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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+.

Zip files can be password-protected, but the standard Zip encryption scheme is extremely weak. If your operating system has a built-in way to encrypt zip files, you probably shouldn’t use it.

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Thanks to bad design decisions, AutoRun was once a huge security problem on Windows. AutoRun helpfully allowed malicious software to launch as soon as you inserted discs and USB drives into your computer.

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You don’t need third-party software to access FTP servers, WebDAV sites, and other remote files shares. Popular desktop operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux can all do this out-of-the-box.

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Apple introduced iCloud Drive in iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite. It’s designed to be a more easily understandable cloud storage location, working more like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive.

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Chromium is the open-source project that forms the basis for Google Chrome. Because it’s completely open source, Chromium is available in many Linux distributions’ software repositories for easier installation.

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USB devices are apparently more dangerous than we’ve ever imagined. This isn’t about malware that uses the AutoPlay mechanism in Windows — this time, it’s a fundamental design flaw in USB itself.

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Chromebooks offer built-in support for SSH tunnelling with their included crosh shell and SSH command. An SSH tunnel allows you to use an SSH connection like a VPN or encrypted proxy, sending your browsing traffic through the secure tunnel.

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Android’s user-visible file system is one of its advantages over iOS. This allows you to more easily work with files, opening them in any app of your choice. But Android doesn’t include a file manager app by default.

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Some people spend hours — maybe even days — trying to clean an infected Windows system and ensuring it’s actually clean and safe afterward. It’s usually not a good idea to do this — just reinstall Windows and start over.

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You may want to switch to another cloud storage service — perhaps moving to Microsoft’s OneDrive to get that now-infinite cloud storage. Yes, you could just download and re-upload all your files, but you can also do this a faster way.

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When it comes to securing your Wi-Fi network, we always recommend WPA2-PSK encryption. It’s the only really effective way to restrict access to your home Wi-Fi network. But WPA2 encryption can be cracked, too — here’s how.

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It’s happened to all of us. You step away from your computer and come back a few minutes later. While you were gone, your computer’s hard drive lights start flashing — but what exactly is it doing? It’s natural to be a bit suspicious.

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We’ve often received blank stares and looks of confusion when mentioning that our credit card company is covering a repair via its extended warranty. Yes, your credit card may provide free extended warranties, too!

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Once again there are urgent security patches released for Windows, and this time the problems they fix are “potentially catastrophic” issues with the encryption stack. This is why you should have Windows install updates automatically.

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There are many different websites for creating web-based surveys, but all you need is a Google account and Google Docs. Easily create a survey with Google Forms, sending the results directly to Google Sheets.

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Apple Pay is shiny, new, and getting a lot of press. But Android users have had their own similar payment system for years: Google Wallet. Google Wallet isn’t limited to a small number of phones anymore.

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Your Mac’s Preview app doesn’t just contain PDF-editing features. It’s a great little image editor, too. Preview offers basic tools for cropping, resizing, rotating, annotating, and otherwise tweaking images.

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If you have a single media file you want to rearrange, you can also use QuickTime for that Open the media file, and then drag the “play head” on the playback bar to a location in the file. Click Edit > Split Clip and the currently selected clip (the full media file, by default) will be split into two halves. You can continue doing this to create multiple, smaller clips.

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The Preview app included with Mac OS X is much more powerful than its humble name implies. In addition to simply viewing PDFs, it contains the basic PDF features an average user might need.

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Windows won’t allow you to modify files that open programs have locked. if you try to delete a file and see a message that it’s open in a program, you’ll have to unlock the file (or close the program).

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Google Apps Script is a surprisingly powerful scripting language often implemented using Google Sheets. It allows people to develop lightweight web applications, and those scripts run in the cloud on Google’s servers.

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Ninite is a free tool that automatically downloads, installs, and updates various Windows programs for you, skipping past the evil toolbar offers. For Windows users, Ninite is arguably the only really safe place to get freeware.

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Search for a duplicate-file-finder and you’ll find yourself bombarded with junkware-filled installers and paid applications. We’ve put together lists of the best free duplicate-file-finders so you can save some time.

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Whether you’re using Linux on your desktop or a server, there are good tools that will scan your system for duplicate files and help you remove them to free up space. Solid graphical and command-line interfaces are both available.

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Duplicate files are a waste of disk space, consuming that precious SSD space on a modern Mac and cluttering your Time Machine backups. Remove them to free up space on your Mac.

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