Category Archives: Applications

Topics related to specific applications

Printers and Scanners

I am often asked to recommend printers and scanners. Here is my set of favorites as of November 2018.

Printers? I like Epson. I find HP to be bogged down with complex software and setup, I find Brothers to be good but finicky sometimes with connecting over the network, and I like Epson. I like Epson based on the experiences I have with them – people who buy them require less help in general and are happier with their printers.

So Costco is currently selling the Epson ET-4750 for $379. It scans, faxes, and prints.

Manufacturers now sell printers with ink tanks, rather than cartridges, and the Epson ET-4750 comes with 2 years worth of color and black and white ink. That’s why these new printers, while still inexpensive, are much more expensive than printers from a few years ago that replied on expensive cartridges to subsidize them.


As for scanners, you can easily scan with the Epson above, but for people that do a lot of scanning, and for people that scan documents of all sizes, I really like document scanners.  I use a Scansnap S1500 and the modern versions of that sell for about $450 on Amazon.  For less hard-core scanning, I recommend the little portable Scansnap scanners.  The software is great and easy to use.  The scanner is fast and creates super great PDFs and can also convert them to Word documents.

If you wanted a stand alone scanner for documents, receipts, and other things, these Scansnap scanners are the best.  Here it is on Amazon

Setting up new windows 10 machines

I’ve gotten a lot of practice now setting up Windows 10 machines.  I find a few handy tools and configurations work very well.  Therefore my base recommendation for a new Windows 10 machine:

Update and Reset (if coming from Windows 7) to Windows 10 fresh copy.

Set machine name and workgroup info.

Set up machine linked to a Microsoft account.  Configure a photo and security as needed.

Run all updates before proceeding.

Install Chrome and Firefox, set Chrome as default but put both on taskbar

Install AdBlockPlus on both Chrome and Firefox

Install Malwarebytes and purchase lifetime license if possible, otherwise offer a subscription option

Install Office 365 if applicable and license it appropriately.

Set up family safety and any multiple users as needed.

Install remote access tool for support

Install Roboform if the client needs a password manager.

Set up mail – consolidate contacts and calendar to one of following:  Google, iCloud, or 365.

Set up versioning backup to backup and protect current and deleted files for Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive.

Configure start menu according to client’s needs and preferences.

Redirect Documents and Pictures folder (and desktop according to preferences) to OneDrive or Dropbox locations.

Install PDF viewing and editing option desired (otherwise will default to Microsoft Edge Browser)

Set Windows 10 Update settings to include Microsoft programs.  Also turn off “updates from more than one place.”

Set up client specific programs: Firefox, Printers, special applications

A “Versioning” Backup

I work with my clients to get them to stop storing their files solely on their computers.  This can be documents, pictures, etc.  Typically we redirect the computer to use a Documents folder and Pictures folder that reside on a cloud storage service like Dropbox or OneDrive.

Once this is done, their files are stored in the cloud and can stay synchronized between multiple computers that they use.  It works like a backup and a sync tool at the same time.  But is it a safe backup?  I believe everyone should have at least three copies of every file.  Having it on your computer is #1, having it in the cloud is #2, but what about the third?  One method is to routinely backup a copy of everything to a hard drive that can then be stored at a different location, providing pretty extensive disaster recovery.  In the event the backup and your original copies are destroyed simultaneously, you probably wouldn’t be alive anyway!  Another method is to store a local copy for archiving purposes that is not affected by daily use and by updates to the cloud.  But those would be mere copies of your data – and they would backup what you have today, not everything you’ve ever had.

Why does this matter?  Say you accidentally delete a folder on Dropbox.  You can go to their website for 30 days and recover it, no problem.  But what if you didn’t REALIZE that you deleted a folder.  Say that folder contained something like “2014 Photos.”  You may lose an entire year of your well organized life in pictures with an accidental mouse movement.  After 30 days, it’s gone.

I create something called a Versioning Backup for my clients using a program called FreeFileSync.  FreeFileSync creates a mirror image of your Cloud Based file storage onto our hard drive (somewhere separate from your actual files) or onto an external or network drive.  It also keeps copies of any files you update, replace, or delete in a special “versioning” folder.  This means you have a full clone of your cloud storage but also a folder containing all the changes you’ve ever made.  This archive with “versioning” allows you to go back and undo any changes, intentional or accidental, as long as you have the backup files.  Better yet, they’re not stored in some archive file that you can’t look into, but rather locally in a separate folder structure that looks just like your actual storage.

To set this up, I follow a process similar to this:

I also make sure indexing for search is turned off on the backup, so that people don’t accidentally start editing the files in their backup! Accounts getting a Huge Update!

So I’ve recommended for a while now, and it’s about to get much better.  Problems with syncing contacts, mail getting out of synch, and calendar issues are about to go away.  Contact group functionality is about to return.  But most importantly, should just work a whole lot better.

Microsoft is moving accounts from its old hotmail system and site to a new Exchange-server based service.  This means that will now support the “Exchange server” option in mail clients, offering a full feature set of tools for organizing and syncing mail, contacts, and calendars.  This much more robust platform replaces “ActiveSync” which is what the and and mail have been using for years.  EAS (Exchange Active Sync) was set up as an Exchange-server lite, stripped of important features and not designed for the highest performance.  This crippled version of Exchange is about to be replaced with the full version of Exchange.

Some of my clients got a note in November, 2015 that they would be migrating soon.  Once the migration happens, certain email programs will need a quick update.  Here is an excellent link to the process: – Notes on migration

Please contact me if your is updating or no longer working.  Not only will I fix it, but I’ll show you all the new things we can now do, including contact groups and lists!


Office 365 for Windows 10 and Mac – a good combination

If you have a Mac and you use Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and so on), this is a big deal.  No more will you be using a special Mac version of Office. .. now the regular version of Office effectively runs on the Mac.  If you have an Office 365 account, your copies of Office will upgrade automatically (please see my note below about how to force the upgrade if you’re still waiting).  This is great.  Enjoy it.  If you need help or have questions, ask me.


The best way to buy Office these days is as a 5-user (works on 5 different computers simultaneously) license for $99/year.  No more CDs to install.  You simply go to, log in to your Microsoft account, and push the install button.  The licenses can be used on Macs or PCs and the 5-user license simply renews every year.  Let me know if you need help setting this up.  If you already own Office, this is the best way to upgrade!  Office 365 also comes with a full terabyte (1000 gigabytes) of storage on OneDrive, the Microsoft cloud-based file storage solution. And the Office 365 subscription includes programs like Publisher and Access.  For example, the kids use Publisher at school so why not have it at home as well for them?


Upgrading to Windows 10 but running an older version of office (Office 2010 or earlier)? Then I suggest that we set you up with Office 365 as well. Office 365 will work best with your up-to-date and current version of Windows. Since your Windows will now always be updating to the latest version, your Office should as well. Then everything will work the way Microsoft intends, which will make your life easier and make your computer simply better to use. I’ve been running Office 2016 with Windows 10 since March, 2015 and it’s worked well for me. I’ve also seen the changes rolling out and I’ve been impressed with Microsoft’s pace of refinement.


TO FORCE THE MAC UPDATE: Existing Mac user with an older copy of Office and a current Office 365 subscription? Apparently you can go to, log in to your Microsoft account, and select INSTALL to install the new version of Office for Mac on your Mac. It will install right over the old version and update everything.


I often find Malwarebytes Anti-malware software on machines that I work on. Typically these were installed by a knowledgable friend or other “computer guy.” This is truly a fabulous program and I love to see it. I install it on all my personal machines as well, since I find that it is a great safety check for any machine.

Recently I have used the “premium” version of this program, a version that they sell by subscription but which is also sold (for a limited time, I assume, $38.99 as of Feb, 2015) on as a lifetime license – a non-expiring license to the full version. Unlike the free version, the premium version runs all the time and runs IN ADDITION to whatever security software you may have. In many cases, it can be run alongside the built in security that comes with Windows 8 and 10. By doing this, you have 2 levels of security, both watching for different things. Currently this is the simplest adequate solution for most everyone.

So my advice is to:
Download and install the free version of malwarebytes. Run a scan and see if it finds anything.
Download at

Go to and purchase the code for lifetime premium service (available as of Feb. 2015 but not for long!)


In Malwarebytes, click on “Go Premium” and then select “I already have a license”

Insert the codes sent to you by Amazon after completing your purchase of the lifetime premium service.