Are You Running Windows 10?

Here's how to tell if you need to upgrade

Are you running the latest Windows version?  If you aren’t quite sure, I’m going to show you how to check.

In my last message I reminded readers that Windows 7 will become obsolete in January, 2020.  There are many choices on what to do about this, from nothing to letting us help you transition with ease!!  To read the article on how to do this yourself, check it out here.

But first… Do you need help figuring out which version of Windows you are running?  If you are still on 7, 8, or 8.1, now is your chance to upgrade to Win 10 for free!

If you are seeing the following screen as your desktop, then you are running Windows 7.  If you’d like help upgrading, set up a time to drop off your system or call us today!

 

If you see one of the following screens below, then you are running either Windows 8, 8.1, or Windows 10.  In this case, keep reading for more details.

 

 

If you are seeing one of the above 2 screens on your desktop, click in the search bar on the bottom left and type “This PC.”  Then Right-click Properties.  Your Windows version will be displayed.  Alternately, you can open Settings–>System–>About to see which version of Windows you are using.

If you are running Windows 8 or 8.1, you can also take advantage of this free upgrade from Microsoft.  We charge a fee to make this transition easy for you.

Upgrade to Windows 10 For FREE

Here's what you need to know

Did you know windows 7 end-of-life hits in January?  Yes? But did you know you can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free!?

Let me help you walk through the issues of end-of-life while shedding some good news!

Remember when Microsoft stopped providing upgrades to Windows XP a couple of years ago?  Most of us were already using Windows 7 so it wasn’t a big deal. But for those caught in a pickle, they had to decide if going without security upgrades was worth the risk.

What’s the risk?  When Microsoft stops providing updates, then there become holes in the security of the operating system. While a virus scan may find the problem after the fact, the crooks can find ways to breach your system without any ways of preventing it. This is the biggest risk.  Then you may also have programs that get updated that struggle running on an older system. If your system starts getting slow, the latter may be the cause.

Windows 7 will take the same hit in January, 2020. So what can you do?  What should you do?

Microsoft messages in the last few weeks have eluded (or even make it sound required) that you buy a new computer!  What??!!  Wait. This is absurd. Just a year ago they said we can upgrade for free. So what happened?  Well, nothing, really.  Maybe a dwindling pocketbook at Microsoft wanting to capitalize on this transition period.

Sure, you can buy a new computer. Yes, it will come with Windows 10 too. If you’re wanting a new computer, then maybe this is the time to buy. But if you don’t want a new computer right now, no problem!  There are other options. Windows 10 will still run on most systems.

 

So Here Are Your Options:

  1. You can do nothing; keep using Windows 7! If you’re not banking online or using the computer for more than middle school homework, then this may be fine. Keep running your virus scan and make a backup of your system in the event it crashes. For more security, though, you should probably continue on to an option below.
  2. Upgrade to Windows 10. Within the last month I have successfully upgraded 3 computers to Windows 10 for FREE!  Microsoft obviously doesnt want to tell you this, since they’re toting buying a new system.  But it’s true, you can still upgrade for free. What we don’t know is how long this will last. At some point they may just require you to pay for it (current price ranges between $50 and $139 from Microsoft.)
  3. Install a fresh copy of Windows 10 on your computer.  While free is nice, there may be a benefit to installing new.  There are a few rare issues that could surface, maybe not right away.  Drivers are installed for the new system.  But your files and programs from Windows 7 are also transferred to run on the new OS (Win 10).  Running Windows 7 programs on Win 10, may, someday cause issues.  We just don’t know what may happen in the future.  Microsoft recommends a fresh install.  By installing fresh, however, you’ll need to reinstall programs, move over all of your files, bookmarks and settings, setup your email again, as well as download your favorite browser and other free programs.
  4. Buy a new computer.  That solves that!  Not always, though.  You’ll still need to either reinstall your programs (or even buy new programs that work with Win 10), move over all of your files, bookmarks and settings, setup your email again, as well as download your favorite browser and other free programs.
  5. Wait it out.  This has similar results as doing nothing.  You never know, though.  Maybe the prices will come down on a new system or it will be easier to make the switch.

Is It Easy To Upgrade?

It can be.  But there are certain requirements to make this happen.  If you don’t have all of these things done, however, it can become very frustrating and time-consuming.

  1. All Windows updates need to be completed without errors.  Any updates that haven’t completed because of an error need to be fixed.  In some cases, an old version of Office, for example, will need to be uninstalled first, as it won’t transfer to Win 10.
  2. Hard Drive and Windows Update errors need to be fixed.
  3. Anti-viruses need to temporarily be stopped during the install process.  Windows Defender can be used in the place.
  4. All drivers need to be updated (sound, video, etc.)
  5. You need sufficient memory

 

I’ve heard bad things about Windows 10, so what do I do?

Windows 8 gave this new system a bad wrap.  For starters, they took away the familiar Desktop with icons and made it more like a mobile platform.  This was quickly booed by Windows 7 fans.  By Windows 8.1, they gave us back the desktop, but the bad PR had already given the new system a bad name.  In Windows 10, you will find many of the same functions as Windows 7, with the addition of a new “smart” search bar that will find just about anything on your computer.  While Windows 10 has come a long way and I have started to like the new system, there will still be a slight learning curve.  If enough people ask for it, I’ll consider a tutorial on the changes!  But I think you’ll become fond of the changes.

 

How Can We Help?

  • If you’d like to upgrade on your own, please first make a backup!  Go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO on the computer you want to upgrade and follow the instructions.  You’ll need at least 1-2 hours to complete the process.  If you get stuck, we are just a phone call away!
  • Let us do the work – hassle-free!  Schedule a time to bring your computer by and we can perform the upgrade for you.  There is a tiered fee schedule to make this a fair process for you.  Some of you have everything in order to install.  Great!  We charge a $50 fee to backup your system (you’ll get the copy) and we install the upgrade.  If things get complicated, the cost can be as much as $95 so that we can get your system ready for the upgrade.

Windows FAQs

Have Questions?  Let me know.  I’m here to help…

Securing Your Website With a Free SSL

Are they really worth the hassle?

Greetings from the Help Desk!

You have a website but still haven’t purchased an SSL? That’s the thing that makes your website start with “https“ and encrypts your guests’ data.

No one wants to spend more money on their website, yet still wanting more visitors. So here’s some helpful information about FREE SSL’s for you. Or is it?

As you probably know, there has been a change in how websites are displayed. Anyone without an encrypted https and padlock in their web address gets flagged by most browsers as either “insecure” or with an exclamation mark. Not good for business! Also not good for Google ranking either!

Enter: the FREE SSL.  Is it really worth the hassle?

Free certificates actually aren’t new. Plenty of companies have been offering them for a while. It’s just now that these seem more attractive since the online world is moving to a more secure environment. They are, interestingly, just as safe as paid ones. So why would you pay for one every year when you can get a free one, you ask? Good question! There are a couple of good reasons. 

Paid Certificates:

  • Offer a warranty, or protection, in case data is captured and unencrypted by a middle man during transfer. Some protect your site up to $1.5 Million, such as Symantec’s Netsure Protection Plan. If you’re selling a lot of items or passing a lot of sensitive information through the internet, then this may be important.
  • Offer help to install and troubleshoot issues. With free certificates, you’re pretty much on your own if you “trip over the cord and accidentally unplug the Christmas Tree” you may have to have the certificate re-keyed and your website might go off-line.
  • Another reason is so your website can have that green bar (trust issue) with your company name, like you see in many big reputable companies. Check out Twitter.com as an example.
  • The biggest upside to a paid SSL, however, is the length the key will work for until it needs to be renewed. Most paid certificates offer 1 – 2 year options. But with a free certificate, you’ll only likely get 3 months at a time. After that time, the certificate will become invalid. When this happens, your site will basically shut down. There’s a big page that pops up saying that it’s dangerous to enter your site and warns users before proceeding! Really, it looks bad. So then you have to call your certificate issuer and ask it to be renewed. This process can involve several steps for the issuer that may take up to a few days to get taken care of.

If you can afford your site going offline for a couple of days and you’re willing to call the issuer, then this option might be a good one for you.

Having said that, however, I called my host provider (Blue Host) last week and they told me I would NOT need to call every 3 months to have a free certificate renewed. So, perhaps there’s more hope for using this FREE option in the long haul.

It seems like this type of technology should be automatic these days. But in the meantime, I’ll save the time figuring it out and purchase mine.
See more about free certificates at https://ssl.comodo.com/free-ssl-certificate.php
I get no compensation from Comodo, Blue Host and Twitter by mentioning them here. The Comodo, Blue Host, and Twitter names are copy-written and owned by their respective companies.

Latest Spam Tactics

What the bad guys are doing with your leaked information

This particular e-mail I received invoked anger.

What I got looked like other spam messages, but this one was a little different.  It started with the normal junk about my e-mail address being hacked, blah, blah.  It looked like a mass e-mail.  They alleged that they sent the message FROM my e-mail account (which I noticed they didn’t). But then they revealed one of my personal passwords!  Wait, WHAT!?

They said they know the password to log into my e-mail account and then provided “proof” that they actually did.  I was not happy.  How could this be?  How do they know my password?

So after a little digging, here’s what is happening.

This might be the latest tactic to scare people, similar to other scare-ware pop-ups.  The whole point is to get us scared, and then motivated to taking action.  Usually to the detriment of our bank account (ie. they hope we pay them money).

When they reveal your password, they have likely gotten it from a hacked company that you do business with.  Almost every few months we hear about the latest security breach.  Last month, for instance, Facebook announced they’ve been hit again.  They originally said 50 million users were affected, but last week admitted to “only” 30 million users.  They said last week that we don’t need to change our passwords.  Phew.

What companies have been hacked that you do business with?

So there’s a website that keeps track of hacked accounts.  You can search by your e-mail address and see if you are one of those affected.

In my case, Bitly, a company that provides our shortened web address (type mcs.bz in your browser address bar to see what happens.) was hacked.  They stole email addresses, passwords and more.

Some clarification: Like many of you, I use the same password for multiple accounts.  The password they revealed to me wasn’t exactly the password used to check the e-mail address they claimed.  It was a lowercase “J.”  But, in any sense, the password DID MATCH EXACTLY what I had used for Bitly. Now it made sense.  So it was Bitly’s password that needed to actually be changed and not my e-mail.

This security breach happened back in 2014.  But only now are we seeing what the bad guys are doing with the information.

Check to see what companies have been hacked here: https://haveibeenpwned.com