Do I Need OneDrive?

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Windows 10 keep asking me to set up OneDrive. Is OneDrive really useful and is it needed?

Is it needed? No. There are plenty of alternatives if you want cloud storage and features similar to OneDrive.

Or you may elect not to use cloud storage at all.

Is it useful? In my opinion, absolutely.

Read moreDo I Need OneDrive?

Should I Upgrade to Windows 8.1 Instead of Windows 10?

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After reading the most recent article about Windows 7 support updates ending in 2020, what are your thoughts about moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 versus switching to Windows 10?

I have been very content with Windows 7, even more so than with Windows XP, but my adult-daughter told me several years ago that I might not be happy with Windows 10 and should remain where I am at.

My strong recommendation is that if you switch, you switch to Windows 10.

There are several reasons, not the least of which is often referred to as the informal “every other version” rule for Windows.

Read moreShould I Upgrade to Windows 8.1 Instead of Windows 10?

How Do I Reset Windows 10?

Sometimes, when faced with an assortment of Windows problems, starting over is the most pragmatic alternative.

Windows 10 includes the ability to reinstall (or “reset”) Windows to its just-installed condition.

There are definitely a few caveats to be aware of, however.

Read moreHow Do I Reset Windows 10?

Coping with Windows 10

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote what was effectively an open letter to Microsoft entitled, “Microsoft, We Deserve Better“.

The pragmatic reality is that I don’t expect it, or any of dozens of similar missives posted across the internet, to have much effect. If Microsoft is listening (they probably are), they are unlikely to act on it, as their business priorities are clearly elsewhere. Even if they do act, they won’t act quickly — it’s no longer in their nature.

Which leaves us with a very vexing question: what the heck are we supposed to do?

Read moreCoping with Windows 10

What’s the Difference Between Windows 10 Home vs Pro Editions?

Windows 10 is available in several “editions”. More advanced editions include additional features and cost more.

When it comes to personal or small business use, the choice generally boils down to either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Professional.

Most new machines come with Windows 10 Home, particularly when sold to individuals. Unfortunately, Windows 10 Professional includes a couple of features I consider exceptionally convenient, even for the average home user.

It’s Windows 10 Professional that I generally recommend for everyone.

Read moreWhat’s the Difference Between Windows 10 Home vs Pro Editions?

Why is Windows 10 Telling Me “There Is a Problem with Your Microsoft Account”?

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Whenever I get to my Windows desktop screen I always get this message in my notifications area that says there is a problem with your Microsoft account — most likely your password was changed. I haven’t changed it any time recently and when I log in to my Microsoft account, it never shows me there is any problem. This is every time I get to the Windows desktop. What is going on with this? Is this a bug on their part? I don’t really use my local account on my computer.

This was a head-scratcher for me when I first encountered it some time ago.

The short answer is that simply logging in to your PC isn’t enough after a password change. You probably have to log in to a couple of additional places: OneDrive, Mail, and perhaps other apps as well.

Read moreWhy is Windows 10 Telling Me “There Is a Problem with Your Microsoft Account”?

Is Windows 10 Still Free?

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Is Windows 10 still available for free?

Yes, under certain circumstances you can still get it for free.

But you must act quickly. The plan is that the ability to get it for free will end at the end of this year, 2017. In other words, as of the date this is published, you have only a couple of weeks left.

Read moreIs Windows 10 Still Free?

The First Dozen Changes to My Newly Reinstalled Windows 10

I decided it was time to reinstall Windows 10 “from scratch” on my Dell Latitude laptop due to performance issues, suspected misconfigurations, and general cruft on the machine. Yes, I could have dealt with all the individual issues, but a completely clean reinstall would take less time and result in a significantly “cleaner” machine.

It used to be that “reformat and reinstall” was something Windows needed every year or two. That’s no longer the case, in my opinion, for most Windows 10 users. It’s quite reasonable to expect a stable Windows 10 installation (with updates, of course) to remain in place for the life of the machine.

As you might guess, though, I don’t fall into the category of “the majority of Windows 10 users”. With all the testing, installing, uninstalling, configuring, reconfiguring, and more, I tend to be rather hard on my Windows installations.

So, it was time to start over.

Read moreThe First Dozen Changes to My Newly Reinstalled Windows 10

What’s This New “People” Icon in My Taskbar?

One of the easiest ways to determine if your Windows 10 machine has been updated to the “Fall Creators Update” is the appearance of a new icon to the immediate left of the notification area of the Windows taskbar. Hover your mouse pointer over it, and you’ll see it’s labeled “People”.

People Icon

It’s a new feature in Windows 10. My sense is it’s somewhat half-baked, and ultimately more annoying than useful.

But perhaps that’s just me.

Read moreWhat’s This New “People” Icon in My Taskbar?

How Can a PIN Be As Secure as a Password?

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I get that the whole sign in-with-a-PIN thing in Windows 10 is convenient, but how can my 4 digit PIN possibly be as secure as my Microsoft account sign in password?

It can be as secure – perhaps even more secure – because it’s actually used in a slightly different way.

You can also choose to increase its security by using some of the same techniques we use for passwords in general.

Read moreHow Can a PIN Be As Secure as a Password?

Turn Off Fast Startup in Windows 10

“Fast Startup” was added in Windows 8. It’s on by default and applies when you boot or reboot your machine. I view it as a kind of hybrid that lands somewhere between a normal cold boot, in which everything is loaded afresh, and hibernation, in which the previous state of the machine is rapidly re-loaded from a disk image.

As I understand it, fast startup attempts to reuse some of the previous state of the machine’s last use so as not to have to reload everything from scratch. In “hibernate”, currently running programs and the users’ logged state is preserved, however when you shut down programs are closed and the user is logged out. However fast start can still reload much of the rest of the operating system more quickly from files saved during the shutdown.

The theory is that it saves time, and most of the time, it does.

It’s also something worth turning off when diagnosing boot problems, because it can occasionally have other impacts.

Read moreTurn Off Fast Startup in Windows 10

What’s the Difference Between an App and Application?

Yes, there’s a difference.

In one of the more frustrating recent turns of terminology, the term “app”, which one might think is shorthand for “application”, now more commonly refers to something quite specific and quite different.

The adoption of the app/application difference in Windows started in Windows 8, and is carried forward in Windows 10 with a vengeance. It’s driving people who are trying to explain things – you know, people like me – absolutely nuts.

And, particularly when it comes to Windows 10, the distinction turns out to matter.

Read moreWhat’s the Difference Between an App and Application?

Block Windows 10 With GWX Control Panel

Many people are annoyed with Microsoft’s aggressive promotion of Windows 10. Not only is the “update now” utility being installed as an “important” update, all signs are that things are going to get worse. Microsoft appears to be downloading Windows 10 on the assumption that you want it.

That’s a bad assumption, very bad.

Through a variety of means – an application installed automatically, Windows Update performing those updates automatically, Windows 10 being downloaded automatically, the installation process being initiated automatically – Microsoft has been virtually ramming Windows 10 down your throat, whether you want it or not.

The fact that it’s a good operating system is being lost in the negative reaction to confiscating people’s ability to choose.

GWX Control Panel can block Windows 10 and give the choice back to you.

Read moreBlock Windows 10 With GWX Control Panel

Why is Windows 10 being downloaded to my machine? And how do I stop it?

Microsoft made a liar out of me.

I’d confidently asserted that unless you asked for Windows 10 – either by direct download or by accepting the “reservation” they offered before launch – Windows 10 would not be downloaded to your machine. I figured people who claimed otherwise had obviously forgotten that they’d somehow asked for it. That reservation thing was pretty confusing, after all.

I was wrong.

As reported by The Inquirer, and several other news outlets, Windows 10 may be downloaded to your machine whether you want it or not.

Read moreWhy is Windows 10 being downloaded to my machine? And how do I stop it?

Adjusting Windows 10 Privacy Settings

In an earlier article, I covered adjusting the default Windows 10 privacy settings at the time you install or upgrade to it.

The key, as is true for many software installations, is to avoid the default “Express settings” option. Instead, always use custom settings, so as to expose the choices the setup program might be making on your behalf.

But what if it’s too late? What if you’ve already installed Windows 10, and want to adjust the settings after the fact?

I’ll explore where those settings are kept and what you can change in your installed and running copy of Windows 10. Regardless of the decisions made at set-up time, you can always change your mind.

Read moreAdjusting Windows 10 Privacy Settings

Setting up Windows 10 for privacy

Since its introduction, Windows 10 has come under a fair amount of heat for various privacy issues.

Depending on what you read, and what’s been uncovered, it does appear that not all the privacy-related issues are necessarily in your control.

However, much of it is, and much of it begins when you install or update Windows 10.

As with many other setups and installs, the “secret” is to never accept default or express settings, and always choose to customize.

Read moreSetting up Windows 10 for privacy

Turn Off Windows 10 Peer-to-Peer Delivery Optimization

Peer-to-peer downloading is pretty amazing technology. It can speed up downloads significantly, and it can make downloading significantly more resilient to network hiccups and other types of failures.

It’s most commonly associated with BitTorrent, which uses peer-to-peer to create a network of download sites that are efficient, resilient, and potentially difficult to track down. But the technology is used in other places as well – download a Linux distribution, and peer-to-peer BitTorrent downloads are often an option; updates for large applications, like online games, are often provided using peer-to-peer technology.

Now, Windows 10 is apparently using peer-to-peer technology as part of its approach to distributing updates.

There are, however, some problems, both generally and with Windows 10 peer-to-peer downloads.

Read moreTurn Off Windows 10 Peer-to-Peer Delivery Optimization

Will Windows 10 Be Free?

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I keep reading about Windows 10 updates being free. Will it be a free update forever, or until Microsoft comes out with Windows 12?

If you’re looking for confusion, you need look no further than Microsoft. When it comes to Windows 10’s free offer, there’s plenty of it.

While there are a lot of things we don’t know, there’s much we do, and much that we can infer.

Read moreWill Windows 10 Be Free?

How Do I Cancel My Windows 10 Update?

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I reserved my Windows 10 update right after the icon appeared on my computer. After reading your article about it, I’d like to cancel my reservation. How do I do that?

You’re not alone.

Many people jumped at the Windows 10 icon when it appeared, thinking they would get Windows 10 immediately. In reality, of course, it’s only a reservation for a download that will occur when the product is released.

Realizing this, and for a variety of other reasons, many people are electing to cancel the reservation and wait to get Windows 10 until sometime well after its release.

How to cancel is not obvious, and there’s a bit of trick.

Read moreHow Do I Cancel My Windows 10 Update?

Is this “Get Windows 10” Icon Legitimate?

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Just noticed the icon prompting me to reserve my free upgrade to Windows 10 (currently running Windows 7 Pro SP1). Is it legit? If so, would you recommend jumping right on this, or waiting a few months while others get the bugs out?

Yes, it’s legitimate.

Whether you do it is up to you, but it’s not going to get you what you think.

And somewhere, I swear, there’s a marketing “professional” that needs a good talking to.

Read moreIs this “Get Windows 10” Icon Legitimate?