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Aunty Virus - free computer help and advice

  • Aunty Virus 29th March

    Graham via email asks:
    Hello Aunty. Is there a way to stop the sunlight reflecting on my laptop? I've seen stick-on screen filters for sale but I'm a bit wary sticking anything on my screen until I know a bit more about it. I also have a Samsung Galaxy tablet which seems to be much better outside.
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Graham. There are a couple of things you can try before buying anything. When laptops are used outside they are pretty much certainly running on battery and will likely have the screen automatically dimmed to save power. In ‘control panel’ ‘power options’ you will be able to change these settings. There should also be a +/- brightness key on the keyboard so look for some symbol on one of the F keys along the top, but as all laptops are different maybe ask Google. Obviously positioning yourself out of the sun and under some shade will help and I know you can buy special laptop shades for around €40 which will do a good job, but I would rather make one from an old cardboard box and put the €40 to better use. I certainly wouldn’t recommend sticking any kind of filter on a laptop screen.

    Stan via email asks:
    Dear Aunty, how do you get rid of the BING and MSN search thing off my computer? I’ve no idea how it got there and how can I stop this kind of thing from taking over my computer?
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Stan. Bing is Microsoft’s own search engine page and they are pushing it again in an attempt at reclaiming some ground from Google and Yahoo. MSN is also owned by Microsoft, and is a sort of “homepage” with a bit of news and links etc. Both are harmless but can be annoying if they’ve taken over your Google or Yahoo homepage. I’m guessing you have recently installed or updated Skype Stan? Skype is also owned by Microsoft and during the install there are two tick boxes that you need to untick to stop these two from taking over. To get your browser (Chrome Firefox etc) back to normal you need to go to the “tools” or “settings icon” and change your startup and homepage settings back to or

    Mandy from Cabo Roig asks:
    Dear Aunty. I travel frequently from Ireland to Spain so I bought a small Acer Netbook because it is small and light weight however I now realise that it doesn’t have a DVD drive so is it easy enough to download information from the internet and onto a memory stick as I am nervous in case I infect my computer?
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Mandy. It is actually easier to download stuff onto a memory stick than to “burn” it onto a DVD as the USB stick simply appears as an extra drive letter under ‘My Computer’ rather than having to go through the often troublesome process of burning the downloaded information to CD/DVD. As far as safety is concerned it really depends on what you are downloading as infected files can just as easily get onto your computer via a CD/DVD as a USB stick. Make sure your antivirus program is up to date and you should be fine.


    Any questions you can email me at and I’ll see you all next week.

  • Aunty Virus 21st March

    Len from San Pedro asks:
    I would like to backup everything from my computer in case of any problem doing the Windows 10 upgrade and I know you often advise us to do this anyway but I’m not really sure how to do it! I have loads of photos and documents but my videos and music I’m not too bothered about.
    Aunty Says:
    Probably the easiest way Len is to simply copy them all onto a USB memory stick, and you can pick up a huge 32GB one for under €15 which will hold 1000’s of photos and documents. When you plug the USB stick in it will appear as the next available drive letter in “Computer” (from the Start button).  I simply use the built in copy and paste function which you can get to by right clicking and “copy” on the folder on your computer and then right click and “paste” onto the USB drive.

    Ron from El Mojon asks:
    Hi Aunty. I use Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and sometimes also Google Chrome browsers and I am trying to consolidate all of my bookmarks/favourites into just one basic file in Firefox which I can then export/import to the other browsers. Could you advise the full directory path and description to where the favourites and bookmarks are stored in the 3 different browsers?
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Ron. Without knowing which version of Windows you are running I can’t point you to the exact path where bookmarks are stored. However all three browsers have an option to export and import bookmarks/favourites from each other so probably the best method would be to set your Firefox bookmarks how you want them and then use the import function from IE and Chrome.

    Susan via email asks:
    Hi Aunty. I bought a Toshiba laptop from Carrefour before Christmas and it was great for the first few months but it slowly started getting slower and slower until it actually packed up completely. When I took it back they pretty much refused to help as I hadn’t been back within 2 weeks with the guarantee (which I am now told breaks all EU laws) but luckily I had bought it with my Barclaycard and I was able to threaten them with Barclaycard’s refund service. They ended up taking my laptop off me and said one of their engineers would look at it and I would have to come back next week. I picked it up 2 weeks later but when I switched it on none of my stuff was on there and after a closer look I realised it wasn’t my original laptop so all of my photos, emails and bank login details were gone!! Carrefour then told me that mine had been returned to the manufacturer in China and recommended I contact my banks and cancel any credit cards etc (which I have done) but the worst thing was all of my photos have gone. Is there anything at all that I can do?
    Aunty Says:
    Sorry to hear this Susan but this is the big problem when buying a computer from a supermarket. They have a basic replacement policy and virtually no system in place to backup or secure any of your personal details. There is so much of our private information stored on computers these days that it pays to use a proper computer shop that can at least advise you on clearing the machine and backing up your valuable stuff should a serious fault occur.


    That’s it for this week, email me at and I’ll see what I can do.

  • Aunty Virus 14th March

    Neville via email asks:
    I have downloaded Firefox so that I may stop the `pop up' ads. Being 78 I'm struggling to proceed, please advise.
    Aunty Says:
    Hello Neville. Firefox by itself probably won’t stop those annoying pop-up adverts, what you need is the additional plug-in for Firefox called “adblock”.  You can download it from for free but they do ask for a voluntary donation which you can opt out of. You should also scan your computer with the free Malwarebytes as pop-up ads are also a sign of a possible spyware infection.

    Pat via email asks:
    Hi aunty. I recently upgraded to windows 10 and find that my printer doesn't work. I have a z640 series colour Lexmark inkjet. I have looked to download drivers but my printer isn't listed in windows 10, is there an alternative or is it now obsolete?
    Thank you in anticipation.
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Pat. Try the Widows 7 drivers as these will often install and work fine with Windows 10.

    Lesley via email asks:
    I have just bought a new laptop from the UK with Windows 10 which has the Microsoft Home Student Office 2016 app installed but annoyingly this turned out to only be a trial and is now saying that it will expire in 10 days. When I look at the buying option it is asking for $149 which I can’t really afford. I really only use Word but I use it all day and every day and have tried the free Open Office but it seems far more complicated to use. Is there any other simple alternative (free or cheap) program I can download?
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Lesley. Maybe try Google Docs or Libre Office which are both free and work as really good substitutes for most of the Microsoft Office programs, maybe also download some of the many free user manuals/tutorials. Windows does come with a perfectly usable word processor called Wordpad, which you can find by typing wordpad into the search box by the start button.

    Jan from Aguas Nuevas asks:
    Hi Aunty. I am still using Windows XP on an old laptop and I sometimes get sent emails with a .MOV attachment from my friend. When I click on them I get a message saying ".MOV not recognized by Windows Media Player". What should I do?
    Aunty Says:
    Any files that have the .mov extension are designed for Apple’s Quicktime media player app and there are a few things you can do to view them. My preferred option is to download the brilliant VLC player from which I use and pretty much plays every type of video or music file. I don’t think Quicktime is supported on Windows 8 or 10, but as you are still on XP then you could download Quicktime for Windows from and let it set itself as your default media player.


    Any questions then email me at See you all next week.

  • Aunty Virus 7th March

    Janice via email asks:
    Hello Aunty. I do a lot of typing with Word and I print a lot everyday (a set of cartridges a week) but as it is always black & white, and most of it just for checking, can I save on ink by disabling or removing the colour cartridge?
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Janice. You won’t be able to remove the colour cartridges without causing error messages from the printer. You can however tell your printer to print only in black and white or ‘grey scale’ and also change to ‘fast/draft’ mode. The easiest way to do this from Word is by holding down the ‘Ctrl’ key and pressing ‘P’ and 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. A lot of printers will still use some colour ink even if you are only printing B/W text so maybe consider buying a €50 monochrome laser printer?


    Terry via email asks:
    I often see your readers asking for advice regarding Win10. I changed from Windows Vista last year and found my printer would not work. My computer shop told me he had a long list of people voicing their misgivings and wanting to return to Windows 7. He has earned a small fortune converting them back to how they were, but I see that from June we may have no option but to change and it's likely to cost €130. Have you any advice or comments to make?
    Aunty Says:
    Hi Terry. The actual end date/price for the free Win10 offer doesn’t seem to be cast in stone anymore, and many insider sources think it will be extended way beyond July, but one thing we do know is that Win7 will be supported until 2020, so whatever happens don’t be scare panicked into the Win10 upgrade. I personally only know of a few incidents where some older computers & printers have needed a bit of tweaking to get Win10 100% working, but if properly installed with a little planning (and that is very much the key issue) Win10 is great. I found it much faster, easier to use and more stable than Win8, and I think overall it just edges it over Win7. If you don’t get on with Win10 then it is literally one click (within a month from the upgrade) and you’re back to your old Win7 setup exactly how it was before the upgrade. It’s interesting to note that Microsoft have foolishly set themselves a goal of 1,000,000,000 Win10 users by 2017, so I suspect this “upgrade frenzy” has been carefully planned to help meet that target. Watch this space for any confirmed dates or prices.


    Nick from Torrevieja asks:
    Hello there Aunty. I have 3 questions about Windows 10 that I am sure you will be able to answer. What is the minimum amount of RAM needed for it to run satisfactorily? Is it straightforward and 'user friendly' when operated without a touch-sensitive screen? Will the various games programs I have downloaded with Windows 7 (for the grandchildren, of course...) still work? Thanking you in anticipation.
    Aunty Says:
    Hello Nick. I would suggest a minimum of 2GB of memory, but I have seen Win10 working on one of those little net-book type laptops with only 1GB RAM. It is very user friendly and delightfully similar to Win7 but thankfully nothing like Win8. All your Win7 games will work fine.

    Any questions then email me at See you all next week.


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