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+.

Whether you’re formatting an internal drive, external drive, or removable drive, Windows gives you the choice of using three different file systems: NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. The Format dialog in Windows doesn’t explain the difference, so we will.

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Laptop manufacturers spend a lot of time tuning their device drivers for Windows battery life. Linux usually doesn’t get the same attention. Linux may perform just as well as Windows on the same hardware, but it won’t necessarily have as much battery life.

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Windows 10 includes several different types of backup and recovery tools. And we’re going to take a look at all of them.

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If you’ve dug through your game console’s settings, you’ve probably seen an option for “Full” or “Limited” RGB output. But what do these options mean, and which should you use?

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Windows doesn’t show file extensions by default, but you can change a single setting and make Windows 7, 8, or 10 always show you each file’s full file extension.

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Android allows you to configure proxy settings for each Wi-Fi network. This is sometimes required to access the Internet on a business or school network, for example. Your browser traffic will be sent through the proxy you configure.

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Game streaming services like Twitch are bigger than ever. Whether you want to let your friends watch you play a game or try to build up a larger audience, streaming is easy.

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Most Linux distributions include the bash shell by default, but you could also switch to another shell environment. Zsh is a particularly popular alternative, and there are other shells, like ash, dash, fish, and tcsh. But what’s the difference, and why are there so many?

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Screencasting can seem a bit daunting at first, but there are a few good free ways to do it.

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There are two ways you can buy Microsoft Office. You can buy the traditional Microsoft Office 2016 product, or get it as part of an Office 365 software subscription. Here’s the difference.

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Your Mac’s serial number is a unique identifier that distinguishes your Mac from all others. You have to provide your Mac’s serial number when requesting warranty service. You may also want to look up your Mac’s serial number if you’re reporting it stolen.

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Windows doesn’t display your PC’s serial number anywhere in its interface, and neither do popular system information tools. But you can often find a PC’s serial number with a simple command, a peek in your BIOS, or on the hardware itself.

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If you dig through Windows 10’s settings, you may come across something called “Developer Mode”. When put into Developer Mode, Windows allows you to more easily test apps you’re developing, use the Ubuntu Bash shell environment, change a variety of developer-focused settings, and do other such things.

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Every electronic device you own—your phone, laptop, mouse, keyboard, and every other piece of tech—has a unique serial number. But are those numbers best kept private, like passwords, or is it alright if someone else sees them?

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Modern web browsers allow websites to ask for your location through a prompt. If you’re tired of seeing these prompts, you can disable them and websites won’t be able to ask for your location anymore.

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Chromebooks aren’t like traditional laptops. While they’re much simpler, they still have various useful features you may not know about. From accessing remote computers and printing to wiping your personal data, recovering Chrome OS, and installing desktop Linux, these tricks will help you get the most out of your Chromebook.

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When you configure a proxy server for a Wi-Fi network, your iPhone or iPad will use it when accessing that network. This is sometimes required to access the Internet on a business or school network, for example. Your network traffic will be sent through the proxy you configure.

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It’s been over four years since Microsoft first released the PC Settings interface with Windows 8, but the Control Panel and Settings app are still a confusing, split experience. There still isn’t a single interface, as there is on other operating systems, and Microsoft is seriously dragging their feet on consolidating them.

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Your computer’s BIOS is the first thing that loads when you start your computer. It initializes your hardware before booting an operating system from your hard drive or another device. Many low-level system settings are only available in your BIOS.

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Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, and other Chrome OS devices allow you to set a proxy server through which you can route your traffic.This may be required to access the Internet on some networks—for example, on business or school networks.

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You’ll sometimes see MD5, SHA-1, or SHA-256 hashes displayed alongside downloads during your internet travels, but not really known what they are. These seemingly random strings of text allow you to verify files you download aren’t corrupted or tampered with. You can do this with the commands built into Windows, macOS, and Linux.

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When you configure a proxy server on your Mac, applications will send their network traffic through the proxy server before going to their destination. This may be required by your employer to bypass a firewall, or you may want to use a proxy to bypass geoblocking and access websites that aren’t available in your country.

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Some Windows 10 devices ship with “Device Encryption”, but other PCs require you to pay another $99 to get BitLocker on Windows Pro for full-disk encryption. If you’d rather not, you can use the free and open-source VeraCrypt software to get full-disk encryption on any version of Windows.

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An SSH client connects to a Secure Shell server, which allows you to run terminal commands as if you were sitting in front of another computer. But an SSH client also allows you to “tunnel” a port between your local system and a remote SSH server.

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If you want to send your web browser traffic—and only your browser traffic—through a proxy, Mozilla Firefox is a great option. It uses your system-wide proxy settings by default, but you can configure separate proxy settings for Firefox only.

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