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+.

uTorrent recently made headlines for bundling cryptocurrency-mining junkware. Out of all the junkware programs bundled with installers, cryptocurrency-miners like Epic Scale are some of the worst.

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Want to use a VPN? If you’re looking for a VPN provider or setting up your own VPN, you’ll need to choose a protocol. Some VPN providers may even provider you with a choice of protocols.

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Ctrl+Alt+Delete isn’t just necessary on Windows and other desktop operating systems. Applications can freeze or get stuck in bad states on modern iPhones, iPads, and Android devices too.

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Windows has Ctrl+Alt+Delete and Macs have Command+Option+Escape to force frozen applications to close. Linux has its own ways of “killing” those misbehaving processes, whether they’re graphical windows or background processes.

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Migrating your files, settings, and programs to a new PC can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re not completely organized. These tools and simple tips will help you get started.

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Always-listening voice commands are a big thing now. You don’t need an Xbox one or Amazon Echo for this — just make your phone, tablet, or computer always listen for voice commands.

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Remember when uTorrent was great? The upstart BitTorrent client was super-lightweight and trounced other popular BitTorrent clients. But that was long ago, before BitTorrent, Inc. bought uTorrent and crammed it full of junkware and scammy advertisements.

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Macs include a Wireless Diagnostics tool that can help you speed up your Wi-Fi network and improve its signal strength. It also includes many additional tools for power users.

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All modern smartphone, tablet, and desktop operating systems offer secure ways to give a guest access to your computer. Lock them to a specific app or give them restricted access to your PC. Forget looking over their shoulder!

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Put your Chromebook into “Developer Mode” and you’ll get full root access, including the ability to modify your Chromebook’s system files. This is often used to install a full Linux system with something like Crouton.

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Most characters you can type don’t appear on your keyboard, whether you’re using a physical keyboard or a touch one. Here’s how you can type them on your computer or mobile device.

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Apple hides a lot of additional information and useful options in your Mac’s menus. You can access these hidden options by holding down the Option key.

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Upgrade to Windows 8 or 10 and you may be surprised to find that you can no longer play video DVDs or Blu-ray. Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows 8 and 10 don’t include built-in support for playing DVDs.

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If you use Google Chrome, there’s a good chance you’ve seen files with the “.crdownload” extension in your Downloads directory. Google Chrome creates one each time you begin downloading a file.

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Mac OS X has a desktop app store, unlike Windows. Get a new Mac and you may be excited to open the Mac App Store and install all your favorite software — but you won’t find all your favorite apps in the store.

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Local media servers have gone out of style. Microsoft no longer makes Windows Home Server and is phasing out Windows Media Center. But there are still great solutions if you want to run a home media server and stream to all your devices.

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The Internet is supposed to be a global network that links the entire world, but many websites are confined to specific countries. Unsurprisingly, piracy is higher in countries where content isn’t legally available.

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Wired connections, which use Ethernet cables, are generally faster and have lower latency than Wi-Fi connections. But, just as modern Wi-Fi hardware has advanced, modern Ethernet cables are capable of communicating at faster speeds.

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You’ll need a unique product key to reinstall Windows on your PC. This is more confusing than it sounds — you may not be able to re-use the key your computer’s manufacturer used.

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Microsoft operates over 100 retail stores across the USA and Canada. They’re not just places to shop — Microsoft Stores will perform basic Windows PC maintenance for you, for free. It doesn’t matter where you bought the PC, as long as it runs Windows.

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Windows makes it possible to change the welcome screen that appears when you start your computer without any third-party software, but this setting is well hidden in Windows 7 — although much easier in Windows 8 or 10. You can set any image you like as your background.

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Old devices using 802.11b Wi-Fi are a problem. They slow down modern Wi-Fi networks just by operating on the same channel nearby. Even your neighbors’ Wireless B devices may be slowing down your Wi-Fi.

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Crouton — made by a Google employee — is the ideal solution for running Linux on your Chromebook. If you’re a Crouton user, there are some extra commands you’ll want to know.

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Lenovo’s been shipping Superfish on their PCs for months. This is a security disaster, and it shows how little PC manufacturers actually care about your PC’s security. There’s only one way to ensure your new PC is actually safe to use.

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Apple’s Photos app saw some changes in iOS 8, and more changes are coming when iCloud Photo Library launches soon. Did you know that your photos app keeps copies of photos you’ve deleted?

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