Five precautions for avoiding malware when you download and install software

Roger Mccullough downloaded three separate programs, and Panda Anti-virus Pro found malware in all of them. Downloading a program—especially one from an obscure publisher without a positive reputation—is something of a leap of faith. It’s a bit like letting a total stranger into your home. But if you follow these five steps, you should be…



How to prevent mobile malware in 3 easy steps

Looking only at the data provided by security firms, the world appears on the verge of a mobile malware apocalypse. The number of samples—which represent unique, but mostly automatically generated variants of malicious programs—exceeded 5 million in the third quarter of 2014, according to security firm McAfee. Using a different counting method, security firm Symantec…



How to easily secure your web browsing with TunnelBear’s free Chrome extension

Virtual private networks are already easy to use thanks to the simple desktop apps many services offer. But if you live most of your computing life in the browser even a desktop app might be overkill. Instead, you could use a Chrome extension instead of a desktop app. VPN provider Tunnel Bear, my personal VPN…



When the time comes, you’ll be able to make Windows 10 look like Windows 7

Tom Corbett is considering moving to Windows 10 when the time comes, “but I do want the desktop to look like Windows 7.” I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to do that, but I can’t say for sure. Windows 10 is still a work in progress, and the available Technical Preview keeps changing. So consider…



How to get started with Linux: A beginner’s guide

The world of Linux is ready to welcome you, with a shower of free open-source software you can use on any PC: hundreds of active Linux distributions, and dozens of different desktop environments you could run on them. It’s a far cry from the one-size-fits-all, this-is-just-what-comes-with-your-PC vision of Windows. Everything from software installation to hardware…



Give Wikipedia a sleek, user-friendly visual overhaul with the Wikiwand extension

Wikipedia is easily the greatest compendium of human knowledge ever created. Sure, academics have their issues with it and pranksters love messing with it, but as a starting point to learn about pretty much any topic you can think of you simply can’t beat Wikipedia. But it does have its downsides. One thing that’s always…



You can securely wipe your files, hard drive or SSD with one of these free utilities

Stoqn Tochev asked about securely erasing sensitive files without destroying everything on his hard drive. I’ll discuss SSDs, as well. When you delete a file conventionally, it goes into the Recycle Bin, where it can be easily restored. When you empty the Recycle Bin, Windows makes the space where the file once resided available for…



3 simple tips to get the most out of your webcam

The webcam is such a ubiquitous part of PCs we just don’t give them much thought anymore. They’re just one component among many on the latest desktops, laptops, and Ultrabooks sitting on store shelves. That’s really unfortunate, because this has led to some horrendous norms for how people use them. You know what I’m talking…



When ‘error 404 file not found’ strikes: How to remove broken browser bookmarks

Rich Wynne wants an easy and automated way to remove broken bookmarks from his browser. Any longstanding collection of browser bookmarks is likely to have some that now point to dead URLs. You could find out which ones by clicking each individual bookmark and see if it gets a 404 error—that is, if you enjoy…



Don’t panic! How to fix 5 common PC emergencies

Your PC may not be as essential to you as your smartphone, but chances are it’s still pretty damn important. So it’s completely understandable if your first reaction is to freeze and freak out when you run into a PC emergency, such as a broken screen, accidentally-deleted important file, or a virus. But panicking is…



3 surprisingly easy PC repairs you should do yourself

PCs can be confusing, even scary at times, but the truth is they shouldn’t be. That’s especially true when it comes to simple hardware upgrades, repairs, or software fixes. Sure, you could pay the overpriced techies at Geek Squad to fix your Windows system for you, but why bother? Tech support is often hiding a…



How to overclock your graphics card and make PC games run faster for free

The need for speed is real when it comes to PC games, where raw performance has a truly palpable effect on your experience’s look and feel. Gamers are always looking for ways to increase the performance of their systems, be it through updated drivers or software tweaks, game patches, or even warranty-busting modifications. New, more…



This Chrome extension helps color-blind users see the web

Color blindness isn’t just an accusation thrown around when someone believes a dress is blue-and-black where you see white-and-gold. It’s a very real condition that can create difficulties in daily life during those moments when discerning color is important, such as cooking or reading charts. Color Enhancer for Chrome. Now Google has a new Chrome…



Why your PC has two Program Files folders, and why one of them is (x86)

Dave Thomson asked about the folders Program Files and Program Files (x86). “Why are there two, and is there some advantage of using one over the other?” First, you shouldn’t pick one over the other. Let Windows make that decision when it installs the software. Like most up-to-date PC users, you’re clearly running a 64-bit…



How to check if extensions are slowing your browser down

It’s time to come clean: My name is Ian Paul and I’m a browser extensions addict. Right now, as I look at my browser I’ve got close to 40 Chrome extensions and applications enabled and about another 15 installed but disabled. I think some of those come as the defaults in Chrome, but I’m not…



How to download and install the Office 2016 Preview

Mere months after releasing the locked-down Office 2016 developer preview, Microsoft has thrown open the proverbial doors to welcome all comers to the Office 2016 consumer preview . Aside from the fancy touch-enabled Office apps currently being tested with Windows 10, Office 2016 appears to be largely an iterative update to Office 2013. This is…



What to do when the PC turns on but the screen remains black

When Harrison Bywater turns on his PC, the power lights and the fan turn on, but no image appears on the screen. I’ll start with the bad news: There’s a very good chance that you’ll have to take the PC into the shop. The good news: With a few simple tests, you might be able…



How to customize or silence Chromebook notifications

You already get too many notifications. Your phone, tablet, and maybe even your smartwatch are constantly buzzing with emails or news alerts. PCs are the last refuge for the notification-weary—but not for long. Google’s Chrome browser is getting ready to join the chorus, as web sites and many web-friendly apps are gaining the ability to…



How to personalize your PC’s power settings for every situation

Power settings are one of those facets of your PC you never really think about until you need to change them. The default settings in Windows are pretty good, but they may not suit everyone or be ideal for certain situations. That’s why Microsoft makes changing them a snap. I recently had to manage my…



5 things you can do with a second internal drive

When Danny had a new hard drive installed in his desktop PC, the technician left the old drive in as well. Danny asked me what he can do with the extra drive. Hard drives and SSDs fall easily into the category of two is better than one. Not only do you have more room for…