Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A Very Basic Beginning to PC System Admininstration - Just Enough to SYA - Save Your Ass - Maybe

Take Charge of Your Machine!

It's Not So Hard!
You Know What You Are Doing

I (Working Computers) will be giving a talk at the Kinnelon Library on 
February 26, 2020 from 7 PM to around 8:00 PM
to discuss Windows System Admin with the tools that come with the Operating System, and image backups using Casper 10, and the Windows Backup Tools in Windows 10, mainly:

Windows Settings

The Windows Control Panel

"Settings" is the latest collection of tools, which is gradually taking over from the Control Panel and overlaps and duplicates some of the Control Panel functionality. It is easily accessible from the Windows Start Menu in the Lower Left Hand Corner of the screen as the Gear Icon. From it you can access 13 different categories of hardware and hardware connection, 

Which are:

System - display, sound, notifications, and power
Devices - Bluetooth, Printers, Mouse
Phone - Link your Android, iPhone
Network and Internet - WiFi, Ethernet, various settings
Apps - Uninstall, defaults, optional features
Accounts - Your Accounts, email, sync, work, family
Time and Language -  Speech, Region, Date
Gaming - I don't care
Ease of Access - Narrator, Magnifier, High Contrast
Cortana - Cortana Language, Permissions, Notifications
Privacy - Location, Camera, App Access to Camera
Update and Security - Windows Update, recovery, backup

Most Windows users already know something about the Control Panel, and some of the admin tools located there, but haven't walked through the roster of utilities and may not understand what they are for. Next Wednesday, Apr. 24,  we are going to fix some of that with a talk through the most (to me) useful. They fall into 2 Groups -- those that Control The OS Software and those that Control Hardware and Both.

They are:

Administrative Tools
Device Manager
Devices and Printers
File Explorer Options
Indexing Options
Network and Sharing Center
Programs and Features
Taskbar and Navigation
User Accounts

I have deliberately left out other items which may be useful from time to time but which are either accessed less frequently, less critically, or handled with other applications

Disk Management


We will be discussing Adding Hard Disks, Setting Up Disk Backups,  and Customizing the Taskbar and working with User Accounts as well as other stuff people want to talk about.

In the Meantime, what is the Single and Most Important thing you can do to preserve your Windows License and OS install on your computer?

Answer: Make a Bootable Recovery USB Drive.


Most Easily -- Plug a 32GB or larger USB flash drive into a USB port, and then go to the Cortana Search Window and type "Recovery Drive", Click on "Create a Recovery Drive" which will start Recovery Media Creator and check the Box for "Back up system files to the recovery drive. Then wait for the box showing available drives to appear and select your USB drive as a target. That's it.
This drive will become a bootable, recovery drive, capable of restoring your Win 10 license, system files, and a bootable OS.  It may even be able to repair damaged boot loader for your old system drive. It won't restore your data. Backup your stuff!

If you have your stuff backed up with Casper 10, you can even do minor, manual repairs to your boot drive or other drives just by cut and paste replacement of damaged or missing files.

Here's how: Make sure you have admin privileges - you are going to "unhide" the files Win10 does not want you messing with; of course if they are gone or damaged, you don't care.

If Windows Explorer, and the File, and then Options, and then View, uncheck the  Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives box. Click OK - now you can see stuff that was  heretofore ... invisible. For example: stuff in the Appdata directory where all of you personal usage app stuff is stored, like  Browsing History, Favorites, Downloads, Saved Pages and other stuff for all of your Browsers. 

If you have an image backup you can restore lost data from the backup tot he boot drive, with Cut and Paste.

What is another easy and important thing you can do for an oddly behaving computer?

Repair the OS or system files.

Open a Command Window.

As an Administrator, open an Admin Command or Powershell Windows by hitting the Win(Flag) Key and X key together and select Windows Command or Powershell Admin.

In the open Window type"

sfc /scannow

This command will find and fix corrupted OS files

Then type:

dism  /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

Finally type:

chkdsk /f /r

Note that you can target a specific drive by using the drive letter, as in:

chkdsk c: /f /r

Note also that, if you do so, the machine will  execute the command on reboot only.

We will be happy to discuss problems that you have with your individual machines, if they are fairly brief, and we will have a discussion period at the end. Feel free to bring your laptop.

Do give Kim Christian at the Kinnelon Library to sign up at 973 838 1321 and/or email her at

Thanks, and hope to see you there !


Photo Credits to:

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Buying a New Computer Now -- What Should I Buy? -- Talk at The Kinnelon Library Wed. December 18, 2019 @ 7 PM

In The Market for a New Computer???

High End Computer -- Possibly Too Expensive

I get asked about what new computers are good choices to buy a lot, and I do have choices to recommend. And I have reasons for my choices. Most people, when looking for a new machine give too much weight to the initial purchase price, forgetting that over the life of the machine, there are other costs that can drive the total price a lot higher. Such as upgrades and repair. OF course, the price is important, too.

The first thing to remember is that the Most Expensive Thing about a New Computer will be ... Replacing it. The longer your machine lasts, the cheaper it gets! I mean "lasts", both in terms of being powerful enough, and working long enough.

It used to be that a computer might die before it became too slow or old to use, and a desktop or laptop at 7 years old or older running Windows XP was common. That's an old computer from a hardware standpoint and likely to fail. These days the burden placed on a new machine is getting heavier so rapidly, that, unless you buy a moderately powerful computer, it is likely to be unuseable for websurfing, online purchasing, or many common programs and services long before it is even 3 years old

Buy the most powerful computer you can reasonably afford -- the difference in price may only be a few hundred dollars, but that will translate into a much longer and more useful lifespan, as well as a machine that waits for you, instead of you waiting for it.

Buy Computers with Core i7 or Core i5 (Mobile) Intel CPUs, or AMD Ryzen 5 or 7 (Mobile) CPUs instead of Core i3 or lesser processors -- they are more powerful  and that makes a difference. Buy a computer with at least 8 GB of RAM or more, expandable to 16 GB or more (RAM is and will be cheap), and with at least a 500 GB SSD, or preferably 1TB.

There is a special issue now to consider with Solid State Drives, which you will want over the old mechanical spinning disks, and that is Size-Based Longevity. Whereas it did not use to make a difference how large the drive was in terms of how long it lasted, now it does. Because SSDs are limited to the number of writes they can perform before failure, and warranted for that in TBW, Terabytes Written, they are built to spread the writes over the whole drive evenly over time and minimize the number of times that data is written to individual cells in the SSD. So if you have a 500 GB drive and 400 GB of data, the drive will not be able to spread the load as much over time as if you had a 1 TB SSD, and you will exceed both the warranty, and the lifetime of the drive sooner than you may expect!

One Laptop I like and recommend is the HP Envy x360 machines seen below:
HP ENVY x360 Laptop - 15t touch

For the moment, these links seem to work, although they will not for too long:

Specs:AMD Ryzen 7 3700U 4.0 GHz 4-core CPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD, Wireless-AC, Bluetooth, AMD Radeon 8 graphics, 1-year warranty, and Windows 10 Home

Both the AMD Mobile 3500 3700 offer equivalent or better performance than the older 8th and 9th gen Intel Core i5, and i7 CPUs, whereas 10th Gen Intel Core i7 have been measured to do better at lower power than the AMD chips but at a somewhat higher price.

This computer is discounted now by HP for $819.99, or as I like to call it, $820. No discount code is needed.

Do get on the TechBargains, and ExtremeTech Mailing Lists for up to date notice of good deals. Do check Dell and HP for re-furbished Grade A machines with full warranty. Do check on Amazon for computers and monitors sold by Amazon with damaged boxing. I don't like buying computers from Amazon because the sellers are most often not warranted by the manufacturer because the sellers are not authorized. It pays to check. Some sellers are.

I got my beautiful new 32" 4k Samsung 1 millisecond response time, HDR10 monitor for over a $100 off just by checking to see "Other Sellers" and choosing one with a "Damaged Box". Same warranty, same equipment. The seller was Amazon. Don't care that the box was torn!

Don't buy a monitor by checking a box on the Dell or HP webpage -- those prices are too high. Check out the Tech Bargains website.

I will be giving a talk at the Kinnelon Library on this and other computers that I like this Wed., Dec. 18, 2019 at 7 PM. I will cover the following topics:

What Computers Should You Buy Now?
 Tablets, Laptops, and Desktops
How Much Should You Pay and Where Should You Buy Them
What Computers Will Last the Longest Time
What Do You Need if You Just Want to Surf the Web and Do Email?

And, as usual, we will have Question and Answer: Ask Your Questions, Bring in Your Laptop or Device for advice.

All of you Kinnelon and North Jersey people, and everybody else, are welcome to come.

Call the Kinnelon Library at 973 838 1321 and reserve a spot.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Disaster Recovery for Home/Small Business Computing

Image result for dog bites computer
Unforeseen Disasters: It's Not the Teeth It's the Slobber

    We will be giving a talk at the Kinnelon Library on October 30, 2019 from 7 PM
    to around 8:150 PM to discuss Quick Disaster Recovery in Win 10 with OS and 
    3rd party tools - here is the outline:

  What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?     

   It's Insurance Against the Loss of Data, Time & Money

   It's Being Able to Replace Your Hardware and Your Software Quickly

   It's Getting Working Again ASAP

   And it Includes:

•Backing Up -- Casper 10 Image Backup / Windows Backup (Control Panel)

•Making a Recovery Disk (Flash Drive)

•Having Your Product Key (License)

•Making Sure Your Data is Protected from Corruption or Attack

•Storing Critical Files Offsite – If Need Be  🤷‍♂️

•Having a Plan to Get Up and Running Quickly -- What Will You Do?

•Protecting from Most Likely Failures Absolutely – Best Guessing the Rest

•Having Quick Access to Correct Replacement Hardware

•Knowing How to Quickly Transfer Programs and Data to New and Different Hardware

•Knowing that Your Plan Works – By … Testing It! As Much As You Can

When Do You Need the Plan?

Think of all the things that can go wrong with your equipment or software!

Fire, flood, failed hardware, corrupted data, stupid stuff, lost or stolen equipment -- 

Essentially you need to be able to replace or fix any part of your hardware or software
as quickly as you can.

What Stuff Do You Need?

You should have a recent bootable disk image backup of your Boot Drive - there are a
 number of reputable suppliers of disk imaging software -- I like Casper 10 from Future
Future Systems Development, which is about $60, and worth every penny. You will also
need an external drive to backup to. It can also make virtual, bootable drives as files
or copies of any other recognized drive.

You need at least a 32 GB Flash Drive.

Don't have your product key? You need Magic Jelly Bean Keyfinder! It's free.

You need decent security software. I like Windows Defender which you already own
if you have Win 10. You do not need for-pay basic coverage. I also like Malwarebytes
which you can try for 2 weeks at no charge. Malwarebytes works well with other
security software and does not disable it, as some conventional software does.

You can store critical files online with OneDrive to protect them from local issues.
OneDrive can be weird though, so don't always expect it to be available. Smile!

Answer the question! If anything breaks, or your OS is compromised, what will you do?

So if you end up with a new computer, how will you replicate your previous program installs,
your data, your cookies/web pages, browser history, and so on? An archival file backup won't
do it. And you can't boot your new machine to your old system's drive! You will need
another piece of commercial software: PC Mover from LapLink which costs about $60.
Luckily you don't need it 'til you do, and you can download it to a flash drive and
install it on your new machine. Then you get to transfer all of your files, apps, and
settings to the new PC. From your Casper Image Backup! It works!

As usual, we will take questions and deal with issues at the end of the talk.

See you there!


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Internet Security for the Windows Home and Small Business User -- Talk at the Kinnelon Library, Wed. Sept. 26, 2018 at 7 PM

This is Your Laptop on Drugs, er, Fire

OK -- so your PC won't burn up if it gets infected but you may wish it had, especially if you run into Ransomware, or Hacked Accounts and eMail.

What should you do???

Well, first, even before installing Internet Security, you SHOULD BE  BACKED UP. The last best chance you have in case of a hopelessly compromised machine is a Complete Restore!!! Preferably, to a Bootable Backup! 

Then you should install Internet Security, TWICE. See Below:

We will not cover McAfee LiveSafe, as we did last year, even though it is a good program and is FREE for those of us with Cable Internet but we will cover Windows Defender because it is both free and already installed with Windows, and it tests and works well, and is less annoying and interruptive, and also we will talk about MalwareBytes Free and Premium, because dual belt and suspenders protection is a good idea with Security Software. FYI Windows Defender  automatically activates when another Security Program is not present, and deactivates when it senses one is present -- except for MalwareBytes.

Why should you have MalwareBytes at all? Because it catches bad stuff differently from other Security Software, especially the worst stuff like RansomWare. Its Real Time  protection is behavior based and simply does a better job at catching the bad stuff.

All of the Editor's Choices are fine. Especially if you have MalwareBytes as well. By the way, MalwareBytes is the only program that will happily coexist with others!

We will also discuss the part that Bootable Backups can play in not only disaster recovery such as drive failure, but also in recovering from catastrophic infection. It is nice to have an uninfected backup of your system disk when your system disk IS INFECTED!

And I will demo a Bootable Backup.

As usual, we will take questions and deal with issues at the end of the talk.

See you there!


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Computer Talk Tonight, Wed. Apr 25 2018, at the Kinnelon Public Library Has Been Postponed

Those of you planning to attend the Ted Talks Computers talk at KPL, note that it is not happening, and will be rescheduled.

Sorry for any inconvenience.



Saturday, January 20, 2018

Talk at the Kinnelon Library Wednesday, Jan 24@ 7 PM on Computer Disaster Recovery -- Quick and Complete -- How to Do It!

Taking Care of Your Computer: Disaster Recovery
No Matter How You Got There!
I will be giving a talk at the Kinnelon Public Library, Wednesday, Jan 24, at 7 PM, which is the first of such talks this year, roughly a month apart, and this month it will be on the subject of Disaster Recovery!
  • From Lightning Strikes to Hardware Failure, What to Do
  • How to Plan for the Worst
  • What Steps to Take in Advance
  • How to Restore Your Working Environment
  • How to Protect Your Data
  • How to Be Up and Running again Quickly, even in Minutes
  • Real World Examples that Have Happened to Me! Lightning ... !
This is the Kinnelon Library's description of the talk:

"Computer Class-Wednesday, January 24 at 7:00 pm-Ted Whittemore of Kinnelon Computers returns to the Kinnelon library with his monthly computer classes

This month he (that's me) will be talking about System Maintenance and Recovery for Win 7 thru Win 10, with the emphasis on Win 10, including Updates, Backup and License Restoration. Be the Boss, learn how to take care of your computer and tell it what to do and avoid Surprises! Bring a fully-charged laptop, if you have one. To register, or for more information, call 973-838-1321 or click on Adult Program Registration."

Plus -- As Always -- Ask Your Questions about Your Computer and Computer Related Problems, such as:

1) Is my machine too old? When do I need a new machine?

2) How can I "pin" that program to my Taskbar, and what is a "Gadget?"

3) Why does my computer ... ?

4) If you have a laptop with a problem, bring it along and we'll take a quick look.

5) Questions and on-the-spot diagnosis will be limited by the time available!!!

All of you Kinnelon and North Jersey people, and everybody else, are welcome to come.

Call the Kinnelon Library at 973 838 1321 and reserve a spot.

See you there!


PS: This talk pertains to PCs running Windows 10, 8, and 7

Photo Credits:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Email for PCs, MACs, Tablets, and Phones -- Talk at the Kinnelon Library Wednesday, May 31, 2017 @ 7PM

Email, Email and more Email
How to Do It Right for Desktops, Laptops and Portable Devices

I will be giving a talk at the Kinnelon Public Library, this Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 7 PM, on the subject of Email -- how to use Mail Clients and Webmail, what the Security Problems with Each Are, and How to Have All of Your Email at Your Fingertips on All of Your Devices, All of the Time.
  • How to Setup POP and IMAP, and What They Are and Why You Should Care
  • How To Sync All of Your Mail with Your Desktops, Laptops, and Phones
  • How to Set Up a Mail Client 
  • How to Make Sure Your Security Program Takes Care of Your Mail
  • Why your eMail Provider Makes a Difference


Plus -- As Always -- Ask Your Questions about Your Computer and Computer Related Problems, such as:

1) Is my machine too old? When do I need a new machine?

2) How can I "pin" that program to my Taskbar, and what is a "Gadget?"

3) Why does my computer ... ?

4) If you have a laptop with a problem, bring it along and we'll take a quick look.

5) Questions and on-the-spot diagnosis will be limited by the time available!!!

All of you Kinnelon and North Jersey people, and everybody else, are welcome to come.

Call the Kinnelon Library at 973 838 1321 and reserve a spot.

See you there!


PS: This talk pertains to PCs running Windows, Tablets and Phones

Photo Credits:

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