Articles about Know Your PC

Edit and convert videos to any format with Video to Video

Video editor conversion

If you’re looking for a free video converter then there are now plenty of great free programs around, which is plainly very good news for the end user.

Software developers, though, are having to cram in ever more features to help their converter stand out from the crowd and Video to Video is a particularly strong example.

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Google rolls out Chrome 25, lets you talk to websites

Chrome Frisbee

Google has announced the release of Chrome 25 to the Stable Channel for Windows, Linux and Mac, and as revealed in the beta, this release features a major change in the way extensions are handled.

In particular, the previous support for the automatic and silent installation of extensions will now be disabled by default, as apparently Google has noticed that this feature "has been widely abused by third parties to silently install extensions into Chrome without proper acknowledgment from users". We could argue Google really should have predicted that in the first place, but at least it's seen the light now.

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Windows File Protection sniffs out system problems

dog snout

If Windows is proving particularly unreliable on your PC then that could mean a key operating system component has been deleted, or replaced. Fortunately, Windows File Protection (WFP) monitors your key system files, and if any are removed then it can automatically restore the original. And you can also use the System File Checker (sfc.exe /scannow) to manually check for and resolve any problems.

But while this usually works well, it can also lead to problems, particularly if you want to replace a file which the system is protecting. But which files are covered by WFP, exactly? Windows won’t tell you – and that’s why you might need System File Lister.

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Find new ways to open file types with OpenWith Enhanced

Free Opener

If you’re wondering how to open a particular file on your PC, then right-clicking it and selecting Open With may provide some options -- but only if you’ve already installed an application which can handle that particular file type.

OpenWith Enhanced takes this idea a step further, replacing the standard Windows with an extended version which not only displays your installed programs, but also lists other popular options, both commercial and free, and links directly to their download page.

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View, fix, or delete broken shortcuts with ShortcutsMan

Shortcut

There are many ways to break a shortcut. Moving an important file might do it; manually deleting a program is another possibility; and of course too many uninstallers will leave application shortcuts behind. And because there’s no visible sign that a shortcut is broken it’ll just stay there, cluttering your system, until eventually you click it and discover the problem.

If you’re tired of junk shortcuts, though, ShortcutsMan offers an easier way to control them. It’s a lightweight and portable application which quickly provides a very detailed report on your system shortcuts, highlights any that are broken, and allows you to fix or resolve these with a click.

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Please don't file for divorce -- I didn't mean to nuke my wife's data

nuclear explosion mushroom cloud

I do not generally use our desktop computer. I prefer my laptop, but my wife likes that desktop and uses it daily. She also keeps her precious files on it, and I have the folder set to backup to Crashplan automatically, as well as to sync with the home server. However, she also uses a small four gigabyte USB drive for files -- I assumed ones that she just wishes to move around with her. I was wrong.

I am not making excuses for myself. Even if I had known the files were backed up I would not have deleted them -- I had no reason to wipe her drive. The truth is that it was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was a victim of my own oversight.

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Instantly block inappropriate websites with DNS Angel

Parental Control

Parental controls software is normally bulky, complex, and the kind of application which can take some considerable time to configure. There may be lots of files to install, resident components which must always be running in the background, user profiles to create, content filters to customize, and the list goes on.

If your child protection needs are simple, though, you may not have to worry about any of this, as DNS Angel can provide a reasonable amount of protection with a single click.

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Protect your Windows 8 PC with Panda Cloud Antivirus

Panda

Spanish security company Panda Security Ltd has released Panda Cloud Antivirus Free 2.1.1, a minor update to its free cloud-based security tool for Windows. Version 2.1.1 is the first release to secure a Windows 8 compatible logo after passing the eligibility requirements laid down by Microsoft.

Panda Cloud Antivirus, also available with built-in firewall in Pro form, is primarily a maintenance release, building on the major improvements found in version 2.1, which included real-time protection for Windows 8 Store apps and anti-exploit technology.

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Use AllOff to automatically shut down an idle PC

Power Button

In theory Windows should be able to shut down a PC when it’s been idle for a while, and even if that doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of tools around which promise to do something similar. In practice, though, the difficulty of detecting idle time accurately means that these tools aren’t always reliable, which is why many people take the safer approach of leaving their system running all the time.

AllOff is a little different, though. This free (for personal use) tool doesn’t just shut down your PC after some fixed period of time, or when your keyboard or mouse haven’t been used for a while. It also monitors CPU usage, even download speeds, and provides a host of configuration options to ensure everything works just as you require.

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Piriform updates Defraggler, adds Quick Defrag scheduling

Defraggler

Piriform Software has released Defraggler 2.13 and Defraggler Portable 2.13, brand new builds of its freeware Windows defragmentation tool. Version 2.13 adds support for Quick Defrag scheduling, Fragmentation Threshold options when scheduling and support for external 3TB drives.

The update comes four days after Piriform updated its free data-recovery tool, Recuva 1.45 and Recuva Portable 1.45, with the promise of better reliability when deep-scanning NTFS drives as well as improved performance when securely overwriting data.

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MemTest86 now maintained by PassMark Software

RAM Test

The classic free memory diagnostic tool MemTest86 has been maintained by author Chris Brady since 1994, but this has finally changed, with Australian company PassMark Software taking over the program this month.

It doesn’t seem like there’s any need for MemTest86 fans to be concerned, though. The program code remains open source, and so of course it’s still available to download for free.

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Replace Windows Run box with the more powerful Run-Command

Runner

The Windows Run box has always been a quick and easy way to launch programs, but it’s not exactly packed with features. You can specify an application to launch, choose something you’ve run recently from the History list, and, well, that’s about it.

You don’t have to live with these limitations, though. Grab a copy of the new Run-Command and it’ll take your Run box to a whole new level.

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Nitro’s PDF tools gain extra features and improved stability

document pdf laptop folder file

Nitro PDF Pty Ltd has launched two major updates for its flagship PDF reader and authoring products. Nitro Reader 3.5 is its powerful freeware PDF reader app, also boasting PDF creation and limited editing and form-filling tools. Nitro Pro 8.5 is Nitro’s flagship PDF authoring product.

The headline new feature in this update is Nitro Pro 8.5’s ability to convert PDF files to Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 (PPTX) format as well as Word and Excel. Also added to both Nitro Pro 8.5 and Nitro Reader 3.5 are support for XML Forms Architecture (XFA) documents and the promise of vastly improved printing of images and text in PDF documents.

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InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder lets you create interactive mind maps

kid smart lightbulb brain

When you’re having problems understanding an idea, or conveying it to someone else, then building a mind map can often help. Just the process of defining the core concepts and showing how they’re related will often make things very much clearer.

If you’re familiar with the basics then creating a map doesn’t require very much, of course -- a pen and paper will probably do. But if you’re a beginner to this kind of outlining approach then a little software-based assistance should help to make things clearer, and while it has some problems, InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder is an interesting place to get started.

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Kiwi System Info reveals much, but not enough, about your PC

keyboard

If you regularly troubleshoot other people’s PCs then you’ll know that the process usually starts by collecting system information. Which graphics card does it have, for instance? How many network interfaces, which USB controller, what user accounts are there? And whatever it might be.

You may be able to collect some of this data by browsing the target PC, but life will probably be a lot easier if you have a system information program to collect and present everything in a single place. And few tools provide quite as much data as the free Kiwi System Info.

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