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House Call 2012: Fixing a sluggish PC

It was a typical winter day in Seattle — gray, rainy, and raw — when I visited Windows Secrets reader Gary Nobel. Gary’s system would occasionally slow “to a crawl.” I was there to find out why.

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Web filtering keeps you a little safer

Web-filtering services can provide additional security and protection from malware. Several vendors now provide this valuable service.

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It’s springtime for Microsoft service packs

In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s springtime — time to revisit Windows 7 and Office service packs. Our lack of major updates at the end of the month means we can devote time to getting needed service packs installed.

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New “419″ scam involves PayPal and Western Union

There’s a new variation on the old “Nigerian” or “419″ scam, one that invokes the names of PayPal, Western Union, and the FBI — and the scammers are raking in billions. Let me introduce you to the way these scum operate — and show you a few tricks that may keep you from adding to their booty.

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Step by step: How to safely test-drive Win8

Using safe, free virtual PC software, you can set up and run the Windows 8 Consumer Preview inside your current PC without affecting your other programs or your installed version of Windows. This method lets you test-drive Windows 8 without having to make potentially risky changes to your current setup. There’s no need for dual-booting, special partitions, and so on.

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A Windows veteran looks at Win8 Consumer Preview

If you download and install Windows 8 Consumer Preview, released late last week, I can almost guarantee that you won’t like it. I know only a handful of experienced Windows users (who don’t work for or with Microsoft) who say they like Windows 8. But it’s the future, eh?

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Office 365: Office in the Cloud still promising?

In a hardworking, digitized world, it’s hard to imagine tools more sought after than those that show up reliably on any portable device and work well — or at least as well as advertised. Whether Microsoft’s Cloud-based Office 365 is that tool — in fact or even in potential — is still an open question.

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The Windows Start menu super guide — Part I

Since the debut of Windows 95, the Start menu has offered an easily navigated and extensible haven for all the programs we don’t use every day. In Part 1 of a series of stories on getting the most out of Windows’ Start menu, we start with the basics: pinning applications, folders, and files.

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Is your free AV tool a ‘resource pig?’

A reader’s complaint about Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) spurred head-to-head comparison tests of AV-software resource usage. I put six popular, free antivirus tools through their paces and measured their impact on startup and shutdown times, disk space, and RAM use.

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Windows 8 — streamlining the update process

It appears that Microsoft has heard our complaints about a tedious part of the Windows updating process. Changes in Windows 8 should make the never-ending task of installing patches a bit easier, by reducing mandatory system restarts.

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