Tips and Tricks Tips and Tricks

Your Website is Safe from Hacker Attempts; How About Hijack Attempts? by Kelly Lynn

If you run a website for your small business, you want to choose a hosting service that comes with a reputation for safe, hack-resistant servers. What if your website could be compromised in another way, though, with no one touching your own computers or the servers at your web hosting service at any point? As Lenovo just discovered earlier this year, this is possible. While intruders were not able to hack into their website they were able to hijack it.   Lizard Squad, the group behind the hijacking attack, targeted Lenovo's website from the outside to redirect visitors to a different page for the same URL -- even as showed on the address bar. They achieved such disruption through messing with the company's DNS records with Lenovo's website registrar.   … Continue reading

What Do All Those Windows Processes in Task Manager Do? by Kelly Lynn

If you're a hands-on Windows user, you've probably been to Task Manager,to take a look at what exactly happens behind the scenes. You've probably looked under the Details and Processes tabs and seen a number of running processes with mystifying names, taking up your computer's resources. What do these processes actually do, and should you shut them down?   svchost.exe   In early versions of Windows, every internal process was launched by a .exe executable file. Over time, though, Microsoft changed this practice. Internal Windows services were moved to a different kind of executable called the Dynamic Link Library file or .dll file. The idea was to break tasks down to smaller sections, to write .dll executable files for them, and to share them across programs. This made programming easier, because … Continue reading

Why is Windows Update as Slow as It Is? by Kelly Lynn

Windows Update has never been particularly speedy. While you aren't likely to notice if the update process entirely automatically, you'll certainly get impatient should you try to do it manually (you might want to do this if the automatic update process is set to an inconvenient time, and you simply want to get the update process going right away). When you click on the Check for updates button in Windows Update, it can take as long as 15 to 30 minutes for the process to even discover what updates are needed. If your computer hasn't had a chance to update in a while, the process can take even longer. To many computer users, this seems inexcusable; does Windows Update need an update for itself? Why should it take it this … Continue reading

What is an IP Address Conflict, and What Do You Do About It? by Kelly Lynn

If you have more than one device connected to your home network, you may, on occasion, come up against a problem called an IP address conflict. In Windows, you get a little notification. It goes Network error: Windows has detected an IP address conflict. Another computer on this network has the same IP address as this computer. When this happens, usually, you lose your connection to the network, or your connection becomes unstable. Why does this happen, and what can you do about it? The notification is spot on   Every computer on a network must have a unique IP address. It's the only way that the router can keep track of where a request for a new webpage or network resource comes from, and where information arriving from the … Continue reading

When Your PC Seems Sluggish, Task Manager Gives You All Kinds of Options by Kelly Lynn

When your computer seems to run slow, your first instinct is usually to restart it. If you're the curious type, though, you'll probably want to check for the cause. Going to the Process tab of Task Manager is the way to do it. With its detailed resource allocation listings, Task Manager gives you great insight into what programs or processes take up too much of the resources available. Once you do discover that a process doesn't play nice, Task Manager also gives you ways to correct the situation -- you get to set processes to low priority levels to force them to trim their demands, or you get to shut them down altogether. Looking at Task Manager   Task Manager is easily accessed through a right-click on the taskbar. If … Continue reading

Are Terabytes of Cloud Storage Really a Practical Idea? by Kelly Lynn

When you sign up for an Internet connection, you usually only get to see numbers advertised for the download speeds available. The average American broadband connection is now around 21 Mbps, which puts it way behind countries in Eastern Europe such as Estonia and Hungary. If you're only willing to pay $50 a month, as most people are, you get no more than 16 Mbps in most areas. This can be a problem when you try to take advantage of Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive or any of the other great services that offer gigabytes or terabytes of space online (one Chinese service called Tencent Weiyun actually offers 10 TB for free, and another called Qihoo 360 offers 36 TB; the one problem is that these sites are completely … Continue reading

Did You Ever Wonder Why Your 64-Bit Windows Had Two Folders Named Program Files? by Kelly Lynn

It was with Windows Vista that Microsoft first made 64-bit operating systems easily available to regular consumers (while there was a 64-bit version of XP available, consumers didn't have easy access to it, the way they do on Windows versions released ever since). Certainly, Windows 64-bit is more efficient; what about the other difference? Users who install 64-bit versions of Windows do know that there's better performance to be had; 64-bit operating systems are able to use more than 3 GB of RAM, for instance, and are faster. To all appearances, though, 64-bit operating systems are identical to 32-bit ones; there's just one prominent difference -- when it comes to 64-bit installations, Windows places two different Program Files folders on the C: drive, rather than just the one seen on 32-bit installations. … Continue reading

Just Upgraded Your Windows? Do You See a Windows.old Folder on the C Drive? by Kelly Lynn

When you choose the upgrade path to move to a more recent version of Windows, whether from XP to 7, from 8 to 10, or anything else, you will usually find a large folder on your C drive that takes up tens of gigabytes, and that doesn't seem to do anything. It's called Windows.old, and you won't see it on clean installations of Windows. The folder can't be deleted with a simple click of the Delete button, either. You usually get an error message to that effect. What is Windows.old, then, and what is it doing on your drive? Don't worry, it'll go away   As the name suggests, Windows.old is a full record of your old operating system; it includes a copy of the OS itself, as well as … Continue reading

What is Screen Tearing, and What Do You Do About It? by Kelly Lynn

Smooth, fluid motion in the movies that you watch on your computer or the games that you play isn't to be taken for granted -- your monitor and the graphics card in your computer need to be absolutely in sync for the cascade of frames to happen with great precision and reliability. Each time the graphics card sends out a frame, your monitor needs to be done with the previous frame, and ready to display the new one coming in. Unfortunately, this arrangement comes with a fundamental problem -- graphics cards and monitors are not locked to the same refresh rate. Graphics cards have a finite amount of processing power to use on rendering increasingly complex gaming visuals. This is where variable refresh rates come in: when the graphics card … Continue reading

Guarding Your Typing Rhythm When You Are on Your Computer by Kelly Lynn

If you value your privacy online, it's important to be aware of the different ways in which threats can arrive, and to use the right tools; no one piece of software covers all the angles. For instance, you might install software to block trackers on your browser (Ghostery is a popular product in this area), and an ad blocker. Not long ago, this type of defense was adequate. Now, there's something new to guard against -- keyboard tracking. What is keyboard tracking?   Forensic science is able to identify people through analyzing their fingerprints, retina scans, voice and handwriting -- each person has a unique pattern in each one of these areas. It turns out that there is one more area of uniqueness to people to use for identification purposes … Continue reading