Windows en Buggy Microsoft Security Essentials Update Kicks XP Machines While Down <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/mse_devil.jpg" alt="MSE Devil" title="MSE Devil" width="228" height="138" style="float: right;" />Here come the conspiracy theories</h3> <p>After more than 12 years of service, Microsoft finally pulled the plug on Windows XP by ceasing to support the operating system last week. However, Microsoft did promise to keep doling out updates for its Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) software, including the version that runs on XP, but in doing so, the Redmond outfit only made things worse. That's because <strong>the latest MSE update is causing some XP machines to freeze up and run slow</strong>.</p> <p>Anyone with a tinfoil hat will tell you this is entirely intentional on Microsoft's part and nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to get users to upgrade. The real explanation is likely far less insidious, though equally annoying for XP users who had hopes of holding onto the legacy OS for at least a little while longer.</p> <p>"I am a professional computer engineer and maintain many desktops and laptops for my customers on a daily basis: as of today (April 16th) I have seen about 12 computers on which Windows XP - after every boot up - throws up an error message referring to MSE, stating: 'MsMpEng.exe application error. The instruction at 0x5a4d684d referenced memory at 0x00000000 The memory could not be read', leaving the computer in an unusable state," <a href="" target="_blank">a user wrote</a> on Microsoft's Windows forum.</p> <p>He goes on to say that "the only solution is to disable MSE or uninstall it completely." Doing so will restore performance, but it comes at the expense of security protection, which is now more important than ever for XP users.</p> <p>Microsoft has yet to acknowledge the situation or issue a fix. One is likely coming, but in the meantime, there are third-party AV vendors that still support XP.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft Microsoft Security Essentials mse operating system OS Security Software Windows XP News Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:20:08 +0000 Paul Lilly 27655 at Microsoft Finalizes Design of Kinect for Windows Version 2 Sensor <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/kinect_for_windows_v2.jpg" alt="Kinect for Windows v2" title="Kinect for Windows v2" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Microsoft gives a glimpse of the Kinect for Windows v2's final hardware design</h3> <p>Despite the occasional rumors to the contrary, Microsoft has held firm that the second generation Kinect motion control senor bundled with its Xbox One console would not work with Windows, and that a special version for Windows would eventually be released. That day still hasn't come, however <strong>Microsoft did decide to show off what the final hardware will look like for the Kinect for Windows Version 2</strong>.</p> <p>It doesn't look any different from its console counterpart except that it says "Kinect" on the top panel, and the stylized green "x" is just a simple power indicator.</p> <p>Outside of its appearance, Microsoft talked a little bit about the hardware, saying it needs a hub and power supply to work. The hub accepts three connections -- one for the sensor, another for USB 3.0 output, and power, which supports voltages from 100 to 240 volts.</p> <p>"As this first look at the Kinect for Windows v2 hardware indicates, we're getting closer and closer to launch. So stay tuned for more updates on the next generation of Kinect for Windows," <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft said</a>.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Hardware kinect Kinect for Windows Version 2 motion sensor Peripherals Windows News Fri, 28 Mar 2014 16:10:22 +0000 Paul Lilly 27527 at Asus TD300 Dual-booting Tablet Reportedly Postponed After Google Pressure <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Asus TD300 dual-booting tablet" title="Asus TD300" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />The device was showcased at CES 2014</h3> <p>How often do we see promising prototypes and concepts mesmerizing attendees at trade shows, only to never be heard of again or, if they do, fail to hit store shelves in a timely manner? Although not the first device of its kind, the <strong>Android- and Windows-booting Transformer Book Duet TD300 did get some decent press when it was first showcased at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show</strong>. Sadly for those holding their breath for the device, the TD300 is said to have run into a major hurdle.</p> <p>Apparently, Google is not too pleased with the whole idea of Android being made to share tablet/laptop screen space with rival Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system and has, per a <a href="" target="_blank">Digitimes report</a>, managed to exert enough pressure on Asus for the latter to postpone the x86-based TD300.</p> <p>In light of <a href="" target="_blank">some recent developments</a>, it appears as though that <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft may have softened its stance on such dual-booting devices</a>. Perhaps Microsoft is hoping that a more conciliatory approach in this matter is likely to do it more good than harm, especially considering how it has very little to lose in the smartphone and tablet compared to Google. Even though this report may not be true (often the case with Digitimes), we can see why Google might have an issue with devices capable of booting both Android and Windows.</p> <p>Image Credit: AsusTek</p> <p><em style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: #ffffff; color: #000000; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 21px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial;">Follow Pulkit on&nbsp;<a style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent; color: #cc0000; text-decoration: none; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial;" href="">Google+</a></em></p> android Google rumor transformer book duet TD300 Windows News Sun, 09 Mar 2014 23:19:47 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 27407 at Microsoft Pushing Users To Adopt Windows 8 Over Windows 7 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u160391/windows8_0.jpg" width="250" height="141" style="float: right;" />Windows 7 support is being phased out</h3> <p><strong>Microsoft </strong>has set a firm date of October 31st for final sale of consumer Windows 7 machines, but business machines are another story. The official website has been updated as such to reflect this, with Microsoft noting that October 31, 2014 is the new end-of-sale date for Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, or Ultimate PCs. Home Premium takes the cake when it comes to sales, but now Microsoft is pushing for Windows 8 to take over as reigning champ, per <a href="">PC World</a>. </p> <p>Last year, Microsoft gave the same date for the halting of sale of all Windows 7 PCs, but then redacted that same announcement. It's standard practice to give a year's notice before pulling the plug on support, and this is projected to be the case with business machines, but it's possible this will change over the course of the year. Are you still using Windows 7 or have you updated? What about any business computers at the office?</p> microsoft news Windows windows 7 windows 8 News Mon, 17 Feb 2014 07:18:29 +0000 Brittany Vincent 27273 at Intel is Abandoning AppUp Store for Windows PCs, Shuts Down March 11 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/appup_closed.jpg" alt="AppUp Closed" title="AppUp Closed" width="228" height="134" style="float: right;" />Intel's app store bites the dust</h3> <p>Let's have a show of hands -- how many of you accessed Intel's AppUp center in the last week? Last month? Ever? We see a few of you out there, but not many, which is likely why Intel has decided to board up shop and move on to something else. The <strong>Santa Clara chip maker announced in a blog post that it's shutting down the AppUp center</strong> on March 11, 2014 so that it can focus on other things.</p> <p>"At Intel, we’re always thinking about the future, which often means making changes today. That’s why, on March 11th, 2014, Intel AppUp center will come to a close as we focus on developing new and exciting PC innovations that will continue to shape your world," <a href="" target="_blank">Intel said</a>.</p> <p>After March 11, there will be no new content or apps available to download. Support for already purchased apps will remain via email in English only up through June 15, 2014. If you already own apps, you'll need to keep the AppUp client installed for them to continue to work, <a href="" target="_blank">Intel notes in its FAQ</a>.</p> <p>If you have no interest in your purchased apps, you can <a href="" target="_blank">submit a request</a> for a refund. Intel said it will be offering refunds up through December 19, 2014.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> appup intel Software Windows News Thu, 30 Jan 2014 16:25:11 +0000 Paul Lilly 27165 at Microsoft Finds Solid Footing on Surface, Posts Record Revenue <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/surface_2_2.jpg" alt="Surface 2" title="Surface 2" width="228" height="115" style="float: right;" />Holiday quarter was kind to Microsoft</h3> <p>If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That's the motto Microsoft followed with its Surface strategy, which initially failed to win over customers and led to a <a href="">$900 million charge</a> on unsold inventory. Oh, but what a difference a couple of quarters can make. Microsoft's Surface revenue more than doubled sequentially to $893 million en route to the <strong>Redmond giant posting record revenue of $24.52 billion</strong> for the quarter ended December 31, 2013.</p> <p>Microsoft also benefited from its Xbox One console launch. The company sold 3.9 million Xbox One consoles during the quarter, or 900 million more than it previously announced, along with 3.5 million Xbox 360 consoles.</p> <p>"Our Commercial segment continues to outpace the overall market, and our Devices and Consumer segment had a great holiday quarter," <a href="" target="_blank">said Steve Ballmer</a>, chief executive officer at Microsoft. "The investments we are making in devices and services that deliver high-value experiences to our customers, and the work we are doing with our partners, are driving strong results and positioning us well for long-term growth."</p> <p>Microsoft's record revenue came despite what it called "softness in the consumer PC market," which resulted in declining Windows sales. Windows OEM revenue dipped 3 percent. However, Microsoft grew its Bing search 18.2 percent and saw a 34 percent increase in search advertising revenue.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> financial report microsoft revenue Surface Windows News Fri, 24 Jan 2014 16:14:02 +0000 Paul Lilly 27132 at Windows XP's Share of the Desktop Market Finally Starting to Erode <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_xp_sticker.jpg" alt="Windows XP Sticker" title="Windows XP Sticker" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" />Windows 8/8.1 finally tops 10 percent market share</h3> <p>For the first time in what feels like a hundred thousand years (slight exaggeration), <strong>Windows XP's share</strong> of the desktop operating system dipped below 30 percent according to data provided by NetMarketShare, and below 20 percent if you prefer the numbers tallied by StatCounter. Regardless of which one is more accurate, what's clear is that Windows XP users are abandoning ship at an increasingly brisk pace.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">NetMarkShare's accounting</a> methods has Windows XP installed on just under 29 percent of all desktops at the end of December, a drop of 2.24 percent from November. That's the biggest drop in share since August-to-September. Meanwhile, the combined share of Windows 8 and 8.1 crept into double digits for the first time (again, that's according to NetMarketShare's data), finishing off 2013 with a 10.49 percent share of the market.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">StatCounter's tally</a> is a bit different, though the trends are similar. According to StatCounter's method of counting beans, Windows XP's share of the desktop market landed at 19.79 percent at the end of 2013. Based on StatCounter's data, Windows XP went from being installed on 1 out of 4 desktops a year ago to 1 out of 5 five desktops to start the new year.</p> <p>The shift away from Windows XP is no doubt related to Microsoft's plans to <a href="">end support</a> for the legacy OS in April 2014. Windows XP will continue to function past that date, but will no longer receive security updates and patches. For those who choose to stick with Windows XP past April 8, 2014, one alternative to becoming a sitting duck to unpatched vulnerabilities is to seek out third-party support, such as the <a href="">ExtendedXP solution</a> being offered by Arkoon.</p> <p>Image Credit: Flickr (<a href="" target="_blank">Vibrant Spirit</a>)</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft operating system OS Software Windows windows xp News Thu, 02 Jan 2014 18:19:11 +0000 Paul Lilly 26988 at How to Install SteamOS <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154280/step_5_run_the_automated_installer_1.jpg" alt="SteamOS" title="SteamOS" width="300" height="142" style="float: right;" />Everything you need to know before installing Steam OS</h3> <p>Valve recently released its Beta version of <strong><a title="SteamOS" href="" target="_blank">SteamOS</a></strong>, based on the <a title="debian" href="" target="_blank">Debian</a> distro of <a title="linux" href="" target="_blank">Linux</a>. Naturally, we were intrigued by its release and wanted to take the new OS for a test run. We’ve put together a guide on how to install the operating system, and also provide you with our hands-on impressions of Valve's software.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>NOTE: Before beginning, we highly recommend that you back up everything on your system before attempting to install SteamOS, as the installer in this guide will erase your entire drive.</em></p> <p><strong>System Requirements:</strong></p> <p>To get started, you’ll need to make sure that your rig meets the minimum hardware requirements: Intel or AMD processor, 4GB of RAM or more, a 500GB hard drive or larger, Nvidia video card (Valve states AMD and Intel graphics support are coming soon), UEFI boot support, a USB port for installation, and a 4GB flash drive or larger.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>How to Install SteamOS instructions:</strong></p> <p><strong>Step 1:</strong> Format your flash drive to FAT32</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u154280/step_1_format_your_flash_drive_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/step_1_format_your_flash_drive.png" alt="Step 1" title="Step 1" width="600" height="338" /></a></p> <p>Plug in your flash drive and format it to FAT32. To do this, right click on the USB drive in My Computer and select format. Then change the file system from NTFS to FAT32 (if it isn’t already FAT32). Then click format to freshly wipe your flash drive.</p> <p><strong>Step 2:</strong> Download the zip installer</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 2" href="/files/u154280/step_2_download_the_zip_installer_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/step_2_download_the_zip_installer.png" alt="Step 2" title="Step 2" width="600" height="337" /></a></p> <p>Download the from <a title="SteamOS_Download_Page" href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> <p><strong>Step 3:</strong> Extract the files from the zip file</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 3" href="/files/u154280/step_3_extract_the_zip_files_to_your_flash_drive_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/step_3_extract_the_zip_files_to_your_flash_drive.png" alt="Step 3" title="Step 3" width="600" height="338" /></a></p> <p>Right click on the you just downloaded and extract it to your flash drive. We used the free <a title="7-zip" href="" target="_blank">7-Zip</a> software to do this. Do not click on or open the flash drive to view its contents after the unzipping is complete, as this will mess up your extraction, and you won’t be able to boot from the key after that.</p> <p><strong>Step 4:</strong> Reboot your system and boot from your flash drive</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 4" href="/files/u154280/step_4_boot_from_your_flash_drive_0.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/step_4_boot_from_your_flash_drive.jpg" alt="Step 4" title="Step 4" width="600" height="450" /></a></p> <p>Reboot your system and press F8, F10, or F12 to get to your Boot Menu and select your flash drive as your Boot Device. Make sure the Boot Option says UEFI and then the name of your flash drive, for example, UEFI SanDisk Cruzer.</p> <p><strong>Step 5:</strong> Run the automated installer</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 5" href="/files/u154280/step_5_run_the_automated_installer_0.jpg" target="_self"><img src="/files/u154280/step_5_run_the_automated_installer.jpg" alt="Step 5" title="Step 5" width="600" height="283" /></a></p> <p>You will then boot into a black screen with a purple Steam logo. This screen will have a list of three options, which include Automated Install WILL ERASE DISK!!!, Expert Install, and Rescue Mode. Select Automated Install WILL ERASE DISK!!! by pressing enter and the OS will start installing onto your hard disk. You will then see a white and purple installation screen for about 10-15 minutes, as it installs a fresh copy of SteamOS onto your machine.</p> <p><strong>Step 6:</strong> Remove your installation device</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 6" href="/files/u154280/step_6_remove_your_flash_drive_and_reboot_your_system_0.png" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u154280/step_6_remove_your_flash_drive_and_reboot_your_system.png" alt="Step 6" title="Step 6" width="600" height="337" /></a></p> <p>After the OS finishes installing you’ll be prompted to reboot your system and to remove your installation device.</p> <p><strong>Step 7:</strong> Select SteamOS Linux GNU/I</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 7" href="/files/u154280/steam_os_pic_2_1.png" target="_self"><img src="/files/u154280/steam_os_pic_2_0.png" alt="Step 7" title="Step 7" width="600" height="332" /></a></p> <p>The OS will boot up and have you choose between two options:&nbsp;<strong>SteamOS GNU/Linux, with Linux 3.10-3-amd64</strong> and <strong>SteamOS GNU Linux, with Linux 3.10-3-amd64 (recovery mode).</strong> Make sure the first option is selected and then hit enter to start the boot up process.</p> <p><strong>Step 8:</strong> Log into SteamOS</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 8" href="/files/u154280/steam_login_0.png" target="_self"><img src="/files/u154280/steam_login.png" alt="step 8" title="step 8" width="600" height="311" /></a></p> <p>You’ll then see a login screen. To login use "steam" as both your password and username.</p> <p><strong>Step 9:</strong> Launch the terminal application to install Steam</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 9" href="/files/u154280/step_9_type_in_steam_and_hit_enter_to_run_the_installer_0.png" target="_self"><img src="/files/u154280/step_8_run_the_application_terminal.png" alt="Step 8" title="Step 8" width="600" height="337" /></a></p> <p>Now that you’re at the desktop the last step is to launch the terminal application to install <a title="steam" href="" target="_blank">Steam</a>. Go to the top left corner of the OS and click on Activities and then click on the Applications tab. Once the terminal is launched, type in steam and then hit enter to start the installation process. (You will need an internet connection for this installation setup to work)</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 9" href="/files/u154280/step_9_type_in_steam_and_hit_enter_to_run_the_installer_1.png" target="_self"><img src="/files/u154280/step_9_type_in_steam_and_hit_enter_to_run_the_installer.png" alt="Step 9" title="Step 9" width="600" height="375" /></a></p> <p><strong>Step 10:</strong> You can now start gaming</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Step 10" href="/files/u154280/step_10_let_the_gaming_begin_0.png" target="_self"><img src="/files/u154280/step_10_let_the_gaming_begin.png" alt="Step 10" title="Step 10" width="600" height="375" /></a></p> <p>After the installer is finished running, you can login into your Steam account and start playing games.</p> <p><em>Click the next page for our impressions of SteamOS.</em></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Impressions:</strong></p> <p>With our GeForce GTX 680, our performance was great and we had no trouble hitting 60+ FPS in every title that we played using SteamOS. However, we didn’t like how there was an immense amount of screen tearing, even when V-Sync was enabled. We saw less tearing in 2D games like Bastion and Shattered, but we experienced a heavy amount of tearing in Portal. Our current assessment is that games with complex polygons will experience a lot of screen tearing while 2D games will have very little to no screen tearing.</p> <h3 style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/step_5_run_the_automated_installer_1.jpg" alt="SteamOS" title="SteamOS" width="620" height="292" /></h3> <p>We encountered audio problems on the OS, as it only supports audio via HDMI, so your onboard motherboard audio will not work. We did get external headphones to work when we used an audio pass through on our monitor, in combination with HDMI as our video output. Valve probably assumes people will use SteamOS in their living room, so we think they guess most people will be using an HDMI audio setup too, or this could simply be patched up when SteamOS officially launches to the masses.</p> <p>We like the idea of SteamOS and feel it could give Microsoft a run at being the go-to gaming OS, but right now it’s very stripped-down. There aren’t many third party applications you can run on SteamOS because not much supports it. We tried installing Chrome on the OS, and it didn’t work because the browser doesn’t support SteamOS. We were able to use the Internet by using <a title="iceweasel" href="" target="_blank">Iceweasel</a>, which is a rebranded version of Mozilla’s Firefox for Debian distros of Linux, however.</p> <p>SteamOS isn’t a free gaming OS that can replace Windows at the moment. We’d much rather take Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, as a Windows alternative at this point because there’s much more you can do with this Linux distro. Ubuntu 12.04 LTS also has more third party applications than SteamOS, and it performs similarly in gaming too. Ubuntu also supports legacy hardware, so you won’t need to mess around modifying an installer to get it to work properly on your coveted rig. Lastly, unlike SteamOS, which doesn’t support Intel and AMD graphics as of print time, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS will install easily to Intel, AMD, or Nvidia graphics hardware.</p> <p>If Valve wants to move people away from Windows and onto SteamOS, they’ll need a more versatile OS to bring people on board. When it comes to gaming, currently, there are over eight thousand titles on Steam that support Windows, while SteamOS has just 440 games. For an OS devoted to living room gaming, it’s a cool idea, but Windows can do so much more than the free OS at the moment, both in gaming and productivity. Still, if you've got some time to spare, SteamOS is free so feel free to give it a try and let us know what you think of it in the comments below!</p> <p>Follow Chris on&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Google</a>+&nbsp;or&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Twitter</a></p> How To Install SteamOS installation linux operating system steam os Valve Windows Linux Gaming News Features How-Tos Fri, 27 Dec 2013 22:57:47 +0000 Chris Zele 26929 at Asus Enlists Statue of Liberty to Tease Dual Booting Mobile Device <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/asus_statue_of_liberty.jpg" alt="Asus Statue of Liberty" title="Asus Statue of Liberty" width="228" height="158" style="float: right;" />Something "incredible" is coming from Asus</h3> <p>A <a href="" target="_blank">promotional website</a> by Asus with the tagline, "In search of incredible" teases an impending product reveal scheduled for January 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM Pacific (3:00 PM Eastern) at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. What exactly is Asus planning to unveil? Based on a few written clues and a YouTube video featuring the Statue of Liberty, we suspect it's a <strong>2-in-1 hybrid device</strong> capable of dual-booting Windows and Android.</p> <p>The YouTube video is titled, "[Asus CES 2014 Teaser I] Green or Blue? One or Two?." As for the video itself, it shows the Statue of Liberty holding a tablet that repeatedly changes color from blue (Windows?) to green (Android?) and vice versa.</p> <p>Reading deeper between the lines, after the Statue of Liberty tears apart the tablet to hold two devices, both continue to change colors, perhaps hinting of dual-boot functionality in both tablet and laptop mode.</p> <p>Here's a look at the video:</p> <p><iframe src="//" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> android asus ces2014 dual boot Hardware operating system OS Software Windows News Mon, 23 Dec 2013 17:42:58 +0000 Paul Lilly 26940 at Top 13 News Stories of 2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/messenger.jpg" alt="News Messenger" title="News Messenger" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Revisiting the top tech headlines of the past year</h3> <p>Another year is in the books and you know what? The PC isn't dead! Not that we ever thought our beloved platform was ever in jeopardy, though you wouldn't know it if you listened to analysts and market research firms predicting all kinds of gloom and doom for the desktop. We're happy to say the sky didn't fall, and as we look ahead to 2014, we're more excited than ever about all the advances in technology -- 3D printing, wearable computing, and advances in storage are just some of the things gaining momentum as we head into the new year.</p> <p>Before we look too far down the road, however, we wanted to take a moment and reflect on some of the biggest news stories of 2013. We've put together a list of the most popular happenings of the past year based on a variety of factors including traffic, reader engagement, and of course editorial discretion. Some are included here because of their lasting impact on the industry, and others because they piqued the interest of you, our readers, and sparked lively debates.</p> <p>Ready to get nostalgic with us? Then off we go as we relive the <strong>top 13 news stories of 2013</strong>!</p> eric snowden features gallery intel microsoft nsa nvidia ocz prism ssd steam machines Valve Windows Features Mon, 23 Dec 2013 14:25:44 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff &amp; Paul Lilly 26937 at Microsoft Cautions Windows 8.1 Preview Expiring Soon <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u160391/winpreview_0.png" width="250" height="141" style="float: right;" />Get ready to shell out the cash for the GA release</h3> <p>If you've been using your trusty <strong><a href="">Windows 8.1 Preview</a></strong> over the last couple of months, Microsoft wants to remind you that it's getting time for you to purchase the full edition. The Preview edition will be ending on January 15th, so you've got just enough time left to purchase a license before your brief look expires.&nbsp;</p> <p>Microsoft's official blog is as thus: ”Now that Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 have been generally available for a while, it’s time to get all your remaining devices that are still running Windows 8.1 Preview or Windows RT 8.1 Preview to the final GA release before the Preview release expires."</p> <p>This is your friendly Maximum PC reminder to get up to date if you need to before possible loss of access to unsaved data within occurs. Any of you looking to take the plunge?</p> microsoft news Operating Systems Windows windows 8.1 News Sat, 21 Dec 2013 21:00:25 +0000 Brittany Vincent 26934 at Snap Up Windows Black Friday Deals on Surface Tablets and Notebooks <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u160391/surface_0.jpg" width="250" height="141" style="float: right;" />Black Friday deals at Microsoft abound&nbsp;</h3> <p>Banking on a <strong><a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft</a> </strong>Surface tablet for you or some other lucky person on your gift list this holiday season? Microsoft is cutting prices left and right for eager beaver Black Friday shoppers, and you can get in on the action as early as midnight on Thanksgiving. So you'll barely have had enough time to let the turkey digest before heading out to nab one of these deals.&nbsp;</p> <p>An early peek at Microsoft's Black Friday sales (via <a href="" target="_blank">PCWorld</a>) showcase a 32GB Surface RT selling for $199, at a whopping $150 savings off its normal price. If you find you might need a little more space, pick up the 64GB tablet for $349.&nbsp;</p> <p>If laptops are more what you're looking for, you can pick up a Dell Inspiron 15Z for $399 instead, as well as a 15.6-inch Gateway laptop or 14-inch Samsung Ultrabook, the prices of which are yet to be revealed, but should be coming later in the week.&nbsp;</p> <p>Some great prices floating around here if you're looking for a tech purchase this holiday season, you might want to hit up Microsoft for some surprisingly big savings.&nbsp;</p> black friday deals surface rt tablets Windows News Sat, 23 Nov 2013 21:30:52 +0000 Brittany Vincent 26755 at Are Smartphones Really Any Different? <!--paging_filter--><h3>Breaking down the "advantages" smartphones have over PCs</h3> <p>I recently bought a used computer from a friend. He had done a clean install of the OS before I started using it but something was still wrong.</p> <p>The battery kept running down far faster than it should have, the Wi-Fi reception was atrocious, and man, the occasional lag was horrible, and installing the <a title="chrome" href="" target="_blank">Chrome</a> browser killed performance. I had unfortunately installed all of my applications and didn’t want to nuke it, but that’s ultimately what I did, but only after booting into safe mode, erasing the system’s cache—not once, but twice—and doing a complete reinstall of the OS, reformatting all of the drives and also running down the battery to recalibrate it.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="" alt="smart phones" title="smart phones" width="578" height="325" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Are smartphones really all that different from PCs?</strong></p> <p>I speak not of a used x86 laptop computer but of a used (but still practically new) <a title="android" href="" target="_blank">Android</a> smartphone. For the most part, the phone is performing where it should be now, but only after I spent four days trying to diagnose the problem and another day wiping it out and reinstalling. I still can’t install the Chrome browser on it without performance going to hell, but I’ve given up on that one.</p> <p>My real-world anecdote is meant to counteract a common belief among the general population: Phones and tablets are better than PCs because they require zero maintenance and never break. I acknowledge that, for the most part, these mobile devices do generally work, but I also acknowledge that, for the most part, so does the average PC.</p> <p>And for the naysayers who’ll contend that it was just an isolated event, or that I should have tried <a title="iOS" href="" target="_blank">iOS</a>, I challenge you to go to any cell phone carrier’s website and cruise the <a title="support forums" href="" target="_blank">support forums</a>. People aren’t there talking about sunshine and rainbows. They’re pissed off and confused because X isn’t doing Y.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/iphone_issues.png" alt="iphone issues" title="iphone issues" width="620" height="450" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Don't tell us that phones don't have their fair share of issues as well.</strong></p> <p>What’s really a laugh is when people talk about how they’re glad they’re finally off the PC upgrade treadmill but then fawn over the latest eight-core phone with the 5-inch screen to replace the device they bought six months ago. What, the new GPU in the new SoC is 20 percent faster? Sign me up for another two-year contract!</p> <p>Let’s not even get into the aspects of the OS upgrade lag. That’s the time between when a new OS comes out and when the phone you bought five months ago finally gets it, some 15 months later, if you’re lucky to get it at all. Finally giving up, the consumer just goes out and buys a new phone or tablet with the latest OS, instead.</p> <p>If the PC world worked like that, pitchforks and torches would line the road leading up to the castle overnight. If anything, maybe phones could learn a thing or two from the PC and provide timely security and OS updates to everyone, and actually work to improve drivers once in a while. Until then, while I still love my now-working phone, I still love my PC, too.</p> 2013 August 2013 android august 2013 computer ios maximum pc pc phone update Windows Columns Features Thu, 21 Nov 2013 00:01:35 +0000 Gordon Mah Ung 26633 at How to Repair Your Computer <!--paging_filter--><h3>We tackle the five most pressing problems in each major component category!</h3> <p>It’s happened to us all. You get home from a long day at work and you want to blow off some steam with an hour of gaming or maybe browsing the web, but when you tap your mouse button or punch the power switch, the unthinkable happens. You’re SOL.</p> <p>Whether the system is red-lining, the OS is BSODing, or your Internet is slow, this frustration is familiar to any person who drives a PC. You’re faced with a problem that stops you dead in your tracks. If you’re a savvy self-tech, you run through your proverbial checklist of areas to look at. But not everyone is so experienced, and even old hands have holes in their troubleshooting repertoire. So, in the interest of providing the most useful advice to the greatest number of people, we’ve compiled a list of the top five problems that could impact each of your computer’s major hardware or software subsystems and our best advice on how to fix them. This is our indepth&nbsp;<strong>computer repair</strong> guide.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/wwcover-155_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/wwcover-155_small.jpg" width="620" height="930" /></a></p> <h3>Storage Problems</h3> <p><strong>What to do when your hard disk is dying and your SSD is sputtering </strong></p> <p><strong>Problem:</strong> Hard Drive Disappears</p> <p><strong>Solution:</strong> If it’s a drive that was previously visible, the first step is to see if the drive shows up in the BIOS (check under Boot). If not, swap out the SATA and/or power cables. If the drive shows up, run CHKDSK on it by right-clicking the drive in My Computer, choosing Properties, then the Tools tab, and then “Check now” and “Automatically fix file systems errors.” If the drive continues to give a ton of errors, and is behaving erratically but is visible in Windows, copy all data off it immediately if you can, or run Data Recovery on it STAT. If the drive is not visible in Windows, your options are limited to the Freezer Trick (an hour or so of extreme cold sometimes sets things straight) or expensive forensic-style data recovery.</p> <p>If this is a brand-new drive that’s not showing up, you need to initialize it first. Right-click My Computer and select Manage, then Disk Management and follow the prompts.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/error_checking_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/error_checking.jpg" title="Hard Drive Setting" width="400" height="278" /></a></p> <p><strong>Problem:</strong> Optical Drive Disappears</p> <p><strong>Solution:</strong> This classic conundrum involves either a missing drive or one that stops functioning suddenly. Put on your big-boy pants and type regedit in the Start menu search box, then navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}. If you see an entry named UpperFilters, delete it. If you see an entry named LowerFilters, delete it. Once you’ve done this, exit Regedit and reboot your system. In most scenarios, your optical drive will reappear and/or magically begin working again. Note that you may have to reinstall software that accesses the optical drive (e.g., burning software) to get back to 100 percent functionality.</p> <p><strong>Problem:</strong> Drive Not Reporting Full Capacity</p> <p><strong>Solution:</strong> This is usually an issue with 3TB or 4TB drives, as 2TB drives should have zero issues in Win7 (WinXP users might have to download a utility from the drive’s manufacturer to allow for a drive with 4K sectors). Out of the box these 3/4TB drives are typically MBR disks, which limits a partition to 2TB (actually, 1.8TB or so) relegating the rest to a separate partition. If you want the full capacity in one partition, you need to convert the disk to GPT. To do this, type cmd at the Start search box; at the prompt type diskpart, then list disk, then select disk X (substituting X for your drive number), then convert GPT. Now go to Disk Management and create your massive single partition.</p> <p><strong>Problem:</strong> SSD Performance Is Slow</p> <p><strong>Solution:</strong> If you’re using a hard drive and it feels slow, don’t worry; that’s how they are for the most part. If you’re using an SSD and its slow, there is a problem. If you’re not sure if it’s slower than spec, download <a title="crystal disk mark" href="" target="_blank">CrystalDiskMark</a> and see what kind of sequential-read/write speeds you are getting. Second, make sure the drive is connected to the native SATA 6Gb/s ports on the motherboard. You can’t rely on color, only your mobo manual, to tell. Third, go into the BIOS and make sure the SATA port for that drive is set to AHCI mode instead of IDE mode, as that will usually give you better performance.</p> <p><strong>Problem:</strong> AHCI Causes <a title="blue screen of death" href="" target="_blank">BSOD</a> (blue screen of death)</p> <p><strong>Solution:</strong> Sometimes, people install Windows 7 without AHCI enabled, only to find out that enabling it after the install causes a BSOD. To fix this, you have to edit the registry. Press Windows + R key, type regedit, then navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\msahci. Then right-click the word Start on the right-side and click Modify. Change the value in the window to “0” and click OK. Exit Regedit, reboot the system, and change your SATA controller to AHCI; you will boot right into Windows.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/ahci_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/ahci.jpg" width="400" height="241" /></a></p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">USB</h3> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>What to do when it won’t plug nor play</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem: </strong>Some USB Ports Don’t Work</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Nonfunctional USB ports could be caused by a few things. If the ports are front-mounted, make sure the internal cables are connected properly and that the requisite USB header is enabled in your system BIOS. If the ports are soldered on the motherboard (and enabled), open up Device Manager and see if any USB root controller or hubs are reporting a problem. If so, a driver update/reinstallation may resolve the issue. It’s also possible that the physical connectors have been damaged (or a fuse has blown), in which case you’ll have to re-solder some new ones onto the board. If the USB ports are associated with a third-party controller, be sure its drivers are installed, because Windows may not recognize the controller automatically.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Slow File Transfer over USB</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Windows Vista and 7 have some known USB performance issues, so the first thing to do is run Windows Update and make sure your OS is fully patched. We’d also advise installing the latest drivers for your motherboard’s chipset and any discrete USB controllers. You could also try setting the USB drive to performance mode. Open Device Manager, right-click the USB drive, and choose Properties from the menu. In the resulting window, click the Policies tab and tick the option labeled “Better performance.” Please note, this feature will enable write caching, so you’ll have to use the Safely Remove Hardware option when disconnecting the drive to prevent any data loss.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/usb-perf_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/usb-perf_small.jpg" title="USB" width="400" height="229" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> USB Hub Doesn’t Work</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> This problem is almost always caused by insufficient power being supplied to the hub. If the hub came with an AC adapter, make sure it’s plugged in and working properly. And if you’ve got the hub plugged into a front-mounted USB port, try connecting it to a rear port that is soldered onto your mobo. Rear-mounted ports can usually provide more power (or more stable power), which can resolve some issues with finicky hubs.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Charging Phone over PC’s USB Port Takes Forever</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Standard USB 2.0 ports connected on a root hub have to share 500mA of current (USB 3.0 powers up to 900mA). If you’ve got a bunch of USB devices connected and the port your phone is plugged into is competing for limited power, it will take much longer than normal to charge. Try plugging the phone into a different port (preferably USB 3.0, if possible) or disconnecting other USB devices while charging.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">It’s worth noting that some motherboard manufacturers—such as Gigabyte—have begun incorporating high-powered USB ports that can deliver up to 2.7A of current onto their boards. If you want to rapidly charge devices while they’re connected to your system, it may be worth checking out one of these boards.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/3x-power_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/3x-power_small.jpg" title="USB Power Boost" width="400" height="233" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> USB Device Is Not Recognized</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> USB devices are usually as plug-and-play as you can get, but if a particular device isn’t recognized properly, it may be incompatible with your USB controller or require drivers to be manually installed. Compatibility is very good with USB controllers native to modern chipsets, but we’ve seen some incompatibilities with some discrete USB 3.0 controllers that are yet to be resolved. Should you need to install drivers for the device, plug it into a USB port, then go to Device Manager, right-click the device, and choose Update Drive Software from the menu. Then, you can search the web for drivers automatically or point the wizard to any drivers downloaded from the device manufacturer’s website.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Video Cards</h3> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Gee, pee-yew!</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> GPU Is Slow</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Solution: If your GPU is lagging, the first stop on the road to redemption is a driver update. Both <a title="nvidia" href="" target="_blank">Nvidia</a> and <a title="amd" href="" target="_blank">AMD</a> are engaged in a drivers arms race, with each company updating its drivers with an OCD-like frequency that’s impressive. And always check to see if there’s a new driver before you launch a brand-new game. You can find your driver version easily in both Catalyst Control Center under Information/Software, and in the Nvidia Control Panel. Overheating can also cause the GPU to throttle its clock speeds, so monitor your temps using the software provided by your GPU manufacturer.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/driver_version_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/driver_version_small.jpg" width="400" height="240" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Multicard Setup Not Working</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Dual-card setups can be problematic for a number of reasons, and getting them recognized by Windows is the first challenge. If CrossFireX/SLI isn’t an option you see in the software, ignore your motherboard’s color coding and move the second card to a different PCIe slot. Games are a different story, as the drivers have to include a profile for a certain game, benchmark, or application to allow both cards to function, so there is usually a bit of a wait after a game comes out for a compatible driver (EVGA uniquely offers temporary profiles for new games). Assuming dual-card mode is enabled in the drivers, and the game has been out awhile, your SLI/CrossFireX bridge could be faulty, but that is rare. You can try forcing dual-card mode via the Catalyst Control Center or Nvidia Control Panel, but success is hit-or-miss when doing this.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Screen Corruption and Artifacts</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Graphical corruption is usually due to one of two things: a video card that is either overheating or dying. First, check your temps using software like <a title="msi afterburner" href="" target="_blank">MSI Afterburner</a>, <a title="evga precision" href="" target="_blank">EVGA Precision X</a>, <a title="asus gpu tweak" href=";m=gpu%20tweak&amp;os=30" target="_blank">Asus GPU Tweak</a>, <a title="gpu z" href="" target="_blank">GPU-Z</a>, etc. Anything below 80 C is fine but a well-cooled card typically doesn’t exceed 70 C. Second, take your GPU out of the case and give it a good cleaning with compressed air, and after you reinstall it, put some cool air on it by removing the case door for a bit, or manually turn up the fans to 100 percent using the above-mentioned software. To see if your card is dying, try running it in a friend’s system to test; conversely, use his or her card in your system. Also, if you are overclocking, immediately go back to stock speeds.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/evga_temps_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/evga_temps_small.jpg" width="620" height="392" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem: </strong>Display and Resolution Issues</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> While not as common, you should never overlook a cable/connection issue as the cause of your problem. If you are running 2560x1600 resolution, you probably need a dual-link DVI cable (and therefore a dual-link DVI port on the video card, as well—some DVI ports are single-link, so check). DisplayPort also runs at 2560x1600, but VGA and single-link DVI do not. Also double-check the input source for your LCD, as that’s a mistake that even non-rookies make. And double-check the cable you’re using—swap it out if possible.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Second Display Not Recognized</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> First, make sure you are running the latest drivers. Many systems that are running the default Windows drivers have issues with this. Second, make sure you have gone into the control panel of the drivers to enable the second display. Third, some DVI ports do not work if you are using a VGA-DVI adapter, so if there are two ports on your card, try them both. If you have everything set normally in the drivers, make sure your Windows settings are configured properly, and that you have multiple displays enabled.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em>Click the next page for CPU fixes and more!</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">CPU</h3> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>It’s usually not the culprit</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> CPU Is Overheating</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Don’t assume that high temps automatically warrant a new heatsink. The cooler is likely dust-clogged (try cleaning it), or the fan is dying (requiring a replacement). Or the heatsink has been poorly installed—remove it and remount it with new thermal paste. (Incidentally, degraded thermal paste alone can be the culprit. Here are our picks for the <a title="best thermal paste" href="" target="_blank">best thermal paste</a>). Other possible causes include the case fans—clean and check them. Or a newer, hotter GPU could have swamped your case’s ability to stay cool. A BIOS update could also change the fan profiles from what you had set. Also keep this in mind: If your CPU is seemingly running “hot” but the machine isn’t blue-screening or throttling clock speed, you probably don’t have to sweat it.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> CPU Is Slow</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution: </strong>CPU performance issues typically come from misconfiguration in the BIOS or overheating. First, verify your chip’s clock speed by running CPU-Z (<a href=""></a>) while running a CPU load in Cinebench 11.5 (<a href=""></a>). If the clocks are correct (remember, chips don’t Turbo under heavy loads on all cores), compare your Cinebench 11.5 scores with others on the Internet. The scores should be within a few percentage points of others. If the scores are close, the CPU is not “slow;” it’s something else in your system. If the scores don’t match, you may have a thermal issue. Check that your heatsink hasn’t come loose, reapply thermal paste, and clean the heatsink and fans. A BIOS update could also be needed, as well.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/cinebench_gu_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/cinebench_gu_small.jpg" width="620" height="367" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem: </strong>CPU Is Unstable</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> CPUs rarely “go bad.” They typically work or don’t work. Usually, it’s everything around them that breaks. If you’re overclocking, stop. Try to isolate CPU problems by running a CPU-intensive app such as <a title="prime 95" href="" target="_blank">Prime95</a>. If it blue-screens, check thermal issues first (see “CPU Is Overheating”). Also check your RAM with Memtest86+ (<a href=""></a>). Check your power supply connectors to the mobo and GPU. If the PSU is overheating and failing, it could cause crashes. Failing PSUs cause power sags, which can look like a bad CPU, too. If you have a known good PSU you can swap in, do so. Oddly enough, a failing GPU can resemble a CPU failure, so if you have a spare GPU or an integrated option, try switching to it and testing again.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/prime_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/prime_small.jpg" width="450" height="280" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> CPU Is Always Under a Heavy Load</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Heavy CPU usage can be a sign of malware, so make sure your AV is updated and run a full system scan. Also consider running a secondary scan using Malwarebytes Free (<a href=""></a>) and any of the free web-based scanners such as those from <a title="trend micro" href="" target="_blank">Trend Micro</a>, <a title="bit defender" href="" target="_blank">Bit Defender</a>, or <a title="eset" href="" target="_blank">ESET</a>. Also check to see that your own AV app isn’t thrashing the system by doing a scan—check the running processes in Task Manager (Ctrl + Alt + Del, Start Task Manager, select Processes.) Click the CPU column to sort by usage and begin searching the Internet for each suspicious process name.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem: </strong>CPU Only Works in Single-Channel Mode</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> First, make sure the RAM is OK by running Memtest86+ (<a href=""></a>). If the RAM clears, check the slots for debris and swap out the DIMMs for known good RAM. If crashing persists when put into dual-channel mode, you likely bent a pin installing your CPU. We’ve seen this on LGA1366 and LGA1155 platforms several times. It can be fixed by taking a sharp knife and carefully straightening the pin in the socket (or on the CPU in AMD chips).</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Network</h3> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Why can’t it just work?</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Internet Connection Drops</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> The most likely culprit is your ISP (Internet Service Provider), so prepare to wait on hold. Before you do, though, try some basic troubleshooting.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">If your system(s) connects through a router, connect the system directly to your modem to see if the router has a problem, and also cycle the power on your broadband modem. But don’t just quickly hit its power switch or reset button. Unplug it from power for a few seconds. Plug it back in and wait for the modem to resync with your ISP’s network before testing the connection again. If you find yourself resetting your modem monthly or even weekly to resolve Internet connectivity issues, a call to your ISP is in order. There may be an issue that only a modem replacement or a service tech can fix.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> File Downloads Take Forever, Ping Times Suck</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Contrary to popular belief, there aren’t any tweaks that will significantly speed up or improve Internet connection speeds. If your connection is usually fast, but slows during peak hours or only when connecting to certain sites, there may not be much you can do. You should certainly run a broadband test to see where your speeds actually are. ISPs usually have a guaranteed speed band that, if you’re under, they will either fix or charge you less for. Also, power cycle your modem and router. Check your router’s log to see if you have an unauthorized guest sapping speed. Streaming Internet cameras, or streaming Netflix to multiple devices will also sap performance.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Can’t Access New Server/NAS/PC from other Systems</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Solution: There are a number of things that could cause a new system/NAS to be inaccessible from other machines on a network. First, make sure the new system is definitely connected to the LAN properly and that its network controller is active. And also check that the system’s configured with the correct IP address. If the server or NAS is on a different subnet, for example, it may appear to be connected to a network, but it won’t be visible to your other systems. With a standalone NAS device, you’ll have to log into its configuration menu, navigate to the LAN settings, and then enter the proper IP address (or set it to DHCP). To change an IP address on Windows 7 systems, you’ll want to go to Network and Sharing Center, click the Local Area Connection, then click the Properties button, highlight Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), and then click Properties again. You can change the system’s IP address on the General tab.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">It’s also possible that your client PC has network discovery disabled or an overzealous firewall that won’t let the system see other devices, so check that, too.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/sharing_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/sharing_small.jpg" width="450" height="231" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> SSID Appears but Can’t Connect Using Wi-Fi</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Wi-Fi connectivity problems are almost always caused by interference or firmware and/or driver incompatibilities. The first thing to try is to simply reset your wireless router in case something’s gone wonky that a reboot might fix. Pull your router’s power cord, wait a few seconds, and then plug it back in. Once the router has fully booted, try to connect again.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">If the issue persists, the wireless channel being used by your router may be congested. Download a utility like Insider (<a href=""></a>) to your laptop, or <a title="wifi analyzer" href=";hl=en" target="_blank">Wi-Fi Analyzer</a> to your smartphone, and scan the wireless networks in the area. If your router is using the same channel as many others within range, log into your router’s configuration menu, navigate to the wireless network section, and change the channel to the one that’s least used in the area.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">If that doesn’t help, try updating the router’s firmware. Hit your router manufacturer’s website and check for a firmware update. If one is available, download it, and then log into the router’s configuration menu and apply the update (this process will vary from router to router—consult your manual). Once the firmware update is installed, configure the wireless network settings and try connecting again. Updating the drivers for your wireless network controller is worth a shot, too.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Internet Connection Is Unreliable</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Unreliable or intermittent Internet connections are usually the result of a hardware or signal problem at some point between your PC and the web. Some of these problems you can fix, others may require a service call from your ISP.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The first thing to try is resetting your modem and router and swapping out the network cables between them. Kill the power to your modem and router, wait a few moments, and then power them back up. Also, be sure to use known good cables to connect the devices together. We can’t count how many times a faulty cable has caused funky issues on a network. If the problem persists, give your ISP a call and have it run a diagnostic to check the signal strength and quality on your line. Should your ISP find a problem, odds are it can be fixed by a service technician.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Windows</h3> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>What’s made of 50 million lines of code and rarely breaks? Nothing</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Windows Is Freezing</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> The biggest culprits here are usually malware (malicious software, whose favorite installation method is through browser exploits) or high temperatures in your case. With malware, there are no real standards for quality, so badly written ones can cause all kinds of performance issues. The stuff is also designed to be hard to find and hard to remove, so your antimalware software (Norton, McAfee, or Malwarebytes) might not remove it. In which case, you may need to reinstall Windows.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">But before you nuke it from orbit, how dusty is your case? The stuff insulates whatever it's collected on and will clog fans over time. But a can of compressed air held upright and triggered in short bursts should take care of most of it.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Case vibration over time can also loosen cables and cause random loss of signal, so make sure those are all squared away (and not chewed up by gremlins).</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Lastly, if you're overclocking your CPU or GPU, you may just need to tone that down a bit.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Blue Screen Error</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Solution: The usual villains are beta GPU drivers and overclocked CPUs (but feel free to Google specific error messages). GPU drivers see the most frequent changes in enthusiast PCs, and beta versions are sometimes shaky. You can uninstall these drivers in the Add or Remove Programs section of your Control Panel (Programs and Features in Windows 8), where the files are labeled according to your brand (usually Nvidia or AMD, sometimes Intel). Then reboot and install an older version of the driver obtained from the manufacturer's website, preferably the drivers labeled "WHQL" (for Windows Hardware Quality Labs), Microsoft's seal of approval. Didn’t write down the BSOD info? Check out BlueScreenView (<a href=""></a>).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/blue_screen_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/blue_screen_small.jpg" width="620" height="388" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Windows Slows Down</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> The most common source of this problem is a program eating up your CPU power or RAM. Sometimes it's a memory leak, which means that a program isn't releasing RAM that it's no longer using, which can snowball over time to occupy all available memory. Restarting the program should fix the leak temporarily, but the long-term solution usually requires the program's creator to produce a new version. Other times, it can be a scheduled virus scan running in the background, or even a virus or other malware.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">To check background programs, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc, which opens the Task Manager. You can click the labels at the top of each column to sort alphabetically, or by CPU or RAM usage. Save your documents or whatever else you were working on at the time. Then, if a program is eating up your resources and you don't recognize it, Google its name to determine its danger level. If it's not supposed to be there, you may need to manually run a virus scan to remove it. Or you may just be able to right-click the program in the Task Manager list and select End Process. In some cases, simply rebooting can make sluggishness issues disappear.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Windows Update Hangs</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> First, is the time and date right on your PC? Microsoft has a "Fix It" file available on its support page that talks about this issue, <a title="Microsoft ID 2700567" href="" target="_blank">Article ID 2700567</a>. Just run that, and it may fix your issue. If not, you may have to use System Restore to reset Windows to before it hung on Windows Update. In <a title="windows 8" href="" target="_blank">Windows 8</a>, you get there by restarting your PC, clicking the power icon on the login screen, holding down the Shift key, and selecting Restart. That will load a screen with some troubleshooting options. Select Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options. When you click System Restore, your PC will reboot in the Restore mode. Select your account, select Next on the next screen, choose your Windows drive, hit Next again, then wait for the restore process. You can hit Restart when that's done, then redo Windows Update.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">If your system isn’t booting in <a title="windows 7" href="" target="_blank">Windows 7</a> and you need to restore, you need the installation disc and access to an admin account (home desktop users have this account type by default). Pop in the disc, reboot, and press any key when your PC prompts you to (shortly after the POST, but before your current Windows installation would start loading). Click through the CD's language, time, and input settings, select "repair your computer," and follow the onscreen instructions. The most recent Restore Point should work. After this process reboots your computer, try Windows Update again.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Low memory</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> If it's not a memory leak (see "Windows Slows Down) or other program hogging your RAM, you can try increasing your virtual memory, which is a cache that Windows stores on your hard drive. Right-click the Computer icon on your desktop and select Properties. (In Windows 8, switch to Desktop Mode to see the icon.) Click Advanced System Settings on the left. In the section labeled Performance, click the Settings button. Click the Advanced tab and click Change. Uncheck the box at the top and select Custom Size. A good rule of thumb is to set Initial Size and Maximum Size to 1.5 times your amount of RAM (listed on the Properties window you opened earlier). More than that can actually slow down your PC. Click Set and then click OK.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/virtual_memory_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/virtual_memory_small.jpg" title="Virtual Memory" width="400" height="525" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Editing high-def videos, high-res photos, or large audio files can eat up gigs of RAM, too. If that's something you do, adding more RAM is not a bad idea, assuming you have available slots on the motherboard and you can find sticks of the same type and speed.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">What to Do When Windows Won't Start</h3> <p style="text-align: left;">Let's say you can get your computer to perform its POST (power-on self-test, which ends with a single, short beep from your motherboard if you have a speaker installed on it), but Windows itself won't load. Before you start sweating through Google searches, sometimes the problem is temporary and random; simply restarting your PC can make the problem go away.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">If your PC tells you that a file called NTLDR.exe is missing, the problem may be more serious. Sometimes you can just create a new version of this file. For Windows 7, reboot and hit F8 just before Windows would start loading. This loads a troubleshooting menu, from which you select Repair Your Computer. This is mostly an automated process; you follow a few onscreen instructions and let Microsoft take the wheel. For Windows 8, you boot from its installation disc to access repair options, or you may have a Recovery Drive on a USB stick. To make your computer boot to those devices instead of Windows, consult your motherboard manual for the keyboard shortcut that can open your boot menu during the POST.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Sometimes, you can still boot into Safe Mode to diagnose the problem. This is a stripped-down environment—only the minimum necessary services and drivers will load. For Windows 7, this is accessed via the F8 menu mentioned above. For Windows 8, you must also hold down the Shift key when pressing F8. It may take several tries to get your timing right, because your window is small. This will load Windows 8's recovery mode. Once there, click Troubleshoot to get a number of options, including loading a restore point, recovering from a backup drive image, accessing the command prompt to enter text commands, and altering Windows startup settings. It's not a bad idea to try the restore point or drive image options, if you created those recently. If not, then click the Startup Settings button, then click Safe Mode. Once this mode has loaded, you can try running a virus check or uninstalling recently installed programs or drivers.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">It could also be a loose data cable on the storage device that contains your Windows installation, making it invisible to your PC. You'll want to shut down your rig, open the side panel, and do a spot check.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">It's also possible that the drive Windows is installed on is dead. Storage devices usually do not give much warning of imminent failure. At most, you'll hear some crunchy sounds or clicking before they give up the ghost. If you install the drive in another computer and you still can't "see" it, it's probably a goner.</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">Sleep</h3> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Even PCs can get insomnia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> When PC Goes to Sleep, I Can’t Wake It Back Up</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> Systems that don’t wake up after going to sleep usually have a device connected or an internal component that misbehaves when the machine enters the sleep state. If you’re lucky, the device is throwing an error before the system hangs and you can ascertain the culprit by checking out Event Viewer (click your Start button, type event viewer in the search field, and hit Enter. Then check the system log for critical errors). If your system isn’t providing any clues, though, run Windows Update to ensure the OS is fully patched and also try updating your device drivers, especially for components like graphics cards, chipsets, and storage controllers.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">It’s also possible that a device connected via USB is the root cause of the problem, so try disconnecting any nonessential devices until you figure out which one’s at fault.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> Waking PC Causes Crash</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> A vital component or driver that doesn’t reinitialize properly when the system is coming out of the sleep state is most likely the cause of the crash. More often than not, driver and/or firmware updates can resolve issues like this one. A flaky piece of hardware, like a bad stick of RAM, can also be the root cause, but software issues are much more likely, especially if the system is stable and behaves normally otherwise. Add-in storage controllers and older graphics cards are commonly the cause of sleep-related instability, so make sure you’re using the latest drivers and firmware for both. Installing the latest BIOS on your motherboard and using the latest drivers for your chipset are also recommended.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/powercfg_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/powercfg_small.jpg" width="400" height="283" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem: </strong>PC Crashes When It Goes to Sleep</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> A few things can cause a system to constantly wake from sleep. One of the more common problems is a pesky&nbsp; malware infestation that triggers some sort of scheduled task, so run a scan on your system to be sure it’s not infected.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">A component in the system can also be the culprit. To find out exactly what caused your system to wake up, open a command prompt with elevated privileges (type cmd in the Start search, right-click and Run as Administrator); at the prompt type: powercfg /lastwake and the utility will list the device or service that last woke the PC. If it turns out it was a nonessential service, you can simply disable it. If a system component was the cause, open Device Manager, find the component, right-click it, and choose Properties from the menu. In the window that pops up, click the Power Management tab and uncheck the field labeled “Allow this device to wake the computer.”&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Problem:</strong> PC Won’t Go to Sleep</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Solution:</strong> If your PC won’t go to sleep, check that you’ve got it configured to go to sleep in the first place. Click your Start button, type power options in the search field, and hit Enter. Then click the “Change plan settings” link for the plan you have selected and make sure there is a value in the “Put the computer to sleep” field.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">If you’re certain the system is configured properly for sleep, but it still won’t power down, open a command prompt with elevated privileges and at the prompt type powercfg /requests and hit Enter to see a list of items that are preventing the system from going to sleep. Once you’ve found the culprit, disable it (if it’s nonessential) or change its Power Management settings (see above) and your PC should go to sleep.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em>Click the next page for the 10 Commandments of Troubleshooting.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3 style="text-align: left;">The 10 Commandments of Troubleshooting</h3> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Important life lessons for dealing with a broken PC </strong></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">1. Pause Your Overclock</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">Overclocking is indeed a wonderful way to get free performance, but when you are troubleshooting a mysterious issue, put a pause on your extracurricular clock-pushing.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/1.overclock_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/1.overclock_small.jpg" width="620" height="465" /></a></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">2. Do Not Use Microsoft as a Boogey Man</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">It’s easy to point fingers at Microsoft for everything from the JFK assassination to, well, the Modern UI, but usually OS problems can be traced to buggy applications and drivers rather than the OS itself. Don’t get us wrong, there are still many, many bugs in Windows’ probably more than 50 million lines of code, but blaming Microsoft while throwing your hands in the air with defeat, rather than really investigating the problem, is a cop-out.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">3. Unplug It</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">It’s common to begin working on your system with the PSU still plugged in or switched on. People forget that when the PSU is hot, power is still running through the RAM and PCIe slots. It’s very little power but there’s still a small risk of damaging components when removing parts from the motherboard, so switch off your PSU before you tinker.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">4. Blame the Builder</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">Wires don’t unplug themselves and RAM doesn’t back out of a slot. In such cases, it’s usually a sign that the original system builder made a boo-boo. If you’re a DIYer, like us, you know who gets to eat the turd sandwich.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">5. Always be Grounded</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">Granted, donning a grounding strap or ESD smock just to pull out a stick of RAM is a tad overkill, but you should at least touch a large metal object such as file cabinet to discharge any built-up static before touching any sensitive electronics.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">6. At the First Hint of Trouble, Back Up</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">When your drive makes one mysterious click or when even a single NAS fan fails, do a complete backup rather than waiting and potentially feeling remorse that you didn’t act sooner.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">7. When in Doubt, Reboot</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">Rebooting will fix more things than you can imagine, especially for those folks who put their PC to sleep rather than shutting down.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">8. Retrace Your Steps</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">If something just broke, it’s usually the last thing that you did. So, if you installed a new AV program, a new stick of RAM, or mucked with the registry to improve performance, put the truck in reverse and beep your way back.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">9. Choose the Right Time for Maintenance</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">Your term paper is due tomorrow morning, so it probably isn’t a good time to flash your BIOS and firmware and resize your disk partitions. Rather than turn a standard repair job into a critical emergency, choose the right time for maintenance.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/2.update_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/2.update_small.jpg" width="620" height="459" /></a></p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">10. Most Hardware Problems Can’t be Fixed</h4> <p style="text-align: left;">The sad thing about integrated circuits is that 80 percent of hardware issues can’t be fixed by you. Sure, you can replace a burst capacitor or bend back a socket pin, but a fried CPU, bad stick of RAM, or disabled SSD can’t be fixed no matter how many hours you burn on it. Sometimes, it’s better to just know when to fold ’em.</p> July 2013 2013 blue screen bug cpu fix How to Repair Your Computer Internet issue maximum pc problem ram Slow usb Windows Features How-Tos Tue, 19 Nov 2013 23:22:12 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff and Marco Chiappetta 26405 at Best Windows 8 Apps <!--paging_filter--><h3>Helping you make the most of Windows 8.1</h3> <p><a title="windows 8.1 review" href="" target="_blank">Windows 8.1</a> is here and no, <a title="microsoft" href="" target="_blank">Microsoft</a> has not removed the modern UI. So to make the best of the situation, we decided to update our <strong>best Windows 8 apps</strong> story by adding over 20 new app recommendations! We've got game suggestions, picks for best RSS reader, and more.</p> <p>Do you use the modern UI? If so, let us know your favorite Windows 8 apps in the comments below!</p> best hulu plus metro NetFlix OS programs skydrive Skype smartglass Software Windows Windows windows 8 apps windows store xbox Features Web Exclusive Fri, 15 Nov 2013 21:34:41 +0000 Justin Kerr &amp; Tim Ferrill 24436 at