A collection of useful links & tips
mainly for the U3A computer group MK ...

Last updated November 2019

Migrating away from Windows 7
Published 24th October 2019

January 2020 is moving closer and it feel like time is running 100miles/hour rather than normal speed 1minute at a time nice and slow. And with the dreaded C/X word approacing, and will use 2-3 weeks of our attention away from Windows 10 migration, I thought I would re-raise the possible problems and pitfalls.

Let’s start with looking at the PC/Laptop.
I personally wouldn’t install Windows 10 on a lesser spec than:
an i3 processor, 4gb ram (preferable 8gb) and 120gb-240gb SSD (Solid State Drive)
depending on how much data you store in the cloud.

Just for having a Google account you get 15gb free storage on google-drive, and for having a Microsoft account you get 5gb free space on OneDrive. But if you are leasing Office365 each user automatically gets 1Tb cloud storage).

Online Backup
using “Google Backup & Sync”

Published 9th May 2019

Backing up and storing files on Google Drive helps keep them safe and make them accessible wherever you need to use them.

What Is Google Drive?

Google Drive is an online storage solution launched by Google in April 2012. It's primarily used for file storage and backup but is also a popular tool for project collaboration by businesses, school, and individuals.

Google Drive is an online and offline storage system with word processing power. It includes online word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools. It also provides the convenience of a virtual folder on all your computers; simply drag and drop files to sync between laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

How Much Google Drive Storage Is Free?

Google Drive does still provide 15Gb free storage and there are a variety of paid plans starting at 100Gb all the way up to 30Tb.

If you have a Google account, which is also used for Gmail, YouTube, Google+, and Google Play, then you actually already have a Google Drive account and can access it simply by logging in to the Google Drive website or apps with your account information.

VPN how to use and why
Published 28th Mar 2019

Private Web Browsing
Why personal encryption and IP manipulation are extremely useful
With so many VPN services out there, it's clear there are advantages to using one but what are they?
A virtual private network connection achieves two technical results: 

  1. A VPN cloaks and encrypts your signal, making your online activity completely illegible to any eavesdroppers
  2. A VPN manipulates your IP address, making you appear to come from a different machine/location/country.

While your VPN will slow down your connection speed by 25-50 percent, there are many good reasons to cloak your activities and change your IP address.

How to delete EML extension file

I came across a strange happening last week.

I am using Thunderbird instead of Microsoft Office Outlook and am really getting to grips with it.

I had some minor problems with my settings but that was to be expected as I have over the years build myself a rather complicated email empire.

Wanting to save some emails as "txt" files but as usual, I forgot to tick the "txt" type of file-to-be-saved so some of the emails were saved as EML file type files.

EML is a file extension for an e-mail message saved to a file in the MIME RFC 822 standard format by Microsoft Outlook Express as well as some other email programs. EML files can contain plain ASCII text for the headers and the main message body as well as hyperlinks and attachments.

I tried to open Library -> Documents -> “subfolder” and selected the file and pressed the Delete but nothing happened, not even a message that the file couldn't be deleted.

As long as I was using the parsing (virtual) name used to link to “My Documents” folder the delete wouldn’t work.

If on the other hand, by using the long way round to get to my subfolder
      Local Disk (C:) -> Users -> you -> My Documents -> “subfolder”
the EML extension files could easely be deleted.


System Restore Error Code 0x81000203

I was having problems creating “Restore Points” in windows 7.

When I opened “System Protection” everything was greyed out; and all I got was an: “System Restore Error Code 0x81000203”.

Hunting high and low I finally came across this good advice from the following website: https://windowsforum.com/threads/actual-solution-for-system-restore-error-code-0x81000203.184794/

Both “Volume Shadow Copy” and “Microsoft Software Shadow Copy Provider” must be started and set to automatic. With both of these services active, the System Protection tab will work.

Their link to Microsoft didn’t work but here is a link that works: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-performance/how-to-fix-error-code-0x81000203/0358b3df-a34f-e011-8dfc-68b599b31bf5 This describes how to fix this error for the “Volume Shadow”; but just apply the same for "Microsoft Software Shadow".

My “Restore Points” are now working. One more suggestion: Don’t forget to click the Configuration button to select the drive, and set the Maximum Disk Space to be used (to something more than zero, depending on how many generations of restore points you want, set it to at least a few GB).

Also just in case, create the first checkpoint yourself.
That’s it, and now I am a happy bunny.


How to revive an old XP-PC to a useful PC

First you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it – for instance:
  1. has it got enough memory (2gb or more)
  2. is the processor good enough (2mhz or better)
  3. is there 6gb or more free disk space on your hard drive
If you answered “Yes” to all the above questions you can then safely install Ubuntu (Linux) onto your PC/Laptop. You can install it either as the ONLY operating system on your PC or change your PC to become a dual boot system; where you have to answer (at boot time) which system to use (a Ubuntu screen where both Ubuntu and Windows are the choices). By using dual boot you can then when you need to re-boot and use Windows for example for your scanner – that is – if you can’t find the Linux driver for it. Linux Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS will automatically install:
  1. Rhythmbox - Music Player
  2. Shotwell - Photo Manager
  3. GIMP - Image Editor
  4. PiTiVi - Video Editor
  5. FireFox - Web Browser
  6. Thunderbird – Email reader
  7. LibreOffice - similar to OpenOffice Word, Excel, PowerPoint …
Ubuntu offers thousands of apps available for download from the software center. Most are available for free and can be installed with just a few clicks.  

"I am using 2 programs when I shop online."

"Cute PDF Writer" and "Foxit Reader".
I am actually also using a third program to merge small pdf files:
"PDF Binder".


Cute PDF Writer
Convert to PDF documents on the fly — Free Software
Portable Document Format (PDF) is the de facto standard
for the secure and reliable distribution and exchange
of electronic documents and forms around the world.
CutePDF Writer is the free version of commercial PDF converter software.
CutePDF Writer installs itself as a "printer subsystem".
This enables virtually any Windows applications (must be able to print) to convert
to professional quality PDF documents - with just a push of a button!
FREE software for commercial and non-commercial use! No watermarks! No Popup Web Ads!

Installation Requirements
• Supports Microsoft Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista/7/2012/8/8.1/10 (32-bit/64-bit).
• Requires PS2PDF converter such as Ghostscript (recommended).
You can get the free GPL Ghostscript 8.15 here.
Download Cute PDF writer here.


Foxit Reader is a small, fast, and feature rich PDF viewer
which allows you to open, view, and print any PDF file.
Unlike other free readers, it enables you to create PDFs and more.
Available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
For more information about Foxit Reader click here.
Foxit Reader is free software with lots of advanced features included.
Download it here: https://www.foxitsoftware.com/downloads/


PDFBinder is a simple tool that lets you merge any number of PDF documents into one,
without having to resort to slow, user-unfriendly, expensive software.

With a good PDF printer, like Cute PDF Writer, and PDF Binder installed,
you are able to do anything in PDF.
Example: attach a "print" of a website and many relevant PDF files into one single PDF file.

Download PDFbinder here.


Download AdwCleaner from here

Whether it is simply making your family members’ systems more secure or updating the browser of choice
on your own system, the stable release of Internet Explorer 11 is now available to download
for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
Now that the stable version has been released, you can visit Microsoft’s blog post to learn about all the new features and improvements added … more  

or go direct to Microsoft to download IE11  


Outlook.com introduces the most sophisticated rules in webmail
The average person has 184 emails in their inbox, and receives 28 emails each day. This can be a lot to handle, so helping you get to the email you care about is one of our top priorities. Starting today, we are releasing Advanced Rules and three other features, all to help you keep your inbox in top shape and make it even easier to see the email that matters … more  


From the MailOnline (Mon.14.May 2014): Heartbleed Update
Click here to read the news flash

From the MailOnline: Ultra-fast 5G broadband
to download a film in less than ONE SECOND
Click here to read the news flash


This is the place to download usefull tools like:
CCleaner: Optimization & Cleaning - The number-one tool for cleaning your computer
Recuva: File Recovery - Recover lost files from your PC, Camera or iPod.
Defraggler: Disk Defragmentation - Defrag your entire hard drive, or individual files
Speccy: System Information - The advanced system information tool for PCs.
Download from here: http://www.piriform.com/products


Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a surprisingly effective anti-malware tool given that it hasn't received any major updates in the past few years. Sure, the scans are a bit faster and the installation is definitely smoother, but overall the product remains unaltered.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM as it's often abbreviated, has a rapid installation process that simultaneously loads the program onto your computer and updates its detection engine when you run the installer. The whole process took under 5 minutes on our computer.
Download it from here: http://www.malwarebytes.org/


Apache OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.
It is available in many languages and works on all common computers.
It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages.
It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.
Download it from here: www.openoffice.org/download/index.html

Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint File Formats:

Link to Microsoft Download page

Download Microsoft Works 6–9 File Converter from Official Microsoft ...

Link to Microsoft Download page
Open, edit, and save documents in the Works Word Processor file format
supported by Works 6, 7, 8 and 9.


Edit your photos for free with PIXLR

Rather than paying for Adobe Photoshop,
           try a free online alternative for editing your digital photos.

Photo editing can help you turn merely decent digital pictures into brilliant ones.
With a few simple tweaks you can boost faded colours,
bring out detail in murky shadows or remove unwanted details.
Pixlr is a superb photo-editing tool that you don't even need to install onto your computer.
Simply head to www.pixlr.com and choose either the simple or advanced editor,
then make all the changes you like to your photos.
The range of tools is nearly as comprehensive as Photoshop's own tools, and it's completely free.


By popular request:  » How to Delete a LinkedIn Account

Link to: GCFL all topics and   » GCFL Keyboard Shortcuts


Link to: U3A Online GEMs


The following Links are from: U3A GEMs February 2013 newsletter

  » A Key Step to Being Safer Online That is Frequently Overlooked

  » Here’s possibly the best non-technical description you’ll ever read, of how and
     why your antivirus and anti-malware programs aren’t infallible

  » I run anti-virus software; why do I still sometimes get infected?
    It seems like even the most up-to-date anti-virus software package isn't always enough.
    It's frustrating because you'd think that it would be.

  » Defending Your Computer with the Windows Firewall

  » Disk image backup and system repair disk in Windows 7

  » How to use the Disk Cleanup system tool in Windows Vista and 7

  » How to use Task Scheduler to automatically run programs

  » How to use Task Scheduler to run programs with advanced features

  » System protection and system restore in Windows 7

  » Three Ways to Make Your Favorite Folders Easy to Get to

  » Tips, tweaks, and tricks for Windows 7

  » Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7


The following Links are from: U3A GEMs May 2013 newsletter

  » Replacing An Old Hard Disk With a Solid State Drive (SSD)

  » Windows XP. The end is nigh. Next April, Microsoft support for XP concludes.
    Here are some great hints to help with your future planning, including tutorials on upgrading to Windows 7 or 8.

  » Extra Security: Windows Defender Offline

  » Is it a good idea to run more than one anti-virus program?
    If not, which anti-virus has the best protection against viruses, spyware, and other online threats?

  » Bing delivers five times as many malware websites as Google, according to an 18-month study by AV-Test.
    Google was rated as the safest search engine, returning only 272 malicious results out of 10 million studied.

  » Can I still buy Windows 7?


The following Links are from: U3A GEMs July 2013 newsletter

  » 'I am so confused about backups. Do I need to back up everything on my hard drive, or just certain user files?
    Backup software is complicated and I don't understand all the tech terms that are tossed around...’


The following Links are from: U3A GEMs August 2013 newsletter

  » Rootkits: Evil, Nasty and Sneaky!

  » Are You Being Fingerprinted Online?


The following Links are from: U3A GEMs September 2013 newsletter

  » How to remove a trojan, virus, worm or malware.
    (Ed. This from Bleeping Computer as a sample of the type of information available (ty Phil McBride, Australia))

  » Internet safety: 8 steps to keeping your computer safe on the internet

  » How do I remove a virus if it prevents me from downloading or installing anything?

  » Eight Free Cloud Services You Should Know About


The following Links are from: U3A GEMs November 2013 newsletter

  » Microsoft Security Essentials: EPIC FAIL.
    MSE is not even close to the best and it appears that it's never going to get better.