Articles about Know Your PC

What's hogging your disk space? WizTree knows

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Your hard drive’s filling up? There’s no shortage of tools around to help find out why, but the need to crawl through every single folder on your system means they can be a little tedious to use.

Now there’s a much faster alternative, though, in the shape ofWizTree, a free and portable application which can deliver a detailed report on your space hogs in just a second or two.

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SFTP Net Drive maps remote servers as local virtual drive

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Using your own web space to store and manage files may sound like a good idea at first, but there can be complications, in particular when choosing software. You can’t just use any backup program, for instance, as you’ll need FTP access, which cuts down your choice considerably.

If you have some web space with SFTP access, though, there is a simpler way. Install SFTP Net Drive and it will map your remote server to a virtual drive in Explorer, allowing you to access it just like any other network or local drive, from Windows or any application you like.

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Quickly troubleshoot Microsoft Outlook

PC tool utility

Emiel Wieldraaijer has released OutlookParameterGUI 1.0.4, the latest edition of his useful Outlook troubleshooting tool.

The core idea of the program remains the same. It displays and gives help on various Outlook command line parameters, then allows you to launch the program with that parameter at a click. So if your custom views are messed up and you’d like to restore the defaults, say, you might select the /cleanviews parameter, click Start -- and that’s about it.

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Let your guardian Autorun Angel find bad startup progams

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When you think your PC has been infected by malware or spyware, then checking your Windows startup programs may seem like a good place to start looking for the source. But there’s a problem. Many of these will be cryptically-named executables which you won’t recognize at all, so how are you supposed to decide which ones are safe, and which require further research?

You could spend an age checking out each program manually, but life will probably be easier if you get a little help from Autorun Angel, which quickly compares your startup list against “known safe” applications and highlights whatever might be left.

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Skip the crowded mall and get these great software deals online

Holiday Sales

This time of the year is a great one to pick up some technology bargains and the Downloadcrew Software Store is no exception. In addition to the regular deals, there are some extra-special Black Friday/Cyber Monday offers that run until the end of November.

We open with some great savings from CyberLinkPowerDirector 11 Ultimate, which bundles PowerDirector 11 with 22 NewBlueFX effects, is yours for only $99.99, a saving of 23 percent from MSRP. Better still, you pick up a free bundle worth $59.90 with every order! PowerDirector 11 Ultra is yours for $79.95, a saving of 20 percent from MSRP, also shipping with the free bundle. Media Suite 10 Ultra, which is CyberLink’s 11-in-1 multimedia suite, is yours for $89,95, or 31 percent off MSRP. PowerDVD 12 Ultra, is yours for $50, or 50-percent off MSRP.

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Get the right screen resolution with Window Size

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Normally, when you resize a PC application window, you don’t particularly care about its final resolution. You’re just looking to make sure that it has room to display something (a website, say), or you might be reducing a window to make room for something else.

There may be occasional exceptions, though: you might need to take a screen grab of a window at a specific resolution, for instance, or a certain aspect ratio. Changing your display resolution may help, or of course you could resize your window, check the results and resize again until you get it right -- but Window Size could offer a more convenient solution.

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Windows 8: Weak on tablets, terrible for PCs

Windows 8 slate

I write this on my new least-favorite operating system: Windows 8. I knew when installing that I would have to use it as my sole OS. Spending equal amounts of time in Windows 7 and 8 (occasionally dipping into Ubuntu) just wouldn’t have worked. Windows 8 is a very different beast and takes time to master properly, and I knew I couldn’t do that if running its predecessor, too. This was the problem I had with the early releases of Windows 8 -- I just wasn’t committed enough.

This total immersion has worked well for me. Using Windows 8 is now a breeze. I zip around using keyboard shortcuts where possible, and I jump between the desktop and Modern UI without thinking about it. But here’s the thing: I still don’t like Windows 8.

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RetroUI Pro: Run Windows 8 Store Apps on the desktop

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If you do not like the Windows 8 Start screen, you can bypass it easily with a few simple modifications or by installing a program that handles that for you. If you miss the Start menu on the desktop, you can get that back as well by installing a program like Start8 or Classic Shell that also handle the redirecting and mapping of shortcuts keys for you if you want.

RetroUI Pro is another Start menu program for Windows 8. It looks different than the others as you can see from the photo, but on first glance, it is just another Start menu for the operating system.

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WinMaximumize expands desktop windows to fill available space

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When you’ve several applications open on your PC desktop, organizing their windows efficiently can take a moment. You might move one window over here, drag a border over there, and so it goes on.

If you’d rather just automate the process, though, you might preferWinMaximumize, which can instantly expand your selected window to fill whatever desktop space is available.

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Sysinternals Contig lets you choose which files or folders to defrag

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If you’d like to optimize the performance of a game (or any other disk-intensive application) then defragmenting its key files before you start can sometimes help -- but of course that’s not usually a very practical idea. Most defrag tools will want to process your entire partition, which could take a while, and may not touch the files you’re really interested in anyway (defraggers often leave a few fragmented files behind when they’re done).

Fortunately there’s a simple alternative in the shape of Sysinternals Contig, a tiny command-line tool that defrags only the files you specify, and doesn’t “forget” any of them. Give the program a file, and it will be defragmented.

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Turn Windows 8 into a powerful tool

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Windows 8 is the least intuitive and the most controversial operating system released by Microsoft in years. In my review I said that Windows 8 is "more suited for early adopters rather than everyone" because of usability issues encountered during my time with it. However as with most problems there is a convenient solution and it involves the classic keyboard and mouse.

Windows 8 is still designed to be operated the old fashioned way, even though the focus is now on touch devices. Microsoft tried to please both desktop and tablet users, but the former are actually disadvantaged because of it. Instead of using a crippled operating system by always going to the desktop tile or shutting down via the power plug, I will present how to use some of the newly introduced features using the keyboard and mouse.

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Need better desktop search? Try DocFetcher

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Windows Search has improved a lot in recent years: it’s faster, uses less resources, has more query options. If the technology still doesn’t deliver the searching power you need, though, it might be worth considering the open source, Java-based DocFetcher as an alternative.

The program’s advantages start with its indexing controls. Rather than crawling an entire drive without asking, DocFetcher allows you to choose what you’d like to search: a folder, an archive, even an Outlook PST file. And limiting scope this way helps to cut indexing time and improve the relevance of search results.

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True Image Lite 2013 beta offers no-frill backups

hard drive

Acronis International has released a beta version of True Image Lite 2013, a stripped-down version of its True Image backup tool.

The new release ditches disk, partition, email and file backup types, for instance (there’s non-stop backup and online backup only). There are no full or differential backups (just incremental). No scheduling, no backups to CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray, no option to create a bootable recovery disc, and of course none of the extensive settings you’ll find in the full True Image package.

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Best Windows 8 apps this week

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Third in a series. Each week we are looking at the best apps released for Microsoft's new operating system Windows 8. Today, we introduce new information to the format that informs you about potential compatibility issues with Windows RT. As you may know, apps released in Windows Store are always compatible with Windows 8 and Pro, but not necessarily with Windows RT, the version running on ARM hardware, such as Surface.

Not compatible with Windows RT indicates this if so. We also take a look at application updates and if they introduce exciting new features, include updated apps in the list. This week that's for instance the case with the Google Search app, which not only becomes compatible with ARM systems but also introduces YouTube video playback with an update.

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Quickly fix application file associations

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Install a new application and it’ll often want to associate itself with particular file types (images, for instance). And that’s fine if it asks for permission, but some programs don’t, which means double-clicking those files later may not deliver the results you want.

The standard Window solution is to manually reassociate those file types with your preferred application. But Unassoc takes a simpler approach, allowing you to simply delete the new association, so that your system uses the global settings automatically.

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