I’m a sucker for a free software utility. I love discovering programs that can make my computing life easier. Microsoft offers an array of useful and free utilities, and some of my favorites fall under the umbrella of a group known as Windows Sysinternals. Created by Microsoft Azure Chief Technology Officer Mark Russinovich, Sysinternals consists of utilities that can enhance Windows, gather useful information, and troubleshoot specific problems. What’s cool about the Sysinternals tools is that they run the gamut from simple to complex, are well-designed, and don’t require an installation. I’ve used several of the Sysinternals tools over the years and have come up with some favorites that I think would help many Windows users. Let’s look at each tool. Autologon Windows 10 and 8.1 force you to enter your password at the sign in or lock screen as a means of security. If you’re working in an office or other public place and step away, you wouldn’t want someone to be able to access the information on your computer. But if you’re at home or another private place, entering your login credentials isn’t as necessary since no one else is around to peek at your data. In this … Read More
Whether you are rooted to your home office, using your kitchen table as home base, or doing your job while on the road, keeping your computer and mobile devices fully powered is like oxygen — necessary for life. And in our increasing reliance on multiple digital devices, having multiple power outlets has become essential. Here are a couple of indispensable solutions. iClever’s BoostStrip Takes on 12 Devices At Once – Wow! With its six 3-prong electrical outlets and six USB ports, iClever’s BoostStrip Series IC-BS03 provides more than enough juice to handle our various power and charging needs. Built-in surge protection for both computers, appliances, and mobile devices makes the $26 price tag a bargain compared to other power strips on the market. But this power maven has other capabilities that make it stand out for me. Compared with ordinary power strips – you know, the kind you can get for a few bucks at Home Depot, Target, and hardware stores – this one eases the concerns of anyone who’s worried about electrical fires. It has a 1875 watts maximum load, and it’s made with fire proof materials which can handle temperatures up to over 1300 degrees Fahrenheit. This article is part … Read More
Is Windows misbehaving on you? Freezing? Crashing? Blue screening? Problems like that can be tough to troubleshoot. They could be hardware-related. They could be software-related. How can you tell? Well, one step you can take is to run two commands in Windows to check for disk or memory issues. The chkdsk command can scan your hard drive for trouble. And the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool can scan your memory for any glitches. These tools have been around for years and are still available in Windows 10 as they still get the job done. Check for Disk Errors with Chkdsk Let’s try out the chkdsk command first. Your hard drive, whether it’s physical disk or a solid state drive, uses a file system to keep track of all its data. Sometimes that file system can become corrupted with errors that affect its performance and reliability. Your disk drive can also develop bad sectors, which are small areas of storage that take up a certain amount of space. These problems often result in unreadable files, among other problems. In both cases, the chkdsk command can reveal errors with your file system or hard disk and hopefully fix them. You can trigger the … Read More
March’s updating appears to still be in limbo. No previews of February updates means a smaller expected update for Windows 7. The Patch Day That Still Wasn’t Microsoft still seems to be recovering from whatever caused them to skip releasing Office and Windows security updates on the second Tuesday of the month. Normally on the third week of the month they will release a preview of the following month’s non security updates. This time they only released the overdue Flash update that Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 machines need to be protected as Flash is embedded in that platform. Remember that Flash for Windows 7 is an independent update that comes directly from Adobe. For Windows 8.1 and 10, Flash has to come from Microsoft’s updating mechanism for those platforms. March will also mean changes to Microsoft’s communication regarding security bulletins, with all new Security Portal will be the new location for security guidance and information. What to do: Look for more changes to updating to come. Sha-1 Changes This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Your PST file contains all your Outlook email, so you need a safe and reliable way to back it up on a recurring basis. A little backtracking, for those of us who haven’t run across this term before. If you use Microsoft Outlook for your email, your PST files contain all your messages, calendar events, contacts, and other data. As the PST file is critical, you need a way to back it up on a regular basis in case something goes kerflooey with the live file. You can then always retrieve the backup, whether to locate an individual e-mail that’s been lost or deleted or to recover the entire PST file in case it gets corrupted. Outlook itself offers no way to back up the file, but you can turn to a couple of free utilities to do the work. Microsoft provides a free program called Personal Folders Backup, which sets itself up as an add-in for Outlook and can automatically back up your PST file at regular intervals. The drawback with Personal Folders Backup is that it works only with older versions of Outlook up to the 2010 edition. But no cause for worry. Those of us who run Outlook 2013 … Read More
Credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers, scanned passports, plans for world domination — these are only a few of the items that you may be tempted to send in an email. But unless you have encryption, you shouldn’t hit “send” on any of them. A message can pass through numerous servers on its journey and can be read on any of them. Encrypting a message can be much more complicated than encrypting a file or even a drive. There are other people involved. And they may not be as tech savvy or security conscious as you. So you need encryption that won’t confuse someone who panics at the thought of downloading a file. Another issue you need to consider: Just how much security do you need? It’s one thing to protect your information from run-of-the-mill cybercrooks. It’s another to keep your private words from the government. And remember that there is no perfect security. Even the best encryption algorithm can be cracked if someone uses a password like 123456. The goal is to find something both practical and sufficiently secure. The Weak Encryption You Probably Already Have Your messages probably already travel encrypted from your email client to your email provider’s server, … Read More
It appears that Microsoft/Skype has dropped support for SkypeKit, the code that allows IM clients such as Trillian to connect to the Skype service.
Despite how it might seem at times, flawed security updates are relatively rare. When there is a problem, Microsoft typically releases an update for the update. For example, this past December there was a bug in the patch Microsoft released to fix a font vulnerability. In this special New Year’s edition of Patch Watch, I review three problem updates released in December.
As noted in this week’s Introduction, Windows Secrets is launching a Letters column — reader e-mails that we think are especially interesting. Leading off this new column is a critical view of Microsoft’s Office Ribbon interface, discussed in a Woody Leonhard article.
OneNote might be one of the best apps you can put on your PC. Using Microsoft OneNote 2010, by Michael C. Oldenburg, shows you how to get the most from this surprisingly versatile digital organizer.