IT assessment, planning, execution, monitoring and preventative maintenance LEARN MORE

Should I Upgrade to Windows 10?


A lot of you have probably seen a pop up on the bottom right hand side of the computer screen saying “Get Windows 10.” You are probably wondering what this is about and what it means. In this blog, we provide useful information you will need to know about upgrading to Windows 10. We answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Microsoft’s new Operating System.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who can get the free Windows 10 upgrade and by when do I have to upgrade?
If you have a Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8 computer, you should be able to do the free upgrade to Windows 10. There are certain hardware requirements for doing it, but most Windows 7 and 8 computers should meet the minimum standards.

The free upgrade to Windows 10 is going to be available after July 29, 2015 for one year until July 29, 2016. Before this date, you can reserve a copy by clicking on the Windows 10 message at the bottom right hand side of your computer. Or you can wait until after July 29th to receive a notification and start to download it. There is no need to reserve a copy beforehand.

Who will have to pay to get Windows 10?
A person who owns a Windows XP or Vista computer will have to pay for a Windows 10 license. If they are using those Operating Systems, it is likely their computers have outdated hardware and it would be best for them to purchase a new computer which comes loaded with Windows 10.

After July 29th, new computers with Windows 10 are going to be available at retail stores and online. This new Operating System will be included in the purchase price.

Enterprises with an active Software Assurance subscription in volume licensing will be able to get a Windows 10 Enterprise upgrade. They will be paying a monthly subscription.

How do I know if I will be able to upgrade my computer?
Windows 10 has certain minimum hardware and software requirements. In order to check your computer’s compatibility quickly, you can right click on the Windows 10 icon at the bottom right hand side of the screen and select “Check you upgrade status.” Then, you can click on the hamburger (four lines) in the upper left hand corner. Finally, you can select “Check my PC.” This will show whether or not you can upgrade your PC.



Please note that some third party software and applications you are using in Windows 7 or 8 may not work in Windows 10. When you go to install Windows 10, you will be notified of what applications will not work and then can decide whether or not to proceed.

Why would Microsoft want to give away a free upgrade?
If you think Microsoft is giving away this free upgrade out of goodness of heart, think twice. Microsoft is still going to generate revenues from new computer sales as manufacturers like Dell will pay them a licensing fee. Microsoft will also still be paid by volume license users and enterprises.

One advantage of giving away this free upgrade is that it will eventually mean that everyone will be on the same platform. This means that Microsoft will have to support fewer Operating Systems and this will lower the company’s costs. The tech giant is also looking to increase its revenues by selling more movies, music, apps and video games through Windows 10. Windows 10 has more integration with their Xbox game console and you can play Xbox games on your computer. This makes it easier to purchase video games and use them across devices.

Part of the reason is control. Like Windows 8, Windows 10 suggests that you set up or sign into a Microsoft account when first starting up a computer. This will help Microsoft collect more information about users and have a central point to manage all users’ accounts.

Microsoft is also hoping that more users become familiar with and come to like Windows 10 as they use it. This may lead to more people buying new Windows 10 smart phones and tablets. Again, it is all about sales and adapting to the consumer landscape.

Sorry to disappoint you, but Microsoft is not so beneficent as you think.

Windows 10 Video Introduction
Please check out some the new features of Windows 10 in this introductory video.

What are some good new features of Windows 10?
Start Button – If you have Windows 8, you will be glad to know that Windows 10 will include a start button like Windows 7. This will make it easier to shutdown an restart your computer and to explore it. The start screen is new and improved and will combine the traditional items on the left and then access to apps on the right, which is very convenient.


Better Performance – Windows 10 will also have improved performance. You should be able to boot up faster and switch between applications quicker. It has a new technology which should help with video game performance, but the difference should not be too noticeable.

Better Display Capability – Windows 10 will allow you more flexibility when displaying open windows on different monitors than Windows 7 or 8. Also, you will be able to see up to four open Windows at a time within one monitor compared to two Windows for these earlier Operating Systems.


User Friendly Home Folder – Now when you launch Windows Explorer, you will be greeted by a row of familiar folders you tend to use often, plus a lineup of recently created and opened files, making it easier to find the things you need and to do it quickly. If you just saved a file and cannot find it, you can open Windows Explorer and see where it was located.

Greater Search Capability – Windows 10 offers a much greater search capability and a virtual assistant called Cortana. With a microphone, you will be able to ask Cortana things like “please check for new email messages” or “schedule this appointment on my calendar.” You will be able to do a search on both your computer and the Internet at the same time.


New Edge Browser – Microsoft has dropped Internet Explorer and come out with a new browser. This browser will be linked to the Cortana virtual assistant and will display more pertinent information like weather for the user at the top.


What is some negative feedback about Windows 10?

User Friendliness – Similar to Windows 8, Windows 10 still is not the most user friendly. Because it is new, it will take you some time to get used to navigating around. Sometimes, it can be confusing to use. You can get confused in different views. The transition from working in applications to using the regular desktop is not fluid.

Windows 10 allows you to work in a regular desktop mode or a tablet mode on a computer. Tablet mode is meant more for touch screen use and working as you would on a tablet or smart phone. These modes add additional complexity which normal users do not want to be bothered by.

Windows Media Player is Gone – In Windows 10, Media Player will no longer be available to play videos or movies. Microsoft does provide a basic application to play movies. Or you will have to install a third party movie player. This means that you will have to do extra work downloading and installing a new video playing application. Then, you will have to get used to using it.

Software Incompatibility – If you upgrade to Windows 10, you may find that some of your software does not work. While you can be sure that most programs will run on Windows 7 and 8, this is not the case with Windows 10. Fortunately, you will be notified by the Windows 10 installer which software may not work before doing the upgrade.

Our Verdict

Should I upgrade to Windows 10? The answer to that question depends on each individual case. In general, our answer would be “no”, at least for the short term. Every new Operating System is going to have bugs and glitches when it first comes out. These may not be ironed out for months.

We recommend waiting at least 3-6 months after the Windows 10 introduction date, before doing the upgrade. This will give some time for the bugs to be worked out. It will also allow software developers time to create new versions of applications which are compatible with Windows 10.

Overall, we like many of Windows 10’s new features. In time, we think it will be looked at as a good Operating System and receive positive reviews. For now, there is no reason to rush to upgrade.

Useful References:

Microsoft Windows 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions

Learn What is New About Windows 10

PC World’s Windows 10 Review

Trusted Reviews Look at Windows 10

CNET’s Windows 10 Review

Should I Upgrade My Computer or Replace it?

Clients ask us a lot if they should upgrade their computer to make it faster or boost performance. In the past, we would have answered “yes” almost all of the time. Things have changed though. New computers have become cheaper and quicker, so it doesn’t always make sense to just add some hardware to a current PC.

Before you do any type of upgrade, you may first want to consider having your computer cleaned up. There may be some unwanted services and programs that are running and slowing it down. Also, your computer may have viruses or malware, which are tying up its resources. Once these are removed or disabled, it could perform much better.

There are a couple of things to consider when making an upgrade decision:

1) Are you having any hardware issues? If so, I would suggest skipping the upgrade and getting a new PC.

2) How old is your PC? If it’s more than 3 years old, your manufacturer warranty has most likely expired. Hold off on the upgrade and buy a new PC when you are ready.

If you are not in any of these situations, then continue reading below.

Here are some upgrades that I recommend if you just aren’t getting the speed and performance you want, but don’t want to replace your PC. They are listed in the order of best to worst:

  • Replace the primary hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD) – Hands down, replacing your computer’s hard drive with a super-fast SSD is the best upgrade you can do. Faster, cooler and if you have a laptop, it will help the battery to last longer! If you can only afford to make one upgrade to your computer, swapping your existing hard drive with an SSD should be your #1 choice.
  • Add more RAM – If your PC has both a 64-bit CPU and a 64-bit version of Windows, you should definitely consider upgrading your system RAM. This upgrade will be helpful if you normally have several programs open at the same time.
  • Add an additional monitor(s) to your setup. I know this sounds crazy, but with the low cost of LED monitors these days, it’s not a luxury anymore to have multiple ones. All you need is a capable graphics card and enough ports on your computer. Once you have opened your web browser in one monitor and your email in another and you do not have to do the constant switching, you will wonder how you got along with just one monitor! This upgrade can be done with both laptops and desktops.
  • Add USB 3.0 Ports – Moving up from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0 will provide almost as much “WOW” factor as upgrading from a spinning hard drive to an SSD. USB 3.0 is 10 times faster than 2.0, so if you are copying files to an external hard drive you will notice a big difference.
  • Replace an old wireless router with a new, faster one – While this isn’t considered an upgrade to your computer, if you stream video, visit high-bandwidth websites, and/or have several simultaneous Wi-Fi users on your local network, installing a state-of-the-art wireless router will make your devices feel like they were upgraded.
  • Install a second access point or extender – If you are experiencing problems accessing the Wi-Fi signal in different sections of your house, consider installing an extender or second access point. This will enhance your Internet surfing experience on your computer.

With that in mind, here are some computer upgrades that I would not typically recommend:

  • Upgrading to a new motherboard and CPU – when a new PC cost $2000 or more, it made sense to spend $750 on a new “motherboard” and CPU. Now, it just doesn’t. Don’t do it!
  • Making a big jump in Operating Systems like from Windows XP to Windows 7. Usually, it is time for a new computer.
  • Adding a new video card – If you primarily use your computer to visit websites, check your email, chat with friends, interact with Facebook and other social media sites, use Microsoft Office or watch online videos, the video card that’s already inside your PC is almost certainly more than powerful enough to perform those tasks with ease. Upgrading to a new video card is unlikely to make any noticeable difference whatsoever. If you play graphics-intensive games or want to connect an extra monitor or two, adding a faster, more capable video card can be a good deal.
  • Upgrading or replacing an internal Optical Drive – Like the floppy disk drive before it, the optical drive may one day be nonexistent. Thanks to the popularity of streaming audio and video along with the move from disc-based software distribution to instant downloads, optical drives are becoming less necessary. As a result, only a relative handful of new computers are even being shipped with internal optical drives. If you still find yourself needing to use an optical drive, instead of upgrading your computer’s internal optical drive to a newer and faster model, I strongly recommend opting for an external USB 3.0 optical drive instead.

Bottom line: Knowing which computer upgrades make sense and which ones to avoid will help you get the most “bang for the buck” from your upgrade dollars. Hopefully, these suggestions will provide you with a useful framework for deciding when to upgrade.

No matter what, we hope you enjoy your computing experience.

How to Prevent Your Computers from Crashing

imagesHelp Me!!!

Have you ever had a computer crash and spend hours trying to fix it? If you own a business, has one of your employees been unable to work and your business been affected during this time? This can be very disconcerting and frustrating.

You may not realize it, but there are simple things that can be done to avoid these disruptions.

9 Tips to Prevent Computer Crashes
Update Windows, Adobe and Java

One of the most important you can do is to make sure that Window updates are happening regularly on your computers and servers. We recommend that these systems are not set to update automatically. This can cause issues. You may start up your computer in the morning and say “What happened here?” as you see an error message after an update.

We recommend that you set up a schedule to do Windows and other updates. It may be best to do them on the weekend, so that if any issues come up, you will have time to resolve them.

You also want to make sure that Adobe Reader and Flash and Java are being updated routinely. By doing these and Windows updates, you will be making it more likely that your server(s) and computer(s) will run more smoothly. This will also protect you against viruses and malware. This year, a number of viruses have exploited vulnerabilities in Java and subsequent updates have eliminated these holes.

Update Your Anti-virus Software and Scan Regularly

It is amazing how many business and personal users have expired anti-virus software or ones that aren’t updating properly. You should have someone checking weekly to make sure that these programs are running. Also, you should scan with these at least once weekly. They can be easily set up to automatically scan at a convenient time.

If you have a business, we recommend that you use commercial anti-virus programs. There are some free ones out there, but normally the ones you have to pay for offer greater options and protection. Also, they won’t bother you with annoying popups about upgrading. To make things easier and quicker, you can install and manage anti-virus software on workstations from a central point like a server.

Optimize Your Computers and Servers

There are a lot of things that you can do regularly for computer and server maintenance. For instance, you can schedule a defrag to run monthly on all of your computers. We don’t want to bore you with the technical details, but you could always consult a trusted technician about what specifically to do.

Install a Firewall

Besides the software firewall on your anti-virus program, you should have a physical firewall on your network. This is an important thing that you can do to control the traffic entering or leaving your network. This will help protect your important business, client and personal information. A firewall can also come with a antivirus protection to prevent viruses from entering your local network before they get to a specific server or computer.

A firewall is a great tool for reducing the chance of a virus or malware infecting your network.

Upgrade Your Hardware and Software Frequently

As common sense dictates, the longer you have a computer the more likely you will run into hardware or software issues and your computers may crash. For businesses, the expected life of any computer or server should be about three to four years. After this point, you are running the risk of a computer crash or some software being incompatible. It may be expensive to do this, but it can be even more costly when your business is down, your employees cannot work and you cannot service your clients.

You should renew all systems at the same time, so that things are consistent. If you do not do this, then you may run into incompatibility issues. If you have a Vista computer with Windows 8 workstations in an office, you may experience issues on the older computer when you try to run new software.

Make sure to Plans Things Out

This seems very obvious, but many business and personal users do not start to plan until they have a crisis, like a serious virus infection. We had one client who was using software, which was six versions old. When going to upgrade to newer software, we were unable to do it directly, but had to upgrade by one or two software versions at a time. This meant more time and expense for the business, when it would have been better to have a plan to upgrade more frequently.

Run Network Scans Monthly or Quarterly

You can run network/vulnerability scans to see if there are any holes in your network and policies. Then, you can implement plans to eliminate them. This will decrease the possibility of a virus or malware infection or being hacked. There are many affordable software programs which will do this.

Consider Managed Services

A lot of business owners may not have heard of or may not completely understand what are Managed Services. Basically, they are maintenance and monitoring services which include many of the suggestions we provided above, but can involve much more. With Managed Services, you are taking a proactive approach to prevent issues like computer crashes or blue screens from happening in the first place.

Many times, Managed Services has a monitoring component, so if a potential problem is detected on a server someone would receive an alert and remote into the server. They would look into the issue, before it causes a business serious interference and downtime.

Also, Managed Services may include a help desk component where a business could submit a “ticket” about a issue and then someone would remote in to work on it. It may be a minor problem like not being able to print to a certain network printer or an emergency like an important software program is not working on any workstation.

Consult a Pro

As always, consult a professional technician or reputable computer services company, if you have any question about these suggestions or implementing them. They can save you a lot of hassle, time and money compared to trying to do it on your own.

We like this final tip the most.

Useful Links to Reference:

Microsoft Article: Crash Protect Your PC Now!

PCWorld Article: Anatomy of a PC Crash

PCWorld Article: Clean Up Windows and Your Hard Drive

Data Backup Solutions

Does Your Business have a Reliable Data Backup Solution?

Did you know that many business do not back up their most important files and information? Did you know that 60% of the companies that lose their data will be out of business in the next six months? Did you know that 34% of businesses fail to test their backups and when they do 77% of the businesses find data backup failures.*

If you were to lose all of your most important business files and information, how would you feel? Most likely, you would be devastated.

Every week, we see hard drives fail or tough viruses that can wipe out all information. There is one virus, which is called the Cryptolocker, which can encrypt all data on a server or a computer and there is nothing that can be done to recover it. Also, power surges, hackers, fires, floods and unhappy employees are some other reasons that businesses can lose their most important information. Given these threats, it is amazes us that many businesses do not even protect themselves with a proper backup.

Data Backup Options

There are many small business data backup options to make sure your business is protected. You can backup locally to a device on your network or attached to your server/computer. You can also do a remote or online backup to the cloud. There are pros and cons of each approach. Many times, it is best to combine both to ensure the best protection for your business.

Local Server and PC Data Backup Pros and Cons

Local data backup to an external hard drive or network attached storage device gives you the advantage of having a copy easily available if you need to restore something. Unfortunately, this type of computer backup does not protect against some viruses, fires, floods, hackers and unhappy employees deleting information.

Online Storage Backup Pros and Cons

Remote data backups can protect you against some of the threats that local backups cannot. Usually, they are easy to set up and automate. They have become very secure and reliable. One negative of online backups is that it can be time consuming to restore information from the web. Depending on your quantity of data and Internet connection, it may take a long time to download the files you want. In some cases, online backup companies will load your information on an external hard drive and mail it to you to speed up the process.

Another negative of online data backups is that they are usually only good for backing up files. They do not allow you to back up everything (Operating System, programs and files) on a server or computer.

Other Options

Besides these options, we normally recommend having an image backup to speed up recovery time. An image backup takes a snapshot of a server or computer at one point in time. This speeds up the recovery time because all you have to do is restore the snapshot. This can be a great option for some businesses, like accounting firms, which cannot wait all day for a server to be rebuilt. Within an hour or two, a server can be up and running with an image restore.

Besides image backups, there are a lot of other exciting new types of backups for businesses. We have a new technology which can lead to very little downtime, if a business server experiences a hard drive failure or another disaster. Those using the affected server will barely notice any change from normal activities.

Act Immediately

Because of the many possible disasters that could occur, it is important that you set up or double check your small business data backup now. It is also recommended that you have several backups to have as much protection as possible. While one backup may fail, another may be working properly.

It is also essential to check your backup regularly. Once they are set up, server or PC backups may fail for a variety of reasons. We have seen cases where business thought they had a working backup and discovered that it was not working properly, sometimes for 6 months to a year. Often times, it is easy to correct any backup issue.

Consult a Pro

If you are unsure which backup solution for small business is the best for you, please feel free to consult a qualified IT professional like us.

Check out these useful references:

Small Business Data Backup Statistics: Boston Computing

Small Business Data Backup Study: Business Backup Practices Are Inadequate

PC Backup: The Beginner’s Guide to PC Backup

Backup Software Reviews: 2014 Best Server Backup Software Reviews

* Source:

Watch out for these Computer Viruses!


Be extremely careful of these viruses. They can completely destroy your critical business data and close your business quickly. We have seen cases where these viruses have spread over an entire network and caused serious damage. In one instance, the Cryptolocker virus wiped out a business client’s server, workstation and backup drive.

What are these viruses? What do they do?
Typically, they infect a server or workstation and encrypt all of the files and data on it. You will see a popup that your data has been locked up and you need to send a payment to receive a password to unlock it. Usually, you are given a time period to respond. Unfortunately, if you send a payment it is unlikely that you will receive a password. Instead, we have seen cases where the virus creators will even ask for more payments. Once your data has been locked, it is impossible to find the password. Usually, it is held on external servers that are very hard to track down.

How do you get these viruses?
Usually, the Gameover Zeus and Cryptolocker viruses come through email links and attachments. Once you click on an attachment, the virus will begin to run and install itself. For this reason, it is very important that you do not open any links or attachments from unknown or suspicious senders.

What should you do if you see a message about your data being locked?
The best thing to do is to turn off your business computer immediately. Also, you can disconnect it from the Internet. The sooner you do this, the more likely your data will not be lost. We have seen cases where this message has popped up and clients have immediately turned the computer off. We have run some scans and removed these viruses. Fortunately, our business clients’ information has not been affected.

Removal Tools
Malwarebytes is one of the best anti-malware programs we recommend to scan and remove the Gameover and Crypotlocker viruses. There are many other good software products out there which can remove them. If you have any doubt of what to do when you see these viruses, please consult an IT professional like Fast-teks Pro Business Solutions. We are experienced in virus, malware and adware removal and in providing small business IT services.

How do I protect myself from these viruses?
One of the best ways is to use a high quality anti-virus and make sure that it is always updated. AVG Anti-virus 2014 would be a good example. In addition to this, you should make sure that Windows, Java and Adobe are up-to-date. Malwarebytes offers a premium product which can working together with an anti-virus and prevent malware and virus files from installing. Also, we recommend a good email filter. AVG anti-virus comes with an email scanner.

Reference Links:

Below, please refer to some valuable links related to the Gameover Zeus and Cryptolocker viruses:

Malwarebytes Cryptolocker Virus Blog

Business Insider Cryptolocker Virus Article

F-Secure Gameover Zeus Information

Check out a AVG video about the Cryptolocker Virus:

About Nucleus Computer Services:

Through a team approach, we have been successfully providing IT services and solutions to small businesses in the Philadelphia area for years. Our service offering includes IT consulting, managed services, cloud computing, backup solutions and much more.