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Windows has a built-in firewall that blocks inbound connections. If a program wants to act as a server, Windows will prompt you. Some geeks don’t like the built-in firewall because it doesn’t offer the same prompts for outgoing connections.

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Windows XP won’t be officially supported for much longer. Sure, you could keep using it — it won’t just stop working one day. It will just become more insecure over time as Microsoft and everyone else stops supporting it.

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Malware, adware, and pushy software installers all love changing your browser settings, giving you new home pages, default search engines, and obnoxious toolbars. It’s easy to forget to uncheck these options while installing software.

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To actually erase files from a magnetic hard drive, you would have to overwrite the file with useless data. Some tools attempt to make this easier, offering to “securely delete” a file by deleting it and overwriting its sectors with junk.

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If you’re like most Windows users, you probably just uninstall programs by launching their uninstallers from the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel. But if you’re a geek, there’s a chance you’ve dabbled with a third-party uninstaller.

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Windows 8 awkwardly forces the Start menu programs list into a flat “All Apps” list. Many programs haven’t been properly updated for this new reality and fill your All Apps list with useless shortcuts to help files, websites, and uninstallers.

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Microsoft Office documents containing built-in macros can be dangerous. Macros are essentially bits of computer code, and historically they’ve been vehicles for malware. Luckily, modern versions of Office contain security features that will protect you from macros.

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Cloud storage services are constantly vying for attention, and the inclusion of SkyDrive in Windows 8.1 is indicative of the importance Microsoft places on it. But not everyone is so enamored with the service and would rather that it wasn’t so hard-baked into the OS. Using Group Policy Editor or the Registry Editor, it can be disabled.

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Want to reset your web browser to its default settings? You can’t necessarily just uninstall it — your personal files will stay on your computer. And if your browser is Internet Explorer, it can’t be uninstalled at all.

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Some geeks use “driver cleaners” when updating their drivers — generally graphics drivers — to ensure the old driver was completely uninstalled and that no leftover files will conflict with the new driver. But is this necessary?

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Google accounts now use a shared pool of storage. Every account gets 15 GB of free space, which is shared across your Gmail, Google Drive, and Google+ Photos. But certain types of files don’t count towards your storage quota.

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PC gaming is different from console gaming. Consoles run a stripped-down operating system optimized for games, but PCs run a general-purpose operating system like Windows that may be doing other things in the background.

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Outlook 2013 allows you to customize the font used to display the sender’s name, subject, date received, and size of each message in your message list. Maybe you want to just change the size to make the font bigger or smaller, or change the font to one you like better.

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Email inbox gimmicks keep popping up. First Google introduced Priority Inbox, and now it’s using category tabs. Dropbox purchased Mailbox, which turns your inbox into more of a to-do-list. Microsoft’s Outlook.com has a Sweep feature that automatically cleans your inbox.

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Office 2013 allows you to add useful apps directly to Word, Excel, etc.. By apps, generally we mean research resources such as dictionaries for defining terms or accessing sites such as Wikipedia directly within Office programs to confirm facts.

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We’ve said it again and again: Registry cleaners don’t speed up your PC. At best, they’re a waste of time — and often money. At worst, they can cause problems by removing registry entries they shouldn’t.

about 1 year ago - by  |  39 Replies

Your computer’s RAM is still faster than even modern solid-state drives. RAM disks take advantage of this, using your computer’s RAM as a lightning-fast virtual drive. But you probably don’t want to use a RAM disk, anyway.

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On occasion you will need to edit the hosts file on your machine. Sometimes because of an attack or prank, and others so that you can simply and freely control access to websites and network traffic.

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You can virtualize Windows XP with almost any virtual machine program, but we’ll cover a solution that gives you Windows XP-mode like desktop and taskbar integration on Windows 8.

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Many companies want to sell you “memory optimizers,” often as part of “PC optimization” programs. These programs are worse than useless — not only will they not speed up your computer, they’ll slow it down.

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The reality is that password database compromises are a concern. However, if you use unique passwords everywhere, you shouldn’t need to worry too much.

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Many email servers refuse to accept email attachments over 10MB in size. While attachment sizes haven’t kept up with the times, there are other easy ways to send someone large files over email.

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If you use Outlook for your email and calendar, but also use Google Calendar (say one for business and one for personal), you can easily add your Google Calendar to Outlook so you can view all your calendars in one place.

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VirtualBox is packed with features that you may have never used, even if you frequently use it to run virtual machines. VMware keeps many of its best features to its paid versions, but all of VirtualBox’s features are completely free.

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You have more than enough available space on a given hard disk, so why can’t you park your file there? Read on as we investigate why Windows will deny you even if there is plenty of space to spare.

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