Will Windows 10 Install Automatically?

I have successfully reserved my copy of Windows 10 using the ‘get windows 10′ app on my desktop. I am having second thoughts about whether or not Windows 10 will install properly, so I’m not sure if I should cancel it. I might just wait for the Windows 10 ISO, so I can do a clean install. Question: if I go ahead and let Windows 10 install through Windows Update (which is due July 29), how will it be installed? Will Windows 10 be installed automatically? If the install fails will I be able to get my files back? ”

My response:

Based on previous Windows upgrades (from within the desktop of a pre-existing Windows environment), Windows 10 will not install automatically without prior notice and interaction on your behalf. For example, a PC running Windows 7 via the desktop that is upgrading to Windows 8 goes through a series of stages (questions), which eventually leads up to an End User License Agreement (EULA) before giving Windows 8 the “go ahead” to perform the actual install. I suspect the Windows 10 upgrade will be much the same.

Should You Worry about Windows 10?

As for having second thoughts about installing Windows 10 (whether it’s through Windows Update or a clean install) – you won’t need to worry about any of that providing you make a disk image backup of your system and all your files before the July 29 deadline. As long as you have disk image backups and you test the backup procedure, then you should be good to go and there should be no need to worry. There’s really nothing else to say and do beyond that.

For disk image backups, I recommend Acronis True Image. I’ve been using it on all my PCs for 10 years now and it’s saved my bacon many, many times, which is also why I keep mentioning it repeatedly in the newsletter. It’s really that good, and I’m sure many users reading this will attest to its effectiveness. You can purchase it through our website (1 PC license, or a 3 PC license, which is the best deal). If you don’t know how to set up the backup, I would be more than happy to help you with it – just send me an email.

What if Windows 10 Install Fails and You Don’t Have a Backup?

If you don’t have a backup and Windows 10 fails to install, then getting your files back will likely be a painful experience. You can hire someone to do it for you (like myself), or you can attempt to do it yourself. I don’t recommend the latter, but the steps (roughly) would be as follows:

  1. Take the hard drive out of your PC and attach it to another system.
  2. Boot the secondary PC and attempt to locate all the user files from the failed Windows install.
  3. Note the many locations of all user files on the hard drive, and copy those files onto another hard drive.
  4. Next, launch an Administrative command prompt. Take ownership of the files you copied onto the secondary hard drive using the “takeown” command, followed by resetting the access control list permissions using the “icacls” command. You will most likely need to do this recursively as there will be folders inside of other folders and you don’t want to do this on a folder by folder basis or it will take weeks to complete. Needless to say, this is all very surgical, and special care must be taken to not take ownership of the wrong files or you could do some serious, irreversible damage. If you don’t reset the permissions, you won’t be able to to modify any of the files you copied over.
  5. After the files have been copied and permissions reset, you will most likely want to format the drive so you can reinstall Windows.
  6. Shut down the secondary system and take the formatted drive out, then put it back into your system.
  7. Reinstall Windows and all your programs.
  8. Replace all your user files from steps 1-4 back onto the system.
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How to Fix: ‘Failure configuring Windows Updates; Reverting changes’ Error

I had to reinstall Windows 8 on my machine, and I wanted to download the Windows 8.1 update afterward. But when I try, that I’m told I must have all the current Windows 8 updates installed. So, I looked at the updates for Windows 8 and there are over 150 of them. I requested that they all be downloaded and installed, and they did. However, when the installation and configuration starts, I get the message that there was a ‘Failure Configuring Windows Updates; Reverting changes‘, and then Windows Update fails. Now I’m right back where I started from. Can you tell me how to work around this as I am not able to update to Windows 8.1? ”

My response:

Unfortunately this a very problematic issue, and it requires some troubleshooting. Microsoft outlines steps to resolve a corrupt Windows Update; however, based on my experience there is a lot of information missing on this page, plus there are too many external pages that link to other pages which only serve to confuse the reader. As such, I’ve compiled a straightforward list (below) using tried and tested methods to help you to resolve the ‘Failure Configuring Windows Updates; Reverting changes’ error.

Note: please try these steps in order, as they are meant to be exhausted from start to finish:

  1. Scan the Hard Drive for Errors
  2. Unplug any removable media and reboot; try Windows Update again
  3. Run the System File Checker tool (SFC.exe)
  4. Attempt Windows Update from a Clean Boot
  5. Download and Run the Windows Update Troubleshooter
  6. Clear the Windows Update Cache
  7. Use the Deployment Imaging and Servicing Management (DISM) tool
  8. Perform a System Restore then Reapply Updates
  9. Perform a Windows Refresh or Restore

1. Scan the Hard Drive for Errors

If your file system is corrupt, this will cause Windows Updates to fail. That said, if you have surface errors on the hard drive this will cause files to become corrupt, Windows Update to fail, and may not be recoverable. To scan the file system for errors:

a. Click Start, then type in “this pc” (no quotes) and click on This PC when it shows up in the start menu.

b. Navigate to C drive and right click it, then select Properties.

c. Go to the Tools menu (tab) and under Error Checking, click Check Now.

d. Ensure Automatically Fix File System Errors in check marked, and click OK.

You will be prompted to reboot your computer. But before you do that, unplug any removable media and reboot as noted in suggestion #2.

2. Unplug any removable media and reboot; try Windows Update again

As noted on Microsoft’s website, having removable media such as an external hard drive or USB flash drive plugged in can cause Windows Updates to fail. Unplug any of these devices on your computer, reboot, and try the Windows Updates again.

3. Try the System File Checker (SFC)

Sometimes Windows components can become corrupt which then causes the Windows Services to become corrupt, including the Windows Update Service. You can attempt to fix that by running the Windows System File Checker. Here are the steps:

a. Click Start, and then type in “cmd” (no quotes) but DO NOT press Enter on the keyboard; when CMD (the command prompt) shows up in the Start Menu, right click it and select “Run as Administrator” from the context menu.

b. A black window (the command prompt) will appear. Type in “sfc /scannow” (no quotes) and press Enter on the keyboard. This will begin the scan and will take about 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

c. After the scan try running the Windows Update again

4. Attempt Windows Update from a Clean Boot

Sometimes installed programs can interfere with the Windows Update process. To ensure that no programs are interfering with the Windows Update process, you can initiate a “Clean Boot” by following these steps:

a. Click Start and type in “msconfig” (no quotes) and press Enter.

b. Go to the Service Tab and checkmark “Hide all Microsoft Services”.

c. Next, click on Disable All, then click Apply.

d. Click the Startup Tab and then “Open Task Manager” link (if present)

e. Select all items in the Startup tab list, then click Disable.

f. Click OK and have Windows reboot your computer

Note: once you have Windows Update working properly you can reverse these changes (if desired) by following the instructions in reverse.

5. Download and Run the Windows Update Troubleshooter

Oftentimes the Windows Update service can become corrupt. Download and run the Windows Update Troubleshooter to try and have this Microsoft “Fixit” fix the Windows Update Service. It’s worth noting that the previous steps I’ve outlined above should be tried first before running the Windows Update Troubleshooter because ignoring those steps may cause the Troubleshooter to fail. Additional information on troubleshooting Windows Updates for Windows 8 is here.

6. Clear the Windows Update Cache

Clearing the Windows Update Cache usually does the trick for a wide range of Windows Update related problems. To clear the cache, navigate to the C:\Windows\WinSxS\ folder, then look for the file called “pending.xml”. Left click it, then right click over top of the filename and rename it to “pending_old.xml” or similar; renaming the file will effectively ‘reset’ the Windows Update process. Once the file has been renamed, re-run the Windows Update again.

7. Use the Deployment Imaging and Servicing Management (DISM) tool

As mentioned in Step #3, sometimes Windows components can become corrupt. The DISM tool can find corrupted Windows files and then download corrected ones from Microsoft’s servers online. To run the tool, follow these steps:

a. Click Start, and then type in “cmd” (no quotes) but DO NOT press Enter on the keyboard; when CMD (the command prompt) shows up in the Start Menu, right click it and select “Run as Administrator” from the context menu.

b. A black window (the command prompt) will appear. Type in “DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Scanhealth” (no quotes) and press Enter on the keyboard. This will begin the scan and will take about 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

c. After the scan try running the Windows Update again

8. Perform a System Restore then Reapply Updates

Performing a System Restore will revert your computer to a last known good configuration. You won’t lose any personal files or data but you will lose any customizable changes to Windows since the last restore point. To access the System Restore feature, do the following:

a. Click Start, and then type in “restore point” (no quotes) and DO NOT press enter. Look for the Settings icon to appear and click that.

b. Click on the option labeled Create a restore point; you will then be taken to the System Protection tab of the System Properties control panel.

c. Click on the System Restore button; then click on the Next button. You will then be shown a list of available restore points that you can restore.

d. After the system is restored the computer will reboot, then try the Windows Update again.

9. Perform a Windows Refresh or Restore

Refreshing Windows will reinstall Windows, but your personal files and settings will not be affected. If your computer is super messed up, this is one of the last resorts to resolve the issue. To perform a refresh, proceed with the following steps:

a. Click the Start Menu and type in “PC Settings” (no quotes); when the PC Settings Icon appears, click it.

b. Click the Update and Recovery link, then click Recovery.

c. Under the option ‘Refresh your PC without affecting your files’, click Get started.

d. Attempt to download and install all the Windows Update again.

Optionally, you can reset Windows. Resetting Windows will effectively nuke the hard drive and reinstall Windows factory fresh, but you will lose all data on the drive in the process. You can achieve this using the same steps as Refresh (described above), but choose “Remove everything and reinstall Windows” (Reset) instead.

Good luck!

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How to fix the four most annoying quirks of Yosemite


OS X 10.10 Yosemite is out, and, while there aren’t many surprises in the interface—which Apple has been showing off since June—users are getting their first tastes of the new look and new features. And many of them are finding that there are some annoyances the way Yosemite displays (or doesn’t display) certain things. Here are my top four Yosemite annoyances and how you can fix them.
Banish translucency

I don’t get the whole thing about translucency. It certainly looks cool, and the technology required to render both a translucent menu and what’s behind it is probably quite complex. But what’s the point of translucency? Is it simply, to paraphrase Steve Jobs, when he presented the rotating cube that displayed with Fast User Switching back in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, “Because we can?”

translucent fluff

I don’t see the point of a blurry interface…

To me, translucent menus just look blurry. And with thinner fonts, it makes it even harder to see what they say. It’s bad enough to have blurry menus, but this extends to some windows. You can see it in the Spotlight window, the Safari window in certain situations (such as when you display Favorites), and in the menu bar. Apple says that “Translucency adds more dimension to your desktop,” but I don’t really need more dimension; I need to see things more clearly. Translucent sidebars in the Finder or iTunes don’t make using OS X any easier.

Fortunately, it’s easy to turn this off. Open System Preferences, then click Accessibility. Click Display, then check Reduce Transparency.


You can get rid of translucency in the Accessibility preferences.

There are two interesting things here. First, that Apple hides this in the Accessibility preferences, rather than in, say, the General preferences, which is where the option to use the dark menu bar and Dock. Second, that Apple isn’t clear on the word it’s using. It’s translucency, not transparency; the Apple web site gets it right, but the Accessibility preferences have it wrong.

End rant.
The case of the missing iTunes sidebar

Since the earliest days of iTunes, the sidebar—the list at the left, which showed your different media libraries, your playlists, and your connected devices—was a familiar and practical tool. But now, in iTunes 12, it’s gone. It had already been granted second-class status in iTunes 11, but iTunes 12 nuked it.

Well, not exactly… You still can display a sidebar, though it won’t show everything the previous versions did. When viewing any of your media libraries, click on Playlists in the navigation bar near the top-center of the window. This displays a sidebar with the name of your currently selected library at the top and your playlists below. This playlists sidebar displays in any media library, and if you click the name of the library—such as Music—you can choose to view your content along with the sidebar.

itunes sidebar

iTunes lets you display playlists in a sidebar while viewing any media library.

While it’s not exactly the same as before, it’s better than nothing.
What’s the address?

In Safari, by default, you no longer see the full address of a web page that you’re visiting. For most people, this isn’t a big deal, but I sometimes want to know the exact address of a web page. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this.

In Safari, go the the Preferences window (choose Safari > Preferences), then click Advanced. At the top of this preference pane, in the Smart Search Field section, check Show full website address. You’ll now be able to see the full address of a page.

It’s worth noting that if this option is turned off, you can still see the full address by clicking in the address field; this highlights the URL and display it in full.
Too much information

Spotlight is a great tool for searching for things on your Mac, and it’s now been extended to search the web and Wikipedia, perform conversions and much more. But there’s a lot of information displayed by default when you invoke Spotlight—perhaps too much.

You can whittle this down by choosing System Preferences > Spotlight, then unchecking some of the categories on the Search Results tab.


Adjust what Spotlight shows when you search.

Another way to make Spotlight searches more useful is to reorder the different results. If you want, say, your contacts to be at the top of the list, just click on Contacts in the preference pane then drag it up the list. You’ll see a small line display as you move items up and down. Customize Spotlight so it works the way you want it; you may want to leave all the categories checked, but just move down to the bottom the ones you don’t use often.

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Easy ways to digitize your old photos

Name three places where I could find your old photos right now. I bet at least one of your answers is photo albums, frames or shoeboxes. Years take a toll on our precious photos.

It’s time to get them into your computer. I know, it’s a huge job that sounds as daunting as climbing Machu Picchu. Having done both, at least you won’t get altitude sickness working with photos.

• Digitize the photos

The first step is getting your photos into a computer. Purchase a scanner, either an all-purpose flatbed model (starting at $100) or one made specifically for scanning photos.

You can also take photos of photos using your camera, smartphone or tablet. But if you are going to do that, download the Heirloom app that was created for scanning photos.

Heirloom automatically adjusts lighting, tweaks perspectives and crops edges so you don’t have to do so much work. Plus, you can keep your pictures in albums and frames as you scan, so you don’t have to spend time getting them out and potentially damaging them.

If you have tons of photos, consider sending them to a photo-scanning service like FotoBridge, PhotoBin, or ScanCafe. The average price is typically $75 for 250 photos.

• Let’s organize

Once you have your photos converted to image files in your computer, you need some way to organize them. You don’t want to be wading through files to find that one hilarious picture from when you were 11.

If you own a Mac, the built-in iPhoto has you covered. For PC, use the free Google Picasa.

These programs will do their best to auto-sort photos by date, but on scanned photos they’re not going to have accurate date information. So, you will need to manually enter date, location and event information for each photo.

iPhoto, Picasa and other photo organizers usually have facial recognition too, which should help sort the photos based on who is in them. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a nice shortcut.

Be sure to set good picture titles. “Aunt June, 1959, Chicago” will be a lot easier to find later than “IMG00602.JPG.”

Tagging your photos is another good practice. Tags are descriptive keywords that describe what’s going on in the picture.

Keywords for the Aunt June picture might include “Graduation” or “Grandma Virginia’s house.” That can help narrow your search when you’re thumbing through 125 pictures of Aunt June.

One thing many people have trouble working with organized albums is that the albums only appear in the program. So if you uninstall Picasa, for example, your organization goes away. Your pictures will only have whatever file names and folder organization you started with.

This is a tip to remember. Both iPhoto and Picasa have the File>>Export feature. This sends an organized album to its own separate folder on your hard drive. You can tell the program to number the files so they’re always in the right order.

• Let’s backup

One of the main reasons for digitizing your photos is to make sure they stay safe from damage or disaster. After your photos are all pretty and organized in your computer, be sure to make a backup.

I recommend using an online backup service like Carbonite, Mozy or BackBlaze. Carbonite is the one I’ve used personally for years and it’s never let me down

Online backup is best because, unlike disc backups or an external hard drive, it keeps your information safe from burglars and local disasters. Plus, you can look at your backed up photos from any computer, tablet or smartphone, which comes in real handy when you are at a relative’s home and want to share photos you haven’t put on Facebook. It’s a great side benefit that I have used many times


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Computer Tune-up Special


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Is Your Router Easy to Hack? Learn How to Properly Secure Your Router.


If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give your home WiFi router another thought after checking to make sure it has Internet connection. But did you know that your home WiFi router is a crucial component to your overall security?

While a WiFi router means no more hassling with messy Ethernet cables, you could unknowingly be putting your data at risk of being intercepted if you don’t properly secure it.

When was the last time you checked which WiFi encryption you’re using? Perhaps you’ve been using Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) all this time without even knowing! Using WEP as your WiFi encryption is equivalent to using no encryption at all, as this flawed encryption standard can be hacked in a matter of minutes. To better protect your network, you should upgrade to WPA2, a newer and more robust WiFi network security standard. We’ll show you how to check which WiFi encryption you’re currently using and how to upgrade to WPA2.

First, what’s wrong with WEP?
Wired Equivalent Privacy or WEP was introduced in 1999 to provide a WiFi network with security comparable to that of a wired network.

WEP was widely used for years, but before long, it became clear that WEP security was about as strong as a wet paper towel. For example, in 2005, the FBI publicly demonstrated how it could crack WEP passwords within minutes. Once passwords are cracked, a hacker can do just about whatever he wants on your network or to your computer— including stealing your bank account information.

Though WEP was retired as a WiFi network standard in 2004, it’s still in use today, particularly by those with older computers and pre-2005 wireless network routers.

Bottom line: If you haven’t upgraded to WPA2, you should consider doing so right away.

How to check which WiFi encryption you’re using
If you’re on Windows 7, follow these steps:

1. In the bottom right of your system tray, look for the wireless network icon. Left-click on the icon and you’ll get a popup menu of available wireless networks.
system tray WiFi icon

2. Hover the cursor over your home network name, and you’ll see which WiFi encryption you’re using.
system tray WiFi icon expanded

If you’re on Windows 8, follow these steps:
1. In the bottom right of your system tray, look for the wireless network icon. Right-click on the icon and select ‘Open Network and Sharing Center’.
Windows 8 Open Network and Sharing Center

2. Click on the network name
Network name

3. Click on ‘Wireless Properties’
Wireless properties

4. Click the ‘Security’ tab. From there you can check which WiFi encryption you’re using.
Security type

If your home WiFi network is determined to be encrypted with WPA2, ensure the password to your network is secured with a strong password, and that your computers all have at the minimum, an antivirus and two-way firewall.

Now, if you’ve determined that you’re using WEP, you should immediately upgrade to the stronger WPA2 encryption.

How to upgrade from WEP to WPA2
Start by checking to see if your wireless router supports WPA2. If you’re not sure, do a Google search on your wireless router’s name and add the word “specs” or “specifications” to the search phrase.

If your router doesn’t support WPA2 (or at the very least, WPA), consider investing in a new wireless router. Like most consumer electronics, WiFi routers have become increasingly more powerful and less expensive. Additionally, WiFi speeds continue to evolve, so if you have a new computer, a new router may make the difference in your Internet connection speeds ( as well as your security. )

If your router does support WPA2, here’s how to upgrade from WEP to WPA2. The instructions below are for Cisco Linksys routers, so steps may differ depending on the manufacturer of your router.

1. Open your Web browser and type in your router’s IP address in the URL bar (the default IP address is usually
192 in address bar

If you don’t know what your IP address is, click ‘Start,’ then ‘Run,’ then type ‘CMD’ (without the quotation marks) and press ‘Enter.’

When a new window opens, type “ipconfig” and press enter. This will reveal your router’s IP address under ‘Default Gateway’.
ipconfig_default gateway

2. Next, enter your router user name and password when prompted. If you have never created a username and password before, try “admin” as the user name and leave the password field blank. If that does not work, contact your provider or you can refer to this site to determine the default username and password. And if all else fails, purchasing a new router and starting from scratch may be a solution.
authentication required

3. Once you’ve accessed the router setup dashboard, click on the ‘Wireless’ tab and then choose “Wireless Security.”

4. From there, click the drop-down menu for “Security Mode” and select “WPA2 Personal” and select “AES” for “WPA Algorithm”. (Note: Consider changing the password (WPA Shared key) to your router if you’ve been using a weak password.)
security mode

5. While you’re still logged into the router setup dashboard, this would be a good opportunity to change the default username and router password. The router password is what allows an administrator access to the router dashboard itself. Click on the “Administration” tab then click on “Management”. From there, create and confirm your new password. We recommend that you use a different password for the WPA shared key and the router password.

6. Save your settings. Please note that other devices connected to this router will require that you enter in the new password.

It’s definitely worth it
Ultimately, if you’re still using WEP security, you’re needlessly making yourself vulnerable to hackers. We think spending a little time (and if necessary, money) to switch to WPA2 security is well worth it!

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How to stop autoloading programs in Windows 7 and Windows 8

1_auto_loadAfter reading my article on killing unwanted processes, Joe Balbona asked how he could keep those processes from loading in the first place.

There’s no direct correlation between the programs that load when you boot and the processes slowing down your PC six hours later. Many autoloaders (programs that automatically load when you boot) do their thing and then close down properly. And some programs you load manually long after the boot leave processes running even after you’ve closed them.

Nevertheless, most Windows PCs load way too many programs at boot time. These definitely slow the boot process. Some remain running and can slow Windows. And some may cause conflicts and instability, although that’s rare.

So let’s see how we can trim your autoloaders.

The fact that you like a program doesn’t  necessarily mean you want it running all the time? For instance, regular readers know how much I like KeePass. But I turned off its autoloader because I just didn’t see the point. A password manager only needs to run when you need a password. On the other hand, your antivirus program needs to watch over your PC constantly, so it’s a legitimate autoloader.

Windows 8 significantly changed how we manage autoloaders. I’ll therefore give you two separate sets of instructions.

Windows 7 and earlier versions

Click Start, type msconfig, and press Enter. This brings up the System Configuration page.


Click the Startup tab for a table listing your autoloaders. Now you can uncheck those you don’t want.

But first, you have to figure out what each autoloader does. Usually the program’s name makes it obvious. But sometimes the names aren’t clear.

If the name isn’t helpful, you can usually get an idea by examining the Manufacturer and Command columns in the table. These will tell you who published the software, and where the file is on your drive (usually the folder for a program you installed). If all else fails, use your favorite search engine to find more about the name.

Remember that you can always experiment. Uncheck something and see if that makes things better or worse. The last column, Date Disabled, provides a record of what you’ve just unchecked.

Windows 8

In the old-fashioned Desktop environment, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. Once it’s up, click the Startup tab.

This table doesn’t give as much information as the old Msconfig one, but it’s easier to read. And if you know where to look, the information is there.


One particularly useful column is the last one: Startup impact. It tells you—in admittedly vague terms—how much that program slows boot time. This can help you decide what to remove.

To disable an autoloader, right-click it and select Disable.

And take a look at the other options on that context menu. Open file location shows you where the program is located on your hard drive—a good clue about who put it there. And if you really can’t figure it out, select Search online to see what the Internet says about this program.

Unfortunately, this Startup tool lacks Date Disabled information. If you’re going to experiment with disabling various autoloaders, make a note about which ones you just disabled. That way, if something fails, you can fix it.

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Great Buy! 24″ iMac

iMac for Sale

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How to synch Google Calendar with Outlook 2010 and 2013

Using this method you can set up one way syncing from Google Calendar to Outlook. Outlook will periodically check the Google Calendar for updates, and if any new or modified events are found, they will be downloaded and displayed alongside with your Outlook appointments.

Copy Google Calendar’s URL

  1. Log into your Google account and click Calendar on the Google bar.

If you are logged into your Gmail account, then you will need two clicks instead of one. As you probably know, about two months ago Google rolled out the new update and all of a sudden the Calendar button disappeared from the G-mail page’s task bar. Anyway, click on the Apps launcher icon and select Calendar from the list of apps.

  1. Hover over the needed calendar in the calendar list at the left-hand part of the screen, click the drop-down arrow that appears to the right of the calendar name, and then click Calendar settings.

This will open the Calendar details page.

  1. If your google calendar is public, then click the green ICAL icon next to Calendar Address. If it is private, click the ICAL button next to the calendar’s Private Address.
  2. Copy the calendar’s URL. Now you can paste this URL into any other application that supports the iCal format (.ics) and access your Google calendar from there.

Synchronizing with Outlook 2010 and 2013

Method 1:

  1. Open your Outlook and switch to Calendar > Manage Calendars ribbon group.
  2. Click Open Calendar button and choose “From Internet…” from the drop down list.
  3. Paste your Google calendar’s URL and click OK.

Method 2:

  1. On the File tab, select Account Settings twice.
  2. Switch to the Internet Calendars tab and click the New… button.
  3. Press Ctrl + V to past the Google calendar’s URL, and then click the Add button.
  4. Click Close to close the Accounting Settings dialog.
  5. In the Subscriptions Option dialog box, type the folder name for the imported calendar and make sure the Update Limit checkbox is selected. If you want to transfer the attachments within your Google Calendar events, select the corresponding option too and then click OK.

That’s it! Your Google calendar has been added to Outlook and you can see it under “Other Calendars“.

Note! Remember that the Google Calendar imported in this way is read-only, the lock icon is displayed in the lower right hand corner of all imported Google Calendar’s events, meaning they are locked for editing. Changes made in Outlook are not synced with your Google Calendar. If you want to send the changes back to Google Calendar, you need to export your Outlook Calendar.

Calendar Sync / Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook

Updated on 1-Aug-2014.

Google officially announced “Google Sync End of Life“, including the Google Calendar Sync, last year. And on 1 August 2014, our good old Google Calendar Sync has finally come to an end, alas.

Initially, this section contained a backup download link for Google Calendar Sync and instructions on how to make it work with new versions of Outlook 2010 and 2013. But since all that stuff is of no use any longer, we have removed it.

I’m explaining this so that you won’t be confused if you come across mentioning of that magic link in early comments to this post. Even if you find it somewhere else, it would be of no avail because Google Calendar Sync has stopped functioning altogether.

So, what alternative does Google offer to us now? I guess everyone already knows – Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook plug-in. This new sync app supports all versions of Outlook 2003, 2007, Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 and automatically syncs e-mail, contacts and calendars between Outlook and Google apps servers. It can also simultaneously copy data from a company’s Exchange servers.

A fly in the ointment is that Google Apps Sync is available only for paid accounts as well as for Google Apps for Business, Education, and Government users. If you are one of those lucky customers, you may find the following resources helpful:

Download Google Apps Sync for Outlook – on this page you can find the latest version of Google Apps Sync and watch an introductory video that will help you quickly get started with this plug-in.

Work with your Google Calendar in Outlook – detailed guidance on how to set up and use Google Apps Sync with Outlook 2013 – 2003.

Free tools and services to sync Google Calendar with Outlook

In this section, we are going to look into some free tools and services and see what benefits they provide.

gSyncit – free add-in to sync Outlook calendars, contacts, notes and tasks with Google

gSyncit is an add-in for Microsoft Outlook purposed for syncing calendars (as well as contacts, notes and tasks) between Outlook and Google. It also supports synchronization with Evernote, Dropbox and some other accounts.

An advantage of this tool compared with the sync method that we’ve just discussed is that you are free to edit Google calendar events imported in the Outlook calendar.

The gSyncit tool has a free and paid version. Both versions allow 1-way and 2-way syncing of calendars, tasks, contacts and notes. The main limitation of the free version is that it allows syncing with only one calendar and displays a pop-up window on Outlook start making you wait for 15 seconds. Apart from that, this is a nice tool, intuitive and easy to configure.

How to configure Outlook and Google calendar syncing with gSyncit

  1. You start by clicking the Settings button on the gSyncit tab on the Outlook ribbon.
  2. In the Settings window, choose what items to sync on the left pane and then click the New button.
  3. After that you create a new mapping by specifying 3 essential things:
  4. For additional options, switch to the Sync Options tab and check the options you want. For the 2-way syncing, select both “Sync Outlook to Google” and “Sync Google to Outlook“:
  • Click the Verify Account button to enter your credentials and verify your Google account.
  • Click Select Calendar… under Google Calendar section to get the calendar URL.
  • And finally, click Select Calendar… under Outlook Calendar section to choose the Outlook calendar you want to sync with. It may be something like “\\personal folder\calendar” or “\\account_name \calendar”.

Of course, there are a handful of additional options on other tabs, but in most cases the settings on the Sync Options tab absolutely suffice.

  1. Now you only need to click OK to save a new mapping that will link your Outlook and Google calendars together.

Once a new mapping is created, you simply click the appropriate button on the ribbon and your Google calendar will get synced with Outlook straight away.

If you’d rather have automatic syncing, head over to the Applications Setting tab > Sync Options and configure your preferred synchronization intervals. You can also enable automatic syncing when Outlook starts or exists:

If you want advanced options, the following ones may come in handy:

  • Synchronize all appointments or within a specified time range only (Sync Range tab).
  • Sync Outlook appointments from certain categories only (Categories tab).
  • Remove duplicate appointments (Sync Options tab).

Summing up, if you are an active user of both calendars, gSyncit is definitely worth your attention as a tool to automate Outlook and Google calendar syncing.

gSyncit Pros: easy-to-configure, allows 2-way syncing of calendars, tasks and contacts; additional options such as pre-configured automatic syncing, removing duplicate items etc.

gSyncit Cons (free version): displays a pop-up window on Outlook start preventing Outlook usage for 15 seconds, supports syncing with one Outlook calendar only.

SynqYa – free web service to synchronize calendars and files

You may consider using this free service as an alternative way to handle your Google and Outlook calendar synchronization. A really nice feature is that it allows two-way syncing, i.e. from Google to Outlook and in the reverse direction. Synchronizing between Google and iPhone is also supported, which adds one more argument in favor of SynqYa.

The sync process is pretty straightforward and requires just two steps:

  • Sign up for a free synqYa account.
  • Authorize access to your Google calendar.

Wrapping up, this service seems to be a decent alternative if you don’t have the admin rights on your computer, or if you are reluctant to install any Outlook add-ins, or if your company has a strict policy with regard to installing third-party software in general and free tools in particular.

SynqYa Pros: no client software, no installation (admin rights are not required), syncs Outlook, Apple iCal and other calendar software with Google Calendar.

SynqYa Cons: more difficult to configure (based on our blog readers feedback); syncs with one calendar only; no option to check for duplicates, meaning if you have the same appointments in Outlook and Google, you will have these entries in double after syncing.

Calendar Sync for Outlook and Google Calendar is one more free tool that may work a treat (thanks Sam for contributing!).

Paid tools to sync Outlook and Google calendars

Added on 1-Aug-2014.

Originally, I did not plan to include any commercial tools in this article. But now that the former top player (Google Calendar Sync) is out of the game, it probably makes sense to review some paid tools as well, given that our readers have already started discussing such tools in comments and how they compare to each other.

Below you will find a quick overview of the syncing tool that I tried personally and liked. I will probably add some more tools in the future if you find this info useful.


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8 Signs Your PC Might Be A Zombie


Zombies are making a killing on TV (The Walking Dead), in movies (World War Z), and in books (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). There’s even a zombie game/fitness app, Zombies, Run!

But zombies aren’t so entertaining if your computer becomes one.

In PC terms, a zombie is a computer that’s been taken over without the owner’s consent by a third party (or group of people). Once your computer is among the living dead, it often becomes part of a ‘botnet,’ or a network of other zombie computers. Rogue hackers control botnets to perform orchestrated denial of service (DOS) attacks and to widely spread email spam and malware, among other misdeeds.

Botnet attacks have been around for a long time but are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. So far this year, there have been several high-profile cases that illustrate the power of botnets. Through the global ‘Pony’ botnet attack, for instance, criminals stole about $220,000 in bitcoins and other digital currencies. And a large botnet recently infected Internet-connected home appliances —including refrigerators!—to send out more than 750,000 malicious emails.

Here’s the really scary part: Your computer could be part of a botnet, and you might not even be aware of it. And if your PC doesn’t have at the minimum, an antivirus and two-way firewall, you’ve just increased the chance that your PC could be a zombie. Here are 8 signs your computer might be a zombie, and what you can do to bring it back to the land of the living.

8 Signs Your PC Might Be a Zombie
1. Your computer’s performance is noticeably slower, even when you don’t have many applications open. Criminals want your computer to carry out illegal actions, and those actions require the use of your computer’s processor and network. So if your computer and/or your Internet connection speed have become sluggish, it may be because of a zombie.

2. You receive unexplained error messages.

3. Your computer crashes frequently.

4. You discover messages in your outgoing email folder that you didn’t send. A tip-off might be if you receive bounce-back notifications from people you don’t know or haven’t emailed.

5. It takes your computer longer to shut down and start up.

6. You discover an unexpected loss of hard disk (or flash storage) space.

7. Your Web browser frequently closes for no obvious reason.

8. Your access to computer security websites is blocked.

How to ‘Kill’ a Computer Zombie
If your PC has become a zombie, there may be ways to resurrect it.

• Update your antivirus and/or anti-spyware software and scan your computer’s hard drive to find and remove the malware. Keep in mind some types of malware will prevent your antivirus software from running. In that event, download additional antivirus software and try to run each one until you find a program that will get past the zombie’s self-defenses.

• Often, zombie/bot malware hides from security software scanners by installing a rootkit. A rootkit is a stealth piece of software that’s usually malicious. There are free rootkit detection software programs you can download.

• Set your computer’s personal firewall to its maximum-security level. This will require applications seeking access to the Internet to notify you, enabling you to track all incoming as well as outgoing traffic. In turn, this can help you identify repeated requests from the same application to access just a few destinations—a telltale sign the application is a zombie.

• If that’s the case, do a search of the application’s name to see if others have identified it as malware. Try to create a list of all files associated with the suspicious application and where they’re located on your storage drive. Remove the application and any related files immediately and restart your computer. You may have to do this several times, because one piece of malware may have several variants on the same computer.

• You’re not going to like this one, but here goes: If you’ve discovered your computer is a zombie and want to make sure you’re completely zombie-free, you should completely wipe the hard drive or flash drive and reinstall the operating system and applications. Make sure your important files are backed up first, of course.

• Once you’ve restored your computer’s storage drive, applications, and documents, run your security software again just to make sure nothing is amiss.

Better Safe Than Zombified
If your computer has become a zombie, it’s probably because you clicked on a malicious file attachment or installed an application you weren’t 100 percent sure about.

To reduce the risk of your computer being compromised again, keep your security software running and updated and your personal firewall at maximum level. Check emails with file attachments closely; you can often tell that the sender didn’t actually email it to you by the stilted language, improper spelling, or other signs. Delete spam email messages without opening them. Don’t download applications if you have any concerns about their safety.

If you take these preventative steps, you can spend less time worrying about your computer and more time watching The Walking Dead. That’s the kind of zombie we like.

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