure, Apple and Android do upgrades, but the difference in the user interface is minimal and usually passes unnoticed by users.

How do I stop this Windows 10 upgrade?

Download and install the GWX Control panel from
Make sure you click the “prevent Windows 10 upgrades” and the “enable monitor mode” buttons.

Don’t upgrade to Windows 10 for the wrong reasons!

I have been swamped in the last few weeks with computers that have gone wrong during the upgrade to Windows 10.

Many of these are because people are upgrading because there is a problem with their Windows 7 or 8.1 computer. This is a bad reason to upgrade, folks…

Case A:
PC “cannot find an operating system” – the computer was slow, so the user thought an upgrade would speed it up. Wrong! The hard drive was failing, and the upgrade caused critical boot files to be corrupted, which meant there were no visible files left on the hard drive.  Luckily, the drive was intact enough that I was able to successfully use data recovery tools to recover their photos and other documents. However, the cost in labour time is considerable, the data recovery and reinstall takes a couple of days and the user will have a lot of inconvenience in order to reinstall all their programs, SatNav, Printer, iTunes, Office etc. If the person had come to me to diagnose the slowness, I could have cloned the hard drive within a few hours, and everything would have been “as it was” but quicker.

Case B:
Black screen or frozen icons. This seems to happen a lot with Lenovo machines. The trouble is the Chinese Lenovo company put a load of “bloatware” on the computer that conflicts with something during the upgrade process. This can also be caused by “security software” – often known as anti-virus (although viruses are almost extinct, it’s usually trojans, or other malware that are the problem today.) Again, people often upgrade because something has gone wrong. Often, their paid anti-virus has expired, and instead of being sensible, and actually pay for a new one, or remove it and put a free one on, they leave it until they unsurprisingly get infected. So, then, they think, “ah Windows 10 will sort out all my problems.” Wrong again… the malware and Windows 10 will fight, and you’ll end up with a corrupted system.

Moral of the story.
Don’t consider an upgrade to Windows 10 as a solution to a problem. Fix the problem first. If you can’t do it yourself, call a professional.

I can be reached on 01646 602248 or 07934 453989.


Microsoft account locks people out of their computers

A Microsoft account is now the default favoured (…by Microsoft, that is!) way of logging on to your computer. The problem with this is that people forget their passwords. It then tells you to go to to reset your password… but you can’t log on to your computer.. see the problem? They offer no escape from this, other than use someone else’s computer.

The idiocy and lack of customer care of this defies belief. It’s all in the interest of so-called privacy/security, which is actually false security, as your personal data is still accessible to a thief. If your laptop is stolen, they can just put the hard drive in another computer (or into a external USB case) and access the files, unless you have encryption on the disk (which is a tiny number of people.)

Come on, Microsoft, get your act together, your war with pirates is detroying your relationship with your millions of customers.

All they need to do, is to allow users to log on with a temporary profile, so they can reset their password on their own machine. It is embarrassing for users to go to a friend’s house to reset the password.

Fed up with viruses? Try Linux!

linuxAll Windows operating systems have been plagued by viruses and other malware (=malicious software.) Apple Macs have often been paraded as being free from malware, but increasingly, they are being targetted by malware writers.

Linux is a free alternative to Windows and Mac and was first released in 1991. It has long been the system of choice for supercomputers and internet servers.

It is at it’s core, a secure operating system, as it uses a minimal kernel (the heart of the beast) which due to simplicity, offers a smaller “attack area” for the bad guys.

There are different versions (distributions/distros) of Linux, which appear very different (they use a different shell)

Some of the more popular ones are:

Linux Mint
Xubuntu (built on Ubuntu but designed for older/slower computers)Puppy
PartedMagic (a diagnostic distro)
DEFT (a forensic distro)

If you use your computer just for website browsing, Internet Banking, Facebook, or word processing, Linux could be a good alternative for you.

However, if you want to play most online games, or use special software like Photoshop, SatNav software or Microsoft Outlook, it could be problematic. In this case, a dual-boot option might work well. In other words, you could either Windows or Linux on start-up.

You can download a Linux .iso file and burn it to DVD and install it yourself, or contact me on 01646 602248 and I’d be happy to help.

8 bad decisions by Microsoft

  1. Removing F8 for start-up options (useful sometimes to get into safe mode when you can’t log in normally)
  2. Forcing windows updates on users and removing the ability to say “not now” (Windows 10)
  3. Treating all users like copyright thieves, so making it easier to use cracked copies of Windows than genuine copies.
  4. Preventing reinstallation of Windows from generic DVDs /USB sticks. If your hard drive fails, and you didn’t make a recovery drive, you’re screwed.
  5. Assuming everyone wants to use touch screen devices and abandoning the core historic user base of mouse and keyboard users.
  6. Removing useful information such as error messages and assuming all users are confused by such information.
  7. Generally treating the user base as either stupid or criminal.
  8. Trying to copy Apple and Google instead of being innovative and creative, and then not even getting that right.

Laptop for sale £60

This laptop is running Puppy Linux. It’s almost completely immune to viruses* and other malware. It’s running on an Acer aspire 5040. It’s ideal for Facebook, email and web browsing. Not suitable for Windows software. Recommended to people who are confident computer users. Comes with charger. Supplied with a high gain 802.11n 150Mbps USB adapter, so picks up even weak wireless signals.


*although Linux viruses exist, they are very rare and the damage they can do is much more limited than with Windows systems.

Call 01646 602248 if you want it. First come first served.

The “look down generation”

Technology is a wonderful thing. To be able to video chat to your family 1000s of miles away; to be able to find and then order an obscure book and download have the hard copy the next day or a Kindle version within seconds is incredible.

Some things are not so good about technology. Kids who walk into you because they are looking down at their phones. Going to concerts and can’t see the band because of 100s of phones in the air in front of you. Texting your kids to come down for dinner (or worse, taking the dinner into “the den” because they are in the middle of an “important quest” on their game.) Parties where 80% of people are on their mobiles instead of talking, flirting, drinking, dancing..

..and generally, technology drives people into communicating in a virtual way instead of talking face to face.

So, it bring people who are 1000s of miles away closer together, but pushes people who live in the same house (or town or village) further apart.

Facebook addiction
Facebook addiction – as much a problem for older users as the young’uns

…but I’m not letting the older generations off either! All the people who talk to each other on Facebook. Married couples who says “I love you” etc etc, when there are much more personal ways they could do it!

I think addiction to technology even includes the health risks of other more recognised addictions….. neck, back and wrist stain, not to mention obesity, increased risk of heart problems through lack of exercise and so on.

We need to stop glorifying technology and this obession with the latest gadget and start to think of it as a tool, and how practical is it to do a job, just like a spade or a hammer.

Some companies have a “no internal phonecall” day. Perhaps at home, we should allow ourselves a “non-technology” day, where we turn off our phones/computers for the whole day. Could you do this?

The safest way to bank online is not an app…

In general, Apple and Android tablets are safer to use on the Internet than Windows or Apple Mac computers. This is because only software from the Apple or Android stores can be installed. All apps in these stores are vetted and checked for malware. With a Windows or Mac computer, software from anywhere can be installed either by the user or by an exploit on a website. This dramatically reduces the risk of malware (trojans, viruses etc) but doesn’t stop phishing (conning the user into divulging sensitive info like passwords, dates of birthday, mother’s maiden names etc)

In January 2014, a (very technical) report was published which showed big security holes in banking apps for the iOS (iPad, iPhone etc.)

A genuine secure page for a bank will be digitally signed from a trusted source – however, a malicious person can create self-signed pages too. If you visit those pages with a regular browser, like Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari; you get a warning but with 40% of the apps tested, there was no warning. So you could be typing your user name and password into a fake page. Then, the owner of the page could use those details for their own ends.

So, the best solution is to use the browser on the tablet, and if you get a warning, get the hell out of there!

Indian cold callers claiming to be from Microsoft at it again!

They appear to target an area for a while before moving on, claiming to be  from microsoft and that you have errors on your computer and that they will fix it. At least one case I know, they put a password lock on the computer to stop the person logging on and then demanded £400. This is an article I wrote on 2010