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Automate Repetitive Windows Tasks with These Free Tools

If you perform the same tedious task over and over again, you know there are many benefits in finding a tool that could do that job for you. Rather than spending all day performing these tasks over, such as typing in the exact same text or searching hundreds of folders to locate only one file, consider the following free tools to automate repetitive Windows tasks and reap their benefits:

grepWin

It can take hours to find a specific document or file containing an exact word or phrase when you have to search through hundreds of folders. In addition to delaying your work, your overall performance can be impacted by this process. grepWin allows users to search an entire directory by using a phrase or just a single word.

grepWin was inspired and created by Unix Systems and is a GUI tool. Must have Windows Vista or later for this tool to work.

Download grepWin here

Phrase Express

Much production time is wasted when typing up reports, responding to emails, filling out forms, filling in aspects of applications, or programming when certain sentences or phrases are used repetitively. With PhraseExpress, simply designate special keys to press for the whatever full sentence or phrase to appear as you configured it.

The professional version of PhaseExpress is available for the first 30-days of use before converting to the freeware version. The professional version and freeware version are identical. What constitutes professional use is stated on their site.

Download PhaseExpress here.

Bulk Rename Utility

Have you acquired many years’ worth of financial statements and digital receipts for numerous institutions and services? If so, you know how chaotic that can be. Getting all of this organized is not even the worst part, renaming all of these files that make getting organized is the worst part. With Bulk Rename Utility you can easily rename both file and folders quickly.

This free-for-personal-use tool uses flexible filters and rules, allowing users to increase and/or replace numbers, recursively handle endless subfolders, insert timestamps and/or text, and much more. These incredible features include using ID3 tags for renaming music files and using EXIF data for renaming photos. Prior to executing, there is a preview pane that allows users to know what they are going to receive.

Download Bulk Rename Utility here.

Do It Again for Windows

Do you ever have to repeat the same exact mouse clicks or keystrokes many times over? With Do It Again, you can easily complete this. After opening the app, select Create New Task to begin recording a new task; which is a sequence of mouse clicks, or keystrokes, or both. Press Scroll Lock once finished and give the task a name. Although this app was designed for Windows XP, it continues to work for Windows 10. For best results, run this app as Administrator.

Download Do It Again here.

Best Apps for Your Windows 10 Personal Computer

If you just purchased a new Windows 10 personal computer or have had your PC for some time, all the awesome apps you need can be found at the Windows Store. Here are the best apps for your Windows 10 personal computer:

Awesome Tube

Windows 10 may not have an official YouTube app, but there is still a way for you to enjoy all your beloved videos in an app. Browse popular videos or save them for late with Awesome Tube. This standalone app also features picture-in-picture that allows you to continue to watch the currently playing video in a small frame while you search for additional videos.

Upload your own creations as well straight through the apps. Awesome Tube is Free for your personal computer.

Readit

Many people utilize Reddit to meet new friends who share the same interests, to receive their daily news, or just to get some laughs. Readit is an app featuring an almost flawless UI. The left side of the Readit frame is where posts are listed, and the right side is where the posts you want to read are displayed, including comments. Search and post in subreddits easily with the pop-out sidebar.

Readit is Free

Instagram

For uses of Instagram on their smartphone, you will instantly be familiar with the Windows 10 Instagram app. Browse your feed by scrolling or swiping, search for new contributors, see the many likes you have received, and manage your profile.

Instagram is Free

Microsoft To-Do

Microsoft To-Do provides users with a simple interface to easily organize everything. Add and name your own personal lists, and keep everything sorted based on date, name, and completion. With the apps My Day feature, you can focus on specific important tasks, resetting at the beginning of each new day. Microsoft To-Do suggests tasks that are recognized as being regularly completed as well.

Furthermore, users have the ability to sync Outlook with Microsoft To-Do, allowing them more control when multi-tasking. This app also syncs with your phone to let you stay organized when on the go. Also included, reminder notifications, due dates, and notes.

Microsoft To-Do is Free

Netflix for Your Personal Computer

Netflix has something for everyone. In addition to the hit movies and TV shows included on Netflix, users will fall in love with the many incredible original series available. No need to open your web browser with this intuitive Windows 10 app.

Netflix app is free to download with plans starting out as low as $7.99.

Visit Windows Store to search and download these best apps for your Windows 10 personal computer.

Use the Cloud to Backup Your Computer

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Ensure your data is protected by backing up the data today! Likely you’ve heard some of the many horror stories surrounding the loss of important data, such as work documents or a school thesis paper. With the numerous options available, backing up your data is no longer a complex task. One effective way we recommend is using a cloud storage service to backup your computer.

Files to Backup on the Cloud

It is not necessary to backup every app, folder, file, etc., only personal data files need to be backed up. Personal data files include photos, documents, music, videos, presentations, and spreadsheets. Any file personally created or obtained by you and wish to keep.

System files do not need to be backed up when using the cloud. Two features built-in Windows is Factory Reset and System Restore where recovering from errors and system files backup takes place.

Apps should not be included in your backup and can be quite large. If possible, make a backup of only the configuration files. In most cases, simply replace the configuration files when/if you reinstall an app. Keep in mind, however, configuration files are not located in the same place for all apps.

Google Drive to Backup Your Computer

Backup and Sync introduced by Google allows users to choose which folders to backup to Google Drive. Thanks to this flexibility, Google is one of the more popular options for the cloud data backup service.

Google allows a substantial amount of 15 GB of storage with their free plan, $2 monthly for 100 GB, $10 monthly for 1 TB, or $100 monthly for 10 TB.

To use Google Drive to backup files, simply install and launch their Backup and Sync utility. Next, pick which folders you wish to keep backed up. Choose as many as you wish by using Choose Folder. Select the folders you also wish to sync with your computer.

Dropbox or OneDrive to Backup Your Computer

Dropbox was not specifically designed for storing data backup but can be used as well. A special “Dropbox” folder is created and only files contained in this folder are synced to Dropbox servers. To back up any file located outside this special folder, it must be copied by hand. 2 GB of space is available with their basic plan. However, to have enough space, you’ll want to purchase the Plus plan with 1 TB for $9.99 monthly.

Download and install Dropbox if you don’t already have it. After creating and signing in with your Dropbox account, make your way to %UserProfile%/Dropbox to locate your folder. Add any folder or file to your Dropbox cloud and syncing will automatically begin. To access files, go to Dropbox website.

OneDrive is similar to Dropbox. However, 5 GB is available with their free plan, $2 monthly for 50 GB, or with an Office 365 Personal Plan you receive 1 TB for $7 monthly.

Install OneDrive if you don’t have it yet and sign in to your Microsoft account. Make your way to %UserProfile%/OneDrive to access your OneDrive folder. As with Dropbox, OneDrive automatically begins syncing when files are added.

There are many backup ways but it is important that you backup for the health, life and benefit of you and your computer.

The Greatest Checklist to Clean Your Windows Personal Computer

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Our Windows personal computers tend to slow down over the course of time. The biggest culprit for this is inadequate OS maintenance. However, by taking some time cleaning up Microsoft Windows, noteworthy results can be noticed.

Unused Software Deletion

To begin cleaning up your Windows personal computer, remove software no longer used. To accomplish this, head to Start>Settings>Apps>Apps and features. Anything you no longer need, click Uninstall. Be careful not to remove anything you are unsure of.

Antivirus Scan

A common culprit for a slow machine is viruses. Locate an option called or similar to Deep Scan or Full Scan on your antivirus. This option is more thorough and takes longer than the common scan.

Disk Cleanup

Next on the list is to run Disk Cleanup, a tool that has been a part of this OS for numerous years. Start by heading to Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Disk Cleanup. You can also reach it by entering Disk Cleanup in the Start Menu.

Once open, select Clean up system files to ensure a more thorough scan is ran. Normally, you would select OK after selecting each box next to the result type. However, it is important to note that while using Clean up system files, if you select the box next to Previous Windows Installation, you will no longer be able to roll back to Microsoft’s Windows previous version.

Hard Drive Defragment

The OS controls disk defragmentation in Windows 10 when it senses it is needed. But, to ensure a proper cleanup of your personal computer, it is best to run it manually. With a Windows personal computer, it can easily be defragged. 

Head to Control Panel>Administrative Tools to locate Defragment and Optimize Drives. Highlight the primary hard drive then select Optimize.

Old Program Files Removal

Small amounts of old app files can be found in folders of Program Files. These can be found at C:\Program Files as well as C:\Program Files (x86).

While carefully going down the list, remove any files and folders not used anymore on your personal computer.

Registry

Most people have heard terrifying stories in regard to registry cleaners, regardless how popular some are. However, maintaining a clean registry is important. If deciding on cleaning the registry yourself rather than using a third-party software, perform a search for regedit followed by hitting Enter. Head to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE as well as Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software. Locate and remove entries for software no longer in use on your computer. Be sure to read the warning below before removing any entries.

Warning: Profound consequences for your Windows system can occur by removing the wrong registry entry. Prior to proceeding, it is vital for you to create a complete backup of your registry data.

You are sure to see a significant increase in speed after completing this list and making sure you know the best Windows tips out there! Your Windows personal computer will thank you.

Managing Window 10 Hard Drive Partitions Without Third-Party Software

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There are numerous third-party software managers for Microsoft Windows partitions, but the with Windows included Disk Management wizard, none others are needed. You can create, resize, format, and delete partitions and volumes, including changing drive letters.

Disk Management Tool Access

Quickly access the Disk Management wizard by selecting Start and entering “partition”. In option list, select “Create and format hard disk partitions”.

The window pane for Disk Management is in two parts. A list of your computers volumes is shown in the top, while a graphical picture of the disks and volumes are shown on the bottom.

Resizing a Volume

In some cases, you may find it necessary for a volume to be resized. Perhaps, you have one large volume that you’ve decided to divide into two.

Shrink

In either window pane, right-click and choose Shrink Volume. Enough space much is available to shrink a volume. For example, the single volume containing 1 TB with nothing stored upon it, can be shrunk by almost the entire 1 TB.

So, enter the amount you want to be shrunk in the only option available. The current volumes new size after shrinking is also shown in the window. The new volume is now shown on the left side, with the amount of freed unallocated space shown on the right side.

Extend

A computer’s volume may only be extended if it contains unallocated space located to the right.

To open the Extend Volume Wizard, right-click the current volume and select Extend Volume. Then choose Next. The appropriate disk will already be displayed in the Select Disks and the volume size as well as maximum available space. After you choose to Select the amount of space in MB hit Next > Finish.

Creating a New Volume

Free space may be used to create an additional volume if you have unallocated space located on a disk. Begin by right-clicking on the pane with the unallocated space then hit New Simple Volume to open the New Simple Volume Wizard and hit Next. After specifying the volume size, you wish to create, hit Next. Accept the default drive letter in the box, or assign one and hit Next. Prior to using the volume, the partition must be formatted. You can choose to do this right away by choosing a file system and assigning a volume letter followed by Next > Finish.

Delete

It may be necessary at times to delete an existing volume. This space will then return to the unallocated pool. Keep in mind, all data in the volume is deleted when the volume is deleted. This frees up more space.

In either pane of the Disk Management tool window, right-click and hit Delete Volume. A warning window pops up where you must hit Yes to continue.

Managing Windows 10 partitions and volumes are simple with the Disk Management tool.

Setting Up Bluetooth on Your Windows 10 Personal Computer

Bluetooth technology allows users to connect devices wirelessly to a Windows 10 computer. Without the use of USB ports, devices such as keyboard and mouse can be added. Many smartphones can be connected wirelessly through Bluetooth for the use of the computers internet access. Bluetooth technology lets users remove much of the clutter from their desktop by connecting.

Set-up Bluetooth to Computer, Tablet, or Laptop with These Steps:

1. Be sure the Bluetooth device is powered on and ready to pair

The majority of Bluetooth devices are equipped with an ON/OFF switch. However, it is slightly more difficult to tell the Bluetooth device to begin pairing. In some cases, flipping a switch is all that is needs to be done. While others require the user to hold a button down until a light begins to flash.

The Bluetooth device is ready to be paired with another, such as the computer when you notice a flashing light.

2. Start>Settings>Devices

Select the Start button on the personal computer, choose Settings, and select the Devices app shown in the computer settings. A list of devices currently installed is shown on the Devices page.

3. From the left side of the Devices app page, select the Bluetooth option

The personal computer quickly starts to search for any Bluetooth devices located in the nearby vicinity that you want to be connected, otherwise known as paired.

If the device you want to be paired fails to appear, return to Step 1 to ensure the Bluetooth device has been powered on and is ready to be paired. Many devices power themselves off after thirty seconds of waiting to pair and may need to be ready again.

4. Select the name of the Bluetooth device when it appears beneath the Add a Device button

5. If necessary, enter the Bluetooth device’s code while also selecting the Pair button if requested

This is when setup may become slightly complex. Due to security reasons, you are required to prove that you are not a stranger attempting to hack and that you are, in fact, sitting in front of your personal computer. However, to prove your innocence, many Bluetooth devices use somewhat different strategies.

In some cases, users are required to enter a passcode into both the personal computer and the Bluetooth device. Usually, the passcode is located in the devices user’s manual. The passcode must be entered quickly to ensure the other device is still waiting.

Some devices, such as Bluetooth mice, require a small push button located on the underside to be held in during this step. Sometimes, cell phones require users to select a Pair button when identical passcodes appear on both the cellphone and computer.

When unsure, type 0000 and hit enter on the keyboard for a universal passcode.

The name and icon appear in the Setting app once a Bluetooth device is successfully paired.

Make sure to check out some more useful Windows 10 tips to make your PC continue to run strong while giving you even more productivity.

Top-Gaming Laptops for the Year

The old days when only a desktop computer was sufficient enough for PC gaming is long forgotten. For years, personal computers have been the ideal place to game. Gaming laptops offer a number great options for both the casual and mobile gamer. The following list of the top-gaming notebooks can help you find which suits all your needs.

Alienware 17 – From $1299

Alienware 17 bundles a huge 17-inch screen, a sexy astronomical chassis, and a brutal gaming performance into a robust package that is perfect for any gamer in virtual reality. To ensure you get the best gaming experience, configure it with the Nvidia G-Sync 2560 x 1440 display as well as a PCIe SSD. You will still be able to game in VR or at high setting if you choose GeForce GTX 1070 or 1080 GPU.

OS – Windows 10 Home

CPU – 2.9-GHz Intel Core i7-7820HK CPU

Hard Drive Size – 1 TB

RAM – 16 GB

RAM Ungradable to – 32 GB

Display Size – 17.3

Highest Resolution – 2560 x 1440

HP Omen 17 – From $1899

HP Omen 17 is the latest entry of HP’s Omen laptops and offers a 17-inch gaming machine with an extreme and welcomed redesign. Omen 17 exhibits a daring fresh look that is sure to please. HP has combined the GeForce Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU, a ridiculously fast SSD, as well as the tough Intel Core i7 processor. The end result is a gaming laptop capable of supplying an extraordinary performance whether you are gaming or just browsing the web.

OS – Windows 10 Home

CPU – 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor

Hard Drive Size – 2 TB 5400 rpm SATA

RAM – 32GB

Display Size – 17.3

Highest Resolution – 3840 x 2160

Razor Blade (2017) – From $1899

The Razor Blade (beginning price at $1899) just received more power. This gaming laptop made the leap to Kaby Lake, the 7th-generation of Intel’s line of processors. This power-up promises greater performance as well as power efficiency. Combine Kaby Lake with Nvidia Pascal VR-ready GPU; stunning display, gorgeous keyboard and a chassis that is sleek and lightweight; and the end result would be one of the thinnest, powerful gaming laptops on the market. Whether using the Razor Blade to game or work, you will be ready to take on the best.

OS – Windows 10 Home

CPU – 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ

Hard Drive Type – PCIe SSD

Hard Drive Size – 256 GB

RAM – 16 GB

Display Size – 14

Highest Resolution – 3840 x 2160

Gaming Laptops for All Your Needs

Depending on your needs and your budget, you can end up with a gaming powerhouse ready to take care of all your gaming needs. Of course, here at IQ Computer Services, we can always build a brand new gaming computer or laptop with the specifications you’d like it to have. Speak with us today to learn even more! 

Common Features with Linux and Windows

Windows and Linux have many common features allowing both operating systems to effective and complete. The following are some of the biggest similarities shared between the two:

Alt + Tab Keys

Microsoft introduced Alt + Tab key feature back with Windows 1.0 in their year 1985. Back then, this feature was called “CoolSwitch” however it was later changed in Windows 95 to “Task Switcher” and for Windows Vista “Windows Flip”. Thanks to the usefulness of this feature, Linux later incorporated a version of their own into their operating system.

Users Account

For both productivity and organization, both give great control with user accounts. Users can create a different account for work, home, play, and also one for administration to make managing their accounts simple. This is a great feature for both operating systems.

Task View

It tends to be always said that one operating system steals features from another. Linux took Alt + Tab from Windows, but Task View began with them first.

Linux users were given awesome features for window management in 2006 with Compiz. This included the ability to spread any open windows across the screen and switching between them easily with just a click. Something similar was introduced in Windows 10 with the Task View feature. Users can get a quick look using shortcut Windows key + Tab. This feature is indispensable for users with several active apps. 

Cross-Platform

Software availability is one of the larger differences between Linux and Windows. Many commercial games and business apps run on the Windows operating system only. Also, there are many exclusive apps for Linux. However, this exclusiveness no longer matters for many users with cross-platform software.

For the rare instances when an app is found that is available on one platform, an alternative is easily found.

Desktop OS and Server OS

Many people think of Windows as a desktop OS while Linux is more for servers. In fact, these OS can be used for both purposes.

Since the year 2003 Windows Server has been used and has upgrades approximately every 4 years. Windows Server 2016 is Microsoft latest version. Several businesses use this version of Windows Server with great stability.

Additionally, many people use Linux for only writing papers or email and not as a server.

Vulnerabilities with Security with Linux

First and foremost, security with Windows is better than what many believe. Also, many people assume Linux is more secure than what it actually is.

Yes, Linux is safer than Microsoft Windows. Additionally, the amount of malware Windows computers receive has reduced in recent years.

With effective antivirus software, both these operating systems share the same amount of security issues.

Whether you use one or another, you are sure to find needed features.

Is RAM Capacity or RAM Speed Most Important

Rather than investing in a new PC, we always strive for our customers to upgrade their existing PC. Not only do you save money, the amount of e-waste is reduced. So, having some knowledge of computers is needed when you want to save money. RAM is one item we recommend upgrading instead of throwing money away on a new PC.

After having your PC inspected, RAM seems to be the culprit for its sluggishness. But, now what? Does RAM capacity or RAM speed need to be increased?

Reason Computers Need RAM

RAM can be thought of as short-term memory used to store files your processor needs often and quickly. Your PC responds instantly when this space is utilized, instead of many seconds. The few seconds saved makes a computer feel more powered rather than old and worn down.

More RAM is typically needed when your PC struggles opening programs you need. This is due to tasks being unloaded by your PC from fast RAM onto your computer’s hard drive. The hard drive may have lots of storage, however, it has slower speeds.

Capacity for RAM is measured in megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes. RAM size increase decreases the chance of your PC hard drive being used to store these temporary files. However, once enough RAM is installed in the PC to fit your needs, more RAM added would not be beneficial for speed improvement. In this case, faster RAM than what is already installed may be what’s needed to improve speed. This is true even with the same amount of RAM installed.

RAM Speed Metrics

Latency and frequency are metrics used to figure RAM speed.

Megahertz or MHz is how frequency is measured. The bigger the number the better. However, the lower number is better for latency; which is a sequence of numbers, such as 4-4-4-12.

After meeting your needs with RAM capacity, it might be more beneficial to lower the latency and increase frequency rather than adding more RAM.

Which is more important: speed or capacity?

RAM capacity is only beneficial to a certain point. Once there, a demising return is experienced. In general, unless you’re a gamer or demanding user, more than 8GB is not necessary. However, if you’re a gamer or demanding user, having a larger capacity of RAM, no more than 16GB might be needed. Although, this is not always the case. Less latency and more frequency may be needed to make a noticeable difference in your PC.

When it comes down to it, there is no “one answer fits all”. Talking to a computer specialist would be best. Also, keep in mind your PC motherboard has limitations with speed and capacity of RAM.

How Much RAM is Really Needed for Your Gaming Computers

Not long ago, 4GB of RAM worked great for most daily tasks and gaming. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

Having too little RAM on a gaming computer, such as 4GB, can cause many of the games you wish to play now, not to run or not run well. For example, 8GB RAM is a required minimum listed for Andromeda. This amount of RAM is needed for most games played today. Even when a minimum requirement of only 4-6GB of RAM is stated, it is recommended to use 8GB to ensure smooth play due to background programs running.

With that said, it is easy to come by 8GB RAM. Much of the pre-built computers ship with an amount of 8GB RAM or more. Furthermore, building your own system, kits for 8GB are affordable.

Higher Amounts of RAM

Is 16GB RAM useful on your gaming computer? What about 32GB? Or, would it be a waste of money? How much is too much?

A robust gaming system should have 16GB RAM installed for it to be considered at a sweet spot. This amount should be plenty to multitask and run all of the today’s games smoothly. If you enjoy or use live streaming often, 16GB should be enough for this also. Streaming and running a game on one of your monitors, while playing music, chatting with others, and anything else you want to do on another monitor, is a list of tasks that would definitely benefit from some headroom with extra RAM.

What about 32GB for Gaming Computers?

However, what about going even higher with the amount of RAM? Is it too much to install 32GB? Overall, this answer would be yes. One reason only, is why 32GB would be needed for an average user, and that would be for future game readiness. That’s it!

When it comes to gaming specs only, 16GB RAM is more than enough, with many games able to run fine with just 8GB. Framerates basically showed no difference in gaming performance tests performed by TechSpot, when comparing 8GB and 16GB. Tests ran had the games running as well as 65 open tabs on Chrome and basically had identical framerates.

Generally speaking, your computing can be made more enjoyable with more RAM, and 32GB is not advised against. However, much of this RAM would be wasted when you want an improved framerate. Upgrading your graphics card makes a greater difference than upgrading from 8GB RAM to 32GB.

Of course, one answer is not enough for everyone. But, unless you are running many virtual machines at the same time as gaming with graphical settings high, going beyond 16GB is unnecessary. Happy Gaming!

For future reference, make sure to know what to expect when it comes to recognizing the signs of failing RAM in your system.