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Monday, November 10, 2014

Windows 10 Technical Preview is here!

Windows 10 has arrived! Well at least in the form of a beta test called "Windows Technical Preview"

So alot of people are wondering what happened to Windows 9?
Initially there was a theory that Microsft avoiding the "9" title due to possible issues with the programming language relating to previous Windows  95 or 98. Again...that was just a theory.

The official word from the Redmond software giant is that "Windows 10 is not going to be an incremental step from Window 8.1," he explained. "Windows 10 is going to be a material step. We're trying to create one platform, one eco-system that unites as many of the devices from the small embedded Internet of Things, through tablets, through phones, through PCs and, ultimately, into the Xbox." according to Tony Prophet, Microsoft's corporate vice president.
So MS is trying to distance itself from the unpopular Windows 8.

Downloading Windows Technical Preview
You can download the preview here, However a word of caution. Once you install the operating system, you cannot go back to Windows 8 without re installing.
That being said it's highly recommended to install this on a secondary computer which you don't have any valuable files you don't want to lose.

But the most obvious bit of advice here, of course, is: Back up first, and create a recovery disk. In Windows 7, you will use Windows Backup for both. In Windows 8.x, you may need a third party utility, though that Windows 7 backup is there too. (Search for File History and then click "System Image Backup" in the lower-left corner of the File History control panel.) Search for "recovery drive" to create a recovery drive.

Getting Started
To install the Windows Technical Preview, you need to join the Windows Insider Program. So head on over to the Windows Insider Program web site and click the Get Started button.

You will find you have two choices of ISO files - a 32bit or a 64bit version.

If you're not sure which one to get, you can see which version you're currently using by right clicking 'My Computer' and clicking Properties. this will display your version of Windows. It will say "64-bit Operating System, x64-based processor" for 64-bit and "32-bit Operating System" otherwise. You will need the same type of OS version, especially if you're upgrading.

The ISO files are large, 3-4GBs. There's a few ways to install this on your system. Either by DVD, a USB drive or via a 'Virtual Machine' such as sandbox.

If you decide on the DVD or USB route copy it onto a USB or DVD.
When you're ready to install Windows Tech Preview, insert the USB drive or DVD with the ISO file on it and then run Setup.exe from the root folder on the drive.

The Installation
Win Tech Preview Licencing Agreement
The install typically takes 45minutes to 1 hour. Follow thru with the steps and accept the licencing agreement as well.

Win Tech Preview Ready screen

After Setup examines your system, you have one big choice to make. This screen assumes you wish to perform an in-place upgrade in which your current OS is upgraded to Windows Technical Preview, retaining all of your desktop applications and apps, and their settings, your OS settings and customization's, and your data.

Win Tech Preview Choices screen
If that is not what you want, click "Change what to keep." Then, in this screen, you will see the following options:

Keep Windows settings, personal files, and apps. The default, and what is called an in-place upgrade.

Keep personal files only. A migration, in which Setup backs up your documents and other data, clean installs Windows, and then returns your documents and other data to their original locations.

Nothing. A clean install, in which Setup erases your existing Windows install along with all of your settings, applications and data, and then installs a factory-fresh version of the Windows Technical Preview.

Your system will restart a few times and you will be prompted to choose between Express or Customer settings. I would recommend Express settings as they are configured for the basic Windows configuration. The next screen you will need to log into using your Microsoft/MSN/Hotmail account. Afterwards the screen will flash a few colors and the desktop will appear with the Start Menu and all it's glory

The Start Menu is obviously larger, and it’s more personal, more organized, and more fun than before. The Start Screen which was introduced with Windows 8, remains as well, and it's easy to switch between them. Your choice.

To get to the Start menu, click the Start button Windows Start button (or press the Start key on your keyboard). Then arrange it however you’d like. Pin folders, contacts, and go-to apps. Move and resize tiles or even resize the Start menu itself.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Whats the best software to remove adware, spyware and malware?

So you're surfing the internet but you constantly are getting these annoying pop-ups to buy the latest free antivirus. You simply close the pop-up and continue on.
Or your computer seems t be running slow even after you cleaned out the trash folder and the hard drive appears to be very busy accessing files.
Or you're on Youtube and you get a pop-up which informs you that your Java needs to be updated. You try to close the pop-up but are unable to. You actually have close and restart your browser!

Three different scenarios typically caused by three separate malicious programs. To remove the unwanted programs, lets go over what each program actually does.

Adware is any software that, once installed on your computer, tracks your internet browsing habits and sends you popups containing advertisements related to the sites and topics you've visited. While this type of software may sound innocent, and even helpful, it consumes and slows down your computer's processor and internet connection speed. 

Spyware - Once installed on a system they run in background and keep on collecting user’s personal data. These data can include your credit card numbers, passwords, important files and many other personal stuff. CoolWebSearch is an example of spyware and is noted by Webroot as the most dangerous programs involving spyware.

Malware is short for malicious software. Malware is a pretty broad term that encompasses computer viruses, worms, 'Trojan horses', and others. Malware is designed to interfere with normal computer operation, usually giving hackers a chance to gain access to your computer. The Mydoom virus of 2004 was noted as the fastest attack of malware ever seen creating havoc across over 1 million computers around the world..

Windows Defender used to be a recommended program for removing adware and spyware. If you're running a Windows machine running Vista or later it comes pre installed. However it's lost out to other third party vendors as it does not offer the strong protection and is not as thorough as it used to be. So which security suite is recommended?

Top brands for antivirus / antispyware are Trend Mico, AVG, Symantec Norton, Panda or Mcafee.

Others not so well known are Bitdefender, Avira, Kapersky Lab and F-Secure.

Definition File
Any antivirus/antispyware depend on whats called a 'definition' file. This file essentially contains a list of virus signatures which have been caught on the internet. This list is then used by the software. Its important that the definition file is updated on daily basis. Most antivirus / antispyware software have this done automatically.

Whats the best one?
Two major independent firms test antivirus / antispyware to see where they stand against attacks and threats and how well they protect your system. AV Comparatives is one of the companies which puts each program through a battery of tests. stress-tested these suites between September 2013 and February 2014. Here’s the virus detection rate of all of the suites. Larger numbers are better
Out of the 9 Antivirus/Antispyware programs Bitdefender, Kaspersky and Trend Micro all ranked the highest in protecting your system. Most of these companies release free or trial versions of their antivirus / antispyware programs. 

It's no guarantee that any of the programs that have performed well n the past will continue to do so, but one thing is sure......that viruses and spyware will continue to infiltrate the internet and attack computers world wide, so it's best to have your computer protected and secure.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Accessing your router web page

More and more customers I come across know an open unsecured network is an invitation for others to waltz and access your network at ease. It's the electronic equivalent of leaving your front door open. More over may have the ability to access your documents on your laptop/desktop if file & print sharing is enabled. To prevent such an infiltration of unwanted hackers and visitors snooping around your network needs to be secure. This means setting up a password on your network via the router settings web page. 

Take a deep's fairly simple and takes about 10 minutes to do.

First determine what brand router you have. Likely it's one of the main brand one's such as Linksys, Cisco, Belkin, DLink, or Netgear. You may have to look under the router for the make/model.

Open your favorite web browser. Enter in the IP address of your router. This depends of what brand router you have, however it's very likely either or or Answersthatwork has a great listing of IP addresses, default user names and passwords for most routers out on the market.

 If you enter your router IP address and you're prompted for a Username and Password, thats great!! You're one step closer to accessing your router settings and securing your network.

Belkin Router Login page

Enter in the default Username and Password. This is where you may have to experiment. Some router manufactures make the default Username as Admin and Password as Admin. It may be the router manufacture name (like Belkin) and password of Admin.

Again Answersthatwork has this listing for the default usernames and passwords.

 If you're still unable to login to the router web page, it’s possible that you may need to reset your router back to factory settings to regain access with one of the default IP address/username/password combinations above. That’s usually about as easy as finding a depressed button in the back of the router that’s labeled “Reset,” and pressing it with a pen for 30 seconds. try going back to step 2 above and try to log in again.

Once you've logged in successfully in the routers web page you can access several administrative settings concerning your home network. These settings include your network security and password, SSID Name (the name you give your home network), the list of current 'clients' or computers accessing your home network and other functions.

One of the first recommendations I give customers when setting up and configuring wireless networks is ensuring their network is secure with a password. That is typically found under the Security tab on the web page.

The web pages will differ slightly from one manufacture to the next. For more assistance I recommend referring to the support page of the router/modem manufacturer.

Here are a few links to popular router/modem manufactures.

Apple Airport
Western Digital

This article originally published 7/7/2012 - SL

Diagnosing Windows - Safe Mode - when and how to use it

This is part one of a three part series on Windows diagnostic tools:

It's Sunday night and your boss needs the reports on his desk first thing in the morning. Would normally be no problem, however the entire day had been endlessly frustrating because your computer has decided to play sick and seems to be bogged down. Your to the point where you want to commit defenestration. (Thats a fancy term for throwing someone or something out the window!)

Before we get too extreme lets take a step back and try a very basic step in Windows troubleshooting. When you start Windows 8 in Safe Mode, you start it with only the processes absolutely necessary for Windows to be usable.
When Windows boots into Safe Mode you can then troubleshoot to see what driver or service might be causing the problem that's preventing Windows from starting normally or bogging it down. That being said Safe Mode is only the first step in diagnosing an issue.

Safe Mode in Windows 8 is accessible from the Startup Settings menu.. So the first thing to do is to open the Setting menu.

1. Typically two ways to open Settings Menu:
     a. Press the Win Key + I on your keyboard
     b. or hover your mouse in the upper right to bring up the charm bar, then click Settings
2. Once the Settings Menu appears, click 'Change PC Settings" at the bottom.

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