We’ve covered virtual private networks and when you might want to use them before. Connecting to a VPN is easy, as Windows and most other operating systems offer built-in VPN support.
Need to send sensitive information through email? Normal email messages can be intercepted or hacked before reaching the recipient. However, you can use a free extension for Google Chrome, called SafeGmail, that allows you to send encrypted emails to anyone.
The Windows Aero Glass interface for Windows 7 or Vista requires a decent video card, you won’t be able to use it on an old clunker computer. For those worried about performance, sometimes squeezing every last drop requires disabling Aero.
The Professional edition of Windows 8 comes with “downgrade rights.” If you’re not happy with Windows 8 on a new computer, you can downgrade it to Windows 7 for free – as long as you have Windows 8 Pro.
Robocopy, or “Robust File Copy,” is a command line directory replication tool from Microsoft. It is available as part of Windows 7 and Vista as a standard feature, and was available as part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit.
If you often open a lot of applications at once, a virtual desktop program can help you keep all those windows on your desktop organized. A virtual desktop program allows you to put open applications into separate virtual desktops, cutting down on your desktop clutter.
We’ve all had programs crash on us in Windows at one time or another. You can take the time to manually start the program again, or you can have a simple program like ReStartMe restart it automatically for you.
If you’ve used Linux, you’re probably familiar with the virtual desktop feature. It provides a convenient way to organize programs and folders open on your desktop. You can switch among multiple desktops and have different programs and folders open on each one.
The hosts file in Windows contains mappings of IP addresses to host names, like an address book for your computer. Your PC uses IP addresses to find websites, so it needs to translate the host names into IP addresses to access websites.
If you use iOS or Android devices, you’re familiar with the drag-and-drop method of creating folders. If you like that method of grouping files, you can get the same functionality on your Windows PC using a free utility, called Smart Folders.
One of the new features in Windows 8 is the improved Task Manager, which provides access to more information and settings. If you don’t want to upgrade, there is a way you can use a simple Windows 8-like Task Manager in Windows 7, Vista, or XP.
The Windows Task Manager is a built-in tool that allows you to check which services are running in the background, how much resources are being used by which software programs, and the all-to-common task of killing programs that are not responding.
If you need to install Windows or Linux and you don’t have access to a CD/DVD drive, a bootable USB drive is the solution. You can boot to the USB drive, using it to run the OS setup program, just like a CD or DVD.
The Windows clipboard is like a scratch pad used by the operating system and all running applications. When you copy or cut some text or a graphic, it is temporarily stored in the clipboard and then retrieved later when you paste the data.
When burning a CD or DVD with Windows, you’ll be asked whether you want to use a Live File System or a Mastered disc format. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click Yes to continue.
Windows uses a page file to store data that can’t be held by your computer’s random-access memory when it fills up. While you can tweak the page file settings, Windows can manage the page file fine on its own.
System Restore is a Windows feature that can help fix some crashes and other computer problems. To know when to use it, you’ll have to understand just how System Restore works.
Windows 7’s backup control panel has the ability to create full system image backups. While Windows says you can’t restore individual files from these backups, there’s a way to browse the contents of a system image and extract individual files.
We’ve previously written about a tool that allows you to create a bunch of folders at one time from a list of words or phrases. However, what if you want to create one or more folders from a bunch of selected text files?
If you’ve ever wondered how to change the name of the person that Windows is registered to, this is the quick tip for you. It’s not all that useful, but it might come in handy if you got a computer from somebody else.
VirtualBox’s experimental 3D acceleration allows you to use Windows 7’s Aero interface in a virtual machine. You can also run older 3D games in a virtual machine – newer ones probably won’t run very well.
Do you want to save time when installing Windows 7? You can create a customized installation disc and have it perform an installation without asking you questions, integrate updates and drivers, tweak Windows, and remove Windows components.
Do you pin a lot of programs to your Windows 7 Taskbar and run a lot of programs at once? Between pinned programs and other programs running, your Taskbar can get crowded. There are a few ways you can reclaim the space on your Taskbar.
The Windows Task Manager is often used for troubleshooting – perhaps closing an application that isn’t working properly or monitoring system resource usage. However, there’s a lot more you can do with Windows 7’s Task Manager.