Q: For the last year, my three-year-old Dell PC has been automatically forced to update its version of Windows 10. The update takes over my PC, but then always fails to install. That forces the PC to reboot. How can I get rid of this continued update attempt?

Victor Hagenah, Ramsey, Minn.


A: Microsoft won’t help you with this problem, but there is a workaround.

What is wrong? One of the unpleasant aspects of Windows 10 is that updates to the operating system can’t be declined, only delayed (how long varies with the version of Windows 10.) This is particularly unfortunate for people whose computers are incompatible with newer versions of Windows 10, because the update just keeps trying to install itself.

Why should your PC be unable to run a Windows 10 update? Dell may not provide the necessary “software drivers” for your PC model. To find out, look for your PC in Dell’s list of models that are compatible with last October’s Windows 10 update (see tinyurl.com/yyofsahz).

The not-approved-by-Microsoft workaround allows you to turn off Windows 10 updates using one of several free programs, such as Windows Update Blocker (see tinyurl.com/y6opf9ke), StopUpdates10 (see tinyurl.com/yybf6z5p) or Win Update Stop (see tinyurl.com/y9vw83wo).


Q: My old phone recently quit working, and I no longer have the login information for three e-mail accounts, two of them Google’s Gmail and the other Microsoft’s Outlook.com. I’ll lose a lot of valuable data if I can’t get back into these accounts. What can I do?

Mike McCabe, Minneapolis


A: There are ways to recover your Gmail and Outlook.com accounts. But your success in reclaiming them will depend on how much of your personal information the accounts contain.

For instance, when you set up your e-mail accounts did you list a telephone number or another e-mail address where you could be reached? Did you answer security questions about yourself?

For Gmail accounts, go to the “account recovery” website (tinyurl.com/ycxdseck). There are also useful tips about how to answer the account recovery questions Google will ask (see tinyurl.com/y4hropxg).

For Outlook.com, go to the “recover your account” website (tinyurl.com/6ckxmya). Microsoft offers advice on filling out the account recovery form (see tinyurl.com/yc5y83zx).


Q: For 10 years, Facebook’s “events” tab listed the names of friends who were having a birthday, enabling me to send them a message. Now the events tab shows “nothing scheduled yet.” I don’t want to send U.S. mail birthday cards to 527 friends, so how can I fix Facebook?

Mike McGrath, Colorado Springs, Colo.


A: Facebook says you need to look in a new location for friend birthdays. Finding that location varies a bit depending on whether you use a web browser on a computer (see tinyurl.com/y2fn5qtd), a browser on a mobile device (see tinyurl.com/yxkjpwnq) or the Facebook app on an Android phone (see tinyurl.com/y28aj7hz) or on an iPhone (see tinyurl.com/y48cwjt9).


E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com. Include name, city and telephone number.