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The Computer Tutor

A Technology podcast
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The Computer Tutor podcast is a weekly show that offers all kinds of cool things that help you use your computer more easily and effectively. You'll say, "Wow, that's cool - I never knew I could do that!" Show notes for each episode are at


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3 things I do when setting up a new computer
When you get a new computer, you can’t just turn it on and start using it. Those days are long gone. Now, you have to navigate past Microsoft’s tricks and traps. And it’s important to do it right from the beginning – otherwise you could end up with a lot of frustration and wasted time trying to fix it.   Today I’ll tell you 3 of the important steps in the process I use for setting up a new computer. I go through the same process when I’m prepping a laptop for resale also. Install Chrome and set it as the default browser When you get a new Windows 10 computer, the browser that’s set to be the default is Edge. Edge is awful. How awful is it? It’s so bad, only about 5% of Windows users use it – even though it’s the one that comes as the default browser. This means the vast majority of people install a different browser when they get a new computer. The one I use is Chrome. It’s easy to use, and it’s also easy to use my ad blocking extension (uBlock Origin). Just go to and click the Download button, and follow the steps. At some point it will ask you to make Chrome the default browser, so go ahead and do that. Microsoft Edge will still be on your computer; you just won’t use it. In fact, Internet Explorer is even still in there (even though you don’t see it) but of course you won’t want to use it either. Chrome is all you need. If you prefer Firefox, it’s good too. Turn on System Restore and create a restore point It makes no sense whatsoever, but when you install Windows 10, System Restore is turned OFF by default. If your computer has a problem, or if you install software that causes a glitch, it’s so nice to have the option of taking the computer back to an earlier date and time. When you take it back to a time that was before the problem started, the problem is gone. BUT – you don’t have that option when System Restore is not enabled and configured. So you need to do that on any new computer. In the search bar in the bottom left, type the word “create” and then in the search results, click on “Create a restore point”. That takes you to the System Restore dialog box, where you will choose the “C” drive and click Configure. In that new window you can enable System Restore, configure it to use about 2% of your drive space, and then go ahead and create a restore point just in case you might need it. Turn off ads in the Start menu This is another example of Microsoft’s sliminess. Click the Start button, then the Settings icon (it looks like a gear). Then click the Personalization category, and click the Start tab in the left column. In that windows, you’ll see an option that says “Show suggestions occasionally in Start” and it’s turned ON by default. Well, by “suggestions”, Microsoft really means “advertisements”. You want your Start menu clogged with their ads? Of course not. No one does. Slide that switch to the left to turn it off. And here’s a bonus tip (which just might be more important than any of the other three we already talked about) – don’t connect your new computer to the internet until you get to the desktop screen. When you first turn it on, Microsoft will really – REALLY – want you to connect it to the internet before doing anything else. In fact, if you don’t want to do that, the phrase you have to click on isn’t “Don’t connect” or something simple. What you have to click on is “I don’t have internet”. Which of course will confuse some people, which means they might actually go back and choose to connect to the internet, which is exactly what Microsoft wants them to do. When you set up a new computer that’s online, that means you have to sign in to your Microsoft account in order to get into your computer. Oh, you don’t have a Microsoft account? Well then, you’ll need to create one. And create a password for that account. And create security questions for recovering that password. And if you install Office later, that means your documents and other files will by default be stored in OneDrive, rather than in your computer’s Documents folder. Once Microsoft has its hooks in you like that, it’s a cumbersome process to undo it. That’s by design. I prefer to not engage in any of that nonsense. Just don’t connect it to the internet, and don’t bother with a password. You can add one later if you need one, and it doesn’t have to be your Microsoft account – it can just be a local user account on your computer. KEEP IN MIND – the things I talked about today are just a few of the MANY configurations I make when setting up a computer. If you buy a laptop from me, that stuff is already all done for you. And I do New PC Setup for many of my clients when they get a new computer (this can all be done remotely). If you need help just let me know.  
Case Study – identifying a phishing email
I recently had a client forward an email to me. The email told her she had to confirm her agreement to the AOL Terms of Service, or she could no longer use her email account. She was concerned that her email would get cut off. She had nothing to worry about. The email she got was a typical phishing email. That means it was just trying to trick her into clicking through and giving out her email password, which would give the scammer control over her email account. I wanted to show you this actual email, and how it was identifiable as a scam. The email she received supposedly came from AOL. But look at the “From” address:   If an email comes from the actual AOL, the email address will end with “”. This one ends with “” which indicates that the sender is not only NOT with AOL, he’s also somewhere in Mexico, using the ancient Prodigy email service. The second big giveaway are the links in the email. In the screenshot below, you can see that there are 6 links: Terms of Service Privacy Policy here FAQs Click here to start here Guess what – every one of those links goes to the same place. They don’t care which one you click on, they just want you to click. That’s the one mistake my client made – she clicked on the link to see where it took her. You should never click on ANY link if you are not sure of where that link goes. Which brings up the question that I get sometimes: “Well how can I know where a link goes if I don’t click on it??”. Great question. You RIGHT-click on the link, then choose “Copy hyperlink” or something similar.   Then, you open NotePad on your computer. In the blank area, do a right click and choose “Paste”. That will display the actual website address where that link would have taken you to. In this case, this was the link’s destination: Hmmm…doesn’t really look like an AOL website address, does it? It’s not. What the scammer did is create a fake form in Excel, and just uploaded it to his OneDrive account. This scammer is really lazy. But guess what – he doesn’t really HAVE to put a lot of effort into concealing the fake nature of this, because people still fall for it. This is what the fake form looked like (anyone can create these, for free):   You can see it’s pretty basic. When you fill out this form with your email address and password, now he has your login information. And the irony is right there at the bottom of the form – Microsoft (who owns OneDrive) knows that their forms are often used for this scam, so they put the warning on every one – “Never give out your password.” Not to mention grammatical errors that are a common clue. But some people still type in their password because they just assume it’s real. Fortunately, my client did not enter her password. Instead, she became suspicious and forwarded the email to me so I could check it out. You are welcome to do the same thing, if you get one you’re not sure about – just forward it to me at
How to free up space in your Google/Gmail account
Well, it finally happened. I’m almost out of storage space on my Google/Gmail account.   I actually got this Google account back when the Gmail email service was first introduced, which was in 2004. So it’s taken me 15 years to almost fill it up. Google gives you 15 gb of storage space with each account, and I archive the majority of my emails, so that kind of tells you how much you can fit in 15 gb. It’s a lot. But your Google account doesn’t just store emails. That 15 gb of space is also used by whatever you have stored in Google Drive and in Google Photos. To see the status of your account’s storage, go to this link: When I go there for my account, this is what it shows me: So you can see about 1/3 of my usage is in Google Drive, and 2/3 is used by my 15 years worth of emails. I also store all of my photos in Google Photos, but if you let them optimize the images to reduce the file size, that doesn’t count toward your storage limit And here’s an important thing to note: you definitely DON’T want to let that storage get to 100%, especially if you use Gmail as your primary email account. If you use ALL of your storage space, you won’t be able to send or receive any emails until you clear some of it out. I’ll tell you right up front, the quickest and easiest way to fix this is to upgrade to a Google One account. It’s only $20 per year, and you get these benefits: 100 gb of storage space – in my case, that’s more than a lifetime supply help from Google experts – you can actually contact someone from Google if you need help option to share – you can share your storage space with up to 5 other people In my case, that’s probably what I’ll do. But what if you don’t want to pay Google for more storage? You can just delete some of the things you are currently storing. I’ll do that with my own account and we’ll see how it works. First up, Google Drive. You may not even be using Google Drive for anything, but I do have several things stored there – documents, spreadsheets, videos, etc. Most of these things I don’t use now, so I don’t need them any more. I went through and deleted a bunch of files from Google Drive, and checked my total storage again. Guess what – it made no difference at all. Documents take up very little space, so deleting them didn’t save space. So now we move on to Gmail. With email, it’s important to note that a standard email message does not take up much space at all. But if an email has an attachment – that’s what uses storage space.  So my first thing to try is to find all of my old Gmail emails that have attachments bigger than 5 mb get rid of the ones I don’t need (which is probably most of them). To find all of the emails larger than 5 mb, go to and sign in, then go up to the search bar and do this search: In my case, I had 142 emails that were 5 mb or larger. I deleted the 42 oldest ones. Still no difference. BUT – that’s because deleting them really just puts them in the Trash folder, and that still counts toward your storage limit. So I emptied the Trash. Now we’re seeing progress. My new report: Overall down to 86%, so that definitely gives me some breathing room. In my case, it probably gives me another year before I need to deal with this again. There are also some third-party programs that can help you clean up your Gmail account. One of the more popular ones is called Find Big Mail ( In the past, you had to pay for this service, but at the time of this post it is free. They may start charging again in the future. They will ask you for a donation though, so you can decide if it’s worth paying for. Just go to the website and follow the instructions. You’ll end up with a report that tells you what was found, and some of your biggest emails will have a new label, so you can just view them (and delete them if you want to). When I did this, and emptied Trash again, I got this revised storage report: So I got it down to 81%. Not bad! Definitely better than almost full at 98%. When it starts to get full again, I probably will just go ahead and buy more storage space since it’s so cheap. But for now, I don’t have to worry about it. Did you get rid of some stuff in your Google account? How much space did you save?  
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Podcast Details
Aug 16th, 2012
Latest Episode
Oct 28th, 2019
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