Keep a close eye on your hard drive health with CrystalDiskInfo 3.0.3
October 23, 2009 – 10:02 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Keep a close eye on your hard drive health with CrystalDiskInfo 3.0.3

cdiWhen Windows or your applications keep crashing unexpectedly then it’s easy to assume this must be another software problem: bugs, dodgy drivers, a virus maybe. But an unreliable system could also be showing the first signs of hard drive failure, and if that’s the case then it’s important to realise the truth immediately, before the drive crashes completely and you lose everything.

Fortunately most hard drives support a system called S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology), which allows them to record internal details like their temperature, performance figures, drive read errors and more, and so warn you of an upcoming crash. Installing the free CrystalDiskInfo allows you to view this data whenever you like, giving an instant snapshot of your hard drive health.

Read More »

How to handle REGEDIT "Access Denied" messages
October 22, 2009 – 13:45 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on How to handle REGEDIT "Access Denied" messages

permissionsRegistry tweaks are an important way to customise your system, resolve problems and make Windows Vista work the way you’d like. But sometimes, when you try to change a Registry value, you’ll find REGEDIT displays an error message telling you “access denied”, or that you don’t have “permission”. So what’s going on?

The problem may be that you’re running REGEDIT from a standard, rather than Administrator account. Click Start, type REGEDIT, right-click the link to “regedit.exe” and select Run As Administrator to ensure you have the security rights you need. If that doesn’t help then you can try to take ownership of the key, assuming you know where to look – it’s not an easy option to find.

Read More »

How to get Windows 7's taskbar working just the way you'd like
October 21, 2009 – 10:21 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on How to get Windows 7's taskbar working just the way you'd like

taskbarbigWindows 7 features useful improvements in many areas, but its taskbar tweaks don’t appeal to everyone. In particular, it’s no longer immediately obvious whether an icon on the taskbar is a shortcut, or one or more instances of the same active program. As a result it’s both more difficult to tell at a glance which tasks are running, and then to switch to the one that you need.

Fortunately there’s a quick solution for anyone who prefers a Windows XP or Vista-style approach to taskbar management. Just right-click the taskbar, select Properties, set Taskbar Buttons to “Combine when taskbar is full” and the application buttons will look much as they always have. Until the taskbar fills up, anyway, but you can delay that with another tweak.

Read More »

How to improve your Adobe Reader security
October 20, 2009 – 10:58 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on How to improve your Adobe Reader security

adobeMalicious PDF files are increasingly used by hackers as a means of infecting your PC with malware, and they don’t have to look far to find security holes in Adobe Reader. Every few months a new batch of problems are discovered, and just last week Adobe released a patch to cover 29 vulnerabilities with Reader and Acrobat.

Is it finally safe to view PDF files, then? Almost certainly not, as the format is packed with powerful and largely unnecessary features that have the potential for abuse. The only way to improve your Adobe Reader security is to turn them off: here’s what you need to do.

Read More »

Find files instantly with Everything
October 19, 2009 – 13:43 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Find files instantly with Everything

everythingMicrosoft like to boast that the latest Windows search tools locate files right away, but, well, it’s not exactly true, is it? Even limited Vista searches for programs can take a few moments, or occasionally don’t work at all, and searching unindexed areas takes just as long as it always did.

Fortunately there’s a simple solution, though, in the oddly named Everything. This clever tool doesn’t waste time crawling all over your hard drive, and instead works directly from the central list of files maintained by your drive’s NTFS file system. So if you type “presentation”, say, then Everything will instantly display all files on your hard drive containing that word, no delays at all. And no inaccuracies or missing entries due to database corruption, either.

Read More »

Are you ready for Windows 7? Ask the Upgrade Advisor
October 18, 2009 – 12:00 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Are you ready for Windows 7? Ask the Upgrade Advisor

w7uaWindows 7 hits the streets on Thursday, and the Microsoft publicity machine will soon be trying to persuade you that upgrading is a very good thing. We would generally agree – it’s a real improvement on Vista – but don’t part with any cash until you’ve confirmed your system’s Windows 7-readiness with this helpful new tool.

The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor scans your PC hardware, peripherals, drivers and installed applications, checking to see that you’ll be able to install Windows 7 and not break anything.

Read More »

Tags:
SUPER quickly converts video and audio files to the format you need
October 17, 2009 – 10:15 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on SUPER quickly converts video and audio files to the format you need

superIf you really need a particular video file then the web is packed with tools to help. Install something like Orbit Downloader, say, and it’s easy to capture that movie trailer, streaming video, or whatever else has caught your attention. Of course if you want to play it on your phone or iPod, edit the video or burn it to DVD then you’ll often need to convert it to a more useful format. And there’s no more capable tool for this kind of media encoding than SUPER.

Launch the program (right-click its shortcut and select Run As Administrator if you’re using Vista) and the sheer volume of options on offer can seem intimidating, but relax, it’s easier than it looks. Browse the Output Container list and you’ll find a list of presets that will set up the program for common tasks. If you have a video that you want to convert to 3GP for a mobile, MP4 for an iPhone, iPod or PS3, or just a VOB file to burn to DVD, then choose the relevant option here and everything else will be set up for you.

Read More »

PC Tools release their 2010 range of security software
October 16, 2009 – 22:31 by Chris Wiles in News | Comments Off on PC Tools release their 2010 range of security software

PC Tools security software, Spyware Doctor, Registry Mechanic

You may not be aware that PC Tools are a relatively new company, who have achieved a huge amount of market share during a short period of time. Moving in to the security software market in 2004, they now command a lot of respect from many PC users and were recently purchased by Symantec. How did they achieve such market share in such a short period of time? Unlike many other commercial security developers, they decided to give a lot of their products away for free, on the basis that 10 million users on their marketing database is a lot healthier than 1 million.

Clearly it’s worked and they’ve not released their latest 2010 range of security software. These products include Spyware Doctor 2010 (v7), Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus 2010 (v7), Internet Security 2010 and Registry Mechanic 2010 (v9).

Read More »

Synchronise your Firefox preferences, bookmarks & passwords using Mozilla Weave
October 16, 2009 – 17:28 by Chris Wiles in News | Comments Off on Synchronise your Firefox preferences, bookmarks & passwords using Mozilla Weave

Synchronise your Mozilla Firefox bookmarks using WeaveMost of us own more than one computer, but tend to use the same browser across every machine. This is one of the reasons Firefox grew in popularity. If you own a Mac laptop, but use Windows at work, you can use the same browser across the two machines. Problem is, when we work at home, we might add a web link to our bookmarks, go to access the link at work and realise it’s not available on your work machine. Not a particularly ideal situation if you were adding bookmarks for reference purposes, perhaps to show a colleague at work.

There’s an easy way around this and that is to use a bookmark synchronisation tool that enables you to keep your bookmarks in sync, irrespective of the operating system. There are two Firefox based bookmark synchronisation add-ons, Mozilla Weave and the other Xmarks, which is also available for other browsers. We’ll get back to Xmarks, later.

Read More »

Bring order to your desktop with Stardock Fences
October 16, 2009 – 11:59 by Mike Williams in News | Comments Off on Bring order to your desktop with Stardock Fences

fences-smallIn the last few years Microsoft have spent a huge amount of effort tweaking the Windows taskbar, Start menu, Explorer, and just about every other aspect of the interface – except one. The desktop. This should be the place to organise icons in useful groups for easy access later, but Windows habit of rearranging them again in an order of its choosing means that’s a total waste of time. Unless, that is, you install Fences.

This simple free tool lets you quickly bring order to a chaotic desktop. Hold down the right mouse button, then drag around your work documents, for instance, and you can create a new “fence” to hold them. This is a shaded area of your desktop that works like a lightweight folder, so you can move the fence around, resize it, drag other icons in and out as you like. But you can create as many fences as you need, they’re always displayed, and their position and icon ordering stays the same. So once you’ve created enough fences to organise your desktop then you can be sure Windows won’t randomly rearrange everything later.

Read More »

AVG Anti-Virus Free 9; the big release we've been waiting for
October 16, 2009 – 10:20 by Chris Wiles in News | Comments Off on AVG Anti-Virus Free 9; the big release we've been waiting for

logo-160Most advanced users are well aware of the potential threats that could affect their computer. Self-awareness enables you to be wary of downloading applications from potentially malicious websites, installing new software or opening email attachments from an unknown source. For these reasons, feature-limited free anti-virus and similar security applications are all we need to protect our computer.

AVG Anti-Virus Free is one of the most highly respected and valued free security tools available. For good reason, too. It’s lightweight, doesn’t take up too many system resources and doesn’t nag and remind you to upgrade every five minutes, whilst you are working. After a year in development, the big new AVG Anti-Virus Free v9 release is now available and it’s certainly recommended.

Read More »

Tags: , , ,