Windows 8.1 and 8 brought big changes to Windows. Even the process of logging in and setting up user accounts is extremely different, with new types of user accounts and login options.
Web browsers are gaining more and more features websites can use, and with them come permission options. Your web browser has a variety of permissions you can apply to individual websites, restricting them in various ways.
Remote desktop software allows you to access your computer from another room or halfway around the world. You can also share your desktop with someone temporarily — ideal for remote tech support.
Portable applications allow you to move between computers, taking your applications and their settings with you on a USB stick. Portable VirtualBox allows you to create portable operating systems and run them on any PC.
Some Windows tablets have as little as 32 GB of internal storage, and future ones may only have 16 GB! This is extremely cramped for a large Windows system, so you’ll want to make the most of the little space available to you.
Most web browsers load Flash and other plug-in content as soon as you open a web page. Enable “click-to-play” plug-ins and your browser will load a placeholder image instead — click it to actually download and view the content.
With so much concern about government surveillance, corporate espionage, and everyday identity theft, it may seem surprising that so few people use encrypted email messages. Try using encrypted email and you’ll find it to be difficult and complicated to use.
Some Internet service providers have harsh restrictions on the amount of bandwidth you can use in a month, charging you extra if you go over your bandwidth cap. Other ISPs restrict traffic at certain hours — for example, offering unlimited bandwidth only at night.
Building your own computer is actually pretty simple. Don’t be afraid to dive right in — all you’ll need is a screwdriver, patience, and the ability to follow simple instructions.
Most computers ship with a single operating system, but you can have multiple operating systems installed on a single PC. Having two operating systems installed — and choosing between them at boot time — is known as “dual-booting.”
OpenOffice.org was once the open-source office suite of choice, but it fractured into two separate projects — Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Never mind Oracle Open Office, which was actually a closed-source office suite and was discontinued.
Yes, there are some situations where you’ll want to regularly change your passwords. But those will probably be the exception rather than the rule. Telling typical computer users they need to regularly change their passwords is a mistake.
iTunes uses an authorization system to ensure only a handful of computers can access your purchased music, videos, and other content at any given time. You should deauthorize iTunes before getting rid of a computer or reinstalling Windows.
Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade to all Windows 8 users, but you normally can’t install Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8 product key. Luckily, you can get around this limitation if you really want a fresh install of Windows 8.1.
Windows 8.1 allows you to limit and monitor data usage, which isn’t just useful if you have a Windows tablet or laptop with mobile data. It’s also useful if you’re tethering your PC to your smartphone.
Many Internet service providers are now giving their customers combined devices that function as both a modem and a wireless router. With these devices, you don’t have to buy a router — but you can, if you like.
Macs have a thriving ecosystem of software, but some programs still only support Windows. Whether you want to use business software or play Windows PC games, there are many ways to run Windows programs on your Mac.
If you use Windows 8.1 on the desktop, you can’t ignore the new “Windows 8-style” interface entirely. There are some important options you can only access from the PC Settings app, not the desktop Control Panel.
It’s common wisdom that deleted files can’t be recovered from solid-state media, only from traditional mechanical hard drives. But this only applies to internal drives — USB flash drives and external solid-state drives are vulnerable to file-recovery attacks.
If a Windows system is badly infected with malware, running an antivirus from inside Windows often won’t help. You can more easily find and purge malware by scanning from outside Windows.
When you sign up for cable Internet service, you need a modem. You’re often asked to choose between renting the modem from your Internet service provider for a monthly fee or buying it outright.
Many computers give you the option to set a “hard disk password” along with operating system passwords and BIOS passwords. This is different from encryption — a hard disk password doesn’t actually encrypt your files.