Articles about Know Your PC

MiniTool Partition Recovery does what it says

Hard Drive

Accidentally deleting a partition seems like a major disaster when it first happens. Not only have all of its files disappeared, but you can’t even see that drive any more.

The situation may not be as bad as it seems, though. Your data is unlikely to be erased, just yet (other programs will generally write only to their own partition). And missing partitions are relatively easy to recover, as long as you have access to something like the free (for personal use) MiniTool Partition Recovery.

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Livecam Wallpaper decorates desktops with webcam images


If you’re bored with the regular Windows wallpaper then there’s no shortage of software which can help. But much of it will just download fairly random images from a variety of online sources. And even if you can select a theme which appeals to you – “landscapes”, “animals” or whatever – there’s no guarantee that you’ll like everything the program selects.

Livecam Wallpaper, though, is different. As you might guess from the name, the program allows you to set images from your choice of internet webcams as wallpaper, so you can be sure the picture will be something you like. But it can then update the images as often as every 10 seconds, a very interesting way to bring your desktop to life.

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Remove Java from your PC with JavaRA


If the latest Java security scares have persuaded you to ditch the technology forever, then removing it from your PC is normally straightforward. Java’s regular uninstaller should do the job in just a few seconds.

If this doesn’t work, though -- or you just want to remove and reinstall Java, because of problems with your system -- then it might be worth trying JavaRA, a compact tool that can help you to update or cleanly uninstall the Java Runtime Environment.

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Make sense of your drive's data with Active@ Disk Editor

hard drive

If you’re confident enough with hard drives to have tried editing them before at the sector level, then you’ll know that most disk editing software is, well, less than helpful. Open a drive and you’ll generally be presented with a basic hex view of your data, then left on your own to figure out what it all means. And okay, it’s true, sector editors are only for the most knowledgeable of PC users, but even experts could benefit from a little help, occasionally.

You don’t have to put up with this, though. Some editors do make a real effort to help you interpret what you’re seeing while browsing a drive. And you don’t always have to pay big money for them, either: Active@ Disk Editor can be yours for free.

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Save big bucks and protect your PC! Hurry! Deals end Feb. 28

laptop cash money

We’re now well in to the new year, with the February software offers live through the Downloadcrew Software Store.

You may have picked up a brand new Windows 8 computer during the festive season. If so, the first thing you’ll want to do is pick up a security suite to keep your system secure. The Downloadcrew Software Store is packed full of security offers from Bitdefender, AVG, Kaspersky, Avira and other brands.

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When all other Windows troubleshooting fails, try WMI Diagnostic Utility

PC tool utility

Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) is an important Windows framework that is used by many system components, as well as plenty of third-party applications, so if it’s ever damaged then you could experience all kinds of odd system problems. There’s no single place that you can check to see whether WMI is working, either, as it’s just too complex, and so Microsoft has developed a script called the WMI Diagnostic Utility to provide some in-depth troubleshooting information.

The tool is aimed at system administrators and other IT professionals, so if you’re a Windows novice then it’s probably best to stay away. If you’ve even just a moderate level of PC experience, though -- you’ve no problems running the occasional tool at the command line, say – then it could be worth a look.

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HFS simplifies the process of sharing files across your network or the web

File Sharing

When you need to share files with others, setting up a web server probably won’t be the first idea that comes to mind. It just seems like too bulky a solution, too complex, and so you’d probably opt for something more conventional: setting up a network, using a file sharing service, whatever it might be.

With the right software, though, setting up a web server can be much more straightforward than you think. And the open source HFS (Http File Server) is a particularly good example of this, because even if you’re a networking novice, it could have you sharing your files locally within minutes.

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Back up all types of USB drive with USB Image Tool

USB sticks

Alexander Beug has released USB Image Tool 1.60, the latest version of his compact, portable and free backup tool for USB devices.

And a very welcome addition this time is support for non-removable USB devices. So on launch, the program won’t only list any mobile USB devices you might have connected (keys, cameras, MP3 players and so on), but it’ll also display regular USB drives, memory card readers and so on, and allow you to back them up.

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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


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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