Whether you are preparing to reuse a hard disk for another operating system, clear off your junk shelves by passing along outdated drives to a friend or relative, donate an old PC to a charity or school, discard a too-small USB drive or flash memory card, or repurpose an SSD, you don’t want to leave any information on the storage device. With stories abounding of identity theft aided by information lifted from discarded storage devices, you want devices you no longer plan to use to have no usable information when they head out the door.
When you erase/delete a file from your computer, it’s not really gone until the areas of the disk it used are overwritten by new information. If you use the normal Windows delete function, the “deleted” file is sent to the Recycle Bin until the space it uses is required by other files. If you use Shift-Delete to bypass the Recycle Bin, the space occupied by the file is marked as available for other files. However, the file could be recovered days or even weeks later with third-party data recovery software. As long as the operating system does not reuse the space occupied by a file with another file, the “deleted” file can be recovered.
In this article, we'll show you how to erase your drives the right way, leaving no trace behind.
Google Maps is great—it’s got tons of convenient, frequently updated information about pretty much everywhere in the world. There’s just one problem: It’s stuck on the internet. Or at least it was, because now, with Google Map Buddy, you can print Google Maps out at any size, whether you want to put together your own old-fashioned roadmap or make a giant geographical mural for you wall.
In addition, you can use Google Map Buddy to create large, continuous digital images from Google Maps, which make excellent desktop wallpapers. We'll show you how to do both in our Google Map Buddy how-to.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you know that 3D is this year’s entertainment buzzword. With 3D blockbusters like Avatar scoring megabucks in the theaters, 3D cinema’s jump to the living room is all but a foregone conclusion. But where does that leave all your old 2D files and DVDs?
Thanks to a couple of very cool programs and some clever scripting, there’s hope for them yet. In this article, we’re going to show you how to use AviSynth and VirtualDub, along with a script from the 3D Vision Blog to give any 2D film the 3D treatment.
Trying to fix a badly infected PC without HijackThis is sort of like going into surgery without a scalpel; it’s the only tool for the job when all other measures fail. New spyware strains and increasingly complex viruses emerge every day, and your PC’s immune system (i.e, antivirus software) isn’t always able to keep up. And if you’re performing emergency surgery on someone else’s PC, you may find that they didn’t have any AV software installed to begin with.
No matter how bad the infection, HijackThis gives you the means to dig deep into Windows to root out whatever it is that’s wreaking havoc. It’s not a cure-all, however, or even a cure-little. In fact, HijackThis doesn’t cure anything on its own. What HijackThis does do is give you a snapshot of the system’s registry and file settings, putting particular emphasis on the browser. It doesn’t discern between safe and malicious settings, so it’s possible to unintentionally inflict real harm if you don’t know what you’re doing. Follow along as we show you how to properly wield HijackThis.
The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) introduced a bunch of new SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0) peripherals with more to come. With USB 3.0 promising performance as much as ten times faster than USB 2.0, you'll want to add USB 3.0's digital goodness to your system as soon as you can. So, what do you need to know to make it work? Whether you have a desktop or mobile PC, we survey your options and help you zero in on your best choices.
Building a PC is a many-step process, but one in particular stands out as being intimidating to first-timers: properly mounting a CPU and cooler. Why? Because, generally speaking, that one little cpu chip is simultaneously the smallest, most delicate, and most expensive part of your system. Mount the cooler wrong, or improperly apply the thermal paste and you’re looking at (at best) a drop in performance and system crashes, or (at worst) a $200 disaster.
But don’t worry! It’s actually not terribly hard to install a new CPU, as long as you know what you’re doing. And so that you do know what you’re doing, we’ve put together a quick primer on installing a new CPU. If you’re a newbie getting ready to build a new system, or an old pro looking to make sure your technique is the best, read on to find out everything you need to know about properly mounting a CPU.
From Google Desktop to the Windows Sidebar introduced in Vista, there have been several attempts to integrate our online life onto our desktop. But none of them come close to Rainmeter, a totally customizable platform for decking out your desktop with a variety of useful applets that can stand prominently in the foreground or blend into the background.
There's a lot you can do with Rainmeter thanks to a diverse collection of available 'skins' (think of them as widgets), all of which can be individually tailored in look and function. There are skins for keeping tabs on system resources, displaying RSS feeds, sending and receiving Twitter messages, and even recording notes.
Rainmeter isn't at all difficult to use, but there is an initial learning curve as you come to understand just how powerful this unassuming app really is. On the following pages, we'll guide you through the setup process and show you the ins and outs of using Rainmeter. We'll also highlight the 12 best skins out of the hundreds that are available to give you a head start on decking out your desktop like never before.
Think about all the time you spend in front on your PC. Are you being efficient? Here’s a better question: Are you being as efficient as you can be? The simple answer is ‘No.’ Every time you lift your fingers off your keyboard to navigate Windows, you’re wasting time. Sure, it only takes a few seconds to drag your mouse cursor over to the Firefox icon or to navigate the Start menu to open up the Control Panel, and while none of that sounds like a big deal, it all adds up over time, be it a week, a month, or a year. The reason Microsoft includes so many shortcuts in Windows is so you can streamline these little time wasters, but these preset hotkeys will only take you so far.
That’s where AutoHotkey comes in, a lightweight but powerful app that allows you to create keyboard shortcuts for any Windows program. Here are a few tricks to get you started.
Remember browsing the Web before mouse gestures? Neither do we. It’s not because we can’t recall that far back, we’ve just chosen to block out any recollection of wading through cyberspace using only the navigation toolbar. How primitive!
Mouse gestures have become such a popular part of day-to-day Web surfing that it was only a matter of time before someone ported the functionality over to the Windows OS. Enter SrokeIt, a free, open-source utility that brings the magic of mouse gestures to any system running Windows 95 or later.
In many respects, it’s more difficult to build a great cheap PC than it is to build a more expensive one. In fact, the less money you have to spend, the more vital it is that every dollar delivers measurable value. With that in mind, we sat down with one simple goal: to build the best inexpensive, multipurpose PC that we would want to use ourselves. We didn’t start with any particular budget, but at every turn we shaved as much from the cost as we could—trimming the fancy case, ditching an unnecessary 800W PSU, and scuttling the spendy Core i5 CPU.
The result is an incredibly lean, but still powerful machine featuring a quad-core CPU, a GPU capable of playing anything on a 22-inch panel, and… well, you’ll have to hit the jump to see the rest. Rest assured, though, this is a machine that would be welcome in any of our homes, whether we’re playing games, editing video, touching up photos, ripping movies, or simply surfing the Internet. Oh yeah, we’ll also show you how to assemble the components like a pro, one easy-to-follow step at a time.
And just to keep the whole thing good and honest, we stopped by our local Best Buy and bought the best comparably priced system they had, which we pitted against our ultra-budget machine in a steel-cage match to the death. Want to see who wins? Read on to find out.