Oct 22

It isn’t free to pirate software

Before you look at the price tag of commercial software and choose to download a copy without buying it, you need to consider the consequences. Sure, not everyone who uses pirated software gets caught, but the price you will pay if you do is not worth it. It is much, much less expensive to simply purchase the software to begin with.

And don’t think that just because you’re a small business, they won’t mess with you.

An analysis by The Associated Press reveals that targeting small businesses is a lucrative strategy for the Business Software Alliance, the main global copyright-enforcement watchdog for such companies as Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc. and Symantec Corp.

Of the $13 million that the BSA reaped in software violation settlements with North American companies last year, almost 90 percent came from small businesses, the AP found.

Aug 12

Skype and Windows 10

If you have trouble with the sound not working when you receive Skype messages under Windows 10, there may be a simple fix.


Check the sound settings in Skype to ensure that the sound is set to use the proper speakers. Under Tools -> Options -> Audio Settings. It appears to default to digital sound, but if your computer does not have digital speakers, then you will hear nothing. Switch the setting to your regular speakers to hear the sounds again.

Aug 06

Playing DVDs on Windows 10 Home

compact_discChances are, if you upgraded to Windows 10 Home, you will be unable to play DVDs on your computer. Microsoft offers a fix for this, in the form of a $14.99 app, but there is another (free) solution.

In order to watch DVDs for free on your Window 10 computer, you will need two things:

  1. A DVD-ROM drive – either built-in or external (This will not allow you to watch Blu-ray – those need a different kind of player.)
  2. VideoLAN’s open-source desktop VLC software (not the VLC app in the Windows Store – it does not support DVD playback).

As VLC is installing, doublecheck that the “Discs Playback” is selected (it should be already, as that is the default). Finish the installation and run VLC, insert your DVD, and press CTRL-D to begin playback.

Aug 03

Before you install Windows 10…!!

windows-10If you are getting ready to upgrade to Windows 10, it is very important that you uninstall your antivirus. It will save you much pain and suffering and annoyance. You will also want to uninstall Malwarebytes’ Antimalware. Once Windows 10 has installed, you will want to reinstall both antivirus and antimalware, but leaving them installed during the process will cause unnecessary problems.



Jul 20

Critical Windows Patch – font loophole

A new exploit has been discovered in all versions of Windows that are currently supported (Vista, 7, 8, etc.) that involves OpenType fonts that are embedded and how they are handled by Windows. Microsoft has released a critical update that will close the loophole, which is available through Windows Update.

The exploit will allow hackers access to look at data on the hard drive, as well as install things, change or delete data, or even create new user accounts with access to everything – that is, take over the machine entirely.

It might be a good idea to make sure all your Windows updates are installed.

Jul 10

Back Up Your Windows System

If you are planning to upgrade to Windows 10, or if you just realize you need a full backup of your computer, here is how to accomplish that, with a system image. The best time to create an image is when the system is freshly cleaned, and has your necessary (and desired) programs installed and everything is working properly. An image file, when restored, will put your computer into exactly the condition it was in when the image was made.


While the imaging process is the same in Windows 7 as in Windows 8.x, the location of the software is not.

Windows 7 System Image Backup

In Windows 7, click Start (the button in the lower left corner, when the taskbar is on the bottom of the screen) and select Back up your files. On the screen that comes up, there is a link on the left side, in the bar, that says Create a system image – click on it.

Windows 8.x System Image Backup

In Windows 8.1 (it is recommended that you upgrade at least to 8.1, if you are still using Windows 8 – it is free to upgrade and there are fixes), the system image link is under File History, which you can find by searching in the Search box on the main Start screen. Once you click on File History, look in the lower left corner of the screen that results (which may take time to load), and click on System Image Backup.

Creating the System Image Backup

Both versions of Windows use the same method to create the image. You can choose an external hard drive, DVDs, or another computer on your network, if available. Once you have selected the location for your image, determine which hard drives you are going to back up. More drives will result in a larger image file; it may be best, if you have multiple drives, to image each one separately. It will then ask you to confirm your choices. Notice the space needed for the image. You can still go back and make changes, if necessary, at this point.

When you continue, you will see a bar that will indicate the progress of the backup. How long it takes will depend on the quantity of data, the media on which you are backing up, and your system.

Once the bar reaches 100%, you will be prompted to choose whether to create a system repair disc. You should do this, and store it securely.

If it becomes necessary or desirable to restore the image, this is done through the System Recovery Options.

Creating an Image in Windows Vista

If you are running Vista Home or Home Premium, Windows does not give you the option to create an image. You would have to procure a third-party program to create an image for one of these operating systems.

If you are running Vista Ultimate, Business, or Enterprise, it is similar to Windows 8. Type “backup” into the search bar after clicking Start (the Windows button in the bottom left), then click on Backup and Restore Center. Click Back up computer and the wizard will walk you through it.

The Best Method

When you first purchase a computer (or first reinstall Windows), and have only the operating system and your most commonly used programs, you can make a small, efficient image that will take up little space (probably between 10-15GB) which is small enough to easily fit on external media.

If You Need Help

If, after following the instructions, you are unable to accomplish the task, please feel free to call us for help at 256-575-0041 or 256-520-7327.



Jun 04

Windows 10 upgrade – Available June 29th Here’s how to reserve your free copy.

Windows users! If you have Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 you will start seeing a new icon down by your time (in the system tray) new_icon_in_tray that when clicked invites you to register for your free Windows 10 upgrade. If you register, Windows will automatically download Windows 10 on July 29th and then allow you to install it immediately or at a later time of your choosing.

windows 10 upgrade box

The windows 10 upgrade box

This free upgrade is only available for the first year,I recommend all users of Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 reserve their free upgrade now.

Once Windows 10 is released, you can decide whether or not you want to upgrade your free copy of Windows 10.

If you don’t see your icon here is a link that may help you get your icon so you can reserve your copy. Or you can call us and we can see what we can do for you.


May 11

What is a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD)?

On a computer running a Windows operating system, a fatal error that shuts down the system is known as a “Blue Screen of Death” or just “BSoD,” named after the screen that displays before the computer turns off. This screen usually has a code for the error, though often the computer turns off so quickly that reading the code is difficult, at best. It is possible to disable the automatic reboot, if it is happening often and you want to see what the error code is.

In some versions, it stays on the screen, offering a choice to reboot or continue, but continuing is rarely actually possible due to instability or unresponsiveness.

Some of the errors that result in a blue screen include bad device drivers, hardware that goes bad (especially RAM and power supplies), overheating, and system bugs. These errors are known as critical failures or a “STOP Error.” Windows 8 and up include information to search for in order to learn more about the error that occurred.

If your computer has begun having critical failures, there are some things you can do that might help. First, scan for malware. If you don’t already have a good malware scanner, try Malwarebyte’s Anti-Malware for free. Another thing you can do is reinstall your device drivers. Your hardware may need updated drivers, especially since Windows tends to update regularly. Try running in Safe Mode. If the errors do not happen in Safe Mode, the problem is probably with something non-essential (since Safe Mode only loads essential drivers). That may help you to track down the problem.

If those do not work, try doing a System Restore to a point before the blue screens started showing up.

If that does not fix the problem, check your hardware. Test for RAM errors and overheating. Open the side of the tower and look at the electronics – if any look burnt or about to explode, it is probably a hardware problem.

Your last option is to reinstall Windows. Since this clears out all your data, be sure to back up any important files first. If you still get blue screens after a fresh reinstall, there is definitely a hardware issue somewhere.

If you prefer to let a professional handle this for you, give us a call at 256-575-0041 or 256-520-7327.

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