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.
The WannaCry and Petya ransomware epidemics both spread using flaws in the ancient SMBv1 protocol, which Windows still enables by default (for some ridiculous reason). Whether you’re using Windows 10, 8, or 7, you should ensure SMBv1 is disabled on your PC.
Most laptop touchpads make it possible to perform a middle-click, but not all do. In some situations, you may need to enable this option in your mouse driver’s control panel or install the appropriate drivers first.
Windows 10 includes SmartScreen, a feature that helps protect your PC from downloaded malware and malicious websites. The “SmartScreen” process—with the filename “smartscreen.exe”—that you see in Task Manager is responsible for this feature.
Microsoft created a new console color scheme for Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update, but existing Windows systems won’t get it automatically. A new, official tool allows you to install this new color scheme and other ones for easy customization of your Command Prompt windows.
Microsoft has announced Windows 10 Pro for Workstations. This is a higher-end version of Windows 10 Professional for expensive PCs with powerful hardware. The included features are already available on Windows Server, but are being brought over to a desktop version of Windows.
Windows’ Safe Mode is an essential tool. On computers infected with malware or crashing because of buggy drivers, Safe Mode may be the only way to start the computer.
The “Enhance Pointer Precision” setting in Windows can actually make you less precise with your mouse in many situations. This poorly understood feature is enabled by default in Windows, and is a form of mouse acceleration.
EA Access for Xbox One gives you access to more than 50 games, discounts, and trials of new EA games before they’re released. But is the monthly (or yearly) subscription fee really worth it?
If you have a PlayStation 4, Sony’s PlayStation Plus service is required to play multiplayer games online. A subscription costs $10 per month or $60 per year. PlayStation Plus also includes additional benefits, like free games every month and members-only discounts on some digital games.
The “wsappx” process is part of Windows 8 and 10, and you may see it running in the background or even using a significant amount of CPU and disk resources. It’s related to the Windows Store and Microsoft’s new “Universal” app platform.
Browser extensions are much more dangerous than most people realize. These small tools often have access to everything you do online, so they can capture your passwords, track your web browsing, insert advertisements into web pages you visit, and more. Popular browser extensions are often sold to shady companies or hijacked, and automatic updates can turn them into malware.
Windows 10 automatically performs system maintenance tasks like security scanning and disk optimization on a schedule. By default, Windows runs these tasks every day at 2 AM and wakes up your PC to do it if it’s sleeping.
Microsoft’s stripped-down Windows 10 S is now shipping on PCs like the Surface Laptop. If you want to try it before you buy, you can install it yourself in a virtual machine or a PC you have lying around.
If you’ve ever used a “Sign In With Facebook” button, or given a third-party app access to your Twitter account, you’ve used OAuth. It’s also used by Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn, as well as many other account providers. Essentially, OAuth allows you to grant a website access to some information about your account without giving it your actual account password.
Do you ever feel like software is just changing back and forth for no good reason? Windows 8 dropped the Start button, then Windows 8.1 brought it back—both decisions being touted as big improvements. Windows 7 brought Aero transparency before Windows 8 dumped the transparency, and both decisions were proclaimed design improvements at the time. Now, Microsoft is bringing transparency back again with Fluent Design.
Windows 10 uses memory compression to store more data in your system’s memory than it otherwise could. If you visit the Task Manager and look at your memory usage details, you’ll likely see that some of your memory is “compressed”. Here’s what that means.
Your wireless router has a variety of useful options you can configure. These are practically hidden—you wouldn’t know these features exist unless you were digging through your router’s configuration pages. But they’re worth knowing about.
If you have an Xbox One or Xbox 360, Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold service is required to play multiplayer games online. A subscription costs $10 per month or $60 per year. Xbox Live Gold also includes additional benefits, like free games every month and discounts on some digital games.
Windows 10’s Start menu can search your files, but it seems like Microsoft is more interested in pushing Bing and other online search features these days. While Windows still has some powerful search features, they’re a bit harder to find—and you might want to consider a third-party tool instead.
Reinstalling Windows isn’t as simple as just clicking through an installer. You’ll want to have important data backed up first, and then you’ll need installation media and a product key before continuing—and those are just the basics. This checklist will walk you through reinstalling Windows and ensure you won’t forget anything.
Color profiles, also known as ICC or ICM files, contain a collection of settings that help calibrate how colors appear on your monitor. You can install them on your Windows PC or Mac to help get more accurate colors.
Whenever antivirus software is mentioned, someone always seems to chime up and say they don’t need an antivirus because they’re “careful”, and “common sense is all you need”. This isn’t true. No matter how smart think you are, you can still benefit from an antivirus on Windows.
The Photos app on iPhone and iPad automatically arranges the photos and videos you take into “Memories.” But you don’t have to stick with the automatic selections—you can create your own Memories, too.
EA’s Origin Access gives you access to more than 70 games, discounts, and new EA games before they’re released for a monthly (or yearly) subscription fee. But is it really worth it?