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Dec 2015

Review Of 2015

We hope our blogs this year have been of some interest and help to you. Technology is a fast moving, ever-changing business and it’s sometimes hard to keep up, especially when you only use a computer every now and again. Let’s recap on some of the major happenings over the past year.

IN WITH THE NEW…
2015 saw the launch of Windows 10, replacing the much maligned Windows 8. This is the last major numbered release from Microsoft - future features and updates will be released on a regular basis instead of during a big release. So far the feedback has been mainly positive - approximately 110 million people throughout the world have upgraded to Windows 10. Remember that it is still free to upgrade to Windows 10 from an authentic copy of Windows 7 and 8.1 until July 2016. The main advantage of Windows 10 is that it can be used across all Microsoft devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and Xbox.

…AND OUT WITH THE OLD
Although Windows XP reached its “End of Life” in 2014 (meaning that bug fixes, free assistance and upgrades were no longer available), Microsoft did continue to provide virus warnings. This support however ended in July 2015. In fact, there is no support out there at all now for Windows XP, therefore continuing to use it puts not only your system at risk but also the systems of other people.

BUT SCAMS SEEM HERE TO STAY
As mentioned in several blogs, internet and phone scamming was rife in 2015. We have dealt with many customers who have fallen prey to these evil individuals who are simply out to make easy money. And they make it so easy for us to fall for their scams. For some people, owning a PC and using the internet is a big deal and with all the clamor surrounding keeping safe on-line, panic can set in and all they want to do it follow the advice of the person who has phoned them. So remember - NO ONE GENUINE WILL EVER phone you about a faulty computer. If you do receive a call from a so-called Microsoft engineer, put the phone down. NEVER give them passwords, access to your computer or bank details. EVER.

We have also seen a rise in the number of people who have come to us with recently purchased second-hand computers, which are not only faulty but also have non-genuine operating systems installed. Often these are very old laptops which have a more recent version of Windows illegally installed on them. Simply put, these older laptops weren’t built to run Windows 7 and 8. The laptops we’ve seen were all very underpowered XP machines and were purchased through places such as Facebook selling pages, Gumtree, boot fayres and disreputable computer shops. If you have been a victim of this practice, talk to Trading Standards and Microsoft.

Steps Setting Up a PC for the First Time

It’s Christmas and you’ve decided to treat the kids/your partner/your parents/your grandparents/yourself* (*delete as appropriate) to a new PC. “Hooray” they cheer as they unwrap their surprise – “we want to use it NOW!”
Oops. You see, unlike most electronic devices, which can be plugged in and used immediately, Windows PCs need to be properly set up. There are a few simple actions you should undertake when you first turn it on to make it safer, faster and better prepared for the future.
Install Windows Updates
Depending on when Windows was installed on your computer, there may be many updates, some of them large, to download. Connect the PC to the Internet, go to Settings, then System and Security > Windows Update > Check for Updates. Your system will search for updates, which you will need to download and install. Reboot your computer and do it again… and again… until the update check fails to return new entries. Be patient, it may take some time.
Customize
Do create a user account and password. Only forgo this step if you're 110% sure no one else will want to gain access to this PC. Ever. If the computer is to have multiple users, it really is a must.
You may also need to set your language, time zone, and clock and calendar. We would also advise adjusting the power settings, especially if you've got a laptop that is unplugged while in use. The "high performance" pre-sets will run the battery down faster.
Install an Anti-virus program
As we’ve mentioned numerous times in previous blogs, keeping your PC safe from malware and viruses is crucial.
Clean out the cr*p…
Large PC manufacturers install software on their computers at the factory. These "extras" are referred to as bundleware, bloatware, shovelware, and perhaps the most accurate, cr*pware. Download PC Decrapifier, a FREE tool that scans your PC for known bloatware, then allows you to delete it all in one click.
…then fill it up again!
Of course you needed to make room for your own stuff! Although we can't decide for you what software you need, no PC is complete without at least an office suite like Libre Office, a photo-editing tool, a media manager, Web browser and e-mail. And there are free alternatives for almost any program you might need – see next!
FREE Alternatives.
For popular and FREE Windows applications, such as web browsers, system tools, media applications, and cloud storage programs, go to www.ninite.com. Tick the programs you want to install, click Download Installer, and Ninite will download a single .exe file onto your system. Run the downloaded Ninite installer and it will automatically download each program you selected, installing it in the background. It’s brilliant.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our customers.