Black Screen

In the last couple of months, Robert and I have had several computers calls where the computer screen is black and the computer won’t finish booting up.  In one case the hard drive light was blinking rapidly but the computer still wouldn’t load which seemed to indicate that the hard drive had gone bad.

I also had another computer with similar symptoms.  In both cases when we brought the computers back to the office to work on them, they started right up as if there was no problem.

This may have been caused by a Windows update that hasn’t been able to fully complete, possibly from a slow internet connection or the update has stalled for some unknown reason.

We have suggested in the past to leave the computer sit for awhile and see if the update will finish. In one instance the client left his sit for several days with no change.  We are now suggesting that if your computer seems to be stuck in this manner and won’t load, but your hard drive light is on, go ahead and shut the computer down and restart it.  You will need to hold your computer’s power button down until your computer powers off.  Wait until it has completely shut down – no lights or sounds coming from your computer.  Then you can try to restart.  In many cases this will allow the windows update to continue or finish up and then your computer will start up. 

If in doubt, as always, give me a call.


Doing regular backups to your computer can save a lot of heartache if your hard drive fails.  Setting up automatic backups in Windows 10 is fairly simple.  There are two backup methods available within Windows.

No matter which method you use, you will need a place to back up your files to.  Although you can backup your computer onto the cloud, recovering the files later if needed may be slow, depending on the internet speeds.  I recommend using a physical external hard drive that attaches to your computer, generally by USB cable.  They are readily available and reasonably priced.

The File History method backs up your Profile folders.  These include your Pictures, Documents, Favorites and your Desktop items.  This is a good daily or weekly backup if you create or modify a lot of documents that you want to protect.

The Backup & Restore (Windows 7) method, makes a complete system image of your computer that can be used to restore your computer to its previous state should your hard drive fail.  I recommend that this option be ran at least once a month.

Access both methods by going to Settings/Update & Security and then choosing Backup from the menu on the left of the screen.

To set up the Backup and Restore (Windows 7),  select the link under “Looking for an older backup?” 

Follow the prompts for each method by choosing a location for your backup (your external drive) and selecting the interval that you wish to update.  For both methods choose the Backup Now prompt to set the backup in motion.

Google Docs

Google Docs

Many of your students are using Google Docs to create their assignments. Google Docs functions like other word processor such as Word, and it can load Word documents and save files in the Word format. You can type documents, insert images from your computer or search the web from inside your document for an image that you may need for your assignment.

For example, if you want to insert a picture from your computer in your open document, click on the word “Insert” at the top of the page, then click on “Image” and then “Upload from computer”. The Pictures folder on your computer will open and you can select a picture, or you can browse your computer for one.

 You can also use your computer’s web camera to take a picture of yourself and insert it directly into your document. As before, click on “Insert” at the top of the page then click on “Image” and this time choose “Camera”. Your web camera may ask you to give permission to access it. You will see your smiling face on the screen. Click the camera icon to take the picture and select “Insert” to put it in your document. If you want to try again, select “Cancel”.

You can search the web for an image directly from your document. As before, “Insert”, “Image” and this time select “Search the web”. A google search engine will display. Type in what you want a picture of, “Dogs” for example. You can select one or more images to use. Be aware of copywrite protections on images that you select from the web.

Have a safe week,

Telecommuting in today’s world Part 1

Hi Readers. As many of you are working from home and students are participating in online classes, I this seemed to be a topic most could relate to.

The internet and our computers are working overtime in this new world of work, school, and play, from home. Make sure you and your computer have the chance to reset occasionally. Step away from your computer every hour or so to rest your eyes and stretch your legs. If you have the option, alternate your online work with some tasks you can do with pen and paper to ease your eye strain. Your computer needs a rest as well. Make it a habit of rebooting your computer at least once a week. Rebooting fixes many issues that may come up from your computer running constantly. Many Windows updates also need a reboot in order to complete the update.

A few things that I learned from years of telecommuting in the past. Set your workday hours and stick to them. When you are “at work” be on task and don’t try to do laundry and clean the house while working, you’ll end up with forgotten clothes sitting in the washer all day and exhaustion at the end of the day. Never, never take a work call in the restroom! This sounds funny but it actually happened in one of very first telecommuting meetings I attended. Right in the middle of the boss passing on the latest news, we hear a flush! Funny for sure, but not a particularly good practice. After that we were instructed to mute our phones or microphones unless it was our turn to talk.

Some of you and your students may be using Zoom for communicating with work or school. You may have heard about Zoom Bombing – people breaking into Zoom meetings that aren’t invited that have bad intentions. We all want to keep our students safe from this type of invasion. Here are a few tips to secure your meetings.

  • Make sure that your meetings are password protected and that only those invited have the passwords.
  • Don’t post passwords in a publicly accessible location. You can email the passwords to individuals or post them in a secure location that is only accessible by the intended participants.
  • Disable the “Join before host” feature so that the host of the meeting can see who is logging in.
  • You can also create a waiting room so that those waiting to join must be approved by the host of the meeting before joining.
  • Once everyone that is invited have arrived, lock your meeting.

The Zoom support site has information on how to implement these security features and more.

Have a healthy and cyber-safe week!

Safety in the Tech World

Hi everyone, first I’d like to introduce myself to those I’ve not met.  I’m going to be your new tech person when Robert and Edie move east.  I’ve been working with Robert for the past six months or so and have met many of you already.  I’m really looking forward to working with you on your tech needs.  Thanks to the fantastic Highway Shopper team for being so welcoming and allowing me to continue this weekly article!

With everyone working from home and social distancing, our computers have become extremely important tools in our lives. Now more than ever you need your computer to be running in tip top shape. You may be concerned that with our Stay Home Stay Healthy directive that you won’t be able to get the repairs that you need.

I wanted to assure you that ComputerFAQ is here to serve you, safely.  I’m happy to try and answer your questions in email or on the phone and if it’s something I can walk you through virtually, I will.  If I need to come out to your home and the problem is something that I can pickup your computer and take it to my home office to work on, then that is the preferred method to keep us all safe.  If the problem is something that needs to be addressed inside of your home, such as a network issue, I will do so, and keep the necessary personal distance from you and use sanitary measures such as gloves and if necessary a mask.

Finally, I wanted to introduce you to my new ComputerFAQ blog.  I will try to address common issues here and give you some fun web sites to check out while you are stuck at home.  You can find the blog at:   I hope you will check it out and send me feedback on what you think and anything you would like to see included.

With that I wish you all a safe week.

Windows Key Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can be big time savers and after some practice, using them becomes second nature. Most programs, like Word, Excel, Photoshop, etc, have shortcut keys combinations. For this week, let’s talk about the Windows key on your keyboard. The Windows key in combination with some other key press can get you quickly to certain features. In the list below you will see a list in this format Win + E Open File Explorer
This means to hold down the windows key and press the letter “E”. This action will open the File Explorer for you.

Try some of these out:

Win + E Open File Explorer
Win + I Open Settings
Win + M Minimize all open windows
Win + Shift + M Restore minimized windows
Win + S Open Search
Win + R Open the Run command dialog box
Win + Alt + D Hide and Display Time and Date on Desktop

These are the shortcuts that most of you may find helpful. If you want to see a complete list, it is available on the Microsoft web page here.