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Rethinking the process of hard-drive sanitizing

Standard drive- and file-wiping tools are no longer adequate for completely removing data — especially when used with the newest hard drives. But researchers have identified new procedures that reliably make old data virtually unrecoverable on any drive, whether magnetic or solid-state.

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Near-certain ways to improve PC startup times

Four free tools offer safe and certain ways to pare your boot times to the minimum. The process takes a little time and effort, but if you follow the steps outlined here, better boot times are all but guaranteed!

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Where we’re all headed with Windows RT

Last week, Microsoft released Windows 8 RTM to MSDN and TechNet subscribers and companies with volume licenses and Software Assurance. So a lot of people are getting a look at the final Windows 8 version. However, we’ve not seen much about its lighter compatriot — Windows RT.

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Exploring Windows’ Administrative Tools: Part 3

When the need arises to check system RAM, try the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool that comes with Vista and Windows 7 — and is a free download for XP. This app thoroughly exercises your system’s random-access memory, uncovering problems that can cause crashes, hangs, and other errors.

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Test-driving ‘free scan’ tune-up suites

Even on well-maintained systems, free system scanners might find hundreds of “problems,” as I discovered from a test of three products from well-known companies. These suites typically offer to fix system problems — for a fee — but are these problems real or just scare tactics to drum up sales?

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What to expect from the Windows 8 rollout

By the time you read this, chances are good that Microsoft will have its final, final version of Windows 8 ready. Basing my take on a few announcements and drawing on a little bit of history, here’s what’s likely to happen as Windows 8 makes it way to store shelves.

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Software that updates your other software

The release of Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) 3.0 prompts a test drive of the new version, plus six alternative general-purpose auto-update tools. One surprise: Some of these automatic-update programs can worsen your PC’s condition.

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Kill those Vista and Win7 gadgets now!

In the unlikely chance that you’re using Windows gadgets, you need to get rid of them — right now! Those seemingly innocuous accessory apps that you stick onto your desktop, included with Vista and Windows 7, could be used to subvert your system.

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House Call 2012: One family, four PCs

Lexington, Mass., was in glorious, late-spring bloom when I visited Windows Secrets reader Helene Mayer. Helene had a houseful of PCs (running XP, Vista, and Win7) exhibiting a variety of problems. I was there to help.

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Some ugliness installing an after-market SSD

Ever look inside a solid-state drive? Neither had I — until I bought one and had to disassemble it to make it fit into my notebook. This story ultimately has a happy ending, but unexpected trouble along the way made the process far more difficult than it needed to be.

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