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+.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 seems like a big change. The version number alone is a big leap from Windows 7, and most of the default apps are new-style “universal apps,” not traditional desktop apps.

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Wi-Fi Sense is a feature built into Windows 10. You may see a pop-up saying “Wi-Fi Sense needs permission to use your Facebook account.” It also works with and Skype contacts.

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Backups are critical. But, if you’re just performing regular backups to a nearby external hard drive or USB drive, you’re missing an important part of your backup strategy. You need your files stored in separate physical locations.

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Computers are like anything else. Myths and urban legends have built up over time, passed from person to person. Some myths once had a grain of truth, but are no longer true thanks to technological progress.

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The common wisdom is that Macs are more expensive than Windows PCs. This is true, if you compare a $250 Windows laptop to a MacBook that starts at $899. But, given comparable hardware, Macs aren’t necessarily more expensive than PCs.

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Apple keeps adding more and more apps to your iPhone or iPad with every release. Most recently, they added an “Apple Watch” app that exists only to advertise the Apple Watch. Stocks, Tips, Compass, Newsstand, and other apps are used by few people and just add clutter.

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Hotel Wi-FI networks are often completely open, requiring only a room number, code, or click-through to access the Internet. This lack of real encryption means your Internet usage is vulnerable to snooping.

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Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud Drive, and other file-syncing services are convenient, but they also sync deletions and changes. You can often recover deleted files or undo changes, but they shouldn’t be your only backup method.

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Windows 10 marks a big shift in philosophy from Windows 8. In Windows 10, you’re free to sideload your own universal apps from outside the Windows store — just as you can sideload apps on an Android phone or tablet.

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Microsoft says Windows 10 will be “always up-to-date,” and they mean it. There’s no way to turn Windows Update off. Microsoft says feature updates will be tested on consumer devices before they’re rolled out to business PCs.

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Windows 10 isn’t just a big change for Windows 7 users. There have been some major changes in philosophy since Windows 8. Windows 10’s touch interface is now very different and more integrated with the desktop.

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Unlike Windows 8, Windows 10 actually feels designed for a PC with a keyboard and mouse. Windows 7 users will be much more at home with Windows 10, but there are still some big changes.

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Windows 10 will be released on July 29, 2015. Microsoft is already advertising it to Windows 7 and 8.1 users using a system tray pop-up. This is a free upgrade, and will probably be a good one for Windows 7 and 8 users alike.

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VPNs on an iPhone or iPad still have a big problem. You can’t easily enable an “Always-on VPN” mode that forces your applications to connect only through a VPN. With iOS 8, Apple added this feature — although it’s hidden and hard to access.

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Don’t download software from SourceForge if you can help it. Many open-source projects now host their installers elsewhere, and the versions on SourceForge may include junkware. If you absolutely have to download something from SourceForge, be extra careful.

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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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You are emailed a document and you have to sign it and send it back. You could print out the document, sign it, and then scan it back in and email it. But there’s a better, faster way.

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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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Using a password manager helps here, as it can create strong passwords and remember them for you. But, even if you use a password manager, you’ll at least need to create and a remember a password for your password manager.

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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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