Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

March 2016
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March is here, and seems to be coming in like a lamb this year - here's hoping it stays mild and sunny. I'm loving the longer days, and can't wait to leave my coat in the closet for good.

This month's issue was inspired by questions asked by my clients - you'll know who you are! I always welcome hearing your questions and concerns, especially as I'm often looking for topics to cover in my newsletter, and yours are often the most timely and universal. So keep those phone calls and emails coming!

Julie Marto 

508-333-8176 (cell)

P.S. Spring cleaning time is here - drop off your slow laptop or desktop and let me speed it up for you!
Is it Time to Upgrade to Windows 10?

I hear this question more frequently than any other. Windows 10 has been out since July 2015, and will continue to be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users until July of 2016. And boy, Microsoft is not letting anybody forget it!

When Windows 10 was first released I recommended people hold off on upgrading for a while, to let Microsoft work out any bugs. Well, it's been a while, and I've seen a lot of the ups and downs of Windows 10, and here are my recommendations to you:
  • If your system came with Windows 8, upgrade. Period. Windows 8 was an unmitigated disaster for Microsoft and there is no advantage to keeping it when Windows 10 is  free. Your system can run Windows 10 perfectly well, and you should be happier with it. 
  • If your system came with Windows 7, and is less than 4 years old, you should upgrade. Your system still has some years of life in it, and you might as well take advantage of the free upgrade while it's being offered. 
  • If your system came with Windows 7 and you've had it longer than 4 years, or if your system came with Vista and was upgraded to Windows 7, you are probably better off staying with 7. Although I have seen successful upgrades to Windows 10, there are often small annoyances - drivers that don't exist, or other incompatibilities. However, if you really want Windows 10, or have upgraded and need it tweaked, I'm happy to make it work for you.
If you would like me to do the upgrade for you, I plan to continue offering my Windows 10 Upgrade Special. Drop off your virus-free system with me, and for $100.00 I'll back up your system, install Windows 10, test it to ensure it's working properly, tweak it to make it work even better, and roll it back within one month if you are unhappy with Windows 10. If you prefer to do the upgrade yourself, or have a Windows 10 system that is not working well for you, I have found that a one hour appointment with me afterwards, to tweak the system, is often appreciated!
Google Chrome Ending Support
for XP, Vista, and Older Mac OSX

I received several concerned calls this month from clients with older computers who use Google Chrome to browse the web. A yellow bar appeared that announced their Chrome browser would no longer get updates, as they were using an out of date operating system.

This is a legitimate message, and applies to anybody using Vista, Mac OSX 10.6/7/8, or Windows XP. As of April 17th, Google will no longer update Chrome with security patches for those operating systems, although Chrome should continue to work.

What should you do? It depends on your specific situation, but here are my recommendations:
For you Vista users, if the specs of your system are relatively good and your system is otherwise in good shape, you can upgrade your operating system. Vista systems are not eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 10, but almost all can be upgraded to Windows 7  - copies are still available for sale but Microsoft is not producing any new ones, so grab one while you can! I've had very good luck upgrading older Vista systems with Windows 7 and an SSD - the systems work like new, for about half the cost of a new computer. If you are interested in upgrading, feel free to call me so we can discuss whether or not it's a good choice for your particular system.
MouseJack - Is your Wireless Mouse a Security Risk?

One of my favorite clients emailed me this month with a question about vulnerabilities in the communication used by wireless mice. To put the problem simply, the wireless communication between the mouse and the computer is often not encrypted, and so an attacker with the right combination of software and hardware could take control of any computer using an affected wireless mouse and potentially install malicious software. My client had an affected mouse, and was concerned she was at risk. And truth is, she was!

Here is my response to my client, and to any of you who have affected wireless mice.

Fortunately, the possibility of an "attack" is remote and only theoretical at this point. Microsoft and other affected vendors acknowledge the possible vulnerability and report planned fixes, but who knows when, or if you will even get it automatically (it most likely requires you to have installed the mouse software).  I'm not sure that the possibility of this type of attack is worrisome enough to require any action on your part, but if you are concerned you should replace your wireless mouse with a Bluetooth mouse (they have encryption built in) or a wired mouse.