PC Buyer Beware! is a comprehensive PC guide covering desktop and laptop/notebook PCs that provides the knowledge required to make sensible buying, building, upgrading, networking, broadband, recovering, repairing and computer-security decisions, helping users to solve hardware and software problems - PC Problems & Solutions - via articles and questions and answers (Q&As) grouped in categories. The quickest way to find the solutions to a particular computer problem is to enter a short and accurate description of it, such as pc freezes or program freezes, both of them very common problems, in the Search pcbuyerbeware.co.uk feature provided at the top of each page. A list of pages containing those or your own keywords will be presented.
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All of the major internal PC components, such as hard disk drives, graphics cards, processors, motherboards, etc., and the external peripheral components, such as monitors, networking equipment, mice, keyboard and printers, have their own section devoted to them. There are separate sections devoted to computer security, software and all of the versions of Windows currently in use – XP, Vista and Windows 7 and Windows 8.
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September 2, 2015. - Flash cookies, also known as Local Shared Objects (LSOs), are placed in a computer's system by a web browser's Adobe Flash Player plugin that is used to view online videos, most commonly on YouTube.
Here are some interesting facts about LSOs:
1. - Flash cookies remain in computer's system for an unlimited period.
2. - They can track particular web users, access and store from their computers up to 100KB of data compared to the 4KB of a standard HTTP cookie. They can send the information they have collected away to the web server they came from or any other server without the user's permission.
3. - All web browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge, Opera, etc), use the same folder within Windows to store LSOs, which allows the sites visited in any web browser to access them. That property alone makes them well worth deleting.
4. - LSOs are used by many websites and tracking companies that are mainly businesses that make their income from adverts, such as Google and Facebook and the companies that serve them. Google and Facebook live from the personal information they obtain from the users of their 'free' services.
5. - If LSOs as well as standard HTTP cookies are used by a particular online company, the LSOs are capable of recreating their HTTP cookies if they get deleted by the system's cookie policies, which makes them as persistent as the Flash cookies themselves.
6. - Most web browsers are not capable of displaying or managing LSOs in the way in which they can display and set cookie policies for standard HTTP cookies, which makes getting rid of them more difficult, but they can be deleted.
The Adobe Flash Player's local onboard settings can be accessed and set via the Local Settings Manager - under Flash Player in the Windows Control Panel. The Global Settings Manager on Adobe's website accesses the settings on the local computer and sets the ones that the user chooses. Note well that Google's Chrome and other web browsers based on Chrome can only be set via the online Global Settings Manager on Adobe's website, not from Flash Player in the Control Panel. This is a very important point to remember because Google's Chrome browser will use its default settings that allows it to use tracking Flash cookies, take up to 100KB of information, gives itself permission to use the computer's camera and mic, share the broadband connection (the peer-to-peer networking setting) unless the user chooses to disable or block those default settings. I disable or block everything in the Local Setting Manager, apart from the settings on the Advanced tab, which I leave alone, and I can still use YouTube and other websites that use the Flash Player. I do not use the Chrome browser or anything else by Google because it is all spyware designed to provide Google with your private information.
There are browser-specific tools that are devoted to managing Flash cookies. BetterPrivacy downloads and installs only on the Firefox browser. When it is installed, look for it in the Tools menu under Options. A link to an article on it is provided below from which it can be downloaded. That was the only browser app I could find, but there might be others for the other major browsers.
Since LSOs are downloaded by every browser into the same Windows folder, you can use BetterPrivacy to get rid of them just by setting it to do so and then running Firefox. When Firefox closes, BetterPrivacy asks for permission to delete any LSOs it has detected.
Local shared object [Flash cookies] -
Standard HTTP cookie -
Using the Flash Player's Local Settings Manager -
Click on Storage, Camera and Mic, Playback and Advanced links for information on each of them.
Flash Player | Change Settings | Chrome, Opera, and other Chromium based browsers – PPAPI -
"If you are using Chrome or Chromium browser, to change the Flash Player settings, use the Flash Player Online Settings Manager." The following page accesses your computer's Flash Player settings online and allows the user to set them through it.
August 23, 2015. - Microsoft is providing the Windows 10 upgrade free of charge for a year starting on July 29 2015, its official release date.
If your computer runs a qualifying version - Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 - you can reserve your upgrade when the offer is presented automatically. You will be told when it is ready to be installed. The whole process can take a couple of hours or longer, depending on how fast the computer itself and its web connection are.
Each release of Windows comes in different versions (Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, etc.) and these versions can be a 32-bit or 64-bit version. A 32-bit version can only make use of a maximum of 3.2GB of RAM memory; a 64-bit version can use all the memory that the computer's motherboard supports and can even make use of a flash drive as extra memory (search for ReadyBoost).
Your qualifying version of Windows will upgrade to the equivalent version of Windows 10. For example, the 32-bit Windows 7 SP1 Home Premium will be upgraded to the 32-bit version of Windows 10 Home. Versions higher than the Home version are upgraded to the 32 or 64-bit versions of Windows 10 Pro.
Microsoft says: "If a customer has already taken the upgrade they will be able to clean install back to Windows 10 because their device will have been provisioned with the new store-based licence."
That means that you will be able to obtain Win10 from the Store that is accessed from the Start menu and perform a clean installation by burning the ISO file to a DVD or flash drive and using it to boot the system for the installation.
Brand-name computers have an OEM Windows licence that has OEM in the Product Key. There are also OEM versions of Windows that self-builders can purchase. An OEM version can only be installed on the first computer it is activated on, it cannot be transferred to another computer. Microsoft regards changing the motherboard as a new computer that requires a new OEM licence. If an OEM computer uses the free Win10 upgrade, the licence cannot be transferred to another computer and if the motherboard is changed a new licence is required.
A retail copy - Upgrade or full version - of Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 can be used to upgrade or install an unlimited number of times on an unlimited number of computers as long as it is only running on one of them at a particular time. This state of affairs remains with the free Win10 upgrade.
When the year over which the free upgrade is available, ending on July 29 2016, Windows 10 will have to be paid for in the usual way by buying a licence.
I have read on some IT websites that the free upgrade does not provide a Product Key but is linked to the user buy a Store ID when the user registers Windows by providing or creating an Outlook.com email account. The user can then download the version of Win10 that was used to perform the upgrade at any time from the Store, which is an item on the Start menu. Note that user are not required to use their Outlook.com email addresses However, the upgrade version is given a Product Key that can be found by using a tool such as the Belarc Advisor from http://www.belarc.com. Look for it under Free Download. When it is installed and opened, look under Software Licences (top, left-hand side) for the Product Key and make a note of it.
Apparently, the popular Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder tool now contains malware and should therefore not be used.
Note that the free upgrade does not itself expire after a year, only the ability to obtain it free of charge does. After you have used the free offer to upgrade Windows and obtained the Product key or you provided an Outlook.com account during the Win10 setup, Win10 will be registered with the Store from which it can be obtained at any time, making it yours forever in both cases.
As soon as possible after Win10 is up and running, since the upgrade is a long process, you should create a system image on an external hard disk drive so that it can be restored quickly compared to reinstalling the qualifying version of Windows and then upgrading it. There is a limited time - a month after the installation - that Win10 keeps its Windows.old folder that contains the files that makes it possible to revert to the previous version, so I would also create a system image of the system that is going to be upgraded just in case you want to return to it much later than a month after upgrading.
The following webpage shows how to clean-install Win10 after the upgrade. An upgrade builds on a qualifying version so is not a pure installation, which a clean-install is.
How to Clean Install Windows 10 -
Here are two useful pages. It is advisable to create a Win10 boot DVD disc or flash drive.
Frequently Asked Questions [Win10] -
Download Windows 10 Disc Image (ISO File) -
August 12, 2015. - Microsoft's terms and conditions for the use of Windows 10 have raised widespread concerns that it is invading the user's privacy as deeply as possible, in much the same way as Google does, in order to deliver customised ads. Moreover, don't forget that Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Twitter have to provide legitimate governments with any information that they have gathered on particular users.
All of the settings are conveniently gathered together and can be found by going to Settings and clicking on Privacy. The following article deals with the privacy settings and the concerns about them.
Windows 10 privacy issues solved -
With regard to upgrading an old desktop or laptop PC to Win10, care should be taken.
My old desktop PC was successfully upgraded from Windows XP all the way up to Windows 8.1, but when I reserved the upgrade to Windows 10, I got a message saying that the device driver for the graphics chip that is integrated on the motherboard (not a separate graphics card) is not compatible with Win10 and therefore the PC cannot be upgraded.
Since the graphics chip is provided by the motherboard - an MSI 7093 model - I thought that I would just have to buy a cheap PCI Express graphics card that is listed as compatible by Microsoft's Compatibility Center and then Windows Update would allow the upgrade to go ahead.
Unfortunately, the motherboard provides PCI Express 1.0a and new, inexpensive PCI Express cards use PCI Express 2.1, which is not backward-compatible with version 1.0a. Some versions of PCI Express are backward-compatible with earlier versions, but that is not so in my case. I could find a PCI Express 1.0a graphics card second-hand, but the chances are not good that the device driver that supports Windows 10 is available, so I am not going to try to upgrade that PC. However, my old MSI M662 laptop, running Windows 7 SP1, passed Microsoft's compatibility tests after I placed a reservation for Win10 and I am now waiting for the upgrade to take place automatically.
Here is the information on Wikipedia about PCI Express 1.0a and 2.1. Information about the other versions of PCI Express is also provide on that page.
PCI Express -
In short, the terms and conditions allow Microsoft to collect information from its users' emails, email address books and other data files stored on their computers.
The user requires to have a Microsoft account, as has been the case with Google since 2011, before apps and downloads can be obtained from the Microsoft Store. The company then has the user's name, contact details,location, credit-card information, passwords, the search queries entered into Bing, Microsoft's search engine, visited websites and even conversations between the user and Cortana, Microsoft's voice-recognition assistant. Amazingly, even the the contents of private folders and "your typed and hand-written words" are collected, according to the Privacy Statement, which, as you might know, is what the keylogging software used by cyber criminals does. However, according to Microsoft, this is done to provide the user with a personalised dictionary, to aid typing, etc. In short, done to make Windows 10 work as well as possible for the user.
The part that really irritates me is that Microsoft says that it uses your information to send you personalised promotions, targeted advertising that may require sharing the information with third-parties, such as advertisers.
Each customer is assigned a unique advertising ID, which Microsoft states "does not use what you say in email, video calls or voice mail, or your documents, photos and personal files to target ads to you." However, the same promise is not made for the other types of data collection. That said, Microsoft is being far clearer and upfront about its policies than its main competitors, Google and Apple.
Microsoft is in line with Apple, Google and Facebook in stating that it will provide information it obtains to governments in "response to valid legal process".
In my opinion, this invasion of our privacy by such huge companies as Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook should be completely illegal. No one should be able to obtain your private information unless it is essential to make paid-for or governmental services function, not merely to be able to deliver customised ads across your path on the web. No one should be allowed to collect your private information to be able to do that.
Users (customers to Microsoft) can opt out this outrageous invasion of their privacy, but, as might have been expected, it is a tediously involved process to do so, requiring effort and technical ability of the kind that software developers have relied on for decades to ensure that the typical user won't be bothered to undergo.
Are you going to be one of them?
Support for Windows 7 ends in 2020, so I will be sticking with it until then.
Windows 10: Microsoft under attack over privacy -
Visit the following page on Microsoft's site to find out about what the Privacy Statement is about and how to control it under: "How to Access & Control Your Personal Data".
Microsoft Privacy Statement -
July 31, 2015. - Windows 10 has been released. It is a 3GB download that, as with other Windows updates, will remember where to resume if you turn off your computer while it is being downloaded.
There are two ways to upgrade to it from the two qualifying versions of Windows, which are Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1. You can either buy a new computer running Windows 8.1 and upgrade it or reserve your computer's upgrade from within Windows 7 SP1/8.1.
To reserve the upgrade, open the Control Panel, open Windows Update and you will see what is shown in the image below. Click on the Reserve button and an icon will appear in the Notification Area located in the bottom-right corner by default. It looks like a white flag that has a cross in it. Put the mouse pointer over the icon and a balloon pops up that says "Get Windows 10." Double-clicking on the icon makes a window appear that has the heading "How to get Windows 10 for free."
July 25, 2015. - According to Microsoft, all desktop, laptop and tablets that are running Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 are capable of upgrading to Windows 10. The following Q&A page should provide the answers to the questions you may have about doing so. The best way is to "Reserve a free upgrade for your existing Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC. The easiest way to get the free upgrade is to reserve, but you can upgrade even if you don’t reserve. Once Windows 10 is available, we’ll begin notifying devices that their free upgrade is available. Just open the Get Windows 10 app [in the Notification Area] to schedule your upgrade."
Due to the many millions of computers that will be wanting to upgrade "Some notifications will go out as soon as Windows 10 is available; others may go out in the weeks or months following [its official release date]."
Windows 10 Q&A -
The following article may be of value to you.
9 reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 -- yet -
July 15, 2015. - Google has added a new Maps feature for Android, its operating system for smartphones and tablets, called "Your Timeline" that proves that your every move is being tracked.
Many are those who seem to love being constantly in Google's sights, but just as many or hopefully more might be finding this development to be creepy and highly intrusive and therefore as something to be avoided. Count me in with the latter type of person.
As usual, there are many review sites whose writers who don't appear to find any of this development in the least bit creepy. One has to wonder if they are heavily reliant on Google for their income. However, fortunately, there are still some sites who tell it as it is.
The new feature displays where you have been, the times you arrived there and even the route you took to get there. Photographs that you've taken with your phone also appear in the location history. The photos get location-tagged and are uploaded to Google Photos in your Google account. You can edit or delete an individual stop in your timeline or delete the entire history, but, of course, you have to be aware of this feature in the first place to do that and to remember to do so.
The great question overhanging this state of affairs is does Google itself get rid of the information or does it store it for its own use in order to be able to put customised ads across your path on the web? There is also no information that I could find that says that the new feature can be disabled completely.
And even if it can be disabled is it disabled for Google?
I personally wouldn't trust any of these privacy-invading social sites that rely on advertising any further than I could blow them with a kiss.
Here is the article on Your Timeline in the Daily Mail -
Maps v9.12 Adds 'Your Timeline' For Browsing Location History And Custom Names For Your Places -
July 17, 2015. - If you have an old PC that still works perfectly well and you have a network, you can put it to good use by turning it into a network attached storage (NAS) device that can serve files to the network – free of charge. FreeNAS from http://www.freenas.org/ is an excellent network storage operating system that can convert any computer into a fully-featured NAS device that can also provide remote access via a web browser. The website provides all the information you need.
To create a bootable CD/DVD containing the operating system, that supports most x86 Intel and AMD platforms, you just have to download the ISO from freenas.org and burn it to a recordable CD or DVD using the image-burning option provided by disc-burning software. A good free ISO burner can be obtained from cdburnerxp.se.
FreeNAS can also be installed on a small SSD drive or flash drive. Flash drives of 4GB and 8GB capacities both work well. However, the process is more involved than creating a bootable CD/DVD. The following webpage provides instructions on how to do so.
Turn old PC hardware into a home server with FreeNAS -
There are several other webpages dealing with this topic should you need further clarification. Just use freenas as the search query.
Here is the user guide for FreeNAS 9.3, which was the current version at the time of writing. You must make use of the user guide for the version you are using or intending to use. -
FreeNAS User Guide 9.3 -
The hardware and software problems dealt with on this website are in the order of their popularity. When applicable, the order will change to match the popularity recorded by this website's web logs in the previous month.
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