Articles about Know Your PC

VirtualBox 4.2.6 delivers many fixes


Oracle has announced the release of VirtualBox 4.2.6, the latest edition of its powerful cross-platform virtualization tool.

This is a maintenance release, and so looks more or less unchanged. But the build does include plenty of welcome bug fixes and other small improvements.

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Our gift to you: O&O Defrag 15.8 Professional for free

Hard Drive

It’s that time of year again, when everyone feels festive and we find ourselves in the Downloadcrew Giveaway mood. This year, we’ve lined up five great software giveaways to share with you. From midday this Saturday until Jan. 4, 2013, you’ll be given the opportunity to grab up to five free commercial packages without having to pay a single cent.

We’re kicking things off with a doozy too – for 48 hours from Saturday December 22nd, we’ll be giving away free copies of O&O Defrag 15.8 Professional, worth $29.95. If your PC feels sluggish, then this powerful defrag tool is just the ticket for giving your hard drives a much needed speed boost.

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CloudMagic wants to be the gateway for all your personal data [Q&A]


CloudMagic is a superb search tool that sadly doesn’t get the attention it fully deserves. If you’ve ever complained about how long it takes Google to find a certain message in Gmail, or have wasted far too much time trying to track down a particular tweet or Facebook status update, this is the solution you need (full disclosure: I’m a massive fan and couldn’t imagine life without it).

I spoke to co-founder Rohit Nadhani about his product, how it began, and the company’s plans for the future.

BN: For the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with CloudMagic, can you tell us a bit about it?

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Pokki: find free apps for your Windows desktop


Apple, Google, Microsoft: everyone seems to have their own app store, these days. None of these are much help if you’re running a Windows XP, Vista or 7 system, of course, but if you’re feeling left out then there’s always Pokki, a simple framework which can help you find, install and run free apps on the Windows desktop.

The program installs quickly and easily, and is so unobtrusive you might be left wondering what’s actually changed. There should now be a Pokki icon to the right of the Start button, though. Clicking this displays the Pokki launcher, currently empty, and selecting App Store will allow you to browse its various offerings.

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Auslogic BoostSpeed 5.5 adds new features, improves Windows 8 compatibility


Australian software developer Auslogics Pty Ltd has updated its flagship PC optimization product with the release of Auslogics BoostSpeed 5.5. Version 5.5, which offers a full range of PC cleaning and performance tools, boasts significant improvements to a number of key components, plus includes several Windows 8-specific enhancements.

Headline new features include support for data shredding during file cleaning, better performance finding duplicate files, more accurate Windows 8 Registry cleaning and numerous bug fixes to improve stability.

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Want more from Windows search? Try Locate32

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Microsoft may claim that Windows Search has improved considerably in recent years, but you don’t have to look very far to find those who disagree. Many people prefer the older XP-style interface, for instance, and PC speedup guides commonly recommend turning off the standard indexing service to save resources.

If you’ve also had enough of the standard tools then there are plenty of commercial desktop search alternatives around, of course. But if your needs are simple – you mostly search for file names, not content -- then you might prefer Locate32, an open source tool and portable which makes it easy to locate the files and folders you need.

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Have Windows 8 your way with sTabLauncher dock

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What’s the best way to organize and launch your programs? The arrival of Windows 8 has generated endless “Start menu vs Start screen” debates on this topic, but these have tended to miss an important point: many people really don’t like either.

If you’re looking for an alternative way to arrange your applications, though, there are plenty of simple but effective options around, and sTabLauncher’s dock is an excellent example.

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Best Windows 8 apps this week


Seventh in a series. Welcome to another episode of what's hot and new in Windows Store. This week we have seen the release of a couple of official apps, Adobe Reader and Yahoo! Mail for instance, that made an appearance in store.

Other companies like Google or Facebook are monitoring the development of Windows 8 before they commit resources to building apps for the operating system. It is likely, however, that we will see additional official app releases for Microsoft's operating system in the weeks to come.

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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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