Q: All of a sudden none of the USB ports on my Surface Book docking station work. Is it possible that they’d all go bad at once? Do I need to replace the docking station? (It’s over $100 …)
— B. Austin
A: Actually, I’m willing to bet that there’s an easy fix that won’t cost you a thing. This happened to me, too. And it turned out that the cause was a buildup of static electricity.
The fix? First, unplug everything from both the docking station and your Surface Book. Shut down your Surface Book and then hold down the power button for 30 seconds. Finally, reconnect everything and power up the Surface Book.
I’m told that the procedure causes the static electricity to be discharged, allowing the computer to detect the USB ports again.
Q: Is there any reason I should be concerned that Microsoft is ending support for Office 2010 in October? Both computers that use it are online, but I find Office 2010 is sufficient for my requirements.
— Martha Tofferi
A: There are potentially vulnerabilities in any computer program that may be discovered by hackers. And if the program is no longer being supported it won’t be patched. So yes, there’s potentially some reason to be concerned.
The biggest risks, however, are from vulnerabilities in the operating system and not so much in older versions of applications. If it were me, as long as I keep my operating system updated and run a good anti-malware program, I wouldn’t be concerned about running an older application that is no longer supported.
That said, of course, if that did result in the unlikely event of my computer getting hacked or infected with malware I’d have only myself to blame.
The question really is how much money and effort do you want to put into protecting your computer. The only way to approach 100% security is to leave your computer in a secure room and disconnected from any network, including the internet.
Q: In a recent column you advised that if a user can’t get a Windows update to successfully install, a last-ditch remedy would be to use System Restore. When you use System Restore to undo a bad Windows update, isn’t Windows going to want to make you do this bad update again, when the next set of new updates comes out? And wouldn’t the new updates have a problem if they need to “build upon” the original “bad update” to run?
I get the impression that some updates are dependent upon past updates.
— John Smith
A: Windows will undoubtedly want to update the computer, which is a good thing since you definitely want any security updates. But hopefully the System Restore will eliminate any conflict that prevented the “bad” update from completing.
And updates are cumulative so there shouldn’t be a problem with skipping an update. If that’s not the case with a specific update you’ll get a message informing you that a specific update needs to be performed.