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ISSUE 17.24.F • 2020-06-22

 

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The AskWoody Newsletter
FREE EDITION

In this issue

ON SECURITY: Wanted: Your views on Windows/Office patching

BEST OF THE LOUNGE: A cold day in Windows 7

Additional articles in the PLUS issue

WEB DEVELOPMENT: What is your Web presence?

ANDROID: Three of the best Android file managers

BEST UTILITIES: Freeware Spotlight — Deanna’s list

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INTRODUCTION

News. Insight. Help. Free on AskWoody.com

It’s been a wild week for Windows users. We’ve seen no end of problems with this month’s Windows patches: for some, Outlook not starting, printers not printing — and Avast antivirus gumming up the works. Win10 version 2004 is starting to roll out — and eating data on some machines.

Potentially adding to the chaos, Microsoft has announced that it’s changing the way it tests Windows. Again! You can follow all those topics and many more on the blog part of the AskWoody website. It’s free and donor supported. No trackers. No hidden gotchas.

As always, this Free Newsletter is completely, you know … free. We don’t sell or rent email addresses: never have, never will. Your friends can sign up for their own copy at our Free Newsletter signup page. We hope you’ll feel moved to become a Plus Member, which includes the full weekly AskWoody Plus Newsletter and access to Susan Bradley’s detailed Patch Watch lists. It’s paid subscribers that keep the whole AskWoody ship afloat. Remember: We’re on the donation model — you decide how much you want to spend to become a Plus Member.

In the lead story below, check out Patch Lady Susan Bradley’s call for feedback on Windows and Office updating. Her new survey is a good way to add your voice to the patching recommendations we make — and the windmills we tilt at.

Stay safe out there.     — Woody


On Security

Wanted: Your views on Windows/Office patching

Susan BradleyBy Susan Bradley

Recently, it occurred to me that it’s been two years since I posted my survey on consumer- and business-systems updating.

Given the changes in Windows and Office, a new audit of updating perceptions is clearly overdue. This time around, you’ll find links for two surveys: one for consumer-PC patchers and another directed at businesses.

If you filled out the previous survey, you’ll see we’ve added a few new questions, starting with your thoughts on updating in general. Are you satisfied with your monthly patching experience? The next question asks specifically about your satisfaction with Windows 10 updates. Are you happy with the process, or grumpy?

The third question delves into Windows 10 feature updates — i.e., new releases of the OS such as Versions 1903 and 1909. Have past feature updates met your computing needs? Are they useful?

The survey includes a question I’ve asked previously: How often should Microsoft release new feature updates? Is the current twice-a-year schedule too much? Not enough? Note that Microsoft is making changes to the feature-release process. This year, as last, the “spring” release has significant changes. But the “fall” update will be far less disruptive — almost like a Win7 service pack.

A Microsoft Windows blog explains: “Simply put, anyone running the May 2020 Update and updating to Windows 10 Version 20H2 will have a faster installation experience because the update will install like a monthly update.” We saw this last year: Versions 1903 and 1909 are so similar, they share the same monthly cumulative updates.

My final Windows questions address whether the Win10 is meeting your daily computing needs and what you’d like to see changed to make it better for you. (The sky’s the limit on this query. Think creatively.)

Office: The survey then moves on to new questions about Office patching, starting with your impressions of update quality. Have you had to uninstall an update or roll back to a prior month’s Click-to-Run update?

Next, I ask about Office channel naming. (“Channels” is the term Microsoft uses for different update-release schedules.) Specifically, what’s your opinion about the recent name changes (more info)? For example, Microsoft has renamed the standard “monthly channel” to “current channel.”

This question applies more to business patchers than consumers, but I still wish to know everyone’s opinion of the entire Microsoft product/service-naming process. Does it matter to you? Does the change help you understand how often you’ll expect to see updates to your Click-to-Run edition?

My final Office question is another open-ended query. We’d like to know what changes you’d like to see in Office. They can be about features, updating, pricing, or whatever. What would make Office better for your productivity needs?

The patching satisfaction in 2020 surveys

We know your time is important, so we’ve kept the surveys simple and short. You can finish them in just a few minutes.

For business patchers and consultants: The two surveys ask the same questions. But while the consumer version takes the perspective of users patching their own machines, professionals updating multiple systems are likely to have different perspectives on the overall patching process. For example, what’s been the impact of Windows and Office updating on your clients? (Even if you patch PCs as a profession, feel free to fill out both surveys.)

Click the links below.

Consumer Patching Survey

Business Patching Survey

In a week or so, I’ll report on the results of the two surveys. If you have questions, use the link below.

Thank you! Taking a few moments to give us your take on Windows and Office updating is greatly appreciated. I learned a lot from the previous survey, and the data from this year’s edition will help point out positive and negative changes to the state of Microsoft patching. It will also provide valuable information for future Patch Watch and On Security columns.

Questions or comments? Feedback on this article is always welcome in the AskWoody Lounge!

In real life, Susan Bradley is a Microsoft Security MVP and IT wrangler at a California accounting firm, where she manages a fleet of servers, virtual machines, workstations, iPhones, and other digital devices. She also does forensic investigations of computer systems for the firm.


Best of the Lounge

A cold day in Windows 7

You have a hybrid computer: some things old, some things new. But right now it’s making you blue. Updating hardware in an old machine might seem like a great way to extend its life — until it suddenly stops working as intended.

For example, Plus member GarthP‘s Win7 machine is, at its core, a 10-year-old system with a mix of professionally installed new parts. After its last upgrade, it worked well … for a few months. But then it started randomly freezing. It would behave for a few hours and then lock up with something as simple as opening a new browser window.

In replies to GarthP’s post for help, fellow forum members offered the most likely suspects. Many of those suggestions were tried and rejected. Frustrating! The problem persists, but a dual-boot backup Win7 setup appears to be working fine.


Hardware

After adding 4GB of RAM to a Dell Latitude E5510 (topping its capacity out at 8GB), Plus member MrJimPhelps checked for speed improvement with his own test: loading a Libre Office Impress presentation. Before the upgrade, that task took about five seconds; after, the presentation popped up in just a second — quite the improvement! To MrJimPhelps, the test suggested that more memory was a better bet for enhancing speed than was switching to an SSD. Some fellow Loungers respectfully disagreed. Your thoughts?


Upgrading

RVAUser ordered a new Dell XPS 15 equipped with Win10 Home. When it arrives, it’ll be upgraded to Windows Pro. When RVAUser asks how to do the switch, forum members quickly reply with the needed information..


Maintenance

Plus member petesmst regularly runs Windows’ built-in Disk Cleanup to remove unnecessary files and other leftovers. But Windows Update files refused to go. Petesmst turned to the forum for possible solutions. Was the new Storage Sense the cause? A bit of sleuthing provided the answer: yes!


Linux

Plus member Larry B‘s plan to re-partition an external HDD didn’t go as planned. Fellow Loungers provided tips on partition limitations and managing unallocated space. But sometimes the only viable solution is to start over.


STORAGE

Lounger Mauri purchased a 1TB Samsung SSD to use as an external storage device. But the solid-state drive didn’t perform any better than an HDD — especially when transferring large files. Even worse, the system froze during some transfers. Loungers explore possible causes and offer potential remedies. But the issue remains unresolved.


Hardware

Heizer2066‘s laptop failed. That prompted a query to the forum about booting a desktop PC from the notebook’s drive while connected via USB. And that initiated a discussion about licensing, connection speeds, BIOS settings, drivers, and other tech-nutiae.


If you’re not already a Lounge member, use the quick registration form to sign up for free.

Stories in this week’s PAID AskWoody Plus Newsletter
Become an ASKWOODY PLUS member today!
Will Fastie

WEB DEVELOPMENT

What is your Web presence?

By Will Fastie

Nearly everyone who spends time on the Internet has some sort of Web presence.

What do we mean by “presence?” Google your name or the name of your business. What’s the result? Nothing? Hundreds of references? That’s one crude measurement of Web presence or exposure, but there are many other forms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, podcasts, published works, forum postings, a personal or business website, and lots more.

For businesses and professionals, the quality of Web exposure is far more important than the magnitude. To the extent possible, you want to be in control of how and where potential customers find you on the Internet.


Lincoln Spector

ANDROID

Three of the best Android file managers

By Lincoln Spector

Among its many duties, an operating system should provide the tools you need to manage files — to, at a minimum, copy, move, find, and delete them.

Oddly, Android doesn’t offer its own built-in file-management app. It’s almost like using Windows without File Explorer. Thus, countless developers have stepped up and created add-on file managers for Android. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that many are simply awful. But a handful are quite good, as I discovered when I tested 11 file-management apps for Android devices.


Deanna McElveen

Best Utilities

Freeware Spotlight — Deanna’s list

By Deanna McElveen

You gotta love utilities — those small, free, third-party apps that have for years helped make our Windows experience better.

There are hundreds of them — most designed to fix a specific computing problem. Many others are handy tools Microsoft neglected to include in Windows. And some are simply fun.

At OlderGeeks.com, we’ve been reviewing and posting utilities for years. Below is the full list of apps we’ve discussed in Freeware Spotlight. All are free or have both free and paid versions. We ensure they don’t contain spyware, malware, or unwanted tagalong software. Most are portable, meaning they can be run from a flash drive — an ideal way to use utilities on multiple machines without going through the trouble of a formal installation.


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