Category: Archived

Microsoft prompting users to get free upgrade to Windows 10

Filed under: Archived,Computing Tips - Mar 15 2016

Updated 4-20-16 to update information on how to back-out of forced installation, how to rollback and how to stop the Windows 10 Update prompt.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 became available on July 29, 2015, and computer users have been seeing upgrade prompts ever since. If your computer has Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you may have noticed a new icon has appeared on the right-hand side of your taskbar. The icon is Microsoft’s notification that invites users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Clicking the small Windows logo prompts users to initiate the download, then receive a notification when the operating system upgrade is ready to be installed. However just because it’s free doesn’t mean that you should install the upgrade.

Windows 10 upgrade prompt

If your computer has Windows 7 – we recommend that you DO NOT install Windows 10 and stay with Windows 7 until the year 2020 when support for Windows 7 is currently scheduled to be discontinued, then upgrade to the latest operating system or purchase a new computer at that time. Windows 10 is dramatically different, some programs and devices may not work with Windows 10, and there’s no compelling reason to upgrade. If you have Windows 8/8.1, if or when you decide to update make sure your data is backed up and proceed with caution – or have Computer Techs install the upgrade for you. Be aware that operating system upgrades can be problematic and several previous Windows features have been stripped from Windows 10.

Tip: If you’re tired of Microsoft nagging you to upgrade to Windows 10 there’s 2 handy programs that will disable the Windows 10 icon and prompts. Simply download and run Never 10 from this web site. Alternatively you can download and run the “standalone executable” GWX Control Panel found at this web site. If you need help with downloading, running or configuring the program – contact us.

If you’re curious about what Windows 10 has to offer, see Windows 10: Everything you need to know about Microsoft’s PC, smartphone and tablet OS and Microsoft: Get Started with Windows 10.

3-15-16: Microsoft has become more aggressive about forcing the installation of Windows 10 with a Window similar to the one pictured below that offers to install Windows 10 now or later with no obvious method to back-out or close the Window.

Schedule Windows 10 upgrade

If you don’t want Windows 10 (again we don’t recommended it if you have Windows 7), choose “Start the upgrade now”, then click “Decline” when presented with a EULA window similar to the one pictured below.

Windows 10 upgrade EULA

If you’ve already installed Windows 10, you have up to 30 days to roll back to your previous version of Windows. For detailed instructions see this article, or contact Computer Techs and we’ll do it for you.

Afterwards, follow the advice in the “Tip” above to download and run Never 10 or GWX Control Panel to prevent future upgrade attempts.

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AVG pop-up about Heartbleed is a lure to install paid version

Filed under: Archived,Security - Apr 25 2014

AVG Heartbleed popupIf you have AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition you may see a pop-up similar to shown at right. If you click “Learn More” it takes you to an AVG webpage with information about the Heartbleed bug that affects website servers, then recommends an upgraded paid version of AVG.

As with other AVG upgrade prompts we recommend that you decline the upgraded version – the free version is sufficient for most people.

 

 

 

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Heartbleed flaw impacts half a million websites – change your passwords

Filed under: Archived,Security - Apr 09 2014

The “Heartbleed bug” is a flaw in the OpenSSL encryption standard that is used by half a million websites which was uncovered on April 7. A majority of websites that require passwords for access use OpenSSL encryption to “scramble” the data transferred between your computer and the website’s server. OpenSSL has since been patched and millions of websites – many that you likely use – are being updated and new encryption certificates and keys are being issued.heartbleed

So what does this all mean for the average computer user? Though it’s unclear at this time if the flaw was exploited on any of the websites you use, you should change your passwords. Here is a website that you can use to check to see if the websites that you use were impacted by the bug, and if it is now safe to change your password: Check to see if websites that you use were vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug: https://lastpass.com/heartbleed.

Now is a great time to implement a password system that makes your passwords secure, different for every site, yet easy to remember. See How to change your email password.

More Heartbleed information:

Widespread Encryption Bug, Heartbleed, Can Capture Your Passwords

Heartbleed Bug: Should You Panic?

Half a million widely trusted websites vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

 

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AT&T email upgrade offers security enhancement: What you need to do now to help prevent hacking

Filed under: Archived,Computing Tips,Security - Jun 16 2013

AT&T recently began upgrading email accounts to a new look, and added a security feature that will help prevent the widespread hacking that has been occurring over the past few years. When the upgrade is ready, you will see the web page below if you access your “web mail” via http://att.yahoo.com/mail or http://mail.yahoo.com in a web browser. You may also access your web mail via the Mail icon on the AT&T/Yahoo or Yahoo home page. Click the “Switch Now” button to proceed with the upgrade.” If you only access your email through an program such as Windows Live Mail or Outlook you won’t notice the new look, however you should still enable the new SSL security feature described later in this article. You can click on the screen shots below to view a larger version.

AT&T webmail upgrade notice

AT&T Yahoo email upgraded UI

To help prevent hacking of your email account, we recommend that that you immediately enable SSL. To do so, click on the gear icon on the upper-right corner of the upgraded web mail and select “Mail Options”. In the General section, click on the checkbox to the left of “Make your att.net Mail more secure with SSL (i.e. preventing others from accessing your account at Internet cafes)”. Click “OK” on the refresh notice, then click on “Save”. (See screen shot below).

AT&T Yahoo email SSL checkbox

 

 

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Windows XP end-of-support deadline is less than 1 year away

Filed under: Archived,Computing Tips - Apr 18 2013

Windows XP logoIn April 2014, Microsoft will end support of Windows XP. The 12-year-old operating system was the standard operating system offered on new PCs from 2001 through 2007. A Windows XP computer won’t just stop working in April 2014, but the absence of monthly critical security updates will make it more susceptible to getting viruses and malware that can steal your personal information if the computer is continued to be connected to the internet.

There is no method to upgrade to a newer version of Windows on computers with Windows XP. Since the average life of a computer hard drive is approximately 5 years, now is a good time purchase a new computer. See this article for information on how you can still get a computer with Windows 7. Also see How to shop for a new PC and get the best deal.

 

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Disable Java in your web browser to help minimize its security vulnerabilities

Filed under: Archived,Computing Tips,Security - Jan 14 2013

In light of recent media attention to the security vulnerabilities in Java, it is recommended that you disable Java in your web browser to minimize the risk of infected websites using Java to access your computer. But you first need to check your current version of Java and update to the latest version in order to disable it.

1. Check your current version of Java and update if necessary. If the site doesn’t detect Java or gives an error message – it’s already disabled or not installed, so you don’t need to go to the next step.

Java logo2. How do I disable Java in my web browser?

If you do not see Java in your computer’s Control Panel, the Java Control Panel applet may be launched by finding and running javacpl.exe manually. This file is likely to be found in one of the following folders on your computer: C:\Program Files\Java\jre7\bin or C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jre7\bin.

Java is used in very few websites. The most common websites that use Java on your computer in order to work properly include many game websites, 3D mapping, financial trading and business specific applications. If you need Java for a specific website, consider adopting a two-browser approach. If you normally browse the Web with Firefox, for example, consider disabling the Java plugin in Firefox, and then using an alternative browser (Chrome, IE9, Safari, etc.) with Java enabled to browse only the site(s) that require it.

 

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How to update the free version of AVG Anti-Virus

Filed under: Archived,Computing Tips,Security - Oct 29 2012

If you have the free version of AVG AVG Anti-Virus, recently it has been prompting to install the newest update for 2013. If you have not yet installed the update, below I give instructions on how to install the free version, which is not the default installation. The default installation installs a 15-day trial to AVG Internet Security (which I do not recommend), after which an annual fee is required to keep the program up-to-date.

Select the “Basic protection” button before clicking “Next” when you see this screen.

UNcheck the 2 boxes that add optional toolbars to your browser and change your default search engine before clicking “Next” when you see this screen.

If you have already installed AVG Internet Security Trial and you wish to revert back to the free version, see this article.

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New operating system for Apple’s iDevices a worthwhile upgrade

Filed under: Archived,Computing Tips,Tech Support - Oct 31 2011

Apple released iOS 5 this month, an update for iPhones, iPads and iPods that improves device speed and adds over 200 new features and enhancements. Anandtech.com has posted a comprehensive review of iOS 5 with screen shots and videos detailing some of the changes and new features.

One of the most notable improvements that comes with iOS 5 is access to iCloud – a synchronization and backup system. Photos, contacts, calendars and email with @me.com addresses sync between iCloud and multiple iDevices and PCs or Macs. iTunes Match will sync your music with the cloud. Daily automatic backups will allow the device information and settings to be restored to an existing or new device if needed. And future iOS updates will be automatically installed after iOS 5 is installed.

Would you like to print from your device? Printers that support AirPrint will show up automatically when you select “Print” on your iDevice. If your printer is not listed, there is 3rd party software that can be installed on a PC or Mac that is connected to a printer that enables printing from your iDevice.

To upgrade your iDevice to iOS 5 you need the latest version of iTunes installed on your computer, and all apps should be updated to the most current versions. After your device is connected to your computer with the supplied USB cable – iTunes should detect your device and prompt to download and install iOS 5.

If you need help updating your device, setting up the iCloud backup and syncing features, setting up printing or showing you the new iOS 5 features – give Mark at Computer Techs a call.

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[Old Article] New AVG Anti-Virus 2012 available – How to install new free version

Filed under: Archived,Computing Tips,Security - Sep 28 2011

AVG has released the 2012 version of their free anti-virus and other paid versions. Installing the update should be quick and easy if you following the instructions below.

When a pop-up from the system tray appears – as shown below (near the clock on the bottom right corner of your screen), click “Update Now”.

 

By default “Full protection” is selected. For the free/basic version which we recommend, select “Basic protection” (as shown below) then click “Next”.

 

That’s it! The installation should continue, then prompt you to restart your computer when finished.

After installation if you get a prompt to scan your computer for errors or problems with the AVG PC Analyzer component, I recommend avoiding doing the scan. It looks for registry errors and junk files among other things – which are harmless – then prompts you to purchase the add-on if you want items fixed.

If you have problems with the automatic installer, you can manually download the new free version directly from AVG’s website:
http://free.avg.com/us-en/download.prd-afh

If you need assistance downloading and installing the new AVG Anti-Virus, please call or e-mail us. We’ll be happy to take care of it for you, and give your computer a check-up/tune-up while we are there.

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A message about the December 2010 AVG Anti-Virus update problem

Filed under: Archived,Computing Tips,Security - Dec 27 2010

On the evening of December 1 I received 4 phone calls within about 30 minutes with each caller having the same problem following a prompt by AVG Anti-Virus to restart the computer. The problem was that their computer would not start up. A check of social media networks and other news sources indicated it was a widespread problem across the world. Since a large majority of Computer Techs clients use the free version of AVG for their anti-virus detection, I decided to notify our 1300+ clients via the Computer Techs monthly newsletter subscription list, and on our social networking news feeds at FaceBook.com/ComputerTechs and Twitter.com/CTreno.

Over time it was discovered that the newly released program update was incompatible with 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7, causing Windows not to start. Once the problem update was discovered it was quickly pulled from AVG download servers to prevent problems on more computers.

AVG is not the only anti-virus vendor that has temporarily released an update that caused problems with computers. McAfee, Trend Micro and BitDefender have all had bad updates in the past few years. Microsoft has even released updates as part of their monthly automatic critical updates that have caused problems for millions of computer users.

We still recommend AVG anti-virus because it’s easy to use, provides good virus detection and the availability of a free version which is enough for most computers. If you are upset like we are about AVG’s new “PC Optimizer” and other add-ons that pop-up and eventually ask for payment, another free alternative is Microsoft Security Essentials. Remember that an anti-virus program is your second line of defense for computer security. Your first line of defense is practicing safe computing habits.

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