Still running Windows 7?

OK. So, the official advice is that you should not be running Windows 7. But, for whatever reason, you have not upgraded to Windows 10, you can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

Upgrade to Windows 10 checklist.

First can your computer support Windows 10?

Memory.

How much RAM does your PC have?

Check the amount of RAM:

Open the Control Panel

Go to System and Security, then select System

If you have 4GB of RAM or more, you can run Windows 10 on your PC.

Hardware

Printers and Scanners

Most printers will work with Windows 10, although with some older printers, the driver will be a more basic driver.

However, scanners may be a different issue, as some manufacturers do not support older scanners. If you have any doubt, check with the manufacturer’s website to see if they provide Windows 10 drivers for your scanner.

Generally, if your printer or scanner is less than 10 years old, it should work with Windows 10.

For more information

https://computing.which.co.uk/hc/en-gb/articles/360009159719-How-to-upgrade-from-Windows-7-to-Windows-10-for-free

https://computing.which.co.uk/hc/en-gb/articles/115004326249-Will-your-printer-work-on-Windows-10-

Back up your data

Nine times out of 10, nothing will go wrong. But the unexpected can happen. So back up your data. And also create a system image backup as well. This all takes time, so do this a day before you want to upgrade the operating system.

To do this, you will need a portable hard drive. This can be purchased from PC World (or Amazon). A 2 GB drive should be more than sufficient.

What should you back up?

  1. The whole hard disk by creating a system image. This will probably not be needed, but if something catastrophic happens (such as a major disc failure), your existing system can be restored with all your data and apps. Go to Backup and restore in the Control panel.
  2. Next, back up your data. The system image can only be used for a full system restore, individual files cannot be accessed. Again this is done from the Backup and Restore option in the control panel.

Useful link: https://www.backblaze.com/pc-backup.html

All your other programs and apps

Make a note of all the software that you have installed on your computer. This will include your office software (Microsoft Office or Libre Office or other free office software). If you have paid for this software, you will probable need the registration key if the software needs to be re-installed.

Passwords

Make sure you know any important passwords – such as your email password(s). Just in case.

Microsoft account

If you have a Microsoft account, make sure you know the password.

Upgrade to Windows 7

Once you have backed up your data you are in the position to upgrade to Windows 10.

First download the Windows 10 Media Creation tool from Microsoft (Download Windows 10 (microsoft.com) )

Run the tool when it is downloaded.

When you come to this screen, think about what you want (this is why everything is backed up, just in case you select the wrong option by mistake). If you do not want to re-install ALL your software, select the first option. Keep your personal files and apps. Only the very brave, and those who want to restore their data and reinstall ALL their apps should select the third option.

Allow plenty of time to run this upgrade. If you are upgrading a laptop, make sure it is plugged in. The results can be unpredictable if the battery dies half way through an installation.

Press Next.

What else do you need to do?

The Microsoft account

If you already have a Microsoft account, make sure you know your password.

You can install Windows 10 without a Microsoft account. But we advise that you set up a Microsoft account if you do not already have one. If you are setting up a new Microsoft account, you can either use your email address or get a new email address from Microsoft.

 

 

 

 

Run Windows 10 Security Scan

 

  1. Open Windows Security

Begin typing Windows Security into the search box.

Open the Windows Security App

  1. Select Virus and Treat Protection, then select Scan options

  1. Run Full Scan and Offline Scan

There are two scans which are recommended, Full Scan and Microsoft Offline Scan, which have to be done one at a time.

This will take some time to complete.

Select one of the Scans and click Scan Now.

When this is run, run the second scan

A quick guide to Remote Assistance on Windows 10

Margot’s IT Support can offer remote support using the Zoho plugin. This is a small piece of software that is installed on your PC or laptop. Theses instructions are for users with Windows 10.

What is remote support?

Remote support software enables a software engineer to access your computer remotely over the internet, thus cutting out household visits. Margot’s IT Support uses the Zoho support assistant plugin which needs to be installed on your PC. At any point in the support session, you can terminate the connection. It can seem a little weird at first, when it seems that an invisible hand is typing on your keyboard or controlling your mouse.

What is involved

Before you install the plugin, watch the YouTube videos listed below.

  1. Download and install the Zoho plugin – https://assist.zoho.com/install-customer-plugin
  2. Contact Margot’s IT Support when installed to arrange a suitable time for a support session.
  3. You will receive an email with a 9 digit session ID.
  4. We will talk to you ever the phone or via a Zoom call during the support session.
  5. Start the Zoho Assist plugin that you have installed and enter the session ID.
  6. At the end of the session, you can stop the connection.
  7. At no point will we ask for any bank details or credit card details.
  8. Any payment can be made via PayPal after the support session following the link on the invoice.

Useful videos

Installing the plugin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4GPzz2iImM&t=75s

Requesting a support session

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5SU5Jozuv8

Introduction to Windows 10

 

Useful Windows 10 Guides

This one is How to Use Windows 10. It is rather long, with lots of subheadings

https://www.laptopmag.com/uk/articles/how-to-use-windows-10

Some useful videos on YouTube

This one is a very useful guide. It is 27 minutes long.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbQ2Qf4vMeQ

Windows 10 Books

There are times when only a book will do. These are some simple guides – don’t worry if they are aimed at “Seniors”, these guides are useful for people of all ages.

Black Dog Media (BDM)

The BDM guide books are often sold in supermarkets or in W H Smiths.

Alternatively, you can buy the guide books directly from BDM Publications

https://bdmpublications.com/windows-10-guidebooks/

If you want a “soft” copy, so you can read it on your computer, tablet or phone, look at PC Mags.

PC Magazines Online Subscriptions | Pocketmags

Buying a new laptop

Sadly, laptops do not last forever and do need to be replaced. But before your laptop dies, back up all your data to make the transfer to a new laptop as seamless as possible.

Screen Size: What will you be using your laptop for, and where will you be using it? If the laptop will sit on a desk all the time, portability is not a problem, so look for a 15.6 in screen or even a 17in screen. But beware, the 17in laptop is a large beast, and not very portable. If you are on the move, then the smaller and lighter, the better. Look out for good battery life.

Other features:

  1. Touch screen
  2. DVD drive

In 2021, 4GB of RAM is the minimum requirement, 8GB of RAM is much better.

What can I buy for under £500?

The golden age of tech buying, when every year, computers got cheaper and more powerful is now over, and prices do seem to be on the rise. However, there are some bargains to be found. It is worth doing your homework to work out what you really need. The following links may help with your research:

https://www.techadvisor.co.uk/test-centre/laptop/best-budget-laptop-3214583/

https://www.t3.com/features/best-laptops-under-500

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/best-cheap-laptop

https://bdmpublications.com/essential-guide-buying-laptop/

Chromebook

This is a good budget choice if all you require is web browsing and emails. Will also be useful for Zoom calls or if you require a laptop to supplement your main (desktop) computer.

If you have Office 365, then you can use the Office 365 apps (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc) on the Chrome book.

Pro: Much cheaper than a Windows laptop. Reliable and very secure. Great for accessing online services.

Against: No storage for files and photos. Most of your data will be held in cloud storage. No DVD (optical drive). Will not run Windows apps and programs.

Windows 10 laptop

More expensive than a Chromebook. A few models still have a DVD drive, but most do not. Can be used to store photos and other documents.

Pro: Storage, useful for your photo archive. Supports Microsoft Office. Android smartphone can be linked to laptop. Wide range of software can be supported.

Against: Lower spec laptops can be slow. Windows Update can sometimes cause problems.

Minimum requirements for a Windows laptop.

Buying a new windows laptop can sometimes seem a very daunting prospect and laptops vary considerably in price.

Memory: 4GB of RAM if all you want to do is a little browsing and read some emails. But if you want to do a bit more than this, perhaps edit some photos, open a few spreadsheets, got for 8GB of RAM

Processor: AMD Ryzen processors are fast, powerful and cheaper than a similar Intel processor, otherwise look for an Intel i3, i5 or i7 processor. The Intel Celeron or Pentium processors will be much slower.

Disk: These days, most laptops have a fast solid-state drive (SSD) instead of a disk that rotates. The SSD will make your laptop much faster. But capacity may well be a problem. Look for at least 256GB, or better still, 500GB. If you want masses of storage, look for a conventional HDD with 1TB (or more).

Macbook

If you have an Apple phone and an iPad, you may prefer to have a Macbook, which will allow seamless integration between all your Apple devices.

Pro: Beautiful and functional.

Against: Much more expensive than a Windows laptop.

Laptop suppliers

Bricks and mortar shops

There is nothing quite like seeing what you are buying. You may find that you do not need such a large screen or conversely, you would prefer a larger screen.

  • John Lewis in Kingston
  • Currys PC World

On line suppliers

  • Direct from the manufacturer, many manufacturers such as Dell, HP and Lenovo sell direct.
  • Ebuyer
  • AO
  • Argos
  • Amazon

The rules of Computing (how to keep your data)

Schofield’s Laws of computing

 

Schofield’s laws of computing are about your data. Your data is often a record of your life and your family’s life and is worth far more to you than any computer.

Schofield’s First Law of Computing states that you should never put data into a program unless you can see exactly how to get it out.

Make sure you know how to get at your old photos and other data stored on old devices. When you get a new computer or phone, make sure your move your data. Beware of obsolescence. If your family archives are stored on floppy disks, or even DVDs, you may struggle to access them. Be prepared to migrated your archives when you buy a new computer.

 

Schofield’s Second Law of Computing states that data doesn’t really exist unless you have at least two copies of it.

Always back up your data. It is so easy to lose a precious archive, either by deleting it accidentally, or by equipment failure. Data backup can also include a cloud solution.

If you upload everything to a cloud provider (GDrive, One Drive, iDrive etc.) make sure that you do keep a copy of your data in the real world, and that you back up your data regularly.

Schofield’s Third Law of Computing states that the easier it is for you to access your data, the easier it is for someone else to access your data.

Obviously, military grade security may be over the top for a computer that only you use but bear in mind that a list of passwords can be extracted from some computers, especially older machines.

Remembering passwords is a pain. If necessary, make a note of the key passwords in a book (not on a yellow post-it note stuck to the computer screen) and store safely (perhaps in a safe). Online thieves are not going to find your notebook hidden behind the cookery books. This is especially important if you are using encrypted storage, for your password is the encryption key. Loose this and you will not be able to access your data.

Jack Schofield was the editor of the Guardian computer column, Ask Jack and wrote extensively about computer issues for several years. Sadly, Jack died in March 2020, but his voice lives on in his work which can still be accessed: Ask Jack | Technology | The Guardian

Cloud storage

What is cloud storage?

 

 

What is cloud storage?

Cloud storage is basically data storage on someone’s server which you have access to. This storage can be free or paid for. The advantages of cloud storage are that you can access your data from anywhere (providing you know your username and password). This can also be useful if you use a desktop computer at home and a laptop, or you want to upload your photos from your phone.

Do I need cloud storage?

If you can answer YES to one or more of these questions, then you will need cloud storage

  • Do you have a Chromebook?
  • Do you have Windows laptop with a small hard drive?
  • Do you want to access your documents on several devices (desktop, laptop, phone, tablet)?
  • Do you want to automatically upload photos from your phone, rather than plugging your phone into your computer?
  • Do you want offsite backup for your data?

Who provides cloud storage?

There are several providers of cloud storage, some provide a free offering, but if your want to store a serious amount of data, you will need to pay a subscription to use the service. This is often when you want to store/backup photos and videos.

Provider

Free data

Cost

Notes

Dropbox

2GB

2TB for £7.99 per month

Sign up for a basic account: https://www.dropbox.com/en_GB/basic

Integrates well will Apple devices, Android, Windows PCs, Chromebook

Onedrive (Microsoft)

5GB

1TB for £5.99 per month

100GB for £1.99 per month

The paid for version also includes Office 365 which can be installed on several devices.

Pricing: Compare OneDrive Cloud Storage Plans | OneDrive Pricing (microsoft.com)

GDrive

(Google)

15GB

2TB for £7.99 per month

100GB for £1.59 per month

To access this, you will need a Gmail address

Pricing : Plans – Google One

Sign up for a Google account:

https://accounts.google.com/signup/v2/webcreateaccount?hl=en&flowName=GlifWebSignIn&flowEntry=SignUp

iCloud

(Apple)

5GB

50 GB£0.79
200 GB: £2.49
2 TB: £6.99

Great solution if you have Apple devices. The %GB storage comes when you sign up for an Apple account, and you will be give an option to subscribe to extra storage when necessary.

Note: there are other cloud storage solutions available. Some broadband providers offer cloud storage, but bear in mind that when you change supplier, you will have a lot of data to move.

 

Remote help using Zoho Assist

Margot’s IT Support offers remote assistance using ZoHo Assist, so no visit is necessary. All you have to do is go to https://join.zoho.com and enter the session number you have been sent.

When you do this, you will be asked to download the software for the remote session (this will be removed at the end of the session). You can terminate the session at any time.

Requirements

A working internet connection

A PC or laptop running Windows (preferably Windows 10, but older versions of Windows are supported) or Mac OS (10.9 or later).

How does it work?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTINMx1-YVg

Have a Mac? (380) How to Join a Remote Session using Zoho Assist (macOS) – YouTube

When you arrange a Remote Support session with Margot’s IT Support, you will be given a 9 digit session number (normally this will be sent in an email or by a text message). The session is usually arranged over the phone.

When you have this number, open your browser and go to https://join.zoho.com

Enter the session number and your name, and click JOIN SESSION

The next screen asks you to download the ZoHo Assist software so you can join the session.

Click on “Download”.

Click Keep (or Save, depending on your browser)

When the software is downloaded, double click on ZA_Connect.exe

When you do this, Windows Security will ask if you really want to install this software

Select YES

Next, if you are using Windows 10, this screen may be displayed. This is a security check from Microsoft so you are in control of the software installed on your computer.

Click on Install anyway

The ZoHo Assist app will now install.

Almost there, you session will be started

And the ZoHo Assist box will appear in the bottom right hand corner of your screen

Your remote support session is now running.

If you wish to close the session click on the x on the control box

How do I find my Google Passwords

If you use Google Chrome as your browser, the chances are that you allow Chrome to save your passwords – or some of them.

Like everything to do with convenience, there are some downsides. If your machine, or your Google account is hacked, someone else could have access to your passwords.

These are a few instructions for finding out which passwords are stored, and how you can remove stored passwords.

 

How to get a list of stored passwords

 

Then click on Passwords

A list of stored passwords will be displayed.

From here, you will be able to view saved passwords, export a password list or check for security breaches.

View Passwords

To view a specific password: Click on the .

Check for Data Breaches

Click on to see where likely data breaches have occurred.

Export the password list

Click on the more dots

Click on Export passwords, then save the file.

The data is saved as a CSV file, which can be opened in Excel, Google Sheets or Libre Office Calc (or similar app).

Removing a stored password

Click on the three dots, then select remove. The details will be removed from your Google profile