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  • Tasks for the weekend – February 20, 2021 – it’s Squirrel away time

    Posted on February 21st, 2021 at 00:27 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    (Youtube video here)

    Microsoft just announced 21h1 is in the final testing. That’s a sign to me that I need to “squirrel away” a copy of the current ISO from the Microsoft download page.

    It’s also a sign to me to check for updated drivers from my computer vendors application – or if I’ve built my own computer – I go to the vendor page and see if they have a tool to review for new drivers. I also check to see if I have enough hard drive space. I’m not going to install the new version just yet, rather this is a sign to me to ensure that I’m prepared.

    So have you already squirreled away a copy of the 20H2 even though you may not have installed it yet?

  • Tasks for the Weekend – February 13, 2021 – Windows backup

    Posted on February 14th, 2021 at 00:54 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Youtube video here

    Tonight I’m showcasing making a backup of your Windows 10 computer. Picking your backup software is similar to picking your antivirus software – it comes down to what you are comfortable with. I personally recommend paying for backup software and not relying on a free version because the paid version normally has more features that I want. For example the backup software I personally use (Macrium Reflect) provides anti-ransomware protection in their paid version. This sets up the permissions on the drive used for backup so that attackers coming in through your access can’t destroy the backup.

    I also recommend taking the time to either building a usb boot flash drive or using the software to change the bootloader so that it does a slight delay in booting and gives you the option to choose to boot into recovery mode or into Windows 10.  A good step by step post on how to install the Macrium reflect software is here. Easeus backup is here. Acronis is here.

    For backup media I normally buy Western Digital external hard drives for my desktop at home, for laptops I put a small USB flash drive so that they can have standalone backups.  I even backup the workstations at the office with a centralized backup server for all of the workstations. When SSD drives fail I want to be able to get the user back onto their EXACT desktop with their EXACT icons as soon as possible. It’s the same way at home. I want my icons and programs back and the faster I can do that, the better.

    Backing up my machine means that I treat patching in the same way I do hard drive failure or ransomware – all of these issues I now know that I can recover from and they are not a big deal.

    Michael Austin has a great topic thread on why he chose the backup software he did.

    Bottom line HAVE A BACKUP.  It will save your bacon one day.

  • Tasks for the Weekend – February 6, 2021

    Posted on February 6th, 2021 at 20:26 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Youtube video here

    This weekend is the time that you need to ensure you are set for next week. That means you should check that your system is set to defer updates. At this time Microsoft has deemed 2004 “ready for business”. On February 3rd they changed the status report that Windows 10, 2004 is designated for broad deployment. (Remember to use the targetreleaseversion setting to set it for 2004 if you want 2004 and no later than 2004.)

    I always take this time to look at the calendar to determine WHEN exactly I want to deal with patching issues. I also look at the reality of how long it takes Microsoft to investigate issues. When updates come out on Tuesday, it normally takes the weekend to investigate. Also Enterprises start testing and then I then go into the weekend for deployment. So by the time THEY get to reporting issues, it’s the weekend.

    If you have Windows 10 professional OR Windows 10 Home, I recommend setting “Pause updates” until a specific date. Pick a date on the calendar that you can deal with issues. For home users, you can do the metered network trick as well as picking a date.

    I personally don’t use the “pause updates” because when you UN pause it, it triggers a check for updates.  But this is your choice.

    Remember patching warning will be changing to Defcon2 on Monday and prepare for Patch Tuesday.

  • Tasks for the Weekend – January 30, 2021

    Posted on January 30th, 2021 at 23:24 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Youtube video here

    If you are still running Windows 10 1909 I’m recommending that you move onto 2004 or 20H2.  I’ve been running both platforms both at home and now at the office and have not seen major issues. Microsoft is working on the next release and one of the things I recommend to do is to push off feature releases until a time that you have time and patience to deal with any side effects.  While MOST of the time there are little to zero issues with installing a feature release on a consumer or home computer, but it still takes your machine out of commission for a short time. At the office every feature release means that I have to repair the Lacerte/QuickBooks pdf printer driver as that is impacted and I can no longer generate emailed PDFs from the tax software that is installed until I repair the issue. Fortunately it’s easily fixable, but it’s more of an inconvenience I don’t want to deal with during busy season. Therefore, I don’t want feature releases installed during the months January through April 15 (the traditional tax season in the United States). In the past I would use the deferral setting and push off feature releases for 365 days. I no longer recommend using this setting. I now prefer a setting called Targetreleaseversion. You’ll often see the setting mentioned as “TRV” on posts in the forums.

    Here’s how to set this:

    If you have Windows 10 Professional and 2004, you can actually see this setting in the local group policy editor settings.  Open the local group policy editor, then browse to   Computer Configuration, then to Administrative Templates then to Windows Components then to Windows Update then to Windows Update for Business.  You’ll want to double click or tap on the Select the target Feature Update version policy to edit it.  Set it to enabled and the enter in the feature release version you want your machine to be offered. If you are on 2004 and want to stay on 2004, enter 2004.  If you are on 2004 and want to be offered 20H2 and no MORE THAN 20H2, even when the next version comes out, but in 20H2.  You won’t be offered any higher version that what you enter.

    For Windows 10 Home you can use the registry key method to set the value you want.  You’ll want add the TargetReleaseVersion with a dword value of 1 and then set the TargetReleaseVersionInfo (see in the video how this looks on the machine itself).  It’s easier to download a prebuilt reg file and just add it to your computer.

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate]

    “TargetReleaseVersion”=dword:00000001

    “TargetReleaseVersionInfo”=”2004”

    The code above would set the registry value to 2004.  You can download this 2004 version here.

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate]

    “TargetReleaseVersion”=dword:00000001

    “TargetReleaseVersionInfo”=”20H2”

    Would set the registry value to 20H2.  You can download this 20H2 version here.

    To undo either of those registry settings, you can “blank out” the info but using another registry file.

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate]

    “TargetReleaseVersion”=-

    “TargetReleaseVersionInfo”=-

    Using this reg file will reset it and remove the settings if you want to reset the values back.

    If you want (or need) to stay on 1909 at this time, you can use this registry key download which will set the value to 1909.

    Merely click on these registry files and download them to your computer. Double click on the file to have it merge into your computer. You will get a User account control prompt, click yes to approve the install on your computer.

    To do this manually editing your registry keys do the following:  Click on the search box and type in run. Type in regedit and click OK to enter the registry. Drill down to

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate

    In the right hand side pane, if the info is not there in the window you will have to manually add the information. Add the value of TargetReleaseVersion with a Dword of 1. Then add on TargetReleaseVersionInfo string value (REG_SZ) and again pick the feature release version you want to be on.  Again type in 2004 if you want 2004 and no later. 20H2 for that version and no later. Click OK.

    Last but not least, you can use the batch file from the Tenforums site. But be aware that in order to use that batch file you have to click through quite a bit warnings and smartscreen prompts so this final batch file version is a bit scarier than the other methods.  Personally I think the reg file method might be the easiest to do.

    I hope that helps to make it easier to set this value on your machines?

  • Tasks for the Weekend – January 23, 2021

    Posted on January 23rd, 2021 at 23:07 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Youtube video here

    This question came up the other day when I discussed Microsoft Defender.  If you are using a third party antivirus instead of Defender, your version information may show a version of 0.0.0.0

    This is perfectly fine and is just showcasing that Defender is not active and your third party antivirus is the controlling antivirus on your machine.

    Now if you THOUGHT you were using Defender, you might want to investigate what third party security program has been installed on your machine.

    There is a specific setting I show in the Video where Malwarebytes knows to take over the role as your main antivirus and register itself as your default antivirus.

     

  • Tasks for the weekend – January 16, 2021

    Posted on January 16th, 2021 at 22:06 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    YouTube video here

    Included in January’s updates was a fix to Microsoft Defender.  If you use a third party antivirus are you at risk? In a word?  NO.

    As per CVE-2021-1647 – Security Update Guide – Microsoft – Microsoft Defender Remote Code Execution Vulnerability,  systems that have disabled Microsoft Defender are not in an exploitable state.

    Do you need to take any action if you have a third party antivirus?  No.  Do you need to take any action if you use Defender?  No because it’s been automatically fixed.

    To check click on Start, then Settings, then Update and security, Windows Security, Open windows security, Look for the gear, About.  For affected software, verify that the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine version is 1.1.17700.4 or later.

     

  • Tasks for the weekend – January 9, 2021

    Posted on January 9th, 2021 at 23:35 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    YouTube Video here

    Since this is a hot topic in the forum, I’d like to recap what you need to do to manually remove flash from your system.  You may see an Adobe flash “you need to uninstall me” notification on your computer (I have on some machines) and in addition, your browser has been notifying that it will be/is blocking flash.  Remember that (new) Edge by default blocks Flash along with Chrome and Firefox.

    So what can you do?

    1. You can wait. Microsoft will be pushing out KB4577586 later on this year (first quarter is my understanding).  This update removes “Adobe Flash Player that was installed by your version of Windows. If you installed Adobe Flash Player manually from another source, it will not be removed.”
    2. You can manually download KB4577586 from the catalog site by matching up the version you have. Remember X86 means 32bit operating system and X64 means 64bit operating system.
    3. Remember Windows 7 has a standalone flash – it never was embedded in the operating system.
    4. Use the Adobe flash uninstaller from the Adobe site. You’ll need to ensure all browsers are closed.
    5. You may need to manually delete any remaining files in the four folders listed in STEP # 3 of those instructions, including files in the hidden %appdata%\Adobe\Flash Player and %appdata%\Macromedia\Flash Player folders (where %appdata% is equivalent to C:\Users) but the KB above should uninstall these. (hat tip Imacri in the forums)

    Want to see if Flash is still on your system?  Open up the OLD Internet Explorer and go here.  The testing site will let you know if flash is still installed on Windows 10.

  • Tasks for the weekend – January 2, 2021

    Posted on January 2nd, 2021 at 22:03 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Youtube video here

    When you are on a web site do you check the SSL certificate?

    Do you review the site or perhaps use an extension tool like https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere ?

    Some sites even today don’t fully encrypt all parts of the site.  This ensures that all part of the browser experience are protected with a SSL handshake between you and the web site.  This is to make sure that other sites and attackers can’t “sniff” the transmission … such as a chat window or a text box in the window of a site.  Mind you Firefox has added this natively since version 83.

    So?  Do you check if all sites have padlocks on them?