Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

November 2018
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How is it possibly November already? I'm not sure I'm ready for short days, comfort food, and snow in the forecast!

This month Windows 10 users should get a major update. I'm covering that, along with a topic I hear all too much about - phone scammers. To round things off, I give you my thoughts about replacement chargers and cables.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Julie Marto 
PS - Need some help picking out tech for a holiday present? Give me a call!
Windows 10 Feature Updates

On October 2nd, Microsoft released their latest annual Windows 10 Feature Update, version 1809. A few days later, the release was pulled due to a serious problem in the update that deleted some user's data. 

Microsoft is holding back the update for more testing, and, as of this writing, they still don't have an official re-release date, but it's expected to be rolled out sometime in November.

Here's what you should know about this, and other, Microsoft feature updates:
  • feature update upgrades Windows 10 to the latest version with enhanced features, security improvements, and different functionality. It is a major new revision, as opposed to the security updates that are released weekly.
  • Since Windows 10's original release in July of 2015, Microsoft has offered two feature updates per year. These updates are automatically downloaded to, and installed on, your system, within a month or so of official release. 
  • Microsoft numbers versions with a year and month coded system. The most recent update, 1809, was developed in September of 2018. The version you most likely have installed on your system right now is 1803 - March of 2018. You can determine your Windows 10 version by typing "winver" in the search box and hitting enter. If your version is older than 1803, you have a problem with your updates and you should schedule an appointment to determine what is wrong.
  • In general, feature updates take a long time to install. You can expect your system to request a restart (which you can postpone until a more convenient time), and take as long as an hour to finish up. 
Unfortunately, with any major operating system change, things can go wrong. You are safest if you keep your system backed up at all times. If you are not sure if your system is backed up, or want some help setting up a back-up system, please give me a call.
Phone Scams

Every month I hear from clients about official sounding phone calls they have received from "Microsoft".  Every single call is a scam, and the only action you need to take is to hang up and ignore the call. This month was particularly active, so watch out for scammers claiming that:
  • Your "Microsoft License Key" is about to expire, and you will no longer be able to use your computer if you don't take action. This appears to be one of the most popular scam calls this month - even for people with Apple computers! Windows licenses are valid for as long as the computer is operational. The only Microsoft license that might expire is an annual subscription to Office, and Microsoft will notify you that you need to renew via email. They will NEVER call you on the phone.
Computers CAN get infected, so it's particularly worrying if you get a call when your computer is acting up in any way. If anybody calls you claiming there is something wrong with your computer,  PLEASE hang up immediately and call me! I'm happy to reassure you that all is well, or schedule a one hour appointment to check your system and make sure it doesn't have an actual issue!
Cables and Chargers 

You forgot to bring your iPad charger on your trip. Your cat thought your phone charging cable was a chew toy. Whatever the reason, you need a replacement (or a spare) and you have a decision to make - pay top dollar for genuine OEM parts, or save a few bucks with a generic.

The wrong charger or cable can actually damage your electronics, or cause them to not charge or sync properly. So you need to find a balance between quality and price.  Here's how I make those decisions:

Replacement chargers - If your phone has fast charging technology,   you might be best off trying to find a genuine OEM replacement charger, as there are several different standards in the fast charging world, and you want to be sure you get a match. 

For non-OEM replacement chargers, I prefer a brand called Anker . Their products, available through Amazon and other retailers, offer a good balance of quality, price, and performance. Some other reputable brands include Syncwire and Amazon Basics.

Replacement cables - unless it's an emergency, don't buy the cheap cables they sell at the dollar store or at street kiosks. Quality counts with replacement cables. However, that doesn't mean you have to buy the $30.00 OEM cable either. There is a good selection of mid-priced, high quality cables available on Amazon. In a rush for a quick replacement? I have found good quality, reasonably priced cables in the tech section at Marshall's as well!

Be careful out there - Amazon and other on-line retailers are full of counterfeit products labeled OEM.  You are often better off buying something you KNOW isn't made by Apple or Samsung or Google, than buying a fake!