Smart upgrades

Windows 10 Anniversary Upgrade is rolling out to computers that already have Windows 10 installed. It will show up in your Windows Updates.

One way to upgrade to the new version of Windows 10 is to click that Install Now button, cross your fingers and hope for the best. You could get lucky.

A smarter way to approach this project is to prepare for the upgrade. Here’s how.

Preparation is key

The idea is not really to prepare for a successful upgrade.

The objective is to prepare for a failed upgrade with an unsuccessful rollback.

You hope you don’t need that, but you might. This upgrade breaks some things.

Before you upgrade Windows

          Update your drivers

  • Check Windows Update. Check your computer manufacturer’s website. Do not download some utility that purports to update your drivers. They are all useless and/or harmful.
  • On my HP laptop, I used the HP Support Assistant to check for updates. Even though I have faithfully applied my Windows Updates, the Support Assistant found three critical components that required updating. Just do it.

    Update your software
  • If any of these steps is optional it’s this one, but it’s still a good idea. At the very least make sure your browser is up to date.
  • If you use the Classic Start menu replacement, you absolutely must update this or you are going to have problems. This is the safe link.

          Clean your computer

  • Make sure your computer is free of malicious software. Use Malwarebytes or an anti-malware program of your choice, then run a full scan with your anti-virus program.
  • Get rid of any malicious software, Potentially Unwanted Programs, and Potentially Unwanted Modifications.

          Back up your files

  • Would you be sad if you lost your photos? Any of your documents? Your internet favourites? Your email? Your Contacts?
  • You should be backing this stuff up on a routine basis anyway. Make sure you have a current backup.

Create a Recovery Disk for your current version of Windows. Or locate the one you already created.
You really don’t want to have to use this, but if you need it, you want to have it handy.

Completely disable — or uninstall — your antivirus and anti-malware programs. An operating system upgrade will change system files. Your antivirus/antimalware programs prevent changes to system files.

Your upgrade will fail or some system files will be corrupt if you don’t get your protection out of the way.

Download the current version of your antivirus and/or antimalware programs, but don’t install them — yet.

Then, uninstall your anti-virus and/or anti-malware programs. If you use a paid version of those programs, make sure you note the licence information before you uninstall. 

You might get away with just disabling the protection, but if the upgrade fails and rolls back you’re going to have to do this anyway.

Close all running programs. Allow your computer to devote every bit of it’s power to performing this upgrade.

Make sure your laptop is plugged in. Don’t even think about doing this on battery. Plug in your laptop.

This is going to take some time

You’ve already noticed the preparation is time-consuming. So is the upgrade.

On two very fast machines here with a very fast Internet connection the actual upgrade took over an hour. (Prep took longer, and I already had a clean computer and a complete backup.)

Don’t start this process 10 minutes before you have to be somewhere unless somewhere is bed.

OK, the upgrade is done. Now what?

Check back next week for Smart Upgrades – Part 2. For now, be sure to re-enable or reinstall your antivirus/antimalware programs.

Did you upgrade? How did it go? Send email and share.

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment, phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email here.



Stop emailing your photos

The most inefficient way to share your photos or videos with someone is with email.

I’ll show you a better way. I’ll also show you how to get a rogue keyboard under control.

Stop trying to email your photos. Just stop it.

Today’s cameras, including the cameras in iPads and in phones, are so good that the high-resolution pictures they take generate huge files.

Even if your Internet Service Provider will let you send an email with a dozen pictures attached, there’s no guarantee that your recipients’ ISPs will pass them through.

Slower Internet connections will stagger under the load. And as for the obvious alternative, I don’t know many people who enjoy receiving a dozen emails, each with one photo attached.

And then there are videos. Not a week goes by without someone writing me saying their email tries to break a file into 40 pieces, and asking how can they stop it.

Here’s how: Stop trying to email videos.

What you need to do to share photos, videos and other large files is upload them to a storage space and email the link to the file, not the file itself.

You can easily share using OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or a service like WeTransfer.

Although the steps differ slightly from product to product, the concept is the same. Upload your files.

When the upload completes, copy the link to the files and email that link to your intended recipients. Clicking on that link takes them to your shared files in the secure cloud storage.

They can view the video (or pictures, or document, or whatever you’ve uploaded) or download it. Either way, there are no giant files to clog up email.

Fix an unresponsive keyboard

Of the many frustrating things that can interfere with your productive day, an unresponsive keyboard is high on the list.

Pressing a key or keys makes nothing happens or the computer freezes. Sometimes the mouse doesn’t work either. That is painful to troubleshoot.

But there’s another type of unresponsive keyboard problem, and it’s far easier to fix. When you press a key nothing happens on screen, but you can hear a click with each keypress. And … the mouse (or trackpad on a laptop) works just fine.

The first time I encountered this, I tried the normal things. Rebooting the computer didn’t help.

Plugging in an external keyboard didn’t help either, and the clicking noise was there even when typing on the external keyboard. That was actually quite confusing.

It turns out there’s a feature called Filter Keys, and by default, Windows activates it whenever you hold the right Shift key down for more than eight seconds. And that is surprisingly easy to do without realizing it, especially on a laptop.

Filter Keys is an accessibility function that tells the keyboard to ignore brief or repeated keystrokes, in order to make typing easier for users with hand tremors. A Wikipedia article explains this.

If you have hand tremors, you might want to turn it on. If not, it’s a good idea to turn this feature off.

In any version of Windows:

  • Use your mouse to get to Control Panel (In Windows 10, right-click on the Start button and click on Control Panel)
  • Click on Ease of Access
  • Click on Make the keyboard easier to use (I know. Hilarious, right?)
  • Clear the checkmark from the box that says Turn on Filter Keys
  • Click on Apply or Save/OK
  • If you’d like that never to happen again, turn off the eight second activation:
  • Click on Set up Filter Keys
  • Clear the check mark from the box that says Turn on Filter Keys when right SHIFT is pressed for 8 seconds
  • Click on Save/OK

Happy Anniversary

A big Anniversary Update for Windows 10 is starting to roll out:  Have you got yours yet? Did it go smoothly? Let me know!

Send email to [email protected] and share your story.

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

12-second fixes

Sometimes solutions are complicated, but sometimes we get lucky and fixes are quick and easy.

These two are in the latter category. Use them on your own computer, or be a hero and fix your parents’, friends’, and coworkers’ computers.

You will rock!

Help! My Internet connection drops every 10 minutes

Several weeks ago, a long-time customer told me her Internet provider had two technicians out there, each for a good part of the day, trying to get her new connection working.

What was wrong with the connection? “It would drop after 10 minutes if I wasn’t using the computer.”

The connection was still dropping while I was there, but I was able to fix it.

Your wireless network adapter and your Ethernet adapter (which is where the cable between your router/modem and your PC connects to your PC) require a small amount of electrical current to work.

Many computers are set to power down those adapters after 10 minutes of inactivity.

Sometimes they don’t wake back up promptly or at all. Your service provider thinks your connection is fine, but your computer doesn’t come back online.

It’s an easy fix. You just have go to Device Manager and change a setting.

  • In any modern version of Windows, type Device Manager in the Search box
  • Click on Device Manager in the search results to open it
  • (Or go to Control Panel | View by Large Icons | Device Manager)
  • Click on the > next to Network adapters to expand that section
  • Right-click on your Ethernet or Wi-Fi adapter
  • Click on Properties | Power Management
  • Clear the check mark in the box called Allow the computer to turn off this device
  • Click on OK

Sometimes you have to restart the computer for the change to take effect, but that should do it. It’s about a 12-second fix.

If this problem started after you upgraded to Windows 10, you likely didn’t update your network adapter drivers before (or after!) you upgraded your operating system.

Check Windows Update and/or the website for your computer’s manufacturer to see if there’s a driver compatible with Windows 10.

Do not use a driver update utility that promises to look after your drivers. At best they are completely useless; at worst they are malicious software.

Update your driver, then apply the 12-second fix.

Help! My Desktop icons are tiny (or huge)

Did you know that you can easily change the size of the icons on your Windows Desktop? Although this has been a feature since Vista, most people never find out about it until the size changes accidentally!

On any modern version of Windows:

  • Right-click on a vacant area of your Desktop
  • Click on View
  • Click on the size you want
  • Make sure you have a check mark next to Show Desktop Icons

You might be wondering how the size got changed in the first place, given that you have to right-click and then click and then click again.

Well, there’s another way to change the size, and you’re not limited to three size choices.

With your mouse cursor on the Desktop, hold down the CTRL key and scroll with the wheel on your mouse. You should see the size of the Desktop icons change. You can go smaller than small and larger than large, or stop anywhere on the continuum.

I believe this is how this changes unintentionally. It only takes a couple of seconds to goof this up, and it’s another 12-second fix. Now, you know.

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Email [email protected].


If you've upgraded...

You just completed a successful upgrade to Windows 10. Congratulations!

You should do a few things immediately after your upgrade to make Windows 10 more secure and enjoyable.

Sign in with your Microsoft Account. We’ve talked about this before. You need a Microsoft Account to take full advantage of what Windows 10 has to offer. Sign in with your Microsoft Account.

Protect yourself at all times

Did you uninstall your antivirus and antimalware programs before your upgrade? If so, you need to reinstall them now.

And you need to check the configuration so you’re absolutely sure they are set up to do daily scans and that the real time protection is turned on.

Even if you didn’t bother uninstalling them and you got lucky they didn’t kill your upgrade, you need to check the settings.

Tweak important settings

You can apply many tweaks, but you should do these important ones right away. Get familiar with the new Settings app.

You can open it by clicking on Start | Settings or by pressing the Windows Key and the I key at the same time.

Start with Network and Internet. Click on Wi-Fi, and then on Manage Wi-Fi settings. I recommend turning off both choices in Wi-Fi Sense. I suggest also turning off Paid Wi-Fi services.

Turn that back on if you ever need it, but leaving it off by default keeps your computer more secure.

Next check your Windows Update. Go back out to the main Settings screen and click on Update & Security.

Click on Windows Update, then on Advanced options, then Choose how updates are delivered. Finally, slide the Updates from more than one place to the Off position.

Check your backup

If you had a backup program before you upgraded your computer to Windows 10, even if you used the built-in backup from Windows 7, you need to check that the backup is still happening after the upgrade.

I often find that older backup programs do not work with Windows 10. Check that the program opens and that it’s actually doing a backup.

If not, get the updated version of the program that will run on Windows 10, configure and check those backups.

Reinstall your multifunction printer software

If you just have a printer, Windows will detect it and install the right drivers if there are any for your printer in Windows 10.

If, on the other hand, you have a multifunction device — one machine that prints, scans, copies, faxes — 99 per cent of the time Windows will detect the printer part just fine, but you’ll need to install the Windows 10 software for the other functions.

Go to the manufacturer’s website for your device and search for the software. Download and install it.

Once that’s done, test every function you care about. If you don’t need the fax, don’t bother trying to set it up. But if you have a scanner and a copier as well as a printer, it’s a good idea to make sure all the functions you want are in good working order!

Create recovery media

A recovery drive can help you troubleshoot some serious problems with Windows even when it won’t boot.

It’s a good idea to have a recovery drive. Even if you created one for your previous operating system, you need to create a new one for Windows 10.

Remember the old days where we created a set of four or six DVDs called Rescue Disks or Recovery Disks? Well that’s so 1998. All that stuff fits on one thing now.

You’ll need a flash drive. Some computers are fine with an 8GB drive; others need 16GB. Either way, this flash drive is dedicated to recovery. You can’t use it for anything else.

Follow the directions in this article from Microsoft to create your drive. When finished, for heaven’s sake, label it and put it where you can easily find it when you need it.

Use it!

Start enjoying your Windows 10. And get ready for the next version, which will begin rolling out tomorrow

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email.


Easier Upgrades 

Create a recovery drive 

Let’s Get Started 

Windows 10 Anniversary Update Available


More Getting Along With Your Computer articles

About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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