Ask Rick Maybury 2014

  

 

Ask Rick 324 30/08/14

 

Scheduled Defence

After the trial period ended for McAfee Anti-Virus on my new Windows 8.1 PC, I uninstalled it and activated Microsoft Defender. About a week later I found Trovi.com had taken over the Internet Explorer home page. I have uninstalled it but it makes me wonder whether Defender was sufficient protection?  I notice there isn’t a scheduled scan facility (unlike Microsoft Security Essentials).  What’s your view?

Ian Bennett, by email

 

McAfee may not have protected you from browser hijackers like Trovi as they are often installed, albeit unwittingly, along with programs downloaded from the Internet. The option is usually ticked by default so always select Custom installation option, and keep your wits about you.

 

Windows Defender, bundled with Windows 8 (not to be confused with the malware scanner for XP, Vista and W7 with the same name), is a fully-fledged security program covering all of the major threats (viruses, malware, Trojans etc.). It provides always-on protection and in theory does not need to do scheduled scans but there is always a chance that something will slip through and there is a way to do it, using a feature built into Windows 8. Type ‘Task Scheduler’ in a Search box then click on the icon to open it. In the left pane click Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows > Windows Defender. In the Name box double-click Windows Defender Scheduled Scan, select the Triggers tab, click the New button, set your preferred day and time for the scan and click OK.

 

 

Card Tricks

I have a number of SD cards that I have not used for about a year. On three of them the camera screen said  ‘no valid data’ so I presumed they were empty. However, when I tried to take a photo, the message was ‘memory card full’.  The cards were unlocked and the same message appeared on my second camera. Is this a common problem?

Hilary Kemmett, by email

 

Good quality SD cards, and flash memory in general, is extremely rugged and should be able to withstand 100,000 or more read/write cycles and still be readable after 5 – 10 years of non-use. Data is also safe from low-level and moderately strong magnetic fields and their only real enemies are extreme temperatures, very high levels of ionising radiation and physical damage. The chances are the duds were either cheap rejects, counterfeits or fakes, where low capacity cards have been hacked to display a higher capacity. You can check for the latter with a free utility called H2testw from http://goo.gl/HnlQ8M

 

 

Support For Seven

I have an HP Pavilion laptop running Windows 7. What is the best option is for upgrading, bearing in mind that Microsoft has stopped supporting XP and I am concerned that 7 may be next? Our machine currently works well for Internet browsing, email and online.

Ian Travis, by email

 

Mainstream Support for W7, will indeed be ending soon, on January 13th 2015 to be precise, but there really is no need to worry about upgrading just yet. This simply means that there will be no more Service Packs; Extended Support, which is the really important one and includes security patches, bug fixes, performance updates and so on, continues until January 14th 2020. Incidentally, anyone wanting Windows 7 needs to get their skates on because Microsoft are withdrawing the Basic, Premium and Ultimate versions from sale at the end of October.

 

 

Updating Eight

I have a laptop running Windows 8.0. A pop-up advert, saying ‘Get Windows 8.1 for free…’ is becoming frequent and irritating. Only two click boxes are displayed, saying ‘Install Now’ or ‘Remind me later’. Is there a way of stopping it permanently?

Bob Hooper, by email

 

The obvious way to make annoying message go away is to accept the offer to upgrade to the new and improved Windows 8.1. If, for some reason you do not want to update then you will have to tinker with the Windows Registry or a set of system files called the Group Policy Editor, though the latter is not available in the Home Premium edition. In all other versions type ‘gpedit.msc’ in a Search box and go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Store. Double click ‘Turn off the offer to update to the latest version of Windows’ and set the value to Enabled. The Registry hack is not for novices but if you know your way around Windows and Regedit, the DisableOSUpgrade key can be found in Local Machine\software\policies\Microsoft\WindowsStore

 

 

Wireless Weakness?

We have desktop and laptop computers. The laptop is connected to the router by Wi-Fi whilst the desktop uses an Ethernet network cable. My question is, when Wi-Fi is active, can it transmit files from the desktop computer? We have enabled security on the Wi-Fi connection.

J Arbuthnott, by email

 

Any computer or device connected to your network, by cable or wireless, may be vulnerable to remote hacking. However, you have at your disposal several lines of defence, which, if correctly configured, make it extremely difficult for anyone without considerable resources, technical knowledge and a lot of time on their hands to get at your files. Firstly make sure that you are using WPA/WPA2 encryption on your wireless router and it is protected by a long passkey of at least 25 random characters. Second, enable MAC filtering on your router; basically it creates a list of devices, defined by their unique Media Access Control (MAC) address that are allowed to operate on your network. Lastly, change the default logon password for your router’s setup menu. Details of how to set these options are in your router’s instruction manual. All of your PCs and devices should have password logon security enabled and again unguessable passwords using random characters provide the best protection.

 

Also, don’t forget the basics; make sure that your computer’s firewalls are enabled and they have effective and frequently updated anti-virus and malware protection. Avoid risky behaviour that invite malware infection and never click on popup ads or open unexpected attachments, stay away from dodgy websites and do not download pirated software or media.

 

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© R. Maybury 2014 0408

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