"Tips, Tricks & Software Picks"
friends and family have asked how I have my computer set
up and what software I use.
Here are some tips and
links to what I recommend:
you're looking for my Android "Apps
different page, click here
With Internet Explorer (IE), go to Microsoft's Windows
and make sure your computer is up to date. Windows Update
has all the latest patches for the Windows Operating
System (Windows, 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP), Internet
Explorer, Office, Outlook, etc. There are "Critical"
and "Recommended" updates. The "Critical"
updates are very important to download. They patch
security holes and known bugs that could leave your
computer vulnerable. The "Recommended" updates
are patches and programs that make Microsoft products run
better or add functionality. Some of these can be
ignored. The "Driver" updates are software for
hardware installed, like your video card, audio card,
printer, etc. I recommend that you check with the
manufacturer of these components for their drivers before
downloading Microsoft's drivers. Drivers are what your
hardware uses to communicate with Windows. Installing the
wrong driver can cause hardware to stop working. Be sure
you get the correct driver for your hardware. Typically
hardware will come with a driver disk, which will work,
but from time to time the manufacturer will update the
driver and it should be downloaded from their
Having Windows check for updates
automatically can be turned on in the "Security
Center" section of the "Control Panel."
Getting there and turning it on is different in Windows
10, 8, 7, Vista and XP. If you need specific
instructions for your version, let me know, but keep
reading, you might have more than one question.
Get your computer secured. Below are several
programs that I feel are "must have" on
everyone's computer. Getting "infected"
with adware/spyware/malware programs is a big problem
that is affecting computer users today. Spyware is
a growing problem and I believe is now a bigger problem
So, you've been getting a lot of junk e-mail a.k.a.
"Spam" in your inbox!?! One way to avoid
this is to set up a web based e-mail account like Gmail,
My current favorite is Gmail because of the space they
give with their free account. It's over 7GB (and
increasing) with a free account. All offer free e-mail
accounts that you can use whenever you need to give out
an e-mail address to anyone other than family, friends,
etc. I recommend that you use your primary e-mail
for friends, family, work and use the web based one for
everything else. This will significantly reduce the
spam you get. As you may know I use the web
based e-mail as my primary e-mail address. They
have built in spam filters that keep most of the junk out
of your inbox. Also, if you change Internet Providers,
you won't have to change you email address. "Gmail"
is provided by Google, everyone's favorite search engine,
and offers a lot of storage space, so you will never have
to delete emails for fear of filling up your inbox. This
works well as a back up solution. Just email yourself
that important document or photos and they can be saved
virtually forever in your email.
Consider switching your "Browser." If you're
using IE (Internet Explorer) to surf the web, consider
switching to Chrome
one is an excellent alternative to IE because it is not
vulnerable to the malicious programs and web sites that
exploit known issues specific to IE. If you're thinking
"Another program that I have to learn how to use?"
Don't worry. they are very similar to IE in the way they
look and work. They're (in my opinion) better and I
recommend them both without hesitation.
out, they're worth trying, and of course both are
do this for you and allow you control so you can turn it
on for trusted / known web sites that you need to have
are known vulnerablities that could allow the bad guys
out there take over your computer. I explain more about
the bad guys later when I talk about viruses and spyware.
I like browser extension/add on's
Firefox & ScriptNo
tip just isn't practical any longer. It's virtually
Back up your data. Hard drives fail. It's not a matter of
"if" but "when." I have external hard
drives also called NAS's (Network Attached Storage) but
they are not enough. You also need "offsite"
back up. What I used to do was keep a couple of nas's and
take one to/from work, but sometimes I would forget it
and if your back up is sitting next to your computer in a
fire, you're screwed. For offsite back up I am now using
and recommending DropBox.com
What I like
about DropBox is that they offer 2GB of space for free.
It is so easy to set up and use too. It's a great way to
back up offsite. If you need more space, I would
for only $59.00 they have unlimited space. Disclaimer: I
have set up an affiliation with DropBox.com
If you sign up
using my link here, they give me 500mb of more space for
free. I recommend that you do the same and recommend to
your friends/family/coworkers to get more free space.
It's a "Win, Win."
Seaching online. Most are using Google to search online.
We now use Google as a verb and is completely synonymous
with "searching." That said, I no longer use
used to recommend duckduckgo but since they started
censoring their results to stop “misinformation”
I no longer trust the results they give to be unbiased.
They blew it. I don’t want or need anyone censoring
anything for me. I’m a big boy full grown adult and
can use my brain. They don’t think you’re
smart enough to determine false narratives… but,
anyway, I’m recommending presearch.org
because they have a crypto coin and share with its users.
I like that, in addition to their privacy policies. And,
as usual, please check these things out
for yourselves, I will change my recommmendations as
things change. Here’s the link
use my link, it is an affiliate link and we both get
crypto for using it and get crypto for searching. Look
into it. Let me know what you think.
Where to shop online? Simply doing a search online to
find your product can take you into a dangerous world.
You really can't trust just any website you find. I
recommed you go with "known & trusted"
websites. You're probably already using Amazon.com
when you shop
online. It's a great place to compare a bunch of
different sellers & prices at once. For me, it's
where I usually go first and come back to to make my
purchase. I'm getting to a point where I don't even look
any further. They consistantly have the lowest prices.
And, what I really like about them is that the community
(you, me & others) can rate & write reviews, not
just about the product, but about the seller as well. I'm
continually impressed with my shopping experience on
<< to go
And of course, there's always eBay.
I use eBay
for the "not
necessarily new" items I'm looking for. When I need
a unique gift or collectible I go to eBay. Sure, there's
new stuff and I do check there.
you're using Windows 10, 8, 7, XP, Vista or Windows
7 then the firewall that is built in is adequate. To
check and see if it's turned on and running, go to the
"Control Panel" and then "Security
Center" The firewall should be "On"
Today's routers are excellent hardware firewalls and I
recommend that everyone get "behind" a router.
They're cheap enough at under $50.00 and I personally
recommend Linksys routers, which you can shop for by
using either of the links above. I recommend Linksys
because: 1st: They are very popular and what that means
is there is plenty of info about them online, which comes
in handy if you have any questions. 2nd: It is what I've
been using for years, so I'm very comfortable with the
set up & configuration. If you have questions about
the Linksys, I can probably help. If you have a laptop
that's wireless you probably already have a wireless
router and that's good. Some might say that if you have a
hardware firewall you don't need a software firewall and
visa-versa. I disagree. It can be argued that it's a belt
& suspenders kind of thing, but as you will see from
my comments below, I take security very seriously and
neither one is perfect, I think everyone needs
As my #1 AV software I'm now recommending Microsoft's
first & foremost. It's very effective and is easy to
use. The others are more complicated. More info and
also recommed Avast.
It's also free and is available here.
They require you to register, which provides a license
for free personal use for about a year. They just require
you to re-register annually to keep using it for free. It
comes highly recommended by Steve Gibson, a tech security
expert and founder of grc.com. See more about grc.com
below. I did try it for a little while but find
Microsoft's easier to use. The jury is still out on which
I have recommended AVG
in the past,
but have not used it since version 8.0. I used it for
years and recommended it exclusively, but when they went
to version 8.0, it got bloated and was a system resource
hog so I switched to Avast and then switched again to
Microsoft Security Essentials.
ahead and try them and see which you prefer. Just don't
try to run more than one antivirus on your system at a
they can conflict with each other.
for Android is
my AV app recommendation.
I currently use it on my
phone. More info & download here
"Spyware or "Malware:" For
Windows users, as I said above, Microsoft's Security
Essentials but there are
a few of others: Malwarebytes,
Search & Destroy
"Spyware" or "Malware" (often used
interchangeably) are programs that can track what you do
and where you go on the net. They can give others
access to your computer and your personal information. At
the very least they can slow down your computer and cause
it to be unstable.
You can run more than one
"malware" program at a time, unlike antivirus
programs, mentioned earlier.
install, update, and run all these programs. I know
that it may take a while, but I
feel it's important enough to do it. I
have these on disk, and would be glad to make you a copy
or if you're local, I'd be happy to install them for
you. Just ask!! I feel that strongly about
To keep your computer secure it is
recommended that you check for updates and run these
programs at least weekly,
the jerks out there come out with new threats
Remember, the programs I'm recommending
are free but do have "Pro" versions that cost
money, so if you're asked for payment info or are taken
to shopping cart you may be installing the "paid"
version. If you have question about what you're
installing, stop, cancel and let me know so I can help
you get the right one installed. Of course, if you want
the paid version, for added features or support, I
understand. But, while I have upgraded to some paid
versions, some I have not and may not be familiar with
that version and may not be able to help if you have any
issues. Also, some of the download pages are cluttered
with ads and I do want to make sure you're installing the
Another thing to consider when
installing free programs is that sometimes they have made
deals with other parties like Yahoo or Google and one of
the options when installing is to install one of their
"toolbars" or other applications. Be sure to
read each step when installing and if you are unsure,
stop and cancel and let me know. I'd be happy to walk you
through any of the installs of these programs.
it down: Are
you wondering..."Is my computer secure?"
"Is my computer at risk?" "How would
I know?" Well there is a way to find out.
There is a web site that will test your computer to
see if it is secure. This is a free
require you to
give out any personal information, not even your email
address. The web site is grc.com
and the test is
called "Shields Up." Click here
to go there
now. Scroll down to "Shields Up" link. Click on
the link there and you will be taken to the Shields Up
page, click on the "Proceed" button, you will
see a pop up warning about encryption, it's ok, click
"Continue" then click on the "All Service
Ports" button. Your IP address will be displayed and
the test will begin and "Test your shields and probe
your ports." It seems like a lot of steps and
the test does take a minute but it really is quick &
easy and nothing to download. C'mon, go ahead, you
know you're wondering if you're secure. It is
important. If you don't "Pass" let me know and
we'll fix it.
tax software: I
It is easy to
use and it's inexpensive too. You can get the federal and
state deluxe bundle for around $20. This includes a free
"e-file" option. This program will help take
the pain out of doing your taxes. I've been using
this program for years and love it. If you have any
questions, just call or email
computer probably came with Microsoft Works or some other
office suite. You may have paid $150-200 to upgrade to
Microsoft Office. I hope you're reading this before you
have done that, because I have found a free
that is completely compatible with Microsoft's Office,
including Word and Excel. It looks almost identical and
is so similar that you will hardly notice the difference.
It is called LibreOffice.
download it for free from here.
Check it out.
It wouldn't be on this page if I didn't think it was
worthwhile. There are lots of "how to" videos
on youtube. If there is anything that you're trying to
do, search youtube for it, I'm sure someone has posted a
video showing you how to do it. If you need help, I'd be
happy to if I can. Feel free to ask.
Little said, "The
sky is falling"
and instilled fear in those around him. The above
comments may seem to be similar in nature, but they are
not. What I described above are real issues that we have
to deal with regardless of how you feel about these
issues and how you may or may not think they affect you.
I don't mean to try and scare anyone, I just want to
inform and help. If you have any questions let me know
and I'd be happy to discuss with you further and/or help
with any issues you may have with your computer, software
and the Internet in general.
There are a ton
of excellent (and free) programs and web sites that I
didn't mention so if you're looking for a particular type
of program or need a solution to a problem that is not
covered here, let me know and I'd be happy to make a
Need clarification? Step by step instructions? Call or
me. I really
would be happy to help.
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