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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+.

Free antivirus applications aren’t what they used to be. Free antivirus companies are now bundling adware, spyware, toolbars, and other junk to make a quick buck.

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Macs include a built-in way to remotely access your Mac’s files and its screen from anywhere in the world. The “Back to My Mac” feature is free but only works between Macs.

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How do you store your photos? If you’re just dumping them on an external drive, that’s not a backup. You need to have multiple copies of your photos (or any other data) in at least two different places or you could easily lose them all.

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You can sign a PDF document from your phone, tablet, or any other computer and email it off to someone. But some organizations still don’t accept documents via email — you may need to fax documents instead.

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Not all charging is equal. If your smartphone (or tablet) is low on battery and you only have a limited amount of time to charge it, here’s how you can get the most juice possible.

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Your Internet service provider probably wants to sell you a faster Internet connection. Pay more money every month and you’ll get faster Internet speeds — sounds simple. But do you even need those speeds, and when would you notice them?

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Want to turn any old computer into a Chromebook? Google doesn’t provide official builds of Chrome OS for any old computer, but there are ways you can install the open-source Chromium OS software or a similar operating system.

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If there’s something everything seems to agree on, it’s that Google’s Android is more “open” and Apple’s iOS is a more “closed” operating system. Here’s what that actually means to you.

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Run out of space and your iPhone will inform you your storage is almost full. You won’t be able to install new apps, take photos, sync media files, install operating system updates, or do anything else that requires space until you make some.

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Wi-Fi is obviously more convenient than wired Ethernet cables. But Ethernet still offers advantages — faster speeds, lower latency, and no wireless interference problems.

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You don’t have to hold up a microphone to your computer’s speakers to record its audio. Even if you don’t have a Stereo Mix option on your PC, you can easily record the sound coming from any Windows PC.

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The PowerCfg command is a hidden tool on Windows. Beyond just tweaking power-management settings, it can generate some sophisticated HTML reports on Windows 7, 8, and 10.

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Macs aren’t immune to software and hardware problems. A Mac may sometimes not respond to the Power button at all, or Mac OS X may crash or otherwise fail to start up properly.

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Microsoft added a hidden “Battery Report” feature to Windows in Windows 8. Generate a report to see health information about your battery, how its capacity has decreased over time, and other interesting statistics.

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Your Mac has built-in anti-malware (or antivirus) functionality. It works an awful lot like antivirus software on Windows, examining applications you run and ensuring they don’t match a list of known-bad applications.

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Batteries don’t last forever — they only have so many charge cycles. As you use your battery, it will degrade over time and you’ll get less and less battery life from it. Eventually, you’ll want to replace a device’s battery — or get a new device with a new battery.

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You turn on your Android phone or tablet by pressing its power button — simple. If that button won’t work, your device isn’t necessarily broken — there are ways to bring it back to life.

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iPhones and iPads are supposed to “Just work,” but no technology is perfect. If you’ve pressed the Power button and the screen won’t turn on or you see an error message, don’t worry. You can probably make it boot again.

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When you put your PC into sleep mode, it normally waits until you press a button before it wakes from sleep – but you can have your PC automatically wake from sleep at a specific time.

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Geeks often immediately reinstall Windows on their new PCs to get a completely clean system. Thanks to a change in Windows 10, you can get a fresh copy of Windows on any PC without downloading an ISO file and reinstalling Windows.

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Online streaming services are usually considered an alternative to pricey cable subscriptions for cord cutters. But TV networks have been trying to change that for years, and they’ve released more and more services that give you free access to on-demand video if you have a cable subscription.

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After years of use in other countries around the world, chip-enabled credit cards are coming to the USA. Credit cards with only magnetic strips are being phased out ahead of an October 1, 2015 deadline.

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Your Mac’s menu bar can start to look a lot like the Windows system tray after you install a few programs. Here’s how to declutter the menu bar and get those icons under control.

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Systemd is now used by default in most Linux distributions, from Fedora and Red Hat to Ubuntu, Debian, openSUSE, and Arch. The systemctl command allows you to get information about systemd’s status and control running services.

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Roku’s line of streaming boxes are still the most popular, beating out Google’s Chromecast and the Apple TV. Roku recently refreshed their hardware, but there are still four different options to choose from — not the single option you get with competing devices.

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