Don’t upgrade to Windows 10 – yet…..

Don’t upgrade your computer to Windows 10 if you value your sanity. I am now seeing about a 50% failure rate.

Sometimes the failure happens during the upgrade process necessitating hours of fix-it time to get things working again. Sometimes I can’t fix it and I have to do a clean install so all programs have to be re-installed again.

Other times the upgrade goes fine but later on an update or “something” causes Windows 10 to stop working correctly. Often it’s a driver issue that has to be sorted out, and there have been times it took me an hour or more to get things working again.

This is not to suggest Windows 10 is all problems all the time. All my personal computers have been upgraded without issue. But I am seeing enough problems with my customers that I can’t recommend upgrading at this time.

Save yourself some headaches and wait a few more months before trying to upgrade


Backups. You would think in this day and age people, especially businesses, would be aware of how important it is to make sure you have redundant, reliable backups.

The last 2 weeks I have encountered 2 hard drive failures with 2 different businesses. In one case I was not contacted until the system would no longer boot. In the other I told them I needed to see the computer a month ago but they waited until it too would no longer boot before getting it to me.

In both cases there was an automatic backup to a second drive in the computer. In both cases the failure of the primary drive caused the backups to be corrupted. If I had been able to examine the computers when the symptoms first started I probably could have saved their data, programs and backups. By waiting until there was total failure they reduced my options for recovery to nearly nill.

One company got lucky. I was able to restore an old backup and then recover the newer data from the failing drive just moments before it totally failed. The other company lost nearly everything.

What could have been done to prevent these situations? First, I needed to see the system when symptoms first appeared. When systems start doing weird things like crashing or locking up, waiting until you can’t use them anymore before calling me is NOT the correct procedure.

Also, having more than one backup location is pretty important. One must assume the worst. I personally have 3 different hard drives I backup to plus putting some of my more important stuff in a cloud backup like Google Drive or Dropbox.

For a business you should have a RAID array (2 hard drives that act as one so if one fails you still have the other), an internal automatic daily backup and at least one external backup.

For home users you should at least be backing up your important stuff to a flash drive or external hard drive. Flash drives are cheap and external hard drives aren’t expensive. If you aren’t backing up you WILL lose your stuff. It’s only a matter of when.

Report mentions harsh things about you!!

I received this email today. The subject says “Is this for real?” Well, no, it’s not for real. But they really want you to think it is. The email talks about some vague “bad things” about you being reported on a web site and encourages you to click a link to find out what it is. They also provide this ominous warning: “FOREWARNING: By not doing anything about this, you risk good friends and loving family discovering things you never wanted them them see”. All the links go to the same site that undoubtedly installs some malware or spyware on your computer.

Solid State Drives

About a year ago I put a solid state drive (SSD) in to my system and I was stunned at how big a difference it made in performance and boot up time. Prices for SSDs have continued to drop and I have started to offer them in my basic computers with very impressive results.

In spite of the fact that traditional mechanical hard drives keep getting faster they still aren’t fast enough to not be a major bottleneck in performance. Solid state drives being completely electronic with no moving parts eliminate this bottleneck, even on older computers.

The only drawback to SSDs is cost per gigabyte. A traditional hard drive 1 terabyte (1000 gigabytes) in size costs about $100. A 120 gigabyte SSD runs about $130 for 880 fewer gigabytes. The SSD is MUCH faster but only has about 10% of the storage of the traditional hard drive.

However, most of my customers are only using 50-60 gigabytes, on average, even with pictures and games so 120 gigs is plenty of space. Even if you are using over 100 gigs you could get an external traditional 1 terabyte hard drive and off-load data to it to make a 120 gig drive usable.

The performance gains when using an SSD are nothing short of amazing. 7 – 10 seconds to boot up Windows 7. Applications like Word or Excel snap open briskly in 2-3 seconds. Everything you do is quick and responsive. Simply put, the computer works the way you have always wanted/expected it to work. Quick without any undue hesitation.

The only thing an SSD might not help is Internet web site speeds because that’s more a product of your Internet connect speed and ISP quality than computer speed.

If you want a fairly cheap method of upgrading your computers speed look in to getting an SSD. Cost to do this is about $200.

The Dark Side of Windows 8.1

I finally get to write about something other than email scams!! Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, has decided that with Windows 8.1 those searches you do for files and stuff on your own computer will be logged and sent to Microsoft so they can send targeted advertising to your computer as well as any web sites you go to. I quote from a fine Infoworld article on Windows 8.1 —

“Unless you make Smart Search dumb, you not only hand Microsoft a complete history of all of your local computer search terms, you open your machine up to even more lovely ads, doled out on the Search results pane. If you search for “flugelhorn” on your local computer — not on the Web, mind you, but on your own computer — the results that Windows 8.1 shows you will include advertisements for flugelhorns on eBay and Amazon (no, I’m not joking — try it), local flugelhorn manufacturers, flugelhorn party consultants, and no doubt some day flugelhorn addiction services.”

It’s bad enough that when you search on Google or Bing they log it and then target you with ads and such but those are free services and they do need to make money somehow and you don’t have to use a search engine if you don’t want to. But with this Microsoft is invading your personal computer and logging local searches. No thanks! I will stick with Windows 7.

Here is a link to the article for the more curious among you.

Nuking from Orbit is NOT the best option

I am not sure what caused me to write about this today. This has been going on since the beginning of the home computer revolution.

I was reading an article about the latest Ubuntu that some pundit had installed on his mother-in-law’s computer. What he said in the article was that she had gotten malware and the best solution was to “nuke it from orbit”. In other words, format the hard drive and start over from scratch.

This is typical in the pundit circles. I assume this is because they don’t actually fix computers for a living. They just write about computers or write about fixing them. Their conclusions are based on a very small sample of situations and experience, at least when compared to someone who makes their living repairing computers every day.

Nuking from orbit is NOT the best option. I can clean up the worst infected computers usually in an hour or less. That is less time than it takes to format and re-install Windows plus all the other software that was on there before. Nuking from orbit is the lazy man’s solution to a malware/virus infection.

So if you should get infected with malware or a virus never let someone tell you your only decent option is to format and re-install. It’s not. Competent computer repair technicians can clean up systems without using that option quite nicely thank you.

As an aside, keep in mind that “pundits” in any industry have a very limited view of the real world. Their sample size is very small. If you want to know how good something is ask the people who make a living repairing whatever it is you are wondering about.

Windows 8

Trying out the Windows 8 preview. I HATE it. This could be worse than Vista. Well, unless you use it on a tablet or other touch-screen-enabled device. Then it’s pretty good. On a desktop or laptop it’s horrid though.

5 months later ….. yeah, still hate Windows 8. Windows 8.1 won’t fix anything either. Guess I’ll wait till Windows 9 comes out and see how that is, if Microsoft is still around that is.