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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 normally installs itself to a single partition on your hard drive. However, you can split your hard drive into several different partitions and store your data files separately from your system files.

about 1 year ago - by  |  14 Replies

Install a new hard drive and all Windows will do is give you an empty drive letter. If you have a small solid-state drive and a larger mechanical hard drive — or just two large drives — these tips will help you put that additional drive to use.

about 1 year ago - by  |  4 Replies

Most people don’t spend much time customizing their taskbar, even though it’s something every Windows user uses every day. It seems almost set in stone — but it isn’t. The Windows taskbar is actually very customizable.

about 1 year ago - by  |  20 Replies

No matter how well you treat your laptop’s battery, it will eventually die. If you’re lucky, it will be time to replace your laptop by the time its battery dies. If you’re not, you’ll need to replace the battery.

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Windows has a built-in firewall that blocks inbound connections. If a program wants to act as a server, Windows will prompt you. Some geeks don’t like the built-in firewall because it doesn’t offer the same prompts for outgoing connections.

about 1 year ago - by  |  20 Replies

So you’re using your laptop and, all of the sudden, it dies. There was no battery warning from Windows — in fact, you recently checked and Windows said you had 30% battery power left. What’s going on?

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Windows XP won’t be officially supported for much longer. Sure, you could keep using it — it won’t just stop working one day. It will just become more insecure over time as Microsoft and everyone else stops supporting it.

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Malware, adware, and pushy software installers all love changing your browser settings, giving you new home pages, default search engines, and obnoxious toolbars. It’s easy to forget to uncheck these options while installing software.

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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.

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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  |  31 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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