Computer advice

Ian has been regularly asked about keeping members' computers up-to-date. As a result, he has created this page, which he hopes to maintain for the benefit of members. While some members have Apple or other computers, most computers are based on one version or another of Microsoft Windows. This page assumes that you are on this operating system. If not, then please disregard the advice offered on this page. Windows came historically in one of the following versions:

  • Win1, Win2, Win3.0, Win3.1, Win3.11, Win95, Win98, Win98SE, WinME

  • WinNT 3.0, WinNT 3.5, WinNT 4.0, Win2000

  • WinXP, WinVista, Win7, Win8.0, Win8.1

Computer updates

The most important action you can take is to keep your Windows version up-to-date. Therefore, Windows versions from the end of the above list are necessarily more secure than versions from the beginning of the list, as you would expect. Ask help from your family computer 'expert' regarding upgrading your Windows version or migrating onto a new computer with a modern version of Windows.

Critical updates

The next most important action you can take on your Windows computer is to keep it up-to-date with / supplied with ''Critical'' updates. Up to and including WinXP, you needed to use MS Internet Explorer web browser to find and apply critical updates. Run Internet Explorer, then select: Internet Explorer | Tools | Windows Update. If your version of Windows is WinVista or later, then look at Control Panel | Windows Update. Having applied the Critical Updates, if you feel lucky, then consider applying all the ''Recommended'' updates as well.

Anti-virus program

The next most important is to have a good anti-virus program, which you use!! Some of the inexpensive paid-for programs are not as good as they think they are, and have been known to have caused problems. Please consider removing any inexpensive anti-virus program (regardless of how much is left to run on the subscription) and installing one of the better online updating ''free'' anti-virus programs. We have been particularly impressed by the free anti-virus at Of the paid-for anti-virus programs, Sophos is extremely good, but very expensive. You should not use more than one anti-virus program at a time. If you are tempted to install a new program, then uninstall the previous program. Once you have installed your chosen program, ensure that you scan your entire hard disk once every few months. If you are not sure whether your anti-virus program is value-for-money, please contact me.

Web browser and web browser version

Fourthly, ensure your web browser is modern, and your web browser version is recent. Please note that this website doesn't support MS Internet Explorer v7 or earlier - so you must be using v7 or later. However, Internet Explorer, any version, is usually only updated during Critical Updates. There are superior alternatives available. Mozilla Firefox from and Google Chrome from can be recommended. These browsers are up-to-the-minute, and auto-update. They can run alongside Internet Explorer, which can't be uninstalled anyway. There are also technical reasons why the ''standards-mode'' browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, etc) are better than the 'compatibility-mode' Internet Explorer. Most of the relatively few issues we receive about members being unable to open the Annual Newsletter are due to using an early version of Internet Explorer. There are rarely problems with the other browsers. Internet Explorer can also be more prone to 'drive-by' infection if it is used to visit certain websites than the other browsers.

Advert blockers

Given that you have moved to a ''standards-mode'' browser, then it is possible for you to block web adverts if you so wish. You would need to install a "plug-in" which you can find at

If you have any further problems, then please let Ian or Colin know, and we will try to advise.