Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Malwarebytes - Final Decision

It is a little over a month now since I last wrote about Malwarebytes.

I have been continually nagged by the company to renew my Premium license, but as I said on 11/19, I would probably not renew.

I have decided not to renew. I have uninstalled the Premium version and installed the Free version. If you are inclined to install the free version, and I do recommend that you do, you can download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 2.2.0 from the good old reliable download site, Filehippo. The url is http://www.filehippo.com/download_malwarebytes_anti_malware/

Click on the green box in the upper right hand corner to download the latest version.

Here is why I decided to go with the free version: in the year that I had the premium version installed on our 3 machines, it never found one problem on any of the 3 machines. This was a surprise to me. I have been singing the praises of Malwarebytes since was back, maybe 7 years or more. In a year 2008 blog post I stated "I have learned that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is better than SuperAntispyware."

So the bottom line is still that I love Malwarebytes. I will run the free version weekly on our machines, and I recommend that you do too. I just can't recommend the Premium ($) version. The Free version does the trick for me.

I feel I must add that I have used Microsoft's free anti-virus program for years now, and it is my first line of defense against viruses and malware, and it does a fabulous job. Net, I do not pay for an anti-virus either.

Microsoft's free anti-virus had been known as Microsoft Security Essentials, but Microsoft changed its name to Microsoft Windows Defender. Believe me, DEFEND it does.

Happy New Year to all!

Friday, December 4, 2015


I still cannot say enough about CCleaner. In my opinion it should be installed on every Windows system.

It is still free, but be forewarned  that the company, Piriform, now offers two versions that come at a cost. I do not use either of the fee-based programs - I should say YET! In some cases when I have downloaded the latest version I am reminded of, and encouraged to buy, one of the fee versions. To date I have not succumbed to the temptation!

This program used to be called "Crap Cleaner" until they gave it a less offensive name of CCleaner. That is what it dies, it cleans the crap from your system, and that is good. It is small and very fast. If you run it once a week it will probably take 30 seconds (after your initial run which will likely be longer) . 

I encourage all Windows users to get CCleaner. I can only recommend the free version because I have no experience with the fee versions.

You can download the free version here: http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner or on my favorite web site for downloading stuff:  http://www.filehippo.com/.

If you do not use this tool and if you do download it and have any problems or questions, write me at pcdoc@our4sons.com.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Windows 10 - Again

I finally figured out how to get the "Get Windows 10 APP", visible to the PC user by the icon in the system tray, on my desktop. These icons started to appear on our systems back in (about) June or July 2015. However, it did not appear on my desktop PC. It did appear on our two laptops, and W10 was subsequently successfully installed.

So this week, after puzzling over this for many moons, I did a manual Windows Update and selected an Optional update to install Internet Explorer 11. I restarted my system afterwards, and the Get Windows 10 App icon immediately appeared in my system tray! Very strange I thought.

Anyway, I went ahead and installed W10 replacing the W7 installation already there.

The installation of W10 went very well and without any hitches.

I really do like W10, and that is why I decided to leave the older systems behind.

I recommend W10 wholeheartedly and without hesitation for most users. I would say that IMHO you should have 8 GB of RAM. This is not required, but based on my experience I would not recommend W10 until/unless you have at least 8 GB of RAM.

I worked on a customer's machine that had upgraded to W10 but had only 4 GB of RAM. It works. It doesn't complain, but I believe W10 will be much happier with a minimum of 8 GB of RAM.

BTW, my PC Doc e-mail address has changed, and it is pcdoc @ our4sons.com (drop the 2 spaces).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Malwarebytes Premium

I received this renewal notice from Malwarebytes this morning. I wrote herein a year ago that I had bought their Premium version. It covered 3 systems (what we have) and was only $23 at the time. I thought it was a good investment. I still do, but I think I will take a pass on renewing. It's not the $24, it's the idea. I have always hated paying for software and avoided it with very few exceptions.

I will let the current version stay installed and see what happens when it expires. I do expect several more notes pleading for my renewal, but I shan't renew. I expect they will turn off the realtime monitoring but hope they will continue providing me the updates free of charge. If not, I will uninstall and download the free version if it is still available. If it is not I will rely on good old Super Antispyware which is still, I hope, free.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Your old PC Doc

Hi Tom,
Your Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium order, Reference # 82752772, is set to automatically renew itself on December 19, 2015, for $24.95.

Thank you for your support. Just a reminder that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium protects you against zero-day malware, ransomware and other threats 24/7/365. Automatically and without hassle.

We look forward to continuing to crush malware on your behalf.
If you would like to manage your subscription, click here. To update your payment, click here.

- The Malwarebytes Team

P.S. Questions? Need help? Head over to our Help Section.

Friday, September 18, 2015

SOS Online Backup

I continue to use and favor SOS Online Backup. All of my priceless family photos and videos, along with documents important to me, are reviewed weekly by SOS and if there are new files that have been added since last week or files that have been changed, they all get backed up to the SOS servers.

I have been a customer for maybe 5 years now and have never had a problem. Occasionally I will select a file on the SOS servers and download it just to make sure all is well. Having an SOS Online Backup account is like having a safe deposit box for all of my computer files. I hold the key and can go there anytime I wish to doubecheck that everything is as I expect it to be.

I have set up my account to run weekly  backups automatically, and the system works like a well-oiled machine. I started out having these auto runs on a daily basis, but as my confidence grew with SOS I have found weekly runs are just fine. Each week I get an e-mail reporting the weekly activity, so I know things are working smoothly.

If you have computer files you would rather not lose, you should be backing them up.

I use and recommend SOS Online Backup.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I did it again

I installed W10 on my wife's laptop last night. It is so satisfying to me to have now installed W10 twice without a single problem. Microsoft has done it right!

I started the install just before I went to bed last night. When I got up this morning, it had finished. I have no idea how long it took, and I don;t know what sort of magic they have included,but it sure worked like magic.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Windows 10 & the MVPS HOSTS File

I have to say that I really like W10 so far. I am only using it as a staight replacement for W8.1 so far, and it performs flawlessly.

I also just installed the August 2015 MVPS HOSTS file. It went in with no problem at all.

Don't be shy people. I think you will like W10.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

I did it and it was easy!

I am now running Windows 10. It was a very easy transition. I am able to easily do the things I have been doing, and there is so much new stuff to explore.

The upgrade from 8.1 to 10 was flawless. No problems at all. I can't really say how long it took because I started it and left the house for a few hours and it was done when I returned.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

When can I upgrade to Windows 10?

I received this as an e-mail from Microsoft this morning.

Learn about upgrading, Windows 10 features, and more
Windows Home | Upgrade FAQ's | Windows 10 | Latest Devices
Windows 10
When can I upgrade to Windows 10?

We want to give every customer a great upgrade experience, so we’re rolling it out in an organized way to manage high demand and to make sure that the upgrade is right for your device. After July 29, when Windows 10 is ready for your device, it will download in the background. You’ll then get a notification to schedule your upgrade right away or at another time that’s convenient for you.

Here are some common questions about the upgrade process. Click on the links for answers.

     How long does it take to install the upgrade?

     What if I have more than one Windows device – can I upgrade them all?

     What edition of Windows will I get as part of this free upgrade?

     Will my PC or tablet be compatible with Windows 10?

Should you need any help or have any additional questions after upgrading, a Microsoft Answer Tech will be available to assist you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Irony alert: Password-storing company is hacked

"No one's safe from hackers -- not even LastPass, a company that stores people's passwords."

It's true. Putting all of one's eggs in one basket may not be the prudent thing to do.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The secret behind why Windows 10 is so good

"Microsoft listened to you. More than anything else, that's why Windows 10 won't be another Windows 8 or Vista."

In conversations with CNNMoney, top decision makers at Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Tech30) and Toshiba noted that Microsoft requested their input throughout the process of creating Windows 10. They said Microsoft listened to their feedback -- and, vicariously, PC customers' feedback -- and made a better operating system as a result.

Responding to customer demands. The PC makers said that process was vastly improved from the way that Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) conducted its business ahead of the Windows 8 launch. They said Windows 8 felt forced on them while Windows 10 felt like more of a conversation.

"It's pretty cool how responsive Microsoft has been to feedback," said Mike Nash, HP's head of product strategy. "We were right there in the room planning Windows 10 with them from very beginning."

"There's a new dawn at Microsoft," said Allison Dew, Dell's marketing chief (and a former Microsoft employee). "What we've seen in terms of development and cooperation with Microsoft this time around is unlike what we've seen in past years."

Windows is good again. The result, they say is a much more refined operating system that customers will get excited about. That's a very different experience from Windows 8, which literally had customers calling their PC companies in droves wondering how to get to the desktop or turn their PCs off.

"We're more excited about this launch than we have been in a really long time," said Dew. "I've been through amazing windows launches and some that weren't quite as amazing. This has the feel of something amazing."

"Windows 8 was a difficult out-of-the-box adjustment to consumers," said Jeff Barney, head of Toshiba's U.S. PC business. "Windows 10 has good features and is generating some buzz -- that's enough to get people back to the PC market.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

MVPS HOSTS File for June available now

Okay, I sound like a broken record, but this is important!

The MVPS HOSTS file should be an integral part of your Windows security. It will keep you, or anyone using your machine, from going to known problem web sites. A new version comes out once a month and I always try to make sure I have the latest. Did I mention it is FREE?

You can download it from here: http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

The current version became available on June 4. On the above page, right click on hosts.zip and select Save Link As and download it (I recommend downloading to your Desktop because you will use this file and delete it after you install the current version). Once downloaded to your desktop, right click on the zipped folder and select Extract All. This will create another folder named HOSTS. Open up that folder by double-clicking on it and then right click on the file MVPS.bat, and select "run as administrator". The new HOSTS file will then be installed, replacing our old HOSTS file (yes, you will always have one, even on a new machine, since an empty and useless HOSTS file already exists on your system). The blue window that next appears will inform you that the new file has been installed.

Lastly delete both of the HOSTS folders on your desktop. They have served their purpose and are no longer needed..

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

IRS Using 13-Yr. Old Microsoft Software

Oops! This is hard to believe.

From foxbusiness.com:

"IRS computers are still running the 13-year old Microsoft (MSFT) Windows XP operating software which Microsoft stopped supporting a year ago with security updates. Even the agency’s fraud-catching software is two decades old. The outdated software may have played a role in the breach the IRS announced last week in which thieves hacked into the agency’s online service and gained access to more than 100,000 taxpayer accounts.

The criminals used personal data obtained from other sources, including Social Security numbers, street addresses and dates of birth to get into the IRS’ “Get Transcript” service. The service was subsequently shut down. The thieves gained access to tax returns and other tax information on file with the IRS.

During an IRS budget hearing in April before the House Financial Services and General Government Committee, the chairman, Rep. Ander Crenshaw, questioned why the agency had been so slow to upgrade to Windows 7. “Now we find out that you’ve been struggling to come up with $30 million to finish migrating to Windows 7, even though Microsoft announced in 2008 that it would stop supporting Windows XP past 2014,” the Congressman said. “I know you probably wish you’d already done that.”

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has said budget cuts have kept the service from upgrading, telling Congressional members that “we still have applications that were running when John F. Kennedy was president.”

The news comes as cold comfort to the tens of thousands of Americans who have had their identity stolen as a result of filing their taxes. And, the breaches can be no surprise to the IRS itself which has been warned repeatedly by the Government Accountability Office over limited  security controls. In the most recent report, the GAO found 69 potential problems, including weak employee passwords.

The tax reporting agency is embroiled in several scandals. The agency used its powers to delay or deny non-profit status applications by groups with “tea party” and “patriot” in their names, an overreach of power that has led to a criminal investigation by the agency’s inspector general.  Further, its aggressive hounding of small businesses, including seizing bank accounts of businesses the agency suspects of involvement in criminal activity was halted because of complaints late last year."

Monday, June 1, 2015

Windows 10

Here we go! Starting down the road to Windows 10. I reserved my free upgrade.

Monday, May 11, 2015

MVPS HOSTS file for May available now

The MVPS HOSTS file should be an integral part of your Windows security. It will keep you, or anyone using your machine, from going to known problem web sites. A new version comes out once a month and I always try to make sure I have the latest. Did I mention it is FREE?

You can download it from here: http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

The current version became available on May 5. On the above page, right click on hosts.zip and select Save Link As and download it (I recommend downloading to your Desktop because you will use this file and delete it after you install the current version). Once downloaded to your desktop, right click on the zipped folder and select Extract All. This will create another folder named HOSTS. Open up that folder by double-clicking on it and then right click on the file MVPS.bat, and select "run as administrator". The new HOSTS file will then be installed, replacing our old HOSTS file (yes, you will always have one, even on a new machine, since an empty and useless HOSTS file already exists on your system). The blue window that next appears will inform you that the new file has been installed.

Lastly delete both of the HOSTS folders on your desktop. They have served their purpose and are no longer needed..

Thursday, May 7, 2015

New fast-spreading virus destroys PCs

Okay, it's true: I get a lot from the Kim Komando web site, and you should too. Visit it every day at komando.com.

Today's post here:

"There's dangerous new malware out there called Rombertik that could steal your personal information and destroy your PC. If you try to get rid of it, the malware could trap your computer in an endless reboot cycle.

Rombertik usually infects computers using a malicious file attached to a phishing email. In some cases, this email is designed to look like a message from Microsoft. The malware can steal login credentials and other information you enter into websites.

Rombertik also checks to see if it's being analyzed or if other programs are trying to delete it. If it detects this kind of activity, it will try to delete a file called the Master Boot Record (MBR). This can cause your computer to go into an endless restart cycle when it is turned off and turned back on. The malware also has some other tricks up its sleeve.

One involves writing a byte of data to memory 960 million times to overwhelm analysis tools that try to spot malware by logging system activity.

Since it's extremely difficult to get rid of, the best way to protect yourself from Rombertik is to avoid it altogether. You can do that by knowing how to spot phishing emails so you don't open them. Click here to see a phishing email example and learn more about how to spot them.

And, remember, never open an email attachment from a sender you don't know. It's most likely filled with malicious software that can harm your computer.

If you're computer is infected by Rombertik, you'll likely lose valuable data. If the malware successfully deletes the MBR file on your computer, you will have to reinstall the Windows operating system."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Windows 7 still a safe alternative to Windows 8

I am not sure why anyone would shy away from Windows 8 at this point, but there is still the opportunity to buy a Windows 7 machine if that is your preference. I saw this article on USA Today.

Q. My Windows 7 desktop died; is it wise to buy a new model with Win 7 if I can find one? I'd rather not have to relearn software after switching to Windows 8.

A. Some two and a half years after Windows 8's arrival, Microsoft's earlier desktop operating system remains easy to find on new computers if you're flexible in your hardware choices.

HP's site, for example, lists eight desktop configurations available with Windows 7 vs. 35 with Windows 8; among laptops, 68 versions come with Win 8 against 31 with its predecessor. Those numbers obscure how the top computer vendor in the USA offers at least one model in most of its product lines — Envy, Pavilion, EliteBook and so on — with either Microsoft release.

At Dell, ranked second in market-research firm IDC's latest data, a similar pattern prevails with laptops. Although you have far more choices with Windows 8 than 7 — 101 choices on the menu compared with 29 — choosing the older software still gives you choices among Dell's major product lines.

With Dell desktops, opting for Windows 7 will exclude that manufacturer's all-in-one designs.

At Lenovo, fourth in IDC's ranking after Apple, specifying Windows 7 on a laptop also requires compromises. Not only does its site list only 19 laptops with Win 7 vs. 100 with Win 8, you have to forgo more advanced models such as its Yoga and Flex series.

This selection does not represent a huge shift from what I found in late 2012, not long after Windows 8's debut.

Microsoft's support of Windows 7 has changed since then, but it's not as big of a deal as it might seem. Although that 2009-vintage operating system exited "mainstream support" Jan. 13, all that means in practice is that Microsoft's updates to Windows 7 will consist only of security fixes, not new features. Those security patches will keep coming until Jan. 14, 2020, the scheduled end of "extended support" for Win 7.

That leaves potential Windows 7 shoppers few reasons to worry, Directions on Microsoft analyst Wes Miller wrote in an email.

"They can buy a Windows 7 Professional PC today and receive security fixes for almost four and a half years," he said. "I also don't expect vendors to drop support for Windows 7 anytime soon — it's extremely popular with consumers and business."

Microsoft's Internet Explorer will get left behind — the Redmond, Wash., firm is retiring that browser in favor of a new app called Microsoft Edge that will ship with the upcoming Windows 10. Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox can easily take IE's place. Since both still support Windows XP, you can expect Windows 7 to remain welcome at both browsers for years to come.

Don't rule out upgrading to Windows 10 from 7 when that ships this year. It should look much more like Windows as you've known it, including a streamlined version of the traditional Start menu. It will be a free upgrade from Win 7 as well as Win 8.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April HOSTS File Available Now

Your HOSTS file can provide you with an extra level of protection from the known bad guys. I download and install this every month (to get the latest updates). It takes just a minute, (start to finish) and is definitely worth the time. You can find the latest version here:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kim Komamdo's web site

I look at Kim Komando's web site every day. Every day I see new things that I am interested in. You should so the same. I am nowhere near the prolific writer I once was. This is obvious when you look at this blog. I used to be very faithful to it and there were times when I was posting daily. No more.

Do yourself a favor and go to Kim's web site. Bookmark it if you haven't already, and then make it a daily stop. Whereas at the top of my game I might post one item a day, Kim posts many new items every day. My advice: GO THERE! If you have questions on something you see there, feel free to write me for an opinion or clarification or assistance. If I can help, I will.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

10 things the Galaxy S6 can do that the iPhone 6 can’t

I am just getting used to my Apple iPhone, which I love. Then along comes articles like this! This is from bgr.com. If you are a Samsung Galaxy user, check this out and feel good that you waited!

Galaxy S6 Vs iPhone 6

Beginning in two weeks on April 10th, we’re in store for an epic battle of the sixes. Apple’s iPhone 6 burst onto the scene this past September and helped Apple rack up more profit in the holiday quarter than any other company has ever earned in a three-month period. iPhone 6 sales are still going strong according to estimates, but the phone will finally see some real competition next month when the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge hit store shelves.

All three of these phones are fantastic options, but there are a few key features on Samsung’s new handsets that could make iPhone 6 owners a bit jealous. In this post, you’ll find 10 of the most impressive things the Galaxy S6 can do that Apple’s latest iPhone can’t.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

5 ways to test your computer's security

More good stuff from guess who? Yup, Kim Komando. She has been at this a long time and has had great success. She apparently has grown to the point where she has a top notch technical staff - in addition to herself - who spend time researching things that seem to apply to all of us. And most of what she publishes on her web site seems to be very timely. I recommend a daily visit to her web site.

5 ways to test your computer's security

 "You can't turn on the news without hearing about some scary new computer security problem. Just in 2015, we've already had major Windows security flaws, Adobe Flash security flaws, Lenovo's Superfish scandal and more.

That doesn't even include the threats that are always out there, such as hackers, snoopers, viruses, phishing attacks, and I could go on. If you don't think computer security is a big deal, think again.

So you've grabbed some great security software for your system. You've encrypted your Wi-Fi network to keep out criminals. Maybe you know the latest information about using the Adobe Flash plugin safely.

Those are all good things, and I highly recommend them, but the big question is whether it worked. Is your computer and information really safe?

If you don't test your security, you might have a wrong setting or unpatched flaws and never know it. Companies regularly hire hackers to test their security for them. Fortunately, you can do it yourself for free."


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Ultimate Cord Cutter's Guide

If you are serious about "cutting the cord" this is a good place to start. This is a pcmag.com article.

"Cable TV was once considered the ultimate entertainment necessity. The over-the-air days of VHF/UHF television signals couldn't keep up with the voracious need of viewers who needed more, more, more channels. Having a cable directly pumping all that high-definition content into your home became the norm, and the cable providers—who now likely provide your high-speed broadband Internet access—knew they had you on the hook.

Of course, they didn't factor in that the Internet would become their worst enemy. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Video are just the most well-known names in what's become known as "cord cutting"—namely, doing away with pay TV and using Internet-based services to get all your "television" programming. No more paying a huge monthly fee for thousands of hours of TV you don't watch. Instead, pay individual services for a la carte programming. It's almost like paying for just what you watch. Almost.

Cable companies, of course, are freaking out. The average cable TV bill went up by 5.8 percent from July 2013 to July 2014, according to ABC News. That's because subscribers are dropping like flies to become cord cutters; MoffettNathanson says 3 percent of subscribers made the switch between early 2012 and mid-2014. Experian says that in 2013, 18.1 percent of households that had Netflix or Hulu became cord cutters. It's almost ironic that the cable companies probably don't lose those people entirely as customers, since most of them will need a hefty Internet pipe to get the same quality of TV over the Internet.

The FCC recently redefined what really constitutes "broadband" speed in the U.S. as 25 Megabits per second (Mbps), up from 4 Mbps, which was the standard since 2010. That puts about 17 percent of the population (55 million households) without true broadband. But, in theory, to be an effective cord cutter, a 5Mbps connection should do it."

You will find the whole article here.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Change this critical computer setting now

Important post from Kim. I had been a little bit ahead of this, experiencing a performance degradation when using Adobe Flash.

I had heard about the Youtube parameter and HTML5 and did that. I now live with Adobe Flash Firefox plugin for Shockwave Flash set to ASK TO ACTIVATE. It is annoying living with this setting, but it is the prudent thing to do.

Take this seriously! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

MVPS HOSTS File for January available now

I try to make sure I get the latest version of the MVPS HOSTS file installed on all of our PCs. It seems now to be published about every 5 weeks, and the latest was made available on January 24.

You can download it here: http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

It is free, and very much worthwhile to have.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Worst passwords of 2014 are just as awful as you can imagine

From the cnet.com website, Worst passwords of 2014 are just as awful as you can imagine

Read the whole article at the above link, but here are the top 25:

1) 123456
2) password
3) 12345
4) 12345678
5) qwerty
6) 1234567890
7) 1234
8) baseball
9) dragon
10) football
11) 1234567
12) monkey
13) letmein
14) abc123
15) 111111
16) mustang
17) access
18) shadow
19) master
20) michael
21) superman
22) 696969
23) 123123
24) batman
25) trustno1

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Windows 7 exits mainstream support: What you need to know

From pcworld.com:

"Yet another end is nigh for Windows 7. After months of buildup—Microsoft killed standalone software sales of the operating system in October 2013, and Windows 7 consumer PCs stopped being manufactured in October 2014—the venerable OS is finally exiting “mainstream support” on January 13, 2015. And for months now, the Web has been flooded with a wave of confused or downright fearmongering headlines and articles implying that Windows 7 is following Windows XP into the graveyard.

It's not.

The confusion here stems from Microsoft's maddeningly obtuse naming conventions. Leaving mainstream support only means that Windows 7 won't be receiving any new features or product tweaks, such as the impressing-sounding DirectX 12 gaming technology slated to launch with Windows 10. You won't be able to call Microsoft for free help if you run into an issue with Windows 7 either. 

Once a Windows desktop operating system leaves mainstream support, it enters the extended support phase—the very same support phase that Windows XP found itself in from early 2009 until its death earlier this year.
You'll still receive those oh-so-critical security patches during extended support, meaning that while Windows 7 won't be in active development beyond next January, it won't be tossed to the wolves of the Web, either. Hotfixes will still be provided, too, assuming they're security related. (Business can sign up for an extended hotfix support plan if your company wants hotfix support for non-security issues.) And those security updates will be coming for a long time, too: Extended support for Windows 7 lasts until January 14, 2020. Heck, commercial PCs with Windows 7 Professional will even continue to be sold for the foreseeable future."

Read more here