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Category Archives: Personal Computer Answers

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.

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.

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.

The Top Apps for Mac OS X

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Are you new to the Mac world and are looking for the best way to make the most out of it? We have compiled a list of the most useful and essential apps for Mac to help you along the way!

Bartender 2

For Mac users that utilize many apps, Bartender 2 allows you to stay organized. This amazing app lets you organize different aspects of your Macs interface by letting users choose which apps show as well as the way they are arranged in the menu bar. Bartender 2 is available for $15.

Alfred

By far, Alfred is the favorite for Mac application launchers. In addition to launching applications, Alfred is useful for many more things as well. Such as web searches executions, performing calculations, locating word definitions, and much more. Alfred app is available for free.

Google Chrome

The best web browser for Mac is Google Chrome. It is faster, has loads of extensions and plug-ins available, functional, and can sync everything among multiple devices. This includes bookmarks, recent searches, and open tabs. With the ability of instant search and customization, Chrome is the more favorable web browser compared to Safari or Firefox. Google Chrome is available for free.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a favorite among Mac users. This great little app allows helps keep your computer awake by stopping it from going into sleep mode, auto-dim, or starting your screensaver. Caffeine is great when you will not be touching the mouse or keyboard for a long period, such as when reading long web pages or documents. Caffeine is available for free.

Evernote

Evernote is the best app for taking notes. This app is a great way to remain organized and is simple to use. Evernote syncs with almost all Web services and has many add-ons and browser extensions available. Evernote is available for free with upgrade options.

The Unarchiver

The Unarchiver is ideal for users that download all types of archived files. This great utility can open most but not all file formats including RAR (including v5), Zip, 7-zip, Gzip, Tar, and Bzip2. It also has the capability of opening older file formats as well including DiskDoubler, ARJ. LZH, and ARC, StuffIt. The Unarchiver is available for free.

Pocket for OS X

Pocket is an excellent tool app that allows users to “pocket” or store videos, articles, as well as web pages to view later. This great app is also available to access the stored items while offline to let you view everywhere. With Pocket, you can easily share items you stored. Pocket is available for free.

Mac apps allow users to take control of their computer experience. These apps along with many others available simplify several aspects of your Mac. Learn when it is time to replace your current Mac for an upgraded version.

Intelligent Reasons Why External Drives Are Still Needed

External hard drive can provide additional storage solutions.

External hard drives can provide additional storage solutions.

Why Do You Still Need External Drives?

There has been an incredible increase of storage options available which are cloud-based. For subscribers of Office 365, they can store up to 1 TB with the use of Microsoft’s OneDrive. Google offers 100 GB of cloud-based storage for a time period of two years when you purchase Chromebook. This is just a few of the enormous list of options available for cloud-based storage which changes how you view an external drive.

You may be asking yourself; with these many options available to me, is there a reason why external drives are still needed? The answer to that question is definitely yes with external drives

Intelligent Reasons for Having One

Backup of Data

The first most obvious reason is data backup. As most computer users know the importance of backing up their data. They understand the possibility of accidents. Computers fall, drinks spill, motherboards burn out from power surges, the list of mishaps is endless.

Sure, you can use cloud storage for data backup, however, there are a few downfalls to this option. First, you must consider costs as well as data caps. Additionally, the time needed to efficiently backup your data is consuming. During the several hours used to upload your data, due to the drainage of bandwidth, your usage on the computer will be limited.

Additional Security with an External Drive

One of the most significant reasons why an external hard drive is still needed with today’s technology is security. There is always the possibility of someone stealing your password: additionally, the company servers of the cloud storage you chose could become a victim of hacking. In either situation, your private data is put at risk to be stolen and used by criminals.

Access Offline and Ability to Travel

Another intelligent reason to use an external hard drive is offline access as well as portability. The majority of external hard drives today are extremely small, approximately the size of your wallet. Due to this small size, they are ideal to bring along with you while away from home. This comes in handy when internet service is unavailable for an extended period of time.

Dependability

Almost all cloud-based servers have dealt with issues in the past where customers storage was unavailable for access. If this happens, how will you retrieve your data needed for work, school, or other important business? External drives do not pose this problem and are simple to use.

Cost-Effective

In most cases, the needed amount of storage space to backup data equals more than the amount in which cloud-based providers offer for free. This means you will incur monthly or yearly expenses to store your data. However, costs for external drives is much lower and do not require an ongoing fee.

If you still feel cloud-based storage is right for you, consider the use of an external hard drive for a second backup to ensure the safety of your delicate data. 

Is There Malware on Your Mac? Different Ways It May Have Got Infected

Malware can be harmful, if not prevented.

Malware can be harmful, if not prevented.

Is Your Mac Infected?

If you’re a Mac owner, you probably already know it is more difficult for a Mac to become infected with malware than a Microsoft Windows PC. However, as more people begin to use Mac’s, it has become more common than ever for your Mac to be infected with a virus. Third-party software is the most common way a Mac becomes infected.

Some common ways for your Mac to become compromised include the following:

Java Browser Extension Enabled

One way for your Mac to become infected is by installing Java as well as its browser extension. With this extension, you are able to run Java written software from within your browser. Keep in mind, this is not the same a JavaScript.

The good news is, you likely will no longer use websites which rely on Java browser plugin with today’s modern technology. Many browsers have already dropped the use of Java plugins. To disable the use in Apple’s Safari browser head to Preferences > Security > Plug-in Settings and uncheck the relevant boxes. In many cases, it is totally safe to uninstall Java and its browser extension.

Pirated Software Download

Downloading pirated software is one of the easiest ways for your Mac or Windows PC to become infected. Due to Apple’s OS being considered quite safe, the majority of individuals do not have a virus scanner on their Mac. However, whenever you install the software you open your Mac up to third-parties. And by downloading pirated software, you have no way to know if it has been tampered with. Stay safe by buying software from legitimate sources or use free alternatives.

Unpatched Flash

Adobe’s Flash browser plugin has been the cause of numerous security issues. The good news is with modern technology such as HTML5 which performs the same job as Flash, it has been becoming more obsolete.

Google Chrome has a Flash version which is sandboxed, allowing it to run in a without harming your PC by keeping it contained in a secure environment. However, if you are a Safari user, you can have the browser ask when running websites with Flash by going to Preferences > Security >Plug-in Settings.

Keep in mind, even the most updated version of Flash can pose a risk to your Mac. The best way to protect yourself is by disabling Flash in Safari. Go to Preferences > Security >Plug-in Settings and uncheck Flash.

Apple Security

The pattern of Mac infections shows the most common way to put your PC at risk is with third-party software. Apple has always been excellent with their security, but by using additional security software, you can add another layer of protection to your Mac.

2016 Best Security Suites

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Security Suites for 2016

The best one of the security suites is needed today when one of our major concerns are cyber threats. With an all-in-one security suite, you should find all the features needed to keep your PC secure. Some security suites offer more features than others, with some optional and not necessary.

Features Looked for in Best Security Suites

When looking at Security Suites, the first thing to look at is its antivirus protection. Without this, there is no security for your PC. Another feature to look for is the firewall protection. Some security suites assume Windows Firewall handles what you want with a firewall, skipping this component.

Some suites include spam filters. Which you want a filter that does the job properly and not sifts out an important email message you’ve been waiting for. With reviewing Security Suites, letting spam into an email inbox is better than tossing valid mail away.

Privacy protection is crucial, and when security suites turn users away from phishing sites, it can be helpful. However, some also provide protection for specific sensitive data, such as bank accounts. By entering in this information, and the alarm is sounded with some, while offer credit card protection. There are some with a secure browser for you to do online banking.

Bitdefender Internet Security 2016

This security suite comes out on top with a combination of the best antivirus, antispam, and antiphishing features along with many other integrated security items. With a password manager, parental control, secure browser, unobtrusive firewall, Bitdefender manages to keep your PC safe without bogging it down. For secure online financial transactions, be sure to use SafePay.

Kaspersky Internet Security (2017)

Kaspersky Internet Security (2017) is one of the best at keeping both your PC and devices safe. Software updates automatically, spam filter, phishing protection, no-fuss firewall, great parental control, and many bonus features.

Symantec Norton Security Premium

Protect up to 10 devices, 25GB of hosted online backup, along with the best parental control system with this security suite. Intelligent firewall, cross-platform, spam filter, password manager, top-scoring malicious URL blocking, antiphishing, system optimization tools, with an ability to run with no-hassle and high performance.

McAfee Internet Security (2016)

McAfee Internet Security (2016) is cross-platform protection ensuring every device in your household stays safe. This security suite is loaded with features and includes ones found in McAfee antivirus. Expect awesome spam filtering, award-winning True Key password protection with a multifactor authentication not to mess with, and parental controls.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2016)

This security suite is extremely powerful with unusual antivirus, system optimization, as well as 25GB hosted online backup, and your system resources will not be lagged down. Some features include Web Shield, USB Shield, and PUP Shield, antiphishing, anti-ransomware, along with the ability to erase online activity traces.

These are the best Security Suites available for 2016. These vary on features and cost but essentially offer the same amount of virus protection.

Guiding the Beginner about PC Backup

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PC Backup Is Important: Here is Our Guide

It is widely known, backing up our data is something we all must do. If not, unsaved data can be lost instantaneously. In today’s world, we feel much better when our data is saved.

Unfortunately, as important as this may be, many people still do not bother to take the few minutes to back up. This is true even after they lose a crucial documents, financial records, or an old childhood photo. Maybe this happens because the effort it takes, and how complex it was in past times. However, thanks to modern technology, new services, and hardware, backing up is easier than ever.

When backing up data, there is obvious, such as music, videos, pictures, and documents, drivers and then the not so obvious. There are many aspects of our data that is forgotten when backing up that needs consideration.

Web-Browsers

Backing up your web-browser is important because the favorites and bookmarks you saved while surfing. In addition, to make access easier you want the cookies, and how to your passwords. If your PC does fail, you want this data saved.

Firefox browser has a sync combined with encryption brought to you by Mozilla. In the upper-right hand corner, select the three-stack icon to set up your account. Follow this by setting up on all devices and PC’s enabled with Firefox.

Google Chrome can be backup up in a similar fashion as Firefox. Setting such as extensions, bookmarks, apps, and themes are able to be saved to your Google account.

Email

If you are using an email client software instead of a Web-based email system, your data is not being backed up by anyone other than you.

Outlook users need to watch out for their Personal Storage Table (PST) file for backup, which depending on what version of Windows and Outlook you have, can be located in different locations.

To locate you must open Outlook > File > Account Settings > Data Files. Next, hit on any entry then Open Folder Location. Also, in File Explorer for Windows 10, you want the ability to see Hidden Items. Do so by selecting View and inspecting the checkboxes.

Backing up your PST manually can also be done, however, this can be difficult due to its large size. There is an Import and Export option included with Outlook to help with this process, or use a third-party tool such as Safe PST Backup to make the process much simpler.

If you use another email client, such as Thunderbird, your email is located in several files, not just one. However, with their plug-in support, backing up these files are easier.

Save your PC back up to one of the several options to ensure its safety. These include external hard drives, disc, flash drive, the Cloud, or network attached storage (NAS).

Remember, backing up your data is important. Here are other ways you can back up the data, as well as why it is so important for you to do so.