Articles about Know Your PC

Lock down almost any PC with Deskman

If there’s an aspect of your PC which you don’t like then it can normally be changed very quickly: a right-click option here, maybe launch a Control Panel applet there, install a new program perhaps, and the system should soon be more suited to your needs.

But while this configurability is great on your own computer, it’s a real problem when you want a PC to be much more restrictive: a system which you’ll install in a school, say, or a business. What you’ll probably want to do then is set up some basic configuration, and make sure your users can’t do anything to change it -- and that’s where Deskman comes in.

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Best Windows 8 apps this week


Fourteenth in a series. Microsoft continues to publish updates for the apps that ship with Windows 8 natively. Both the finance and weather application have been updated this week. However, it is not clear what changed as Microsoft did not update the release notes yet.

As far as total numbers of applications go: the Windows Store in the US lists 21,208 free apps and 6,074 paid apps as of this morning for a total of  27,282 apps. That's an increase of 970 apps this week, which falls in line with past performances. While we have seen slower weeks, app numbers consistently grow by about a 1,000 each week.

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Free up disk space by uninstalling unwanted software with Should I Remove It?

Uninstall trash

When you’re looking to improve your PC’s speed and stability then there are plenty of actions you might take, but one of the most effective is often just to uninstall any applications, add-ons and extras which you don’t really need. You’ll free up plenty of system resources, and that alone could help to deliver a real performance boost.

You’ll have to figure out exactly which programs you need to keep, though, and which can be safely uninstalled, and that can be a challenge if you’ve hundreds of apps to explore. Don’t worry, though, because Should I Remove It? is here to help: just download the program, the authors say, "and within seconds we will help you purge your PC".

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Got a PC problem? Try OSForensics 2.0

task manager tools multitasking

Passmark Software has released OSForensics 2.0, the latest edition of its excellent computer forensics package. And while it’s more about improving on what’s gone before than adding any major new functionality, there are still some very useful additions here.

While previously the program could only index the documents on one drive at a time, for instance, OSForensics 2.0 now allows you to specify as many drives per index as you like, and search them in a single operation later: seems like a small change, but this makes the program much more convenient to use.

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Capture videos from any website with Any Video Recorder

Record button

When you need to download a local copy of an online video then there are plenty of tools around which will try to help. Freemake Video Downloader, for instance, makes it easy to grab movies from YouTube, Facebook, Google, Vimeo and many other big-name sites.

Other sites make it more difficult to capture their content, of course, but if the regular downloaders can’t help then you can always turn to Any Video Recorder. This is a screen recorder which just captures video as it’s played back, so if you can watch it on your system, then Any Video Recorder should be able to record a copy for you.

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ScanNow for Universal Plug and Play warns if your network is vulnerable to the latest security flaws


Rapid7 -- the security company behind vulnerability scanner Metasploit -- has released details on three security flaws affecting some Universal Plug and Play implementations. And their research indicates that 40 to 50 million IPs are vulnerable to at least one of those vulnerabilities, which the company says is exposing users "to remote attacks that could result in the theft of sensitive information".

Could you be vulnerable? Fortunately Rapid7 has provided a free Windows-based tool, ScanNow for Universal Plug and Play, to help you find out.

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Get better security and stability with Opera 12.13 FINAL

opera logo

Norwegian browser developer Opera has announced its first release of 2013. Opera 12.13 FINAL is a security and stability release with a couple of notable bug fixes. The release, also available as a separate 64-bit build for Windows 64-bit users, comes just 48 hours after Opera 12.13 RC2 was released for public testing.

Bug fixes include a resolution that saw no webpages being loaded on startup if Opera is disconnected from the internet, plus one that led to internal communication errors appearing on Facebook.

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Microsoft joins the party, warns users against Java


Oracle has had no shortage of headaches recently, thanks to Java. The exploits have been running wild lately, making attempts to fix the problems resemble a game of whack-a-mole. In fact, the troubles even resulted in the United States Department of Homeland Security being forced to post a warning against using the platform.

In a post to the government website, the DHS warned that "by convincing a user to load a malicious Java applet or Java Network Launching Protocol (JNLP) file, an attacker could execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system with the privileges of the Java plug-in process".

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Shutter lets you schedule automatic PC shutdowns and more


Shutting down your PC is often simple and straightforward. You finish what you’re doing, save your work, close any applications and hit the shutdown button: done.

Sometimes, though, life is more complicated. Maybe you want to leave your PC running and have it automatically close at a particular time, say; when a program has finished running, or on some similar event. And that can be more difficult to organize -- unless you get a little help from Shutter.

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RetroShare lets you build your own invitation-only social network

social network

Social networks are great, in theory. But then you run into problems with other users, advertising, spam, unexpected and unnecessary interface redesigns, security issues, privacy problems and the list goes on.

If you’re in the mood to try something different, then, you might be interested in RetroShare. It’s a cross-platform, open source tool which provides a rich set of features -- instant messaging, voice chat, forums, channels, file sharing and more -- but in a peer-to-peer form, so you only get to connect to people that you’ve specifically invited.

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Diagnostic and benchmarking tool AIDA64 adds support for new processors, including Intel’s Atom Z2760

Intel Z2760

Budapest developer FinalWire Ltd has released AIDA64 Extreme Edition 2.80.2300 and AIDA64 Business Edition 2.80.2300, new versions of its streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking tools. The Extreme Edition is aimed at home users, while the Business Edition is designed to work with small and medium scale enterprises.

Version 2.80 is a relatively minor upgrade, refreshing and improving the benchmarking and diagnostic tool’s support for newer technologies, including the Intel Atom Z2760 and OCZ Vector SSD.

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Test driving BitTorrent Sync

file folder backup

Who outside Hollywood doesn't like BitTorrent? There's another reason for you to, with the new PC-to-PC file synchronization app. It is free, but for now "pre-alpha", meaning users should beware of the potential dangers -- bugs, crashes. You know the routine. It is also only available in private beta, so if you are interested then you will need to request an invitation.

Once you gain access then you will find the app is available for Windows, OS X and even Linux. The download file is small -- just under 500 KB for the Windows version.

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Mirage Anti-Bot 3.0 blocks access to websites infected with dangerous malware


PhrozenSoft has released Mirage Anti-Bot 3.0, a tiny tool which aims to prevent your PC from accessing sites infected by the Zeus, SpyEye and Palevo families of malware.

The core of the program remains very simple. It just downloads the excellent blocklist and updates your HOSTS file accordingly, immediately preventing you from accessing any of the included malicious domains.

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Best Windows 8 apps this week


Thirteenth in a series. Microsoft released the company's fiscal second-quarter results on January 24 and to the surprise of many the company's Windows division did well despite PC shipments being down during the same period.

Windows Store has recovered from last week's low number of new store apps. This week, 928 new apps were listed in the operating system's US store, an increase of more than 31 percent over last week. Free apps, on the other hand, only increased by 136 this week while paid apps made a huge jump to 5,801 from 5,011 the week before.

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Manage all of your downloads with EagleGet


Downloading is such a fundamental part of the online experience that you might expect every browser to include a quality download manager by default. The standard offerings are usually a little more basic, though, so if you’d like some help in, say, downloading online videos more easily, then you’ll need to install a specialist download manager like the new EagleGet.

This kind of tool is notorious for trying to drown your PC in adware during installation, but EagleGet is much more straightforward, for the moment at least: it’ll install itself, and nothing else at all. This might be because the program is still in beta, of course, but at the moment it’s safe to try.

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