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+.

VPNs are very useful, whether you’re traveling the world or just using public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop in your hometown. But you don’t necessarily have to pay for a VPN service — you could host your own VPN server at home.

about 2 years ago - by  |  4 Replies

Photos you take on your Android smartphone don’t have to stay digital. You can get physical copies of those photos printed out quickly and easily — using your own printer, at a local store, or sent to you in the mail.

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Modern wireless routers often promise “beamforming” technology for improving your Wi-Fi reception and reducing interference. But what exactly is beamforming, how does it work, and is it really helpful?

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Automatically logging into your Windows PC opens a security hole. When you enable automatic logins, your Windows account password is stored on your PC where any program with administrator access can access it.

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Digital photos are great, but sometimes you just want a printed photo you can hang somewhere or just hold in your hand. Print photos straight from your iPhone’s camera roll, whether you have your own photo printer or not.

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Many modern wireless routers are already dual-band, and now router companies are launching tri-band routers. But will they actually speed up your Wi-Fi?

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Don’t like Windows 10? As long as you’ve upgraded within the last month, you can uninstall Windows 10 and downgrade your PC back to its original Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 operating system. You can always upgrade to Windows 10 again later.

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Some flights offer Wi-FI, and some flights don’t. Some airplanes include dedicated power outlets for every seat, while others only offer them in certain seats. But you can check before you get on the plane — or even before you book tickets.

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Windows 10 has built-in real-time antivirus, just as Windows 8 did. It automatically runs in the background, ensuring all Windows users have a baseline level of antivirus protection. Windows 10 won’t complain at you to install an antivirus, as Windows 7 did.

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From PCs to Windows to smartphones, the technology we use every day is surrounded by myths that never seem to go away. These myths are so believable because they all have a grain of truth to them — maybe they even were true in the past.

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You may have misplaced a Wi-Fi password, but your laptop probably remembers it if you’ve connected in the past. If not, you can always grab the password from your router itself or reset the Wi-Fi passphrase and set a new one.

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Smartphones have only been mainstream for less than a decade, but myths have still built up over time. Some of these myths have been around for years and just won’t go away.

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Windows 10 offers a startup application manager that practically any Windows user can use. It’s integrated into the operating system and simple to understand — it even shows which programs are slowing down startup the most.

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Windows 10 includes a built-in tool for recording videos of PC games. You can upload gameplay footage to YouTube or any other video-sharing site — or just keep the clip on your own PC and share it with your friends.

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Windows 10’s File Explorer has a new “Quick Access” view. Whenever you open a file browser window, you’ll see a list of “frequent folders” and recent files. This list of folders also replaces the old favorite folders list.

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Microsoft offers two different versions of Office for Windows 10. Traditional desktop apps are available for keyboard-and-mouse, and universal apps are available for touch. But it’s not that simple.

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Many home routers offer a “Guest Mode.” This isolates your guests onto a separate Wi-Fi network, and you don’t have to give them your normal Wi-FI passphrase. But Guest Mode is often insecure.

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Microsoft’s Windows 10 seems like a big change. The version number alone is a big leap from Windows 7, and most of the default apps are new-style “universal apps,” not traditional desktop apps.

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Wi-Fi Sense is a feature built into Windows 10. You may see a pop-up saying “Wi-Fi Sense needs permission to use your Facebook account.” It also works with Outlook.com and Skype contacts.

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Backups are critical. But, if you’re just performing regular backups to a nearby external hard drive or USB drive, you’re missing an important part of your backup strategy. You need your files stored in separate physical locations.

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Computers are like anything else. Myths and urban legends have built up over time, passed from person to person. Some myths once had a grain of truth, but are no longer true thanks to technological progress.

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The common wisdom is that Macs are more expensive than Windows PCs. This is true, if you compare a $250 Windows laptop to a MacBook that starts at $899. But, given comparable hardware, Macs aren’t necessarily more expensive than PCs.

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Hotel Wi-FI networks are often completely open, requiring only a room number, code, or click-through to access the Internet. This lack of real encryption means your Internet usage is vulnerable to snooping from others sharing the network.

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Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud Drive, and other file-syncing services are convenient, but they also sync deletions and changes. You can often recover deleted files or undo changes, but they shouldn’t be your only backup method.

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Windows 10 marks a big shift in philosophy from Windows 8. In Windows 10, you’re free to sideload your own universal apps from outside the Windows store — just as you can sideload apps on an Android phone or tablet.

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