Windows 8 – WOW Does It Look Different!

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

Microsoft’s venture into a truly mobile operating system, that can be spread spectrum across all of their platforms, was in theory a great idea.

What went wrong was underestimating the public’s attachment to the look and feel of their Windows XP and Windows 7 (we’ll just forget about Vista) operating system.

With many users still looking sideways at the new stylish Windows 8 interface, and even with the slight upgrades and changes in looks (ha, I laugh at the new start button) that Windows 8.1 has brought on since its release.

For many users out there, this still is not a big enough change to truly bring enjoyment to their personal computer experience.

If you are in “ever search mode” to locate and regain that look and feel of operating systems of yesteryear, there are two great programs that allow anyone of any level of computer experience to install and customize to regain that feeling of comfort.

Classic Shell, a freeware program, can enable a legacy-style Start menu and Windows Explorer interface. You can even have the Windows 7 menu back! But why stop there? Windows XP and Windows Classic menus are available as well. The Classic style will be a comfort to anyone upgrading from Windows 98.

The classic Explorer settings can also transport you into the way-back machine, and users can now have the simple Windows XP style back that they know and love.

A small low impact application that gives you a true look and feel of a Windows 7 interface, while still maintaining the complete functionally of the Windows 8 operating system.

Classic Shell, gives you a true start button and brings back Печатьthat all too familiar look and feel of your dearly departed Windows XP or 7 systems.

Check it out, it even offers a “Shut Down” button. Classic Shell also allows for customization of the new start menu.

Created by Stardock, a company that’s been making Windows user interface mod’s for years, Start8 comes as a free 30-day-trial. After that, you can “unlock” the third-party software for just $4.99.
Start8 does not re-enable the Windows Start menu. Instead, it creates a new menu that looks similar to it. Because of this, Stardock provides a great deal of customization.

Users can make the menu appear Metro-like by giving it square edges, or can stick with the Windows 7 look by giving it rounded edges. It’s also possible to change color, add or remove translucency, and give the Start menu button a custom icon.

And that’s just the beginning. There’s a plethora of options available in the app’s configuration and control menus for users to explore and customize.

Considering its low price and the large number of options, I think this software is a good deal. I even like the optional faux-Metro style.

However, Start8 doesn’t add any new functionality, so users are essentially paying $5 to have what was bundled with Windows 7.

So there you go. Two great choices, it just all comes down to “to pay or not pay, that is the question.”
Remember the technicians at Tech Experts are always ready to lend a hand.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Why Are Windows And Software Updates Important?

by Jeremy Miller, Technician
Everyone who owns a computer running Microsoft Windows has seen that pop-up alerting you that you have updates to install or that they have been installed. Updates are fixes for a known issue.

Microsoft uses an application called Windows Update Service to look for new updates, and then it categorizes the various updates by how critical they are.

There are security updates which patch vulnerabilities that can compromise your system.

Critical updates fix major issues found with Microsoft products that can cause errors or unusual behavior. Software updates are non-critical issues such as more features and minor bug fixes.

Service packs contain all updates and patches prior to the service pack. You can install a service pack to apply a large amount of updates at once. Also service packs can determine which software you can run.

It is important to update your computer to keep your computing environment stable. If you allow your computer to get too out of date such as not installing a service pack, you may not be able to run a lot of software.
Even worse if you do not install security updates you will have a larger “known” attack surface for exploits.

Windows is not the only software that updates. You have probably seen Adobe Reader, Flash Player, or Java letting you know that there are updates available for install in your system tray. They update for the same reason that Microsoft updates Windows.

Updates are important to keep your system secure and relatively issue free. Updates can also cause issues sometimes. It is better to install the update on a computer to see if there will be an issue before deploying it to the entire network.

A good example of this is if Internet Explorer 10 has just been installed on your computer and now all of a sudden you cannot print a report, the latest update may be the issue. You should first attempt to work with the new update.

Internet Explorer 10 has compatibility mode to work with older websites, if that does not work you may have to uninstall the update and use Internet Explorer 9. This happens because the company you are printing the report from is not compatible with the new Internet Explorer 10 browser.

You will have to wait until either the company updates their server to be compliant with Internet Explorer 10 or you will have to wait until Internet Explorer 10’s compatibility will work with the site.

Keeping your software up to date is an important part of secure computing. Threats and security holes are discovered every day; it is critical you apply any updates the manufacturer releases.

Not all updates apply to every environment, which means that not everyone will get the same updates; it is based on the software you have installed and when you installed it.

The only software that you should always update would be any anti-virus software. This software usually updates automatically several times a day. The moment your anti-virus gets out of date you are not protected with the latest anti-virus definitions.

If you are having trouble with updates and patching or if you have any questions give us a call. We can make sure your computers are up to date and keep you worry free.

Top 5 Ways to “Break” Your Computer

Here are the top five most common ways to “break” your computer. The reason break is in quotations is because no matter what happens to your computer we can almost always fix it…it just doesn’t make sense sometimes from a financial stand point to do so.

My computer won’t turn on
This very common situation and can be caused by many different things.

One common cause, however, that IS preventable is the computer overheating.

The first step to preventing this issue is to put the computer on an elevated surface instead of the floor if you have the space to do so.

The reason you want to do this is normal everyday foot traffic around or near the computer kicks up a lot of dust and debris that can coat the insides of a computer and cause the processor to not be cooled properly.

The other step you want to take to prevent this issue is to take a can of air and blow out the computer on occasion.

We do NOT recommend open­ing the case and doing the interior yourself as it is possible to cause damage to components.

My computer is running really slow
Yet again another common scenario we hear almost every day.

Unfortunately, there is no way to completely avoid this, but there are some ways to slow it down.

As your operating system instal­lation ages, and depending on how much it is used, the operating system, and software files in it can become damaged or corrupt, which slows your computer down.

The best way to combat this issue is to make sure that your uninstall­ing unused programs through the control panel, and simply keeping unused junk files clean off of your com­puter.

The more you keep your computer and OS the way it was when you pur­chased it the better it will run.

This can also happen if you shut your computer down improperly. Always go through the Start Menu/ Shutdown process when powering off your computer.

Constant popups are interrupting me and making my PC slow
Almost always, this very com­mon issue is caused by a virus or spyware on your computer.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any fool-proof methods of preventing a virus or malware attack.

The best thing you can do to help prevent an infection is to have anti­virus software installed on your PC, but keep in mind, even this does not guarantee you will not get a virus/ malware infection.

The other step to help prevent this is to only go to websites that are considered to be “safe,” meaning they are legitimate websites that its owners would not be trying to gain access to your PC or have any reason to infect your computer.

The most common place for users to get viruses and malware is from browsing the web for free items such as software, movies, music, etc. or even from emails.

Unfortunately, if you do end up be­ing infected by a virus, they’re very difficult to completely remove.

The process used to properly remove a virus is complex and if not done properly can damage your computers operating system and/or cause data loss.

That being said even if you bring the computer in it is possible for a virus to attach itself to a file and damage it permanently so even we may not be able to recover all of your files in the event of a very bad infection.

In most cases we are able to remove all viruses/malware from a system and the user not even notice that they ever had one. There are times, though, where the virus does irreversible damage.

My computer can’t get online
This is another common issue, and is most often caused by the above issue – viruses or spyware on the computer.

Viruses, spyware and malware have all kinds of different effects on the computer. When that is not the cause there are several other issues that may come into play.

As long as other computers at your home/business are able to get online the issue is more than likely due to a setting on your computer itself.

The most common instance I can think of with laptops is the user ac­cidentally switches the WiFi switch to the off position (and doesn’t realize the laptop even had a WiFi switch).

In a desktop, however, as long as the connection issue has not been caused by failing hardware, it is usually caused by a setting changed within the computer.

Connection issues encompass a number of possible settings on the computer, so it’s hard to give you all the information to properly troubleshoot this issue in a small newsletter article.

When it comes to connection issues your best bet is to give us a call and let us diagnose the issue for you.

We troubleshoot many connectivity issues here in the shop as well as onsite. So, no matter where your problem lies, we can get you back online.

Windows told me I had some updates so I installed them. Now my computer won’t boot
Windows updates are almost always important, but they can also be complex in how they interact with your operating system and installed software.

Unfortunately, since most of the updates address serious security risks they must be installed.

The best practice regarding updates is to review them immediately, and perhaps even download them to the machine, but wait a few days in case there are issues with the updates.

If Microsoft finds that there are is­sues with a patch, even though they do test them to begin with, they will pull the update off of Windows updates until the issue is resolved.

This will help prevent you from getting an update that can cause a problem.

Hardware driver updates are by far the most common type of update that “breaks” the computer.

We generally don’t recommend downloading them unless you are having a problem with your current driver, or there’s a serious security issue with the current driver.

With hardware sometimes it’s better to go with the “Don’t fix it if it isn’t broke” sentiment. If you do mistakenly update and then are unable to get into Windows, bring your computer in and we can get the issue corrected!

These are a few of the common is­sues that we see every week. Hope­fully this short list can help keep your system running smoothly, and help you solve basic issues.

Featured Article Written By: Tech Experts

Windows Updates… What, When, Why?

Windows Update can be confusing. Microsoft throws a lot of stuff at you, often with little information.

And somehow you have to figure out what you really need, what you might like and what Microsoft wants you to have for their own purposes.

It doesn’t help that most of the updates have totally useless names. Without looking it up, can you tell me why you may or may not need Windows Vista (KB950124)? I can’t, either.

Unfortunately, if you don’t keep up with the patches and security fixes for your version of windows, you run the risk of not only being more vulnerable to a malware attack.

Hackers are always looking for security holes in operating systems and application software to gain access to your computer.

There are many types of updates that can be available for your server or workstation and in most – but not all – cases you will want to install them.

A lot of updates come from Microsoft. Another source is hardware providers that may have made some of the hardware in your computer (like video cards, sound cards, network interface cards, Etc.)

Updates can come from other software that you install to do your work or make your computer run better (like Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash).

The updates that come from Microsoft generally offer more features to a product installed on your computer such as Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, or even Windows itself.

Windows Update also delivers very important patches that correct issues with the operating system and could potentially allow hackers access to your fi les or anything accessible on your computer.

This can include devices that are connected to your computer such as your router, printers, external hard drives, network attached storage, etc. This can be a serious security risk if your computer is on a network domain.

Gaining access to a user’s computer that has administrative rights to various aspects of the network or server would allow hackers to do much more damage than on a PC you use at home.

In a business setting it is an absolute necessity that you keep your server/workstations up to date with all security patches that are appropriate to your environment.

Just as it is very important to keep your operating system up to date, it is also very important that you keep your programs up to date.

One of the most abused programs in regards to gaining access to users’ computers is Adobe Flash and Reader.

These programs are patched regularly to prevent attacks. Since Flash is used on many websites, and Reader is used for many business documents, you almost certainly have them on your computer.

Recently, Adobe announced a vulnerability discovered within its Flash software that allowed hackers to connect remotely to your computer and use Flash to control every aspect of your computer.

This has since been patched (as long as you updated your Flash player), but it just goes to show how easily your computer can be compromised if you do not keep it up to date.

There are times that you may not want to update your software. One example, and there are many, might be your video card drivers.

You may not want to install this update unless you have a specific need.

Sometimes, updates of these type can cause hardware to malfunction and there are times where the update is designed to fix a specific problem. If you don’t have the problem the update fixes, you probably wouldn’t install that update.

If you have any questions, feel free to call a tech today at 734-457-5000.

Feature article By Tech Experts Staff for Tech Experts


Fall In Love With Your Computer All Over Again!

“This computer is driving me crazy!” Have you ever shouted at your computer because it froze up, crashed, and caused you to lose work? Have you ever whacked it with your hand, kicked it, or smashed the keyboard out of frustration?

If so, you’re not alone. Problems with a computer, cell phone or other gadget can be so frustrating that it has been called “computer rage” by some psychologists, and it’s on the rise.

How Violent Do They Get With Their Computer?
According to a recent poll, three quarters of computer users have admitted to shouting, swearing, or committing acts of violence towards their computer (we think the number is much higher).

While some simply curse the darn thing, others have admitted to hitting it throwing it across the room.

One computer user was quoted saying, “You feel so helpless. All you can do is sit there and watch the stupid thing freeze up and there’s nothing you can do about it. Errors may only cause a few minutes delay, but it feels like a lifetime when you need to get things done.”

Deadlines are missed, work is lost, customers angered – all because of computer trouble.

And the vast majority claim that problems like this happen on a consistent basis.

It’s Not Just The Computer Causing Stress
Technical problems are only the start of most peoples’ anxiety. Many report that they are further angered by the time and process it takes to get the problem fixed, and some employees claim computer problems are their number one source of at-work anxiety and stress.

IT related problems further compound employee dissatisfaction since it often forces them to work late or take work home. If you are an employer, take note:

Your unstable computer network could be elevating your employees’ anxiety and job dissatisfaction levels, not to mention interfering with their productivity.

How To End “Computer Rage” And Fall In Love With Your Computer All Over Again

Thanks to our Super Value System Checkup, we have helped dozens of clients end “computer rage” at their company and with their home computers.

Our comprehensive, 27 point problem prevention tune-up lets our technicians dive deep into your system and check for hidden problems, viruses, spyware and system-slowing hardware problems.

This isn’t just a simple look at your system! We use special software tools and our own, proprietary methods to check things other computer companies just don’t know how to check!

You’ll get a written report detailing what we found, and our professional recommendations for any updates you need to bring your system back up to speed.

Sign Up Today And Get Priority Access and Pricing
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we want to “show you the love” by offering you this Super Value System Checkup for only $69.

We’ll get your system running so nicely, you’re guaranteed to fall back in love with your computer again. Plus, we’ll give you priority scheduling in our shop – no point in making you wait to feel the love!

If you have a business with 5 or more computers, we’ve got an even more LOVEly offer for you! We’ll send our Microsoft Certifi ed technician to your office, saving you the hassle of bringing your computers to our shop.

We’ll do the same 27 point problem prevention tuneup, and check your network for trouble at the same time.

You’ll need to hurry, though – this offer is only valid during the months of February and March, and limited to the first 25 people who call.

To Find Out More call 734-457-5000 Or, Visit Us Online:


Windows 7: A Pain-Free Upgrade

Most small business owners feel software upgrades are about as fun as having a tooth pulled: Not really that much fun at all. But an upgrade to Windows 7 can actually be pain-free. Here’s why:

XP mode
Windows Vista had plenty of compatibility issues. That’s not the case with Windows 7, due to a new feature called XP compatibility Mode. XP Mode allows you to run older programs in Windows XP and simultaneously run every-thing else in Windows 7.

If your main business software runs well now in Windows XP it should run just fine in XP Mode in Windows 7.

For even more peace of mind, as part of the upgrade process, we will contact your business software vendor and get their approval before beginning an upgrade. You can also try this on a “test” PC before rolling it out on your network.

Installation time
The Windows 7 set-up process is significantly faster than Vista or XP installation, which saves your business money on the upgrade project. Windows 7 also offers some automated setup options that weren’t previously available – again, reducing your investment in an upgrade project. Start up time is significantly – and noticably – faster, which gets your staff to work that much faster at the start of the day.

More drivers and easier setup
When you plug in a new scanner, camera or other device into your computer, you don’t want to fight with pop-up messages that tell you to search for drivers.

You just want it to work the way it’s supposed to. With Windows 7 that’s what you get. No hassle. No fear.

What Is Windows Update?

Windows Update is a service  provided by Microsoft that provides updates for the Microsoft Windows operating system and its installed components, including Internet Explorer.

An optional feature disables access to Windows Update and enables access to Microsoft  update, an expanded version of the service which provides updates not just for the operating system & Internet Explorer, but also for other Microsoft Windows software, such as Microsoft Office, Windows Live applications, and Microsoft Expression.

Security updates are delivered on the second Tuesday of each month, called “Patch Tuesday,”
but security updates can be delivered whenever a software update is required to prevent an exploit targeting Windows users.

Windows Update can be configured to install updates automatically, ensuring that a computer is always up-to-date and not vulnerable to computer worms and other malware.

Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 and the most recent Windows 7 provide a Control Panel to configure update settings and check for updates.

For previous versions of Microsoft Windows, updates can be downloaded from the Windows Update website, using Internet Explorer.

Conficker And Other IT Security Issues Got You Worried? Here Are Some Tips To Keep You Out of Trouble!

If you watch television or read the news on the web, you no doubt heard about the April fool’s virus, also known as the conficker worm. I have been asked by numerous people “What about Conficker?” This worm is designed to have all the compromised computers “phone home” at a certain time and launch a denial of service, or DoS, attack on an unsuspecting website.

A DoS attack is an attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users. It generally consists of the concerted efforts of a person or persons to prevent an Internet site or service from functioning efficiently or at all, temporarily or indefinitely.

One common method of attack involves saturating the target machine with external communications requests, so that it cannot respond to legitimate traffic, or responds so slowly as to be rendered effectively unavailable. That was the goal of the Conficker worm – to make sites unavailable on the Internet.

So, what should you do to prevent this from happening to you? Here are a few simple rules to follow to protect your system from these worms.

Disable the autorun feature
Although this is a nice feature to have cds auto start, this risk is not worth the few extra seconds it takes to launch a cd on your own.

Update your protection
Do not just rely on the automatic update features of your virus and malware protection software. It is smart to visit these update centers and make sure you have the latest software, particularly when you’re doing a lot of sensitive work on your computer.

Check your Windows updates
It should go without saying that in addition to your virus definitions, you should regularly check windows updates and do not rely on the automatic update feature. In the case of the Conficker C worm, Microsoft has had this patch available since October of last year. Still, as you heard on the news, thousands of computers still got infected.

Get a second opinion
Have a trained, certified technician review your computer to determine if you have the latest updates and security patches in place, along with removing any malware infections you might already have.

Back up your data
I can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining a backup schedule. All your important data needs to be protected. And, you should always take a copy of this critical data off site, so that if a natural disaster strikes, you have an undamaged copy of your data available.

You never know when tragedy will strike, or some brand new virus or worm will attack your system before anti-virus software can be updated.

Contact Tech Experts and we can help you select the perfect backup solution for your office.

We’ve seen our fair share of worms and viruses come and go, and have an arsenal of tools and years of experience to keep your systems in top condition.

If you currently have a server and you have not been taking advantage of the Tech Experts server monitoring and maintenance plans, I would urge you to contact us as soon as possible to discuss the various options for your firm.

Technicians are always available to review your current network configuration and give you expert advice on security.

If you perform these few simple things I’ve listed above, you will be protected from the vast majority of malware and worms that are currently circling the Internet. With diligence in the future, you will be protected from most of the variants of these worms as they are released.