Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Has that Windows 10 Upgrade popup pushed you close to letting it happen, just to make the prompts go away?

Before you give in, consider these questions:

1. Do you have a current complete backup of your data - anything you don't want to lose? Photos, documents, music, emails and contacts? Upgrades can go wrong, and if it stalls during the upgrade and you have to force a restart you data would be in jeopardy.
2. Have you checked to see that all your hardware and software (graphics adapters (video cards), printers, scanners, photo, financial, work programs) all work well with Windows 10? There are still a lot of computers with video issues in Windows 10, for starters.
3. Do you have the Recovery Media for your current operating system? If something goes wrong, you'll need it.
4. Do you have a good reason to install Windows 10, other than getting rid of the annoying prompts to install it? I haven't found many, but having Windows 8 or 8.1 is one.
5. Are you ready to give up more privacy and personal information to Microsoft and others? There are a lot of privacy setting to configure in Windows 10 - though not the right ones - and scant information to help you decide.
6. Are you aware you NEVER have to upgrade to Windows 10? If Windows 7 is working well for you, there's no compelling reason to install the upgrade. If you're using Windows 8, 10 is better.
7. Are you aware you have until the end of next July to install the free upgrade, so there's no hurry? Why not give everybody more time to fix the issues before diving in? It's quite possible that free offer will be extended, too.
8. Are you comfortable answering installation questions and making decisions during the upgrade? If you run into questions you can't answer, will you simply click "Yes" and continue? Will you look them up after the upgrade, and fix any you shouldn't have allowed?
9. Do you have another Internet-connected device handy to look up questions during the upgrade?
10. Are you sure you can't live with the Windows 10 Upgrade Now popups a little longer?

If you're satisfied you're ready, give it a try. If you're not happy with the changes you can revert back to your previous operating system for 30 days after the upgrade. Or, anytime after that with your Recovery Media. You have the Recovery Media, right?

If you want Windows 10 on your computer and would like it to just appear with all the updates and new Recovery Media and your data in the right places, I can help.

Cathy Contant              315-573-4905     

Monday, November 30, 2015


When your friends ask you why you're sending them spam, point them here. It's more likely coming from THEIR infected computer than yours.
You know those emails you get too, now and then appearing as if they've been sent by a friend? There's not much you or they can do about it, beyond normal computer maintenance. What is "normal computer maintenance"? Stay tuned - that's coming up in the next post.
Meanwhile, read this and send to all your friends who are getting questionable emails from you. 

Cathy Contant     315-573-4905

Tuesday, November 24, 2015



Dell has just released a tool to remove the offending services that could cause serious trouble. Technical details can be found at the link below, but what you need to do if you're using a newer Dell computer is run the tool to fix the problem.

Click the link, then open the document. It will open in Microsoft Word, OpenOffice Writer, LibreOffice and most other word processing software that can read current formats. If you don't have a program on your computer that can open current formats, let's talk - there are free solutions.

Click the link to download, then run the tool. Always download a file to your computer before running it, so your antivirus software can check it first. If you simply click "Run" when prompted during download, you're taking an unnecessary chance of infecting your computer. 

The tool only takes moments to run, so please do this right away. Or, watch for a prompt on your computer screen from Dell to install a fix. That may take longer. 

If you want me to do this for you, contact me with a good time to connect to your computer via remote. Please don't let this go by without acting.

Cathy Contant      315-573-4905

Sunday, November 22, 2015


When you break open the seal on your new computer with Windows 10, plan on some time to create, activate and install things. Here's what you'll need.
1. Create a Microsoft Account. Why? Because your Windows 10 computer will work better with all the features enabled, and you'll get to play your games. Follow the prompts to create the account, including an email address (use an existing address, or set up a new Outlook email account with Microsoft). You'll need to give up some personal information and be able to respond to either email or text verification in a timely manner.
2. Create the Recovery Media. Before you do anything else. In the Search Box (Cortana, if you will), type "create recovery media". Follow the prompts. You'll need a blank flash drive (use a 32GB drive) or 2 to 4 blank DVDs. NOTE: Some Dell laptops are having trouble creating the Recovery Media at this time. Simply contact Tech Support and ask them to send you the Recovery Drive.
3. Antivirus: Windows 10 comes with built-in antivirus, anti-malware and firewall protection. Most computer manufacturers include a trial or a limited-time subscription to an Internet Security Suite such as McAfee, Norton or WebRoot. You should know that in order to use such "included" software, you'll need to disable the software you've already paid for with your Windows 10 license, and the "free" or trial security suite will start nagging you to renew, upgrade or otherwise find a way to grab more money from you. Also, the more aggressive the security software, the less control you have over your computing. I'm happy with the included Defender software, but if you choose to activate and use another package, install it, activate it and configure it properly.
4. Add-ons: Install the programs that don't come with the computer, but are useful and will throw errors if not installed when you try to use something that needs them. That means a PDF Reader (Adobe, Foxit, etc.), iTunes, AIR, Flash, Shockwave, Java, and a number of others.
5. Office Suite: Microsoft includes links to Office365 in Windows 10 - all you need to do to use it (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) is sign in with your Microsoft account, and buy a subscription. Unless you'd rather use a free, fully-Office compatible office suite such as Apache OpenOffice or LibreOffice. LibreOffice, by the way, can use most of your old Microsoft Works files. I install one of these suites on every computer, and so should you. Even if you have the installation discs and license number for an older version of Microsoft Office (install it), the newer, open-source suites will work with current file formats and your old Office may not.
6. Personal software: Now install your online backup (Carbonite, etc.), financial program (QuickBooks, Quicken, TurboTax, etc.), photo-editing or management programs and whatever else you'd like.
7. Printers: Windows 10 is awesome at installing most late-model printers. If yours is more than 5 years old, it's time for a new one. Ask me if you don't know what to get - I've had great success with several inexpensive all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/faxes.
8. Copy your data from your old computer. Various ways, search online or ask if you need help.
9. Get online and go! Now, with most steps behind you it's time to check out your new computer.
If you'd rather have someone else prepare your new computer, contact me anytime - I'm glad to help and can make short work of it! I can also recommend and obtain the right equipment for you, so please ask if you'd like help.

Cathy Contant 315-573-4905


Incredible sale deals are flooding into our Inbox and populating the ad spaces online. You may be considering a new computer, with the prices available now. Here's what to look for, and what to avoid.
Any computer on a blow-out deal will come with Windows 10 now. It's not a terrible thing, and certainly not the nightmare that was Windows 8/8.1. However, the hardware and software devices are not all speaking well with each other just yet, so be prepared for some changes down the road.
Look for a decent processor, because in a year when you're thinking things have really slowed down, you'll be right - and a better processor and more RAM will help. Stick to an Intel Core i5 or i7 (i3 if you don't mind waiting for pages to load and programs to open and close). Avoid the low-end Celeron and AMD processors.
RAM - aim for 8GB or more. 6 will do, 4 will be rather pokey.
Do you need/want a dvd drive? Many modern computers eliminate them to save weight and size, and the days for CDs and DVDs are numbered. If you have a lot of material on disc, get a computer with a drive, or buy an external DVD drive (about $25).
What to do when you get home with a new computer? There are some important steps to take before you jump onto Facebook. You may want to tackle them yourself, or have someone do the setup for you. See next post.
Cathy Contant 315-573-4905

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Why should you NOT pass along scams on Facebook and via email? Let me count the ways. Better yet, That's has already done it. Read on.

The biggest reason? It makes you a target.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Last night's power outage sparked this reminder: at the first indication of power fluctuations, turn off and unplug any electronics you don't want to lose.
Consider using a battery-backup unit for the main components of your computer system - tower, external drive, router, cable modem, printers, monitor, speakers. In that order. Besides adding good surge suppression to the system, the battery also smooths out brownouts - which are a bigger danger to electronics because they happen all day long. Every day.
Me? I lost a nice set of speakers and sub-woofer. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Did your computer mysteriously restart itself last night? Welcome to Microsoft Automatic Updates.
A dozen security-based patches were released by Microsoft yesterday, and some other familiar apps updated, as well.
Flash and AIR (Adobe) are new; Flash may have updated itself or prompted you to help. If you use Ninite (automatic updater) you can run it to update Flash and a number of other programs.

If you'd like to check and install Flash updates yourself, go to, then click on Flash Player in the lower-right corner. You can also update Adobe Reader, AIR and Shockwave here.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Basically, it's semantics. Potentially Unwanted Programs are bad, and you don't want them on your computer.
Here are a few: ASK, SlimCleaner, MyPC Backup, System Optimizer Pro, PC Optimizer, Babylon, SearchProtect, MapsGalaxy, TidyNetwork, CouponPrinter, StormAlerts, Optimizer Pro, Snap.Do, OpenSoftware Updates and anything served up by Conduit.
If you find any of these on your computer, clean it out or get it cleaned out. Most times, I can clean it up via remote connection, or you can drop off your computer for a thorough clean and update.


Like-farming - it's a thing and you don't want to participate. Stop "liking" widespread shares that insist you "Share if you love Jesus" or "Help us get Granny 100,000 likes on her birthday" or "Help end diabetes/cancer/drunk driving by sharing this post".
The posts were created to get likes, so the creator can then sell the Page with lots of likes and followers.
Be a creator, not a follower.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Windows 10 has some really cool features, when they work. Like connecting to your network and installing printers, which used to be fairly painful if you didn't do it all the time. 

But. While Microsoft is working hard to make things compatible, the computer manufacturers are behind. People are ordering new computers with Windows 10, partly because of the glitzy media campaign, the promise of something new, and partly because Windows 7 computers are getting harder to find and more expensive. 

While setting up a nice, new Windows 10 laptop from Dell yesterday, I encountered errors trying to create the Recovery Media. So, I sat down for a nice, long tech support chat with Dell. You might want a comfy chair and a beverage for this.

First, he tells me I have to call Microsoft, since I'm not using the Dell application to create the Recovery Media. I say no, this is a new Dell machine and you are obliged to support it during the warranty. And there IS no Dell application on Windows 10. Next, he sends me to several links to download the Dell Backup and Recovery Manager (DBRM), to create the Recovery Media. I'd already searched the problem and knew the DBRM was incompatible with computers shipped with Windows 10. 

In fact, in large bold letters on the page he sent me to download it was a big warning NOT to install it on new machines shipped with Windows 10. Half an hour more out of my life, he's finally convinced. So, I ask again how to create the Recovery Media. He asks me what that means. I ask to be bumped up to a more-experienced tech. He ignores my request. I explain part of the process of setting up a new computer involves creating Backup Media - DVDs, flash drive - to recover the operating system, drivers and original software should the Recovery Partition become damaged or infected. Or the hard drive fails. Which will save $30-100 and a week of your time by not having to purchase them during a disaster. If they're available.

He comes back with "Oh, we have that on flash drive". I say "Great, send it to me, and include it with all new computers with Windows 10 until you find another solution". 

Bottom line, so far - New computers aren't completely ready for Windows 10. If you're looking for a new computer, seriously consider getting one with Windows 7, which comes with the free Windows 10 Upgrade by the end of July of next year. Where can you get such an animal? Dell. 

So be it. Dell is really good at Windows 7 computers, if you stay away from the low-end Celeron and AMD processors and stick with i5 or i7 and 6 or 8GB RAM. 

But hurry. Inventory is dwindling, and in my best QVC voice "When they're gone, they're gone". 

Cathy Contant     31-573-4905

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Maybe you noticed your computer slowed down a bit last week, or that it didn't respond to your clicks as quickly as usual. Or, the familiar updates shield appeared on your Shut Down button. 

Although Time Warner (RoadRunner) and Facebook, among other services, experienced some service issues and outages at times, the real culprit was probably automatic updates to your computer. 

Microsoft released a round of patches for all supported operating systems, and some require a restart of your computer to finish. You may notice they're still installing when the computer starts up again; this is normal. Let them finish and you'll be on your way a lot faster than if you try to jump in too soon. 

Also this month, updates for Adobe Flash, AIR, Adobe Reader, Mozilla Firefox and Java have been released. Some may prompt you to update, some may come in automatically. If you have the Ninite installer on your computer, run it now to install most of the updates with the least amount of work. 

Ninite can't update Flash, so you'll need to do that yourself. You may see a prompt to install Flash, or you can go to the Adobe web site to update it. Be sure to do it with both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, as they use different versions.

While you're cleaning and updating, check your backup to be sure it's working properly and the files you want to save are actually backing up. Don't know how? Ask!

Cathy Contant                           315-573-4905

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Are you having trouble with your RoadRunner email lately? 

Or, maybe your RoadRunner (Time Warner) Internet service has been flaky.

You're not alone, and It's probably not you or your computer. Don't mess with the settings on your computer. If they worked yesterday, they should work today unless somebody played with your computer. 

More likely, you're feeling the fallout from Time Warner's latest service woes.

If you do call Time Warner (and I wouldn't bother unless it's gone on for more than two days) DON'T let them connect to and mess with your computer, or try to send you to "Microsoft" or a "Microsoft Partner" to "fix your computer". Most times it will result in you needing someone else to fix their fix, because there wasn't anything wrong on your end but they need to make it look like they did something so the crews have time to fix whatever's wrong on THEIR end.

Here's a quick way to check the status of Time Warner's network:

And today's latest outage map:

If you have questions about your email or your Internet service you can call, text or email me anytime. I've probably already heard about it and can save you some time and agony.

Cathy Contant 315-573-4905

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Microsoft (Windows and Office) and other developers release patches and updates on the second Tuesday of every month. Updates are released, as needed, at other times, too. 

So far today I've seen an update for Shockwave. If I've installed the Ninite updater for you, run it later this week and check for Windows Updates manually. 

If you see the update shield on the Shut Down button, it means updates are waiting to install. Shut the computer off, wait for the updates to install, then turn it back on. Installation may continue for a few minutes, then you should be back at your Desktop. 

For now, do not allow Windows 10 to download or install. Unless you like adventure, waiting a bit longer will make life easier. 

Please share with anyone you think could use this information, and call, email or text if you have questions.

Cathy Contant         315-573-4905

Friday, August 28, 2015


In case you've been wondering about those rumors that Microsoft is copying your hard drive and spying on you, I've shared here (below) a link to the latest news on the subject.

Keep in mind that whenever you sign into any service online (email, music, banking, shopping, photos, Facebook, backups) you're exposing your data and your identity, with the potential of it being accessed by hackers, company employees, and your Internet Service Provider.

In Microsoft's case, they it clear anything that passes through their servers or stored for you by them (OneDrive, Hotmail, Outlook, Office apps) would be subject to access by authorities in DEFINED EXTREME SITUATIONS. And, by the way - you get the same terms of service when you use Yahoo, Google/Gmail, Dropbox, Pandora, Amazon, your banks and other financial institutions.

Bottom line? If you don't want to take the chance that somebody, somewhere, might read it, see it, take it or share it, don't let it out of your control. Better yet, don't create it in the first place. Forensics, and all.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Try to resist a while longer. Microsoft is pushing out regular fixes for many bugs they continue to uncover, and it's just not ready for the general public yet.
If you're using Windows 7, there's no compelling reason to install Windows 10. It's still a major change from what you're used to, and while not as horrific as Windows 8/8.1, it's still a Big Unknown. Windows 10 was developed as a response to the masses who just hated Windows 8 and 8.1, with an attempt to make it look and work more like Windows 7. If you're already using Windows 7... why would you "upgrade" to an operating system that's only trying to emulate what you already have?
If you're using Windows 8/8.1 and hate it, waiting a few more months will mostly likely pay off. Unless you enjoy constantly installing urgent fixes, learning how to do things differently, and making sure you have EVERYTHING you don't want to lose backed up two different ways.
Stay tuned - I'll let you know when upgrading to Windows 10 is finally a reasonable option.
Please share with everyone who's asked you about messages pressuring them into letting Windows 10 install.
Cathy Contant 315-573-4905

Thursday, May 7, 2015


If you happen to trip across something that triggers a big, screen-filling message that tells you your computer is infected and gives a number for you to call immediately DO NOT DO IT.
Your computer is not infected, and the people on the other end are not legitimate. They will try to convince you to allow them into your computer via remote to "fix" the infections, and they are really threatening. They might tell you they are a "Microsoft Partner". They might tell you there are a lot of infections on your computer and also say if you don't let them in they'll have to disconnect your computer from the Internet (they can't).
Please don't call the number on your screen - it will start you down a rabbit hole you don't want to enter. These people are convincing, relentless and they will keep calling you. If you've already spoken with someone like this and they have your credit card info, cancel the card and get a new one.
You may not be able to close the message or shut down the computer normally. Simply hold the power button in for 5-15 seconds and your computer will go off. Wait a minute, then turn it on and immediately do a clean-up of your computer. In order: run CCleaner, AdwCleaner, Malwarebytes and SuperAntispyware. If the tools don't show any infections, carry on. If they find things that need to be removed, do so.
If you want help with any of this, contact me. You can call, text, email or FB message me ANYTIME - day or night. If you're EVER not sure about a message on your machine, contact me before proceeding. I don't charge to answer questions!
Cathy Contant 315-573-4905

Friday, March 27, 2015

FORWARDED EMAILS AND PUPS (Potentially Unwanted Programs)

Q: What are more dangerous, prolific and harder to kill than a computer virus?

A: Forwarded emails.

We all get them - emails from usually well-meaning friends and family who think we might enjoy something someone else sent to them. Political rants, religious reminders, cute animals, amazing views - they have far more potential to damage your computer experience than to help you in any way.
Most people sending you forwarded emails aren't trying to infect your computer, but when the email they got from someone else, who got it from someone else, contains something added along the way and you click on it to See More or even just open the forwarded email, suddenly you have lots more than a friendly "Hello". Popups, warnings, slowdowns, windows that won't close (by the way, DON'T keep trying to close those windows - you're activating even more bad stuff) - appear out of nowhere.
What should you do when something takes over your computer? Shut it off. Just shut it off by holding the power button on the computer in for about 10 seconds. Then, either leave it off and call someone you trust - NEVER CALL THE NUMBER that popped up on your screen purporting to help you - or turn it on again and see if you can run your cleanup routine. Don't have a cleanup routine? Try or call someone you trust.
Oh, and those warning windows that pop up trying to convince you they can clean up your computer if you just call the number provided? It's a scam. If you call them and follow through with their requests you'll not only not get your computer cleaned completely, they'll probably drop more unwanted garbage so you have to keep calling - and paying - until you wise up to their scheme.
I can probably clean your computer via remote, or you can drop it off, or I can pick it up and have it back to you usually next day. You can find me, I don't scam people, and the job I do is thorough and complete. Better - Faster - Cheaper is pretty rare, but it does exist. Call, text, email, Facebook Message any time, day or night, weekends and holidays too; the sooner we talk about what's going on the better the chances are to stop further infections and leave you with a clean computer.
Please share this with the people you care about who need this information.

Cathy Contant                        315-573-4905

Thursday, March 12, 2015


It’s time again to install the updates for your computer. Why? When? How?
Because, despite the annoyance of checking for and installing patches and updates, it’s still infinitely better than losing your pictures, documents, music and email. And it’s better than being without your computer for however long it takes to remove the infections and make it whole again. And if you learn how to do it, it will be less intimidating and annoying when you do it again next month. How do I know this? Besides reading about it just about every day, almost every computer that comes into my office either infected or messed-up in other ways is missing updates.
Monthly, after the 10th of the month – or when it slows down, or something doesn’t seem right.
1. Check for and install necessary Microsoft updates. 
If your computer is configured to automatically check for and install important updates, you may seldom need to do this step. However, almost every month now Microsoft pushes out some update or another that needs to install by shutting down your computer. If you see the shield on the Shutdown button, turn off your computer and allow the updates to install. You may see them finishing the installation the next time you start up the computer.  To check for and install Windows updates manually at any time, click Start – Windows Updates. Click Check for Updates on the left, then install all the Important updates. I also install most of the Optional updates.
2. Updates for plugins, add-ons and necessary basic software
We used have to go find the necessary updates for many of these programs on a regular basis, or some would prompt when there was an update available. It was tedious, and the process changed regularly. It was next to impossible to get them all, particularly without installing unrelated third-party software (AKA junk). Now we have Ninite – a program that will go out and check for updates for certain applications, then install them without prompting you to click OK every other minute, and *without* including junkware. If I’ve worked on your computer in the last year or two, you probably have the Ninite installer on your computer. If it hasn’t been updated since October of last year, it needs to be recreated – Java 8 only comes along with the new Ninite installer. Once you have a current Ninite installer, customized to your software, you simply need to run it monthly – best after the 10th of the month.
3. Ninite is great, but it doesn’t cover everything. Flash will need to be updated separately – and to complicate things further, you’ll need two different versions. To update, you can click the pop-up notification when you see it and follow the prompts, taking care not to allow it to install 3rd party software like Norton or McAfee Security Scans or Google Toolbar or the dreaded ASK toolbar. Uncheck the box that offers ANYTHING other than Flash, and it’s always there so be sure to look for it. There are two versions of Flash, and you need to install both. One is for Internet Explorer, and one works with Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Or, to install manually, you can go to with BOTH Internet Explorer and Firefox (not at the same time). Look for the link (currently in the bottom-right of the Adobe home page) to install Flash, and follow the prompts – again being sure to uncheck the box that offers 3rd party software.
4. CCleaner is tricky to update and you can get conned into installing the wrong thing – so if you prefer, just use the version you have installed now. Open it, click Run Cleaner (bottom right corner), then close when done. Do this weekly.
5. Back up your data. There should be three copies of anything you don’t want to lose; one on your computer, one on an external drive and one in online storage. Check your external drive to be sure the files are current and the automatic backup is working. If you don’t know how, ask.  Then log into your online backup service and check to see if the data you want to keep safe is there.
If you’re not sure about some or any of this, let’s talk. I post information about current updates, tips, and malware to watch out for on a regular basis on Facebook. Follow along here: