It doesn't take long for a computer to collect duplicate copies of all sorts of files. When my year-old laptop started running low on disk space, I knew one of the fastest ways to recover some lost hard-disk storage was to give the machine's duplicate files the boot. If you rely on the file-management tools in Windows to root out unnecessary, space-clogging files, you're in for a long day of folder hopping.
That doesn't mean you have to live with Windows' inevitable slowdowns. For years I've relied on Piriform's free CCleaner maintenance utility to give Windows a performance boost. But when CCleaner was unable to provide my Vista laptop with more than a modest speedup, I decided to try IObit's Advanced SystemCare Free. In my unscientific tests, Advanced SystemCare Free managed a … Read more
If you've got more than one PC, you probably also use more than one operating system. For instance, the PC I use at work runs XP, the machine in my home office uses Vista, and my laptop dual-boots Vista and Windows 7. Of the three, I'll take Win7 any day of the week and twice on Mondays, but if you prefer XP's look and features, a free program lets you make all three operating systems appear and act like XP.
Two other freebies improve two other Windows 7 weak spots: its built-in firewall and word processor.
Maximize … Read more
Few people do all their work on a single computer. Fewer still don't occasionally need access to files on another PC, whether their own or someone else's. The free Gbridge program lets you access and synchronize files and folders on any Internet-connected PCs quickly and simply.
Gbridge uses Google Talk to create a VPN connection for the secure transfer of files between your own PCs and the machines of family, friends, and coworkers. The service requires a Gmail account, but if you'd rather not use your primary Gmail account, you can create one for free specifically for … Read more
You can create a disk image in the Enterprise, Business, and Ultimate versions of Windows Vista, but if you use Vista Home Premium, you need a third-party app to image a disk or partition. I was delighted to find a disk-imaging component added to the Backup and Restore applet in the Home Premium version of Windows 7.
Why it took Microsoft so long to include disk imaging in a nonbusiness version of Windows is a mystery. Even more puzzling is why the company didn't try harder to make Win7's disk-imaging tool as fast and simple to use as … Read more
You would think a 20-year-old operating system would let you copy and paste more than one item at a time. While the clipboards in Office 2003 and 2007 can store up to 24 text snippets and graphics for later reuse, no such multisave option is built into Windows itself.
Thank goodness software developers have stepped into the breach by providing free programs that extend the Windows clipboard, allowing you to copy dozens of items and paste any of them with a single click or keyboard shortcut.
Maximize your clipboard options in Office 2003 and 2007 As soon as you copy … Read more
I once worked with a woman whose office looked like a hoarder's attic. Apart from very narrow passageways, every inch of space was piled ceiling-high with paper of every sort. The desktop of her Windows PC was similarly strewn with more icons than would fit on a single screen.
She claimed to be able to find exactly what she was looking for with little hunting, both in her office and on her desktop. The woman obviously had found a system that worked for her. If you find yourself struggling to manage the shortcuts and other items on your desktop, … Read more
A year ago, I wrote about the free Startup Delayer from R2 Studios that lets you adjust how Windows loads your start-up programs. Two useful free tools for trimming your PC's roster of start-up apps are Pirisoft's CCleaner and Microsoft's (formerly SysInternals') AutoRuns. The problem is, you can do massive damage with such registry-editing programs--to the point of making your machine unbootable.… Read more
Like many people who work for a company that's located hundreds of miles from their home, I rely on remote-access programs, specifically the Remote Desktop Connection utility built into Windows. I recently encountered a relatively common bug in the program: in the midst of a remote session, I lost the ability to copy and paste.
Closing and restarting the remote connection fixed the problem temporarily. A more permanent solution is described by Pinal Dave on the SQL Authority blog. Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and click Start Task Manager. Choose the Processes tab, select rdpclip.exe, click End Process, and close Task … Read more
We don't really buy software, we rent it. And like lessees, we don't call all the shots when it comes to how--and how long--we use the programs we "buy."
Exhibit A: Microsoft cut off free support for Windows XP and Office 2003 last April. I don't recall the programs coming with expiration dates.
We don't even control when Windows and some of our applications update. More than a decade ago, IBM researcher Clare-Marie Karat published a Computer User's Bill of Rights. (Read more about it in a 1998 BusinessWeek article and on researcher … Read more