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Posted at 6:24 AM ET, 12/20/2010

PostPoints tip: Holiday tech-troubleshooting reminder

By Rob Pegoraro

If your holidays are like mine, you may find yourself spending some time checking up on the computers of friends and family members. In this year's version of this annual tip, I'll emphasize one step you can take now that can save plenty of time later on: Downloading the biggest security fixes available. In Microsoft's case, you'd want to get the most recent "Service Pack" updates for Windows--Service Pack 3 for XP, SP2 for Vista. (Windows 7 hasn't had a Service Pack download yet.) You'll want the "stand-alone" or "network installation" of each patch; if you're not sure if your host's computer runs a 32-bit or 64-bit edition of Windows, download both. If, on the other hand, they use a Mac, the most important download is the "combo update" download of the Mac OS X 10.6.5 patch (or, if they run OS X 10.5, the 10.5.7 combo update).

All of these patches run hundreds of megabytes--nearly a gigabyte in the case of 10.6.5--and may take hours to get over slower DSL or cable services, much less dialup or mobile broadband. Save the download on a cheap, high-capacity USB flash drive that you'll leave with your hosts for data-backup purposes.

(About the "PostPoints tip" title: Since July, I've been archiving each tip-of-the-week e-mail we send to PostPoints members under this blog's "Tips" category. Today's item went out on Dec. 14.)

Meanwhile, in case you missed it:

* Sunday's column took a look at photo- and video-editing options for busy home users: Apple's iPhoto '11 and iMovie '11 and Microsoft's Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011 and Windows Live Movie Maker 2011. My assessment may surprise readers used to seeing me recommend Google's Picasa as the obvious picture editor in Windows.

* Help File strives to clear up some marketing-induced confusion over cloud computing and suggests one way to resolve a Java-update issue.

By Rob Pegoraro  | December 20, 2010; 6:24 AM ET
Categories:  Tips  
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