Install the latest freeware and there’s a good chance you’ll find some bundled adware, too, but most people know how to avoid it. Chose the "Advanced Installation" option, click "Decline", clear a few checkboxes and you’ll probably be safe.
Unfortunately some of the adware companies are realizing that the old techniques just don’t cut it any more, and they’re now using even more tricks to try and force that payload onto your PC. Just take a look at what happened when we tried to install a single freeware package on our test PC.
Once again, Microsoft has managed to rile people with Windows 10. People have discovered that the Windows 10 installation files are being downloaded to their computers without their permission. If this has happened to you already, we've already shown you how to remove Windows 10, claiming back space and regaining control.
But if you have been lucky enough to avoid the unwanted arrival of Windows 10 installation files so far, you'll be more interested in prevention than a cure. Here's what you need to do to make sure Microsoft doesn’t force feed you Windows 10.
Microsoft has reportedly been downloading Windows 10 installation files on to computers running Windows 7 and 8.x, regardless of whether the users plan to upgrade to the new OS or not.
If you’re thinking of making the switch, and have requested an upgrade, that is fair enough. But if you’re more than happy to stick with your older OS for now, you might not be too happy about Microsoft cluttering up your hard drive with junk install files you don’t want. Fortunately, removing these files is easy enough.
I quite like the look of Windows 10, and the images that come with it, but like all previous versions of Microsoft’s operating system it’s easily customizable.
Changing the look of the wallpaper and lock screen is done through Start, Settings, Personalization, and you can spice things up with your own photos. But what if you want to view the default images? Windows 10 stores them in a less-than-obvious place.
If you are not happy with how your desktop PC or laptop performs, chances are it has a plain-old HDD inside. It is likely large enough to store all your files, but the old technology it is based on makes it extremely slow by modern standards -- apps and programs take a long time to load and transfer speeds are low. Basically, it is the reason why your device does not feel as fast as a new, high-end PC. Fortunately, you can give it a new lease on life.
The first upgrade that you should consider is an SSD. It is a huge improvement over virtually any HDD, as it will greatly improve load times and transfer speeds, making your device feel much more responsive, and reduce noise and power consumption. To show just big a difference it can make, I have tested an Emtec SSD Power Plus drive, in 120 GB trim, with an old HP Compaq 610 laptop.
The Action Center in Windows 10 is a pretty handy addition. It displays past notifications from apps and your system -- if you miss a message from Windows when it pops up you can find out what it said in the Action Center. You can also access various quick actions there.
But if you have no need for the Action Center -- and to be honest I’ve hardly ever used it -- it can be disabled with a simple registry tweak.
Associating a picture with your Windows 10 account is just one way to personalize your computer, but it also serves as a way to easily differentiate between accounts. If you want to be a little different, you don’t need to stick with a dull static image on the login screen -- it is possible to use a video instead.
You can use your webcam and Windows 10's built in camera app to record a short clip and use it in place of your regular account image on the login screen. It might not serve any real purpose, but it's pretty cool. Here’s what you need to do.
We've looked at many of the problems that you might experience after upgrading to Windows 10 -- from issues with audio to bothersome browsers. Some users are having problems with the explorer.exe process crashing and an annoying screen flicker. Three particular applications -- Norton Antivirus, iCloud, or IDT Audio -- have been cited as culprits, and Microsoft and Symantec have solutions.
There's no need to go as far as uninstalling Windows 10, but Microsoft does suggest that you restart your computer in Safe Mode and uninstall any of the aforementioned programs. Of course, Symantec would much rather than you continued to use Norton Antivirus, so the company has its own fix for the problem.
OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service, is heavily integrated into Windows 10. We've already explained how you can remove the OneDrive entry from File Explorer, but what if you don’t want the service in your new OS at all?
You can disable or uninstall it completely by following these simple steps. This will remove it from File Explorer, and everywhere else.
If you’re used to using Firefox or Chrome (or Internet Explorer for that matter), switching to Microsoft Edge in Windows 10 can be a little confusing at first, as it’s not always obvious how to do relatively straightforward tasks in the new browser.
We've already shown you how to change Microsoft Edge's default download folder, and also how to change the default search engine (one of our most frequently asked questions). But how do you access your browsing history in Edge?
User Account Control (UAC) has been part of Windows since Vista. When it was first introduced it was incredibly annoying, but over the years Microsoft has tamed it a little to the point where it only springs into action when it has to. Most of us don’t really pay too much attention when the prompts pop up now.
However, they can still be rather obtrusive at times. Try to launch regedit in Windows 10, for example, and you’ll be presented with a full screen UAC prompt that temporarily prevents you from doing anything else until you've clicked it away. This is the most annoying aspect of UAC, but the good news is you can stop the prompts from taking over your PC in this way.
Windows 10 is, for the most part anyway, a decent operating system, but there are teething problems with it. We’ve explained how to fix many of the worst issues with the new OS, but for many people problems persist.
Audio woes are easily the most common complaint with the new operating system and so Microsoft has taken the unusual step of releasing a series of short troubleshooting videos that will help anyone experiencing sound problems to (hopefully) overcome them. And yes, it’s not just one video, it is a whole series -- with 7 videos posted so far.
Since the launch of Windows 10, you might have decided to rekindle your interest in the preview builds that are made available to Windows Insiders. Just a few days ago, Microsoft released Build 10525 and many people rushed to install it to see what was new.
But what’s that? An ugly watermark in the lower right of the desktop. If you're upset by the appearance of the "Windows 10 Pro Technical Preview. Evaluation Copy. Build 10525" text that appeared after the upgrade, here's what you need to do to get rid of it.
Microsoft is pushing Bing heavily in Windows 10. Bing is the default search engine in Microsoft Edge, and while you can change this to Google (or any other choice), the process of doing so is far from intuitive -- you can’t simply pick "Google" from a list of options.
Cortana, Microsoft’s built-in personal assistant, is powered by Bing too, which means when you ask her a question she doesn’t immediately know the answer to, she’ll open up your default browser and display a list of results sourced from Microsoft’s search engine. There is a way to get her to use Google instead though, but you won’t find this in any Settings.
As you’ll know, Microsoft has made updates mandatory in Windows 10. When updates are pushed out, the new operating system installs them automatically. Whether you want it to or not. This should be a benefit, as it means no more unpatched PCs at risk from serious vulnerabilities, but if the software giant rolls out an update that causes problems for users -- as has already been the case in several instances -- there’s no easy way to avoid it.
Windows 10 Pro users can defer updates, but Home users don’t have that luxury. Thankfully if you need to delay or block software updates in Windows 10, there are several ways to do so, regardless of which version of the OS you're running.