Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

A couple of software reco’s

It’s kind of odd.. but since I went into semi-Retirement, I’ve been busier than ever.

I have been reminded recently that a couple of free software utilities I use, well, I cannot recall if I’ve ever mentioned them to you guys… as they are rather Geeky (aka not “for everyone”).

* First up is a file copy/transfer utility. TeraCopy isn’t anything fancy, it just makes Windows work like it should, when working with big copy/transfer jobs. It’s free for personal use.

One of the most common complaints about newer versions of Windows is the slow copying speed, especially when transferring lots of files over the network. If you want to speed up your copying or if you regularly transfer large amounts of data and have to stop the process to perform some other disk-intensive task, this program may be just what you need.” Check it out here.

* Next up is a “boot disc”. Now, most of you will not ever have call for a boot disc, or need to know how to use one, but if you know what they are, and don’t know about UBCD4Win, well I suggest you take a look.

UBCD4Win is a bootable recovery CD that contains software used for repairing, restoring, or diagnosing almost any computer problem. Our goal is to be the most complete and easy to use free computer diagnostic tool.” Check it out here.

One of the things I use the UBCD4Win most often is to make “images” (backups/”clones”) of a hard drive using DriveImageXML, but you do not need to use a boot disc to take advantage of this free disk imaging/archiving tool. (It is a ‘standalone’ app that’s been bundled onto UBCD.)

DriveImage XML is an easy to use and reliable program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives. Image creation uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Services (VSS), allowing you to create safe “hot images” even from drives currently in use. Images are stored in XML files, allowing you to process them with 3rd party tools. Never again be stuck with a useless backup! Restore images to drives without having to reboot. DriveImage XML is now faster than ever, offering two different compression levels. ” Check it out here.

Today’s quote:Everybody ought to do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.” ~ William James

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, free software, Microsoft, networking, PC, performance, software, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Planet Earth Is Blue…

Folks, I am going to ask you to indulge me in one more video (I guess I am “on a roll”), but yes, there’s some tech, too (just scroll down). Today’s music video was sent in by a reader, who thought I might enjoy it. I did!

I have heard that song, oh, maybe.. 24,336 times in my life. But never quite like that!

Today’s Tech

* Build a complete Windows 7 safety net (by one of my fave tech How To writers, Fred Langa) Note: this is IMHO the definitive How To tutorial for disaster recovery — please read it!

Every copy of Windows 7 includes a complete suite of backup tools. The suite contains everything you need to back up (and restore) your entire system.
What’s more, after you’ve set up your initial backup, future backups happen automatically.
In fact, Windows 7 makes it so easy to set up fully automated backups, it’s almost nutty not to do it.Read more.. (please)

(‘Cuz it is nutty not to do it.)

Cyberstalking Victim Wants LinkedIn to Do More to Protect Users.

After being sexually assaulted at work, Anna Rihtar quit the job she loved to avoid her attacker. And, like many unemployed people, she turned to LinkedIn to find work. But Rihtar’s attacker followed her online. In addition to phoning, emailing, and pursuing Rihtar on Facebook and Twitter, he began cyberstalking her on LinkedIn, leaving messages that were alternately flirtatious and hate-filled…” Read more..

rocks_thumb.jpg… 24 signatures on her petition..? What the ____ is wrong with people?!?!

Sigh. Oh, well. Have a great day everybody! (And thank you, Dear Reader.)

Today’s question: If April showers bring May flowers.. what do May showers bring?

Today’s quote:If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.” ~ John A. Simone, Sr.

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

May 16, 2013 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, digital music, digital Video, how to, Internet, News, privacy, social networking, tech, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Restore This Vital Function In Windows 8 – Now

Enable Safe Boot Before You Need It (Or It’ll Be Too Late) (And You’ll Be Sorry)

If you have a computer running Microsoft’s ‘new’ Windows 8, I strongly recommend you take the following (quick and easy) action – promptly. Don’t dilly, or dally, do it now! Take it from a computer technician, you want to undo (one of) the incredibly stupid thing(s) Microsoft did to Windows 8 and, restore this advanced recovery and troubleshooting feature.

1) Press the Windows key + the X key to open the Start menu.

2) Click on Command Prompt (Admin), and answer “OK”/”Allow”/”Proceed”.

3) Type into the black command box the following string of text (below, in bold) mindful of the spaces. (Or, Copy>Paste)

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy

4) Press Enter. After a moment, you should see the message “The operation completed successfully”.

Now you will be able to – in an emergency – press the F8 key to (try to) boot into Safe Mode and attempt repairs, should your computer fail to start up. (A feature of Windows since the beginning of Windows operating systems.)

5) Email this article to everyone you know who has a Windows 8 computer.

When something goes wrong with your computer, pressing F8 and booting into “Safe Mode” is sometimes the only way to fix the trouble — without resorting to wiping your operating system, and starting from scratch, and having to reinstall all your games and programs. You absolutely want the ability to do so, and the fact that Microsoft disabled it was just one more reason I do not like Windows 8, and refuse to have it on my machines.

I am very glad Greg Shultz posted the How To (to see his whole article, click here.) Now I wonder what else can be /set {default} legacy’d? Find enough of them, and Windows 8 might not be so bad…

Note: You might not ever use “Safe Mode”, or even know what it is, but the technician you hire will.

Bonus: A complete guide to Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts

Today’s quote:Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, software, tech, troubleshooting, Windows, Windows 8 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

For Emergency Repairs, You Need This Disc

Should the worst happen, and your computer decides to give you some white text on a black screen (saying essentially gibberish words, like, “Stop Error 0x0000005a” or “IRQ not less than or equal to”) instead of “booting” into your Windows Desktop like normal, you’re probably going to start panicking.

Well, yes. A certain amount of panic is probably justified. You quite probably have a rather serious “glitch”. Take a breath, and take comfort in the fact that there are Pros who can help you, (shameless plug: such as myself) and if you have the right tools you might be able to repair Windows yourself.. and get a working computer again.
And by “right tools”, that typically means a “boot disc”. And – typically – that means the “Windows Install” disc.

Before you do anything else today, please do this: find the discs that came with your computer.

Do you see a “Windows″ or “System Recovery” disc? No? Not surprising. Most PC makers are using a recovery partition these days (see, About the Recovery (D:) Drive). 
The “recovery partition” option wipes your hard drive, (aka “Drive C:”) and reverts the machine to the factory-condition state –> total data loss. All your updates and installed programs — gone. Thanks, manufacturers! *]

If you have a Windows 7 PC, you’re in luck: you can make a “boot disc” which includes an automated startup (“boot up”) repair tool, some repair/diagnostic tools, and the ability to access a System Restore point and revert your system to an earlier (working) time. (see, My favorite Life Saver flavor? System Restore).

If your PC is older: I have to opine, you really should upgrade to Windows 7 for security reasons if nothing else (see: It is time to face facts and finally dump Windows XP.) and also say that there is no reason (I can see) to wait for Windows 8 (unless you are planning on getting a touchscreen/tablet..). And I can tell you that to get a “boot disc” appropriate for your machine, you should click here: How To Get Windows Re-Install Discs.

The disc you’re about to make will give you important “recovery” options, that can get your computer working again.

So if you have a partition and not a disc. Remedy that now. All you need is a blank CD or DVD.

Step 1) Click the Start button and type repair into the Search box. The top result is what you want to click – “Create a System Repair Disc”.


2) Your optical drive should be detected (if not, use the ‘drop-down arrow’ to select your CD/DVD drive). Click “Create disc”.


The drive tray should open, so put in your blank disc…


After a few moments, the tray should open (“eject”) and you will now have a “bootable” System Recovery disc…


.. and a powerful tool for repairing your computer in the event of serious errors. You need to make this disc BEFORE you need it.. though I hope you never will.

In case I wasn’t clear: do it now.

[note: To use this disc, and make repairs, you will need to “boot” to it. If you don’t know how to do that, see How to boot from a CD ]

Kudos to Microsoft for making this tool a part of Windows.

* Utter, snide, facetiousness. A terrible move; and whoever decided that should be ashamed. And fired. IMHO.

Today’s quote:He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”  ~Epictetus

Bonus: As a reward for reading down this far, I will explain a bit of Geekspeak you may have seen but not recognized (maybe you have) “disc” – with a “c” – is an optical disc, which you probably think of as a “CD” or “DVD”. When it’s spelled with a “k” (“disk”), they’re talking about hard drives.. usually the storage inside your machine.

Bonus bonus: Amazon has a list of hundreds of up to 50% off gifts for dad (aka “a sale”).

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

June 4, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, troubleshooting, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tip: Change Office’s AutoRecover Location

Make Document AutoRecovery More Functional

The AutoRecover feature in Microsoft Office can truly be a lifesaver when you are working on a document and the program (or system) crashes. However, by default, the AutoRecover files are always saved to a difficult – to – find folder. By telling Office to Save those files to a location of your choosing, you will know right where to find them should the worst happen, and you need them.
(Also, it’s a good idea to ‘tweak’ the frequency it makes its ‘snapshots’ of your work in progress.)

The default locations are:

  • Vista/Win 7 = c:\Users\*username*\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\
  • Windows XP = c:\Documents and Settings\*username*\Application Data\Microsoft\

Here’s the How To:

The first thing we need to do is create (or choose) a location. I create a “recovery” folder inside my “Documents” folder. (I recommend creating the location, to avoid cluttering up existing places with autosaves.)

  • Click the Start button, and then Documents
  • In a blank (white) area of the Documents window, right – click, and choose New and then Folder
  • A new folder will appear, and the cursor will be blinking in the name rectangle. Change it to (aka “name it”) OfficeRecovery (or something similar)

Now we need to set Office’s AutoRecovery behavior:

1) Open any Office program — Word, Excel, PowerPoint…

2) Click on File, and then go down the list and click Options.

3) In the left-hand column, click on Save.

4) In the new window that opens:

Office3 Change the “Save AutoRecover information every ____ minutes” from the default 10 to something a little more helpful. I prefer 3 minutes, but one or two minutes (if you’re a fast typer) may be a good choice too.

● Change the “AutoRecover file location:” to point to the folder we just created.

  1. Click the Browse button
  2. In the left column, click Documents, and then in the right pane, locate and double-click on your recovery folder
  3. Click OK

● Click OK

That’s it. You’re done. Now, in the event of a power failure, computer crash, or whatnot, you actually may be able to easily recover your lost work. But please note: AutoRecover or AutoSave does not replace the Save command. You should use the Save command to save your document at regular intervals and when you finish working on it.

Today’s quote:Sometimes the best way to learn from your mistakes is to carry them with you.”

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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April 29, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, MS Office, software, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

About the Recovery (D:) Drive

A Reader Asks a Very Good Question About the “Recovery Partition”..

Q: Paul,
When I open up the My Computer icon on my desktop to check my hard drive, the recovery disk is usually close to 2/3’s full and it is in GB. Is this a drive I want to do anything with? I have plenty of drive space on my C drive but this takes 3-4GB of space.
What is the recovery drive for and should I try to recover the the disk space it uses?

A: When you click on “Computer” (or, “My Computer” in XP) an explorer window will open showing the storage devices (aka “drives”) attached to your computer (storage “memory”). These storage areas will be assigned a “drive letter”, and usually start with the area which contains the Windows operating system and is responsible for “booting” your computer — labeled drive “C:
drivesWhy doesn’t it start with “A:“? Well, back in the day, it did. Long ago, computers came with A and B drives – which were 5.25” ‘floppy’ drives (which contained the operating system. Windows didn’t exist yet). When the first “hard” drive came along, it had to go next in line.. thus C:\ (c: equated to “hard disk” [with a “k”]). Eventually, operating systems were designed to run from “hard” disks, and – eventually – “floppies” went the way of the T-rex. (But “hard disk” still equates with “c””)

I digress, but! I need to keep talking about computer history/evolution for just a bit longer. Long ago, computers used to come with CD’s. Either a Windows CD or a Windows CD relabeled by the manufacturer to something like “Dell Recovery Disc”. These were used in the sad case of really bad errors crashing the computer, and tech support told you you had to “reinstall Windows”.
(Sometimes called “disaster recovery”)

At some point in time, some brick-headed, idjit barnacle of a CEO made the absolutely dumbest decision ever made by Man — in the hopes that they could save 3¢ per computer sold. (Can you guess what I would say to this *person* if I met them?) They decided to do away with the Recovery CD and instead put those files on a special section (called a “partition“) of the hard disk — which came to be Drive D:\ (aka “the ‘recovery partition’)… the topic today. Ahem, sorry.

Back to the topic: When you first start up your computer (aka “boot up”) you will see a drab screen that says something to the effect of “Press F11 to recover your computer” (or some F key.. maybe F10, maybe F2..) This function is used in the sad case of really bad errors crashing the computer, and tech support tells you you have to “reinstall Windows”. (Sometimes called “disaster recovery”)

This “recovery process” will wipe (aka “erase”, aka “delete”) your C:\ drive, and copy the “image” stored on D:\ over to there — thus returning your PC to “factory condition”.. complete with crapware, such as Connect to AOL and Polar Penguins, and minus all your installed programs, updates, and … files.

You do have a backup copy of all those.. right?

This disaster of a disaster recovery method was not necessarily the case if you had/have a disc. Which is why the CEO mentioned above is a jackass. And why you want to read, Windows 7 Owners, You Want To Do This…

Answer the question, Paul: Okay okay okay
The drive D: aka “Recovery” is a special, protected area, which contains the files necessary to restore your computer to factory defaults. You cannot modify it. Short version: Pretend it isn’t there, and … hope you never need it.

(If you are eyeballing that ‘open space’ because you have filled up your C:\ drive.. well, no. What you need to do is install additional storage [ aka “upgrade” ] and/or go in and remove stuff from C:\)

* Okay.. maybe not the dumbest…

Today’s reco’d reading: Warning: Surprise spam trojan on Facebook

“Ever received messages from your Facebook friends containing a notice or invitation, such as an invitation to visit a particular site, added with an interesting message, like “Hey watch this, so cool!”? In most cases, the recipient of the message will be happy to follow it, especially if the message was sent by one of your best friends, which you trust. However, did you ever think that it could be sent by an intruder, spam, or even viruses?

Like yesterday, one of my friends received a “surprise” from Facebook, but then soon realized that his computer was now infected with the trojan, as well as making it a “spam machine.””

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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January 20, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, storage, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Software Giveaway Drawing(s) – Oops!Backup

Folks, I am Pleased to Announce My Latest Software License Giveaway Drawing(s)*.

The folks at Altaro have generously donated some licenses for Oops!Backup to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank them for that. So I am going to do a random drawing ¹ contest* from those who “enter”. The contest will end midnight Thursday, June 24th, and the winners announced Friday.
(What? Another backup program?! Read, and I think you’ll agree – this one’s different.)

I am going to start this out by confessing that I had never heard of Oops!Backup, and my initial reaction to the name was.. not positive — but I also confess it tweaked my curiosity! Oops!Backup is a ‘time machine’ backup for Windows program that creates “backup revision copies” of the files on your computer.

With Oops!Backup, you do not have to be “computer savvy”, and you  set-it-and-forget-it. The program constantly monitors your file system for you. I will give you my impressions and some screenshots, but first…

Plain, straightforward English–I love it. This versioning, continuous-backup package is one of the more impressive I’ve run across… — Jon L. Jacobi, PC World magazine, Editorial Review of Oops!Backup

The initial experience I have had has been great… it is possible to remove the human “oops” from the process… This could be a great step forward in the arena of helping get computer users to back up their data as often as possible. — Derek Schauland, Tech Republic, Product Spotlight: Altaro Oops!Backup

I haven’t had to rely on Oops!Backup many times, but when I did, it did not fail me… Restores are snappy and take mere seconds even for large folders. — Erez Zukerman, Downloadsquad, Altaro Oops!Backup is Time Machine for Windows

From the publisher:

Oops!Backup is no ordinary backup product: Thanks to its unique BackInTime™ technology Oops!Backup allows you to travel back in time to recover different versions of your important documents, photos or any other files. Oops!Backup is a hybrid backup and version control.

This video shows Oops!Backup in action… (How it works)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And a complete set of screenshots are available here.

Oops!Backup’s main features are:

  • BackInTime – Oops!Backup works like a time machine for your backed up data. It will save your data, and your folders, in the state that they were in when a backup occurred. This allows you to browse your data and folders and see what they contained at different periods of time.
  • Silent File Versioning – Oops!Backup uses Near-Constant Data Protection that runs in the background and monitors the folders you are backing up for changes to files. Once it detects a new file, or a modification to an existing one, it will back them up for you in the background.
  • ReverseDelta – When Oops!Backup backs up your data for the first time, it backs up the entire original file. Each time thereafter, it only backs up the differences between the original and the changed file and saves these differences in a delta file. This allows you to restore any of the backed up versions by merging the differences in the delta files with the original one. Altaro’s ReverseDelta feature, works slightly different in that it will always have a complete backup of the current data file and store the differences between that file and the original one in delta files. Thus if a delta file became corrupted, you still had the most current file safe and available to restore.
  • Plug & Protect – This feature will automatically back up any changed, or new data, that Oops!Backup monitors to an external drive when it is plugged into the computer.
  • Backup to your existing external hard drive, network, or NAS drive, or USB memory stick. – With Oops!Backup you do not need to buy a separate external hard drive just for backups. Oops!Backup can make use of your existing external hard drive or optionally backup to your USB pen drive. If you have a network drive or a NAS then you can backup directly to it by mapping the network location to your computer. With this you can have multiple Oops!Backup installations backing up to a central server.
  • Integration with Microsoft Volume Shadow (VSS) Copy – Oops!Backup integrates with Microsoft Volume Shadow (VSS) technology. This integration allows Oops!Backup to automatically back up files that are currently open and in use, such as Outlook’s PST files.
  • System Requirements –
    32 – bit
    : Windows 7, Vista, Windows XP
    64 – bit: Windows 7, Vista

I found many reasons to like, and recommend, Oops!Backup. I’ll start by saying that it may very well be the easiest file backup tool I have run across. It is so easy it is, IMO, ideal for the “Computer Novice”. Setting it up the first time was very simple; and, accepting the defaults will be fine for most people. Using it was very simple too, and “visual learners”, like me, will appreciate the visual method for “exploring” your backups — being able to see the various versions of a document/photo/file is simply hands down a superior way of choosing which version of the file you want to recover (go back to)… the usual method is to look at timestamps and.. guesstimate. (See the video above, if you haven’t yet).

Oops!Backup is not a true “disaster recovery” type of backup program – like, say a “disk imaging” program is; but it can be used to transfer files to a new PC, or recover from a “disaster”. Though I only tested Oops!Backup on a single machine (XP Pro, P4 @ 1.6GHz, 1 GB RAM), and only for two weeks, (I did test several backup destination configurations) it performed flawlessly for me. Oops!Backup is light on resources, and doesn’t nag (or brag) with annoying popups. I very much like that restoring a older version does not destroy (overwrite) the current version of a file.

My critiques are minor: when the initial backup was made, I did notice a lag on my machine which made ‘multitasking’ unpleasant. (On the plus side, though, that initial backup was completed remarkably quickly, and subsequent operation was unnoticeable.) Also, Oops!Backup allows you to choose your local hard drive as a destination, which is not where you want to store your backup copies! (And a “Computer Novice” should probably not see this option.. it should be buried under 3 layers of “Advanced settings menus.) As I said, minor. I do not hesitate say that those looking for a file backup program should consider Oops!Backup.

* So what’s up with the plural?
This week my Giveaway is going to be a little different, Folks, and I am actually running two contests — but you (still) only enter one time (the usual rules apply!). Keep reading…

How to enter? To enter the drawing, simply click on “comment”, and enter a name and valid e-mail (so I can send you the key) in the form. Actually commenting is optional. And, I shouldn’t have to say this, but it seems I do — multiple entries will result in disqualification. (In this contest. Entry in prior contests doesn’t count against you.)

¹ All entrants will be placed into’s “list randomizer”, and the top  result will be the winner of the 1st Prize: a 3-pack of Oops!Backup (retail $94). I will then remove the 1st Prize winner from the list, and “re-shake the hat”, so to speak, and then, from the new result, the top 7 names will each receive a single-use license (retail $37).
[Note: If you do not have 3 PC’s, or otherwise do not want to be entered in the 3-pack drawing, please indicate “1 license only” in your comment. I will mod the lists accordingly.]

A 30-day, fully-functional free trial of Oops!Backup can be downloaded here, Free 30-day trial. Try it out yourself. (And then leave a comment. You may just win one of these valuable prizes!)

Again, my thanks to David at Altaro for making this Giveaway possible.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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June 21, 2010 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, file system, PC, software, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 64 Comments