The Windows firewall can be your friend. Here’s how to get along with it. The Windows firewall is around to protect you against malicious apps and other content from the Internet aimed at infecting your PC. Assuming you’re not running a third-party security program with its own firewall, then the Windows Firewall should be active on your machine, looking out for threats. A firewall doesn’t just block malicious applications from hitting your computer but prevents potentially malicious content from being sent from your computer. But the firewall sometimes gets in your way, blocking legitimate content that you want to run and use. You can tweak and fine-tune the firewall so it filters out real dangers while allowing safe content to pass through. Let’s check out the Windows Firewall to see how you can use it and control it. In this article, I use Windows 10 as my client, but the examples you’ll see with Windows firewall works the same in Windows 10, 8.1, and 7. The only differences you’ll see are in the wording of certain features and settings. The Windows firewall supports private networks, such as your home network, as well as public networks, such as ones in a library, … Read More
An image file can restore a sickly Windows 8.1 environment back to a healthy state. Your Windows 8.1 computer is acting funky. Maybe certain Windows features aren’t working properly. Or perhaps Windows is freezing or blue screening. Are you up the creek? Not if you have an image file that you can use to recover Windows. In Windows 8.1, you can use a special command-line utility called recimg to create an image file of your entire Windows environment. Then if something goes kerflooey, you can restore that image file to get Windows 8.1 up and running again. For that reason, you can and should run the command on a regular basis so the image file is always up to date. How can you create this image file and then use it to recover Windows 8.1? Let’s take a look. Since the recimg utility in Windows 8.1 is a command-line utility, it can be quicker to use versus a full GUI program where you must go step by step. Further, simply refreshing your PC without specifying an image file retains your Windows 8.1 apps, your personal files, and customized settings. But it does not retain your desktop applications or your PC … Read More
You can free up memory and boost performance by putting the kibosh on unnecessary startup programs. Every program that automatically loads when Windows starts up chews up more of your PC’s memory. The more programs that muscle their way into your startup routine, the less available memory you have to run your applications. And many programs that start up automatically don’t necessarily need to do so. How can you control your Windows startup programs? In Windows 7, you can use the System Configuration tool. In Windows 8.1 and 10, you can use the Task Manager. But if these built-in tools aren’t sufficient, you can turn to a third-party utility. Such tools as Sysinternals AutoRuns and Autorun Organizer can help you determine which programs you can kick out of your startup routine and how to give them the heave-ho. Let’s see how you can get a better handle on your Windows startup programs. Many Windows programs like to climb onboard your startup routine. Some programs do legitimately need to launch at startup, such as anti-virus software and backup software like Microsoft OneDrive. But a lot of programs insist on starting up automatically whether or not they need to. That may be … Read More
You might think that there is not much more you could do to improve the capabilities of computer keyboards and mice. And really, what much more do you need to type and point, right? I have been reviewing input devices since the days of Windows 3.1. Sure, there have been many technological improvements, as we might expect over the last 25 years since Windows 3.1 was launched. But what’s amazing that in just the last year alone advancements in keyboard and mouse technology tweak what I thought was already the best. Say Hello to the Mouse Master For example, just about two years ago I praised Logitech’s MX Master mouse [link] for its various, robust features that extend mouse calisthenics beyond just navigating and clicking. Back then I thought this was about as far as a pointing device could reach. But now Logitech has indeed upped its game with the MX Master2 [link]. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Ransomware Hits the Same Vulnerabilities Keep calm: While the news is grim over the latest ransomware, the steps we’ve taken earlier will most likely keep most of us secure. It’s key that you have March’s Windows updates installed to protect from the SMBv1 vulnerabilities and April’s Office updates installed to protect from the RTF (Rich Text Format) vulnerability being used in the attacks. In addition, the vulnerability is specifically targeting networks and using some additional tricks up their sleeves as noted in PTSecurity blog post. The attackers are utilizing various network tools such as Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and PsExec to distribute the ransomware throughout a network. It further uses password retrieval tools to gain the local administrator passwords on the workstations in the network. For home and small businesses the best protection is to be vigilant in not opening suspicious emails, and to ensure the March and April updates are installed. What to do: Ensure your systems have the March’s Windows updates installed to protect from the SMBv1 vulnerabilities and April’s Office updates installed. Windows Fixes for IE Printing and Indexing Microsoft has released updates to Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 to fix issues introduced by the June 13th Windows … Read More
These days I do not need a full FTP client as much as I used to several years ago. Part of this is just because we now tend to access everything over the Internet through websites instead of downloads from FTP servers. Remember getting some big updates from a company by downloading from their FTP server? Anyway, while there are plenty of fully equipped FTP clients out there to download, sometimes we just need a quick connection to grab some files – in my case for my website maintenance – and need something straight forward and simple. Well did you know that there is an FTP client built right into the Windows File Explorer? It has actually been there through the last few versions of Windows and is very easy to setup and use for these infrequent FTP sessions. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
You can split, merge, and otherwise manage your partitions in Windows via the Disk Management tool. Your Windows PC may have come with one hard drive and partition or it may have come with a couple of drives and partitions. No matter the original configuration, you may want to manage and modify your disk drive arrangement. Maybe you’d like to create an extra partition to install and run another operating system. Perhaps you want two partitions to separate your personal files from your Windows system files. Or maybe you already have two partitions and now want to remove one of them. You can do all this through the built-in Windows Disk Management tool. Available in all the current and most of the past versions of Windows, Disk Management lets you shrink, create, and delete your partitions. You already know a hard disk is a single physical drive: it’s either a conventional mechanical drive that magnetically stores your data on platters, or a solid-state drive that houses your data on flash memory chips. Computers usually come with a single hard drive, though you can always add a second one. Most vendors offer an option to outfit a desktop with two mechanical … Read More
You can bring encryption to your hard drive and USB flash drives using the Windows BitLocker tool. Concerned about someone accessing your PC’s hard drive or flash drives and reading the information on them? You can add an extra layer of protection to all your drives with the Windows BitLocker feature. Designed to work on both internal and external drives, BitLocker encrypts your drives to prevent unauthorized access. As such, BitLocker is especially useful on a laptop or on flash drives that may get lost or stolen and fall into the wrong hands. BitLocker is not a substitute for your regular Windows password or other means of authentication. Rather BitLocker detects if someone tries to use your hard drive or flash drives on another PC or tries to boot up your PC using a DVD or flash drive. In that event, BitLocker prevents access to your encrypted drive. So, you should still have a Windows login password or other security method to safeguard your operating system. BitLocker has been around since Windows Vista days and continues to be an option with Windows 10. BitLocker is automatically built into Windows as part of the operating system, though it’s turned off by … Read More
Yes, Windows offers its own built-in troubleshooters. Here’s how to tap into them. Oops, you’re bumping into trouble with Windows. Maybe you can’t connect to the Internet. Perhaps your audio has stopped working. Maybe your PC is blue screening. Or perhaps you’re not sure of the cause of the problem but just know that your PC is acting funky. Where can you turn for help? You can turn to Windows itself. The OS offers its own built-in set of troubleshooting tools designed to scan for, analyze, and hopefully fix specific problems. The troubleshooters are available in Windows 10, 8.1, and 7. But whatever your flavor of Windows, the troubleshooters are usually a good first step when you’re bothered by a persistent problem. In some cases, a Windows troubleshooter will pop up automatically if you experience a glitch in Windows. For instance, if an application crashes or your screen display suddenly goes on the fritz, then the appropriate troubleshooter may appear to try to save the day. In other cases, you’ll have to manually trigger the right troubleshooter depending on the nature of the problem. Or if you’re not sure what’s causing trouble, you can run through the entire array of … 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