SSDs are all the rage for performance-oriented builders these days, but they aren’t without problems. Even the largest solid state drive is too small to hold all the stuff we need to store on the C: drive—games, photos, music, videos, etc.—and the inexpensive models max out at around 64GB of capacity. And there’s the performance problem, to boot. All but the most expensive SSDs suffer from very slow write speeds, which can have a significant impact on your real-world performance.
So what’s the solution? We’re going to show you how to set up your Windows install like a Linux setup—with the OS and primary apps on the SSD, and your user profile and space-hogging games on a traditional hard disk. This gives us the best of both worlds—the folders we write to most frequently are on a traditional disk, while our boot and app load times can benefit greatly from the fast read speed and low random-access time of an SSD. Best of all, you can use even a tiny 64GB SSD without having to constantly manage disk space—picking and choosing which apps and media will be stored on the small drive.
The May 5th launch date for the Windows 7 RC has come and gone, and amazingly, it went off without a hitch. The download servers held up, product keys have been free flowing, and Microsoft is once again proving to the world that they have what it takes to be the number one OS. To veteran Maximum PC readers, downloading and installing the new Windows 7 RC is a piece of cake, and they have probably been up and running for days. For newcomers however, the process can be a bit overwhelming. In the following guide, we will review the steps from start to finish on how to get the Windows 7 Release Candidate up and running in less than an hour. The entire process is free, and the only risk involved is your time, and the possibility of developing an unnatural love affair with an operating system that you’re wife probably won’t understand.
Hit the jump to learn how to setup a dual boot with your old OS, upgrade from Vista, or even just make a plain old clean install.
As any PC power-user knows, getting files from one place to another is one of the oldest tasks in the book. Since way back when people have used floppies, ZIP disks, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, thumb drives, email and more to get the files you need from point A to point B. But now there’s DropBox, which has—in the half year or so since it came out of beta—become our very favorite way of making sure that we always have our most important files at hand.
If you’re not familiar with how DropBox works, it’s simple: You create a free account with DropBox, and install a small app on your computer. This app creates a folder on your computer (wherever you choose) and monitors that folder at all times. Whenever you change the contents of this folder, by adding, modifying or deleting files, DropBox automatically syncs these changes to your account’s folder on their servers. Additionally, any other computer logged into that same account will have their DropBox folder synced as well. There’s nothing earthshaking about this capability, but the whole process is amazingly simple and makes collaboration an absolute breeze.
Still, with a little creativity, DropBox can be a lot more than just a way to move files from one computer to another. We’ve compiled a list of five of the coolest DropBox tricks we’ve heard of so far, so read on to find out how you can use DropBox and other free software to recover a stolen laptop, organize your Torrents, keep your passwords safe, and more.
These days, privacy is getting pretty hard to come by. Your boss checks your Facebook, your mom sees what you’re looking at on YouTube, and anyone who Googles your name can find out about that embarrassing incident at the IHOP.
That’s why we think you should at least be able to find some peace of mind on your own PC. With that in mind, we’ve prepared a quick guide for keeping files and folders on your computer hidden from prying eyes. We’ll cover four different ways to accomplish this, from the mundane to the nigh-unbreakable.
The web browser is probably the most essential application on your PC; there is no better practical way of staying connected to news, your friends, and most importantly, the lulz. But whether you’re using Internet Explorer or newly minted Chrome, each of today's popular web browsers has different strengths and weaknesses. Mozilla Firefox is feature-heavy and relatively fast, but can get terribly unwieldy when crammed with juicy add-ons. The newest version of the once dominant Internet Explorer is a quantum leap above previous buggy versions, but remains slow. And while both Opera and Google Chrome are blazingly fast, they currently lack customization.
No matter which browser you use, you want it to fit your personal needs and tastes. With this guide, we will show you the essential initial tweaks everyone should make to “awesomize” their browser. Whether it’s accelerating browser page-load performance, boosting security, or just improving the look of the interface, we teach you the tweaks that we think should be implemented the first time you start up a browser after installation.
We cover comprehensive step-by-step instructions for Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox 3, Opera 9, and Google Chrome, starting off with general web optimization tips. So jump into the guide and start tweaking your web browser!
You are reading Maximum PC because you love to build, and tweak your rig. We will gladly spend hours trying to nudge a few extra clock cycles out of our CPU’s, but why do so many of us refuse to touch our network settings? The vast majority of users simply plug in their network cables, cross their fingers, and sacrifice an AOL CD to the gods who keep Conficker at bay. Truth be told, without going into too much depth up front, there is a really easy way to boost your surfing speed and it requires very little effort at all. This same tool gives you the ability to customize your internet experience further by creating URL shortcuts, or even filtering content, all without extra software.
The tool we are referring to is Domain Name System, or DNS for short. In a nutshell, DNS is your phone book for the internet. It helps translate a friendly internet domain like www.maximumpc.com, into IP address that our computer needs to find servers on the internet. Each time you visit a new website, a DNS query is issued in the background, and you’re none the wiser. Internet service providers supply DNS to all their customers, but these servers tend to be overpopulated, and certainly aren’t a priority to them because it’s difficult for the average user to measure performance. Power users are intimately familiar with how to benchmark raw connection speeds, but before that even becomes a factor, your machine needs IP address which is supplied by your DNS. Even if your smoking fast Fiber Optic connection can handle 18 Mbps, if your ISP’s DNS server wastes several seconds looking up your favorite website, you connection may be sitting in limbo when you could be surfing instead.
Interested in finding out how to improve the responsiveness of your connection and learning more about your DNS options? Hit the jump to find out more.
Let’s set the scene: It’s a beautiful April day, and you’ve just come home after a trip to your local Best Buy, a spring in your step and a smile on your lips. What’s got you so excited? Why, it’s new laptop day! You’ve scrimped and saved and finally, finally, you’re able to afford that new notebook you’ve been pining after.
Breathless, you tear your new computer out of its packaging, plug it in and turn it on, right there on the kitchen table. Windows loads for a minute, then pops up the first time setup. You make an account, and there you are; gazing at the desktop. You feel a sense of proud ownership: that’s your recycle bin; that’s your browser; those are your network places. That’s your Google desktop search bar, your link to ask.com and your 30 day free trial of America Online.
Wait, what? What is all this crap?
When you buy a brand new laptop from an OEM, they’ve already installed an OS for you. And, while they were at it, they’ve tossed in a few extra “features” that they (have been paid) to think you would like. These range from the useful to the vaguely harmless to the downright obnoxious. In any case, your laptop would be better off without them, and in this article we’re going to show you how to make your new notebook as pristine as freshly driven snow in just two steps. Then, we’ll show you how to back up your disk so that you can restore your notebook to a clean state whenever you want, even if you can’t start Windows.
We’ve become so accustomed to the ease and convenience of iTunes and blink-and-you-miss-’em CD rips that we forget how in the mid-1990s, ripping a CD was a time-consuming process fraught with peril. Shoot, ripping a single disc to a 128Kbps MP3 could take eight hours on a 200MHz Pentium! Fast forward a decade and faster hardware and better software have made CD ripping so mainstream your mom does it.
Now, ripping DVDs is our great challenge. Copying and transcoding the disc’s video into more efficient formats involves math an order of magnitude scarier than what’s required to rip audio CDs. A machine that will rip the latest Miley Cyrus CD in mere moments could take hours to extract and convert your copy of Alien vs. Predator to an iPod-friendly format. But with the right software, a quad-core-equipped PC, and a little know-how, you can cut your disc-rip time from hours to 30 minutes. Plenty of tricks and traps still await first-time rippers, but we’ll show you the basics and then walk you through some of the most valuable power-user ripping secrets.
Your first decision is simple: What player are you ripping your discs for? Are you ripping for a portable player, like the PSP or iPhone? Would you rather stream to a device in your living room, like the Xbox 360, PS3, or Popcorn Hour? Or are you simply interested in making archival-quality DVD rips in case you lose your collection? More likely, you’re looking for a combination of all three of these things. We’ll show you how to rip your DVD to a file suitable for streaming that consumes a fraction of the disk space of a DVD but maintains full video and audio quality. Then you can take that file and convert it for whatever other devices you might have, like a PSP or an iPod.
With the preliminaries out of the way, let’s get started.
Chances are you know what Gmail is and have been using it for quite some time, even if Google’s service is technically still in beta. But did you know that Gmail can be used for many other practical functions other than sending and receiving e-mail? With the appropriate extensions and setting hacks, you can make Gmail do things that other web-based e-mail services and even some desktop clients cannot. In this guide, we will show you how to implement the ten hidden features you need to know about Gmail and introduce you to five of our favorite Gmail Labs add-ons. You may already know or use some of these features, but there are sure to be a few in here that you do not.
Radiohead jamming with Kanye West would be an odd pairing on any stage, but in the world of mashups—where the vocals of one song are folded into another—the weirder the combination, the bigger the bragging rights. While the RIAA is determined to put an end to the art form, many artists are releasing a cappellas (vocal-only tracks) and stems (individual tracks of a mix) to support the creative movement. And you can be part of it too.
Pros often look to Sony ACID Pro ($315, www.sonycreativesoftware.com) or Ableton Live ($600, www.ableton.com) to mash up music, but you can do it on the cheap with Audacity, an open source audio-editing app, and your own music. We’ll show you some basic techniques—you just need to find two tracks to work with. Find songs in the same key (like Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss” and Puddle of Mudd’s “Blurry”) or ones that have a similar groove and chord progression (such as Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” and Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”). Or Google “a cappella download” to find vocal track downloads (for personal use only) and choose a song in your music collection to pair it with. We always thought 4 Non Blondes’s “What’s Up?” sounded just like Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” so for simplicity’s sake we’ll use these songs for our example.