Do Android devices need security apps?

We take security seriously these days but should we take it as seriously as installing extra security apps on our phones and tablets?

You can make your own decision on this one but first, allow me to explain what I mean by the term “Security Apps”…

To start with, there are many forms of security apps out there and in this article, I will go explain what they are, how they can help you and whether I recommend them.

Anti-virus apps

Whilst there are loads of articles online that suggest they are useless, I wouldn’t exactly say that for all. In fact from the experience of testing these products I can confirm that they have some useful features such as Anti-theft which I will talk about later in this article. On my test tablet, I currently have AVG Antivirus Pro installed which came installed with a Premium trial. Whilst the app does have useful features such as a disk cleaner, WiFi Scanner, Anti-theft and most importantly of all a virus scanner. I still wouldn’t install it on my phone. The reason is simple my phone has all these features built-in by the manufacturer.

But not all phones come with these features build in and some people might want the extra security especially when storing confidential data. I was always a believer that if your device connects to the internet it should have antivirus software installed. But as Roy Conli once said…

The mind is the greatest weapon in the world.

Roy Conli

This is also true when it comes with keeping your device secure. If you only install apps from the Google Play Store, read reviews and check what permissions the app requires you will be a lot safer. Leaving the default settings enabled such as blocking installations from unknown sources can also help. Although it’s worth mentioning that installing apps from 3rd party sources is not always dangerous and there are good reasons for you to do so. I mean, I remember installing apps from the Amazon Underground App store.

But then again there are loads of apps out there that can indeed harm your device. Whilst Google does pull these apps there’s nothing from stopping attackers from uploading these apps to new accounts. Therefore, it’s still good to have a basic program installed.

When people usually ask me about what antivirus software I recommend, I usually refer to test institute websites such as AVTest. These test institutes are a good indication of what programs do their job.

On the other hand, you might have heard in the news that most Antivirus programs don’t actually work. This test by AV comparatives gives you a great idea of how many don’t do their job as they should.

Anti-Theft

Many Antivirus apps offer an Anti-Theft feature which will locate your phone, some will even take a photo and send it to you if you type your pin code wrong too many times! This, of course, is a great idea and should help either you or the Police find your device. There are many great Android anti-theft apps available the article below should give you an insight…

VPN

This article could be nothing without mentioning a VPN or Virtual Private Network. VPN’s are ideal when connecting to Public WiFi hotspots as they shield your data. The article below article explains how they work in more detail…

What are your opinions about installing extra security software? Let us know in the comments!

Microsoft has started notifying people about the end of support for Windows 7!

Previously I wrote about Microsoft ending support for Windows 7 next year…

But now Microsoft has started getting serious with the release of the KB4493132 update which notifies users that well, it’s time to move on I suppose! The notification contains a link that takes you to the Microsoft web page suggesting to upgrade to Windows 10.

The term “End of support” means that Microsoft will stop releasing essential updates to Windows 7 machines.

Can I build an everyday PC for under £50?

In this video, I am building a budget PC, ideal for Students for coursework, browsing the internet and many basic everyday tasks.

Why is this a good idea?

What a good question, especially when ex-business PC’s can be purchased cheaply. Well it’s not exactly fun purchasing an off the shelf PC and you can’t tell your friends and relatives that you built one either!

If you want to get into PC building you have to start somewhere. I actually started by purchasing an ex-business Dell Optiplex GX280 and I rebuilt it so many times, upgrading the components and operating systems. That is how you learn. Feel free to check out the below article which explains more about this topic…

Practice makes perfect!

When building your very first PC, you don’t want to be worried that the parts you have been saving your money for will get damaged – I’m not saying they won’t! But Practice makes perfect and it’s the same when building PCs.

I just need a PC every now and then for writing the odd letter and browsing the internet

If you just need a PC for the basics, why overspend? This type of solution is perfect for basic needs!

I’m a student and I want a PC for Coursework

If you’re a Student – like me, you might just want a computer to write your coursework on. Not only is this type of solution cheap but you get to learn about the hardware and tell your friends that you built your own PC!

Specs:

Case:Unknown Brand
PSU: FSP Group FSP300-60PLN 300W
CPU:Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.00GHz
Motherboard: Intel Socket: LGA775 (Model Unknown)
RAM:8GB (4x2GB) DDR2 Samsung
Storage:Adata 128GB SSD
CD Drive:Generic DVD Re-writer

So how much did it cost?

Case:£6.00
PSU:Bundled with case
Motherboard:£12.00
CPU:£7.00
RAM: £10.00
SSD:£10.00
CD Drive:£3.00
Total:£48

Is Windows 10 really that bad?

Many of you who follow me know that I moved to Linux Mint just over 3 months ago. I never talked about what I truly think about Windows 10.

My Story with using Windows

I’m not a huge fan of Windows 10 but it doesn’t mean that I totally hate it. With my favourite version of Windows gone and my second favourite about to lose support what’s left? Well, quite a bit actually. I love Microsoft Office, whilst I wasn’t able to find a suitable alternative to the package for Linux I did find that using Office 365 online allowed to do my Coursework without any issues.

Windows XP will always hold a special place in my heart as it was the system I learned and developed my IT Skills for the first time. I do indeed miss the system but it’s time to move on. Although I still have Windows XP installed on a purpose build Gaming Laptop. Feel free to check out the video below…

Whilst Windows 7 was cool, I never thought of it as an improvement of Windows XP. In fact, I always thought it was worst, but like Windows XP, Windows 7 gave me a chance to develop my IT skills in College and University. To be honest, I only understood the advantages of Windows 7 when I started working in IT a couple of years ago.

I wasn’t a fan of Windows 8 at all, but for some reason, I liked Windows 8.1 – Yes I know! For some reason, I liked the idea of a full-screen start menu after a friend showed me his customised start menu and I liked it. In College, I got a chance to install Windows 8.1 free but from using it every day on my laptop, I learned to quickly hate the experience, mainly due to that side charm and the way the start menu functioned. I had huge hopes for Windows 10.

At first, I became a Microsoft Insider which gave me the ability to test out the latest beta versions of Windows and I liked the system a lot. Yes, there have been many speculations regarding security and other things. But I liked the look, the feal etc.

As a Microsoft Insider, I started using the system on a Virtual Box. But the trouble was that my computer at the time just did not perform as it should, so I decided to get my old Dell Optiplex GX280 out of storage and I attempted to install Windows 10. Unfortunately, The version of the processor wasn’t compatible so I did a couple of tweaks as shown in the video below…

At the same time, I started teaching myself about Linux and I found the system better but the issue was and it proved to make me constantly switch was the fact the programs I used mainly at the time were not available on Linux.

So is Windows 10 that bad?

In recent months, I’ve been facing more and more issues with Windows 10 that were related to bugs more than anything and Windows Updates were killing me. On many occasions when I just quickly wanted to check something or copy a file onto my flash drive I was welcomed by the good old “Installing Updates Screen”.

I know that many people hate the Windows updates thing – myself included. But the reality is that it’s a good thing! In the past with older systems, people never bothered installing Windows Updates and this was causing a lot of issues from both the security and stability side of things. I can’t count the number of people that have told me that they are not bothered about Windows updates as they are not important and they break your computer. Guess who came back to me asking me to fix their computer or that their program won’t install because it requires service pack 1 which they don’t want to install – I had a lot of this in the past. Or the other one was “I never had any issues without them” – until they needed my help.

Windows 10 has an amazing interface which I really like, it’s easy to use, pleasant on the eyes and stable – usually! I love the start menu but think that it would be even better if Microsoft has returned the desktop widgets to the Start Menu tiles. Yes, there are many live tiles available!

Privacy can be a concern with Windows 10 but the thing is we are spied on every day by internet cookies, CCTV, our banks, online shopping, our smartphones so what difference would a computer make? I mean Windows 10 does give you options to control what data is sent off.

Driver support is amazing on Windows 10. I can’t count the number of hours I used to spend trying to find all the drivers online for computers to work properly. In many but not all cases, Windows 10 does all the hard work for you!

Check out some the other advantages on this PC Mag article.

I’m not exactly sure why Microsoft chose to have Settings and Control Panel, one can only assume that it’s to make thing simpler for the inexperienced users and have the control panel for the more experienced users. What do you think?

To wrap up…

I think that Windows 10 is a good system for many reasons but thinking back to my migration to Linux Mint, I see the future in Linux and by the looks of things, Microsoft does too as written in this OMG Ubuntu article. In fact, Windows 10 seems to be the last ever version of Windows as explained in this article. It seems that Microsoft will just be releasing updates whilst it’s being developed. But the question is what happens once Windows 10 stops being developed? What do you think – comment below.

Personally, I don’t think that Windows 10 is bad, I think it’s good but I will continue to use Linux Mint and Windows 10 in a dual boot but Linux Mint is now my main system.

Ditched Windows 10 for Linux Mint – 3 Months on

So 3 months have passed since I switched to Linux Mint! To keep the promise I made to my followers, here’s an article explaining my thoughts and feelings after using Linux Mint as my main system.

I decided to use the Cinnamon version because I like the modern look and the ability to add both Desklets and Applets in the panel. Can you do this in other environments too? The Cinamon desktop environment has also been recommended to me since I’m a beginner.

If you are new to this Blog, feel free to check out my article about a month of using Linux Mint…

Devices I have Linux Mint installed on

My Laptop

Specs:

My Desktop:

Specs:

I started with installing Linux Mint on my laptop 3 months ago after I got bored of waiting for Windows to finish updating and Windows blocking me from doing some of my work. I was actually thinking of going to Ubuntu but by pure chance, I decided to install a couple of distros including Linux Mint in a VirtualBox and I liked the look and style of Linux Mint Cinamon.

Did I find any differences in using it on my laptop vs my desktop?

Not really, apart from getting the odd stare from people that saw me using the Linux Mint instead of Windows. In the past, I have had issues with getting a WiFi driver that was compatible with my old HP Probook but back then I was using Ubuntu. Yes, you read that correctly, whilst I’m new to Linux in general, I have used Ubuntu in the past and I did like it but it never got me as far as deciding to move away from Windows.

The one thing I have found to be an advantage to use Linux Mint on the laptop, especially since the resolution 1366 x 768 is is the fact that you can re-size the start menu without it losing its style as it does in Windows 10. This makes the desktop seem roomier which on a small display is great!

So has anything changed since my last article?

Yes! Quite a few things have but the changes were good changes and have shown the progression of me learning how to use the system, discovering things I didn’t know, such as learning to use the terminal, new software and new tricks such as adding applets to the taskbar. I don’t know why but the System just feels more professional to me.

There was a point when I decided to try out Ubuntu 18.10 on my Test PC because I liked the look of the new interface but it didn’t feel the same as using Linux Mint in terms of overall usage and the look and feel of the system. I must admit that my test PC only had a Core 2 with 4 GB’s of RAM, which was not the best spec to test such a new system on. This might have contributed to me preferring Linux Mint but it won’t change the fact that I prefer the Linux Mint Cinnamon interface.

Your questions…

Will I go back to Windows?

To be honest, I haven’t stopped using Windows. Linux Mint is my main system but I use Windows at work since I have to. I also use Windows to make my YouTube videos since I haven’t found a better program than Vegas Movie Studio.

However, a question is a question! I’m not planning to go back to Windows as my main system as of yet and I don’t think I will in a long time!

What was the learning curve like?

I’m not a 100% new to Linux. In fact, my first encounter was back in College about 6 years ago in a Computing module on Operating Systems. Whilst it was just basics, I decided to expand my knowledge by installing Ubuntu on my old laptop. I was using it for a total of about 10 months which was until I got a brand new laptop which had driver issues on Ubuntu.

With this experience from about 6 years ago, I was confident that I knew what I was doing. Whilst a lot of it was similar to what I remember from Ubuntu, the main thing I had to learn was where all the settings were.

Overall I think that getting used to Linux Mint was easy. The community is extremely helpful and there are loads of useful resources available.

How has the experience changed over time?

Great question! As I started using more software I began to miss some of the programs I was so used to on Windows. The main one being Adobe Fireworks, which I used on Windows to create web graphics. But to be honest, the program is no longer supported by Adobe anyway so it’s about time to move on. The other program that I miss is Vegas Movie Studio, which I continue to use on Windows for my YouTube videos. If anyone knows a program that is just as good but works on Linux Mint Please let me know!

The most important thing that I noticed was the fact that I got away from that annoying Windows Update thing where the computer restarts in the most inconvenient time to do updates. Yes, I know that updates are important but I strongly believe that Microsoft should improve the way updates are installed!

In terms of customisation, I found numerous ways to customise my Desktop to my liking. I like the fact that the desktop supports Desktop Widgets which I miss from Windows Vista and 7.

Overall, I began to like this system and I have yet to find issues.

What cases would a person be more likely to follow this example vs not?

Another great question, I have met many people who complain about Windows 10. I used to work in a Computer Shop and you wouldn’t believe how many customers used to ask to whether we sold laptops running on Windows XP, Vista or 7, this wasn’t that long ago too! Customers would just complain about Windows 10. From my experience, Windows 10 is a good system but, there’s a lot of things that need to be improved such as the Updates and Boot loop issues. One of the reasons that I moved to Linux Mint was because I didn’t have the time to be waiting for Windows to do its thing. Linux Mint just works! This is just one case for someone to move to Mint.

To answer this question…

More likely

  • People who are fed up of waiting for Windows to finish updating
  • People who want a System that just works
  • People who like customisation
  • People who have an old device in perfect working order that but the version of Windows is no longer supported
  • People who want a change

Less Likely

  • People who are not confident with performing system upgrades
  • People who prefer to use Windows Software
  • People who don’t trust Linux, since it’s free – this was often the answer when I asked people in the past!

What hardware is this running on and has it caused any problems/improvements?

Both hardware specs are available in the “Devices I have Linux Mint installed on” section above. In terms of compatibility, I haven’t found an issue as of yet. Everything seems to work extremely well out of the box.

Resources I found to be useful

If you know any more let us know in the comments!

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments! I will be doing a 6 – Month review too! Subscribe not to miss out!

How to prepare your computer to sell

Selling technology that you don’t use any more is a great way to earn a few quid or even to put money towards a newer version of what you are selling.

Sounds good right?

Well there are a couple of things that you should do before selling your PC…

In this guide I will be primarily focusing on Windows

You will need…

  • External storage device
  • Windows Installation media
  • Blank media to install Active Kill Disk on

1. Back up your data

It’s always a good idea to back up your data before performing any computer maintenance. Since you are selling your computer, you will need to back up all your data on to a separate storage device like a portable hard drive or a Flash drive. It’s important to make sure that you have enough storage space on your external device so that you can actually back up your data.

2. De-authorise licensed programs

De-authorising any licensed programs such as Adobe CC, Microsoft Office or your anti-virus program . Doing this will free up licences so that you can put it onto your new computer.

While I’m writing about licensed programs it might be worth mentioning to make sure you have the licence keys for programs you may have purchased. If you don’t have the licence files Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder is the program you need. According to their website…

“The Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder is a freeware utility that retrieves your Product Key (cd key) used to install windows from your registry”.

Magical Jelly Bean

3. Wipe your hard disk securely

This is the most important point. When selling your computer you don’t want your data on that PC and I’m not just talking about deleting your documents. There are loads of files that you won’t find in your Documents or on your desktop. These files will contain sensitive data such as your browsing history, saved passwords etc…

So what do I do?

You will need to securely wipe your hard drive. Restoring your computer to factory settings is often not enough as there is still a possibility of recovering deleted data. I’m not talking for all manufacturers because I have come across a couple of recovery partitions that have the option to securely wipe your data. Windows 10 has an option to do this too!

In IT we all have our preferences on what to use, so there may be people who disagree with me. I use Active Kill disk as a boot disk. In its free edition, it will securely wipe your hard disk in the One Pass Zeros method. According to Kill disk, this means that “the number of passes is fixed and cannot be changed. When the write head passes through a sector, it writes only zeros”. This will make it very hard to recover the data.

Like I said, we all have our preferences and it will be a crime not to mention some of the alternatives because they are very good as well…

Dban (Darik’s Boot and Nuke) is a great alternative.

4. Re-install Windows

The most important part is to re-install Windows. Now, this may not be worth it depending on the operating system that was originally on it. For example, if the original operating system was Windows Vista or even XP, it might be worth Installing Linux Mint or some variation of Linux. In some cases, it might be worth upgrading the computer to the latest version of Windows, but obviously, that costs and it’s not always the best solution, especially for older computers with older hardware.

5. Clean it!

When selling your electronic devices, it’s a good idea to clean the device so that it looks more presentable.

Check this out!

Other options

There are other options of course. I mean you don’t have to sell your computer with your hard drive!

Windows 7 dies next year! But what next? + Testing Windows XP and Vista

Many of you will remember when Windows XP was cut off years ago. Microsoft cut a great operating system from getting security updates and patches. Many people still used the system after that and they still use it today! Next year it will be the turn of Windows 7!

What does ending support mean?

Good question! It means that the system will no longer receive essential security updates and patches. I mean, Windows XP and Windows Vista no longer receive them even when security holes are found. This means that you are on your own when a hole is found. But even with this information people are still using Windows XP.

To be honest these systems are still usable if you’re not connected to the internet. For example, a couple of years ago they found that an Auto Repair Shop in Gdansk, Poland is still using a Commodore 64 to balance drive shafts! Impressive right?

Don’t forget about software support!

There are other things to consider too. Your favourite programs, programs that you might not even be considering such as Google Chrome will and have stopped supporting the System.

It’s likely that a couple of years from now, software vendors will too stop supporting Windows 7. To show you what that will look like and to see what still works and what doesn’t on Windows XP and Vista, I decided to do a little experiment with both systems to see whether the programs I regularly use are still supported.

Testing to see what still works on Windows XP and Vista

To test this I dug out two old installations disks containing Windows Vista and XP I had in the attic and I installed both systems in trial mode onto a VirtualBox which allowed me to run the system in a virtual environment. To make the test fair, I installed the latest updates on both builds.

Test 1 – Google Chrome

The Google Chrome installation was successful on both but it does come with the message “This computer will no longer receive Google Chrome Updates.”

Test 2 – Steam

Steam installed on both but failed to update on both too. Although the error messages don’t state it’s due to the fact that they are old not supported systems. But it’s kind of suspicious.

Test 3 – Spotify

Spotify was the first program in both systems that actually worked. But for a second there, I thought that it was no longer compatible with Windows Vista because I completely forgot that in this version of Windows you had to unlock certain executables in the properties. Once enabled the program launched.

Test 4 – Avast Free Anti-virus

Like Spotify, Avast Free Antivirus was successfully installed. It’s good that Anti-virus vendors are still supporting old systems but it doesn’t mean that Windows will get security patches. It means that the anti-virus program will get virus signature updates.

Test 5 – Microsoft Office 2016

Whilst Microsoft Office downloaded, it didn’t allow me to install it.

Outcomes

The five programs I tested were ones which I use often. As you can see, the majority of apps I use either couldn’t be installed or are no longer supported. The list goes on though, there are many more programs like this.

When support for Windows 7 ends on the 14th January next year it’s likely that in the coming year’s software vendors will stop supporting the older systems too. Although according to Chris Merriman from The Inquirer…

“For the first time, Microsoft has publicly stated that it will carry on supporting Windows 7, for users willing to pay. It did the same with Windows XP, but those deals tended to be done behind locked doors.”

Chris Merriman The Inquirer Available here…

The above statement is great news, especially for businesses who need time to test and get used to Windows 10.

So what next?

There are many options available for you to take but it’s important to remember that not all systems will be compatible with all hardware. In other words, it’s very wise to research before you upgrade!

Please note!

Before conducting any upgrades, remember to back up your data as upgrading will mean your hard disk getting wiped! If you don’t feel confident about performing the upgrade take your computer to a local PC Repair shop! I am not responsible for any damage caused!

Upgrade to Windows 10

The simplest option is to just upgrade to Windows 10. But even that may not be so easy. There are loads of things to consider before upgrading such as whether your hardware is compatible with the new system. For example, I tried to upgrade an old Dell Optiplex GX280 from Windows XP to Windows 10 back in its Insider Preview days but the processor simply did not support it. Luckily I found one on eBay that did and I was able to run Windows 10 Insider preview!

Upgrading my old Dell Optiplex GX280 to run Windows 10.

Upgrade to Linux

Linux is getting more and more publicity these days. It’s a series of Open source operating systems. Examples include Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora and RedHat which was recently acquired by IBM but the list goes on. In fact, I decided to switch to Linux Mint myself! Find out how I did with using it for over 1 month…

There are many Linux flavours available but for some reason, I like Linux Mint most at the moment. In the background, I have also been testing Sparky Linux, which Like Ubuntu and Linux Mint is based on Debian.

Before I decided to make Linux Mint my everyday system, I tested it on a PC I had lying around and I came to like it.

Restoring a Dell Optiplex 380 with Linux Mint

Buy a new PC

The third and most costly option is to just buy a new PC right? Not necessarily! If you’re like me and you built your own it will be much easier to just buy a new system. On the other hand, you might have purchased a pre-built PC that was expensive and you might not want to be spending that much money again.

Unless you fancy buying a new PC, my advice would be that if your PC is slow and starting to show it’s age it might be worth buying a new PC, otherwise, whichever way you want to go, upgrading seems to be the way forward!

What are you planning to do when Microsoft ends support for Windows 7? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to like subscribe for more great content!

Install CloudReady on your PC

Neverware’s CloudReady is an Operating System (OS) which you can use to make your PC into a Chromebook. In this article, I will show you how you can do just that!

You might be thinking why would you need to do that? Well, the cloud seems to be the way forward and if you have an older computer you might find that it runs better on it.

While writing this article I will be upgrading a Small factor PC which I plan to use connected to my TV. The full video of the upgrade is available below…

Please Note…

I am not responsible for any damage caused to your PC. Your Flash drive and the hard disk inside your computer will be wiped. Please backup your data before you start!

You will need…

  • Flash Drive (8 or 16 GB)
  • Target computer

1. Download the CloudReady Home USB Maker

Available here: https://www.neverware.com/freedownload

2. Back up your data!

Both your USB drive and hard drive will be wiped making room for the installation!

3. Insert your flash drive and start the USB Maker

4. Select your Architecture

5. Click next until the installer asks to choose Installation Media

For some reason Sandisk Flash drives are not recommended by CloudReady

6. Select your installation Media

Click next to start the installation. It might take time depending on your network connection.

7. Insert your USB drive into your PC and boot from it

Depending on your computer, you may have to enable boot from USB in the BIOS.

Installing CloudReady will wipe your Hard Drive!

8. Once your live USB boots install CloudReady…

  1. Have a play with the live version to see if you like it. If you do continue the steps below…
  2. Click the clock in on the bar, in the right-hand corner.
  3. Select Install Cloud Ready
  4. A window will appear asking you whether you want to install. This will wipe your hard drive. if you want to continue, select “Erase Hard Drive & Install CloudReady.”
  5. You might get asked once more to make sure that you want to install the OS
  6. Wait for the installation to finish.

9. Enjoy CloudReady!

Check this out!

What is Windows God Mode and why it is useful

In this article, I will talk about a hidden feature in Windows known as God Mode. I will start by explaining what God Mode is, why it’s useful and how to enable it.

So what is God Mode?

This is where you might be thinking “Wow there’s a cool hidden feature that gives you special rights and lets you unlock cool stuff”. Unfortunately, that’s not what God Mode is all about. God Mode is a special folder that contains most Windows administrator, management, tools and settings. You might be thinking that that’s boring and what’s the point?

God Mode provides a clear, easy scroll interface so you don’t need to search for the tools by searching the start menu. It includes over 200 tools at the click of a button. According to Anu Passary from Tech Times “The hidden tweak, which not many know about, was available for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 and still works for Windows 10”.  That is great news but you may still be thinking “What’s the point when we still have the Control Panel”. Well, In my humble opinion, Its layout makes it much easier to find settings which is essential when you’re in a hurry.

How do I enable it?

  • Make sure that you are an Administrator
  • Go to your Desktop
  • Right-click, Go to New > New Folder
  • Call the new folder: “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”
  • Press Enter
Windows God Mode

Check this out!

Dell Optiplex 380 Restoration