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Aunty Virus - free computer help and advice

  • Aunty Virus 27th September

    Bill via email asks:
    I have recently bought an Asus Chromebook laptop for €170 which is absolutely fantastic but I can’t seem to find a download for a free antivirus program.
    Aunty says:
    Hi Bill. The Chromebooks are great machines and they don’t need an antivirus program as there is no possible way it can get infected or hacked. The Chromebook doesn’t use Windows but instead it uses Google’s own system which is lightning fast and bulletproof. You will still need to exercise the usual caution when surfing the web but there’s no way anything can compromise your machine. Maybe Microsoft and Apple’s days of dominance are coming to an end.

    Ray via email asks:
    Hi Aunty. My default printer is an Epson SX235W and it is connected to the computer by USB cable, how can I change the connection so that it is networked and my iPad can use it?
    Aunty Says:
    Hello Ray. I get asked a lot about WiFi printing and mostly it is still a bit hit-or-miss but there are a few easyish things you can try. Most modern routers, laptops, phones and printers have a feature called WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) which will let your devices connect to your WiFi router with a simple click of a button + without having to go through the normal password method. Once you have pressed the WPS button on your WiFi router you will have 2 minutes to press the WiFi button on your Epson printer (same for iPads and phones etc but via a WPS setting rather that a button) Look for a button on your router labeled WPS and press this for 3 seconds to activate the WPS, you then need to press the WiFi button on your printer (also for 3 seconds) which should get them talking to each other. The exact procedure will vary between different routers and printers but the principle is the same. The other option is to download and install the full software/driver from the Epson website that will let you do all the WiFi setup over the USB connection from your computer. It can get a bit Krypton Factor so good luck Ray and let me know how you get on.

    Lucy via email asks:
    Dear Aunty. I read your page each week with great interest and today I have an enquiry of my own. It is regarding not being able to easily open emails with Outlook Mail (which was all fine until I changed to Windows 10) and now I have to literally fight the laptop to open a new item in my Inbox. Could you please explain how to receive email using the web as described by your article? Maybe this would solve my problem! Please in easy idiot-proof language as, I am a senior citizen so am not au fait with too much techno talk. Thanking you in anticipation of a reply.
    Aunty Says:
    Webmail is simply a term used where you can access your email via a website rather than an app that you have installed on your computer. All email providers have a webmail option and the trend seems to be shifting away from email apps as they can often be troublesome and open up additional security issues. I see you are using Hotmail so you can simply go to where you can login and use your emails without having the kind of problems you are currently experiencing.

    That’s all for this week, email me your problems to and I will see what I can do.

  • Aunty Virus 20th September

    Richard via email asks:
    Dear Aunty. I have a new Windows 10 laptop and find my desktop icons have become hidden. I must have done something wrong so how can I rectify this?
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Richard. Probably what you have accidently done is to switch off the “show desktop icons” setting. If you right click on any blank area of your desktop you will see a small menu popup where you can reset things back to how they were.

    Alan via email asks:
    Hi Aunty, could you help me? When I go into Outlook I can open existing emails but two messages come up saying “server error 3219” and “windows live mail error Ox8D00005” and will not send or receive mail. Many Thanks.
    Aunty Says:
    Hello Alan. This problem has been around for a while and seems to mostly affect people running older versions of Outlook and Windows Live Mail. I messaged Microsoft who surprisingly didn’t reply so maybe try the free email app that comes bundled with Windows 8 & 10. Type "Mail" into the search bar by the start icon. I personally scrapped using any kind of email app years ago and have since always accessed my email accounts via the web, a lot less hassle and much more secure. I notice you have one of the Orange group email addresses so go to and have a go using webmail rather than using an email app. Any @hotmail or users can also access their webmail via

    Trevor via email asks:
    Hi Aunty. I have Windows 10 which has a free Antivirus program and I also have a Kaspersky program which costs approx €25 a year and it is now ready for renewal. My question is, is it worth paying for this extra protection? I enjoy your column.
    Aunty Says:
    Hello Trevor. The built-in Windows defender is quite adequate and of course it is free but I would strongly recommend also downloading and installing the free Malwarebytes (not the trial version) from and run a scan with both apps once a week.

    Richard from Torrevieja asks:
    Dear Aunty. We regularly use Skype but the sound quality is terrible so how easy would it be to improve the speakers on my Acer laptop? The Microphone is fine and I really don’t want to use a headphone and mic headset as I like my wife to chat to the grandkids with me.
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Richard. Very easy with a set of computer desktop speakers which you can pick up for under €30. They will plug into the small input on the side/front of your laptop which should be marked with a small headphone symbol. Get a decent set that has a mains power plug rather than the USB powered type as they will perform better and you can also use your laptop for playing music and YouTube videos etc. Logitech, Creative and Trust are all fairly good quality but do avoid the crappy Chino rubbish.

    Well that’s all for this week, email me your problems to and I will see what I can do.

  • Aunty Virus 13th September

    Bill via email asks:
    Hello Aunty. For the last 2 weeks when I switch on my Toshiba laptop I get a message pop up on the screen saying that my “license will expire in 15 days and to contact my system admin to get a product key” In the help section it says that the key should be on the box that it came in, or by email when I bought Windows, but I don’t recall ever having either of these. I am running Windows 10 which a shop upgraded for me from Windows 7 about 4 months ago.
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Bill. This is a bit odd as the Windows 10 upgrade from Win7 or 8 would have used your existing Win7 licence and once installed you shouldn’t have to reactivate it. Maybe try entering the original 25 digit key that should be on a Windows sticker underneath your laptop, but apart from that I don´t think I have ever seen a Windows 10 product key and new computers have all this activation process built into the computers circuitry. Maybe pop back into the shop and ask them for an opinion.

    Debbie via email asks:
    Hi Aunty, hope you can help me with my question. I have a laptop with Windows 7 that is about 3 years old and I was told that I can upgrade it to Windows 10 for free? I was also told by my “computer expert” ex husband that I can now only upgrade to Windows 8 for free and I need to pay for Windows 10.
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Debbie. I’m afraid you’ve missed the free upgrade offer that ended at the end of July 2016 and there was never a free upgrade from Win7 to Win8. If you have a functioning Win7 then you may as well stick with it until 2020 by which time your laptop will probably need replacing and there will be yet another version of Windows to contend with.

    Paul via email asks:
    Hello Aunty, When I start my Windows 7 laptop it runs a program called Check Disk which looks for errors on G: drive. It never reports any faults and Windows starts normally and runs OK. Can I stop the Check Disk process from doing this everytime as it can take a while before I can use my laptop?
    Aunty Says:
    Hello Paul. I suspect you may have an external hard disk, USB memory stick or camera SD memory card plugged in to your laptop and this is what Windows is scanning. After Windows starts, click on the “Start” icon and then “Computer” and you should see all of your drives listed, including your hard disk and DVD drive and from here you should be able to spot what device G: drive is. C: drive will be your main hard disk drive and D: or E: is normally your DVD drive.

    Jim via email asks:
    Dear Aunty, I part exchanged my old XP tower for a second hand Windows 7 laptop which has been great for downloading films which is really all I wanted it for. The only problem that I am having is that the hard disk is only 120GB and I am finding I am filling it up very quickly. Is there any way I can upgrade the hard drive?
    Aunty Says:
    You can Jim but there will be an awful lot of work transferring and reinstalling Windows plus all your apps so you may find using a USB external hard disk easier and there is no need to have a specialist fit it. You can pick a 1TB (1000GB) one up for under €50 which you simply plug into any spare USB port and it will appear on your Computer as a new drive letter.

    Well that’s all folks, email me your problems to and I will see what I can do.

  • Aunty Virus 6th September

    Gary from Almoradi asks:
    Hi Aunty. I'm using Internet Explorer on Windows 10 and I'm having difficulty deleting my 'Favourites'. I used to be able to do this very easily by 'right clicking' on the favourite, then 'delete' or otherwise by going into 'Favourites'  'Organise favourites'  highlight the favourite then hit 'Delete'. Both these things still initially delete the website but usually within minutes or sometimes by the next day, it reappears again at the bottom of the favourites list. I've spent ages deleting dozens of favourites but each time hey presto, they are back and I'm baffled. As this was a function that previously worked, I was wondering if it is likely to be a result of an automated Windows 10 update?
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Gary. I think that Internet Explorer is synchronising the favourites stored on your computer with another device, such as your phone or tablet. You can switch syncing off by clicking on the start icon and select “setting” “accounts” and click on “Sync your settings” and turn off Internet explorer settings. You now should be able to delete your unwanted favourites.

    Beryl from Quesada asks:
    We have treated ourselves to a brand new Windows 10 laptop but our old Windows 7 one had a proper paid copy of Microsoft Office which we used to write letters and my husband writes short stories and poems. The shop I called said I must now pay an extra €130 to have it reinstalled and they can’t copy it from my old laptop as they say they have binned it (luckily we did keep a USB backup of our documents) so I don’t know what to do.
    Aunty Says:
    Hello Beryl. Unless you have any of the original Office installation stuff (possibly emails with the activation code) you´re looking at around €80 for the latest 2016 version. €80 is a lot more than the marvellous Wordpad app that comes bundled with Windows so maybe give that a go. Click on the start icon (or press the Windows logo key) and type worpad and the app should show up in the list. Also unless your old Windows 7 laptop had been through the washing machine I’d be very surprised if it had all been “binned” so maybe check again with the shop just in case your old hard disk drive is sitting on a shelf somewhere.

    Gwen via email asks:
    Hello Aunty. I work for a local charity and I print a lot of emails every day but nearly all of what I print is just simple text so could happily be black and white but most of the time a load of colour adverts are included and we seem to be using as much expensive colour ink as we are black. Is there a way to remove or disable the colour cartridge? We tried this but we get an error message “insert cartridge” and I can only print the document after I have put the colour one back in.
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Gwen. No you won’t be able to remove the colour cartridge without an error message from the printer but you can set up your printer to print only in black and white or draft/economy mode. The easiest way to do this is by holding down the ‘Ctrl’ key and pressing ‘P’ just before you are ready to print.  Click the ‘properties’ button and this should display various printing options. All printers and programs are a little different, but the principles are the same.

    Any questions then do email me at

    See you all next week.

  • Aunty Virus 30th September

    Tina via email asks:
    Hi Aunty, could you please tell me how to remove Adobe Flash Player from my computer. I'm fed up with it popping up all the time when I'm on the internet.  I have Adobe version 10 installed at the moment and Windows 7.
    Aunty Says:
    You can remove it from ‘Control Panel’ ‘programs and features’ Tina but you may find you need Flash Player to watch videos on a lot of websites. The best thing to do is to get the latest version 15 from the website (language change is at the bottom) and click on the top-right Menu icon and then the Flash Player link. Remember to untick the McAfee optional offer.


    Fiona via email asks:
    Hi Aunty, a couple of quick questions for you. I have Windows 8 and my McAfee antivirus program is no longer valid and I don’t want to pay for another year if I can have Windows Defender for free, I have been told it’s much better for me as a pensioner! I can’t seem to get rid of the McAfee app and reinstall Defender which shows as being off so how can I do it? And another question, I only have Windows 8.0 and have been told that Windows 8.1 is much better and that I can apparently upgrade for free, how can I install it without causing any of my current things to disappear?
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Fiona. You can uninstall McAfee from ‘Control Panel’ and ‘Programs and Features’. Simply double click on the McAfee entry in the list and follow the step-by-step uninstall options and make sure you choose and remove everything. Once removed you should get a warning message that you no longer have an antivirus program and you should be prompted to activate Windows Defender. (NB Windows Defender is the new name for Microsoft Security Essentials and comes pre-built into Win8) The easiest place to get to the Win8.1 upgrade is from the ‘Store’ icon on the new style desktop where it should be one of the first downloads on display. Any Microsoft or Apple updates have the potential to become total disasters so please make sure you have a backup of any important files.
    Tom via email asks:
    Hi Aunty, I have been using Skpe for a number of years mainly for family in Australia and the USA without problem, however the last time I attempted to use Skype it would not connect. I run Windows XP. I uninstalled and then reinstalled the Skype app but with same result. I tried it on my Windows 8 laptop, but still no response. It starts to dial then nothing. I know Microsoft have bought Skype so have they done something that requires other hardware and/or software? Any ideas?
    Aunty Says:
    Hello Tom. If both your XP and Win8 machines are having similar problems with Skype then I suspect the issue is either with your Internet or your Skype account. Have you tried restarting your router and maybe test Skype on your laptop via another internet connection? Another thing to try is the built-in Skype call test. If you don’t see it on your Skype screen then type the word Echo into the search box and you should get the option to call the free sound/test service. Certainly make sure you have the latest version of Skype let me know how you get on.


    Email me with your questions and problems at and I will see what I can do.

  • Aunty Virus 15th September

    Diana via email asks:
    Dear Aunty, could you please help me with a view to choosing the best antivirus program to install on my new computer and wireless laptop? Some are advising MacAfee and some say Avast, or is there a better one?
    Aunty Says:
    This subject always throws a cat amongst the pigeons and there is no correct answer or ‘fix all’ packages out there. I am still using Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes on my Win7 PC, and as it comes already built into Windows 8 (renamed as Windows Defender) I have the same setup on my new laptop. I feel reasonably safe and haven’t had any problems for a long long while. Of course as with any security software, it can only find nasties that it knows about so you do need to keep an eye on updates plus I always run a full scan myself once in a while.
    Alice via email asks:
    Hello Aunty, I am about to buy a new laptop but can you advise me how to transfer my email address onto my new laptop from my old PC? My husband will take out the hard drive from the old PC and dump the rest by the bin for the Wombles. I have a Google Gmail address and I use Chrome.
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Alice. As you use a Gmail account through your browser (Google Chrome) then your email addresses and messages are all stored on Google’s mail servers somewhere out in cyberspace and therefore you need do nothing. This is why you can access your emails and address book from any computer in any Internet café anywhere in the world. This is commonly referred to as webmail and the same applies for most email services such as Hotmail and Yahoo, and any browser such as Safari, Internet Explorer or Firefox.  
    Judy via email asks:
    I was interested to read Joan's letter today regarding the £ sign on her new computer. I had a similar problem and ended up downloading an English keyboard. My £ sign is exactly where it would be on an English keyboard but not however on the Spanish keyboard! So I photographed my English keyboard and have a copy stuck to my Spanish keyboard because many other symbols are in different places too. I feel your solution is the easiest option but I can manage mine now. I also find Windows 8 a problem at times but refuse to give in, or my patient partner refuses to give in. Would a special article on Windows 8 problems be a possibility as I’m sure we will all have to cope with it in the end? Many thanks for your solutions to our problems, I look forward to reading them each week.
    Aunty Says:
    Hello Judy, thanks for that and what a good idea, you can also buy sets of keyboard stickers on ebay or Amazon for a few €uros which come in different colours, shapes and sizes. It would be a good idea to dedicate an article focused on some of the more common Win8 problems but as Windows 9 is only just around the corner I may wait a bit and see what new horrors Microsoft have got planned for us.
  • Aunty Virus 8th September

    Tina from Torrevieja asks:
    Dear Aunty, I'm fairly new to computers and have a laptop with Window 7. When I try to access my phone bill which comes as email attachments I get the following message on my screen."This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Create an association in the Set Association control panel" I hope you can help with this problem.
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Tina. This error message happens when you receive emails with attachments (or try to open files) that Windows does not know what to do with. I am assuming these attachments are PDF files (I receive some facturas the same way) which will require Adobe Reader to open them. Go to and at the bottom of the homepage is a link to get the latest free version. Oh and once you have the first Adobe Reader installation screen showing make sure you untick the annoying “Optional Offer” box for McAfee or you may end up with two antivirus programs.
    Jerry via email asks:
    Hi Aunty, I have recently noticed some problems with my internet speed. I have an 8Mb Movistar package which has been great up until last week. I signed up to a movie download website in the USA but the download speed was consistently less than 1Mb/sec and the Monty Python boxset I purchased took overnight to finish downloading. I know this isn’t normal so how can I change the speed to be closer to the 8Mb/sec that I pay for. I run Win7 and have upto date antivirus.
    Aunty Says:
    What you need to take into consideration here Jerry is that this particular download speed you are seeing will hugely depend on the connection speed in USA, and a lot of these kind of film distribution sites will allocate fixed and smallish chunks of their bandwidth to guarantee everyone gets a reasonable speed.  Even though you have 8Mb per second available here in Spain, if the USA based website only uploads the film to you at 1Mbps that is the maximum speed the film will download. If you’re not sure that you are consistently getting your 8Mb per sec then have a quick check via
    Tom via email asks:
    Hi, Is Internet Explorer 11 compatible with Windows XP? I use a website that tells me I need IE11 and I have looked on the internet, but have been unable to find out.
    Aunty Says:
    Sadly not Tom. You may get away with the latest Firefox or Chrome but I think you will run into problems. I suspect it is time for a Windows upgrade.
    Joan via email asks:
    Hi Aunty. I have just bought a new laptop with the horrible Windows 8 but it doesn’t have a £ key as it is a Spanish keyboard. I only need it now and then (I help with the accounts for my daughter’s business in the UK) so I don’t think I need to actually fit a new keyboard.
    Aunty Says:
    Hello Joan. A quick fix for this would be to hold down the ‘Alt’ key and type 0163 from you number pad (not the numbers along the top row) plus I have sent you instructions on how to change the keyboard layout within Win8 that will let you make use of the unused dollar key.

    Email me with your questions and problems at and I will see what I can do.
  • Aunty Virus 1st September

    Kenneth via email asks:
    HELP! What on earth is happening? I use Win7 and after an hour away from the computer the desktop screen has shifted one inch to the right! Also the bottom bar, including the start button, has moved vertically to one side of the screen.  Also in the past Icons on the bottom task bar have mysteriously disappeared then returned all on their own.
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Kenneth. How strange! Do you have a keyboard-cat or maybe a poltergeist? Seriously though I can only think that this is possibly a faulty graphics component or maybe a virus. Most modern flat screens have an ‘auto adjust’ button which works by communicating with your computer and adjusting for the best fit. You can also check that you are making the best of your recommended settings by clicking ‘start’ ‘control panel ‘adjust screen resolution’ and check your resolution is on the recommended setting. The Win7 task bar (the bar at the bottom with the start button etc) can be dragged and dropped to the side, top or bottom using the mouse, but first check it is unlocked by right clicking on a blank part of the task bar. Do a full scan with Malwarebytes and your antivirus program and let me know how you get on.

    Maureen via email asks:
    Hi Aunty, I Hope you can help. My Yahoo home page shows on screen no problems but when I bring up emails I'm waiting for ever! First I have a blank screen (apart from the bottom left hand corner which tells me that "waiting for uk-mg 42.mail,” followed by some other rubbish that moves very fast and I don't understand. This started about 2 months ago.
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Margaret. I’ve had a few readers with very similar errors and I think this was a problem Yahoo were having with their mail servers. If it hasn’t already cleared itself then try going via and click on the mail icon. As ever you should double check that you don’t have any nasties and do a full scan with Malwarebytes and your antivirus program.

    Sheila via email says:
    Hi Aunty. I'm sure you already know this but I read your column a few months ago where someone had a problem with the size of the text in their email and you gave advice about how to increase and decrease the font size.  I had a similar problem but after increasing the font size everyone was getting very large lettered emails from me!  I have discovered that as I am using a laptop with Win8, there is a facility on the touchpad that works to increase or decrease the size of whatever is on the screen and it’s very easy to inadvertently do this.  It works in the same way as the screen on a tablet etc.  I wondered if that person was working with Win8 and a laptop.  It's been a nightmare for my elderly mother until I discovered how to disable it.
    Aunty Says:
    Thanks ever so much for the advice Sheila. There are two separate things you mention here which can sometimes cause a bit of confusion so I’ll briefly go over some tips. Firstly there is the font size that you can set in apps (such as Word, Gmail and Yahoomail) which will change the appearance of any documents or emails that you create/send. This is normally accessed through the tools or options menu. Secondly there is the visual text/font size that you can increase (usually to help read small writing) or decrease (to get more to fit in the screen). To increase the screen text size you can either hold down the Ctrl key and press the plus/minus key (or roll the mouse wheel) or as Sheila points out, the pinch-zoom function on newer laptop touchpads.

    As always you can email me with your questions at  and I’ll see what I can do.


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