DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 31, 2015

What Should I Install?

I regularly receive questions concerning readers buying new computers.  They will usually ask what antivirus software they should install to keep everything protected.  I usually suggest one or two good antivirus applications.  Keep in mind I am only referencing Windows machines and, due to my frugal nature, free applications. 

Microsoft Windows logoIf you have a Windows 7 system, I recommend going to Microsoft.com and searching for "Microsoft Security Essentials."  Go to the download page, download it and install it.  It may already be on your new computer if the manufacturer made a deal with MS to preinstall it.  However, do not worry if it is, it will harm nothing to reinstall.

Windows Defender screenFor a Windows 8.1 (or 8 if you have not upgraded yet…which you should ASAP) you have "Windows Defender" already installed on your computer.  It comes automatically with all versions of W8.  It is an upgraded version of "Security Essentials" for W8.  These are both good antivirus apps and really all you need unless you go to disreputable places that may possibly be able to defeat them.  They are good in that they will be updated with Windows Update so you do not have to do anything additional to get them updated as you do with all other third party apps. 

Avast! logoSome people do not trust MS and want another antivirus software so I recommend, "Avast!"  If you choose to install Avast go to, "Avast.com" only.  The reason is, if you search for it online you may be directed to a disreputable site.  It may be listed as a free download but you may be getting something that could harm your system. 

One other major application I would install on all computers today is Malwarebytes (download the free version at Malwarebytes.org).  I mentioned it toward the end of last year but many people have asked about it, so I feel I need to remind you. 

Malwarebytes logoI personally had not installed Malwarebytes on my computer figuring my antivirus software took care of everything.  A year or more ago I noticed my system running slower than it should be and I found a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer I had not installed.  I had not noticed it before since I do not regularly use MSIE as my browser so I had no idea how long it was on my computer.  Anytime you have a toolbar on your browser that you know nothing about is not a good sign.  It most likely means that you have some malware running and you need to remove it…now!  So I knew my computer had been had. 

Malware is software inserted when you download something, either intentionally or not, that is designed to do damage or some sort to your system.  It can totally or partially disable your computer.

The first time you run Malwarebytes you may get tens to hundreds of files recognized.  Delete them all!  I would encourage you to run it on some sort of regular schedule.  A weekly, monthly or quarterly time frame is good depending on how much you are online.

I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find many malware items present.  

What Should I Install?

I regularly receive questions concerning readers buying new computers.  They will usually ask what antivirus software they should install to keep everything protected.  I usually suggest one or two good antivirus applications.  Keep in mind I am only referencing Windows machines and, due to my frugal nature, free applications. 

imageIf you have a Windows 7 system, I recommend going to Microsoft.com and searching for "Microsoft Security Essentials."  Go to the download page, download it and install it.  It may already be on your new computer if the manufacturer made a deal with MS to preinstall it.  However, do not worry if it is, it will harm nothing to reinstall.

Picture of Windows DefenderFor a Windows 8.1 (or 8 if you have not upgraded yet…which you should ASAP) you have "Windows Defender" already installed on your computer.  It comes automatically with all versions of W8.  It is an upgraded version of "Security Essentials" for W8.  These are both good antivirus apps and really all you need unless you go to disreputable places that may possibly be able to defeat them.  They are good in that they will be updated with Windows Update so you do not have to do anything additional to get them updated as you do with all other third party apps. 

imageSome people do not trust MS and want another antivirus software so I recommend, "Avast!"  If you choose to install Avast go to, "avast.com" only.  The reason is, if you search for it online you may be directed to a disreputable site.  It may be listed as a free download but you may be getting something that could harm your system. 

One other major application I would install on all computers today is Malwarebytes (download the free version at malwarebytes.org).  I mentioned it toward the end of last year but many people have asked about it, so I feel I need to remind you. 

imageI personally had not installed Malwarebytes on my computer figuring my antivirus software took care of everything.  A year or more ago I noticed my system running slower than it should be and I found a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer I had not installed.  I had not noticed it before since I do not regularly use MSIE as my browser so I had no idea how long it was on my computer.  Anytime you have a toolbar on your browser that you know nothing about is not a good sign.  It most likely means that you have some malware running and you need to remove it…now!  So I knew my computer had been had. 

Malware is software inserted when you download something, either intentionally or not, that is designed to do damage or some sort to your system.  It can totally or partially disable your computer.

The first time you run Malwarebytes you may get tens to hundreds of files recognized.  Delete them all!  I would encourage you to run it on some sort of regular schedule.  A weekly, monthly or quarterly time frame is good depending on how much you are online.

I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find many malware items present.  

December 23, 2014

New Computer, Part 1

Several years ago, I wrote about an application for Windows users, called “Ninite,” (ninite.com). If you are getting a new computer for Christmas, birthday, whatever you need to use this application. It is currently available for both Windows and Linux computers.

If you visit the Ninite, you can choose programs you want installed on your computer. Download a file, run it and install your applications. This is especially useful if you get a new computer and know of several applications you want to install. The app keeps users from having to print out a list of all the programs currently on your computer and installing them one by one.

Obviously, not every known program is on the site, but the more useful and desired ones are there. At last count ( yes, I did count them) nearly 100 applications were listed. If one you want is missing, you can request it be added to the list.

To start, check off each application you would like to install from the site’s list. After you have finished selecting the proper applications, click the “Get Installer” button. The next screen will ask if you want to share your experience online (Facebook or Twitter) or sign up for their newsletter. After that, you get a popup — (depending on your computer’s settings — which asks you to download your new installation file.

Once you download the file, make sure you know where it is so you can easily find it later. I suggest always downloading to your desktop, so you know where it is and after you are done, delete it. Double click the file and the installation of all of the applications will begin. The applications will automatically be installed without asking you any installation questions. As Ninite runs, it shows you as it installs each application, so you can easily keep up with the progress.

Ninite installation window

Since I just received a new work computer and had to set it up, I learned one very interesting thing: The installs go much quicker using Ninite than individually. I installed 24 applications. I did not time the installation process, but my guess would be less than five minutes. If I had installed them individually, it would have run well over an hour.

Another interesting aspect of Ninite is that as the programs are installed, it gets the most recent version of each one. That way, you are update-to-date from the beginning.

Ninite Updater is for home users who want to support Ninite. It watches your apps for updates automatically for $9.99/year.

This is a great freeware application for setting up a new computer. There is also a pro version ( for business use with a monthly fee). It has some other features and more programs are available. I found that many are different versions of the same applications. Ninite is truly a great app to use second thing on your new Christmas computer. First is antivirus software

September 30, 2014

Oops!

I have always been very careful when working on building a new computer.  There are certain things you must do; however, I missed one a couple of weeks ago.  (Geek confession coming up.)

Someone came to me and basically said since I am a geek and obviously quite knowledgeable with computers would I totally rebuild theirs.  I do not usually do things like this any longer.   Not that I do not enjoy building new computers; I actually very much enjoy doing so.  However, over years of being in the business I have found that if I do this, I end up owning all of the problems that arise with that system for evermore.  No matter what happens, no matter how many years down the road they come back to me for "free" help.  In one case it was so bad I got calls and emails for six months after the build.  If they were something that I caused…no problem I was more than happy to fix them.  However, the overwhelming number of times it was the user causing issues.

This was a person I know and trust and a good friend so I did it anyway.

He gave me a list of the applications he wanted installed, and original licensed discs for the programs that he still had.  Time for a warning to all of you who want to rebuild a computer or get a new one:  Make sure you have the original discs for licensed programs or it could be costly.  For instance, your Windows installation disc, Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, etc. 

He also included all of his email account usernames and passwords, so that I could set up his accounts.  Another warning here, I do not recommend you do this unless you absolutely, positively, totally trust the installer.

As always you start with the operating system, Windows 8.1, a full reformat of the hard drive, etc. 

For Microsoft Office versions there has always been a small issue when you perform a reinstall.  In the olden days you had to speak with a live customer service rep for 30 – 45 minutes to get an approval.  They had to make sure that you did not have an illegal copy.  Today you call an 800 number and punch buttons for several minutes and get an OK.  Then you type in more numbers in your computer and you are approved.

Next, the multitude of upgrades.

After about five or six hours I was almost done.  For a while I tested, updating some more apps as necessary.  Another Windows update or so and done.  He was going to install his only data files when I got it back to him so I did not have to upload those.  I was finally finished, no big deal…until…

Strange things started happening in the browser.  Homepages changing, popups flying and then my brain finally kicked in; I had not installed any antivirus.  I now had several viruses running on a brand new computer.  One was trying to take over the system entirely.

I could have resolved them one-by-one; however, on a brand new system that is not the way I would do it.  So the rebuild began.

Guess what I installed before I got online this time?  You better have guessed right – his antivirus software and all was right with the world… another five to six hours later.

What a jerk I am; however, I hope you learned something from my mistake!

June 3, 2014

Try a New Browser

Last week I talked about an issue that was happening with Google’s Chromecast and Chrome browser related to Android tablets and phones.  I stated there, "…you could always try various browsers from time-to-time and find out what you may like.  It is easy to change back at any time."  When I wrote that I did not realize it would generate so much interest.  I received numerous emails asking if it is so easy, how is it done?

So here we go.

MSIE LogoAll windows computers come with Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) built in as the default browser.  Keep in mind that whether you use that browser or not DO NOT try to uninstall it.  It is hard to do but if you get it off of your computer some other things on your computer will not work correctly or not at all.  That browser is tied to other areas of the Microsoft operating system.

The other most popular browsers are, in order of usage, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, (already on your Windows system) Safari (created by Apple – available for both iOS & Windows devices) and Opera.  This information is from 2012 through today, according to W3Schools.com which tracks this data.  In 2011 Chrome and Firefox were swapped. 

Google Chrome                    Apple Safari                    Opera

So let us pretend that you want to try out Chrome and stop using MSIE for a little while.  Go to the site referenced above.  Click the download button and the application will start to download.  Depending on your settings it may ask if you want to run the application and you may also click, "Yes."  If you download it, find the downloaded file and double click it to start the installation.  If you chose to "run" the application you will now be at the installation screen.

It will ask you if you want to make it your default browser.  This means that if you click the check box for it to be default all of your links will open in Chrome after the installation completes instead of MSIE. 

Each of the others will install pretty much the same way.  You could even install all of these browsers at the same time.  Then you will have to choose which one you want to be the default browser. 

Choosing which browser is your default is easy in Windows 7 and 8. You just need to do a quick search.  In W7 click the start button and type, "default programs" and in W8 use the search feature and do the same. To get to search press the Windows key and tap the "S" key.  You may need to select "Set your default programs."  Once in the default program screen your default applications will be listed on the left side.  Find the current default browser and click on it once.  Then, "Choose defaults for this program" and you will see all of the current settings for the default browser.  To change it, choose the other browser you want to use from all of the choices provided.

Set your default programs

In Windows 7 it is sometimes easier to go into the Options of any browser and choose it to make it the default.  This will work with Windows 8 too with the exception of MSIE.

Happy surfing!

January 28, 2014

Chromebook

Last time we looked at some of the neat features in Google’s newer device called "Chromecast."  I liked the column so much I went out and bought one for my household.  (Wow, I am easily persuaded.)  It works as described with new features and applications being added all the time.  I did have several reader questions about it and the main one was, "I want one but how hard is it to install?"  I have to tell you it was very simple.  All you do is follow the 4-5 steps in the installation paper which comes in the box.  It worked flawlessly for me. 

After the install completed (which took less than ten minutes with the longest portion being the update of the device itself) we were watching streamed shows immediately. 

Unfortunately when I went to the local big-box store to purchase it another, "Chrome" item struck my eye.  More unfortunately, I bought that also.

This item is another Google product named, "Chromebook."  Are you starting to get the picture with Google and their naming conventions?  By-the-way, their browser is named "Chrome."  I guess they like chrome since it is bright and shiny.  The Chromebook runs the Chrome browser as its operating system hence the name.

The Chromebook looks a lot like a notebook computer.  It is slimmer and lighter (about 2 pounds) than a regular windows notebook and mine has an 11" monitor.  So it is basically smaller all around.

imageWith it I can surf the internet, use email, play some games and do many other things online.  One big difference with a Chromebook is that one word in the last sentence, "online."  You can perform some of the functions without being connected to the internet; however, for everything to operate properly you need the net.  It is a cloud based device meaning that everything it does is stored on or taken from the web. 

Another difference is they do not have an internal hard drive.  They do have a small internal SSD, solid state drive.  The one I bought has only a 16 GB drive – the same as my phone.  Well then, where do you put stuff?  The storage for documents you create is in the cloud. 

Since Google created the Chromebook they also have the storage.  Called Google Drive, where you get 15 GB of storage.  To give you an idea, all of the columns I have written since January, 2002 (OVER 1,100) take up only 109 MB of room.  That is less than 1% of 15 gb, so there is really plenty of room for documentation.  You can also store photographs and any other types of files.  Google now offers a deal where for two years you get 100 gb of free cloud storage.  After that you get to purchase it at $4.99/month, currently.  I can also plug in a thumb drive and store files there.  I would not choose to buy the online storage but I could save a lot of documents on the SSD provided very easily.

imageSince the Chromebook runs on the Chrome browser it has a very, "internet feel" to it which most everyone is familiar with so it is easy to use.  Google Docs is your online replacement for Microsoft Office and does a pretty good job of emulating all of its features and capabilities, especially for normal, non-geek types of people.

I will be writing most of my columns on it for the foreseeable future — like this one.  Since I usual write while not at home and "on the road" I will be using it for quite a while.  As long as I have wi-fi I can do most everything I need to do.  However, for my business use I have to stick with a "real" computer due to the programs specific to my job which will not run in the Chrome browser.

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