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Taking the Geek out of Computers


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As of April 8th, 2014 Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows XP.  This means Microsoft will not provide security patches/updates nor update their free antivirus program Security Essentials.  I personally think this will have a more devastating affect than the over-hyped Y2K.  Think of all the ATM's, municipalities, water treatment plants etc still using XP.  When I visited the Jet Propulsion Lab and toured the Mars Rover facility, I noticed they even had XP computers.  What happens when hackers find ways into these systems?  I guess if my ATM gives me $3000 instead of $300 and they take it from someone else's account I'd be ok with that!  But when some brainiac from the other side of the world decides to hack my local water district and starts mixing reclaimed water with purified water we're all in for trouble!


If you're stuck with one or more XP computers at home or the office, here are some steps you can take until you're able to replace your computers.


1) Stop using Internet Explorer.  Instead, use Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox. Internet Explorer is now on version 11 but XP was only able to update to version 8. Using Chrome or Firefox will provide a much safer browsing experience and you'll likely have better compatibility with today's web sites.  Chrome is my preferred browser.  You might be surprised how much faster the Internet will run!


2) If you have Microsoft Security essentials anti virus, uninstall the program (Control Panel / Add Remove Programs).  Microsoft has stopped providing virus updates which really puts your computer at risk! Install the free version of Avast anti virus.


3) Install Malwarebytes. Download the free version of www.malwarebytes.com and scan your computer for spyware/malware.  This is advisable with any version of Windows. No anti-virus can get rid of everything, so run a Malwarebytes scan a few times a month.

4) Buy a Mac! If you're in the market for a new computer, I recommend a Mac.  In my 20 years of technology consulting I've only had to fix three virus infections on a Mac whereas I fix two or more viruses a day with Windows!  Mac's are more expensive.  However, it's quite realistic that you can own a Mac for five years and it will run as fast then as it does now with very little maintenance. Money well spent!


5) If you're on a budget or have programs that require Windows, get a Windows 7 computer and not Windows 8.  I could rant for an hour straight on how terrible and unintuitive Windows 8 is, but let me save you the painful experience and simply suggest avoiding Windows 8 altogether.  Windows 8 is so hard to use that many people don't even know how to turn the computer off. They hold down the power button or pull the power cord (no joke).   Local big-box retailers are not allowed to sell Windows 7, so you'll need to order one from Dell or MicroCenter (see links below).


6) Backup Backup Backup!!!!  The easiest backup method is with Carbonite. Unless you're an advanced user, backing up to an external hard drive is difficult to manage.  Assuming it's being done correctly, would you even know how to restore your data?  Carbonite will show a green dot on your backed up files and email you with any problems.  Last month, a Cryptolock virus hit a few of my clients.  It encrypted all their Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Adobe PDF's.  In one instance, over 10,000 files were encrypted on their server.  It's impossible to unencrypt these files without getting the CIA involved or paying the $400 ransom to the hackers web site and even then, who knows if they would even send you the encryption key. In both cases, we had proper backups methods; otherwise, as in the case of my CPA client, 15+ years of accounting/tax spreadsheets would have been lost!  Backup, Backup Backup!!!!!!


Referenced links


 - (get the free version)







 - (I recommend refurbished Mac's; mint condition and full warranty)



 - (Just $399 for Windows 7 Pro, 4GB RAM and 1TB hard drive. Many other Windows 7 computers to choose from too)



 - $59 a year per computer

 - Use an offer code of TWIP at the checkout page for an extra two months


Drop me an email if you have have any questions. I've been provided technology support for home and small-medium businesses for nearly 20 years in south Orange County.


Paul 'PC' Cook





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