At my office, I’ve been rolling out Windows 10 machines to replace our older Windows 7 models. In installing these Windows 10 machines, I’ve found several tweaks and adjustments that make my machines behave more nicely and ensure I’m not bothered by apps I don’t want or need. As I’ve said before, the key thing anyone running Windows 10 Home version needs to do is upgrade to Windows 10Professional. This is the easiest step of this process. Of course, you need to purchase a Windows 10 Professional license if your machine came with Windows 10 Home version. This can be easily done from inside the system section of your Windows 10 Home machine: Merely scroll to the about section, click on change product key or upgrade your edition of Windows, and launch the wizard to upgrade to Windows 10Professional. It will take a bit of time to upgrade the computer to the professional version, and it requires a reboot. Once you have upgraded to the professional version, there are a few patching changes I’ll urge you to make. First up: Go into Settings: Update and Security, and then click on Advanced options. In this section, choose to defer feature upgrades so that … Read More
My old password just got a promotion. The password I used, since deleted, was ‘passw0rd’. Yeah, I thought I was being so clever making the letter o into number 0. No hacker could figure that out, right? It ends up that passw0rd was the 24th most used bad password according to SplashID.com”s worst passwords of 2015, and in 2016 it moved up six slots to number 18 on the top 25. Obviously I am one in a crowd of people creating easily guessed/hacked passwords SplashID [site]offers a free and premium password manager for major browsers so it can easily calculate the easily hacked passwords that its customers are using. Each year it releases is Worst Passwords list and the 2016 list (see below) shows that the problem with hackable passwords is us. But there are quick and easy (okay, easy is open to debate) ways to wrangle the ocean of passwords we all need to log on to the various sites we visit regularly. SplashId and a host of other password managers offer tips to wreck the hacks. So do a bevy of security experts. And so do a host of companies with free and paid security workarounds. Too Many … Read More
Many of you may be building your own computers these days, but just as many computer users buy their next device right off the shelf of their favorite box store or from an online retailer. If you are purchasing a device built by one of the many OEMs, it is very likely that device is going to arrive with a lot of extras pre-installed that come from the company who initially built the device plus some additional overlay style software/controls from the OEM themselves. Of course, as long as you have drivers from the OEM for your device, and most are made available through the products support page, then you could always do a clean install of the operating system and have a pristine image ready for your own software and customizations. Microsoft is also working closely with many manufacturers to include hardware drivers right out of the box to avoid needing to track them down elsewhere. In fact, any OEM devices sold in Microsoft Stores come in this configuration and they call it their Signature Edition PCs. This means they meet all the Windows hardware requirements and contain zero bloat from the manufacturer. If you already have your device or purchased … Read More
You probably use Windows 10’s File Explorer a hundred times a day. You already know how to use it to move around your hard drive. Why bother to learn it better? Because you’ll work more efficiently. This truly excellent file manager has little-known tricks that makes it even more powerful and convenient. You can control what folder the program opens to. You can hide and unhide the ribbon. You can make your favorite File Explorer tools more readily available. And you can use keyboard shortcuts to make everything easier. I’m not going to tell you how to use File Explorer. I assume you already know the basics. But I’ll take you to the next level, and make File Explorer easier and faster for you. The Many Ways to Open File Explorer Of course you know how to open File Explorer. But do you know the fastest and simplest way to do it? Or how to control what folder it opens to? The fastest and easiest way to open File Explorer doesn’t involve your mouse or touchscreen. Simply press Win-E and up comes a File Explorer window. If you’re already running the program, it opens another File Explorer window. This article … Read More
There’s no shortage of technology bloggers who are quick with “best” product badges. I make the distinction myself, calling out certain laptops, routers and other computer hardware. But it’s important to know what’s behind the “best” label. Here’s how I make the determination, based on decades of journalistic and user experience, as well as deep exploration of digital devices. I’m outlining how I devise my criteria and why, so that you can apply this sort of assessment to your own technology options. Step 1: Find Possible Review Candidates Each day, I swim through a sea of public relations pitches and new-product news releases. I go to trade shows and sit through vendor demos. And then there is my daily monitoring of the Web for new products, and my incessant visits to product retailers such as Best Buy and Costco. From all these sources, I compile and evaluate the items I think are worth checking out, and then request review samples. Most are sent as loaners, with the expectation that I will conduct hands-on testing within a certain period of time. Some products are sent to me with no expectation that they be returned. At this stage, I eliminate many products. … Read More
It can happen in any Windows version: Instead of shutting down promptly, your PC stays on and unresponsive for several long minutes. Here are some easy fixes for shutdown delays. Plus: Information about HerdProtect, an anti-malware meta-scanner that employs 68 different anti-malware engines. Win10 shutdowns taking far too long Under ideal conditions, a clean Windows setup can shut down in seconds. But out here in the real world, shutdowns can take longer — sometimes, far, far longer! Some shutdown delays creep in bit by bit, accumulating over time. You can prevent this type of slowdown with good routine maintenance. (See the January 10, 2017, Best Practices, Top Story, “Start 2017 right with a clean Windows PC.”) This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
As Microsoft releases a new Windows 10 beta, we get a patching break. Windows 8.1 in fact only has a Flash update to install. Meanwhile, Redmond has been busy with changes to the upcoming Creator’s release. Upcoming Windows 10 changes Dona Sarkar announced a beta release that makes quite a few changes to Windows update. As she noted on the blog site, the following changes are expected in the next large feature release expected around April of 2017: A feature in the GUI to pause updates for 35 days. We’ve added an option that will enable you to pause updates on your computer for up to 35 days. While this feature already exists for Windows pro and above now, it’s only available via group policy or the registry. This capability will unfortunately only be available on Professional, Education, and Enterprise editions of Windows. A feature to allow you to decide whether or not to include driver updates when you update Windows. Once again, this capability will be available on Professional, Education, and Enterprise editions of Windows. A new icon to the Windows Update Settings page to make easier to see your update status at a glance. Improvements to the logic … Read More
Optimizing your Windows set-up is one of the most useful and productive things you can do. These quick how-tos can help you tweak your daily computing experience so it’s more convenient. Tip #1: Push your Android phone notifications to Windows 10 with Cortana An update to the Cortana app on Android now allows you to only push those notifications to your Windows 10 desktop and tablet based devices, and fully customize them just like Windows 10 Mobile users can. To get started just install the Cortana app for Android on your device from the Google Play store. Once it is installed, you can open the app and it will ask you to sign in with your Microsoft Account. Make sure you use the same one as your other Windows 10 devices if you want to sync notifications from one system to the others. Once you are logged into Cortana she will of course have access to your Notebook on your Android device and be able to set reminders, provide tips and look up other information for you. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
A little time spent now on preventive maintenance can save hours of system troubleshooting later. It’ll also provide better computing all year long. This article is something of a Windows Secrets tradition: We update, refresh, and then publish a new version of this story in the first issue of each new year. In this iteration, you’ll find more references to top-notch, detailed PC-maintenance how-tos and related information than ever before! Undo a year’s worth of wear and tear This past year was tumultuous for Windows — and most likely for your PCs, too. To start, Windows Update released hundreds of new patches (see list), some in a new cumulative/ roll-up format. And along the way, you’ve probably installed some new third-party software, uninstalled other programs, and upgraded or patched apps and utilities. You may have also altered, tuned, and tweaked various aspects of your system’s user interface, and software and hardware settings. And you’ve undoubtedly created and deleted myriad emails, documents, photos, MP3s, videos, spreadsheets, and so forth. You might even have upgraded your Windows 8, 7, or Vista system to Windows 10. And if you were already using Win10 at the start of last year, you hopefully survived … Read More
By any measure, 2016 was strange and jarring — and that includes Windows patching, which was problematic for both Windows 7 and Windows 10. But a new year brings renewed hope. Among my new-year wishes is one that 2017 is much better for Win10.