How-To Geek

From the Tips Box: Halting Autorun, Android’s Power Strip, and Secure DVD Wiping


This week we’re kicking off a new series here at How-To Geek focused on awesome reader tips. This week we’re exploring Windows shortcuts, Android widgets, and sparktacular ways to erase digital media.

Temporarily Halting the Autorun Function in Windows2011-03-03_115344

Dear How-To Geek,

I’m stuck copying a bunch of data discs at work. Unfortunately the data discs have a stupid autorun flag on them! I can’t change anything on my work computer to toggle off the autorun but I have found a solution to help me get through this pile without losing it. In Windows if you hold down the Shift key while inserting media it temporarily disables the autorun feature—works on disc-based media and USB drives too! I can’t believe I’ve been using Windows for so long and only just found this shortcut.


DVD Copying Drone

The number of Windows shortcuts certainly seems to grow exponentially with each new release! Thanks for sharing such a handy shortcut. If you were at home (and not hobbled by the restrictions on your work computer) you could also permanently disable the autorun using this guide.

Enabling Android’s Power Control for Easy Android Management2011-03-03_114017

Dear How-To Geek,

I’m not sure if this is a new Android feature (I recently upgraded my phone and I never recall seeing it on Android 1.6) but it’s incredibly handy. My Android phone has a widget that allows you to control a huge number of phone features with a single bank of buttons. I used to have all sorts of little widgets from the Marketplace but now I can do everything from one location. You can find the widget by holding down on your home screen, selecting Widgets from the popup menu, and then scrolling down until you find Power Control. There you can select all sorts of button options like toggling on your Bluetooth, GPS, Syncing, adjusting the screen brightness, and more. It’s so much handier than digging in settings or using a dozen widgets for the same functionality.


Power Control for Life

You’re not imagining things, the power strip feature first made an appearance in Android 2.1; yay for upgrades!

Data Destruction the Mad Scientist Way

Dear How-To Geek,

I don’t often have to destroy disc-based media but when I do… I do it in style! I stumbled on this one largely by accident. I had a couple DVDs with sensitive data on them that needed to be destroyed. I figured since the shiny layer of the DVD is actually metal foil that putting them in the microwave would make short work of them. (I know! I know! I could have just broken them in half like a normal person.) It turns out I was right! It was freaking awesome! I didn’t get a video of it at the time but I did find a bunch of videos on YouTube where people did the same thing. I will issue one warning: don’t do it for more than 4-5 seconds. After about 5 seconds the metal foil heats up and starts melting the plastic and it smells like hell (and probably isn’t good to breathe in).



From a practical standpoint a paper shredder with a built in CD/DVD shredding slot is probably a lot safer in the long run. From a geek standpoint however… that’s awesome. The next time we have super secret spy guy documents to dispose of we’re doing it, as you said, in style and putting them out of commission with baby lighting bolts. Thanks for sending in the video along with your tip!

Have a great tip to share? We want to hear about it. Send us your tips by emailing them to and you might just see your tip on the front page of How-To Geek.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/3/11

Comments (16)

  1. Steven

    For a cool dollar, you can get Extended Controls, which is like the Android power strip on steroids. It mimics the look and feel of the original, but Includes new features like battery life, torch functionality, always-on screen, turn data network on and off, and many more.

  2. mrhammerstein

    Instead of the power widget, download SwitchPro Widget from the app store. You can customize the widget to your desire with up to 8 different options. It’s an essential app for me.

  3. Chris

    Power Widget is awesome and has been there since 1.6

  4. Christian K

    Widgesoid is like power widget, but with something like 50 different options. There’s more to it, and it’s free.

    My homescreen has 3 widgetsoid strips, controlling things like, sound, vibrate, gps, wifi, screen always on, bluetooth, sync, battery meter, rotate, screen lock, airplane mode …

  5. ddthesm

    Can’t you ruin your microwave?

  6. Sjohn

    Putting a CD in the microwave did the same thing and then a week later the microwave stopped working. Maybe just coincidence but I have not done it again since.

  7. Tad

    We put a few CD’s in the microwave and then put masking tape on the label side which takes it right off so you have a translucent plastic disk with cool lightning marks on it. We made a mobile out of it…

  8. Ron Hamilton

    Hello all;

    Never, never, never, place anything metallic in a microwave. You will destroy the magnetron and goodbye microwave. You could easily start a fire or worse. Microwaves are cheap, but not that cheap.

    Buy a cheap shredder…mine has no dedicated slot but it chews up CD’s like a good burger.

    Now I have to go and find out where all that smoke is coming from!



  9. Shankar Ganesh

    The Power Control Plus widget is even better, and comes with support for over * 30 settings * that can be toggled easily. There are also 7 different widget sizes available.

    It’s definitely worth a mention on HTG.

  10. ThrDude

    @Ron Hamilton

    Sorry Ron, but the Myth-Busters proved that this could not start a fire, they even tried a huge load of foil, forks, and knives. This will not start a fire or ruin your microwave…


  11. Jim Britt

    Myth Busters is WRONG!

    I put a Wendy’s burger in my microwave (I forgot the paper had a foil liner) and it not only caught fire but the fire melted the top of the microwave interior until the melted plastic started feeding the fire!

    I had a mess and almost lost my house! I’m still thinking about suing Wendy’s!

  12. rMatey180

    I’ve tried that microwave trick a few years ago. It’s nothing new. The shredder is a lot better.

  13. Grimache

    @Jim Britt……seriously….suing Wendy’s for something that was entirely your fault?!?! Please tell me that was sarcasm just missing the /s tag at the end???

  14. Jim Britt

    Sarcasm of course!

    I don’t support 2-bit lawyers that steal 30% or of what they get from juries!

  15. jon_hill987

    I just hope the microwave radiation does not combine with the gravitons and graviolis from a supernova and blast us through time itself!

  16. Toast

    +1 to jon_hill987

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