How to Extend the Life of Your Laptop Battery

Laptop use has steadily increased since they were first created and today there are many more laptops sold than desktops. According to an article on – “In 2019, desktop sales totaled 88.4 million units compared to 166 million laptops. That gap is expected to grow to 79 million versus 171 million by 2023.” We all know that laptops are much more convenient than desktops due to the portability of laptops. Add to this the fact that some advertise their batteries will last more than a dozen hours before needing a charge and the number of people getting laptops is no surprise.

Even though most of us purchase laptops, many of us still use them like desktops and this can reduce the life of the battery and in some cases cause damage to the laptop. Laptops were made to be very portable, so it isn’t necessary to always be plugged in to power. In fact, if you always leave it plugged in you are definitely doing a disservice to your laptop and could be causing damage.

If you have a laptop and almost always use it at your desk, you should unplug it occasionally and allow the battery to drain. This will keep the battery from failing or losing its length of charge. I usually recommend charging it to 100 percent or close to it and then unplugging it and allowing it to completely die or at least get below ten percent before plugging it back in. When you keep it plugged-in all the time the battery will become damaged and won’t hold a full charge and sometimes won’t hold any charge.  

Occasionally I see laptops that start to have a bulge from the battery expanding due to always being plugged in. I worked on a Macbook that the entire bottom was beginning to pop off of the laptop. I removed the screws that hadn’t popped yet and when I removed the bottom the laptop swelled even more. It took me over half an hour to safely remove the battery without damaging other components. I believe this laptop was in danger of the battery exploding. See below. The silver battery is expanding and broke out of the plastic that encased it. The black plastic should be flat and even with the laptop frame.

I recently did a video about battery life and went into further explanation you can see it here or in the embed below.

National Backup My Computer Day

Yes, this is actually a thing. I guess there is a day for everything anymore. March 31st was National Backup Your Computer Day, so I decided to give some insight into what is a backup and what isn’t. Many people use OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox and think they have a backup. In one sense this will help you recover your files if your computer dies or is stolen, but it isn’t a true backup. It is a sync.

With a sync, the cloud service keeps an exact copy of your documents and each time you make a change on your device it will change in the cloud. For the most part, this is great except for a couple instances:

  1. If you have the sync turned on and you delete your computer copy, it will also delete your cloud copy. Years ago, I had a customer that used Dropbox to share documents with employees and she figured this was also a great way to back it up. One day she had to fire an employee that had access to this cloud, so she got the employee’s computer and proceeded to delete the drop box from it. This also deleted all files stored in the cloud version of her Dropbox. Luckily, she figured it out fairly quick and Dropbox was able to help her restore the files. If she had signed out of the drop box on the employee’s computer first, this would not have happened.
  2. If you get ransomware and it encrypts your file, it will also encrypt your cloud. With a true backup each time there is a change to a file it saves it in addition to the old copy of the file. This can be helpful in catastrophic ransomware issues or if you simply overwrite a file. I got a call one day because a customer could not open any files on his computer. Upon further discussion I learned that when he tried to open a file, he would get a pop up telling him how to purchase the “key” to fix this situation. It would only cost about $800 to purchase the key. He had opened a file that looked like it came from FedEx and it had encrypted his entire computer. Since he was connected to their server, I told him to immediately disconnect from the internet and also to disconnect the server from the internet. When I got to his office, I first checked the server and the virus had already infected about 20% of the files on the server. Luckily, this company had a true backup, and I was able to retrieve all of the infected files. If they were using one of the sync clouds, they would not have been able to recover their files.

When you have a true back up, the process is different. It is a one-way process, not a sync. It also keeps previous versions. It is like putting all of your files in a box and sealing it up and then putting it on a shelf. Then you make a few changes and those get put in another box and also get put on the shelf. The boxes don’t care if you delete a file or change a file the previous boxes are unaffected, but the changes will be in a new box on the shelf. Later on, if there is an issue with a file or many files you can go to a previous box and retrieve the files.

There are also a few kinds of backups. Most work like the cloud services where they charge a certain amount of money for a certain amount of backup storage. If you go over the limit you have to pay more. The one I recommend does it a little different. They charge by the computer, a fixed dollar amount regardless of how much you are backing up. I had a customer with two external drives connected to her computer. They were each 4 TB and my backup didn’t care as long as it was attached to this computer.

Watch this video I made about this:

If you want more information about this backup solution, you can call me or just use this link to get it for yourself.

Windows 11, Should You, or Shouldn’t You?

Microsoft released their newest version last fall and they have been advertising on television and you might have even seen a popup on your computer either telling you that you can upgrade, or you can’t upgrade. Here are the facts about Windows 11.

First of all, Microsoft will continue to support Windows 10 until January of 2025, so you don’t need to stress about upgrading just yet. If you are happy with your current version and you think you will replace your current computer before the support ends in about three years, you don’t have to upgrade. If you are curious and want to take the plunge it is free to upgrade, and you can reverse the upgrade for about ten days after you do it.

Before you pull the trigger, here are some things to consider:
  1. If you have any proprietary software, it is possible that it might not be compatible with Windows 11.
  2. Likewise, if you have any very old software. I have ran across many people that purchased Quicken years ago and never upgraded to a newer version. This could cause issues with Windows 11.
  3. If you run an old version of QuickBooks, this could cause it to stop working. Meaning you will have to purchase the newest version and worry about getting your company file to work in the newer version.
  4. While the user interface is similar to Windows 10, there are differences, and some features are difficult to find and require more clicks to get where you want to go.
  5. Recently There has been a noticeable lag in the file explorer. I am currently trying to work through this on my computer.

I am not trying to encourage or discourage anyone. I am just giving you something to think about. There is one added feature that I feel is great. They have improved on Snap Assist. It still works the same as it always did, but now when you hover over the maximize block on any window, it gives you choices to split your screen into six different layouts that can improve your productivity. This feature alone is enough to make the switch if you struggle with multiple windows at once. You simply click on the layout that you want, and the current window will snap into place and all other windows will be visible so you can choose which ones to add to the layout. If you use two monitors, you could have a different layout on each monitor.

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For more about snap assist, see my video on it

It is time to have that talk…

with your aging parents. The talk about how to avoid becoming a victim of scams.

*The Federal Trade Commission received more than 2.1 million fraud reports from consumers in 2020, according to newly released data, with imposter scams remaining the most common type of fraud reported to the agency. 

*Consumers reported losing more than $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020, up from $1.8 billion in 2019. Nearly $1.2 billion of losses reported last year were due to imposter scams, while online shopping accounted for about $246 million in reported losses from consumers.

*Just over a third of all consumers who filed a fraud report with the FTC—34 percent—reported losing money, up from just 23 percent in 2019.

Your parents grew up in a different time. A time before the technology that is a part of our current daily life, was even invented. They may not understand it and that alone makes them an easier target for scams. They also were taught to be courteous and not rude. Today’s scammers will not stop for courteous responses. You must hang up and not answer when they call back. Your parents need to know that even if the voice on the phone seems like an expert, they should check it out with you or a trusted advisor before giving the caller any information or access to their devices. If the caller won’t wait for that they are definitely trying to scam.

Having this conversation with mom or dad doesn’t mean they are dumb. It means they haven’t been exposed to this newer technology very much and they don’t have the level of knowledge necessary to spot these very sophisticated scammers. Make sure they are aware of this multi-billion-dollar business and that there is no shame in questioning anything they think might be fake.

Here is a list of items you can use to start your talk:


  1. Verify the “From” address is from the domain of the company that supposedly sent the email.
  2. Read the email out loud. Does it sound like other emails you have read? Is there any broken English or typos?
  3. Don’t click on any links, hover over the link to see where it really is going.
  4. Contact the company or individual through their published phone number or the number on their bill, or if it is a friend use another method of communication that you know is really them or contact a mutual friend to verify the story.
  5. If the email claims to be a receipt for a purchase for Amazon or another online retailer, don’t follow any links, or call the listed number, login to your account like you normally would, to check for activity. The same goes for your bank or credit card.
  6. Do you have an account with this company that uses this email address? I occasionally get emails in my email for businesses that I don’t have an account, my wife has the account under her email.

Phone Calls 

  1. Call them back on their advertised number. Look on your last bill from them and use that number. Even if their number shows up on caller ID as belonging to the company.
  2. Never give them a payment over the phone especially an uncommon type of payment like a gift card or Bitcoin. Real businesses and government offices do not require or even allow uncommon payment types.
  3. Don’t give out personal information such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license number, birthdate or account numbers. Since they called you, they should already have this information.
  4. No government agency will call you about some new issue. They will send you a letter.
  5. Technology companies like Microsoft, Dell, HP, Apple or any others will not call you about your device unless you have purchased a maintenance support plan with them. Even if you have a support plan, they won’t call you about something going on with your device. They are not monitoring them in that manner. The only time they will call you is to return a call that you made to them.

Remember, scams are also happening on social media, text messages and can even pop up on your computer uninvited. When it comes to scams of any kind, education and being aware will keep you from becoming a victim.  Remember, if it seems too good to be true, or if it seems really bad, check it with a known source. Never follow a link in an email without first verifying it is real. Never accept an unsolicited phone call. Call them back on their advertised phone number to verify what they are telling you.

After you have “the talk” why not subscribe to my email newsletter – Scam Busters Monthly Report? I will email a copy to you and your parent every month to help you educate them and to continue the conversation. This subscription is normally $50 per year, but I will give both of you the monthly newsletter for this same $50 per year. I have been talking to my parents for years about scams and due to this they have successfully stopped a number of potential scammers. I want the same for your family.

Every month I highlight scams and show how to determine they are scams. I use pictures to show exactly why these are not real messages. I also occasionally interview experts in the industry to get the latest info to all of my subscribers. Subscribers can also look back at the previous newsletters in my archive. In addition to the newsletter, I allow my subscribers to send me emails they are not sure about, and I will tell them if it is a scam or not.


Small Office File Sharing

When everyone in the office needs access to the same files and you are trying to avoid having multiple copies and versions of those files, things can get a little confusing.  Many companies think that you need a full-blown server or other expensive plans to accomplish this task.  In reality, there are a few options for this that are fairly simple, no cost or low cost, and won’t compromise security at the same time.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Rather than getting a server for several hundred or even thousands of dollars, you could use an existing computer to hold your files and map a drive to all users.
  • Use a “cloud service”
  • Network attached storage (ethernet or USB)

These ideas are very low cost, but the sharing is not concurrent.  This means that if I save my changes to a document and you have the same document open, you won’t see my changes and when you save your copy, my changes will be lost.  For most people, this isn’t a huge deal and with a little communication, you can keep this from being a problem.

If you have employees that are usually out of the office, you can set up a VPN (virtual private network) so they can access the files from anywhere if they have an internet connection for their computer.

While these solutions can help you share files more effectively, you still need to have a backup plan that protects you from hard drive failure and natural disaster or theft.

I know this article has been short, I only wanted to show that there are other options for file sharing rather than the traditional expensive server.  I would be happy to discuss your individual needs and make a recommendation for your company.

What is Defragging and do I need to do it?

When I am performing a tune-up on someone’s computer, they almost always ask me if I am going to defrag their computer.  This is a term many people have heard of but most don’t know what it is or why it should or shouldn’t be done.

The process of defrag is to fix all of the fragmented files on a spinning hard drive.  Each time you write to (save a file to) a hard drive, it places it in the same spot where it was saved before.  If the area is not big enough for the entire file, the rest of the file will be saved in the next available spot.  Over time, all of your files will be in pieces scattered across your hard drive.  This increases the time it takes to access these files. 

Fragmentation is usually not noticeable unless your hard drive is more than 75 percent full.  Regardless of how full your drive is, Windows is already regularly defragging your drive on a regular schedule unless defrag has been disabled or if your computer is not turned on when the defrag is scheduled.

I mentioned only spinning hard drives above, because solid state drives really don’t require defragging because they access your files in a different way and the fragments don’t affect the speed.  Solid state drives can only be written so many times before they fail, so unnecessary defragging could shorten the life of solid state drives.

Although this has been an overly simplified explanation, I hope this has given you a better understanding of defragging.  If you have other questions about this, or need help determining if defrag is indeed scheduled on your computer, I can help with that.

What to do when Microsoft calls…

This has come up a couple of times lately with my customers.  They receive a phone call from someone who claims to be from Microsoft.  This person tells them that there is a problem with their Windows installation on their computer and they need to log in and fix it.

This is what is known as a phishing scam.  Most of the time the person that is called hangs up on the caller; but every so often, they find someone who will listen and follow their instructions.  They will then gain control of this person’s computer and wreak havoc on the machine.  I have heard stories of people paying these scammers hundreds of dollars to “fix” their computer.

These scammers are very convincing, and they will not take no for an answer.  They will continue to demand that you let them fix your computer.  The only way to shut them up is to hang up the phone; even then they will probably call back in the future.  I was at a customer’s house when they received one of these calls, so I got on the phone with the scammer.  I told him that I was the Tech for these people, and I knew he was a scam.  I also told him that Microsoft does not make these types of calls and there was nothing wrong with this computer.  He still would not break from his script to attempt to gain control.  I finally hung up on him.

Here are the facts about Microsoft.  They do not know your phone number.  They cannot monitor the Windows installation of every computer.  They will not call you unless you have called them, and you are in the middle of working with them on a solution to a problem you know you have. 

This also goes for Dell, HP, Toshiba, and any other computer manufacturer.  My dad did find a way to stop them recently when they called him.  He told them they were mistaken because he doesn’t have a computer.  They did not have an argument for that one.

Remember, if you receive a call from any company that you did not call first and they try to get information or access, hang up the phone and call that company at a number that is published for that company.  If you have allowed a company access to your computer and they damaged it or you think they may have added some type of spyware on it, call me.  I have recovered systems that have been damaged by these scammers and I can help you too.

So, How Many Extensions Does Your Browser Need?

This blog post is a remake of one I did years ago titled “So, How Many Tool Bars Do You Need?” Since Internet Explorer is dead and gone, there is a new threat to browsing, toolbars are no more, but extensions have replaced them.

When I have a customer tell me that their internet is running slow, the first thing I do is check to see how many extensions their browsers have. I have seen some with more than 10 extensions. The biggest problem with these extensions is that they use up your memory and can act as browser hackers and can cause damage to your system or even track your keystrokes or gather your sensitive information. Some of these will redirect you to their websites and create pop-ups and pop-unders.

These are usually downloaded when you try to download something else and you don’t find the real site for your download. Examples that I see a lot are package tracking and maps. When you go to track a package, make sure you are on the carrier’s site and not some generic tracker. Also, with maps make sure you are on Google maps, Mapquest or a real map site.

Some extensions are extremely helpful and make your internet experience better. I use the Webroot extension which helps when searching by telling me if a site in the search is potentially dangerous. I also use WikiBuy which saves me money on internet purchases by finding the best deal. Many people use Grammarly to ensure proper grammar in their gmail.

How do you know if you have extensions? They are visible on the top right side of your browser, see example below.

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The extensions are the green checkmark over to the W. I have only three on my browser.

How do I get rid of the extensions that I don’t want? I created a how-to video to show you how to remove these, it was easier than a long description and many pictures. Here is the link. Remove Extensions

Computer Updates How important are they really?

We have all seen the annoying pop ups that tell us that Windows, Java, Adobe, iTunes, or some other important program needs to install an update.  They always seem to happen at the worst time. 

But are they really necessary?  That depends on which updates you are talking about from which applications.  Some are very important to the workings or security of your computer while others will only affect the quality or some other aspect of your computing experience.  Let’s look at the major updates that you will be prompted to install.

Windows updates: When you get the notice from Windows, they usually list the number of updates and then they break it down into critical and other.  Of course, you want to install the critical updates but look at the others; they might be for items that you don’t use or need.  If that is the case, there is no reason to download those updates.  It won’t hurt your computer to install them but why waste the time and storage space if they are not necessary or even used?  Failure to install the critical updates can sometimes leave your computer vulnerable to attacks that have been discovered; besides, they usually correct some glitch that has been a problem. Windows also has VERSION UPDATES, These come out twice a year and are a major update that can change the look and feel of Windows, and might have new features. I tell people to wait a few months before installing these. They often have glitches that can cause damage to your system. It is best to wait until these glitches have been fixed.

Java updates: According to a message displayed on their downloads, Java runs the things that run your life.  It is used in almost every type of electronic gadget.  Unless you have a situation like a friend of mine who can’t update her Java because her work requires her to connect to a server that has an older version and they won’t update it, you should install the Java updates.  If you don’t install these updates, eventually you will begin to have internet problems and possibly not be able to use the internet at all.  These updates don’t usually take very long, and you can continue to work while they install in the background.  One thing to be careful of with Java and a few other updates is adding on extras.  I have seen Java updates that want you to install the toolbar or Mcafee virus protection.  You don’t need more toolbars (they just slow you down) and it isn’t good to have more than one Anti-virus running, this can also slow you down.  Read the install page carefully and uncheck the boxes if you don’t want their extras. Java is slowly fazing out, so if you have a new machine, you might not have Java installed and will not have to worry about these.

Adobe updates: There are two major kinds of updates by Adobe, Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader.  Adobe Flash updates will help you view videos and other animations online.  These are usually important and sometimes you won’t be able to access a site unless you update flash.  Adobe Reader is used for viewing PDF files online and offline.  It doesn’t update very often but it is usually necessary to accept these updates also.

Apple:  There are two kinds of Apple updates, QuickTime and iTunes.  QuickTime deals with video and other animations so these are important to update.  iTunes updates usually take a long time and are very large.  I usually wait until iTunes forces me to update.  A better idea would be to update at the end of the day or if you know you will be away from your computer for awhile.

Other updates: Most printer companies and a lot of other software companies ask you to sign up for updates when you install their programs.  For all of these it comes down to how much you use the program and how sophisticated the software is.  If you do sign up for the updates you can still cancel them when they prompt you to update.  If the updates can run in the background or they don’t take too long it would probably be a good idea to install them.

Has Your Computer Been Infected With Adware?

I get this question a lot. Here is what I tell people.

What to look for if you think your computer has been infected with adware:

All of a sudden, your computer is running very slow and your web browser (Edge, Google Chrome or Firefox) won’t load or takes a very long time.  Once your browser does load the familiar home page has been replaced by a different page and the search bar doesn’t say Google or Bing but some new search company.  There are also annoying pop-ups all over your pages.

Yes, your computer has been infected, but where did it come from?  Most likely you went to an unfamiliar website and it told you that you need something installed to run the video or some other element of their page.  If this happens, be very careful what you click on.  They sometimes use icons that look similar to the big names like Adobe.  If they want you to install “flash player” it might be their product not Adobe’s.  Don’t follow their link, instead close the page and go to and download the real thing.  After you install it, go back to the same website, if it still tells you that you need their “flash player”, find another website to view whatever it is that you want to view.

This is one way these deceptive advertisers gain entry into your computer.  The purpose is to force you to use their search engine which gives them higher rankings and they can charge more for advertising.  They also open the door to others that want to give you more pop-ups and other unnecessary programs.  They also might include programs that keep track of your keystrokes in hopes of stealing your SSI# or banking information.

How to protect yourself:

Pay attention to your homepage (the page that loads every time you open your web browser).  If it changes without your knowledge, your system has been compromised.

If you try to go to a specific website and you are redirected somewhere else, your system might be compromised.

If you notice advertising where you didn’t see any before, your system might be compromised.

If you notice any of these things happening to your computer, you need to act quickly to prevent more damage.  The programs that have been installed need to be removed, but they hide in other places also.  The best thing to do is call me and I will remove all traces of these damaging programs.