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+.

When you install a major Windows 10 update, you may reboot to find some of your programs missing. Yes, Windows 10 may remove your programs without asking you–but you can get them back pretty easily.

about 5 months ago - by  |  60 Replies

Everyone loses data at some point in their lives. Your computer’s hard drive could fail tomorrow, ransomware could hold your files hostage, or a software bug could delete your important files. If you’re not regularly backing up your computer, you could lose those files forever.

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Ever want to watch a video on your phone or tablet without wasting its storage space? Or maybe you just need to view a file your friend gave you. Most modern Android devices support standard USB drives, so you can plug in a flash drive just like you would on a computer.

about 5 months ago - by  |  18 Replies

This only applies to purchases you make within apps. If you purchased a paid app from the App Store, you can just revisit the App Store and reinstall the app. As long as you’re signed in with the same Apple ID you purchased the app with, you’ll be able to install it again on any device.

about 5 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Is your Android device low on space? If your phone has a MicroSD card slot, you can use it to expand your space for music, movies or even apps, thanks to the improved SD card features in Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

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File History is Windows 10’s main backup tool, originally introduced in Windows 8. Despite the name, File History isn’t just a way to restore previous versions of files–it’s a fully-featured backup tool.

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With Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Google added more than just Doze. It added a feature named App Standby, which is designed to prevent apps you never use from draining your battery. It’s less effective than disabling apps completely, but it has its place.

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Microsoft is competing with Steam. For $60, you can get Rise of the Tomb Raider from either the Windows Store or Steam. But the Windows Store’s version of the game is worse, and Microsoft’s new app platform is to blame. It’s not ready for powerful games yet.

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Android 6.0 Marshmallow added a new feature called “Doze” that aims to dramatically improve your battery life. Android phones and tablets will “sleep” when you leave them alone, conserving battery life for later. Doze is designed to get out of your way and just work, but you can tweak it and make it even better.

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More games support Linux than ever, thanks to Steam for Linux. But, like on Windows, many of these games require the latest graphics drivers for optimal performance and the fewest bugs. The latest versions of Ubuntu may include fresher drivers, but not necessarily the most recent ones.

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Google added a “Battery Saver” mode to Android with Android 5.0 Lollipop. On a modern Android device, this mode can kick in and help prolong your battery when it’s almost dead. You can tweak that battery threshold or enable Battery Saver mode manually.

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Unfortunately, not every mobile game supports physical game controllers. But quite a few games do, thanks to the Apple TV’s support for MFi controllers. For Android, devices like the NVIDIA Shield have encouraged developers to have controller support to their games. So, while this won’t necessarily work for every game you own, it should work for a fair amount.

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Your Mac tracks the “energy impact” of each running application in a few places. Like on an iPhone or iPad, you can see exactly which apps are using the most power, and adjust your usage accordingly so you don’t run out of juice.

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After more than a decade as a fervent PC gamer, I purchased a PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Wii U last year, eager to try the current crop of consoles. The last console I seriously used was a Nintendo 64. A lot has changed since then.

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MacBooks attempt to automatically manage your display brightness for you, dimming the display when you step away from an outlet and adjusting the brightness to suit the overall light level nearby. But you can adjust the brightness manually and even disable these features, if you like.

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Those new Windows 10 apps have permission to run in the background so they can update their live tiles, fetch new data, and receive notifications. Even if you never even touch them, they may drain some battery power. But you can control which apps are allowed to run in the background.

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You probably need to change your screen brightness regularly. When it’s bright outside, you want to turn it up so you can see. When you’re in a dark room, you’ll want it dim so it doesn’t hurt your eyes. Decreasing your screen brightness will also help save you power and increase your laptop’s battery life.

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If you switch to a Mac after becoming familiar with Windows, you’ll quickly find that the standard Ctrl+Alt+Delete shortcut doesn’t do anything. Mac OS X does have its own version of the Task Manager, but it’s a bit different than Windows’.

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Windows 10 includes a new “Battery Use” screen that shows you what’s draining your laptop’s juice. That means it’ll tell you exactly what apps–both desktop and Windows 10 “universal” apps–are using too much power.

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Using Chrome on Windows? There’s a good chance you’re still using the 32-bit version. You should upgrade to the 64-bit version. It’s more secure–not to mention faster and more stable.

about 6 months ago - by  |  46 Replies

Windows 10 includes  a “Battery Saver” mode that’s designed to extend your laptop or tablet’s battery life. Windows will automatically enable Battery Saver when your PC’s battery runs low, but you can control this–and choose exactly what Battery Saver does.

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NVIDIA’s GameStream technology lets you stream games from a GeForce-powered Windows PC to another device. It only officially supports NVIDIA’s own Android-based SHIELD devices, but with a third-party open-source GameStream client known as Moonlight, you can stream games to Windows PCs, Macs, Linux PCs, iPhones, iPads, and non-SHIELD Android devices.

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Windows sets all PCs to a “Balanced” power plan by default. But there are also “Power saver” and “High performance” plans. Your PC manufacturer may have even created their own power plans. What’s the difference between them all, and should you bother switching?

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Everything has DRM these days, and while Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and even DVDs and Blu-rays “just work” on most systems, Linux users always have to do a little more work. Here’s how penguin lovers can get all those services working on their machines.

about 6 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

Windows offers an on-screen keyboard that lets you type even if you don’t have access to a physical keyboard. It’s particularly useful with a touch screen, but you can also use it to type with a mouse–or even to type with a game controller from your couch.

about 6 months ago - by  |  3 Replies