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Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

Windows is packed full of system tools, and many of them are in the Administrative Tools folder. The tools here are more powerful and complex, so they’re hidden where most Windows users won’t stumble across them.

about 9 hours ago - by  |  Leave a reply

Set up a new disk on Windows 8.1 or 8 and you’ll be asked whether you want to use MBR or GPT. GPT is the new standard and is gradually replacing MBR.

about 1 day ago - by  |  7 Replies

Windows’ BitLocker encryption defaults to 128-bit AES encryption, but you can choose to use 256-bit AES encryption instead. Using a 256-bit AES key could potentially offer more security against future attempts to access your files.

about 1 day ago - by  |  2 Replies

Unknown devices show up in the Windows Device Manager when Windows can’t identify a piece of hardware and provide a driver for it. An unknown device isn’t just unknown — it’s not functioning until you install the right driver.

about 2 days ago - by  |  13 Replies

Each Linux distribution comes with a single default desktop environment chosen from the many different desktop environments available for Linux. But you don’t have to stick with the default.

about 11 days ago - by  |  7 Replies

Want to install a custom Android ROM — in other words, a third-party version of the Android operating system — like CyanogenMod? You’ll probably be instructed to install a custom recovery, too.

about 12 days ago - by  |  2 Replies

BitLocker normally encrypts entire drives and partitions, but you can also create encrypted container files with tools built into Windows. Such encrypted VHD files can easily be moved between systems, backed up, and hidden when not in-use.

about 13 days ago - by  |  9 Replies

Whether you want to use a new font in a Word or just change your operating system’s system font to give it a different look, you’ll first have to install the font on your operating system.

about 14 days ago - by  |  3 Replies

Whether your device was stolen or simply lost, you can remotely track, lock, and wipe it. Don’t wait until you’ve lost your hardware to think about this — these features need to be enabled ahead of time.

about 15 days ago - by  |  2 Replies

Linux distributions tend to use two different types of release cycles: standard releases and rolling releases. Some people swear by rolling releases to have the latest software, while others like standard releases for being more stable and tested.

about 15 days ago - by  |  1 Reply

Windows can encrypt entire operating system drives and removable devices with its built-in BitLocker encryption. When TrueCrypt controversially closed up shop, they recommended their users transition away from TrueCrypt to BitLocker.

about 16 days ago - by  |  8 Replies

Apple’s phone, tablet, and computer-tracking tools are the best in the business. You can remotely locate your device, disable it with a lock and message that persists through factory resets — the so-called “kill switch” — and wipe it.

about 17 days ago - by  |  8 Replies

Passwords can be reset or bypassed on every operating system. On Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, you can gain access to a computer’s unencrypted files after resetting the password — the password doesn’t actually prevent access to your files.

about 18 days ago - by  |  3 Replies

Windows 7 and 8 create a special “System Reserved” partition when you install them on a clean disk. Windows doesn’t assign a drive letter to these partitions, so you’ll only see them when you use Disk Management or similar utility.

about 19 days ago - by  |  13 Replies

Older Android devices support USB mass storage for transferring files back and forth with a computer. Modern Android devices use the MTP or PTP protocols — you can choose which one you prefer.

about 20 days ago - by  |  8 Replies

Internet connection data caps are becoming more widespread in the US. Internet service providers may claim their data limits are good for “millions of emails,” but emails are small and HD videos on Netflix are much, much larger.

about 21 days ago - by  |  2 Replies

If you use remote desktop, remote file access, or other server software, you may leave your computer on at home or work when you leave the house. This uses more power. Instead, you could simply remotely power on your PC whenever you need to use it.

about 22 days ago - by  |  8 Replies

Coming from Windows, file extensions on Linux and Mac OS X can seem a bit strange. The operating system seems to know what files are without relying on the file extension — it does this using MIME types.

about 22 days ago - by  |  5 Replies

CyanogenMod is the most popular custom ROM for Android devices. While it’s an unofficial build of Android, it probably provides an experience closer to Google’s original vision than the software on your current Android phone or tablet does!

about 23 days ago - by  |  21 Replies

Regular backups are essential. Windows has integrated backup tools, Ubuntu has Déjà Dup, and Mac OS X has Time Machine. Time Machine backs up everything on your Mac, from system files to your personal files.

about 24 days ago - by  |  1 Reply

Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry 10 aren’t the only smartphone operating systems vying for a place in your pocket. There are other smartphone operating systems in development — and they’re all Linux-based.

about 25 days ago - by  |  9 Replies

Linux is easier to install and use than ever. If you tried installing and using it years ago, you may want to give a modern Linux distribution a second chance.

about 26 days ago - by  |  45 Replies

Android’s OTA (over-the-air) updates remove root access, forcing you to root them again if you depend on root-only apps. There are ways to preserve this root access, and re-rooting a device will be easier on some devices than others.

about 27 days ago - by  |  2 Replies

All mainstream desktop operating systems include powerful search features. They all offer the ability to create a “saved search,” which functions as a virtual folder. The saved search folder appears to contain the files that match your search.

about 28 days ago - by  |  2 Replies

Computers need cooling to remove the heat their components generate during use. If you’re building your own PC — especially if you’re overclocking it — you’ll need to think about how you’ll cool it.

about 29 days ago - by  |  4 Replies
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