Windows 10 automatic updates can save you a lot of time; they can also lead to frustration.
Although designed to be a good thing, often updates can render your PC problematic. You are then stuck with the repercussions until there’s an update to solve the problem.
If you’ve been tempted to turn off these automatic updates, you’ve probably already discovered that Windows 10 won’t let you.
But fear not, those lovely people at PCWorld.com have come up with a couple of workarounds.
However, if you decided to use them, remember to follow Windows’ update news.
How to stop Windows 10 automatic updates
Change the Group Policy
If you have a Professional, Enterprise, or Education edition of Windows 10, you can turn off automatic updates. But the option is hidden. Here’s what to do in version 1703, if you have a later version of Windows 10 these settings still apply, but the wording is slightly different.
Press Win-R, type gpedit.msc, press Enter. This brings up the Local Group Policy Editor
Navigate the left pane as if it were File Explorer to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Defer Updates
Choose Select when Feature Updates are received
In the resulting dialog box, select Enabled.
In the Options box, type in how many days you’d like to pause updates and then in the next field type in today’s date.
Click Apply and then OK
If you want to you can repeat this process for the second setting in Group Policy named Select when Quality Updates are received. Keep in mind, however, that quality updates include security updates and skipping them is not the best idea. On the upside, security updates are cumulative meaning if you do skip these updates, you can download the next one and be up to date.
Microsoft doesn’t like it when people pause updates, and even using Group Policy, you can pause updates for only about 30-35 days, depending on the version of Windows 10 you’re using.
The metered network trick
If you’ve got the plain old Home version of Windows 10, you can stop some automatic updates by lying to your operating system. (Morally speaking, this doesn’t bother us a bit.)
In older versions of Windows 10 this only works with a Wi-Fi network, but in version 1703 and later ethernet connections can take part as well.
The trick is to tell Windows that you have a metered connection to the Internet—one that can only download so many bits per month without increasing your ISP bill. Microsoft says doing this means “some updates for Windows won’t be installed automatically” and some apps may not work as expected.
To tell Windows that you have a metered connection (whether you do or not):
Select Start > Settings > Network & Internet.
Select the Wi-Fi or Ethernet tab in the left pane depending on the connection type you want to change.
In the main pane, select the name of your connection.
On the next screen turn on Metered connection.
You should do this for any network you use because the setting is set on a per-network basis.
You have two ways to update manually: You can turn off the metered connection option. Or you can simply use another network to trigger the updates.
People keep telling you to make sure you have backups of everything. But did you know Windows 10 makes life easier for you? Especially when it comes to past versions of documents.
File History takes snapshots of your files as you go and stores them on an external hard drive connected via USB or over your home network.
Getting started with File History
First, open the Settings app and go to Update & Security > Backup.
Next, hook up your external hard drive and in the Settings app, click the + next to Add a drive. When the prompt appears, choose the drive you want, and that’s it.
File History will now start archiving your data.
By default, it backs up all the folders in your User folder every hour and keeps past copies of your files forever.
You can change these settings by clicking More options under the on/off slider.
Customising File History’s settings
The next screen you see is for Backup options.
At the top is an option to start a manual backup. Below that are drop-down menus offering a range of frequency choices from every 10 minutes to once a day.
If you get low on space, click on the drop-down menu under Keep my backups and select Until space is needed.
Adding a folder is simple: click + under Back up these folders. To remove one, scroll down to find it, click on it to highlight is and then click Remove.
You can also create a list of folders you want to exclude from automatic backup towards the bottom of the screen.
Once File History is enabled you can access older versions of a file by right clicking on a file in File Explorer, and selecting Restore previous versions. This is the same as right-clicking the file and going to the Properties > Previous Versions window.
Everything is taking longer. Your patience is being tried as your frustrations grow.
Do you just accept that’s what happens over time, or do you do something about it?
The answer is the latter, and we have five handy hints to help you speed things up.
This is so obvious you may have already tried it. However, if you haven’t it’s time to reboot.
Putting your PC to sleep helps save power, but it does little else to enhance performance. A reboot will spring clean Window’s brain to give is a fresh lease of life. You can do it every day is your machine is exceptionally slow.
Today, everything is about saving the environment, which is why your PC wants to work as energy-efficiently as possible.
However, it is possible to trade electricity for speed. All you have to do is right-click Start and then select Power Options. Pull down the Show additional plans option and select High performance.
The drawback is that you’ll use more electricity and it will have a detrimental effect on your battery’s performance.
Adjust for best performance
Trading a few aesthetics will also give you a bit more speed.
Right-click Start, and select System. Then in the Control Panel’s left pane select Advanced system settings. In the resulting System Properties dialogue box click the Settings button in the Performance box. In the next box uncheck some of the options or select Adjust for best performance.
When your PC fires up some programmes will automatically start, slowing down performance. Usually, there is a number that aren’t required immediately and therefore can be prevented from autoloading.
To check which programmes are autoloading, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. Click the Startup tab. This will show you all the autoloading programmes. Just right-click any you don’t need on the Startup tab and select Disable.
Bin the tips
Windows 10 likes to helpful and loves to provide you with tips on how you can better use it. The problem is, to get this information, it’s keeping a beady eye on how you’re using your PC, which slows it down.
To turn this feature off click Start > Settings > System > Notifications & actions. At the bottom of the Notifications section, turn of Get tips, tricks and suggestions as you use Windows.
It’s so frustrating when your Windows 10 PC starts to slow down.
We’ve all been there; trundling along quite nicely and then, before we realise it, every thing starts to take that little bit longer.
You could reach into your pockets to buy more RAM, but we think these nine tips from PCWorld blogger, Lincoln Spector, are worth a try first.
1. Give it the reboot
If your PC is behaving horribly slow, try rebooting. Yes, it’s an obvious solution, but people tend to forget the obvious.
The sleep or hibernate setting will save power, but only a full reboot clears out the cobwebs in Windows’ brain and gives it a fresh start. Do it every day if the PC is really slow.
2. Turn on High Performance
Windows assumes that you want an energy-efficient computer. But you can trade electricity for speed. Use this tip only if you’re willing to increase your electric bill and decrease your battery performance.
Right-click the Start button and in the resulting menu, select Power Options.
In the resulting Control Panel window, pull down the Show additional plans option. Select High performance.
Some low-end PCs, including my Miix 310, don’t have those options.
3. Undo some appearance options
Windows works hard to make the screen easy on the eyes. If your PC is underpowered, you may want to sacrifice aesthetics and gain some speed.
Right-click Start, and select System. In the resulting Control Panel window’s left pane, select Advanced system settings.
This brings up the System Properties dialog box, already on the Advanced tab. Click the Settings button in the Performance box (the first of three “Settings” buttons on this tab).
This brings up another dialog box. You can uncheck some of the options, or simply select Adjust for best performance.
4. Remove unneeded autoloaders
A whole lot of programs want to load automatically every time you boot. Each one slows down the boot process, and some continue to slow down Windows afterwards.
These are not all bad. Your antivirus program should load when you boot and keep running as long as your PC is on. Other programs that need to run in the background to work, such as OneDrive, should also autoload.
But some programs—even good ones that you use frequently—don’t really need to run all the time. You don’t want to uninstall those, but you may want to stop them from autoloading.
To see how bad the situation is, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. Click the Startup tab. (If you don’t see any tabs at the top of the window, click More details in the lower-left corner.)
The Startup tab will show you all the autoloading programs. As you examine the list, think about what programs don’t really need to keep running at all times. To stop one from loading automatically, right-click its entry on the Startup tab and select Disable.
If you don’t recognize the name of an autoloader, right-click it and select Search online to help you find more information.
5. Stop hog processes
Your computer may be running a poorly written process that’s hogging a lot of resources. To find out, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. (Once again, if you don’t see any tabs at the top of the window, click More Details.)
On the Processes tab, click the CPU column header to sort by processor usage. The top items will be the ones hogging the CPU. (If the top processes are all using 0%, the processes are sorted in the wrong direction. Click the column header again.)
Don’t assume that the top process is necessarily a hog. Some big applications are worth the CPU cycles. One way to manage these programs is to close them when you’re done with them. Another is to switch to a smaller program.
You can close a process from inside Task Manager. Select the process and click the End task button and confirm your decision. But this should be avoided.
When you’re done, click the Memory column header and repeat.
6. Turn off search indexing
When you search for a word across all the files in your Documents library, the results come up almost immediately. That’s wonderful, but it comes at a price. When you’re not searching, the indexing needed to create those fast searches slows you down.
To turn off all indexing:
1. Open Windows Explorer, right-click your C: drive, and select Properties.
2. On the General tab, uncheck Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties.
3. In the resulting warning box, select Apply changes to drive C:\, subfolders and files.
Windows may take some time turning off the indexing. Get up and take a walk; it’s good for you.
There’s another option that will let you turn off some indexing but not all of it:
Type indexing in the Cortana field. Select Indexing Options. Click the Modify button near the lower-left side of the resulting dialog box.
This brings up another dialog box, with two sections. And yes, it’s confusing. Start in the bottom section of the dialog box, Summary of selected locations. Click any of these options, and it changes the contents of the top section, Change selected locations.
Unchecking items in that top section will stop indexing in those specific locations.
7. Turn off Windows tips
Windows 10 occasionally gives you tips about how you can better use the operating system. The problem is that, in order to see what tips you need, it keeps an eye on how you’re using your PC.
Yes, that sounds worrying from a privacy issue, but it also slows down your PC.
To turn it off, click Start > Settings. Select System, then select Notifications & actions in the left pane.
At the bottom of the Notifications section, turn off Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows.
You might also want to explore the other notification options, and turn some of them off, as well. I don’t think any of the others slow down the PC, but they can get annoying.
8. Clean your internal drive
If your internal storage is almost full—whether it’s a hard drive or an SSD—that could be slowing you down. But if your drive has plenty of free room, skip this section.
Start with Windows’ own Disk Cleanup tool. In the Cortana field, type disk and select Disk Cleanup.
Wait while Disk Cleanup examines your drive. Click the Clean up system files button (this time you’ll need an administrator password). Then wait again for another examination.
Examine the options. If you find one called Previous Windows installation(s), you’re in luck. By checking it and clicking OK, you’ll free up a lot of space. You can check other items to get rid of them, as well.
Something else you might want to consider: Uninstall programs you no longer use.
9. Check for Malware
I doubt an infection is intentionally slowing down your PC. There’s no illegal profits from that. Plus it’s a sure-fire way to trigger a victim’s suspicions.
But some malicious code could be slowing down your PC, even if that wasn’t the criminal’s intention. So if you’re suspicious, read Eric Geier and Josh Norem’s guide on how to remove malware from your Windows PC.
In the good old days, every new PC came with a recovery CD or DVD, so if things went pear-shaped, you could easily restore things to how they were on day one (although you’d lose any files or applications you’d created).
Today, manufacturers just put an image of the system as it left the factory on a hidden partition of your primary drive.
As reported by PCworld.com:
“A Windows recovery disk builds on this idea. In addition to letting you reinstall Windows, it includes several troubleshooting tools, which can be lifesavers if your system won’t boot.
“Some of these tools used to be part of the OS. If your PC failed to boot you were presented with a menu allowing you to try and boot into Safe Mode, or use last known good configuration.”
That’s no longer the case with Windows 10. Now you need these tools to reside on a separate, bootable USB drive, and every person running Windows should keep one in a safe place with the label “in case of emergency.”
Create your own Windows 10 recovery drive
First, you’ll need an 8GB to 16GB USB drive and insert it into an open USB port on your PC.
Then, go into Windows’ Control panel (right-clicking the Windows icon is the easiest way) and type create a recovery drive into the search bar.
The manual method would be to go to System & Security > Security & Maintenance > Recovery.
If prompted, enter your admin password. In the resulting dialogue box, check the box labelled Back up system files to the recovery drive.
With your recovery drive created, you’ll have to boot from it to use it.
How your PC boots from USB varies according to your PC’s age and motherboard, but typically you can press one of the F-keys during boot to arrive at a boot selection window. From there you select the USB drive, you’re using, and it should proceed to boot from the recovery drive.
When you successfully boot from it, you’ll see a screen that offers a Troubleshoot option. Click on that, and you will see the following: Recover from a drive, and Advanced options (and possibly Factory Image Restore, if available).
The first option lets you reinstall Windows as a clean installation, which means you will lose all your data and installed applications.
The second option, which is labelled Advanced options, lets you fix your Windows installation in several ways, and brings you to the following menu:
System Restore: Use this to revert your PC to a happier time when things were working normally. This does not affect your data, but it does affect installed programs as it replaces the registry with an earlier version.
System Image Recovery: If you’ve used the image backup tool in Windows 10, this would be where it would come in handy. You can restore the image of your PC at the time you created the image, which includes all your data and installed programs at that time.
Startup Repair: This is sort of a “black box” in that it tries to fix whatever issue is preventing the system from booting, but it doesn’t tell you what it’s doing or, if successful, what the problem was. This is the first thing you should try, as it’s the quickest and least invasive.
Command Prompt: This can be useful for a wide array of tricks and tactics, most especially running the SFC /Scannow command to scan and fix corrupted system files. We all know the command prompt is a wizard’s toolbox, and if you know what you’re doing, the possibilities are almost endless.
Go Back to the Previous Build: Though worded a bit cryptically, this lets you revert your PC to the previous build of Windows, meaning the one before whatever update turned everything pear-shaped.
As you can see, it’s quite useful to have one of these recovery drives handy. Do yourself a favour and make one now.
That’s not something that happens every day, but Microsoft is canny enough to realise its priority has to be keeping its customers happy.
Following user feedback, the software giant has finally taken notice of the complaints that it’s been receiving since Windows 10 made its debut. These are mainly levelled at how the OS grabs control of their PC to install updates and upgrades, usually at inconvenient times.
In a report by Computerworld, Microsoft has announced it will offer customers more options for installing, and delaying, monthly security updates and once to twice a year feature upgrades.
Starting with the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update release, Microsoft will give users notifications once an update or upgrade has been downloaded and offer them the ability to install right away or hit “snooze,” which will postpone the update install for three days.
These new options apply to all Windows 10 editions. Administrators, however, will only be able to push policy-based delays in the Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10.
Back in August, a Windows 10 update caused a problem: many webcams stopped working.
It appeared as though the issue was caused by changes to the video encoding systems.
The update marked the end of support for two widely used encoding systems, so it became possible for more than one application to use video as it is being shot. Prior to the update Windows 10 only allowed one application access to a stream.
The problem hit webcams connected by USB cables, or on the same network. Footage either couldn’t be streamed or images froze.
In response to the complaints on Microsoft’s Support forum, Mike M from Windows Camera Team said:
“Hey folks, I have a couple of updates for you all, but before we get to that part, we want to thank you. The specific hardware and usage scenarios you’ve provided are excellent insight for us. We have been focusing on the Windows Insider Program flight data to monitor any issues. We hope in future we can get even better coverage through this data for the enterprise and business scenarios you’ve outlined. Now, let’s give you a little bit of insight into the engineering work being done to address your feedback. We have work in progress where the changes will be split up into three items.
“The first change will cover the MJPEG issue. We have an internal prototype ready and it’s going through testing as fast as we can to verify it doesn’t introduce regressions. Once testing is complete, we will release it to servicing so it reaches you and your customers automatically through Windows Update. We expect this update path will happen in September. I remain committed to communicating more specific dates once I have confirmation.
“The second change is exposing the H.264 media type. This change is more involved. The implementation is soon wrapping up, and once it does, this change will follow a similar process as the above. In addition to our internal testing, we plan to flight this change to our Windows Insiders, to get further verification insight and gather feedback from the community. We do this because, while we have many of the most popular commercially available cameras, the hardware ecosystem is so vast that it’s practically impossible for us to test every product out there. Since it will take some extra time for the H.264 work to go through this additional layer of testing, and we would prefer not to delay the MJPEG changes, we will ship these two separately. You can expect the MJPEG media type work to reach you first.
“Finally, there is one last update that we’re working on which is to enable custom media types (like Bayer). This set of code changes is related to the H.264 work I mention above, so it’s likely that we’ll ship them together.
“To ensure these changes will allow you to continue using your current devices, drivers and/or applications without changes we would appreciate your input. Please let me know what combinations of camera, driver (you can get the driver provider and version from Device Manager) and applications you’re using. This will help us cross check our current lab testing setups, broaden our validation coverage, and catch any issues earlier in the development cycle.
“Once again, I’d like to reiterate our commitment to making these improvements in a timely fashion. We’re aiming to provide you and our customers with a camera experience as you knew it from before the Anniversary Update, without requiring you to update your applications or custom camera drivers, and we believe we’ll be able to achieve this goal. I’ll continue doing my best to give you regular updates on our progress, and I’ll let you know the dates when you can expect the updates to be published as soon as we have that information. The team greatly appreciates your patience!” (Source: Mspoweruser.com)
As soon as we hear any more updates we’ll let you know.
Windows 10 arrived with numerous helpful additions, including quick actions.
Through these you can easily adjust various options like airplane mode, location settings, screen brightness and battery saver.
Located inside the Action Centre at the bottom of the panel, you may not realise that their arrangement is actually customisable – well it is in the Anniversary update.
How to customise your quick actions display
Customising your quick actions display is easy.
Click on Start > Settings (cog icon) > System > Notifications & actions.
In the centre of that screen you’ll see a grid of your quick action tiles. Each is clickable and can be rearranged by simply dragging and dropping them.
Should you wish to get rid of a specific action all together, click the link called Add or remove quick actions directly under the quick actions grid.
You will then be taken to a different screen, which lists each action along with on/off sliders.
Once you’ve rearranged them the way you want them, your new set up will be immediately reflected in the Action Centre.
It’s that simple.
Did you mention battery saver?
Earlier we mentioned battery saver, a useful feature to have on any PC.
Like the quick actions tiles, you can tweak the settings for this feature.
First of all, go to Start > Settings > System > Battery. When running on the battery this screen will show you the percentage of battery power remaining and the estimated time before your PC shuts down.
Under that the Battery Saver heading contains the settings you can tweak. By default, Battery Saver will be turned on automatically when your battery level falls below 20%. Unchecking this box will mean you’ll have to manually turn on Battery Saver.
Below that check box is a slider labelled Battery saver status until next charge. This is another way to turn it on. When activated you’ll enter Battery Saver mode until your PC is plugged in.
The last check box on this screen lets you go to Battery Saver mode without lowering screen brightness.
There you go; two ways of customising the settings under Windows 10 Anniversary Edition.
What was once a pain in the neck has now become surprising easy.
You can use the traditional methods, like third-party software, or you could use Windows 10’s easy-to-use tools, which are designed to enable you to remotely link your smartphone (Windows, Android or iOS) to your desktop PC.
Here are a few options for you.
Windows 10 is, in many senses, similar to its predecessors, but this incarnation has been designed for a multiple device world.
This means you can move between a phone and tablet and access your desktop PC from these devices.
Windows 10 has a ‘Phone Companion’ app built-into it that helps you connect your Windows PC to your smartphone – whether it’s a Windows phone, Android phone, or iPhone
When you launch the Phone Companion app on your PC, simply pick which type of phone you use –Windows phone, Android phone, or iPhone. With a Windows phone, there’s nothing extra needed
For an Android phone or iPhone you need to follow a few steps to get the right apps on your phone to make it work in conjunction with your Windows 10 PC
All your files and content will be available on your PC and your phone
OneDrive is an important part of Microsoft’s platform, and in Windows 10 it’s central to the operating system.
Basically, OneDrive is a file hosting service that allows users to sync files and later access them from a web browser or mobile device. Users can share files publicly or with their contacts.
With the OneDrive app setup on your phone, every photo you take on your phone will show up automatically in the Photos app on your Windows 10 PC.
With the Music app, you can store and access your music from OneDrive not only on your PC but also play it anywhere on your iOS or Android phone (it already works on Windows phones).
This means the music playlists you have on your Windows 10 PC will now show up and be automatically playable on your phone.
Notes you write on your PC in OneNote will show up on your phone. And any note you tweak on your phone will get synced to your PC.
You can also work on your Office documents from any of your devices, without worrying about moving files around.
Virtual private networks
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secure method of connecting a remote computer or other devices to a server, using special protocols to establish a temporary bridge between the two machines.
The level of sophistication you will need in terms of choosing the right VPN will depend on how many remote devices you want to connect.
However not all VPNs are the same. Before setting up a VPN, the type of network protocol has to be chosen. There are four options:
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) – this is the encryption used by online banking and commerce sites. For very small businesses, SSL is ideal as the VPN is set up via an internet browser.
Open VPN – if cost is an issue, this VPN is based on open source SSL code but as its name suggests, the code can be seen – and potentially hacked – by anyone.
PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol) – this is supported by Windows, Apple operating systems and mobile operating systems, which makes it ideal in the world of mobile computing
IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) and L2TP (Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol) – these VPNs are more secure than PPTP but are more complex to set up
There are quite a few VPN services to choose from so it’s vital you pay close attention to the service level agreement. Often you will be giving your agreement to be plagued by adverts and irritating content.
Remote desktop access
Remote desktop refers to software or an operating system feature that allows a personal computer’s desktop environment to be run remotely on one computer while being displayed on a separate computer.
This software is usually associated with remote administration by IT staff who don’t have to physically travel to the location where the computer is. But it also allows users to connect their device to any PC connected to the internet and recreate their desktop via a connection to the cloud.
Some of the best known services are:
Windows remote access
Last, but not least, is Windows that offers remote desktop connection from a computer running Windows to another computer running Windows as long as it is connected to the internet.
This means you can use all of your work computer’s programs, files, and network resources from a remote computer, and it’s like you’re sitting in front of your computer at home or work.
That said enabling Windows Remote Desktop can be a little tricky if you’re not specifically tech literate as it requires knowledge of port forwarding, firewalls, and router settings.
So there you go. There are several options available to you should you want to securely access your computer using a remote device. All you have to do is pick the one that fits your needs and budget.