How-To Geek

Forget Black Friday: Today is Update Your Parents’ Browser Day

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Hopefully you aren’t reading this after a long night of sitting in the cold, fighting with other people to acquire a device that will be out of date in a month. Instead of shopping, it’s time to give the gift of less sucktacular browsers.

Over at The Atlantic, they proposed that today be Update Your Parents’ Browser Day, and at How-To Geek, we couldn’t agree more, especially since many of you are probably over at your relatives right now, recovering from eating too much of their food.

It’s time to upgrade your parents’ browser, and while you’re at it, make sure that they have anti-virus installed too. Want to be really awesome? Setup CCleaner to run on a schedule, and if they are using Windows XP, setup an automated defrag job. Might be a good time to setup CrossLoop or TeamViewer or some type of remote desktop application so you can easily gain control at a future date when you get that inevitable phone call.


Just because Google Chrome is awesome is no excuse for springing a huge surprise if your mom, dad, uncle, or other relative is really used to Internet Explorer. At the very least you can try and upgrade them to IE9 if they are on Vista or Windows 7, or maybe see if they want to switch to Firefox if they are stuck on XP. Make sure to tell them you’re going to upgrade them, and show them how it works before you go.

Share your relative-upgrading-horror-stories in the comments!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/25/11

Comments (49)

  1. Al

    Aargh, typical US-centricity… today is only a day that people will be at their parents IN THE US! The rest of the world will have to wait for a month to see our folks. HTG is read all around the world, please bear this in mind when posting links like this. Sure, the suggestion was The Atlantic’s, but please, HTG, bear the rest of the 7 billion in mind too!

    On the topic, though… isn’t current advice to not bother with defragging (except on XP)? See

  2. Al

    Hmmm and on reflection, I’m just as guilty of short-sightedness as HTG – because of course there are loads of places that don’t have special holidays in late December! Apologies, world!

  3. The Geek

    This is a US-based site. Sure, we do have a global audience, but half the audience is from the US. Most of the writers are in the US. This site will always reflect that to some degree.

  4. Karen Johnson

    I think it’s a great idea to found this important calendar event all over the world. Definitely hoping my son will be promoted to do this as the generation that invented the Internet totter slowly into blissful ignorance

  5. Karen Johnson

    But I do love your global apology as well. It shows a very good upbringing

  6. krash

    All Parents want free Anti-Virus software, they don’t believe they should have to pay and most do not.. so when they get hacked and ask for help the first question I ask is what anit-virus software you using, the reply is I got free av with the computer, or doesn’t AOL have free AV..

    Whats a good free AV program for cheap old folks ?

  7. Jeff


  8. John Rodkey

    @krash: Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows is free and good…

  9. ward coysman

    @krash : A typemachine!

  10. Will

    Microsoft security essentials

  11. ACuna

    Haha I just did this the other day actually. Didn’t install a remote desktop application, but that’s a great idea. Way to think ahead.

  12. PugLives

    Set up a remote viewer? Why, oh why have I not already DONE that?!?! I am going to do that on 3(!) relatives computers today…WITHOUT TELLING THEM!! That way I get the convenience, without the headache of them thinking it will be easy to call with more questions, more often because of this. I’ll let them think it is just as hard for me…at least for as long as I can.

  13. Mark F.

    Hey ACuna – a remote desktop – is web based solution that is one time use. It is provided by The also produce software you can install to speed up the process. Both are brilliant when you are trying to keep parent up to date or help them at a distance.

  14. Tudor R.

    Already ahead of you for 2 years now.. works like a charm!

  15. Alan Bowman

    Hey ! I am 80 years old, and was dealing wiith computers when you were still in diapers.
    I maintain my children’s, and my grandchildren’s computers!

  16. Jean

    Microsoft Security Essentials seems fine so far, and I’ve had it for quite awhile. Thank you Mr. Geek for your newsletters and all your help. :)

  17. PugLives

    PS – Microsoft Security Essentials is the BEST all encompassing free product for a couple hands down no argument reasons:

    1) best for those who don’t know much about computers and need it kept simple
    2) best for those running certified Microsoft products
    3) best for those who get confused to see multiple free security software programs running that this will do all-in-one (cause us geeks always knew the was one for fire wall like Comodo, one for virus like AVG, one for real time executable threats like Spybots tea-timer…) and …
    4) its probably the best product I have seen Microsoft do in a long time because its quality(you can’t deny its as good as any paid security suite can be) AND its free (with no licences to renew for your family calling requiring another visit!)

  18. Jean

    Hi Alan, I’m 71 and altho I have a son who is a computer programmer or whatever they are called, and he put one of those remote desktops on my computer, he never has time to help me so I just have to do it all myself. I updated/upgraded to IE9. :)

  19. BobH

    ccleaner plus the free version of Malware Bytes Anti_malware plus Ad-Aware will keep you safe for 99% of potential problems unless you cruise sites in a genre notorious for bad bugs (like porn sites, where if you get infected you are getting what’s coming to you).

    And HTG…thanks for the standing up for the site’s US based writing. I’m a bit tired of apologetic bowing and scraping to the whole One World cadre.

  20. Alan Bowman

    Hi, Jean,

    Computers are easy to learn if you are at all interested. It is best if you can do everything yourself, and this site has many tutorials available, if you take the time to read them.

  21. elchuby

    Both of my parents have been using Firefox for quite a while.

  22. Larry - From the true north strong and free

    Hey! we had our kids over on Monday, Oct 10, 2011. – Thanksgiving day!!
    PS – my son asked me for some help

  23. Esther

    All hollidays should be promoted, TOLERANCE should be promoted in this international work: I live in Peru most applications don’t work here it doesn’t make them less interesting.

  24. fitz04

    i have used team viewer for years now started with the beta,to help family scattered across the nation and it is the absolute best freeware there is.also Microsoft security essentials on all them computers i help with team viewer

  25. Kevin

    Hi…am also an OAP..use CIS real time (easy when you learn it)..also run SAS & MBAM & HitManPro in what used to be called “On demand/Definition only”..result no probs for a very long time..but have to admit that total image backup is the best solution

  26. Kevin

    And also use Firefox by choice and by results

  27. tommy2rs

    Lol…Yeah right, Update Your Parents Browser Day? For me every day is fix the wife’s, the kids and grandkids computer day and it ain’t limited to updating browsers. That’s after spending the day fixing customers computers.

  28. Bill

    Have you tried Avast! …. it’s great.

  29. Bill

    Ooops… forgot to mention my last re Avast! was for “krash”.

  30. christel

    That is soooo funny!

  31. darky

    WoW that was exactly what my Thanksgiving was like….everyone brought me their computers to fix, including my Gram…crazy lol

  32. kevalin

    Christ-a-mighty! We humans can turn ANYTHING into a political discussion, what? :-D Would we have anything to talk about if we didn’t, I wonder?

    I wish I *could* remotely connect to my sister’s netbook, but she doesn’t have an internet connection. However, I’ll definitely be giving my folks’ computer the once-over… and since we all have Glary Utilities and a somewhat faster defragging program than Windows provides (sorry, I think it’s Ausoligic’s free defrag, but I could be making that up), I’ll make sure both programs are put on a schedule today.

    And hopefully, I won’t discover they’re still on Firefox 3!

  33. infmom

    Today, start learning how to explain things in terms your less-computer-literate friends and relatives can understand. They may not “get it” because you’re using jargon they don’t know, or you’re not taking things one step at a time and making sure they understand each step before you move on.

    My family didn’t get a TV till I was six years old. We had only one telephone in the house (in the kitchen) till I was 12. Didn’t get a TV with a remote control till I was out of college. Didn’t get a push button phone till the phone company quit charging extra for them. When I was in college there was only one computer on campus, and it had its own room in the science building with a room next door for the card reader and keypunch machines.

    I’m almost 61. That’s the world I grew up in. As it happens, I am techno-literate, A+ certified, use Chrome and all that good stuff. But a lot of people my age, who grew up with similar access to technology, haven’t had the opportunities to learn that I did. The fact that younger people expect older people to be instantly familiar with all the technobabble of today, and have little patience and less respect for people who don’t immediately “get it” and who make mistakes due to incomplete understanding, is a sad commentary on those younger people’s lack of understanding.

    So instead of just installing stuff, telling people they have to ditch software that they may have only recently begun to feel at home with, and scorning the old folks who just don’t get it, either learn to explain things in the right way or STFU and get away from other people’s browsers.

    I am seriously, seriously tired of the assumption that older people are automatically clueless and hopeless. I’ve come to expect that attitude from Lifehacker and Gizmodo, but et tu, HTG?

  34. minnetonka

    Well, I’m older than you, infmom, but am the go-to family person for everyone, including my own husband. After reading all the similar comments over at Lifehacker and HTG today, I can easily see this is not meant to be a tirade of disrespect but more a FML confessional of those who have best intentions, only to be rewarded with, “it worked until you touched it” or until you (fill in the blank). Who’s going to be the lucky sap to help with the average 350 hours of clearing up an identity theft problem?

    I, personally, like any of the automated approaches combined with something like Teamviewer. Much of that opinion comes from understanding that most people have a love/hate relationship with the computer. They just want to sit down and play games, surf, email, etc.–they have no interest whatsoever in understanding why or what is behind the scenes. All they know is the last person to touch the PC has caused them a problem. I don’t condemn them for that; I’d rather read HTG while they play games . . .

  35. Wim Jaspers

    Ok, so much for CCleaner: I was enthousiast for a few weeks. Then my laptop freezed more and more.. and now: CCleaner freezes when cleaning. I do have a paid licence internet security (F-Secure) and I think I know a little about my laptop… but it is strange I can not remove the folder I am sure the problem is located in.Not even when logging in as Admin. How do I get rid of probably 1 problematic .png-file. No do not answer.. just a warning that CCleaner is not the Allmighty Cleaning Programm (ACP) ;-)
    And we, in the Netherlands, have december 5th our Sinterklaas holliday. It is a long red dressed, white bearded man wearing a bishops hat. He is accompnied by several “Black Pete’s”. This holliday is the ancestor of Santa Claus and is dated from the time us dutchies ruled the world an were the top of the bill in slave im- and exports. It is good you do not pay attention to that holliday! ciao ;-)

  36. Joe

    Hey Al! How about you go screw yourself huh? If you have a beef with America, then get the F off of an American-based and created website! And especially on Thanksgiving, you can go shove your politically correct, trying to please the world ego up your butt hole! If you have a problem with that, you can kiss my country ass!!!!

  37. sourvad

    well… HTG
    u really need 2 thnk abt d rest 7 billion ppl…
    but yea all my browsers are updated .. :P
    thns 4 reminding me..
    my sis was using firefox 3 … -_-

  38. Al

    I’ve sorted out my family browser problems by changing the ie link to start chrome but still display the ie logo. No-one has even noticed that it is chrome not ie loading. I now don’t get the complaints that the system is running slowly / behaving weirdly and I’ve not had to teach them to click a different icon. Result!

  39. CDO

    Just a couple quick points.
    Microsoft Security Essentils may be “easy” to use, but it’s also becoming one of the most common security suites, which means it’s what the folks writing malware will be aiming for.
    It’s the same reason why Windows machines have more viruses written for them than any other OS: more people use it, so one virus can infect more computers. If you’re reading this on a Mac (shame on you, get a real computer) or Linux (good for you!) box, don’t believe any myth you’ve heard that’s says your computer is immune to viruses.
    Any single program (IE Security Suite) will be less secure than a range of them (separate virus, malware, and firewall programs). I use Avast for antivirus, malwarebytes for malware, and Zonealarm for my firewall. I also use CCleaner, but I don’t count that as security software.
    @Sourvad: would you mind repeating that, in English, with punctuation? I have no clue what you said there.

  40. cmevalley

    While confidant that I.E.9 is a great browser, it will not work with my wireless printer or fax. I will stick with 7 thank you very much.

  41. Talk about profiling

    We are 66 years old. Not particularly old to us, but old to younger people.

    And, although we are more computer knowledgeable that most in our age bracket – we are also less than a few. We are able to do almost everything we want to do, without help. And, yes, our computers are our lives. Yes, we update and upgrade regularly. Yes, we have good security programs.

    Yes, we have asked our kids for omputer advice a few times because they have more experience in those areas than we have.

    On the other hand, at least as many times that we have asked them for advice about computers, they have asked us for advice about car, home, marriage, work and family maintenance because we have more experience in those areas. That’s what families do. for each other. It’s not about one generation being ‘smarter’ than another. They simply have different experience.

    If some of you suggest a disparity in computer knowledge and skill translates to codger-ness I submit that it seems to say more the ‘suggester’ than it does the ‘suggestee’.

    That off my chest, I think this is a great idea, especially for some people who love you, and whom you love.

    It would even be a great idea as a gift-coupon Christmas.

    Now that I think about it, if anyone has a higher skill level in any area, be it computers, or home or auto maintenance, they gift of service is very personal and loving and would always be appreciated when given with love.

    Just wish we could remotely help with the next plumbing problem as much as you could remotely help with a computer problem.

  42. Andrew

    Microsoft security essentials

  43. Andrew

    Also a simpler approach would be to purchase the folks an iPad. It has everything they may need as in a great web browser, storage for pictures of the grand kids, easy email client etc. saves having to go over and keep repairing the computer.

  44. Andrew

    Hey, CDO, I had a chuckle at your comment and felt obliged to point out that I am writing this on a fake computer (Mac) and wanted to say that while you are updating your Avast database and scanning for malware with malwarebytes and blocking every hole possible with zone alarm I’m getting on with my work (on my Mac) at blazing fast speeds (whilst your OS is running at 60% the original speed as it is burdened with all the extra crap you have to put on it to make it secure).
    Oh yes and I forgot the excellent CCcleaner which removes half of your redundant 1980’s technology registry to streamline what the original coders brought from Windows 95.
    Thanks for the laugh anyhow.

  45. CDO

    @Andrew – if you aren’t running a virus scanner, malware scanner, and third party firewall on your Mac, you’re just inviting hackers, viruses, and spyware/adware in.
    A couple other points.
    One, no one running OS X can talk about dated systems, since OS X is built on a UNIX kernel, which is far older than anything Windows is built on.
    Two, what on earth is “1980s technology registry”?
    Three, my PC can outperform any Mac out there in any task you care to set to it. I run OS X in a virtual machine on it and the only way you can tell it’s virtual is the controls at the top. Absolutely no lag or stuttering. I’d love to see a Mac run Win7 on a VM.

  46. kelltic

    I’ve been using computers since the days of DOS. Touch my computer, lose a finger or two. Everybody in my family knows that. I know what browsers are and use two of them, Opera and FF.

    I do like your site, however, sonny! :)

  47. Andrew

    Hey CDO you clearly have absolutely no idea what your talking about.
    1. You are lying about running Mac on a VM on your windows machine.
    2 choose VM fusion 4 or Parallels Desktop 7 to run windows 7 x64 or x32. I run xp and win 7 on my 64bit OSX 10.7 (lion). I hate you kids that are full of crap!
    Someone should really look at employing you whilst you still know it all.
    I’ve been in IT for years, probably when you were still rubbing poop in your face. Enjoy your machine, whatever flavor OS it is, just don’t post crap.

  48. CDO

    1. I’m not lying about running OS X in a VM. Why would I?
    2. I’m not a “kid” nor do I think I know everything.
    3. Macs are outperformed by PCs in every area except video/photo manipulation. Look it up on any reputable benchmarking site.
    4. Saying a PC can outperform a Mac is simple math. I wasn’t trying to imply that a PC and a Mac with identical hardware (and yes, Macs use almost exactly the same hardware a PC does) wouldn’t perform equally well to their respective strengths (I.E. Macs to photo/video, PCs to, well, ecerything else). What I meant was, for the same price you pay for a low-end Mac, I can get a very nice PC, with hardware chosen by me (not an option for Macs), and even assembled by me (again, not available from Apple) if I so choose. If my nice machine has a part burn out, I can replace it myself, while you’re packing your Mac off to the Apple store to avoid voiding your warranty by opening it up yourself.
    3. If you really have been in IT for years, then you would know that Macs need antivirus, malware scanners, and firewalls just as much as PCs do.
    4. Nowhere in any of my posts did I insult you personally or attack you in any way. The fact that you felt the need to outright call me a lier and insinuate that I am unemployed and/or unemployable shows a certain immaturity. I will not dignify you with any further replies, since you obviously are not functioning at an adult level.

  49. CDO

    On a side note, I will admit that I was wrong about Macs not being able to run Windows in a virtual machine. I’d be interested to hear from anyone that has done this about how it performs.

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