SFcrowsnest

Pure Windows 10: another look by: GF Willmetts.

Early this month, I had a modem failure in my laptop. I get a lot of electrical interference in my area, only this one finally nobbled both its modem and a range extender, which I suspect as probably too close to computer and it got blitzed as well which I discovered much later. One cannot live by Ethernet cable alone, especially as it snakes across the living room.

One good thing about the Dell laptop I was using was it having a neatly available access hatch to be able to look inside at the crucial things like RAM, hard drive and modem. The latter was no bigger than the end of my thumb. I shouldn’t have been that surprised as the modems in mobile phones are probably just as if not smaller. At least I could identify the replacement part. One little problem, even after two years, this modem wasn’t available and later ones varied in price from around £20-£80, with a warning to get updated drivers, which meant they wouldn’t run on any generic drivers W10 might have. Presumably, that meant an Ethernet connection to grab them or you’d be caught in a Catch 22 situation of having a gadget but being able to get at the software to make it work and wasting money when something was needed now. Even so, it could still work out more expensive than a pure computer replacement, more so as the laptop had been limping along with the electrical interference for some time. Repair later, replacement laptop first. Hence, the nature of this article. I would be into new Windows 10 territory which isn’t quite the same territory as upgrading from Windows 8 which it shared software with. As there was some new things I learnt along the way, I thought it deserved an article of its own in case any of you needed some pointers.

All laptops will die eventually, although this time was unique for me because I could still use it to get files off it without using a hard drive caddy and could copy the partitions onto an auxiliary hard drive which is worth its weight in solid state and check the conformations I was using. It’s amazing how we take so many of them for granted without giving those a second thought.

A lot of this information will be the same regardless of which manufacturer you buy your laptop from. All that’s installed is a basic Windows 10 that will insist that it does an immediate update over the Internet. As this takes some three and a half hours, it’s the sort of thing you need to do straight out of the box and let it get on with it. I did wonder for those of you buying a present for your sprogs that it might pay to do that and some of the other things below before handing to them as a present and cut down the waiting time to use it except that it needs their existing password and then you’ll find an interesting bonus but more of that in a while.

NOTEBOOK AND W10 UPDATE

I hope by now, you all keep a notebook and note specs and such and what you are doing when installing. I referred to my previous notebook a lot through doing all of below. It makes things easier when identifying routers and accounts, etc. There also needs some thought as to just what do you do first. A lot of it is pre-determined order. The manufacturer software will certainly flash up and ask to be registered so it can download updated drivers. You are guided by what the computer needs first and you certainly need to have it connected to the router from the start. You do have to wonder why the set-up W10 isn’t more up-to-date and require less updates. It isn’t as though you can use W10 right away, although I suspect you can if your router is turned off, but it will insist on installing the updates before you do very much.

PROGRAM CHOICES

As you’re essentially not exploring the Net, you shouldn’t be hit by viruses at this time and as you’re not visiting any other websites, W10’s Defender will be adequate for Microsoft’s download. One thing I did need was a move away from The Edge to Internet Explorer. As with a lot things here, even if you’ve done it before, there are always a gap since you’ve done it before and even the best of minds can go blank. More so as the basic menu button can be a pain although the Menu search option can find the basics you need.

Settings           System            Default Apps              Web Browser

Pick your preference.

While I was there I switched the music from Groove to Windows Media Player. Whatever takes your fancy for the familiar you’re used to and saves going back to do it later. You do have to wonder why some of the program options aren’t opened up on in the initial stages to pick from. If Microsoft wants you to choose a particular option, why not show the comparisons on screen? It isn’t as though you haven’t got three and a half hours to twiddle your thumbs in.

I also adjusted the Power On to Sleep from a short 10 minutes to a more reasonable 20 minutes.

PARTITIONING

Before you add any files or programs, there is a need for hard drive partitioning and its lot easier and faster if you defragment when there’s less than more there. Even so, that took 30 minutes with 4 consolations. Although I can appreciate not everyone is familiar with partitioning, keeping W10 away from other programs and datafiles should be something that deserves to be on automatic option and not left to the individual. Smaller partitions take less time to defrag and makes it easier to manage where you’ve put everything. It’s a logical state of tidiness than chaos if you have a lot of programs.

The last time, I didn’t have any choice in how much space I could allocate for the C:/ drive, where Windows 10 resides, this time, a bit more freedom. Even so, don’t ever be mean with the space. Updates, space for programs and space for proper defragmenting and so forth should never be underestimated. Even so, I dropped it down to 40%, which is 264.98gB. With hard drives now mostly at 1tB, there’s plenty of room left. If you’re using a notebook computer with a smaller capacity hard drive, like 500gB, that number is still valid albeit with less partitions.

If anything ever happens to W10, then your programs and especially your files that aren’t in the C:\ drive are better protected should W10 have to be rebuilt. Make sure you direct any software you install to which partition you like to store it in. You’ll still have to install if W10 needs a serious reinstall but you should preserve your settings. I’ve yet to hear of W10 getting corrupted but always better to be safe than sorry.

To get to the partition aspect, it’s a lot easier to type ‘Disk Management’ into the menu then looking in the Control Panel for it.

Breaking the other 735gB into suitable sizes looks problematic when you see the 5 figure sizes on the screen. I tend to divide into various partitions like writing, art, games and so forth, which decides the size of each partition. It gives you something to think about as W10 gets that long update. Don’t expect the numbers to be perfect because a little space in each partition needs system files. W10 has already allocated four smaller partitions for its own use. Smaller-sized partitions does speed up things when W10 or your anti-virus software decides to defragment, although thankfully it’s done more in the background or when you’re not using your computer.

There’s still a question of those big numbers. There’s a quick way to do it. Only use the three or four numbers from the left side and on piece of paper and use a calculator – W10 does have one – check how divisible the sizes of your partitions will look compared to what you used on your old computer and have you allocated enough or too much space. Do an even spread for each partition and vary to which needs the most space. Generally, 160gb per partition is a lot of space. If you need smaller partitions, just split that number into two. Don’t forget, you’re dealing with 5 figure numbers, so you can add the calculator figures for the fourth and fifth numbers or just put double zero.

If you’re following my lead:-

C:\ drive:                26498                      264.98gB

Other partitions:               16822                       168.22gB

:   7875                        78.75gB

:   8003                       80.03gB

:   4000                        40.00gB

Don’t expect to get precise numbers. You also have to wonder why W10 doesn’t do the sizes in mB decimals and not gB these days, don’t you?

Once you’ve reduced for C:\ drive, you just subtract the numbers for each partition, format to NTFS, allocate the appropriate letter for each partition, don’t touch D because it stands for the DVD drive. If you make a mistake, you can always increase the size and try again. Don’t expect me to be perfect in this. I frequently get the numbers for each partition the wrong way around, hence it’s important to write them down or subject on the calculator to get right. Obviously, name each partition for its use now or later as you please.

In case you don’t remember, for the Control Panel, switch to small icons so you can see them all like in the old Windows. I often wonder why this isn’t the default setting. More so, as under Settings, you only have the W10 version.

ANTI-VIRUS

Now is the time to go back to the Net and download your anti-virus software, assuming you don’t use the free one provided by your manufacturer. Even so, you still have to register it. Something I have adopted is to do a full scan at this point. If you’re transferring files and such in then you need reassuring you have a clear environment, even if it takes another three and a half hours to do so. Imagine how long it would take with all your files, previously scanned, to do.

DOWNLOAD SURPRISE

All this time, I had most of the back screen covered and then noticed I had one of my wallpapers in the background. As a virus scan doesn’t mean I can’t look around at W10 at the same time, I also had a look at Internet Explorer and found 90% of my Favourites list were there as well. Presumably, when the flash scan had taken place, it had made a copy of those as well. Part of me wondered how it could be done without permission, the other was it meant I could use the Net immediately and go to my favourite sites without having to transfer them in and an ideal opportunity to test out the sound and video through something like YouTube and see if everything works.

INTERNET EXPLORER MENU BARS AND SURPRISES

You might also want to adjust the Internet Explorer’s menu bars to those of your choice, remembering you can unlock them so you can compact them to get the best space and then lock them in place. For those who don’t know: View    Toolbars

You should be able to put the likes of the Google menu bar on the same line as the Menu Bar and lock into place and leave more screen space.

Unlike previous times when the laptops failed, this time, as I said earlier, I had transferred the old one’s partitions onto an auxiliary hard drive just in case it failed. From the old C:\ drive, you would also have copied your Internet Explorer Favourites which you would have found in User\YOUR NAME and anything else you need to carry over. It only added 50 more which does tend to suggest the flash copy was made a while back.

USEFUL SOFTWARE

If you want the following websites for various things I installed and mentioned the last time I wrote about Windows 10:-

A menu that looks like Windows 7 or earlier: http://www.classicshell.net/

Windows 7 games: http://winaero.com/download.php?view.1836

For a variety of wallpaper selection, I find John’s Background Changer: https://johnsad.ventures/software/backgroundswitcher/ a good choice if you’ve built up a selection of pictures.

In the TV tradition, apart from the W7 games, other choices are available on the Net. With any, make sure you turn off MS Chrome if you don’t want it.

If you want to speed up downloads, then you need the ‘Download Accelerator Plus’ or DAP by its abbreviation. You can find this at http://www.speedbit.com/dap/ and if you don’t want MS Chrome as your Net choice, be sure to tick it off here as well. There are some websites whose files won’t download through DAP and will give an empty file. To turn off DAP, press the ‘Alt’ key first, then download and you’ll go back to the standard Windows download for that instance.

WHERE’S WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER?

One thing I couldn’t find was Windows Media Player. You were left only with the option of a Photos app which frankly, shrinks the pictures. Follow the instructions on https://www.howtogeek.com/225844/how-to-make-windows-photo-viewer-your-default-image-viewer-on-windows-10/

and you’ll have it available without a reboot. It’s great to know that it will automatically play when you put a CD into the player now.

NO PLAY WITHOUT STEAM

If you do use Steam for computer games, when I installed it insisted on a download. All right. That seems reasonable until I saw the time it was taking. It was downloading 250gB with no chance at getting at DAP. Fortunately, it was late when I started. If you thought W10 updates and a total virus scan was long, this took much longer and you might as well have a decent sleep. Fortunately, W10 went into hibernation after the download so no need to get up at 3am in the morning to check. If you wondered why Steam updates all the time, it also keeps a copy of your games. What puzzled me was why didn’t they let the CD give the main games and then a smaller update. Forewarned is forearmed and at least you don’t have to start the game from scratch.

Anything else, is down to you installing your own programs and connecting them back to your files and I doubt if you’d need any information on that.

REPAIR DISK AND BACK-UP

When you’re happy that everything works, don’t forget to make your repair disk and W10 back-up. With the latter, it takes 70gb and a lot quicker to do it to that auxiliary hard drive than a stack of DVDs. I was surprised that W10 itself doesn’t insist people should do something about this, even just for the repair disk.

It’s been a couple weeks since I wrote the above. I haven’t seen anything else that is radically different other than the Windows Media Player will now play automatically as soon as you put a CD in.

NORTON PROBLEMS

An odd post-note. If you install Norton Securities onto your new computer and then find every time you want to open up the Vault but get the message ‘need to restart system’ which most of the time means a restart to get it functioning. I let a Norton technician loose on the problem and although his remedy looked like it worked, I did comment that the real test was on a cold reboot and the problem reared its head again the next day.

Instead, try this. Go on-line and look for a file called ‘AutoDetectPkg.exe’. The Google comments of is being faulty are from 2011 and it has been corrected since then. It has a size of 1.28mB as well and if you use DAP, the info and date should show which version you get. Once ran, it will ask you to sign into Norton for a further download for the ‘Norton Downloader’ and once ran will reinstall Norton Securities. Today everything is back to normal and has been since. The chat-sites about this say reinstalling Norton is the way to go but this comes a little unstuck when you can’t find the page on the Norton site so this gets around that.

MS OFFICE CONFIGURATION MODE

If you find MS Office 2007 going into configuration mode every time you call up any of its software, rather than mess with the Registry, go to C:\Program Files(x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Office12\Offline Setup Controller and rename ‘setup.exe’ to something like ‘was setup.exe’ just in case you ever have to use it again. You don’t even have to reboot. It probably applies to the other versions of MS Office out there.

ELECTRICAL INTERFERENCE CRASHING YOUR COMPUTER?

For those of you who are experiencing electrical interference with your computers that result in screen freeze and crashing and still looking for a remedy, I’ve been trying this with the new laptop and its modified version of what I did with my old laptop. I’m not saying it will work throughout the world and will still depend on the equipment you buy.

In many respects, it’s like sketching an elephant on a steamy window to keep elephants away. Just because no elephants don’t turn up, doesn’t mean it isn’t working, well unless you’re in Africa or India. I will say that since I’ve done the following, I haven’t had a crash on the new laptop and, yes, it did happen once before I put these things back working.

Before putting a Realtek Wireless Aerial into the hub and installed its software, the laptop detected 8 routers in the area. After, only 4. As the aerial on this can be adjusted, get it standing up as high on the hub or on your laptop then at its bend.

This time, I got a Victony 300mBps Wireless Repeater but rather than plug it in near the laptop, near where the telephone line comes into the house. The higher you can get it there the better. Once you follow the instructions, go back to the Realtek software and get it to recognise its presence as well. The Internet will still slow down at peak times or need to be clicked off and on but the computer seems a lot safer. I’m seeing that I can do about that next but it might save your computer if it does happen to you.

SOMETHING I HAVEN’T SOLVED

The only thing I haven’t found a solution to is dual monitors. Not that many of us use it but would be nice to hook in the TV if you want to show other people something off your computer without them looking over your shoulder. Whenever I find something related to that, it shows how it works with W7 or W8 but it still won’t work with W10. If anyone has found a way to do this, I’d love to know.

Obviously, much of the above will be known to the computer geeks amongst you and if you have any other remedies, let me know. For those who are having to adjust to a new computer, hope some of the information above is of use to you.

GF Willmetts

April 2017

Post-Note: I had a massive update on 04 May 2017. The Classic Menu reconfigured itself but the W7 games vanished. To restore them, just run its download file again and it’ll be back and no change to your scores.