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+.

Every Windows user is fighting a constant war against junkware that legitimate application installers try to sneak onto our systems. Here’s everything you can do to protect yourself from obnoxious browser toolbars and all that other junk.

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Have you ever wanted to monitor who’s logging into your computer and when? On Professional editions of Windows, you can enable logon auditing to have Windows track which user accounts log in and when.

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According to an old rule of thumb, your page file or swap should be “double your RAM” or “1.5x your RAM.” But do you really need a 32 GB page file or swap if you have 16 GB of RAM?

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Free, public Wi-Fi access points are popping up in more and more places around the world. They’re extra useful when travelling, as you won’t have your home Wi-Fi network and may not want to pay for international mobile data.

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Hyper-V is a virtual machine feature built into Windows. It was originally part of Windows Server 2008, but made the leap the to desktop with Windows 8. Hyper-V allows you to create virtual machines without any additional software.

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Your smartphone or tablet’s home screen isn’t just for apps. Whatever platform you’re using, you can pin your favorite websites to your home screen so you can quickly access them.

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Virtual machines allow you to run an operating system in a window on your desktop. Use them to run software made for other operating systems, experiment with different operating systems, and sandbox software.

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The permissions here are really file and directory permissions, but they’re generally called “disk permissions.” Your Mac won’t automatically repair permissions except while installing or upgrading Mac OS X itself.

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Many new laptops, tablets, and devices in between are coming with an ever-smaller amount of storage. But you can expand your device’s storage without spending much money or time.

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VLC has many hidden features you might not have noticed. Among these features is a powerful add-on system that supports everything from feature-adding extensions to skins.

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Some laptops and tablets now ship with Microsoft’s “Windows 8.1 with Bing” operating system, something you may see mentioned in their technical specifications. But how is this different from Windows 8.1 — is using Bing mandatory?

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Different operating systems support different file systems. Your removable drive should use FAT32 for best compatibility, unless it’s bigger and needs NTFS. Mac-formatted drives use HFS+ and don’t work with Windows. And Linux has its own file systems, too.

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Windows 9 looks like it will finally include virtual desktops, a feature Linux and Mac users have been enjoying for years. But Windows 7 and 8 already have some virtual desktop features — they’re just hidden under the hood.

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Macs format drives with Apple’s HFS+ file system, which Windows won’t recognize or access without third-party software. Macs may also create a protected EFI partition on these drives that you can’t delete with the usual disk-partitioning tools.

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Windows 8.1 invites you to “Get more features with a new edition of Windows.” You’ll get six more features if you upgrade to the Professional edition — plus a seventh if you pay extra.

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The Xposed Framework is a way to make system-level changes to your Android operating system without installing a custom ROM. All you need is root access. Here’s a look at what you can actually do with the Xposed Framework.

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Google Docs doesn’t have the cluttered ribbon full of features you’ll find in Microsoft Office, but it does have quite a few useful tricks up its sleeve. You may never find these features unless you go looking for them.

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You can upgrade to the Professional edition of Windows 8 to get advanced features like BitLocker encryption, but other features aren’t available to normal Windows users. They’re only in the Enterprise edition of Windows, which requires a volume-licensing agreement.

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A whitelist should be a foolproof way to secure a relative’s PC. Select a handful of approved applications and only allow them to run. If someone using the PC downloads another .exe file, Windows will refuse to run it.

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Once, people seemed to love netbooks and were buying them in droves. Today, people love to hate netbooks. Netbooks sit unused and gathering dust in drawers and closets. But the core ideas behind netbooks lives on today.

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Hybrid hard drives promise some of the performance of a solid-state drive with the capacity of a mechanical drive. They’re bigger than an SSD and faster than a plain-old mechanical drive.

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There was a time when Macs and PCs were very different, but they’re now basically the same. Open a MacBook up and you’ll find the same hardware you’d find in a PC Ultrabook.

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Tab completion is an extremely helpful feature in nearly any command-line environment, whether you’re using the Bash shell on Linux, Command Prompt or PowerShell on Windows, or a terminal window on Mac OS X.

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Windows is designed for desktop use, not gaming. The Windows key, Alt+Tab, and other keyboard options like Sticky Keys will rip you out of full-screen games and back to your desktop — but you can disable them.

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Windows, Linux, and other operating systems all have built-in support for IPv6, and it’s enabled by default. According to a myth going around, this IPv6 support is slowing down your connection and disabling it will speed things up.

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