Tuesday, February 16, 2016


One of the most painful events in computing is to realize you suddenly don't have access to your data. And you don't have a backup, or your backup is *really* old. And, it might have been self-inflicted. What to do?

First, go ahead and rant, then plead, then accept that forward is the only direction available. And become prepared with Recovery Media and a backup plan. 

Even if you have your data, you're going to need the installer files for your software (non-subscription programs like Microsoft Office, Quicken and Photoshop) and hardware (printers, scanners, though most can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website). Programs have to be installed, not copied from your backup - they don't work that way. That's why automated backup services don't back up programs - just data. 

Once your computer is back up and running, you'll need to install all the Microsoft updates, basic apps and your software, then copy your data back where it belongs. If you use a local email client like Outlook, Windows Live Mail or Thunderbird, you'll need to set it up and import the contacts and messages. 

Plan on six hours or so to install everything after the Factory Recovery completes. Then plan on your new backup system.

Conventional wisdom says keep three copies of anything you don't want to lose - documents, email addresses, photos, tax info, etc. The first copy lives on the computer, then a copy backed up to an external drive on a regular schedule and a copy "in the cloud". There are many ways to keep your stuff online (in the cloud), which is then accessible from any Internet-connected device.  

You can use a service like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox, and there are many more. Most give you some free storage space, and charge as your storage needs increase. Generally, you have to put your stuff in the folder on your computer that syncs with the service; it's not automatic unless you reconfigure where your computer saves data or do it manually every time you save something. You can also email a copy of just about anything to yourself, if it's small enough. Just don't delete the email when you receive it; move it to a folder for items you want to keep. 

Online backup services such as Carbonite have saved many of my clients and me from disaster. For about $60 per year, it will immediately copy any data item on your computer that's created or changed without any assistance from you. There are many other online backup services. 

There are points to consider with every backup solution. Online services will take some time for the initial backup to complete, and if you should need a lot of data copied back in a hurry, keep in mind the speed at which it downloads is limited by your Internet connection. That's where the external drive comes in! However, should something happen locally that affects the external drive, you'll be glad to have the online service, too. What could happen? Power glitches, theft, water damage, physical damage or you just forgot to plug it back in. 

This subject is fresh in my mind because I'm working through the whole process with two more people who didn't back up their data, didn't have Recovery Media and didn't have the installation files or license numbers for software they purchased and want to use. Check your backup, find your recovery media, program installation files and license numbers. 
Cathy Contant 315-573-4905 cathy@cathycom.com

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


The second Tuesday of every month is known as Patch Tuesday. Microsoft and other developers release software fixes and enhancements, collectively known as "updates".
Today, February 9, so far I've seen updates for Windows, Adobe AIR, Flash and Firefox. Java released a fairly urgent update two days ago.
The easiest way to get the most updates installed with the least amount of work and decision-making is to use Ninite. While you can't update Windows, Office, Flash, CCleaner or Adobe Reader with it, you can easily check for and install updates for Firefox, Chrome, Adobe AIR, Shockwave, Java, iTunes, QuickTime, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, VLC, Picasa, Paint.Net, The Gimp, Google Docs, Google Earth, Google Drive, Dropbox, Audacity, FoxIt Reader and a lot of other useful, free utilities and apps. If I've worked on your computer in the last several years I installed Ninite to update the apps on your computer. If you can't find it, ask.
To update Flash, go to the Adobe web site, then click on Flash Player in the lower right corner and follow the prompts. Be sure to uncheck any boxes that offer to also install any 3rd-party apps like toolbars or search engines or security scanners.
To update CCleaner, open CCleaner and click the "Check for updates" link in the lower-right. When you get to the web page scroll all the way down and click "No Thanks" to the upgrade offer. On the next page click the Download button under CCleaner Free; save it to your computer, then find the installer and run it. Always save anything you download, rather than running it so your antivirus has a chance to check it.
To update Adobe/Acrobat Reader, open Reader, click Help - check for updates and follow the prompts.
To install Microsoft updates in Windows 7, click the Start button, go to Windows Update, then click Check for Updates and follow the prompts. You don't need every optional or hardware update, but do install all the Important ones. You may need to restart your computer to complete the installation.
When should you install updates? Waiting a few days for any bugs to surface and get fixed is a good idea, but those prompts to install updates are pretty compelling. You can do a System Restore if things go wrong, so do what works for you.
If you have questions or want help I can connect to your computer with your help via remote - call, text or email.
Cathy Contant 315-573-4905 cathy@cathycom.com

Monday, February 8, 2016


It's a scam, and though the message may look as though it's coming from Time Warner or Microsoft, it's not. 
If you - or someone you know - gets a popup window that takes over your computer and demands you call their 800/888 number to fix your computer, don't do it. If you've already called and given them your credit card info and control of your computer, let's talk right now. There are things you need to do.
These scams are traveling around again in full force today. Something you clicked on triggered it - from an email link or link on a web site or Facebook, etc.
It's possible your computer is infected with malware, or that there's simply something in the temporary files that pops up the message every time you open a browser.
Here's what to do: 
  1. Shut off your computer. You may need to hold the power button in for 10 seconds or so before it will shut down. 
  2. Turn it back on
  3. Update and run CCleaner, AdwCleaner, SuperAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes. If the last several come up clean, you're probably in the clear. If each one finds and offers to remove malware, you should have it checked to get everything out. Anything left over can trigger more attacks.
  4. Update everything possible. Run Ninite if you have it, install any Microsoft Updates (except Windows 10) and consider changing your passwords if trojans or viruses have been found. 

Want help? Call, text, email or drop off your computer. If your Internet connection is stable-enough, and you can open and use your browser I can probably clean it out via remote.

Cathy Contant       315-573-4905       cathy@cathycom.com

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Be Aware, Not Paranoid
Microsoft is ramping-up their efforts to encourage Windows 7 and 8 users to install the Windows 10 upgrade. However, you still have the ultimate control over whether or not to allow Windows 10 to install.
You may be reading stories about how Windows 10 will now be forced upon you, but that's just not true. Yet. Or ever.
And if by some chance you did approve the installation of the Windows 10 upgrade, you have 30 days to go back to Windows 7 or 8. Ask if you want help.
Now, when should you go to Windows 10? Understand that you never have to install the upgrade - you can stick with Windows 7 or 8 as long as you like and Microsoft will be supporting both into 2020, and they will both work far beyond that time. I'm sticking with Windows 7 for a few more months, at least. There are a few things I do like about Windows 10, but more that I don't like so I'm staying put.
If you think you're ready to make the change, read this first:  http://cathycom.blogspot.com/…/10-things-to-think-about-bef…
Read more here: http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-starts-pushing-windows-10-as-a-recommended-update/

If you're still not sure, call, email or text and we'll chat.
Cathy Contant cathy@cathycom.com 315-573-4905