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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+.

VirtualBox can boot virtual machines from USB flash drives, allowing you to boot a live Linux system or install an operating system from a bootable USB device. This option is well-hidden.

about 6 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  10 Replies

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  12 Replies

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  12 Replies

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  1 Reply

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  25 Replies

Installing Windows on your Mac is easy with Boot Camp, but Boot Camp won’t help you install Linux. You’ll have to get your hands a bit dirtier to install and dual-boot a Linux distribution like Ubuntu.

about 6 months ago - by  |  4 Replies

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  6 Replies

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  6 Replies

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  9 Replies

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  10 Replies

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.

about 6 months ago - by  |  20 Replies

Thanks to the switch from PowerPC to Intel many years ago, a Mac is just another PC. Macs come with Mac OS X, but you can easily install Windows on them with Apple’s built-in Boot Camp feature.

about 6 months ago - by  |  25 Replies

Many computers give you the option to set a “hard disk password” along with operating system passwords and BIOS passwords.┬áThis is different from encryption — a hard disk password doesn’t actually encrypt your files.

about 6 months ago - by  |  7 Replies

Macs can automatically download and reinstall their operating system. This process normally keeps your personal files, but you can choose to erase them. You can also create USB installation media to speed up installing OS X on multiple Macs.

about 6 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

Microsoft Office costs money, except when it doesn’t. From a hidden 60 day free trial that doesn’t require payment details to web apps and mobile apps, there are many ways to get Office for free.

about 6 months ago - by  |  27 Replies

You can reinstall Windows from scratch using the product key that came with your PC, but you’ll have to find installation media yourself. Microsoft offers free Windows ISO files — if you know where to look.

about 6 months ago - by  |  32 Replies

Windows XP isn’t dead and buried yet. Microsoft will be creating security updates for XP for years to come, but those updates won’t be available to normal users. No, they’re just for large businesses and governments with money to burn.

about 7 months ago - by  |  45 Replies

The numbers in the title will vary from carrier to carrier and phone to phone, but we show how we came up with these numbers below. They illustrate how you’re paying more when you buy a phone on contract, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.

about 7 months ago - by  |  12 Replies

Microsoft is done supporting Windows XP. If you want security patches, you’ll have to buy an new boxed copy of Windows or a new PC — or you can switch to Linux and get free security updates for years to come.

about 7 months ago - by  |  23 Replies

Fax machines are still trucking along in offices around the world. Government agencies, lawyers, doctors, and other slow-moving organizations often still require faxes — at best, it’s a necessary evil.

about 7 months ago - by  |  3 Replies

Video chat was once the future. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the video phone was supposed to be an awe-inspiring example of future technology. Well, that future is here — video chat has been with us for many years.

about 7 months ago - by  |  2 Replies

Go anywhere people are taking photos and you’ll see someone taking photos with an iPad or some sort of Android tablet. Everyone’s already pointed out how silly this looks — but is it really a bad idea?

about 7 months ago - by  |  7 Replies

A Windows, Linux, or Mac password just prevents people from logging into your operating system. It doesn’t prevent people from booting other operating systems, wiping your drive, or using a live CD to access your files.

about 7 months ago - by  |  3 Replies