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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+.

To actually erase files from a magnetic hard drive, you would have to overwrite the file with useless data. Some tools attempt to make this easier, offering to “securely delete” a file by deleting it and overwriting its sectors with junk.

about 1 year ago - by  |  10 Replies

If you’re like most Windows users, you probably just uninstall programs by launching their uninstallers from the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel. But if you’re a geek, there’s a chance you’ve dabbled with a third-party uninstaller.

about 1 year ago - by  |  30 Replies

Windows 8 awkwardly forces the Start menu programs list into a flat “All Apps” list. Many programs haven’t been properly updated for this new reality and fill your All Apps list with useless shortcuts to help files, websites, and uninstallers.

about 1 year ago - by  |  6 Replies

Microsoft Office documents containing built-in macros can be dangerous. Macros are essentially bits of computer code, and historically they’ve been vehicles for malware. Luckily, modern versions of Office contain security features that will protect you from macros.

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Many features that once required root have been added to Android over the years. However, many advanced tricks still require rooting your Android smartphone or tablet.

about 1 year ago - by  |  6 Replies

So it’s the end of the road for your PC, tablet, or smartphone. Before letting go, be sure to follow this quick check list to prepare your device for its new owner.

about 1 year ago - by  |  5 Replies

Want to reset your web browser to its default settings? You can’t necessarily just uninstall it — your personal files will stay on your computer. And if your browser is Internet Explorer, it can’t be uninstalled at all.

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Some geeks use “driver cleaners” when updating their drivers — generally graphics drivers — to ensure the old driver was completely uninstalled and that no leftover files will conflict with the new driver. But is this necessary?

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Google accounts now use a shared pool of storage. Every account gets 15 GB of free space, which is shared across your Gmail, Google Drive, and Google+ Photos. But certain types of files don’t count towards your storage quota.

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PC gaming is different from console gaming. Consoles run a stripped-down operating system optimized for games, but PCs run a general-purpose operating system like Windows that may be doing other things in the background.

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Email inbox gimmicks keep popping up. First Google introduced Priority Inbox, and now it’s using category tabs. Dropbox purchased Mailbox, which turns your inbox into more of a to-do-list. Microsoft’s Outlook.com has a Sweep feature that automatically cleans your inbox.

about 1 year ago - by  |  20 Replies

We’ve said it again and again: Registry cleaners don’t speed up your PC. At best, they’re a waste of time — and often money. At worst, they can cause problems by removing registry entries they shouldn’t.

about 1 year ago - by  |  39 Replies

Linux users can use LibreOffice, Google Docs, and even Microsoft’s Office Web Apps, but some people still need — or just want — the desktop version of Microsoft Office. Luckily, there are ways to run Microsoft Office on Linux.

about 1 year ago - by  |  7 Replies

Your computer’s RAM is still faster than even modern solid-state drives. RAM disks take advantage of this, using your computer’s RAM as a lightning-fast virtual drive. But you probably don’t want to use a RAM disk, anyway.

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Notifications are a distraction, especially for email. Email is supposed to be asynchronous — most people don’t need their phone to ping them for every email that arrives. However, sometimes you want instant notifications for important new emails.

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You can virtualize Windows XP with almost any virtual machine program, but we’ll cover a solution that gives you Windows XP-mode like desktop and taskbar integration on Windows 8.

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Many companies want to sell you “memory optimizers,” often as part of “PC optimization” programs. These programs are worse than useless — not only will they not speed up your computer, they’ll slow it down.

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The reality is that password database compromises are a concern. However, if you use unique passwords everywhere, you shouldn’t need to worry too much.

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Many email servers refuse to accept email attachments over 10MB in size. While attachment sizes haven’t kept up with the times, there are other easy ways to send someone large files over email.

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VirtualBox is packed with features that you may have never used, even if you frequently use it to run virtual machines. VMware keeps many of its best features to its paid versions, but all of VirtualBox’s features are completely free.

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Virtual machines generally run guest operating systems and their programs in a single window. However, both VirtualBox and VMware have features that allow you to free virtualized programs from their prison, running them on your host desktop.

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Blocking a phone number from calling you should be fairly simple in 2013, but it still isn’t. Android doesn’t have a completely integrated blocking solution, and carriers don’t generally offer this basic service for free.

about 1 year ago - by  |  3 Replies

Android’s Daydream feature is an “interactive screensaver mode” that can activate automatically when your device is docked or charging, keeping your screen on and displaying information. Daydream mode can give your device an always-on information display.

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Google Voice has been out for years, but many people in the US still haven’t given it a try. Google Voice offers many features you can’t get elsewhere, and almost all of them are free.

about 1 year ago - by  |  33 Replies

You’re sitting at your PC and you receive a text message, so you pick up your phone, unlock it, read the message on the small screen, and type one back using the touchscreen keyboard. Why not use your PC instead?

about 1 year ago - by  |  10 Replies