Articles about Know Your PC

Save big on these holiday software deals

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It’s that time of the year where it’s a great time to pick up a software bargain. Through December and the Christmas holiday season, the Downloadcrew Software Store has various software deals that are worth some consideration. Best of all, the Downloadcrew “Giveaway” site returns this Christmas, with five superb exclusive full software giveaway offers, for everyone.

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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Defraggler 2.12 gets your hard drive in ship shape

Hard Drive

Piriform has updated Defraggler, its Windows defrag utility, with support for Windows Server 2012. Defraggler 2.12 also adds support for drives mounted as NTFS junction points and offers more control over scheduled defrags.

Version 2.12 also tweaks the user interface, fixes a succession of minor bugs and adds several other minor tweaks and improvements to complete the update.

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Rename thousands of files in one click


Download a few files from the Internet and one problem you’ll soon notice is that they won’t exactly follow any sensible naming conventions. Some will leave out key information you need to tell what they are; others will add unnecessary extras, like dates or numeric IDs; and they’ll be in a mix of upper, lower or mixed case -- a real mess.

Renaming one or two names in Windows Explorer is easy enough, of course. But if there are any more then it all becomes just too tedious. Unless, that is, you install a batch processing tool such as the free Solid Renamer.

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WinPatrol 2013 protects your PC from unwanted changes

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BillP Studios has launched WinPatrol 2013, a brand new version of its snapshot-based security tool that alerts users to program attempts to make significant changes to key areas of a PC.

Version 26.0.2013 focuses on making the program more Windows 8 friendly than before, largely by tweaking program settings to accommodate new Windows 8 conventions such as cookie storage in Internet Explorer 10.

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Disable the new Windows 8 interface for good with Ex7ForW8


Microsoft might want all users of Windows 8 to use its new tiled interface, but if you really don't like it, or it's the one thing that's preventing you from switching to the new OS full time, there's a clever hack which will disable it for good -- or until you want to switch back, at least.

Ex7ForW8, or "Explorer 7 for Windows 8", is a wrapper created by a developer named Tihiy which basically allows Windows 7's explorer.exe to run on the new OS. Once installed and activated it will take users straight to the Windows 7 desktop upon boot up, and when I say "straight to" I mean it. The new UI doesn't load at all. The wrapper doesn't modify any system files or system protected registry entries, and you can switch back to the Windows 8 UI at any time.

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Advanced BAT to EXE Converter makes batch files work for you

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Windows PowerShell may be Microsoft’s scripting choice for the future, but that doesn’t mean it’s all over for the humble batch file -- far from it.

Install the free Advanced BAT to EXE Converter and not only will the program help you develop new batch files, but it also allows you to extend them with new commands, before compiling the results into EXE files which will run on anything from Windows 98 upwards (no .NET or other annoying DLL dependencies).

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Get more from PowerShell with Microsoft Script Explorer

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If you’re at all interested in PC scripting then you’ll probably already know that Windows PowerShell is a very powerful technology that presents all kinds of interesting management and automation possibilities.

Figuring out how best to use PowerShell isn’t always straightforward, though. To put it politely. But the next time you’re struggling to understand how to do something, it’s worth remembering that help is at hand in the shape of Microsoft’s Script Explorer.

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CurrPorts, NetworkTrafficView, SmartSniff and CountryTraceRoute now support IP geolocation

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Nir Sofer has announced that several of his network applications, including  CurrPortsNetworkTrafficViewSmartSniff and CountryTraceRoute, now support the free MaxMind IP geolocation database.

In practical terms that means the programs now include a “Remote IP Country” column in their report tables, and in some cases this will list the country (and, occasionally, the city) for that IP address.

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System Explorer 4.0 beefs up stats

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The Mister Group has released System Explorer 4.0 and System Explorer 4.0 Portable, a major new update of its freeware system resources monitoring tool for Windows.

Version 4.0 tweaks the program’s color schemes for making text more readable, plus updates its Performance and Networking sections to show more information.  There’s a minor tweak to how the disk and network usage statistics are displayed, plus a number of bug fixes designed to make System Explorer more stable and secure.

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Google Analytics Cookie Cruncher exposes your online activities

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When you need to know more about the websites someone is visiting (you want to make sure your kids haven’t been straying on the darker side of the web, say) then checking their cookies has always been one option. But the information you’ll get is often very limited, maybe just to a domain name, and so won’t always be particularly useful.

Google Analytics Cookie Cruncher may be able to help, though, by focusing on Google Analytics cookies. These contain much more data, and in a standard format, so with just a little work you may be able to see the sites someone has browsed, the search keywords used to locate them, the date and time of the last two visits, and the number of times a site has been visited in total.

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Easily reveal hashes in file Properties

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There are plenty of tools available to help you calculate file hashes, but using them may not always be convenient. You’ll need to load the application, import your files, choose appropriate options, export the hashes, maybe more.

If you get tired of all this, though, you could always install the free HashTab, which makes life much easier. Just right-click a file, select Properties > File Hashes, and maybe copy your hash of choice to the clipboard in a couple of clicks.

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System Mechanic 11.5 better supports Windows 8, adopts per-home licensing

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Iolo technologies has released System Mechanic 11.5, the latest edition of its flagship PC maintenance and optimization suite.

And the company points to the new Guided Recommendations as the highlight of this build, claiming they “harness the collective intelligence of the entire System Mechanic community base”, in particular when helping to figure out exactly which startup tools you need to run, and which you can safely do without.

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Best Windows 8 apps this week


Fifth in a series. Welcome to this week's look at some of the best apps released over the past seven days for Windows 8.  Before we start, I'd like to quickly explain how you can browse the newest applications in Windows Store as the question came up recently.

All you need to do is open Windows Store, type * to search for all apps, tap on the enter key and change the sorting for relevance to newest. This displays all apps sorted by date they have been added to the store starting with the newest entries.

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When streaming content stutters, try DPC Latency Checker

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You’ve got a speedy, modern PC and a fast internet connection -- so why is it that you can’t watch streaming videos without regular dropouts and interruptions?

These kind of problems can be frustrating, and they’re certainly tricky to diagnose. But the free DPC Latency Checker could help point you in the right direction.

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BurnAware 5.5 supports DVD-Video

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BurnAware 5.5 Free and Home, are now available for Windows. Version 5.5 adds DVD-Video as an option to the file system selection when compiling ISO files, plus adds other minor features and resolves a number of issues and bugs that surfaced after version 5.4 was released 15 days earlier.

The key new feature in BurnAware 5.5 is the new DVD-Video mode option when selecting a file system for ISO compilation, allowing users to create video DVDs. It’s joined by support for BIN image files when creating boot discs.

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