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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+.

If a program isn’t working right, just reinstalling it won’t necessarily fix it. You may need to reset the program to its default settings, and some programs don’t offer an easy way to do this.

about 12 months ago - by  |  8 Replies

Computers don’t come with operating system installation CDs anymore. If your operating system won’t boot, you’ll need a bootable recovery drive to fix it. All operating systems allow you to create these.

about 12 months ago - by  |  6 Replies

If you’ve had your laptop for a year or two, it may be full of dust. Dust clogs fans, vents, and heat sinks, preventing your PC from cooling down properly. You can remove a good amount of this dust, even if you can’t open your laptop.

about 12 months ago - by  |  17 Replies

Airplane mode disables a device’s cellular radio, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth — the wireless transmission functions. But many airplanes now offer in-flight Wi-Fi, and cellular access may be coming to planes soon — so where does that leave airplane mode?

about 12 months ago - by  |  19 Replies

The big cloud storage services — Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and others — all have the same problem. They can only synchronize folders inside your cloud storage folder. But there’s a way around this limitation: symbolic links.

about 12 months ago - by  |  5 Replies

Use the drivers Windows provides and you won’t have to worry about bloatware. If you do have to install the drivers provided by your manufacturer, here’s how to avoid all the heavy control panels and startup applications they include.

about 12 months ago - by  |  6 Replies

Linux applications store their settings in hidden folders inside each user account’s home folder. This makes application settings much easier to back up and restore than they are on Windows, where settings are scattered across the registry and system folders.

about 12 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Connect your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to your computer, open iTunes, and you’ll see a large amount of space used by “Other” storage. iTunes won’t let you delete any of this “Other” data to free up space.

about 12 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

Ubuntu provides four different software repositories, all of them official — Main, Restricted, Universe, and Multiverse. Main and Restricted are fully supported by Canonical, while Universe and Multiverse don’t receive the support you might expect.

about 12 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Your Windows system’s uptime is displayed in the Task Manager. Right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager or press Ctrl+Shift+Escape to open it.

about 1 year ago - by  |  20 Replies

Your computer is probably running a 64-bit version of Windows. But take a look at the Task Manager and you’ll see most programs on your system are still 32-bit. Is this a problem?

about 1 year ago - by  |  15 Replies

Windows domains are typically used on large networks — corporate networks, school networks, and government networks. They aren’t something you’ll encounter at home unless you have a laptop provided by your employer or school.

about 1 year ago - by  |  4 Replies

Regulatory agencies in the US, Canada, and Europe now allow you to use electronics during takeoff and landing. This is called “gate-to-gate” device use — you could be using a device the entire time you’re on an airplane.

about 1 year ago - by  |  2 Replies

Google Services shows up on Android’s Battery statistics screen as one of the many things draining your battery. It can sometimes drain an excessive amount of battery power, but you can solve this problem.

about 1 year ago - by  |  7 Replies

Search engines are becoming ever-more integrated into mobile operating systems, but you can still change your default search engine on your smartphone or tablet. You don’t have to stick with the search engine the device manufacturer chose for you.

about 1 year ago - by  |  1 Reply

An “ATM skimmer” is a malicious device criminals attach to an ATM. When you use an ATM that’s been compromised in such a way, the skimmer will create a copy of your card and capture your PIN.

about 1 year ago - by  |  6 Replies

Adobe is no longer developing the Flash for Firefox on Linux. You’re still getting security updates, but that’s it — your Flash Player plug-in is already several major versions out-of-date.

about 1 year ago - by  |  14 Replies

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 1 year ago - by  |  1 Reply

Set up a new disk on Windows 8.x or 10 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 year ago - by  |  13 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 year ago - by  |  3 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 1 year ago - by  |  15 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year ago - by  |  3 Replies