[ANSWERS] More of Your Windows Questions

Category: Windows

Yesterday I gave a summary of your responses to my Windows ebook survey, and answered some of the most common questions that were raised. Thanks again to the 5142 people who participated. Today, I'll answer more of those questions, and share some best practices for keeping your computer running in top condition. Read on...

Everything You Need To Know

When you buy a computer, it doesn't come with a manual for securing, optimizing and customizing your Windows experience. That's why I wrote "Everything You Need to Know About WINDOWS" over 5 years ago. I'm just putting the finishing touches on the 4th Edition, which covers everything from XP to Windows 10.

I created the survey to make sure I understood your most common Windows questions and frustrations, and cover those issues in the book. Some of you have mentioned that you missed the survey. It's still open, if you want to chime in. Click here to take the survey.

I heard loud and clear in the survey results that many AskBob readers are concerned about privacy and security, especially as it relates to the new Windows 10. Here's a paraphrase of one very common question: "How can I prevent Microsoft from tracking all my online activities, invading my privacy, and selling my personal data?"

Windows ebook

There's a lot of FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) being spread about Windows 10 and privacy. Everything I've learned (from Microsoft's privacy policy, and well-connected industry experts) tells me that rumors of Microsoft watching everything you do while using Windows 10, and selling your private information to the highest bidder are unfounded. The "telemetry" feature in Windows 10 does collect information that helps Microsoft find and fix problems, but that data is scrubbed of personally identifying information and encrypted before being sent.

There's also the accusation that Cortana, the voice-enabled personal assistant built into Windows 10, is listening all the time and dutifully reporting all that you do to Microsoft HQ. Again, that's overblown. Cortana does collect some usage data, and notes your habits to personalize how it behaves. But no personally identifying information is sent to Microsoft. Most importantly, Cortana and the telemetry feature can be turned off, and other privacy-related settings in Windows 10 can be tweaked as desired. (I go into greater detail about Windows 10 privacy in my book.)

Another question: "I've heard that Google Chrome is not compatible with Windows 10. If I upgrade, will I be forced to use the new Microsoft Edge browser?"

Google's Chrome browser works just fine on Windows 10, as do Firefox, Opera and other alternative browsers. Edge is Microsoft's replacement for Internet Explorer, and you can choose to use it or ignore it. In fact, even Internet Explorer is still available on Windows 10 if you prefer it. Edge is fast, but there's a bit of a learning curve, and some things that could be improved in the user interface. One of the biggest complaints about Edge is that it doesn't support popular extensions that are available in Chrome and Firefox. Bottom line: You still have the ability to choose your browser.

Here's a great question, because it applies to ALL versions of Windows: "What ongoing routine maintenance should I be doing in Windows that I can safely do myself?"

No matter what version of Windows you have, my first recommendation is to make sure Windows Update is turned on, and is set to automatically install critical updates. Next, make sure you have an anti-virus program (I recommend several excellent freebies here) and that it stays updated. For additional security and peace of mind, I recommend occasional scans with the free MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (MBAM) tool.

One oft-neglected aspect of computer security is your software. I recommend the Secunia Personal Software Inspector to scan your installed programs, and apply any needed security patches. Related to that, remove unneeded or unwanted or software. If the Windows Control Panel doesn't get the job done, RevoUninstaller will remove stubborn programs, and clean up any cruft that's left behind.

And finally, take a load off your hard drive, with the built-in Disk Cleanup tool, then use JdiskReport to find and zap large files you don't need. Finally, use Privazer and/or CCleaner to clean and optimize your system. Perform these tasks at least once a month to keep your Windows computer running optimally.

And I couldn't resist including this one: "How do I get my computer to stop making these clickety sounds?"

No offense to the person who left this comment, but it perfectly illustrates the most common problem I have in trying to help people with computer problems. And that's lack of context. Is the clickety sound coming from your keyboard, mouse, or speakers? Is it emanating from an external hard drive, or somewhere deep inside the system unit? Are the clicks random, constant, or related to some action you take?

Some clicking sounds are harmless, and can be controlled or turned off by using the Hardware and Sound option in Control Panel. If it's random, and coming from the speakers, I would advise a virus scan to be sure that's not the problem. It's also possible that your speakers are picking up interference from a nearby electrical device. If the problem started recently, it might be something you can undo with System Restore. More serious would be a clicking sound from a hard drive, which usually indicates impending failure.

But I'm Not a Techie!

In my experience, you can't just "set and forget" when it comes to keeping Windows running smoothly. My ebook "Everything You Need to Know About Windows" covers issues like this in greater detail, and in plain English. Even if you have no technical skills, you'll learn how to secure, maintain, optimize, and customize your Windows environment.

When something goes wrong, you won't need to call a geek. You'll learn to fix it, tweak it, or upgrade it yourself - for FREE, or at least on the cheap. Whether you run XP, Vista, Windows 7, 8 or the new Windows 10, the tips, tweaks and tools in my ebook will help you solve the most common and annoying Windows problems on your own, and give you confidence to help others too.

I need to add a few finishing touches, and I'm planning to announce the availability of the 4th edition of ""Everything You Need to Know About Windows" over the weekend. Stay tuned!

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Most recent comments on "[ANSWERS] More of Your Windows Questions"

Posted by:

James D. Walsh
31 Mar 2016

I'm surprised you didn't mention chkdsk C: /f.

Also isn't it Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free that you meant to recommend instead of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

Posted by:

Monte Crooks
31 Mar 2016

As usual, a wealth of savvy knowledge, Bob. Thank you! Sorry that I'm so gun-shy of W10; but, I am. Maybe it's just all the years of W7 that keeps me from pulling the trigger on 10. If I do, though, it's because you've at least softened my natural reluctance. I really can hardly wait for your next e-book. Please, keep up the good work!

Posted by:

31 Mar 2016

Bob - I am really excited. I just cleaned up my daughter's computer. I used CCleaner Pro, Glary Utilities Pro, Privazer to clean everything up on her Window 7 Pro computer. This will be long. I have lots to share.

I want to share with the readers - Privazer is AWESOME!!! After using CCleaner and Glary Utilities, I used Privazer FREE. It took about 4+ hours to complete it's scan and clean up.

I am here to tell everyone when I started her computer had 97GB of Free Space. When Privazer was finished she had 118GB of Free Space!!!

Now, that is a real testimony in my opinion, to the excellence of Privazer. Then I used DeFraggler to Defrag and put the programs back with where they belong in the same area of the hard drive. Her computer is working faster and smoother.

After I did all of that, she wanted Windows 10 installed. I did it. It went smoothly. Now, her computer is a 32 Bit. When Windows 10 was finished, I started to tweak things, for her. Sorry, she did NOT get her mother's or older sister's computer savvy.

I noticed that Windows 10 Pro seemed a bit different, this time. One thing I noticed, Windows Media Player was available, without going to the Windows Store! Surprise, surprise. All I had to do was say Yes when a pop-up came up. Now her videos of her first grandchild play the way they should. She will be a happy, happy camper, about that.

Yes, she will have a learning curve, but, this time, Windows 10 seems more like Windows, in my opinion. I can't believe that I am saying that, either!!! I will have to learn to wrap my brain around the fact in Windows 10 programs are now called Apps.

I have Boo-Hooed Windows 10 for months now, I am willing to try it again. As I said Windows 20 seems more like the Windows I know. Yes, there is always a learning curve with a new operating system. But when I find many similarities - I am willing to try again. :)

Posted by:

31 Mar 2016

@James D. Walsh,
I don't see the free version for that program. I do see it listed as Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit for Business, which is not free.

Posted by:

31 Mar 2016

Oh come on, you don't really need more context for the clickety sounds question, do you? The first thing that sprang to mind for me was that super-annoying "Start Navigation" sound that Windows has had since XP days or earlier (maybe Win98?). When you click a link or file in Internet Explorer or Windows Explorer, you get that delayed, fake click sound if it's enabled - sometimes 2-3 clicks in a row. Older versions enabled it by default, but I've seen newer systems that still have it enabled, I can only imagine by accident unless some users actually WANT that sound on. See http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/turn-off-windows-explorer-click-sounds-in-windows-vista/ or http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-pictures/sound-with-every-mouse-click/9d70defd-5679-44f1-92e2-62d20abfbcaa?auth=1 for eliminating that annoyance.

Posted by:

31 Mar 2016

A couple win10 tips. If you make a backup system image and try to restore it using recovery flashdrive it will not recognize the mouse & keyboard, but you can use the win10 install flashdrive to restore puter.
Spybot Beacon will take care of most privacy issues. Get installer version so it can reinitialize at every boot. MS is crafty/nasty with it's updates. Make sure to check it off on installation.

Posted by:

31 Mar 2016

That should have read:
Make sure to check it ON during installation

Posted by:

31 Mar 2016

I have Windows 10 and like it just fine. I have this blue circle that spins and pops up constantly. Why is it doing this and how do I get rid of it?

Posted by:

31 Mar 2016

Be sure to mention in your ebook that as soon as you upgrade to Windows10, you should create a recovery drive. Especially if you have a UEFI system instead of the customary BIOS, Microsoft turns on Safeboot, and if you can't boot the OS for some reason (as happened to my friend after updating a driver) you can no longer get to Safemode to correct anything.

Posted by:

John Morath
31 Mar 2016

Sometimes the clickety sound is your cell phone interfering with the speakers

Posted by:

31 Mar 2016

@ James Walsh & Stephen - Bob was recommending Malwarebytes Anti-Malware program. The Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free/Beta is a free program for Home Users and is also included in the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Pro program.

Here is the website for all of the programs by Malwarebytes:


At the top of the list, it is for Businesses and the bottom list is for the Home. :)

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a wonderful program. I went ahead and purchased the Pro version. I like that I can setup my Scan Schedule and it does it automatically. Is the Pro version that much better than the Free version? No, with the Pro version you can utilize the Scan Schedule, with the Free version you need to scan manually.

Posted by:

Sam Hagen
01 Apr 2016

I use SAS Pro real time, it mainly finds tracking cookies and Malabytes free for boot it finds PUP's and dont you hate them sneak down even though try to miss and as for ask bar see it - off looking for program without additions. Reckoning they make money on pro so free also better no pups needed for support.
Revo free uninstaller ignores 64 bit. So these days use Geek free, which does both and is as good at ridding us of traces etc.
Still on Avast but its getting a bit overwhelming too now find I have a browser which installed unknown til there! Nag a lot to buy too. and dont yu hae programs that tease - rectify then find pay first! Well Avast doing that too now. Shame as good program and worth Pro for business use. Would have thought done well enough to not nag so much on free. Oh well have a lovely day Bob - what would we do without your being there for us. Struggle ha ha.

Posted by:

01 Apr 2016

Wonderful thing you are doing. My better half is thinking about giving in to Ten so I will be looking forward to obtaining your 4th Edition.


Posted by:

Gordon McGarrigle
01 Apr 2016

I disagree with enabling auto windows updates in Windows 10. A February, 2016 update wiped out most of my wife's Windows features and other Apps. I had to reinstall Windows 10 (which erases all other programs she had installed), but it also crashed when the February update was initiated. I had to reinstall Windows 10 and bypass the February update to get things working. Now I am skittish of any Windows 10. By the way, the Windows 10 update last November crashed all 3 computers in our house. I do like receiving your info however. Cheers, Gordon

Posted by:

02 Apr 2016

Does anyone know if you can use Windows 7 games like Hearts, Freecell and Minesweeper in Windows 10, rather than having to download inferior versions from the Windows Store?

Posted by:

03 Apr 2016

PeterT......I went to this site, and it gave me my choice of any or all windows 7 games........easy to install, and they work fine!


Posted by:

03 Apr 2016

I was at my wits end dealing with problems on Windows 10 and a slow laptop. I have Norton, but took your advice and tried Cc Pro,and windows utilities.PC showed some improvement but still all browsers kept getting hung up. Out of frustration I decided to delete Java and Adobe files.I am keeping my fingers crossed, but it is running like a champ now.
Thanks for all the Great Advice.

Posted by:

04 Apr 2016

I have a Win 10 laptop (which I hate). When I installed a Java update the verification screen came up in Edge, but it said it wouldn't run in Edge, and I had to copy and paste the URL into IE to get it to run and finish the installation. So much for user-friendly MS "improvements" in Win 10.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2016

I have not yet installed W10, still sitting on the fence! I have been informed that the old all in one printers (5-7 years)are not compatible with W10, if this is true will my Epson and Lexmark printers work/or have problems. If they do have problems can they be resolved? HOW? Thank you, awaiting a friendly reply.

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