A sucker buys a new PC at the first signs of a slowdown. A savvy power user gives his aged PC a fighting chance for redemption. From tweaking your OS to compressing files to overclocking your videocard or CPU, there are plenty of ways to tune up a computer, and none require a trip to Bob’s House of New PCs. Follow along this step-by-step as we show you 21 of our favorite techniques for making a PC better, stronger, and faster — for free. These essential tweaks and tune-ups range from common-sense caretaking measures to practical adjustments that you'd be foolish to ignore. Combined, they release your PC's untapped potential and breathe new life into your system.
For those of you that are rocking Windows Vista, don’t you know what the Windows 7 release candidate is out? Well, at any rate, Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for Vista to the public today.
SP2 will include Windows Search 4.0, the Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack, the ability to record data on Blu-ray media natively, Windows Connect Now (to simplify Wi-Fi configuration), and other security and optimization-minded upgrades.
If you’re looking to download Vista SP2, you can get it here (for 32-bit users) and here (for 64-bit users).
There are few things we like more than apps that enhance the Windows experience at no cost. In fact, we've already shown you the 32 essential programs that you must download with every clean install of Windows. But while those apps work great on their own, some killer programs and services perform even better when combined with other software. For example, Dropbox excels as a standalone application, but when used in concert with the little-known Mklink command, its potential is exponentially expanded. We call these unions "software mashups" -- the use of two apps for utility that's greater than the sum of their parts. Yes, 1 + 1 can equal 3. And the best part: every program in this feature is free.
Click through to learn how to augment Dropbox, automate Bittorrent, and even stick it to Apple!
Acer's new easyStore Home Server has made its way to the U.S. in a cool looking cube and sporting Microsoft's Windows Home Server, as well as 1TB of backup storage from the get-go.
"The trend of multiple computer devices per household continues to grow, particularly with regard to mobility. A significant pain point for consumers is how to consolidate and protect their digital data that's spread among multiple devices," said Sumit Agnihotry, Vice President of Product Marketing for Acer America. "Aspire easyStore is the ideal solution for networking home PCs and providing round the clock data protection. Offering remote access to digital data at home from anywhere in the world and automatic daily back-ups, it's the perfect companion to netbooks and notebooks. It's an extremely practical and affordable way to simplify and manage one's personal digital life."
Other hardware and specs includes an Intel Atom 230 processor (1.6GHz), 2GB of DDR2 memory, five USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, and a 200W power supply. But the coolest thing about the easyStore is the ability to add more drives via three hot-swappable 3.5-inch hard drive bays on the front of the cube, which potentially ups the ante up to 7TB of total storage.
Originally filed in 2005, Microsoft has now been granted US Patent No. 7,536,726. More specifically, the software giant now owns the patent for intentionally crippling your PC until you cough up the cash for that pirated OS.
Navigating through the legalese, the patent paves the way for "making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user's ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer. Additionally, various techniques can be used to remove or reduce the functional limitations of the computer."
The snarky side in us says not to worry, because Microsoft will only hold your system ransom until you pay an "agreed upon sum of money." And the rational side says, really, don't worry, because this should only effect pirates anyway, and even then, Microsoft appears to be softening its stance.
Microsoft continues its quest to convince people to watch TV on their PCs with today’s announcement that Netflix subscribers can finally stream more than 12,000 movies and TV episodes through Windows Media Center. But there’s a catch; two, actually.
Bit Torrent user’s who scored pre-released versions of the Windows 7 RC may have gotten more then they bargained for. Malware-laced copies of Microsoft’s newest OS were seeded to torrents in late April, and security researchers are warning users who may have downloaded Windows 7 from non-Microsoft sources, to format, and reinstall their OS.
Adoption rate of the pirated version has slowed since the official release, but as many as 27,000 machines were estimated to be compromised when the command and control center for the bot net was located and finally shut down on May 10th by authorities. Currently, researchers at Damballa are monitoring installations of the infected version, and estimate that approximately 1,600 new machines are added per day. The good news here is that new installations won’t be drafted into the bot net, but it’s still not a good idea to run software from non-trusted sources.
Blocking this type of infection is difficult researchers confess since the Trojan was integrated into the OS installer, and it became active immediately following setup. The situation is also compounded by the reality that Windows 7 still has very limited anti virus options. Operating systems however aren’t the only attack vector for those looking to poison torrents. Similar malware infested Trojans were found in other popular torrented applications including iWork 09 and even Photoshop CS4.
Windows 7 has the potential to be the most imaging-friendly version of Windows yet developed. Windows 7 makes viewing JPEG and other common file formats easy, displays exposure metadata, and supports more viewing options than Windows XP, while offering better performance than Windows Vista. However, to get the maximum benefit from Windows 7, digital photographers will want to make two additions:
Installing RAW image support for their DSLR
Installing a photo organizer and editor
Wondering how to get RAW support for 64-bit versions of Windows 7? Not sure which free program (Windows Live Photo Gallery or Picasa) is better at fixing common digital photo problems? Looking for the best solution for organizing your rapidly growing digital photo collection? Join us after the jump for the answers.
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.
With Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced a new capability into its operating system: the ability to create symbolic links. Accessible only from the command line, symbolic links aren’t something the average user would need to be familiar with to use Windows, but they are a powerful way to manipulate the file system. In this article, we’ll provide a little background info about symbolic links and hard links, and show you how to use the mklink command to create them. We’ll also show you a couple of examples, including how to use mklink to manage your Steam games and music files. so read on, and find out how you could be taking full advantage of symbolic links!