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PAGES OF WINDOWS STEP-BY-STEP GUIDES

MAKE YOUR PC PERFECT

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Welcome It’s amazing how quickly your PC can get junked up with all kinds of detritus – duplicate files, unwanted or unused apps and, of course, there’s the ever-present threat of malware. On page 11, we show you how to clean up your PC by getting rid of viruses and ransomware; wipe potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) and save gigabytes of storage space by getting rid of multiple copies of files, such as photos. We even explain how you can keep your PC clutter-free and safe in future

– and show you how to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch, just in case you want to perform a complete do-over. On page 52 we’ll also show you how to stream almost anything from your PC; and on page 60 how you can fix common Windows 10 annoyances. Don’t forget our Explore section too – it’s packed with step-bystep guides to help you do more with your PC. It all starts on page 25. Enjoy the issue,

Rob Mead-Green Editor

www.facebook.com/windowsmag SUBSCRIBE TO THE MAG TODAY AND SAVE – JUST TURN TO PAGE 22! We pride ourselves in being the only magazine on the shelves to show you exactly how to get the very best from the Windows operating system, whether you’re using Windows 10 or Windows 8.1. Also, don’t forget to take a look at how you can read the magazine on your laptop, smartphone or tablet.

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Reinstall Windows for speed and stability Build your own website Find any file on your PC Get started with the Kodi media player

November 2017

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FEATURES 11 Wipe it!

Get rid of malware, unwanted apps and duplicate files for a leaner, faster PC

52 Stream everything

Put your games, your media and your life online and access them anywhere

60 Fix Windows 10

Solve the frustrating oversights and annoyances in Microsoft’s latest OS

REGULARS

6 Discover How to backup precious files online; Microsof Reality initiative; iPhone X and h seemingly irresistable rise of f 22 Subscriptions Save up 46% on print and digital issu 37 Back issues Missed a miss out – order now while

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EXPLORE The best PC tutorials <ʝʦɠʔʦLȫɏ5ɼɊ0HDɍ*ȾȭʑɚVʋ\ɡ

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“If you’re looking for better ways to use your home computer, then this is the place to start. We’ll show you all the tips and tricks the experts use and more!” 26 Tell a story using Sway

41 Gives Windows a new look

29 Sort out your music collection 44 Convert a PDF into a text with the brilliant MusicBee document you can edit and save 32 How to install Minecraft and make it run well on your PC

SUPPORT

66 Get answers to your technical questions with help from our PC experts 4

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34 Discover and master the hidden features of Windows 10

46 Back up to Google Drive 48 How to prevent screen-time eyestrain with the f.lux app

50 How to track down a lost 38 Create a stunning flame effect Windows device using Prey


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EVERYTHING 52 Put all your games, media and even your life online – and then stream it anywhere

UPGRADE 77 Our expert reviews 78 Dell XPS 15 80 Asus Transformer Pro T304 82 Cujo smart firewall 84 Sony MDR-1000X 86 Acer Swift 3

FIX WINDOWS 10

60 It’s Microsoft’s best OS yet, but it isn’t without its annoyances – here we show you how to resolve them

88 Best free VPN clients

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FASCINATING FACTS


Discover Keep your data safe

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The Knowledge…

Never lose a document or favourite photo again We all know backups are important. It’s time to automatically copy your critical Àles online, for free creative housekeeping on your end to Things can, and do, go wrong. Hard split up your files into categories is all it drives fail, computers go up in smoke, takes to make the most of the and with them go the things you need cumulative total. and love. Family photos, financial If you need something more, and if documents, all gone – unless you’re security is a priority, Mega (www.mega. clever. Backing up files to an external nz) is a great choice. You get a 50GB drive is certainly one way of ensuring storage limit for free, and your files are they’re safe, but going one stage encrypted as they’re uploaded, further and having your files also wend meaning nobody can read their their way to a cloud service, with all the contents but you – even if the service security of protected server rooms and were to suffer a their own dedicated and invisible Creative housekeeping is data breach. Use Megasync app, backups, is a all it takes to make the the and you can even no-brainer. Many companies most of online storage synchronise local folders on your PC. offer some kind of Bear in mind that this kind of system cloud backup for free. Microsoft’s is not always infallible. Some cloud OneDrive, for example, offers free 5GB services have gone offline while others of free storage (down from the 15GB it – such as CrashPlan – have changed previously offered), a free Dropbox their user policies so their cloud backup account gets you 2GB, Google Drive service is no longer available to home offers you 15GB, and so on. Each of users. The key is to ensure you keep these – if you install their relevant app multiple copies of every file in several – can automatically synchronise files different places; with that assurance, you put in a folder on your PC into their your data will be safe. respective online storage space; a bit of

X APPEAL Apple’s fanciest iPhone yet Some have accused Apple of following rather than leading in recent years, and there’s certainly some truth in that – its new iPhone X (pronounced ‘ten’) doesn’t do anything that scattered competitors in the Android world haven’t been doing for some time. But it’s certainly a bold release, both in the way engineers have changed up the iPhone design and in the way the company is asking an astonishing £999 for the pleasure of using it. Here’s what it’s best at…

NO HOME BUTTON The edge-to-edge display means there’s no room – you’ll use swipes instead.

WIRELESS CHARGING Pop your iPhone on the charging pad (sold separately) and juice up.

FACE ID The iPhone X ditches Apple’s Touch ID in favour of sophisticated face recognition tech.

Mixed Reality What’s this, then? It’s Microsoft’s take on Virtual Reality (VR). Strap on an appropriate headset and it blends the real world with your Windows desktop (and a bunch of special apps which take advantage of the technology) for what Microsoft calls ‘immersive experiences that you will love’. That probably depends on your stomach. So it’s HoloLens? Yes and no. HoloLens was the first step on the mixed reality road, and Microsoft’s debut in the field. It’s now farmed the relevant protocols and design ideologies out to a host of interested third parties, which means a stack of new headsets are due towards the end of this year, with more coming at the beginning of 2018. Like what? The Lenovo Explorer will probably be the first. Available as a headset-only package for $350 (£259) or with a pair of motion controllers for $450 (£333), it significantly undercuts even the recently-reduced pricing of VR alternatives, such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Dell, Acer and Asus are also on board with their own mixed reality hardware. Perfect for gaming, then? We’re not entirely sure. While Microsoft is talking up compatibility with ‘Steam content’, that’s not a statement that proper games will work – this is Mixed Reality, rather than proper VR. There’s the promise of Halo ‘experiences’ from developer 343 Industries but, again, that doesn’t explicitly mean games. Then what’s the point? Microsoft is building Mixed Reality tech into the next major revision of Windows 10. Eventually you’ll be able to do everything you can do on a desktop with a headset strapped on, and the budget price – and super-simple setup – should mean the technology has a good chance of spreading more widely than the current VR crop. As long as it’s supported, Mixed Reality could take over.

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The rise of fake news

Anyone can write anything online. Can you really trust all the stories that you read on the internet?

T

he recent US election, and the Twitter protestations of the eventual winner, brought an alarming trend to public attention: fake news. The term generally refers to highly biased articles, often entirely fabricated or ďŹ lled with falsehoods. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not talking about parody or humour; fake news is more insidious, generated in order to sway public opinion one way or the other, and designed in such a way that the articles will rise to the top of social networks, such as Facebook. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a problem. You might have been inďŹ&#x201A;uenced by fake news without even knowing it. But itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a problem that the internetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest names are working to stamp out, although it wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be easy.

FACE THE FACTS Twitter, for example, is mulling over the idea of a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;fake newsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; button, which would enable eagle-eyed users to tag tweets or links that push false articles, but this method could easily swing in the wrong direction, with propaganda merchants using it to squash legitimate news stories. Google is actively identifying and banning sites which manage to slip fake news into

its search results, but this is a cat-andmouse game. No sooner does it manage to block one site than another pops up, and Googleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ever-changing page ranking algorithm is â&#x20AC;&#x201C; while not easily tricked â&#x20AC;&#x201C; far from infallible. Facebook, probably the biggest engine of fake news distribution, has banned many untrustworthy media outlets from its trending news sidebar, but it is powerless to stop people sharing potentially spurious articles with friends. So what can you do to combat fake news? First, treat everything you read online with a degree of scepticism, particularly if it comes from a website youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not familiar with. Even content coming from legitimate news sources will have some degree of bias, the Guardian leaning left, the Mail leaning right, and even they can be sources of fake news occasionally. If you ďŹ nd something which seems suspicious and you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t verify the truth behind it, there are several sites that are dedicated to investigating fake news and extracting the facts. Head to factcheck.org or snopes.org to see their latest anti-fake news updates and, once itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s launched later this year, check wikitribune.com.

Download thisâ&#x20AC;Ś Show Me The Way

osmlab.github.io/show-me-the-way/ OpenStreetMap is a quite remarkable project, a democratised collection of maps, freely available for anyone to use or work with, created entirely by its users. But exactly how does a project of that magnitude come together? Show Me The Way shows you how. Head to the site and you can watch the most recent additions to OpenStreetMap â&#x20AC;&#x201C; roads, paths, buildings, zones and more â&#x20AC;&#x201C; added live, drawn over the top of satellite imagery. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fascinating not just to see how accurate OpenStreetMap is, but to take a tour around some of the more obscure locations in the world as theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re added to its vast database. And if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to see â&#x20AC;&#x201C; or even make use of â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the maps, head to openstreetmap.org where you can browse locations, download selected areas, or if even sign up to be a map editor in your own right.

SWELL MAPS OpenStreetMap.org gives you free access to a huge cartography database.

Follow us onâ&#x20AC;Ś www.twitter.com/windowsmag

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3

1

What does pressing [Alt] + [F4] do to the current window?

A Deletes an object B Renames an object C Duplicates an object

A Minimises it B Takes a screenshot C Closes it

2

What does pressing [F5] usually do?

A Refreshes the currently selected window B Restarts your PC C Records your screen

For what is [F2] usually a shortcut?

4

What action does pressing [Shift] + [F10] replicate? A Right-click B Power off C Eject

5

What does pressing [F11] do to most internet browsers? A Takes you back B Takes you forward C Enters fullscreen

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| November 2017

NEXT ISSUE ON SALE Friday

In Microsoft Word, what does [F7] do?

A Checks spelling B Removes formatting C Summons Clippy

Answers 1C 2A 3B 4A 5C 6A

8

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Novembe er


Discover Facts & figures

Rob Mead-Green reveals a host of fascinating digital facts

2018 Possible launch date of Microsoft’s modular OS, codenamed ‘Andromeda’. The new operating system will enable Windows 10 features to be added or stripped away, depending on the device it’s running on. That should make Andromeda ideal for mobile devices and even wearables.

4,600MHZ

Speed of Corsair’s new Vengeance IPX DDR4 memory, beating its previous 4,200MHz record. That gives the new RAM an equivalent PC processor speed of 4.6GHz – that’s faster than an Intel Core i7-7700K.

$30

Cost to the US Navy of the Xbox 360 controllers it’s starting to install on its Virginia class submarines. The controllers will be used on the submarines’ periscopes, replacing a $38,000 helicopter-style control stick that the US Navy uses now.

10M Distance a hacker would need to be away from your Bluetooth device to launch an undetected attack using an existing vulnerability called Blueborne. The vulnerability puts billions of Bluetooth-equipped devices potentially at risk. Updating your device’s OS should solve the problem.

2.7 MILLION

Number of people initially affected by a malware-infected version of CCleaner, the free Windows system maintenance tool. Developer Piriform says the threat has now been negated, but if you’re using version 5.33 you should update the software straight away. November 2017 |

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Incoming

The he ho hottest es new e Windows do s hardware haa d a e o on the t e ho horizon o o

Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro Price ¥6,399, https://xiaomi-mi.com Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi finally dipped its toes in laptop waters last year with the spectacular Mi Notebook Air. Now it’s building on that success with the Mi Notebook Pro – a beautiful and ultra-thin laptop that packs somee serious tech at the heart of its aluminium and glass design. The 15.6-inch Mi Notebook Pro comes with a latest generation quad-core well Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), as w as Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics. It also features a precision trackpad with MI integrated fingerprint sensor, two USB-C and two USB 3.0 ports, plus an HDM port. The only slight disappointment is its display, which is a 1080p Full HD model, although its bezels are suitably narrow. But then it’s hard to quibble when the laptop costs ¥6,399 (£731). Let’s hope Xiaomi launches it here.

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Windows 10 Declutter your PC

PC reeling from the effects of malware? Hard drive overloaded with unwanted programs and duplicate files? Discover how to rid your PC of the junk

D

espite your best efforts – and the occasional reinstall – Windows continues to accumulate junk Àles. Whether it’s simply cluttering up your hard drive with unused and unwanted programs or something more sinister, such as a malware infection or full-blown ransomware attack, the fact remains that your PC’s storage drive attracts detritus like a magnet. In this feature, we’ll show you how to Àght back. We’ll open by making sure your PC is completely free from infection – even if you’re diligent about security, it never hurts to make sure you’re not harbouring some particularly sneaky piece of malware. Crucially, m y we’ll reveal tips and tools that can help you a y shift

most infections from your computer – including many ransomware variants that have your data or computer held hostage. We’ll then move on to less malicious – but still unwanted – PUPs (potentially unwanted programs before focusing our attention on other forms of junk, including leftover Àles and duplicate photos. And having carried out all the rubbish, we’ll reveal what security tools you need in place to prevent further infection, along with some tips for reining in program installations going forward – and how to carry out a complete Windows reinstall if you need to. By the end of this feature you’ll have reclaimed gigabytes of hard drive space and banished unwanted programs. Your PC will be faster, g cleaner and – criticallyy – safer to use.


Check for malware

Make sure your PC is free of ransomware and other infections, and if it’s not, discover how to deal with them

S

tep one of the decluttering process is to make sure your PC is infection-free. Start by opening your anti-virus tool to search for malware infections such as worms, Trojans, rootkits and spyware. Make sure its definitions are up to date, then allow it to perform a full scan. If infections are found, follow the instructions to either quarantine or attempt removal of the malware – you’ll almost certainly be prompted to reboot when you’re done, in which case run a full scan again to verify the infection has gone. Some infections can be stubborn – if after two or three attempts the infection is still present, reboot into Safe mode. Those running Windows 7 should tap [F8] when the computer starts to boot; Windows 8.1 and 10 users need to navigate to Start > Settings > ‘Update & security’ > Recovery, then click ‘Restart now’. Under ‘Advanced start-up’, navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Start-up Settings. Click Restart and press [5] to select ‘Enable Safe Mode with Networking’. Once in Safe mode, try updating and running the scan again – most, but not all, malware should be sufficiently crippled in Safe mode to allow its complete removal. If the infection is still there, or you’re locked out of Safe mode, the step-by-step guide on the opposite page reveals further tools and tips to try.

Widen your scan

Even if your main anti-virus tool comes up clean, don’t assume you’re out of the woods. Let’s perform some additional scans with other tools to make sure. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (www. malwarebytes.com) is our favourite security app for delivering a second opinion – it searches for a wider range of threats than most anti-malware tools,

The premium version of Malwarebytes offers real-time protection.

including potentially unwanted programs that may come with spyware or other privacy issues. You’ll need to download and install the free version, but once in place you can update it and run a full scan as with your main security tool – it’ll even run in Safe mode. If you want to go further, use the Emsisoft Emergency Kit – as featured in the step-by-step guide – to perform scans using two separate anti-virus engines. Other portable tools worth adding to your security toolkit include ClamWin Portable (install this through https://portableapps.com/) and VIPRE

“Most, if not all, malware should be sufficiently crippled in Safe mode to allow complete removal” Rescue Disk (see the step-by-step guide). Both may find and remove more stubborn infections. If you’re convinced you’ve been attacked by a rootkit, then open Malwarebytes and go to Settings > Protection to flick the ‘Scan for rootkits’ option to On.

Recover from ransomware

Tweaking.com’s Windows Repair tool can quickly undo damage left behind by malware.

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encrypted data and so on), which may give you access to your data later if the criminals are caught and the private keys used to scramble your files are released. Next, perform scans with all the anti-malware tools at your disposal to dispatch the underlying infection. Only when it’s removed should you visit https://noransom.kaspersky.com/ to see if your infection is covered by one of the six free ransomware decryption tools on offer. Other vendors worth checking out include AVG (www.avg.com/en-gb/ ransomware-decryption-tools). If you find yourself locked out of your PC by

If you encounter ransomware, don’t panic. This is doubly true if you have a backup somewhere – whatever else happens, you can wipe your PC’s storage drive and reinstall Windows and live with a small loss of data. In cases where you’re locked out from your data, make a note of any demands (Bitcoin wallet address, file list of

| November 2017

ransomware, try Trend Micro’s free Ransomware Screen Unlocker Tool (http://bit.ly/trendransomware), which can be run in Safe mode or prepared on another PC if you can’t even get that far. After you’ve cleaned your PC, you may find certain functions haven’t been restored. Broken network connections can often be fixed with the help of NetAdapter Repair All In One (https:// sourceforge.net/projects/netadapter/). If Safe mode still won’t work, or you’re locked out of key parts of your system, then run the Windows Repair Tool (www.tweaking.com). Not only does it give your PC the once-over, it’ll reset Registry and file permissions, and perform other much-needed repairs.


Recover from stubborn infections

1

Zap nasty malware

3

Prepare the scanner

5

Create bootable disc

If you can restart your PC in Safe mode – see the main body text opposite to Ànd out how – with networking, then go to www.vipre.com/support/rescue/ to download a free tool that specialises in removing stubborn malware. If you can’t get online in Safe mode, download it on a clean PC and transfer it across.

Launch the tool on your clean PC, and select the Emergency Kit Scanner. Click Yes when prompted to download the latest updates. Once that’s done, close the tool, and then plug the drive into your infected PC. Launch the scanner tool again – you should see that it’s now up to date.

If all else fails, create a Kaspersky Rescue Disk – download the ISO from https//support.kaspersky.com/viruses/rescuedisk to a clean PC. Either right-click the ISO and choose ‘Burn image’ or use a tool, such as Rufus (https//rufus.akeo.ie/ , to create bootable media stored on a USB Áash drive.

2

Scan with two engines

4

Scan and remove

6

Boot and scan

If you can boot your PC, but can’t get into Safe mode and have limited access to your system, download and install the portable Emsisoft Emergency Kit (www.emsisoft.com/en/ software/eek/ on to a USB Áash drive on a clean PC. Be warned, it’s 311MB, so make sure the drive has enough free space.

For basic malware infections, click Malware Scan. If you suspect that your PC has been infected by a rootkit, click Custom Scan and tick ‘Use direct disk access’ before clicking Next. You can also perform a custom scan to root out potentially unwanted programs (PUPs if you so wish.

Restart your PC from your boot media – if your PC has a UEFI and it doesn’t work, you’ll need to go into your UEFI settings to make sure that compatibility mode is enabled to support the rescue disk. Once loaded, let Kaspersky Rescue Disk scan and remove any infections, then reboot your machine.

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Remove unwanted junkware The worst offenders have been sent packing from your Windows PC, now it’s time to move on to the other undesirables

N

ext, we’re moving on to programs, add-ons and files that inhabit a ‘grey area’ – these are potentially unwanted (hence the term PUPs, or potentially unwanted programs) and fall into a number of categories. Most PUPs are installed alongside seemingly legitimate software – usually for financial reasons, an increasing number of supposedly free tools are bundled up inside installers that attempt to do more than simply install the original program. These additional actions may be to attempt the installation of further programs. Others offer you browser toolbars while attempting to change your browser search settings or homepage. The offerings are usually legitimate, but the tactics used to get them on to your PC are not. Items are usually pre-selected, and it’s not always clear which options you need to select in order to remove those unwanted items thanks to confusingly worded buttons or dialog boxes.

Java is well-known for installing unwanted bundleware. Choose the right settings.

Retoring your PC to its factory settings can also cause unwanted bloatware to be reinstalled.

Some security software can block these attempted installations at their source – see the ‘Block PUPs’ box on page 19 – but if you’ve not been particularly careful you may find your browser sagging under the weight of multiple toolbars and competing search engines.

detecting programs with dubious recommendations. They’ll be clearly marked as PUPs in the scan results. Malwarebytes also offers AdwCleaner, which targets browser-related items – toolbars, add-ons, search hijackers, browser redirects and other unsavoury items – in addition to adware and PUPs. It’s worth running if you’re struggling to reclaim control of your web browser. Get it from www.malwarebytes.com/ adwcleaner/ – unlike Malwarebytes itself, you don’t need to install AdwCleaner before running it.

Remove the PUPs

If you’ve already taken our advice and performed a scan using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, then you’ve probably already removed the most insidious PUPs – unlike your regular security software, Malwarebytes is hot on

Banish bloatware for good If your PC came with Windows pre-loaded, then all the bloatware that came with it is waiting to make a return the moment you restore Windows following your manufacturer’s instructions. If you prepare properly by following our ‘Perfect Windows Reinstall’ guide from issue 139, you can craft your own streamlined Windows 10 installation, free from all those unnecessary programs and trials. If there are programs you will miss – say a DVD Player – then visit the downloads section of your manufacturer’s website where you should be able to download those individual applications that you do use (along with all the hardware drivers you’ll need).

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It keeps on coming

Rogue program installers aren’t the only source of junk. If you bought a PC from one of the major manufacturers, chances are it came with a host of pre-loaded software. Some of it might be useful, but most it – including all those trials – is just junk. You could wade through it all manually following the tips on the following two pages, but why not employ the services of a third-party tool to root it all out for you? PC Decrapifier (www.pcdecrapifier. com) is one such free tool, which we feature in the step-by-step guide opposite. It can uninstall multiple programs at once with minimal intervention, and we like the fact it filters its results into three categories: Recommended, Questionable and Everything Else. You get to see how many other users have removed the software and then choose exactly what you want to remove – remember, you’re under no obligation to remove anything, even recommended entries. With these techniques, you should be able to remove all malicious and potentially unwanted software from your PC with the help of the step-bystep guide opposite. But what if you want to go even further? Turn the page to discover more ways to declutter your PC and reclaim both lost storage space and system resources.


Windows 10 Declutter your PC Remove undesirables from your PC

1

Check for PUPs

3

Get rid of adware

5

Target bloatware

If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve not already done so, run Malwarebytes AntiMalware. The free version is all you need select Scan and choose Threat Scan if you want all PUPs treated as malware, or select Custom Scan to be alerted, enabling you to choose whether or not to remove the detected programs.

Malwarebytesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; AdwCleaner tool targets other areas of your PC. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll detect software and browser add-ons youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve freely installed, but which come with a bad reputation. It can also remove them for you â&#x20AC;&#x201C; perfect in cases where the software has made it as tricky as possible to uninstall.

Next, open the PC DecrapiĂ&#x20AC;er utility and click Analyze to let it scan your system. Work your way through each of the three tabs ticking any programs that you no longer want â&#x20AC;&#x201C; note that all of your installed programs are listed under Everything Else, so treat these with additional caution.

2

Enable System Restore

4

Remove more junk

6

Remove unwanted software

Some of the following tools will offer to take a Restore point in case you mistakenly remove the wrong program. Press >Win@  >Pause/Break@, and click System Protection. If your system drive isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t protected, select it and choose ConĂ&#x20AC;gure to do so. Set it to around 5GB or Ă&#x20AC;ve percent of available space.

Malwarebytes also produces the Junkware Removal Tool â&#x20AC;&#x201C; if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still suspicious about whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on your PC, download and run this from www.malwarebytes.com/ junkwareremovaltool for an additional scan. Note that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll remove everything it Ă&#x20AC;nds â&#x20AC;&#x201C; you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t pick and choose.

Click â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Complete Removalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve selected the programs that you want to remove. Review the programs list â&#x20AC;&#x201C; click Go Back to make changes, or Begin Removal Now to let PC DecrapiĂ&#x20AC;er remove each program in turn â&#x20AC;&#x201C; follow any on-screen prompts to uninstall speciĂ&#x20AC;c tools.

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Remove more junk

You have freed your machine from the tyranny of malware and adware, now it’s time to perform an even deeper clean

Y

our computer should now be free from infections and unwanted software, but there’s plenty more junk clogging up your PC, so in this section we’re going to perform a deep clean. Let’s start by targeting leftover files by installing the latest version of CCleaner (www.piriform.com). Launch the program and then carefully go through the Cleaner section (split into two tabs: Windows and Applications) to see what’s pre-selected for cleaning. We’d recommend deselecting everything under Windows Explorer to preserve previously opened file lists. Also, be careful on the Applications tab and think long and hard about deleting app settings you use frequently – if space is desperately low, then target your browser’s cache but leave other settings untouched. Once you’re happy with your choices, click Analyze. CCleaner will scan your selected items and then provide you with a summary of how much space it’s going to free up. Before committing to anything, though, right-click each entry and choose ‘View detailed results’ to examine exactly which files are going to be deleted. You can exclude individual items by right-clicking them, but if you want to exclude an entire category, you’ll need to untick it in the left-hand pane and click Analyze. Check your choices again and then click Run

Dump gigabytes of unwanted data from your drive using CCleaner – but use it with care.

Cleaner, read the warning – the Recycle Bin is bypassed, so there’s no going back – and click Yes to free your drive space.

More cleaning options

CCleaner can help with other aspects of your cleaning too. Time to clear out some of those resource-hogging browser add-ons you don’t use. You can do this from within your browser, but CCleaner offers a convenient location for managing all the add-ons in all your installed browsers. Select Tools > Browser Plugins and you can manage your extensions, helpers and toolbars

from one spot, with each supported browser represented under its own tab. Disable first, then delete once you’ve verified you don’t need the extension.

AntiDupl can help you remove all those duplicate and similar photos you’ve been sitting on.

Visualise drive space Locating where those spacehogging Àles are can be an art in itself, particularly if you’ve exhausted all the usual suspects, such as your Pictures, Documents and other user folders. You could, of course, laboriously go hunting inside every single folder manually, right-clicking and choosing Properties, then waiting while its contents are totted up and a folder size produced, but a better option is to employ the services of a third-party tool designed to provide a visual overview of your drive’s state. CCleaner offers a Disk Analyzer under Tools that enables you to search by one or more Àle

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categories and storage drives, providing a useful graphical summary and a list of Àles in order of Àle size. Right-click a Àle to reveal various options, including that all-important delete option. For a broader overview of what’s taking up space on your PC, try Treesize Free (www. jam-software.com/treesizeB free/ , which also provides you with a tree map alongside a details view that offers a block-like visualisation of the selected drive. Simply doubleclick on a folder to drill down, and Treesize Free will display the information you need – such as the size of Àles. | November 2017

Treesize Free can help you track down where those space-hogging files and folders reside on your computer’s storage drives.


Windows 10 Declutter your PC Next, select Startup – not only can you manage the apps that start with your PC, but you can also manage scheduled tasks, enabling you to see what programs are doing in the background. Switch to the Context Menu tab and you’ll also be able to streamline the menus that pop up when you right-click various items, such as folders or files, in File Explorer. Again, start by disabling items before deleting them, just in case. If you’re struggling to identify them, check the Publisher and File fields as well as the Program one.

Remove duplicates

One of the biggest ways in which space is wasted on your PC’s main storage drive is through the proliferation of duplicate files. CCleaner possesses a duplicate finder, but it’s pretty basic. If you’re looking to weed out duplicates of all types, then the step-by-step guide below reveals how to use Duplicate Cleaner Free (www.digitalvolcano.co.uk/ duplicatecleaner.html). It can be a slow

Clear out your context menu clutter with CCleaner.

“Click one and the action will be performed, with your unwanted file sent to the Recycle Bin” and frustrating process, but don’t panic if it appears to be non-responsive. You can close the program at any time and when you next restart it, Duplicate Cleaner will pick up where it left off. One obvious source of duplicate files are photos. In this digital age, we’re encouraged to take multiple snaps of the same shot to try and get the perfect one, but this results in a host of visually similar – if not quite identical – photos cluttering up your PC. This is where AntiDupl (https://sourceforge.net/ projects/antidupl/) comes in, since it’s

capable of identifying similar as well as exact copies of your photos. Once installed, launch the app and start by choosing Search > Options. Tick ‘Search rotated and mirror image dupls’. Click ‘OK’ and then select Search > Paths to choose which folders and/or drives to search. Make sure the first folder you choose is your ‘master’ folder – the photos inside here will be considered the original, with duplicates from other folders being removed. Then it’s a case of clicking the Play button and waiting while the search is

performed – if it’s taking a long time, click Background Mode to minimise the app to the Taskbar notification area. Analysing the results is a timeconsuming process – each duplicate or visually similar match is listed as a pair. Each pair is accompanied by a Hint, which indicates which copy will be deleted by default. You can review each match using the controls and change the default behaviour using the buttons next to each photo – roll your mouse over an option for an explanation of what does what. Click one and the action will be performed, with your unwanted file sent to the Recycle Bin (so you’ll need to empty this when you’re done). Click Exit at any time for a break – when you relaunch the program later, you can pick up where you left off.

Remove duplicate Àles

1

Set search criteria

Open Duplicate Cleaner Free and click New Search. By default, the program will match Àles by content only, but you can make it match by other criteria, such as name, the date it was created or last modiÀed and so on. Click ‘Select’ to choose a type of Àle to search for – documents or pictures, for example.

2

Scan locations

You can also limit your search to speciÀc Àle sizes and dates. Once you’re happy with your selections, switch to the Scan Location tab so that you can select the drives or folders that you want to include in your scan. Click ‘Protected’ next to a folder to ensure its Àles aren’t removed by Duplicate Cleaner Free.

3

Scan and remove

Click ‘Start scan’ – Duplicate Cleaner Free will begin searching and a progress box will keep you informed of what’s going on. Click ‘Close’ when done to choose which Àles to mark for deletion using the ‘Selection assistant’ tool to guide you. Click ‘File removal…’ to remove the duplicates once and for all.

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Stay infection and clutter-free

You’ve disinfected your PC and cleared off a load of junk – now it’s time to strengthen your security and keep the clutter from your machine

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ou’ve reclaimed control of your PC and banished malware along with unwanted software and other useless files. How can you protect yourself – and keep your PC clutter-free – going forward? Let’s start with security. These days, threats to your computer come in many shapes and forms. In spite of the best efforts of security vendors, there’s no one-size-fits-all-approach to protecting your PC, so examine what threats are out there and – crucially – how to protect yourself against them.

The threats

Malware is a constantly evolving beast, from its humble beginnings as a virus – a piece of code that replicated itself to spread havoc. The virus became a worm – a standalone program that can cause damage as well as spread, which in turn became a Trojan, which appears legit but in fact carries a nasty payload. The payloads have changed too, from simply downloading more software to deleting files on your storage drive to now locking you out of your PC or your files through encryption in the form of ransomware. Then there’s spyware, backdoor infections, rootkits, zero-day exploits… Need we go on? The key thing is to protect yourself against them. How you protect your PC is up to you, but if you’re serious about security, don’t rely on Windows

ZoneAlarm enables you to control network and internet traffic to and from your computer.

Defender and the built-in Windows Firewall. Either splash out on a featurepacked, but resource-friendly suite, such as Norton, or mix and match a selection of free anti-malware tools. Start with Bitdefender Antivirus Free (www.bitdefender.co.uk/solutions/free. html) and ZoneAlarm Free Firewall (www.zonealarm.com/software/ free-firewall/). ZoneAlarm lets you block threats from communicating with the outside world – something the Windows Firewall doesn’t do by default. It’s pernickety about which anti-virus apps it’ll work with, but Bitdefender is fine.

After installing ZoneAlarm, go into your firewall settings and select View Zones. You should see your home network has been added and placed in the Public zone, which restricts access to shared files and other resources. If you trust your network, click Edit and switch its zone to Trusted. Add Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (www.malwarebytes.com) – the free version will detect and remove threats missed by other tools, but if you can afford the premium version you’ll get real-time protection alongside your main tool as well, blocking a wider

Simplify Windows tweaks One of the biggest causes of clutter are programs that leave traces of themselves – leftover Àles and Registry entries – behind when you remove them. Use a tool, such as IOBit Uninstaller (www.iobit.com/en/ advanceduninstaller.php , to thoroughly scrub programs from your PC – it’ll also work with Windows Store apps too, including those that came pre-installed with Windows. The latest version of IOBit Uninstaller also drops the annoying prompts to install Advanced SystemCare too, but remember to skip the prompt at the download screen to add a new tab to your browser.

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Think twice before installing any program – and get into the habit of using Macrium ReÁect Free (www.macrium.com/ reÁectfree.aspx to take an exact copy of your hard drive on a regular basis, using differential backups to keep the Àle size down. You can then roll back your PC to remove clutter as well as recover from major problems. Finally, try to source portable apps where you can – these are self-contained within their own folder, meaning you simply delete the folder to remove all traces of them when you’re done. For more details head to https//portableapps.com | November 2017

Use IObit Uninstaller to remove unwanted programs from your PC and you’ll prevent the build-up of leftover files and other detritus.


Windows 10 Declutter your PC range of threats, including malicious websites and PUPs at source. We run MBAM Premium alongside Norton to cover all the threats mentioned above. Ransomware is a nasty type of virus that locks your PC or encrypts your files, demanding a ransom to get the unlock key. Inoculate your PC against many of these threats by installing Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware (www.bitdefender. com/solutions/anti-ransomware-tool. html) if your anti-malware software doesn’t explicitly offer protection. Many of these threats originate from dodgy websites – pop-up windows or misleading links. Most browsers now have built-in site-screening tools for the worst offenders, but arm yourself with some form of site vetting plugin, preferably one that rates websites for security and privacy. Sadly, a tool we used to recommend – Web of Trust – has seen its reputation bashed when it was discovered to be selling personal information about its users. The practice has allegedly been stopped, but

Good anti-malware tools block infections at their source.

“In spite of the best efforts of security vendors, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to protecting your PC” consider an alternative, such as Norton Safe Web (https://safeweb.norton.com/), if you want to vet both websites and search engine results. Also add Unchecky (www.unchecky. com), a free tool that helps protect against inadvertently installing PUPs, and Bitdefender Traffic Light (www. bitdefender.co.uk/toolbox/freeapps/ desktop/). Traffic Light offers some protection against malicious websites. Finally, strengthen protection against phishing websites and filter internet content for your children by applying

security at a network level using the OpenDNS Home service (www.opendns. com), which has the added benefit of delivering faster website loading as well.

Behavioural threats

Most threats make their way on to your PC through trickery and deceit. It began with phishing – fake emails that tried to trick people into clicking a link to visit a facsimile of a genuine website in order to capture their login details. Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) are bundled with genuine programs – options to add

these generally pop up during the installation process and they’re usually ticked by default. Scareware is a kind of program that exaggerates or makes false claims – typically about security (‘Your PC is infected!’, ‘10,000 Registry entries are slowing your computer down!’) – to con people into paying for the full version. It can also be delivered by malware. Long story short – be wary about clicking links on websites and in emails. Add a mail-screening tool, such as Mailwasher (www.mailwasher.net) or PopTrayU (http://poptrayu.sourceforge. net/) to vet your mail before opening it in your email program, deleting suspicious emails. And dig out your copy of issue 133 for more tips and tricks on securing your PC and network.

Block PUPs

1

Install Unchecky

Unchecky (www.unchecky.com

works silently in the background – if it recognises a dodgy program installer, it’ll quietly make sure any PUP options are unticked or de-selected by default. If you subsequently roll your mouse over any dangerous options, a pop-up Warning window will appear.

2

Buy Malwarebytes

The paid-for Premium version of Malwarebytes also has built-in blocking tools. These will automatically quarantine programs that are deemed as potentially unwanted when they’re detected. If another program is trying to install a PUP, it will be allowed to Ànish installing if Malwarebytes considers it clean.

3

Fix false positives

If you’re convinced an application is safe – IObit’s Advanced SystemCare, for example – then either ignore Unchecky’s warnings or in the case of Malwarebytes head to the 4uarantine section using the menu option on the left and select the allegedly offending item, then click Restore to bring it back.

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A full, destructive reinstall

If you’re looking to wipe the slate clean, or need to recover from major issues, then the nuclear option is always the best one

R

einstalling Windows from scratch – namely, wiping your system drive completely clean to install a brand, spanking new (and fresh) version of Windows on to it – is the ultimate choice for anyone looking to revive a slow-running PC or resolve a major, non-hardware issue, such as those caused by malware or a clogged up computer, In this final section we’ll step you through the entire process. Ideally you should have a recent and full backup of your PC, created using either File History or the Windows Backup and Restore tool before you begin, that way you’ll lose the minimum of content. A full reinstall really is destructive – nothing left on your C drive will exist once you’ve finished. You should ensure you have the latest installation media for your target version of Windows - see the ‘Reinstall Windows’ feature from issue 139 for details on how to do this. This will ensure a cleaner, more up-to-date installation from the off, thus saving you time bringing it fully up to date once the installation has completed. It’s also worth sourcing networking and graphics drivers now rather than relying on Windows to provide them for you – in most cases, they should be built in, but not always. Consult your PC or motherboard manufacturer’s website for these, or visit your Wi-Fi adaptor or

Windows 10 users can launch a repair install directly from the Media Creation Tool.

graphics card manufacturer’s site – download them to your backup drive. Other things to consider: uninstall any products that require activation now – this should deactivate the licences and allow you to use them with your new install without any issues. Also, be sure to have product keys and program installers to hand.

flash drive. The actual reinstall process doesn’t differ much across Windows 7, 8.1 or 10. You’ll be asked to verify your language, location and keyboard are set

STARTING THE REINSTALL PROCESS

A full destructive reinstall should always be started by booting from your installation media, be it a DVD or USB

Windows 7 and 8.1 users will find a large number of updates waiting to be installed after reinstalling.

Restore programs, settings and data Once Windows is reinstalled, open Windows Update to bring Windows fully up to date – don’t be surprised if there are hundreds of updates still to apply in the case of Windows 7 and 8.1. Once it’s fully up to date, consider reinstalling Macrium ReÁect Free (www. macrium.com/reÁectfree and taking your Àrst drive image – a vanilla backup you can restore in future instead of reinstalling Windows itself. If you followed the advice in our ‘Perfect Windows Reinstall’ feature from issue 139, you will now be able to reinstall your core apps using CloneApp (www.mirinsoft.com from your

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data drive. If you click the Restore button, every program setting you backed up will be restored – if there are any backup settings you don’t want to restore, select Options to locate the backup folder, then open it and move any program folders you want to ignore out of the folder temporarily before clicking the Restore button. Now take your second Macrium ReÁect Free backup. Finally, open File History or the Windows Backup and Restore tool and take steps to restore any data you backed up, then make sure the tool is conÀgured to carry on backing up going forward. | November 2017

Open File History, link it to your previous backup and then you can restore all your data back to its original location with one click.


Windows 10 Declutter your PC correctly, then it’s a case of clicking Install Now. If prompted, enter your product key or click Skip if you’re running Windows 10 on a PC you upgraded during the free period. When asked what type of installation you wish to perform, choose the Custom option. Next comes potentially the trickiest part of the process. A list of drives and partitions will appear – you need to select the one Windows is currently installed on. By default, it should be detected and selected, but verify it’s correct before clicking Format (click the advanced Drive Options button if it’s not visible). Click OK, then once formatted, verify the drive is still selected and click Next. That’s the technical stuff pretty much done. You’ll see a checklist of tasks to be performed – just sit back and wait. One thing to note: when Windows reboots, you may see the ‘press any key’ prompt again to boot from CD or DVD. Don’t press anything if that happens, just let the installer continue.

Make sure you’ve got network and graphics drivers sourced.

“Next comes potentially the trickiest part of the process. A list of drives and partitions will appear – you need to select the one Windows is currently installed on” SET UP POST-INSTALL

The post-setup prompt begins with Windows 7 users being prompted for their product key, then it’s a case of setting up a user account and you’re off and running. Windows 8.1 users will get an Express Settings prompt – be sure to click the option to customise these and go through them carefully. Post-Creators Update, Windows 10 no longer gives you an Express Settings option. For now, confirm your location and keyboard, set up your network if

required and choose ‘personal use’ when prompted. You can either sign in with your Microsoft account or click ‘Offline account’ > ‘Maybe later’ if you plan to stick with the old-style Windows 7 local user account. If you opt for the Microsoft account option now is a good time to set up a PIN to speed up future logins (note: the PIN is tied, specifically, to this PC, and you can always bypass it using your regular account password should you forget it at any point).

You’ll then be asked to set up Cortana – this is where Windows 10’s notorious privacy settings come into play, so review all of the options carefully, flicking the slider to Off for any you don’t need or use. That’s the end of the setup process – Windows will now configure itself based on each of your choices and you’ll see a series of messages appear on-screen. Eventually, when all is ready, you’ll find yourself back at the familiar Windows desktop screen. Q

Start the install process

1

Reboot for media

If you’re running Windows 7, or have Fast Boot disabled, insert your boot media and start your PC. Look for a ‘Press any key to boot from CD or DVD’ option – even if you have booted from a USB Áash drive. Press any key on your keyboard and you should Ànd that the Windows install process starts.

2

Tweak boot options

If you boot back into Windows, restart your PC again, but this time press a key, such as >F11@, when prompted to open a boot menu. Once you have done so, select your boot media – choosing UEFI if that option appears – to boot; otherwise, enter setup so that you can change the boot device order.

3

Windows 8.1/10

If Fast Boot is enabled on your computer, open Settings in Windows and then navigate to ‘Update recovery’ ! Recovery, then click ‘Restart now’ under ‘Advanced start-up’. When the boot options appear, choose ‘Use a device’ to select the USB Áash drive or DVD you created from the list that appears.

November 2017 |

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GET THE MOST FROM WINDOWS 10 WITH OUR COMPLETE MANUAL All that you need to know to get started with your Windows PC or laptop, including the best tips, tricks and tutorials!

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WINDOWS TIPS

INTERNET ADVICE

Welcome This monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Explore section is packed with tips and tricks to help you make the most of your PC â&#x20AC;&#x201C; from organising your music collection with the fantastic, and free, MusicBee (page 29) to creating an amazing flame effect with Photo Pos Pro (page 38). Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll also show you how to make Minecraft run perfectly on your PC (page 32); turn any PDF into an editable text document (page 44); back up your most important files to the cloud using Google Drive (page 46); and even how you can track down a lost or stolen Windows device (page 50).

EXCITING NEW PROJECTS

)Ę&#x2026;ɸÉ&#x2014;Ę&#x2122;LVʤĘ&#x2013;QÉ&#x2019;Â? 26 Tell a story using Sway

29 Organise your music collection with the brilliant MusicBee app

48 How to prevent screen-time eyestrain with the f.lux app 50 How to track down a lost PC

32 How to install Minecraft and make sure it runs well on your PC 34 Do more with your PC by using the hidden features of Windows 10 38 How to create a stunning flame effect with Photo Pos Pro 41 Give Windows 10 a new look 44 Convert a PDF into a text document you can edit and save 46 Back up to Google Drive

Rob Mead-Green Editor rob.mead-green@futurenet.com

<Ę?ĘŚÉ Ę&#x201D;ĘŚLČŤÉ? ,Ę&#x2039;É&#x161;(É&#x192;Ę&#x2018;QČŤĘ&#x2018;É&#x161;VĘ&#x2039;\ÉĄÂ?

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Photo Pos Pro makes it easy to create amazinglooking image effectsâ&#x20AC;? 7ʌʢÉ&#x161;WÉ&#x203A;SDČ°É? WÉ&#x203A;Ę&#x201C;Ę&#x2013;QÉ?Ę?XɢPĘ?ČžÉ?

Our promise to youâ&#x20AC;Ś

Get more from Windows, software and all your favourite sites

Packed with informative tutorials

Get more from your favourite websites

Every issue, we guarantee to pack the magazine with great tutorials teaching you all the best things you can do with your PC. Each article features step-by-step instructions to make learning new skills fast and enjoyable.

We all have our list of favourite sites but often we miss out on great features because theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re difĂ&#x20AC;cult to use or hidden from sight. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll show you how to do more online, for a more satisfying web life.

Customise Windows to work your way

Discover new programs with our help

We all know how to do the basics but getting the most from Windows isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always easy. Our dedication to the operating system means you get the very best tips and tricks for all versions of Windows.

From speed-up and security software to superb photo apps, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always something new to try on your PC. The Windows Store in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 is packed with software to download. November 2017 |

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25


/HʋʢɚKʝɦWɛ

Tell a story using Sway

<ʝʦɠʔʦLȫɏ'ʋɚ*UɪɬKʋəVʋ\ɡ

“It’s easy to create great-looking, shareable projects and add to them whatever you choose”

At a glance Skill level…

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts

Suitable for… Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7

ADD CONTENT Use the Insert menu to add to your Sway. You’ll see various options to choose from, including YouTube and Flickr.

CARDS The building blocks of your Sway. You can add, delete and rearrange them, and change the content within them.

Y

our first question will undoubtedly be ‘what is Sway?’ and rightly so. Sway is what Microsoft describes as a ‘digital storytelling app’ – essentially it’s like a friendlier version of PowerPoint that’s more useful for personal projects. That’s a bit of a crass generalisation, but you’ll get the gist; Sway enables you to share personal stories, but you could also use it at work for sharing presentations and reports, for example, and is in fact part of the Microsoft Office family. It’s easy to add text and your images from OneDrive and your PC to your Sway, while you can add videos, maps, tweets and graphics, too. One of the great things about Sway is that it formats everything nicely for you, meaning you can just concentrate on the content you want to share. And talking of sharing, it’s also really easy to share or collaborate on a Sway – we’ll show you how!

DESIGN & LAYOUT Change the look and feel of your Sway using the readymade designs and groups of fonts, or customise your own.

Step-by-step Create your own Sway and share!

into Sway 1 Sign Get started by pointing your web browser at https://sway. com. Like most Microsoft apps, Sway uses your Microsoft account for access, so the same one you use for OneDrive, Windows Live Mail or Xbox. Once you’ve signed in, you’ll see the My Sways page, which includes older Sways – if you’ve worked on ones previously – you can just click on these to launch back into them.

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a Sway 2 Create Click or tap Create New to start creating your first Sway. You’ll see the Storyline now. This is where you create your content. A Storyline is arranged as a succession of ‘cards’, each a container for content, whether that’s an image, video, tweet or whatever. You can re-order these any time using the controls on the top right of each card, where there’s also a trash for unwanted cards.


Explore Tell a story using Sway Jargon buster! OneDrive Microsoftâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cloudstorage service is a great way to share documents, photos and more â&#x20AC;&#x201C; you can also send friends links to stuďŹ&#x20AC; thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s too big to email. PLAY YOUR SWAY The Play button enables you to preview your Sway as others would see it, complete with interactive content.

PREVIEW PANE Shows a live preview of your cards as you work on them. It can be quite useful, but you can minimise it if you so wish.

Flickr This photo-sharing site is one of the webâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most popular, thanks to the free 1TB of storage it oďŹ&#x20AC;ers you. It works brilliantly with Sway. Universal app An application that works on all types of Windows 10 PC. Many also work on Windows Phone and Xbox. You can easily download them from the Windows Store. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an iOS version of Sway for iPhone and iPad too.

SHARE YOUR SWAY This where you can not only Play your Sway, but you can click to share it via social media, or by emailing a link.

ƧÇ&#x201E;1Â&#x203A;6%Ç&#x160;67ĆźÇ?3 <Ę?ɤFĘ&#x2039;É&#x161;Ę&#x2013;Ę&#x203A;SĘ?UɢČžHDĘ?ɨPDČŤÉ? FĘ?QÉ&#x20AC;Ę&#x2018;QɢĘ&#x2013;QWÉ&#x203A;6ZĘ&#x2039;ɨĘŁXÉ­É&#x201C;DÉĄ 3Ę?É&#x201E;Ę&#x2018;É 3Ę?Ę&#x2013;QɢĘ ČžHČżĘ&#x2018;QWDʤLĘ?QÉĄ :Ę?UÉ?GRĘ&#x17D;ʌȡĘ&#x2018;QWÉĄĘ&#x2039;QÉ?Ç&#x2122;')ÉĄ

your Sway a name 3 Give You have various options in the menu bar at the top of the screen (more on these shortly). Replace the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Title your Swayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; text with the title of your story. Make sure it says what your Sway is about, as that will be useful later on. Next to the title, you can insert your first image, which is a background one. Click the big green â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;+â&#x20AC;&#x2122; icon to start to put other content into your Sway.

it in 4 Paste You can type, paste and format the content that tells the story you want to. Note that there are various formatting options in each box, such as creating a heading should you want to section things off, or a numbered or bulleted list. If you create a heading, subsequent items are placed under that heading unless you decide to rearrange them. November 2017 |

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stuff to your Sway 5 Add Click ‘Insert’ on the menu bar and then choose your source – this could be your OneDrive or it could be something on the web – just search in the bar at the top of this pane. You could also insert pictures from other sources, such as Flickr, or videos from YouTube. And naturally you can just use stuff that’s on your PC. Drag your images, videos and more across into your Sway.

out your Sway 7 Check You can preview your work at any time by clicking the arrow next to the Preview pane on the top right. To see it as others will, including interactivity, use the Play button on the top menu bar. This will enable you to click or swipe through the parts of your Sway. You can return to editing using the controls in the top-right where you can change other settings as well as share your Sway.

your Sway 9 Share Click the Share button on the top menu bar and then select how you want to share your Sway. You can send people a link to either view or edit your Sway (so they can contribute and add to it). You can also share your Sway on social media, embed it on a website or upload it to Docs.com. You can also export your Sway as a Word document or as a PDF.

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different cards 6 Explore You can resize images and format text; it’s up to you how you want things to be presented. There are plenty of other ‘card’ types to choose from. We’ve used a slideshow card here. You can also choose an embed block to insert some HTML, an audio block, a grid or a stack of images, the choice is yours. There’s even a comparison card so you can compare two images side-by-side.

the layout 8 Change Tap the Layout button in the top menu to see different layouts. Note that Sway isn’t designed as a fine-control presentation app like PowerPoint; but for you to put together something with minimum fuss. The Design tab – also at the top – enables you to change fonts and the overall design. You can preview how your Sway will look with each type of layout.

further with apps 10 Go There’s a universal app for Sway, which you can download from the Windows Store. And you can take Sway with you on mobile, too. There is also an app for iOS, which not only enables you to view your existing Sways, but to make new ones from templates or from photos that you’ve taken with your phone. You can revisit them later on your PC and create and share! Q


Explore Manage your music

/HʋʢɚKʝɦWɛ

Manage your music

If your music collection is a mess, the brilliant – and free – MusicBee will help you clean it up in minutes

T

here are so many places to get music – you can rip it from CDs, download it directly from the artist, buy it in an online store. It’s brilliant to have so much choice, but it’s easy to end up with a huge collection of music that’s impossible to organise and manage. Incorrectly labelled songs, duplicated files

and missing artwork all make it difficult to find and enjoy the library that you have spent years assembling. That’s why you need MusicBee. This amazing free music software can handle just about every audio file format there is (including FLAC and WMP) and it works with some high-end audio cards.

Crucially, MusicBee can also help organise even the biggest and messiest of music archives. It can tag your songs automatically, remove duplicates, fix split albums, find cover art and even track down song lyrics. To top it all off, MusicBee is also a brilliant music player. Once you try it, you’ll never want to use anything else.

Step-by-step Tidy your music collection with MusicBee

MusicBee 1 Get Go to www.getmusicbee.com and click the ‘Download now’ button to fetch the MusicBee app. Once its ZIP archive has been saved to your PC, extract the contents and double-click the EXE file to run the installer. Accept the default options, then leave ‘Run MusicBee 3.0’ checked and click Finish. Select your preferred language and the program will open for the first time.

your files 3 Check Click ‘Scan now’ and MusicBee will identify all the audio files in the folders you’ve selected and organise them by artist. If a file has no metadata, it will appear at the top of the list under [Empty]. These might be songs that aren’t labelled correctly, or other audio files. Click them to find out. If they aren’t songs, right-click them and select Delete > ‘Delete from library only’.

your music 2 Import Now you need to tell MusicBee where to find your music. The software can automatically import songs and album artwork from Windows Media Player or iTunes, or scan your PC for songs. By default it looks in the public Music library on your PC, and your own. If you keep your music in other locations (on a connected external drive, for example) click ‘Choose folders’ and select them.

artist images 4 Update MusicBee will automatically search for an image of all the artists in your music library. If one of the artists doesn’t have a photo (or the photo is wrong), find a suitable image online and copy it to your clipboard, then right-click the artist in MusicBee and select ‘Paste album art’. Now it’s time to take a look at your albums. Click the ‘Music explorer’ tab in the grey bar at the top. November 2017 |

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OPTIONS Here you’ll find general settings for the player. You scan for new music files on your PC, rip CDs and much more.

album art automatically 5 Get Select an artist to see the albums you own. Some of these may also be missing artwork. If that is the case then you can either paste it in like before, or right-click the empty square and select ‘Search internet for picture’. Leave ‘Embed this picture in music file’ ticked so it isn’t lost if you decide to change to a different music player at a later date.

NOW PLAYING Clicking here will show you details of the current track, along with song lyrics and images of the artist or band. ARTIST CATALOG These are all the performers whose music you own. If any images are missing, just copy and paste new ones.

incorrect tags 6 Fix Sometimes you might come across an album that MusicBee doesn’t recognise. Unless it’s a very rare or esoteric work and very few people are likely to own it, it’s probably tagged incorrectly. Right-click it, select ‘Auto tag by album’ and several options will appear. You need to select the one that matches the music you own, but be careful – it often isn’t the first one on the list.

the right info 7 Get At the bottom of the track details window you’ll see two sets of information – one in black, and one greyed out. The information in grey is the original metadata attached to the album, and the information in black is what will replace it. You want to select the option from the auto-tagger list that’s the most accurate. When you’re satisfied, click ‘Apply tags’.

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split albums 8 Join Occasionally you’ll come across an album that’s split – iTunes is notorious for causing this. Click one album, then hold [Ctrl] and click the other and select ‘Auto tag by album’. There should be an option in the list that will combine them. If the change doesn’t seem to happen immediately, select a different artist then go back to refresh the library.


Explore Manage your music MUSIC EXPLORER These are all the albums you own by a particular artist. Right-click one to update its metadata or artwork.

Jargon buster!

PLAYLIST You can add as many songs here as you like. Right-click to skip or remove one, or click and drag to move it.

Metadata Information about a ďŹ le, stored within the ďŹ le itself. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very important for keeping music organised. Library MusicBee doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t actually move your music ďŹ les â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it just catalogues them and lets you see them all in the same place. Tag A speciďŹ c piece of metadata, such as the artist, track name, album, composer or date.

RATINGS Rate your songs and MusicBee will enable you to create automatic playlists based on your favourite songs.

At a glance Skill levelâ&#x20AC;Ś

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts

Suitable forâ&#x20AC;Ś Č&#x2030;$7Â&#x203A;6%Ç&#x160;67ĆźÇ?3 :ČąĘ&#x2018;ČžĘ&#x2018;É&#x192;Ę&#x2018;É SRVʣɾɏȾÉ? ȿɰȾHFɢĘ&#x192;ČąÉ?Ę?SʤLĘ?É&#x161; WÉ&#x203A;Ę&#x2018;ɺȊHÉ?ĘŚSGDÉ&#x20AC;HÉ?Ę&#x2013;QIĘ?ʢPDʤLĘ?É&#x161;Ę?É  Ę&#x2013;PDČ°HÉĄĘ&#x2013;É&#x161;Ę&#x192;ČąÉ?VĘ?QÉ&#x2019;Ę&#x201C;ɾȾÉ? Ę&#x192;ČąĘ&#x2018;É&#x161;\Ę?ɤ ZĘ?É&#x161;Â&#x203A;ɢORČżÉ?LɢLÉ&#x2018;\Ę?ɤÉ­KĘ&#x2039;QČ°É?Ę&#x2039;Ę SÉĄ

song lyrics 9 Get Double-click an album to start playing it, then click the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Now playingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; tab. MusicBee will find high-resolution pictures of the artist and use them to create a slideshow that you can watch. It will also try to find lyrics for the current song. If you can see that the lyrics arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t correct, right-click them and choose â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Search next providerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; or â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Edit displayed lyricsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;.

Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7

slideshow images 10 Manage If a picture you particularly like appears in the slideshow, right-click it and select â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Save pictureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Similarly, if a picture appears that isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t of the artist, or you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like it, then you can select â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Ban pictureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Congratulations â&#x20AC;&#x201C; your music library is now much more organised, with correctly tagged albums, artwork, lyrics and photos. Happy listening! Q

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/HʋʢɚKʝɦWɛ

Install and play Minecraft properly <ʝʦɠʔʦLȫɏ$ȵʑɧ&ʝɧVʋ\ɡ

“Minecraft’s simplicity is one of the key reasons for its enormous popularity, but getting it running well on your PC isn’t quite so easy…”

At a glance Skill level…

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts

Suitable for… Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7

B

reaking blocks, building stuff ff – Minecraft is virtual Lego in the best way. Its simplistic graphics leave room for plenty of imagination, and its gameplay is entirely up to you: you can build a house out of mud, you can create a functioning farm, or you can embark on an epic adventure to alternate e dimensions. Or, at least, you can once you’ve got it installed. Minecraft’s original creator, Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, coded it using the Java programming language, which means you’ll need to add Java support to your Windows PC before you’ll be able to start breaking blockss. This also adds a few extra wrinkles if you want to join a multiplayer game, so we’ll teach you how to grant Minecraft – or, more specifically, Java – access through Windows’ firewall, the software which usually protects your network connection from unwanted traffic.

DŽ/NJ;›6%NJ67ƼǏ3 ,ɑ\ʝɤʍʦɨ0ʖȸHʎUDIɢ\ʝɤ›ɸɗ ȰHɢɈʓȾȭɏFRȫɏIʝɠʃȱɏ :ʖQGʝZɡHʏLʤLʝɚʇȱʑɚ \ʝɤORʔʖɚWɛ0ʝMʋQɒ›ɡɄɰEʣLɀɏ 

Step-by-step Set up Minecraft

Minecraft 1 Download Point your web browser to www.minecraft.net, then log in

Minecraft 2 Install Click through the installer. You won’t need to change any of

with your Mojang account using the top-right button or, if you’re new to Minecraft and haven’t yet bought it, click the big green button and follow the prompts. When you’ve logged in, click the download button on the left of the top bar, then ‘Download for Windows’ on the next page. Run the installer that’s downloaded.

the default settings, although you can change the folder in which Minecraft is installed. Once it’s done, uncheck the final tick box to stop the launcher from running automatically. Back in your web browser, head to http://bit.ly/2fkUV7h and download the correct Windows Offline installer of Java for your version of Windows.

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Explore Install and play Minecraft

Java 3 Install Run the downloaded Java installer – it’ll have a filename

in 4 Log The first time you open the Minecraft launcher, you’ll be

which begins ‘jre’ – and click the Install button. Click ‘Close’ when it’s complete. As long as you’ve downloaded the correct file, that’s all you’ll have to do; if you’ve accidentally grabbed the Java online installer, make sure you deselect any offers to install additional software. You can now run Minecraft.

asked to log into your Mojang account. Use your email address, rather than your Minecraft username, and the password you logged into the website with. When you click ‘Play Minecraft’, the launcher will head online to find the latest version of the game – contained within a Java archive. Run it once it’s downloaded.

it better 5 Make All being well, Minecraft will have launched successfully. But

memory 6 More Flip the ‘Java executable’ switch, click the folder icon to the

there are some tweaks to make before it’ll run at its best, and these have to be done out of the game, so quit out once you’ve verified that it’s running. Still in the Minecraft launcher, click Launch Options, flip the Advanced Settings switch, then click the ‘Latest release’ entry below to see a number of potential options.

right, then select the ‘javaw.exe’ file in the Program Files/Java/ jre_1.8.0_114/bin/ folder. Flip the ‘JVM arguments’ switch, and tweak the first entry, which tells Minecraft how much memory it can use; by default this is 1GB (-Xmx1G) but if your PC has the resources you can safely change this to 2GB or even 4GB.

access 7 Extra Playing Minecraft alone is fun, and getting online is better.

an exception 8 Adding Click the Browse button, and head to the same folder we

But Windows Firewall may block it, so let’s add an exception to let it through. Right-click the Start button, select Control Panel, and head to ‘System and Security’ > Windows Firewall > ‘Allowed apps’. Click the Change Settings button at the top of the window, and then ‘Allow another app’ at the bottom.

pointed the Minecraft launcher to earlier on. Select the ‘javaw.exe’ file, click Open, then click Add. You should see ‘Java(TM) Platform SE binary’ in the list of allowed apps – if so, just click OK. With that, you’ve allowed Java access through your firewall – time to start building houses and slaying those pesky creepers online. Q November 2017 |

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/HʋʢɚKʝɦWɛ

Use your PC’s hidden gems <ʝʦɠʔʦLȫɏ1Dɀɏ'UɪȴɏVʋ\ɡ

GOD MODE This gives you instant access to system settings, such as configuring your internet connection.

“Tweak your system by uncovering some of the hidden gems and less well known features of Windows”

At a glance Skill level…

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts

Suitable for… Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7

H

ave you recently switched to Windows 10 and miss some of the features from previous versions? If you upgraded some time ago, are there tweaks you’d like to make to your system? If either of the above true, you have come to the right place. In this guide we’ll so you how to perform some of the actions you may remember fondly, such as showing the desktop, tiling windows and customising your Start menu. We’ll also look at new features specific to Windows 10 such as printing files to PDF. Business users in particular may enjoy juggling open windows by arranging them across multiple desktops. You don’t need any great skill to make these changes, nor should they cause any harm to your system. However, as always, we recommend that you make a full backup of your data before modifying Windows 10 in any shape or form. Let’s get started.

Step-by-step Reveal Windows 10’s hidden gems

INTEGRATED PDF PRINTER Windows 10 now includes a virtual printer, which you can use to convert any file to PDF.

ƴ$7(›6%NJ67ƼǏ3 1ȭHɍPʝȾɏʤʖSɡʝɚȯHDʤʦȾHɡʖɚ 0LʎURɡ‫ގ‬ʠURʏXFWɡ"9LʣLɢ KWʤSɡʣʦʠSʝUɢʛLʎURɡ‫ގ‬ FʝəʑɚɳɊFʝQWDFʤXɡ

the Desktop 1 Show This very handy button no longer displays by default in the

‘God Mode’ 2 Enable Windows contains a special Control Panel applet that gives

latest version of Windows. To reactivate, click on the small bar at the very bottom-right of the screen and choose ‘Show desktop’ to minimise all windows as you used to do. As the name suggests, the Peek at desktop option enables you to quickly glance at the desktop without minimising any windows.

you near omnipotent control of your system. To get started right click anywhere on the desktop, choose ‘New folder and enter the name: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} Press [Return]. The folder icon will now change. Click this to access a huge range of configurable system settings.

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Explore Use Windows 10’s hidden features

SNAP ASSIST Windows 10 can automatically resize windows to take up one half or one quarter of the screen using your mouse.

Jargon buster! God Mode A tongue-in-cheek name for a powerful shortcut that you can use to access and change every single system setting in Windows 10. SHOW FILE EXTENSIONS Use the View menu in File Explorer to display the three letter extension for each of your files.

Peek at desktop When using the Show Desktop button you can enable this option to keep windows open while you ‘peek’ at the desktop. File extension Three letters which come after the end of each file – .pdf, for example. This lets Windows identify the program with which they’re associated. Extensions are hidden by default.

QUICK LAUNCH FROM TASKBAR Add a browser address bar to your Taskbar. This allows you to quickly view your favourite sites.

SHOW DESKTOP Click to minimise windows and see the desktop. ‘Peek at desktop’ toggles between desktop and window view.

your windows 3 Snap Snap Assist enables you to ‘snap’ a window to the edge of the screen without having to manually resize it. Just click the title bar of a window and drag it to the edge of the screen. Windows 10 will display an outline of where the window will be located. Release the mouse button to snap it into place. You can also press [Win] + any arrow key on an active window to snap it into place.

multiple desktops 4 Use You can divide your applications across several desktops. Click the small square button to the right of the Start menu and choose New Desktop. From there you can move open windows to the new desktop using drag and drop. Right-click a particular desktop to show running windows. Click the ‘X’ to close a desktop, this will move windows to the next remaining desktop. November 2017 |

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websites from the Taskbar 5 Launch You can simplify the process of accessing websites or files

your Desktop 6 Personalise While many users are happy with the default look and feel

by right-clicking the Taskbar. Choose Toolbar > Address and a web address bar will appear in the Taskbar. Enter the URL of a favourite website and press [Return] to launch your default web browser and go to the site. Right-click the Taskbar and choose New Toolbar to automatically open a specific folder, such as Pictures.

of Windows, if you have activated Windows 10 you can change it. Go to Start > Settings > Personalisation. From here you can choose a new desktop background. Alternatively, click Colours to change the window colours. You can choose below to have these colours affect the Start, Taskbar and Action Centre.

to PDF 7 Print Windows 10 finally enables you to print files to PDF format.

hidden items and file extensions 8 Display It can sometimes be tricky to know what a file is without

Simply open the document in question and choose [Ctrl] + [P] to open the print dialog. Under Printer choose ‘Microsoft Print to PDF’. You can then choose the options in the usual way, such as orientation, and click Print. A new window will open asking you to specify a name and file output location for your PDF.

programs used to open files 9 Change Most files can be opened by more than one kind of program. If you have a preferred app, right-click on a file and choose Properties. In the new window that opens click Change. Windows will ask how you want to open this file type. Choose your favourite program then click OK. Click ‘Apply’ in the Properties window then close it. Your default app is now set.

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being able to see its file extension (.pdf, for example). Change this by opening File Explorer and ticking the box marked ‘File name extensions’. If you need to manipulate hidden files you can also choose to select ‘Hidden items’ here, although you should only do this if you’ve specifically been asked to do so by Microsoft.

tiles to the Start menu 10 Add Love it or hate it you can now drag Quick Launch items from your menu into the tiles in your Start menu. While this is trivial, did you know you can also right-click a tile to resize it or remove it altogether? If, for instance, you don’t think you’ll have any use for Groove Music right-click and choose ‘Unpin from Start’. You can right-click a tile to toggle the glitzy ‘live’ mode too. Q


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/HĘ&#x2039;ʢÉ&#x161;KĘ?ÉŚWÉ&#x203A;Â?

Make fire with Photo Pos Pro <Ę?ĘŚÉ Ę&#x201D;ĘŚLČŤÉ?,Ę&#x2039;É&#x161;(É&#x192;Ę&#x2018;QČŤĘ&#x2018;É&#x161;VĘ&#x2039;\ÉĄÂ?

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Adding special effects to your photos is easy with this free image editing programâ&#x20AC;?

At a glance Skill levelâ&#x20AC;Ś

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts

Suitable forâ&#x20AC;Ś Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7

M

aking ďŹ re may be one of humanityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s primal urges, and a skill that propelled us out of the trees and plains and onward to conquer the world. These days, however, you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to wait for a lucky lightning strike or bash two rocks together to make ďŹ re â&#x20AC;&#x201C; you can easily do it on your PC. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to use Photo Pos Pro 3 for this, a free app (with a paid-for premium version) that you can ďŹ nd at www.photopos.com. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a powerful and fairly straightforward image editing app with a choice of interfaces â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which it titles Novice and Pro â&#x20AC;&#x201C; so you can use the one that best suits either your skill level or the complexity of the task youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to complete. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a choice of colour scheme too, with one dark and two light user interfaces available. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to be using Pro mode for this easy-to-follow tutorial, so letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s get on with making ďŹ re.

TOOLS The user interface looks rather like Photoshop, so here are your tools on the left-hand side.

TABS Having multiple images open is a breeze thanks to the tabbed interface.

ĆŽÇ&#x201E;1Â&#x203A;6%Ç&#x160;67ĆźÇ?3 :É?Â&#x203A;É&#x192;É?WÉźOÉ?\Ę?ɤWÉ&#x203A;VĘ&#x2039;É&#x192;É?Ę&#x2013;É&#x161;Ę?ĘŚÉ  ODVɢVÉ&#x20AC;Ę&#x2018;É&#x17E;ČąĘ&#x2018;ČžÉ? Ę?XɢVĘ&#x2039;É&#x192;É?HĘ&#x2039;Ę Ę&#x2122;ɨ Ę&#x2039;QÉ?â&#x20AC;ŤŢ?â&#x20AC;ŹĘ&#x2018;É&#x161;Â&#x2013;LɢFĘ&#x2039;É&#x161;VĘ&#x2039;É&#x192;É?Ę&#x192;ČąÉ? GĘ&#x2039;ɨLÉ&#x2018;VĘ?ȡHĘ&#x192;Ę&#x2022;Ę&#x2013;QÉ&#x2019;JČšHÉĄʨUĘ?QÉ&#x2019;

Step-by-step Light a match on your PC

with a blank canvas 1 Start Create a plain white document with File > New > â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Blank imageâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Ours is 1,000 pixels per side, but you can use whatever dimensions you like. In the Styles palette on the right, click the black rectangle and change it to orange. This is your paint colour. Then click the arrow on the Paint Brushes tool to unfold its menu and choose Air Brush. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve made it 20x20 pixels wide.

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and paint 2 Layer Create a new layer (Layers & Objects > Create New Layer) and make sure itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s selected in the Layers palette on the right. Now spray an orange blob onto your canvas. Make it fairly large, since itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easier to make things smaller rather than larger, and aim for a vaguely pyramidal shape. You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to be precise â&#x20AC;&#x201C; youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re using an airbrush after all. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll adjust the shape later on.


Explore Make fire with Photo Pos Pro INTERFACE SWITCHER If you want to swap between Novice and Pro modes, then simply click the button here.

Jargon buster! Layers Think of layers as sheets of acetate being placed on an overhead projector. The ones on top interact with those below, blocking some parts of them. Pixels The image on your PC monitor is made up of thousands of dots, each called a picture element, or pixel. An picture that is created this way is sometimes known as a raster image.

LAYERS The Layers palette lets you add several different elements to an image and then combine them for a creative effect.

Vector The opposite of raster, a vector image is made from mathematical formulae. Such images are rare outside the graphic design business.

CURVES You can easily adjust the brightness and tone in your flame image using the Curves palette in Photo Pos Pro.

HISTORY Like a massive Undo list, this enables you to go back and remove any unwanted changes from your image.

a flame effect 3 Creating The Effects Brushes live near the bottom of the tool palette

your image 4 Finesse To get the shape right, make the brush smaller (we went to

on the left. Click the downward arrow for a drop-down menu to see all the Effects Brushes available. There is one called the Flame Effect Brush, but ignore that and choose the Push Effect Brush. Choose an appropriate brush size, then use the brush to push your ‘flame’ up in the middle, like a match that has been lit.

10x10 pixels) and use its smaller point to make a sharp peak in the middle of your flame. Don’t worry too much about keeping the sides straight, as flames are constantly in motion and a little wobble is to be expected. Draw upwards until you have a shape not unlike an arrowhead, keeping the breadth at the bottom. November 2017 |

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out 5 Flame Now select the Flame Effect Brush and change your foreground colour to yellow at the top right of the app. Paint along the centre of your shape to give it a lighter core. Swap back to the Push Effect Brush and smear your lighter patch around so it’s equidistant from the edges of your orange flame shape. You can do the same with white if you want another central colour.

burning? 7 What’s There’s no point having a flame if you don’t have something

use Colorize 6 Now When you’re happy with your shape, give it a burning orange wash with Effects > Colours > Colorize. Choose orange as your colour, and make sure the Advanced controls are popped out, so you can change the colour wash’s blending mode. We’ve used Add and achieved a hot-looking flame with a lot of yellow in it. Experiment with the options until you’re happy.

it out 8 Stick Keeping the shape selected, choose an appropriate colour

to burn, so let’s create a match. Create a new layer as in Step 2, making sure to check the Transparent box for its contents, so the layers below can be seen. Pop out the Shape tool, halfway up the toolbar, and select the Common/Pre-Made Shapes option. Draw a long box that looks like a matchstick.

from the box at the top right. Now go to Effects > More > 3D to open the Vectorial Effects box. Make sure you still have the match shape selected, and use the left and right arrows on the box to find Bevel. We have the angle at 0 degrees, Level at 20, Light at 225 and Slope at 12, with Two Shades Bevel selected.

head 9 Match Create a match head by drawing a dark oval shape and give

and save 10 Flatten Finally, save your work as a Photo Pos Pro image file (.fpos) if

it the same bevel treatment as in Step 8. Use the Move/Resize/ Rotate Transform tool near the top of the toolbar to line it up with the matchstick, then use the Layers palette to move the flame to the top of the layers stack, putting it in front of the stick. You can alter the blending mode to make the flame appear more ethereal.

you want to save your layer structure, but note you won’t be able to open this file with any other software. If you just want to export your creation as a file you can open or share elsewhere, flatten the layers down using Layers & Objects > Merge/Flat Layer(s) and use Save As to export your image as a JPEG or PNG file. Q

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Explore Give Windows a new look

/HʋʢɚKʝɦWɛ

Give Windows a new look

Spruce up Windows 10 and make it more inviting to use by customising its windows, the Taskbar, the Start menu and much more

T

here’s nothing wrong with the way that Windows 10 looks out of the box, but after living with its understated blue aesthetic for a while, things can start to look a bit dull. Thankfully, there’s nothing to stop you from brightening things up a bit and transforming the appearance of the

desktop, thanks to a number of built-in customisation options. Windows 10’s settings enable you to change window, Taskbar, Start menu and Action Centre colours, but that’s not all. A number of desktop themes are also available for you to choose from, meaning that with the right choice of desktop

background wallpaper, you can tune your system’s overall look to suit your needs. We’ll also touch on a great third-party desktop tool called Rainmeter, which enables you customise your desktop in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Let’s take a look at how you can give Windows 10 a whole new appearance.

Step-by-step Give Windows 10 a great new look

1 Personalisation To change the appearance of Windows 10, open the Start menu and select Settings, followed by Personalisation in the Settings window. Here you’ll find a number of option screens that enable you to customise the way the operating system looks, including Background, Colours, Lock screen, Themes and Start.

background settings 3 More If you’re struggling to settle on the perfect desktop background image, why not try a slideshow instead? Once you’ve picked which images to include, you can set a display duration for each picture. Here, we’ve opted to have the wallpaper change every 30 minutes. Finally, select how Windows should fit your pictures from the ‘Choose a fit’ drop-down menu.

a wallpaper 2 Pick The Background screen lets you change your desktop wallpaper. There are a number of pre-installed images you can choose from in the picture row. Or you can use one of your own photos by clicking the Browse button and navigating to the file. Microsoft also offers free wallpapers on the Windows Store.

colours 4 Changing If you don’t want a picture on your desktop you can fill it with a solid colour via the Background menu. When you’ve chosen a colour, select the Colours menu from the left-hand pane. Here you can choose an ‘accent’ colour (accents are highlighted elements) or let Windows select one for you. It will find a tone that complements the desktop background you have chosen. November 2017 |

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ƟƎ0Â&#x203A;6%Ç&#x160;67ĆźÇ?3 ,É&#x2018;\Ę?ĘŚÉ 3&KDÉĄÉ&#x2C6;WĘ?XÉ­KVĘ&#x17D;ȞȭĘ&#x2018;É&#x161; ʤʢɨ Ę?Xɢ7ÉŞÉŹČľHɢPRČŤÉ? 6HWʤĘ&#x2013;QJÉĄ!6\VÉ&#x20AC;Ę&#x2018;É&#x2122; !Â&#x161;7ÉŞÉŹČľHɢPRČŤÉ?Â&#x203A; IĘ?É Ę&#x2039;É&#x161;ÉŞOWRČ°HĘ&#x192;ČąĘ&#x2018;É  Ę?LIČŻĘ&#x2018;ČžĘ&#x2018;QɢʧLĘŁXÉŞÉ&#x2014;Ę&#x2018;ĘŠČźĘ&#x2018;ʢȲĘ&#x2018;QČŞÉ? 

accents 5 Custom If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not happy with the accent colour Windows selects, turn off the automatic feature by clicking the switch, and pick your own. Below the colour palette youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find an option to extend your colour choice to the Start menu, Taskbar and Action Centre. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also an option to make elements transparent, which can improve display performance on systems with older graphics.

PERSONALISATION The personalisation screen in Windowsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Settings panel gives you lots of options for changing the way it looks.

WALLPAPER A wallpaper from either your photo library or Microsoftâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website can help guide your desktop colour theme.

screen 6 Lock The next item in the left-hand panel extends your personalisation options to the Lock screen. Here you can choose which image is displayed when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not using your PC. You can also set up a slideshow in the same manner as your desktop wallpaper â&#x20AC;&#x201C; choose which images to include by selecting them individually or by pointing Windows to a folder of pictures.

slideshow 7 Advanced Click â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Advanced slideshow settingsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see a few more useful options for your slideshow. You can choose to include your camera roll, use only pictures that fit the screen, and whether or not to show the lock screen when the PC is inactive. The last option also enables you to set the screen to turn off after a certain amount of time has passed, or not at all.

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COLOURS You can change the colours of Window elements and see how they look in the Preview window.

panel 8 Screensaver The rest of the Lock screen options relate to app status updates, except for a link to the screensaver control panel. Anyone familiar with the old Windows XP screensaver options should feel at home, since little has changed. Select a screensaver from the drop-down menu, preview it, choose how long to wait before itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s displayed, and configure other settings via â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Settingsâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;


Explore Give Windows a new look Jargon buster! Accents Elements in a desktop window that take a different colour to create internal organisation or indicate user functions. Themes Built-in visual settings that collectively change the desktop background, colour and system sounds in Windows 10. Desktop skin A user-customised desktop made in Rainmeter that may include functional elements like to-do lists and news feeds.

At a glance Skill level…

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts AUTO-PICK COLOUR Windows can be set to automatically pick the colour of accents based on the wallpaper background you choose.

THEMES You can save your adjustments as themes and then easily switch between them to match your mood.

MORE THEMES If you’re lacking inspiration, you can try one of Windows’ default themes or get more themes online.

Suitable for… Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7

Themes 9 Windows Back in the Personalisation settings, click the next option in

tool 10 Rainmeter If you’ve exhausted Windows’ native personalisation options

the left-hand panel called Themes. Themes change the look of Windows wholesale, and affect not only desktop background and colours, but also system sounds. Click the ‘Theme settings’ link and you’ll be taken to the Control Panel, where you can pick from existing themes, get more themes online or create your own.

and want more control, download Rainmeter from www. rainmeter.net. This free tool allows you to ‘re-skin’ Windows and totally change its appearance; it even lets you add ‘applets’ to your wallpaper for a more functional desktop. There are thousands of pre-made skins available thanks to the Rainmeter community. Q

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/HʋʢɚKʝɦWɛ

Convert PDFs to files that you can edit <ʝʦɠʔʦLȫɏ,ʋɚ(ɃʑQȫʑɚVʋ\ɡ

“You might not be able to edit a PDF directly, but you can easily convert it into something you can change using cloud-based tools and downloadable apps”

At a glance Skill level…

Anyone can do it Straightforward

Tricky in parts

Suitable for… Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7

B

eing able to export a PDF from the free Adobe Reader as a file you can edit in another application would be a really useful thing to be able to do – and Reader teases you with its export functionality, letting you select the format you want and click a button marked Export before demanding money to continue. It might seem a bit spiteful, but Reader is only designed to be an app to display and maybe print PDFs, which are made not to be edited once they’ve been created. Reader isn’t meant to edit your files, and the Adobe Acrobat Pro software – which can – will cost you quite a bit. If you’re not prepared to give into Adobe’s demands for cash, there are some free methods you can look into, using apps you download from the Internet as well as Google and Microsoft’s cloud storage systems. Let’s get started.

ƮDŽ1›6%NJ67ƼǏ3 <ʝɤFʋɚHDʣɵʙɨʎȾHDɀɏɈǙ') ʖɚ:ʖQGʝZɡʍɨɭKȹRʣʖQɒ š6ʋɃɏDɡǙ') ›ʓUʝəʃȱɏʏLɪORɒ EʝɧʦQȫʑɠ)ɵȵɏ!3ʢʖQɢ

Step-by-step Convert your PDFs to editable files

Google Drive 1 Use Perhaps the easiest way of getting an editable file, you’ll need a Google account for this, since it takes place entirely in Google Drive. Log into Google Drive, and upload your PDF by dragging and dropping it into the Drive browser window. If you have the Google Drive app on your PC, you can drag the PDF into your Google Drive folder and wait for it to appear in the browser.

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with Google Drive 2 Convert Right-click the file in the browser once it’s finished copying, and choose Open With > Google Docs. After a few moments, a new Google Docs tab should open with the text of your PDF in it, fully editable. The downside is that Google Docs doesn’t do a good job of preserving the layout of your PDF, preferring instead a wall of text. It will try to preserve formatting, however.


Explore Convert PDFs to edit them

Foxit Reader 3 Use If you’d rather work with an app on your PC, then try Foxit

with Foxit 4 Convert To export the text of a PDF from Foxit Reader, open your

Reader (www.foxitsoftware.com). This free app can convert your PDF to the text-only TXT format, which strips all structure and formatting from the file, leaving only the text behind. You can then open that file in Windows’ built-in Notepad app or any word processing or desktop publishing program.

PDF file in the app, then click File > Save As. In the window that opens, choose where you want the text file to be saved and drop down the Save As menu. Choose TXT Files (*.txt) and press Save. You’ll find the .txt file in the folder you specified. You can now open the text file using a text editor of your choice.

to Word 5 PDF Foxit and the other methods detailed here are fine for single files, but if you want to convert multiple PDFs to editable text you’re going to need something else. Enter Convert PDF to Word Plus (unipdf.com), which will batch process the conversion for you. The trial edition can only convert three pages; if you need more than this, you’ll need to register at a cost of $30 (£22.48).

converting PDFs 7 Batch To use Convert PDF to Word Plus, drag and drop your PDF files into the app’s main window. Once you’re happy with the output settings, hit the green Convert button, choose a save location. All the PDFs you load at once will be converted using the same settings, so if you need one as a Word file and another as an image you’ll have to make two runs through the program.

Convert PDF to Word Plus 6 Using Once you’re in the app, you can set the output format you’d like. There are four available from the menu on the right – Word, Image, Text and HTML. You can refine your options under the Settings tab – choices includes saving text files either in DOC or RTF formats. And you save images as JPG, TIF and PNG files among other options. You can even choose image resolution too.

Microsoft Word 8 Try If you have a recent version of Microsoft Office (or use Office Online) you can use Word to edit a PDF by heading to File > Open in the app. Word works best on PDFs that are mostly text, since while it will try to extract images from the file, it tends to break the layout. And if there’s text on a page that consists mostly of images you may find the text is converted into an image too. Q November 2017 |

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/HʋʢɚKʝɦWɛ

Back up to Google Drive <ʝʦɠʔʦLȫɏ,ʋɚ(ɃʑQȫʑɚVʋ\ɡ

“Use Google’s online storage service to documents safe and in sync across all of your devices”

At a glance Skill level…

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts

Suitable for… Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7

T

here are many cloud storage services available, and most of them do a decent job of backing up a few files. However, if you want to make sure all of your documents are backed up in the cloud, you’ll need a bit more than the 2GB that Dropbox offers for free. Google Drive’s 15GB, for instance, looks a lot more attractive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive offers 5GB. The tight integration between Google Docs and Google Drive is another point in the service’s favour. The office suite, which runs in your web browser and in mobile apps, stores its files in Google Drive and, if they’re saved in its native format, they don’t count toward your storage total. Your email does, however, so it’s worth creating a separate Google account, and getting another 15GB of free space with it, that you can use as a secondary backup location. Now let’s get started with Google Drive…

INCOMING Documents that have been shared with you by other Google Drive users appear under this heading on the right.

GOOGLE DOCUMENTS Double-clicking a Google document opens it in a new browser tab for editing. Right-clicking gives you more options.

Step-by-step Improve your Google Drive experience

in sync 1 Stay Head to drive.google.com and sign in with the Google account you want to use. Install the Drive app on your PC, and it will create a Google Drive folder in your User folder. The contents of this will always upload to the cloud, and be kept in sync across devices, so add any documents you want to back up to it. It can be a good idea to make it the default save location for your apps.

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your Documents folder to Drive 2 Move Another way to make sure documents always get backed up is to move the default saving location to your Google Drive folder. Open your User folder and right-click the Documents folder. Select Location in the Documents Properties window and click Move. Find your Google Drive folder shortcut, click and hit OK. Note, the Documents folder must be smaller than 15GB.


Explore Back up to Google Drive Jargon buster! Zip archives An archive file format which compresses a file, or files, into a smaller size so that it is easier to manage and send. These can be opened – or created – using a program such as Bandizip (www. bandisoft.com).

FOLDERS You can organise your documents into folders in the same way you would on your storage drive.

OTHER DOCUMENTS Double-clicking on a document, such as a PDF, opens it as a read-only preview. Download, print or share it from the top bar.

OTHER FILES Any file, such as these zip archives, can be stored in Google Drive but not edited.

to Send To 3 Add You can add documents to Drive in two clicks. Add a shortcut

mode 4 Offline Users of public transport and flaky coffee shop Wi-Fi will be

to the Send To menu by going to Users > [username] > AppData > Roaming > Microsoft > Windows > SendTo. Right-drag the Google Drive shortcut from Favorites on the left of the File Explorer window into the main part, select Copy Here. Now, when you move a file to Drive, right-click and select Send To > Google Drive.

pleased to know you don’t need to be online all the time to use Google Drive. On the Drive webpage, click Settings (the cog icon) > Offline and tick the box next to ‘Sync your work to this computer so that you can edit offline’. The Google Drive and Docs extensions for Chrome also enable you to work offline. Q November 2017 |

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/HĘ&#x2039;ʢÉ&#x161;KĘ?ÉŚWÉ&#x203A;Â?

Prevent screen-time eyestrain with f.lux <Ę?ĘŚÉ Ę&#x201D;ĘŚLČŤÉ?1LÉ­É&#x2013;3Č­Ę&#x2018;UÉĄVĘ&#x2039;\ÉĄÂ?

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Improve your sleep patterns and protect your eyes without banning the use of PCs after dark with the help of this brilliant free utilityâ&#x20AC;?

At a glance Skill levelâ&#x20AC;Ś

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts

Suitable forâ&#x20AC;Ś Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7

A

nyone whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s had to work late at the oďŹ&#x192;ce will know how staring at a bright monitor can aďŹ&#x20AC;ect your ability to sleep when you get home. Much of this problem is caused by your monitorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s screen temperature â&#x20AC;&#x201C; cool blues are great during the daytime when you want a bright, colouraccurate display, but as the sun goes down, continuing to stare at your display plays havoc with your bodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s melatonin production. One way to ďŹ x this problem is to use the new Night light feature in the Windows 10 Creators Update (see page 71) or, if you havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t upgraded yet, you can try a free program called f.lux that does something very similar â&#x20AC;&#x201C; warming up the screen as the sun goes down and so helping to reduce tiredness and eye strain, while giving you the chance to sleep afterwards. Follow the steps in this tutorial to ďŹ nd out how f.lux can help you.

Step-by-step Set up and use f.lux

Ć´,Ǩ.Â&#x203A;6%Ç&#x160;67ĆźÇ?3 &Ę&#x2122;LÉ­É&#x2013;Ý&#x201E;Ę&#x2039;QÉ?ȿɰȾHFɢ([ʤUDÉĄWÉ&#x203A; PÉŞČ´É?Ę&#x201C;ĘŚUĘ&#x192;ČąĘ&#x2018;É ʤÉ&#x201E;HÉŞNÉĄ Ę&#x2013;QÉ­Ę&#x2122;XĘ?Ę&#x2013;QÉ&#x2019;Ę&#x201D;Ę&#x2013;ʧĘ&#x2013;QÉ&#x2019;É&#x2018;Ę&#x2122;ʌɧ FĘ?QʤUÉźÉ&#x2014;Ę?É&#x192;Ę&#x2018;É \Ę?ĘŚÉ 3Ę&#x2022;ÉľĘ&#x2122;Ę&#x2013;SÉĄ +É&#x201A;É?Ę&#x2122;LÉłKʤĘ&#x2013;QÉ&#x2019;ĘŁ\VÉ&#x20AC;Ę&#x2018;É&#x2122;

f.lux 1 Get Open your web browser and browse to www.justgetflux.

location 2 Set The programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main interface will appear above the Taskbar

com to get f.lux for your PC. Click the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Download f.luxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; button and save it to your Downloads folder. Once complete, click Run if prompted or double-click â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;flux-setup.exeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to start the installation process. Click â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I Agreeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; when asked and wait for the program to install itself. Click â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Closeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; when complete.

notification area, where youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll also see the f.lux icon now resides. Start by telling f.lux where you are so it can configure itself correctly â&#x20AC;&#x201C; click the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;>â&#x20AC;&#x2122; button to the right of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;(Click to set Location)â&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Enter your postcode and click Search. Your location will be shown on Google Maps â&#x20AC;&#x201C; if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s correct, click OK.

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Explore Prevent eyestrain with f.lux

program interface 3 Access The main f.lux window will update to reflect your new location. f.lux uses a combination of time, date and where you are to determine when to change colour temperature, so you may find it alters immediately if it’s after sunset. After a short pause, the main window will vanish. Bring it back by clicking the program’s Taskbar notification area icon (click ‘^’ if it’s not visible).

lighting 5 Tweak Return to the main menu and select ‘Lighting at night’ again. Pick one of the options on offer – f.lux will perform a quick 24-hour preview of how the screen will dim. Try different levels until you’re happy with your choice. If you’d prefer finer control over the temperature settings, close the menu and click the Settings button instead to reveal two temperature sliders.

and darkroom modes 7 Movie Click the app’s menu and you’ll see two special modes. Choose ‘Movie Mode’ if you want to watch a video on your PC – the screen will dim to give you a more cinematic experience. ‘Darkroom Mode’ removes all blue colour to leave just red, white and black – it may help you eke out more working time late at night and your eyes are particularly tired. Select again to disable.

colour range 4 Expand f.lux will dim the screen to 3,400k – the equivalent of a warm, halogen light. To change this click the menu and roll your mouse over ‘Lighting at night’. You’ll see options ranging from 1,900k (ember) to 5,000k (sunlight) – however, some will be greyed out. Click ‘Expand Color Range’ and choose Yes, restarting your PC when prompted.

temperatures 6 Adjust If you find the monitor screen too bright even during the day, use the top slider to reduce the colour temperature to a more comfortable level. Both this and the ‘At night’ slider enable you to adjust the temperature in 100k increments. By default, the temperature shifts at sunset and sunrise take 20 seconds – choose ‘60m’ under Transition Speed if you want to extend this.

eyes, protected 8 Your There will be times when you don’t want to use f.lux – changes in colour temperature produce inaccurate colours when editing images, for example. You can disable the program temporarily in two ways – tick ‘Disable for one hour…’ on the main screen, or click the menu for an option to disable until sunrise. And with that, you can now look forward to reduced eye strain. Q November 2017 |

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/HĘ&#x2039;ʢÉ&#x161;KĘ?ÉŚWÉ&#x203A;Â?

Track a stolen Windows device <Ę?ĘŚÉ Ę&#x201D;ĘŚLČŤÉ?&Dɢ(ɸĘ&#x2122;LÉĄVĘ&#x2039;\ÉĄÂ?

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wait until your laptop or tablet goes missing â&#x20AC;&#x201C; install Prey now and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll always have an eye on itâ&#x20AC;?

At a glance Skill levelâ&#x20AC;Ś

Anyone can do it Straightforward Tricky in parts

Suitable forâ&#x20AC;Ś Windows 10 Windows 8.1 Windows 7

L

ightweight laptops, tablets and convertible devices, such as Microsoft Surface, make it easy to carry the power of a full-size PC wherever you go. But this convenience comes with a risk â&#x20AC;&#x201C; every time you take your Windows 10 device outside, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a chance that it could be lost or stolen. All it takes is one distraction, and your device (and all your data) could vanish. Windows 10 includes a security feature under Settings > â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Update & securityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; > Find My Device that lets you track your missing device and see its location on a map, but thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s virtually the limit of its capabilities. This is where Prey comes in. Once itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s installed on your Windows laptop, tablet or desktop it runs invisibly in the background until you trigger it remotely. You can then activate an alarm on the machine, see its location, display a message on its screen and even lock it down.

Step-by-step Keep your data safe

up online 1 Sign First, you need to sign up for a free Prey account, which enables you protect up to three devices. Go to http://preyproject. com and click Login in the top-right corner, then â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have an account?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Enter your name, email address and other details, then click â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Sign upâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see a blank map and a notice informing you that you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t yet have any devices to track.

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Č&#x2030;$7Â&#x203A;6%Ç&#x160;67ĆźÇ?3 :ČąĘ&#x2018;É&#x161;\Ę?ĘŚÉ ČŤĘ&#x2018;ʧLČŞÉ?LÉĄ ČžĘ&#x2018;SĘ?UÉ&#x20AC;HÉ?Ę&#x203A;LVĘŁĘ&#x2013;QÉ&#x2019;3ČžĘ&#x2018;ɨʨɾɸÉ&#x2014; ČżĘ&#x2018;QÉ?\Ę?ɤČžHĘ&#x201D;Ę&#x2026;OĘ&#x2039;É Ę&#x2018;PĘ&#x2039;ÉľÉ&#x2014; ĘŚSGDÉ&#x20AC;HÉĄĘ?É&#x161;LWÉĄĘ&#x2021;ČąĘ&#x2018;ČžHÉŞEĘ?XWÉĄ VÉ&#x203A;\Ę?ɤGĘ?É&#x161;Â&#x203A;ɢKĘ&#x2039;É&#x192;É?WÉ&#x203A;Č´Č­Ę&#x2018;É&#x17E; É­ČąHÉ­Ę&#x2DC;Ę&#x2013;QÉ&#x2019;Ę?ÉťĘ&#x2122;Ę&#x2013;ȸÉ?\Ę?ĘŚUȿɰOÉ&#x2018;

the software 2 Get Click â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Download Preyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, select your chosen operating system (Windows XP and up) and click â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Save fileâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Open the downloaded file and click Next to begin setting up Prey. Click â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I Agreeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, on the terms and conditions screen, and then click Install to begin installing the Prey software. When itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s done, click Finish to start setting up Prey on your device.


Explore Track a stolen Windows device

yourself 3 Find Select the correct language, then click ‘Existing user’. Enter

it lost 4 Report What happens if your laptop or tablet (with Prey installed) is

the email address and password you used when you signed up online, and you’ll see a message saying your device is protected. Return to your web browser and refresh the page showing the world map to see your device listed on the left-hand side. Click it, and Prey will locate it on the map, with surprising accuracy!

lost or stolen? Go to http://preyproject.com and sign in using your email address and password. Here we’re using another Windows 10 computer. Tap the name of your missing device, then tap the button marked ‘Set device to missing’. You’ll receive updates on its location and status. Select ‘Yes, my device is missing’.

the alarm 5 Sound Your device is now being tracked! Let Prey know whether

it down 6 Lock Finally, you can choose to lock your device so light-fingered

it’s lost or stolen by selecting the appropriate button. Now select ‘Maps and actions’ and you’ll see where your device was last seen, and how long ago. Selecting the Alarm option will make your device emit a loud sound – very useful if you’ve misplaced it nearby. You can also display a message on your missing device.

thieves can’t access your valuable data. Select ‘Lock’ and type in a password of your choosing. Press ‘Confirm’ and your device will be inaccessible until the same password is entered. Hopefully you will soon be reunited with your device. Once this happens, simply select it in your Prey account and choose ‘Set device to recovered’.

mobile 7 Go You can track up to three devices with one Prey account, so why not add your smartphone and other valuable kit? There are apps available for iOS, and Android phones and tablets – search for ‘Prey’ in the App Store or Google Play, install the app and log in. Prey for smartphones can also track attempts to unlock the screen, change the lock-screen password, and even wipe its data.

and sound! 8 Safe You’ve now protected all the important data on your devices. Remember, it’s not just files – you’re also guarding saved login details, browser history and more. Prey’s developers are always adding new features too. One which is Geofencing, which alerts you if your device is moved outside a predefined area. Go to www.preyproject.com/en/blog for the latest news. Q November 2017 |

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Feature Stream everything

STREAM EVERYTHING Put it all online – your favourite games, your media collection, desktop, or even your life. By Alex Cox e’ve relied on end-to-end streaming for longer than we’ve relied on computers. Where would society be without the inÁuence of radio or cable TV? Would we be quite the same if Major General George O. Squier hadn’t developed Muzak’s earliest tech, a 1930s system of sending inoffensive music along electrical wires directly to elevators and stores? Well, probably. We might even be slightly more sane. But that’s not the point: Streaming has long been hugely important, and the Internet has completely democratised it. You’re now free to send whatever you want wherever you want. You can push data, making it available to anyone who

wants it, or pull streams from a private source. You can work with audio, video, live cameras, or any other data that suits. You can use streaming for entertainment, for proÀt, or for practical beneÀts. And you can do it all, for the most part, for free. All you really need is a quality broadband connection on either end of the streaming path. You might not even need that, if your server hardware is robust enough to transcode media on the Áy, converting it to a lower resolution that reduces bandwidth demands. In this feature, we take you through as many different content streaming situations as possible, from games to sounds, and beyond. It’s all very situational and personal. Everything you

might want to stream has slightly different methodology, unique software, and technical considerations to take into account. Many of the tools we talk about can be used for more than one thing, and the speciÀc one you use is, at the end of the day, up to you. We talk public and private streaming, and give a few suggestions as to how to take advantage of the former to increase your online proÀle. While it’s going to take a lot of work and a special kind of charisma to top Twitch’s 200,000-viewer record for a single streamer – and, indeed, its all-time stream record of over 1,000,000 for a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament match – there’s nothing to stop you from trying.

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Media library streaming

Right off the bat, Plex Media Server is, by far, the slickest and cleanest solution for getting video and audio content that you own from a personal server on to basically any device anywhere in the world. Originally developed as a fork of XBMC (now Kodi), Plex has, over the past nine years, evolved into an extremely capable media host, which can look after everything from your music to your video content, and even – if you sign up for the monthly Plex Pass service – serve as a backup method for critical files such as photos. It offers apps for every major games console, and for smartphones and tablets, includes compatibility with the Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire Stick, and has a fullyfeatured web interface for everything else. The Plex server itself can run on a number of devices – you may even be able to get it going on a NAS – but we recommend something solid. Check the ‘The right hardware’ box on the facing page to see the kind of gear you should be aiming for to get maximum performance.

Plex does all the hard work of compiling covers and media information for you.

Getting Plex set up is simple. Grab the appropriate installer for your device from http://plex.tv/downloads, and run it. It’s a straightforward installer, no surprises. When it’s over, you have to run through a bit of first-time setup in a browser window. This basically just involves creating an account on the Plex.tv website – Plex handles online translation and routing for you, which makes for vastly simplified remote streaming – and running through a few self-

“The Plex server itself can run on a number of devices – you may even be able to get it running on a NAS”

YouNow’s leaderboards take streaming narcissism to new heights.

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explanatory steps, including setting up a folder for your media. This can reside, realistically, wherever you’d like, although it’s most efficient to use a drive directly connected to the computer that’s running the server, because pulling from network storage in order to send media via the network doubles up the bandwidth required – unless you opt for the cloud option (part of the Premium package), which accesses content on storage providers such as Dropbox and Google Drive, and doesn’t require a server PC at all. With everything in place, you have access to your entire media library from anywhere. Just sign into the Plex client, on any device, with the credentials you set earlier, or head to


Feature Stream everything

The right hardware Subsonic’s cover-focused interface looks a lot like iTunes – but it’s slightly less irritating.

http://plex.tv/web in a browser window. If your files are named correctly (see http://bit.ly/1Rxz8Ca), the server polls sites such as The Movie Database, Last.fm, and TheTVDB for thumbnails, episode information, and even trailers, and automatically arranges your media. Honestly, it’s ridiculously easy, and compatible with just about every format – the most difficult thing you have to do is collect together and rip all of your media. In theory, you have other choices if you’re already tied into a different ecosystem. You could, with a bit of fiddling with SSH and VPN tunneling, make a Kodi library available online, or use VLC (www.videolan.org) to stream any kind of media locally. Alternatively, PlexBMC (http://bit. ly/2gCxAvq) can funnel the contents of a Plex media server into a Kodi client. Subsonic (www.subsonic.org) was designed solely for audio streaming, but also includes rudimentary video streaming capabilities, and works in a very

similar way to Plex. And, hey, if you’re happy to forget about controlling precisely what you can watch, you could always eliminate the worry of compiling a media library, and sign up for a dedicated streaming service such as Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime, et al.

Desktop streaming

Now for something more practical: remote controlling your PC. There are several easy options for taking your desktop on the road, many of which have been around for a long time. VNC, for instance, is a well-seasoned open-source remote desktop client, and is highly configurable, with several different, but compatible, spins. Try TightVNC (www.tightvnc. com) or RealVNC (www.realvnc.com) if you’re leaning in this direction; run the server app on the machine you want to access, and then make sure that you set a strong password – VNC’s ports are, given that they offer up full access to your PC, often targeted by rogues.

Streaming isn’t usually very gentle on your hardware. Transcoding or encoding a video stream puts strain on your CPU, your GPU, and your RAM, so if you’re looking for a smooth experience for your viewers, you should go as big as you possibly can to negate the overheads of putting that content online. Machines with more cores and threads tend to handle the task much better. Dedicate a machine to streaming if you can; use a device such as the Avermedia ExtremeCap U3 to pull in a 1080p signal over USB 3.0, then feel free to tax the machine you’re creating content on, without fear of dropped frames. That said, the most important asset of a good streaming machine is availability. If you’re not performing otherwise demanding tasks – say, if you’re only streaming your media collection – you can get away with a lot less, as long as your server is powered up and ready to go precisely when you need it. The best hosting hardware in this case is low-powered, low-noise, and able to be left switched on at all times. A specced-up Intel NUC, an old desktop tucked in an inconspicuous corner, an unloved laptop with its screen turned off, just about anything will do – and a cloudbased option, such as Plex Media Server, could be even better. Regardless of whether you’re streaming to one or to many, your server needs a quality network connection. Don’t feel you’ll be able to rely entirely on wireless, because high-res video puts big bandwidth demands on your hardware, and shaky connections, naturally, affect performance, so wire it up via Ethernet to a strong broadband pipe if you can. Avoid powerline Ethernet – we’ve found it has a tendency to go up and down at random – and opt for an Internet package with as much upload bandwidth as possible. It sounds obvious, but some just have the ratio all wrong.

Streaming your desktop with TeamViewer is easy – you just need two numbers.

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Stream into the big time There are a lucky few out there who manage to make money from streaming. Only a few, though, so we don’t recommend quitting your job just yet. It’s hard to say what the prevailing source of income is for the average streamer; some make the bulk of their cash from tips and donations, which are often tied to shoutouts and on-screen recognition. This can work well, particularly for streamers with a growing audience, although those on the lower rungs often Ànd this isn’t enough to constitute a wage. A few also push Patreon (www.patreon.com) subscriptions, although that’s a system more associated with episodic content. The key to making a living from streaming really seems to be the Twitch partner program, a mildly exclusive club reserved for regular streamers with a growing audience. You need to apply to join, and you absolutely must behave in terms of copyright, but when you’re on the train, you share half of each $4.99 (£3.74) monthly subscription to your channel. Amazon’s ownership of Twitch also helps; Amazon Prime subscribers get one subscription included with their account, so dedicated viewers may even be able to chip in (virtually) for free. Getting to the peak, though? Aside from luck, there are a few key things to consider no matter what you’re streaming. Be consistent with your schedule and quality. Be pleasant, approachable, and civil. Interact with your chat without scaring people away. Make sure your content is accessible – break it into manageable chunks on YouTube, and archive your broadcasts. Keep your image and audio quality high. Make friends with other streamers; they may host your channel when they are ofÁine, which can drive attractive trafÀc your way. And, if you can stand it, pick a popular topic. Certain games do better than others – check Twitch for speciÀcs. And, well, it also helps if you’re highly attractive.

VLC gives you plenty of options for streaming formats, so switch it up if one isn’t working.

Windows has a desktop streaming tool included in the form of Microsoft Remote Desktop, which can pick out individual apps from your desktop, and stream them seamlessly without the rest of it, and has client apps for phones and other operating systems. It’s well featured and really rather good, but it’s not our top pick. We’re leaning toward something that, like Plex, does all the hard work for you: TeamViewer (www.teamviewer.com). It may be the most attractive among these tools in terms of the ease of its interface, and it’s generally used for idiot-proof remote support purposes, but it’s possible to set it up for easy access to your own hardware. When you’ve downloaded and run its installer, select Unattended. Now, when you first run TeamViewer, you’re given a wizard to run through; you don’t need to sign up for an account, you can use it anonymously if you choose. Note down the ID number you’re given at the end of

the process, and you can use it in conjunction with the password you set earlier to gain access to your desktop at any time, either by using a TeamViewer app or through the website. The app also shows another password; it changes every boot, and you can give this to folks you want to be able to access your machine without knowing your login details. One thing to note: Streaming your desktop is generally much more demanding, and slower, than streaming a media collection, because your videos and audio have been encoded in a format that reduces their size and required bandwidth. TeamViewer and its ilk usually do some work to negate this, such as blanking your desktop background, dropping the colour depth, and compressing the stream on the fly, but this does increase sluggishness. If you’re trying to throw the raw contents of a 4K desktop down your Internet connection, don’t

You need a package such as Telestream’s GameShow to ensure your broadcasts look sharp.

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Feature Stream everything

Microsoft’s Mixer project is a relative newcomer, but you need no additional software.

expect to comfortably run graphically demanding applications, or for the experience to be the same as being sat at your desk. If you want pinpoint control over the minutiae of your desktop streaming experience, there’s an option you may not have considered: VLC media player. Set up a server by opening your desktop as a capture device, and switch from Play mode to Stream mode. Run through the wizard that appears, select the destination IP address of your stream, and use port 1234. You can now select the exact compression method you want to package your stream in, from encapsulation to video and audio codecs, by clicking the tool icon. It’s a one-way street, so you

can’t take control with VLC itself, but it is a viable option.

Game streaming

Gaming is the gaudy poster child of live streaming, and the topic most associated with the phrase. Given its proliferation, there are plenty of technologies and services associated with transporting gameplay from one location to another. If you’re keeping it to yourself, look in the direction of Steam’s In-Home Streaming service,

which – with the minimum of effort – translates titles running on a powerful gaming PC into an h.264 stream, and then fires them off to a client machine. As long as it’s running Steam, this client can be equipped with almost any hardware – bringing beautiful games to the wimpiest laptop – though there are caveats to consider on the server end. You need a machine powerful enough to render your game and quickly compress a video stream at the same time. Your server resolution is the maximum that is replicated on your client, and that server needs to be actively running the game, so it can’t be used for anything else while you’re streaming. There’s a small amount of lag, naturally, and while it’s technically possible to use VPN trickery to run In-Home Streaming outside your home, the additional delay that this adds makes your games all but unplayable. The same things are generally true for other stream playing experiences, such as Nvidia’s Gamestream, which puts your GeForce-accelerated games on to Nvidia Shield devices, as well as on third-party game streamers, such as Parsec and Remotr.

“You need a machine powerful enough to render your game and quickly compress a video stream”

Pick up art tips or showcase your talents for drawing scantily-clad anime girls on Picarto.

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Facebook Live enables you to stream video using a simple status update.

“YouTube Live, accessible from the Creator Studio, is more flexible in terms of subject matter” Game streaming comes into its own with one-to-many solutions, such as Twitch and YouTube Live, which take a stream from a client app – OBS is complex but free, XSplit comfortable but subscription-based, and Gameshow the new paid-for pretender – and send it online for anyone to enjoy. Microsoft is, as Microsoft does, sticking its own fingers in the pie, with Mixer (formerly Beam), which has the advantage of being built in to Windows 10 from the Creators Update onward, and available from the Game bar, but the disadvantage of being, frankly, not very good. It’ll grow, and it’ll get better, but stick with the big boys for now. A few technical considerations: While it’s entirely possible to stream to the Internet from the PC that you’re playing on, that’s often not the best idea. You’re dealing with, potentially, far greater system overheads than in-home streaming, because you probably also want to process a video stream of your webcam and some sort of flashy overlay. Bigger streamers tend to split the load, with one machine managing the gameplay portion, and another equipped with an HDMI capture device and running the

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stream end, putting viewer interaction front and centre.

Personal streaming

While Twitch has long been the home of game streaming, it’s recently taken a turn toward the personal, in the form of Twitch IRL channels. These move the focus away from games and on to the streamer, allowing for personal, often inane, vlog-style live

streaming. Twitch’s terms of service require that these include viewer interaction, follow strict guidelines, and don’t deviate too far from the streamer as the focus; the service also runs a talk show category, which has more subject-focused content. YouTube Live, accessible from its Creator Studio, is more flexible in terms of subject matter – you’re free to stream whatever you like, as long as you don’t offend any copyright holders – and includes lots of useful tools. Sign up with your Google account, and you are given a livestreaming permalink that you can share with potential viewers, and –

Twitch is branching out into categories other than gaming. Its Creative section is fantastic.


Feature Stream everything

Security camera streaming You can stream a virtual radio station with Mixlr, although you will need a subscription.

with the help of OBS or similar – you’ll soon be broadcasting. There’s an included DVR feature, which enables viewers who missed the beginning of your broadcast to jump back up to four hours. You can also stream directly from your phone, as long as you have an adequate mobile network connection and a data plan. There are a number of options for those who desire a more intimate audience. Facebook Live is growing in popularity, and getting up and running is as simple as penning a status, then hitting the live video option. You can – as with any Facebook post – set your privacy to public, and this is certainly a good option if you’re using the broadcast functionality to push your brand, but bear in mind that you’ll need to publicise public events if you want them to reach beyond your timeline. Justin.tv-style livecasting networks still exist, too; Ustream has been swallowed up by IBM, and now aims toward the corporate sector, but

YouNow is increasingly popular, though it can lean toward Chatroulette and Omegle territory at times, and that’s not somewhere any civilised person wants to be. If you want to share a hobby rather than your personality, there are other niche streaming services. Twitch has a Creative category, which permits art, coding, music, and, occasionally, classic Bob Ross and Mr. Rogers shows, although you wouldn’t get away with broadcasting these yourself unless you’re the rights holder. Picarto.tv caters specifically to artists, and has a long history and large community behind it. We should also mention Mixlr (www. mixlr.com), which is perfect for audio streamers; you can use it to set up a virtual radio station, or create a live podcast recorded for later. It’s not free – a full subscription with a permanent livestream URL will run you a cool $499 (£374) per year – but you can test it out with a free trial. Happy streaming! Q

You can easily broadcast your own video stream using YouTube Live’s Creator Studio.

You likely have a bundle of old mobile phones or tablets hanging around, or can get your hands on some. So here’s a little bonus streaming idea: Set one up as a security camera, and beam the goings-on of your household to wherever you happen to be. It may take a bit of creative mounting and wiring to put them in place – though the Dockem cell phone wall mount (£10) may be all that you need. The software side of things is actually remarkably easy; grab IP Webcam (Android, free) or iVideon (iOS, free) from your device’s app store, run the app, point the phone’s camera at the thing you want to watch, and install the appropriate client on your PC. VLC’s stream capture function is enough for IP Webcam, while iVideon asks for its own server, downloadable from www.ivideon.com/get/. That’s only the tip of the iceberg, though. With multiple mobile phone cameras, standard webcams – which you could hook up to any old streaming box with little overhead – or dedicated IP cameras, such as the £27.99 Wansview Home Camera (www. wansview.com), you can set up multiple simultaneous streams to a multi-cam server, such as the aforementioned iVideon or iSpy (www.ispyconnect. com). iSpy records footage to a hard drive, triggers itself with customisable levels of motion detection, and even alerts you to intrusions with a private video uploaded to YouTube. A subscription, from $7.95 (£5.95) per month, gets you access to your security camera network online, although there’s nothing to stop you getting a little creative; why not stream your local cam server online using something like TeamViewer, for instance? It’s absolutely less convenient, but a darn sight cheaper. Alternatively, you could always revert to iVideon, which gets you online access with limited features on its free plan, or more if you want to expand your coverage for a fee.

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FIX

WINDOWS 10

Solve the more frustrating oversights and problems in Microsoft’s latest and greatest operating system with these tips and tricks. By Nick Peers Windows 10 blends the best features of Windows 7 and 8.1, but there are still hurdles to overcome if you truly want to enjoy it. In this feature, we round up the most frustrating annoyances you’re likely to come across with your new operating system, and show you how to get the OS to work the way you want it to once again. You’ll discover how to restore features taken out of Windows 10, such as Windows Media Centre, make sure settings are correctly applied to protect your privacy and security, and resolve other issues with the minimum of fuss. Once you’ve worked your way through our list, you’ll have a Windows computer that’s working for you, and not the other way around. Without further ado, then, it’s time to get Windows 10 firmly in line…

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Watch DVDs again WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER lost the ability to play DVD video in Windows 10 as it did in Windows 8 before it). You can purchase Microsoft’s Windows DVD Player for £11.59 ($15) from the Windows Store, but why do that when VLC Media Player enables you to watch DVDs for free? Just download and install it from www. videolan.org/vlc. Before you play any movies, open the Video menu and choose Deinterlace > Automatic to improve the picture quality.


Feature Fix Windows 10

Replace Windows Media Centre WINDOWS MEDIA CENTRE has also been dropped from Windows 10. There are plenty of free alternatives, but our personal recommendation is Kodi (www.kodi. tv), which also has a built-in DVD player. If you have a TV tuner attached to your PC for watching and recording live television, you’ll also need NextPVR (www. nextpvr.com), along with video codec pack CCCP (www.cccp-project.net). Visit http://kodi.wiki/view/NextPVR for a guide to pairing NextPVR with Kodi.

Prepare to recover

Create a reinstall disc

WHAT HAPPENS IF Windows 10 fails to boot? You need a system recovery drive that gives you access to Windows 10’s repair options. You can create a full-blown reinstall disc with these tools (see right) or you can press a spare 1GB USB flash drive into service instead with just the repair utilities in place. To do the latter, plug the drive into your PC, type ‘recovery’ into the Search box, and click ‘Create a recovery drive’ under Settings. Untick ‘Back up system files to the recovery drive’, and follow the prompts to create your drive. Should you need to use it, restart your PC with the drive plugged in to access the repair tools you’ve installed.

IT PAYS TO be able to reinstall Windows from scratch should you ever have the need to. To do that, you need a blank DVD or spare 8GB USB flash drive and to download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool from www.microsoft.com/engb/software-download/windows10. Be sure to choose either the 32-bit or 64-bit version depending on your system – press [Win] + [Pause/ Break] and look under System if you don’t know. Launch the tool. Select ‘Create installation media for another PC’, click Next and follow the prompts to select your chosen language, edition, and architecture (32-bit or 64-bit). Insert your USB flash drive, or create an ISO file you can then burn to a single DVD.

Save bandwidth WINDOWS 10 USES peer-to-peer technology to deliver Windows updates. This means your Internet connection is used to share the updates you’ve downloaded with other users. If you’re on a slow broadband connection – or you’d rather not let Microsoft do this – you can change it. Click ‘Start’ and choose Settings. Select ‘Update & security’, and click ‘Advanced options’ under Windows Update. Next, click ‘Choose how updates are delivered’, and either switch the feature off or select ‘PCs on my local network’ to further cut bandwidth usage by only sharing the updates between the PCs you have in your home.

Lose the File Explorer Ribbon WE’VE LOVED the File Explorer since its introduction in Windows 8, but if you’re not a fan of its Ribbon interface, you can disable it and restore the Windows 7 look using a program called OldNewExplorer – download it from http://tihiy.net/files/OldNewExplorer. rar. You need a program capable of extracting RAR files to use it – try 7-Zip (www.7-zip.org). Once extracted, launch the program and click Install, then tick the various boxes to change how File Explorer looks – close and reopen any existing File Explorer windows to see the effects. November 2017 |

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Change def default app a by file fil type IF YOUR APP P IS ISN’T LISTED L S D when trying to set it as the default via Settings, try this instead: Browse to a file pen fi you y want to open, right-click it, and choose ‘Op p with’ another h > ‘Choose h h app’. pp Tick T ck ‘‘Always open this app…’ before selectiing i Iff it’s not in the list, click ‘More apps’ to reveal furth yyour chosen default. f f her h cchoices, and if your chosen program still isn’t there, click ‘Look for another aapp on this hi PC’ to manually the S your search h under d o ll select l h one you want. Start Program Files l or Program Files l (x86)..

Restore e o the t e cla classic Start menu IF YOU’VE UPGRADED FROM WINDOWS 7, you might not like the new Start menu at all. If you’re hankering after the ‘classic’ style, download and install Classic Shell from www.classicshell.net. During installation, untick all the entries except for Classic Start Menu and Classic Shell Update. Once the app has been installed, click the Start button to configure it – the default settings should be fine, so click OK. The classic Start menu integrates nicely with the Windows 10 look, but provides settings and shortcuts that you’ll be more familiar with – there’s even a shortcut to the Windows 10 Start menu, too.

Disable Cortana THERE’S LITTLE DOUBT that the Windows 10 Search bar is useful, but it links into Microsoft Cortana by default. If you decide you don’t like Cortana’s additional tools, you can reduce its functionality to that of previous versions of Windows. Click the Search bar to open Cortana. If you’re using it for the first time, click ‘Not interested’ to disable it; otherwise, click the Settings button and flick the Use Cortana switch to Off. You can also disable the web portion of Windows 10’s search capabilities from here, too, restricting searches to the files, programs, and settings on your computer.

Change default apps in Settings AFTER UPGRADING TO WINDOWS 10, Microsoft changes your default web browser to Edge. To fix this, click Start > Settings > System > ‘Default apps’. Click the Edge entry, then pick your browser (Firefox, Chrome, and so on if you have them installed already) from the list that pops up. You can change other key app defaults here: Video, Photos, Mail, and so on. For a wider range of app choices, click ‘Set defaults by app’. Advanced users can also set defaults by file type or protocol using the appropriate links.

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Feature Fix Windows 10 Restore e o Windows do Photo h Viewerr MICR M ICROS OSOF OFT FT T HA HASS R REPLAC EPLA LAC CED DW Windows d Photo h Viewer with app, h the h Photos h pp but b it’s possible p bl to restore it as an option when setting g the default app ffor photos. It’s a convoluted d f process – see ‘Method 4’ at www.askvg.com/ g / p tip-restoring-windows-photo-viewer-asg default-in-windows-10/././ Ho However, the h AskVG Ak d website does provide a ready-made zip file ccontaining the h required d Registry R y entries. Download this to your PC, then open it to D access the .reg file within. Double-click this, gfi D then Run followed by Yes (twice) to h choose hoo Ru make Windows Photo Viewer an option again. m g

Customise C s se the th h dd Start a menu hidden WI DO S 10 WINDOWS 0 HAS a hidden dd Start a menu – press [Win] + [X] or righth click button. The menu cl k the h Start a bu o . Th u includes shortcuts to hidden parts i of o your system, such as the old Control Panel,, Run C Ru dialog g box, and Event Viewer. But a d Ev B yyou can add your own, or rearrange and a delete existing shortcuts with Win+X Menu Editor. Download the zip file from http://winaero. c o m /d o w n l o a d . p h p? v i e w. 21, right-click it, and choose Extract All to save it to a suitable folder. Browse to the ‘x64’ (64-bit) or ‘x86’ (32-bit) folders, then doubleclick WinXEditor.exe. Click ‘Add a program’ to browse for a program, or ‘Add preset’ for options such as shutdown and restart entries. You can also the WinXEditor app to add individual Control Panel applets and administrative tools.

Bring back the Briefcase IT MAY HAVE NICHE APPEAL, but the Briefcase was one of the earliest tools for keeping data synced between two locations. While it’s been removed from Windows 10 (and 8), you can get it back again with a Registry tweak. Download the required file from http://winaero.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/ Briefcase.zip. Double-click it to open it, then double-click ‘Windows 8-Enable Briefcase.reg’. Click ‘Run’, followed by Yes twice, then restart File Explorer via Task Manager to restore its features. Note: It doesn’t work well with User Account Control, so don’t create Briefcases inside any administrator-protected folders.

Tighten privacy in Microsoft Edge

Win+X Menu Editor enables you to create your own custom shortcuts in Windows 10.

IF YOU STICK with Edge, there are some important privacy settings that you need to switch on before relying on it. Launch the Edge browser and click the ellipsis (…) button in the top-right corner, then choose Settings. Scroll down and click ‘Advanced settings’, and make sure the ‘Block pop-ups’ slider is set to On. While you’re there, flick ‘Send Do Not Track requests’ to On, then set Cookies to ‘Block only third-party cookies’ for even greater privacy.

Access classic display settings WE’RE NOT MASSIVE FANS of the new Personalisation dialog, which is now part of Settings. If you aren't either, and are hankering after the old Display Settings dialog that was used in Windows 7 and 8, you can create a shortcut to it on the desktop. Right-click some blank space, and then choose New > Shortcut. Now type the following into the Location box: ‘control.exe desk.cpl,Settings,@ Settings’ Click ‘Next’ and give the shortcut a suitable name, then click Finish. Now you can use this freshly created shortcut to tweak your display settings in Windows 10.

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SSwitch System Restore back on o ba o DON’T ON T ASK US WHY, Y b but on some systems Windows 10 disables System y Restore byy default. W R f The first Th fi thing to do, then, is switch it back on. Press [Win] + [Pause/Break] to open System y Properties, and Protection in the d click l k System y h lleft-hand a d column. o u . You ou should ou d see that a Protection o o SSettings have been switched off ff ffor all yyour drives. LLocate your Windows drive (it should be d d d h ld b m marked System), and click the ‘Configure…’ button. Select ‘Turn on system protection’, and b l ‘T y d allocate up to 10 percent of your available space using the slider. Click OK twice to fi finish the job.. u

Improve mp W d pd Windows Update By default, Windows Update B p now delivers allll updates automatically. d l d lly While you can’t put them off ff indefinitely, i fi y you y can improve matters. Go to SSettings > ‘Upd ‘Update & security’ > se i y’ > Windows Update p Advanced Windows 10 Pro Ad d Options. W d users can upgrades’ u a select ‘Defer ‘D g ’ to put for p off ff non-securityy updates p f several months. Windows 10 Home users, on the other hand, should set ‘Choose how updates are installed’ to ‘Notify to schedule restart’, so they can receive alerts that updates are about to be installed. Home users with Wi-Fi connections can also postpone updates by going to Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi > Advanced Options, and flicking the Metered Connection switch to On until you are ready to install any Windows 10 updates that Microsoft has prepared for you.

Remove unwanted apps WINDOWS 10 SHIPS with a number of built-in apps, such as Mail, Money, and Groove Music. However, if you don’t like any of these, Microsoft doesn’t provide an Uninstall option to help you get rid of them. You can still ditch them, though, with IOBit Uninstaller 7 Free (www.iobit.com/advanceduninstaller.php). Once installed, open the app from the Start > ‘All apps’ menu, then select Win Manager from the left-hand menu, and select Windows Apps. Expand the Windows Apps section, where you’ll see all the apps listed. Click the dustbin next to one to remove it. Any apps can be restored later through the Windows Store.

Tame Quick Access QUICK ACCESS can be a mess, mixing pinned icons, frequently accessed folders, and recent items. Open File Explorer, switch to View, and click Options. Disable the latter two via Privacy, and instruct File Explorer to open to the ‘This PC’ view instead of Quick Access. You can pin the Recent Places shortcut to Quick Access – press [Win] + [R], and type %AppData%\Microsoft\ Windows\ and press [Enter]. Right-click the Recent Items shortcut, and choose ‘Pin to Quick Access’.

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Restore the classic Alt-Tab switcher Press [Alt] + [Tab], and Windows 10 displays a list of thumbnails for all of your open windows. If you would rather stick with the old look, press [Win] + [R], and type ‘regedit’ to open Registry Editor. Browse to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ SOF T WARE \ Microsof t\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Explorer. Now select Edit > New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name it AltTabSettings. Double-click the value and set it to 1. Now restart File Explorer from Task Manager to restore the icon task switcher.


Feature Fix Windows 10

Run Ru n older apps MOST MO OST APPS A S tthat at work o in Windows do s 7 aand d 8 sshould ou d aalso so work o in Windows do s 10, 0, but iff your app doesn’t work, all mayy not be lost. Iff you y y still have access to a non-OEM OEM copy of an older version of Windows, you can install it in a virtual machine, c courtesy g Basically, y this enables yyou to create c y off VirtualBox (www.virtualbox.org). a virtuall PC inside 10, into which d Windows d h h you can installll your old ld programs while you look for a compatible update or suitable alternative..

Disable i ab Wi-Fi Sensee Iff you connect wirelessly l l to your network,, Windows do 10’s 0 s Wi-Fi Sense Se se feature – which connects you to crowdsourced Wi-Fi hotspots and networks shared by your contacts – is enabled by default if you choose Express Settings during the Windows 10 upgrade process. It’s designed to make it easier to connect to friends’ networks through your Facebook, Outlook. com, or Skype contacts list. However, if you’d rather not share this information, you can disable it. Click Start > Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi. Click ‘Manage WiFi Settings’, and flick both switches to Off to stop your network details from being shared with others.

Recover eco drive d st storage space

OneDrive e changes h g

ONCE YOU’RE UP and running with Windows 10, and convinced you won’t need to go back to your previous version of Windows, it’s time to free up some drive space. Open File Explorer, go to This PC, right-click your ‘C’ drive, choose Properties, then click Disk Clean-up. As soon as the dialog opens, click ‘Clean up system files’, and wait for it to scan again. Go through the list, ticking those items you don’t need – the biggest item by far will be ‘Previous Windows installation(s)’. Tick this to free up space, but remember there’s no going back once the files are gone.

One e off the best features f off OneDrive Dri e in Windows 8 was the ability to use ‘placeholders’ for certain folders, effectively giving you access to your stored files without having to also hold a copy on your hard drive. Sadly, Windows 10 ditches this feature (for now). Instead, you need to specify which folders you want to keep synced on your PC. To do this, rightclick the OneDrive icon in the Taskbar Notification area, and select Settings. Switch to the Choose Folders tab, and then click Choose Folders. Untick ‘Sync all files and folders on my OneDrive’, and then tick only those folders you need access to when you’re not connected to the internet.

Bypass login IF YOU’RE THE ONLY USER of your computer, and you’d like to boot straight to the desktop without having to enter your password each time you want to use it, here’s what to do. Press [Win] + [R] to open the Run dialog, then type ‘netplwiz’, and press [Enter]. Make sure your user account is selected, then untick ‘Users must enter a username and password to use this computer’, and click Apply. Enter your user password and click OK twice. Windows will also require you to enter your password after your PC wakes from sleep. If security isn’t an issue, click Start > Settings > Accounts > ‘Sign-in options’, and change the ‘Require sign-in’ drop-down to Never. Q November 2017 |

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WINDOWS HELP HARDWARE FIXES SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS INTERNET TIPS Security

CAN’T DELETE AN IDENTITY SAFE VAULT Do you have a PC problem? Get in touch… Email full details of your problem to the support team and we’ll do our best to help windowshelpline@ futurenet.com

Q I set up a Norton Identity Safe

a while back, but did nothing with it. I’ve forgotten the password, but despite following the advice online, I can’t see an option to delete and recreate the vault from scratch after failing to enter the correct password three times. Can you help me please? Kyle Watkins

Rob’s solution It sounds as if you’re trying to log on through your web browser, Kyle. Although it’s not mentioned in the support article, you can only reset the vault using Norton Internet Security – the desktop version of Identity Safe was recently discontinued. If you’re a Norton user, open the main application, then click Identity followed by

Identity Safe. You’ll be prompted for the password – entering it incorrectly here will enable you to delete the vault and create a new one with a fresh password. You will need to re-enter your Norton account password as part of the vault creation procedure. If you’re not using other Norton products, we’d recommend ditching Identity Safe for LastPass (www.lastpass.com) or KeePassX (www.keepassx.org/) instead, choosing the latter if you’re uncomfortable storing your passwords in the cloud. Internet

RANDOM INTERNET CONNECTION PROBLEMS Q I have a problem whereby my

internet connection appears to stop working or otherwise slows down – there’s no pattern as to when it occurs and it’s particularly noticeable when downloading images in emails or from the internet. Can you help me resolve this issue please? Connor Hatton

DELETE VAULT You need Norton Internet Security to help recreate your vault.

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Support Technical help

FIND THE SOLUTION! Windows Seven Forums Visit www.sevenforums.com/tutorials for a list of useful tutorials for Windows 7 users – some work in Windows 8 too.

Quickfire questions I tried following the tip about disabling Cortana on page 16 of issue 138, but it hasn’t worked. Can you help? Adam Buttler Apologies, our mistake. The AllowCortana Registry value should be 0, not 1. Once that’s done, reboot and Cortana should be switched off. I want to buy a portable hard drive for my PC. Why are some powered while others aren’t? Jeff Francis Most 2.5-inch drives draw their power from the USB port, while 3.5-inch drives have a separate adaptor. Choose the former if your computer has enough spare power.

Ian’s solution We answered a similar question a couple of years ago. We asked Connor what motherboard he had installed – it was a Gigabyte. You can see which motherboard is installed in your computer using the free Speccy system information tool if you don’t already know – get it from www.piriform.com. We then checked whether Connor had installed Gigabyte’s LAN Optimizer (www.gigabyte.com/MicroSite/300/ lan-optimizer.html), which is used to regulate network connections. Disabling this immediately improved matters. The program has a reputation for disrupting internet connections and not performing as it should, so Connor was happy to remove the program and finally fix the problem.

username and password for accessing that share – easier to do when logging on to a NAS drive). And second, when you log on to a network share, resist the temptation to tick the box marked ‘Remember my credentials’ – you’ll have to manually enter a username and password each time you log on, but it reduces the share’s exposure to potential infection. If you currently have saved network credentials in Windows, you can easily remove them: type ‘credentials’ into the Search box and then click ‘Manage Windows credentials’ to access the built-in Credential Manager tool. You should see entries for each saved network password under ‘Windows Credentials’ – next, click the ‘v’

“The program has a reputation for disrupting internet connections” Jargon buster! NAS Network Attached Storage. Refers to a networked drive that connects to the network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

THWART RANSOMWARE Using Macrium to store your network password, rather than Windows.

CPU Central Processing Unit. It refers to the processor that is effectively the ‘brains’ of your computer. The majority of PCs use either Intel or AMD CPUs.

Security

RANSOMWARE AND NETWORK SHARES Q I back up a fail-safe copy to my

networked hard drive, but I have learned it may not be immune to a ransomware attack. What can I do to protect it? Alice Thomas

Nick P’s solution The best way to prevent ransomware from infecting any network shares is to make sure that your network credentials aren’t stored in Windows. This is a two-step process – first, make sure your Windows user account doesn’t have access to the network share in question (in other words, create a dedicated November 2017 |

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Quickfire questions Is there a way I can redact parts of a PDF document for free before sending it on? Paula Quintock Foxit Reader from www. foxitsoftware.com/pdf-reader/ has a stamp tool – you can find it under the Comment tab of the program’s Ribbon – that you can click and drag into place, then resize to cover the parts of the document that you wish to hide from view. How can I stop File History from hogging all the available space on my backup drive in Windows 10? Nigel Allen Go to Start > Settings > Backup and click ‘More options’ under ‘Back up using File History’. Reduce the frequency that backups are taken under ‘Back up my files’ and also change the time backups are kept for – one year should be sufficient, or less if you’re happy to keep fewer backups. How do I stop an ‘Upload failed’ messages in Office 365? June Higgins Right-click the OneDrive icon in the Taskbar and choose the Settings > Office tab. Untick ‘Use Office to sync Office files’ (and ‘Use Office 2016 to sync Office files that I open’ if it’s ticked). Click OK and that should solve the problem.

button followed by Remove > Yes. This should clear it. If you’re backing up to a network share, check to see if your backup tool can save those network credentials independently of Windows – for example, in Macrium Reflect, select Other Tasks > Edit Defaults > Network tab. Click ‘Add’ to manually add a network path, username and password and then click OK twice. You can now back up without exposing your network share to ransomware. Backup

ALTERNATIVE TO CRASHPLAN Q I’ve been relying on CrashPlan

for the past three years to keep my PC backed up and it’s saved my bacon two times already. But now I’ve discovered it’s being shut down. What should I do to protect myself going forward? Stuart Waite

PERSONAL CLOUD A networked hard drive leaves you in full control of your PC backups.

Rob’s solution There are many online alternatives offering similar functionality – Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) is one such tool, but given the issues with cloud-based backups (ongoing costs, security and even the long-term viability of such services), perhaps now is the time to explore more personal solutions. Seagate’s Personal Cloud Wireless NAS Drive offers 3-5TB of storage for under £200, and includes options for backing up to USB or another Personal Cloud drive for extra peace of mind. You could site the drive away from your main computer to prevent damage or theft to one affecting the other. Personal cloud drives include apps for enabling you sync data to and from all your computers and mobile devices, plus they can be

configured to give you remote access to your data from outside your network too. Windows

ERROR MESSAGE ON SHUTDOWN Q Both my wife and I are getting

the same error when we shut down our PCs, running Windows 7 and 10 respectively. It’s linked to BitDefender Threat Scanner, and it reads: ‘A problem has occurred in BitDefender Threat Scanner. A file containing error information has been created at C:\WINDOWS\ TEMP\BitDefender Threat Scanner. dmp.’ Can you help us resolve this problem please? John Wallis

Cat’s solution The error is a very well-known one, and is linked to a corrupt file in Spybot Search & Destroy. To its credit BitDefender was quick to issue a patch that should resolve it. You need to know which Windows system type (32-bit or 64-bit – press [Win] + [Pause/Break] if you’re not

IDENTIFY AND OPEN UNKNOWN FILES Q I have been sent a file with a

.pub extension. What kind of file is it, and how do I open it? Mick Harvey Ian’s solution First of all save the attachment to your PC’s storage drive – never open it directly. If your security software doesn’t scan it automatically, then right-click the file and opt to scan it manually. If it checks out OK, you can go about identifying it. The step-by-step guide here reveals how.

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file type 1 Identify In Mick’s case, .pub files are Microsoft

compatible app 2 Locate If the parent program in question isn’t

Publisher documents – you can identify other files by visiting https://filext.com and typing the file extension into the Google Custom Search box in the top right-hand corner, or try a wider Google search.

available for free, type it into https:// alternativeto.net/ to source alternatives. Microsoft Publisher isn’t free, but Scribus (www.scribus.net) is an open-source desktop publishing tool that can open .pub files.

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Support Technical help sure), and then download the appropriate patch. The 32-bit version is available from: www.bitdefender.com/files/ KnowledgeBase/file/BDRepair_ Tool_win32.exe While the 64-bit version is here: www.bitdefender.com/files/ KnowledgeBase/file/BDRepair_ Tool_x64.exe Once you have applied the patch, the corrupt file should be fixed and the error message cease. Hardware

QUICK ‘N’ DIRTY BENCHMARK Q My four-year-old PC has

served me well, but I’m wondering if it’s time for an upgrade. I’ve scoured online articles and forums, but I can’t really tell how much of an increase in performance a new CPU would bring. I have a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, onboard graphics and 16GB RAM – is it worth upgrading? Geraint Powell

jump in speed over the preceding few years had convinced him to splash out on a new PC. And having tested the program ourselves on our similarly specified machine, we’re sorely tempted to invest in a PC upgrade ourselves… Backup

INCREMENTAL VERSUS DIFFERENTIAL Q My backup tool offers both

incremental and differential backups to save on drive storage space. What’s the difference? Lewis Adam Mayank’s solution Both types of backup take up less room because they only record the changes made since the last backup was taken. Differential

Nick P’s solution The jumps between Intel CPU generations isn’t quite as dramatic as it once was, but there may still be value in an upgrade. You will have to factor in the cost of a new motherboard – and possibly RAM and a graphics card too. Perhaps the best thing to do is benchmark your current setup using a free tool called NovaBench (https:// novabench.com/) – it only benchmarks your CPU, RAM, graphics and system hard disk, but once complete, you can submit your scores online (anonymously if you wish) and then compare them against the latest models. Geraint reported back that his benchmark scores revealed that the

backups record the changes taken since the last full backup, while incremental backups record the changes made since the last incremental backup. Incremental backups are therefore smaller than differential backups, but more prone to failure because you need all previous incremental backups as well as the parent full backup to restore your system. Differential backups only require themselves and the full backup. If your backup tool supports both types of backup, a typical scenario is to take one full backup a month, then weekly differential backups and finally daily incremental backups – the latter being based on the last differential backup to reduce the number of backups you need should you want to recover your system.

Do you have a PC problem? Get in touch… Email full details of your problem to the support team and we’ll do our best to help: windowshelpline@ futurenet.com Or write to: Support Squad, Windows Help & Advice magazine, Future Publishing Ltd, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA

BENCHMARK HEAVEN NovaBench lets you quickly poll your PC’s core components.

“The jumps between Intel CPU generations isn’t quite as dramatic as it once was, but there may still be value in an upgrade” Jargon buster! Network credentials Details – typically a username and password – that are required in order to connect to a shared folder on another PC or device such as a networked hard disk drive.

a file viewer 3 Try If you can’t locate a suitable app, go hunting for a free file viewing tool. Avoid Free File Viewer (Malwarebytes blocks it), and instead try File Viewer Lite from https:// windowsfileviewer.com/, which can handle over 150 different file types.

solutions 4 Other Other options include trying free online file conversion tools such as Zamzar (www. zamzar.com) or replying to the sender and explaining the situation and asking them to provide the file in a different format – a PDF is a good option if it’s available.

File extension The three (or sometimes four) letters at the end of a file that identify its type to Windows and other applications. It’s separated from the filename by full stop or period (.) mark.

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Windows 10

WINDOWS 10 TIPS

Welcome

FEATURES EXPLAINED

NEW TIPS AND TRICKS

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72 How to master the Just starting your Windows 10 desktop Windows journey? Confused by the changes Microsoft has made to the Creators Update? Maybe you just want to learn something new about Windows 10. Well, this is the section for you! There’s not enough space to tell you absolutely everything you need to know here, but Windows Help & Advice always has your back. On page 72 we’ll show you how to master the desktop, customise application icons and take control of notifications; and on page 74 we’ll explain how you can customise the Start menu from changing the default colours to managing your Live tiles.

74 Change the way the Start menu works

DECLUTTER YOUR PC! FIND OUT HOW ON PAGE 11

Matt Hanson Associate Editor www.facebook.com/windowsmag

Windows 10 tip of the month

Change Night Light settings

Customise Windows 10’s Night light Night light is a brand new feature of the Windows 10 Creators Update, which can be set to automatically adjust the colour temperature of your PC’s display in the evening and at night. There are two benefits to this: one is that it helps reduce eyestrain; the other is that it promotes restful sleep by reducing your exposure to blue-white ‘daytime’ light. To set up Night light, head to Settings > Display > ‘Night light settings’.

COLOUR Click and drag the slider under ‘Colour temperature at night’ to change your display’s hue.

SCHEDULE Flick the ‘Schedule night light’ button to On, then choose either ‘Sunset to sunrise’ or ‘Set hours’.

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Master the desktop

You’ll spend a lot of time there, so here are some great ways to make it work for you…

hen not actually using applications, the Windows desktop is where you’ll spend much of your time, moving files about, hunting for that obscure application you installed six months ago and suddenly need, or lining up your windows so that they fill the space perfectly (a time-wasting

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pastime that’s all but dead now thanks to window snapping). In Windows 10, the desktop and the Taskbar get a few new tricks that make working with files and folders even easier, and the new Search bar means pulling up an application you don’t use often is a breeze. Follow these tips to a happy start…

desktop/peek 1 Show The Show Desktop button isn’t marked, and some people

desktops 2 Virtual If you find your desktop frequently getting overcrowded as

don’t even know it exists. Press this anonymous section at the extreme right of the Taskbar, and all your open windows will minimise. Hover the mouse pointer over it, and you’ll get a preview ‘peek’ at the desktop that reverts when you move your mouse pointer away. It’s very useful when you’ve got a chaotic number of windows open on your desktop.

you work, why not offload some of the mess onto another one? Click the Task View button to the right of Cortana’s search box on the Taskbar, and you’ll be taken to a screen that shows your open apps, and also your desktops. Add a new one, or even more, and you’ll be able to flick between them with different apps open on each. It’s a great way to stay organised on your PC.

inactive windows 3 Scroll An annoyance for anyone who’s come to Windows from

snapping 4 Window A real godsend for those who used to tease their window

using the Mac, the ability to scroll the window your pointer is currently over – instead of the one that’s currently active – is new in Windows 10. So, if you have a browser and a word processor open, and are reading one while typing in the other, you can now scroll down in the browser without having to take your focus away from your text document.

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edges out until they exactly matched the edge of the screen, snapping in Windows 10 enables you to have two or more windows open that completely fill their areas of the screen. Pick up a window and move it to the extreme left or right edge of the desktop to try it (you’ll see it ‘snap’ to the new half screen format). You can adjust how much of the screen they take up too.


Welcome to Windows 10 Master the desktop

icons 5 Desktop The Windows 10 desktop icons have a pixellated look, and if this offends you it’s easy to change them. Luckily, there are icon packs available online – including the shinier Windows 8 icons. Download the icon pack you want to use, then go to Start > Settings > Personalisation > Themes. Click the ‘Desktop icon Settings’ and select the icons you want to place on the desktop, then use the Change Icon option to change their look.

7 Notifications The notifications panel – or Action Centre – slides in from the right of the screen, with a button in the system tray, and will house any messages that apps or Windows components want to send you. It’s where you’ll find links to details of Windows updates that have been installed on your machine, and any social media messages or upcoming calendar events. You can customise it so it’s as intrusive as you can deal with.

to minimise 6 Shake This may sound like something left over from a tablet build of Windows that needs a built-in accelerometer, but picking up a window with your mouse pointer and shaking it back and forth will minimise every other window, leaving you with a clear and uninterrupted view of the one you want to work with. It’s much faster than clicking several minimise buttons, and it’s a fun little quirk that’s a good one to remember.

management 8 Window In addition to window snapping, you can arrange your windows in some other ways too. Right-click on the Taskbar to reveal three window arrangement schemes: ‘Cascade windows’; ‘Show windows stacked’; and ‘Show windows side by side’. These are similar to the Windows menu’s functions that have been available all the way back to Windows 3.1, and can make it quick and easy to find what you’re looking for.

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Customise the Start menu The Start menu in Windows 10 is more powerful than ever – here are some easy tips to make it work for you

he Start menu’s return was big news when Windows 10 launched, and it has evolved as the operating system has been updated. It’s become a fast, and efficient way to access apps and settings – Windows 8’s full-screen monstrosity is now a distant memory, thankfully! However, if you don’t like how the Start menu looks when you first pop it up on your fresh

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install of Windows 10, it doesn’t have to stay that way. It’s fully customisable in ways that were never possible in earlier versions of the operating system, and can be made to work in just about any way you want, standing out from its background for ease of reading, or automatically blending in with the colour scheme of whatever theme you have currently set on your desktop.

1 Colour Your Start menu’s background can be any colour you like

2 Size To make space for all the customising you can do to the

– all you have to do is untick a box. Open up Settings, then Personalisation and finally Colours. Untick the ‘Automatically pick an accent colour from my background’ option and you’ll be able to pick a colour from the palette. So your Start menu can be a contrasting red or yellow rather than a dull blue or grey. Play around to find a combination that works for you.

Start menu, you can easily resize it to your liking. Just move your mouse pointer to the top-border or right-border of the Start menu, the pointer will change into arrows, and you’ll be able to increase or decrease height and width, dragging it out to completely fill the screen if you want to. This is particularly useful if you have a PC filled with programs that you access regularly.

and tiles 3 Folders Your Start menu is made up of lists and tiles, and some of

program lists 4 Hide By default, the Start menu will show you lists of both your

these can be shortcuts to folders such as Documents. Settings > Personalisation > Start enables you to tinker with this, so if you never shoot videos you can stop the empty Videos folder from taking up space on the menu. You can turn the links to the Settings window, and the one that opens an empty File Explorer window, on and off too.

most used programs and the most recently opened ones. This can end up repeating itself, so if you want to get rid of one or the other of the lists, or both, open up Settings > Personalisation > Start, from where you’ll be able to toggle the lists on or off. You can also prevent apps from appearing on the lists so you only get a view of the things you really need from day to day.

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it to search with 5 Use Hitting the [Win] key on your keyboard to pop up the Start menu’s Search box is one of the fastest ways to look for anything in Windows 10. Just type a few characters and you will get suggestions for applications and documents stored on your computer that match your initial query. You can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate the Start menu, if you’d rather not use the mouse.

tiles and shortcuts 7 Pin If there’s something you need to be able to find quickly, but which gets lost in the lists of the Start menu, you can pin and reposition it so it’s always prominently placed. To do that rightclick an item and choose ‘Pin to Start’. It will now appear in tiles. Now click and drag the tile to where to want to move it to. To resize the tile, right-click, choose Resize then the tile size you want. You can pin shortcuts to the Taskbar for easy access too.

tiles 6 Live Live tiles are tiles that are constantly updated with data, usually gleaned over the internet to make them up-to-date. There’s one for the Mail app that shows your most recent messages, one for the Weather app that uses your PC’s location to tell you what’s going on outside the window, and so on. If you find them distracting, you can turn them off by right-clicking them and choosing the appropriate option.

back the Start screen! 8 Bring It may have been almost universally mocked and reviled in Windows 8, but the fullscreen Start menu is still there in Windows 10, ready to block out all of your work at a single press of the [Win] key! But, if you liked it, go to Settings > Personalisation > Start and tick the box marked ‘Use full-screen Start when in the desktop’. Note that wording: it now won’t actually cover up your apps like it used to in Windows 8, making it much more practical.

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NEW HARDWARE

ESSENTIAL ACCESSORIES

Welcome

LATEST GADGETS

7ʕLɡLVʣɂɏ›ɡʕLɳɴʙLɳKWɡ

Virtual Private Networks or VPNs are an increasingly popular way to protect your privacy when surfing the internet. Essentially they enable you to avoid the unwanted attentions of snoopers and hackers, while also allowing you trawl the web icognito. We’ve reviewed and rated four of the best, and free, VPN clients on page 88. You’ll also find reviews of the new Dell XPS 15 (page 78); Asus’ modestly priced Surface alternative (page 80); Cujo firewall (page 82); Sony’s MDR-1000X wireless headphones (page 84); and the Acer Swift 3 (page 86).

PAGE UPDATE PDATE

777

78 Dell XPS 15 laptop

80 Asus Transformer Pro T304

82 Cujo internet firewall

88 Best free VPN clients

Find out why this slim and stylish notebook is the ideal all-rounder

Nick Odantzis Deputy Editor windowsmagazine@futurenet.com w

Our pr

An affordable alternative to the Microsoft Surface, with keyboard cover and pen

A cute, innovative chunk of hardware that aims to keep your home network safe

Protect your privacy when surfing online with our pick of the best VPN apps

The Upgrade sectttion is your key to finding out about the latest T products, all desig p gned to help you g y get g more ffrom yyour PC

You can trust our reviews

Our reviewers are 100 per cent independent, with years of experience in the world of computing. Our rigorous testing procedures mean that only genuine, high-quality products are awarded high star ratings. If you see an item of hardware bearing a high score, you can be conÀdent that it is an excellent product.

RATING EXPLAINED

Superb

We choose the best products

How we review

Our expert reviewers guarantee to test every piece of hardware rigorously and thoroughly, using only acknowledged experts to establish the worth of a product. We always review from the viewpoint of our readers; the day-to-day practicality and quality of a product is paramount.

Thousands of new PC products are released every year and choosing between them can be an impossible task. Our experts select only the best hardware and software to feature in this magazine. Even better, our star rating system makes it simple to Ànd the best products, giving you a fast, trustworthy guide. Very good

Good

Disappointing

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Dell XPS 15

£1,814 | $2,174 www.dell.com Jack of all trades, master of some

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hen Dell refreshed its 13-inch flagship laptop late last year, its 15-inch sibling wasn’t so lucky, with an update to that model conspicuous by its absence – until now. While the 2016 Dell XPS 15 was fine, it wasn’t without some hiccups that ultimately set it back. For starters, the battery life was dismal, and it also included a shallow keyboard, weak speakers and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics chip that wielded only 2GB of video RAM, not nearly enough for either current or future games. Fortunately, all of these issues have been rectified with the 2017 Dell XPS 15 that we’re looking at here. What’s more, everything we liked about the 2016 version is still in place, including a diverse range of prices and configurations.

Price and availability Like the Dell XPS 13, which we praised for its vast spectrum of

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hardware options, the 2017 Dell XPS 15 has a ton of these, too. While the model we were sent for review is valued at £1,814 ($2,174), it comes with a luxury, 7th-generation Intel Core i77700HQ quad-core processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, a 4K InfinityEdge touch display, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card and a built-in fingerprint reader for Windows Hello logins. Assuming your tastes don’t require all of these bells and whistles, what you get with the entry-level Dell XPS 15 depends on where you live. In the UK, the Dell XPS 15 starts at £1,349 for an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1080p Full HD non-touch display and a 1TB hard drive/32GB SSD. The entry-level US model, meanwhile, gets an Intel Core i3, 8GB of RAM, a 1080p display (again, no touch) and a 500GB hard drive/32GB SSD combo. Neither model has discrete graphics or a fingerprint reader.

Design At first glance, the 2017 Dell XPS 15 doesn’t look much different from its predecessor. It still has a silvery aluminium shell that closes in on a rubberised material surrounding plastic inputs. Only the keyboard has been refined since the last time we saw it. Although the key travel is relatively low, the Dell XPS 15 boasts a keyboard that’s both spacious and comfy, keeping in line with trends followed by the likes of the HP Spectre x360 15 and even Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro. The touchpad remains clicky, which is great for those who want that, not so good if you don’t. At least the tracking and left/right click detection on the Dell XPS 15’s touchpad are up to par. Plus the Dell compares favourably with the the inputs on its arch-rival, the Gigabyte Aero 15, whose keys are so tightly packed that it’s a nuisance trying to get anything done outside of gaming.


Upgrade Dell XPS 15 KEY FEATURES Dell XPS 15 Supplier www.dell.com Processor 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.8GHz) Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (4GB GDDR5); Intel HD Graphics 630 Memory 16GB DDR4 (2,400MHz) Display 15.6-inch, UHD (3,840 x 2,160) InfinityEdge touch display Storage 512GB SSD (PCIe) Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1; 2x USB 3.0; 1x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) with PowerShare; 1x HDMI 1.4; SD card reader; headset jack Camera 720p widescreen HD webcam with dual array digital microphones Weight 1.8kg Dimensions 357x235x17mm

For £210 ($400) on top of the initial cost of the 1080p versions, you can also get a lush, 4K (3,840 x 2,160) screen that puts the 2,880 x 1,800 resolution Retina Display found in the MacBook Pro 15-inch to shame. Granted, there’s no Touch Bar on the Dell XPS 15, but you can always opt for a pricier version of the notebook that features the elusive fingerprint scanner and a full-on touchscreen. To put a finer point on it, the 4K Dell XPS 15 bears a pixel density of 282.4 pixels per inch (ppi), while the 15.4-inch display on the MacBook Pro stands at 220.5 ppi. It may not seem like a steep difference, but considering the MacBook Pro costs

model it replaces. Likewise, every other performance test – including Cinebench’s CPU and OpenGL benchmarks – saw marked performance gains over last year’s iteration. Unfortunately, the Dell XPS 15 clearly isn’t meant for high-end gaming, as evidenced by our Grand Theft Auto V and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided benchmarks. Even at the lowest settings (with DirectX 12 enabled, mind), our review unit couldn’t hit 30 frames per second. Unless you sticking with less demanding game categories, like indies and eSports, the inclusion of Nvidia graphics won’t get you much beyond photo and video editing, not to mention 4K media.

“The Dell XPS 15 ranks among the best 15-inch laptops you can buy, but it’s not without problems” more for arguably inferior parts, there’s clearly a value disparity between the two devices. Although it’s kind of a gratuitous cosmetic feature, there’s no denying that Dell’s InfinityEdge technology adds gusto to the Dell XPS 15’s look. However, the narrow bezels once again force the built-in webcam into the lower left-hand corner of the upright panel – you should seriously consider whether you want to literally look down at your audience when broadcasting or Skyping if you go ahead and buy this particular laptop.

Performance Predictably, the latest Dell XPS 15 fares far better in our Fire Strike 3DMark benchmark test than the

In contrast, the Gigabyte Aero 15 outranked the current Dell XPS 15 in every test – given that they both take advantage of the same processor, it’s clear just how superior the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 used by the Aero 15 is to the Dell XPS 15’s GTX 1050. For gamers, the right choice is obvious. Luckily for PC users whose rampant lifestyles see them constantly on the move, the battery life on the Dell XPS 15 has seen significant reform. This is most likely the outcome of Dell’s implementation of a more energy-efficient Kaby Lake processor and a 97Whr battery over the 84Whr one in the previous model. The result is a battery life of three hours and 38 minutes,

according to our PCMark 8 tests, a lofty achievement when compared to the one hour and 52 minutes we saw in the 2016 15-incher. Our movie test also saw the 2017 Dell XPS 15 clock up a respectable five hours and 54 minutes, with a 1080p video playing on a loop until the battery eventually ran out of juice.

Summary The Dell XPS 15 is everything you’ll need for your day-to-day routine for school, work or passive entertainment. It doesn’t really specialise in any particular trade, but instead, it’s a well-rounded notebook with a handful of excusable missteps. As long as you’re not fooled by the Nvidia moniker into expecting a laptop built with high-end gaming in mind, Dell has once again crafted a reliable clamshell that gets the job done – whatever that may be. The Dell XPS 15 ranks among the best 15-inch laptops you can buy, but it’s not without problems. Its combination of a space-saving design and great performance all add up to a machine that feels like a capable desktop PC and a great 4K monitor rolled into one. But if you’re mainly going to be using this laptop away from a wall socket, it’s a poor choice. Neither is it appropriate if you want to stay on the cutting edge of laptop tech for the next few years. Q With the XPS 15, Dell has proven that it can build a laptop that appeals to (almost) everyone.

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Asus Transformer Pro T304 £1,281 | $999 www.asus.com

An attractive Windows 2-in-1 with some trade-offs

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ith Microsoft focusing its computing efforts on premium Surface laptops and tablets, there’s plenty of room for copycat-like devices that ape many of the features of Microsoft’s own products, only at a much lower price. The Asus Transformer Pro T304 2-in-1 is a prime example. Priced from around £1,281 in the UK ($999 in the US), the Transformer Pro T304 costs a lot less than a similarly specified Surface Pro (£1,549/$1,599) and comes bundled with a Transformer Keyboard Cover and Asus Pen, whereas Microsoft’s Type Cover and Surface Pen are only available at extra cost. It certainly makes sense to bundle everything a user will need for a complete computer, but there’s more to any gadget than just how good of a deal it is. On paper, the Transformer Pro T304 compares favourably with the Surface Pro and HP Spectre x2, but it doesn’t muster the same oomph.

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Spec-wise the Asus Transformer Pro T304 comes with an Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake processor, a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM in the US, although the UK model has to make do with a Core i5 instead. Otherwise specs are the same. The similarly-specified HP Spectre x2 takes the same approach as Asus and includes a keyboard and stylus, although it costs more at £1,499 ($1,299). The UK version also has twice as much storage as the T304 does.

Design If you’ve seen Microsoft’s Surface Pro, then you have a good idea of what to expect regarding the T304. It’s not a direct clone, but it does share a lot of the same aesthetics. On the right side of the device is a small notch for easy access to the hinge, a speaker grille, charging port, USB-C port, full-sized HDMI port and a standard USB-A port. The left side features the same

notch and speaker grille, followed by a microSD slot, volume buttons and a headphone jack. On the rear of the Transformer Pro T304 is a camera lens, and a solitary line cutting the device in half horizontally, as a marker for where the 155-degree kickstand hinge bends. A power button with a built-in fingerprint reader is found on the top-left corner. The bottom of the unit is where you’ll find the connector for the keyboard. The thought of pushing the power button and unlocking the Transformer Pro T304 in one motion sounds convenient, and it is – when it works. We found the reader recognised our fingerprint on the first attempt only about half the time. On a few occasions, it flat out refused to read our fingerprint at all forcing us to enter a backup PIN or password instead. When it does work, however, by the time the screen is lit up and visible, the T304 is ready for work.


Upgrade Asus Transformer Pro T304 KEY FEATURES Asus Transformer Pro T304 Supplier www.asus.com Processor 2.7GHz Intel i7-7500U (dualcore, 4MB cache, up to 3.5GHz) Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620 Memory 8GB (LPDDR3, 1,866MHz) Display 12.6-inch FHD+ (2,160 x 1,440) backlit LED touchscreen Storage 256GB SSD Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1; 1x USB 3.1 Type-C; 1x USB 3.1; 1x HDMI; microSD card reader; 3.5mm analogue audio socket Cameras 2MP front-facing webcam; 8MP rear-facing camera Weight 811g Dimensions 299x211x 8.9mm

results are also found in the Cinebench graphics test, with the Transformer Pro T304 scoring a lowly 17 fps compared to the Surface Pro’s 68 fps – it’s not a games machine, then. However the T304 fares better when it comes to pure computing performance, scoring 4,238 in our Geekbench 4 CPU test, compared to the Surface Pro’s 4,656. Weighing ever so slightly h l h ly more han the 784g th g Surface Pro at jjust 811g, this tablet is super-portable. Its footprint is slightly larger than the Surface Pro’s, although not enough to make a difference.

Display The 12.6-inch display of the Transformer Pro T304 is clear and vivid, but not the brightest. In direct sunlight, even with the brightness set to maximum, it can be difficult to clearly see what’s on the screen. The touchscreen is

some wiggle gg to them, which can be aannoying y g when yyou’re trying y g to write and your fingers are inadvertently on top of one or both of them. Having said that, the Asus Pen travels smoothly across the display with minimal latency. As for the keyboard, it’s spacious and the backlit keys offer a fair amount of travel. Using magnets, the keyboard can be placed at a slight angle up off the desk for more ergonomic typing, or with a quick change the keyboard can be laid completely flat.

“We have no complaints about the Transformer Pro T304’s performance – it’s not slow by any means” responsive and accurate, however, whether you’re using multi-touch gestures or the supplied Asus Pen.

Keyboard cover and pen In almost all promotional photos of the T304, a small sleeve for the Asus Pen is seen on the right side of the keyboard. The Keyboard Cover included with our review unit, though, didn’t come with any sort of attachment to hold the pen while not in use. It’s a small gripe, but one that would find validation the moment we lose the pen and are forced to buy a replacement. The Asus Pen itself has two buttons, one functioning as a left-click and the other as a right-click. The Pen is fairly light, and each of the buttons also have

Performance Overall, we have no complaints about the Transformer Pro T304’s performance – it’s not slow, by any means. It’s powerful enough to handle most basic computing tasks, like multiple-tab web browsing in Google Chrome, while at the same time updating apps, triaging email in Microsoft Mail, streaming Pandora and running Slack. The Transformer Pro T304 is less assured when it comes to graphical performance with the Surface Pro’s Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 GPU easily outclassing the Asus’s standard Intel HD Graphics 620. To prove the point, the T304 scored just 1,341 in our 3DMark Sky Diver test, while the most recent Surface Pro scored 6,431. Similarly drastic

Battery life Asus says the T304’s battery should last for up to six hours between recharges, although in our real-world tests it lasts less than that. In our PCMark 8 battery life test is clocked up a measly three hours and six minutes, a full hour less than on the Surface Pro. On the up side, if you’re planning on watching a movie, you can expect over six hours of power with the screen set at 50 percent brightness.

Summary There’s a lot to like about the Transformer Pro T304, from pricing to basic computing performance. Perhaps with more practice, and maybe even saving the same fingerprint more than once, the scanner will become more reliable. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to be done about the battery life. If you’re on a tight budget, then the T304 is worth considering – just don’t expect to use it for editing hours of video or serious gaming. Q A capable 2-in-1 that won’t drain your bank account. The included accessories are a neat touch.

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Cujo

£79 | $99 wwww.getcujo.com A smart firewall that protects all your devices from the latest threats

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ujo is an intelligent firewall which aims to protect your connected home from online threats. From desktops to mobiles, tablets to smart TVs, Cujo monitors all network activity to help keep you safe from harm. Once set up, Cujo acts as a gateway between your devices and the outside world. It checks devices as they connect to your network, analyses data packets as they leave and arrive, looks for attempts to access malware command-andcontrol servers and tests for man-in-the-middle attacks. Threats are blocked automatically, although you can also see and control some of what’s happening via the free Cujo app for iOS and Android. Cujo is much more than a simple hardware firewall though. A lot of its processing is carried out in the cloud, where it analyses metadata from your network connections, checks for problems and instructs your device to block any threats.

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This reduces the load on Cujo’s processor, and makes it easier for the system to detect new dangers. Despite some overblown claims on the Cujo website, the device can’t replace your anti-virus, and you’ll probably need to keep the same security software you’re using now. What you do get are extra layers of protection, and that’s welcome for smart devices that can’t be shielded in other ways. Cujo is available for £79 ($99), plus a monthly subscription of £7.20 ($9); or you can pay £126 ($158) and get one year of service. Alternatively, pay £199 ($249) and you’re covered forever. Whichever option you take, you’re covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee in case Cujo doesn’t work for you.

Design While most network devices get hidden away in a dark corner, Cujo is clearly designed to be seen. Its rounded, cream-coloured form

looks almost as if it could be an air freshener, and can be left in full view without looking out of place. Turn on the power and you’ll notice another unusual touch: Cujo has ‘eyes’, oval LEDs that light up to signify its status. At a glance you can see whether the power is on, if the device is working (or not), when it’s in standby, and even when the firmware is being updated. This lighting scheme isn’t exactly intuitive, and you may need to check the website to understand what’s happening. But it helps you to see what’s going on, and in a way that doesn’t make Cujo intimidating. You might look at the ‘eyes’ and realise that Cujo is actively protecting current network activity, but visitors will just see a cute plastic pot with a smiley face. What’s happening, though, presents a fundamental privacy concern. Cujo works by collecting the IP addresses of the websites you’re visiting and sends them to


Upgrade Cujo smart firewall KEY FEATURES Cujo Supplier www.getcujo.com Security features Safe browsing; Command & Control blocking; unauthorised access blocking; anti-virus and anti-malware; behaviour analysis; Local+Cloud security layers; DoS attack protection; connected device protection Processor Dual-core 1GHz RAM 1GB DDR SRAM Storage 4GB flash Connectivity 2x 1Gbps Ethernet ports

the cloud, where they’re checked for any signs of danger. That ensures your protection is always up to date, but it also means any time anyone visits a website on your network, that URL is being dispatched to the Cujo cloud. The company says it collects ‘metadata based on destination IP addresses’, but only logs ‘that the communication of your Cujo device is functioning with our cloud’. This means Cujo maintains information on the sites all users are accessing, but doesn’t keep any personally

knows about. Often you’ll be told it doesn’t know enough about your hardware and you’ll be left to update the settings yourself. Things can also get complicated if your router isn’t supported. The second option is to use Bridge Mode, which requires two routers. Your internet connection comes into router A; this connects by cable to Cujo; a second cable goes from Cujo to router B; all your devices must also connect via router B to be protected. Not everyone has two routers available,

“If anything dangerous appears, Cujo’s apps register the threat and display a notification” identifiable trail. It’s not ideal, but some other site-blocking apps take a similar approach.

Setup Cujo can be very challenging to set up, even for network geeks. You have two main options. The first – DHCP Mode – seems the simplest. Connect Cujo to your router, change your network settings to use Cujo as a gateway, and everything currently using your network will automatically be protected. In some cases, Cujo can set this up for you. Download the iOS or Android app, give the setup wizard your router credentials and it will try to update your DHCP settings. Unfortunately, Cujo is only able to configure router models it

of course. Even if you do, you’ll still need to disable DHCP on router B, and since some routers don’t allow DHCP settings to be changed, you won’t be able to use Cujo at all.

Performance Once Cujo is up and running, you can carry on using your devices as normal. Your traffic is filtered through Cujo, analysed, and any threats blocked, but generally everything should work as it always did. If anything dangerous appears, Cujo’s apps register the threat and display a notification telling you more. You’ll also be warned on your local device in some situations. Cujo also includes basic parental controls. You can create a profile, define the types of website you’d

like to block, optionally add some safe sites to a whitelist, then apply those settings to a device. Simple reports show you any violations. Although all of this is useful, there are some limitations. In particular, the rules are being enforced at the network level rather than the device, so if your child takes a tablet to a friend’s house, they’ll be able to do whatever they like. Elsewhere, the Cujo apps provide simple lists of the devices that are connected to your network. These show details like device type, manufacturer, IP address, MAC address and more. You could use this to spot devices that connect to your network only occasionally, and when they were last seen. Demanding users might run into difficulty with more advanced requirements, such as setting up port forwarding. If your network needs are mostly about local file and device sharing, though, it’s a completely different story.

Summary Cujo seems like a great idea: a neat-looking box you can place in your home, which protects all your smart devices without you having to do anything at all. Unfortunately, getting to this point might take a while. Setup can be complicated, and there’s a distinct shortage of technical detail about Cujo’s features, making it difficult to assess how effective the protection is. Cujo is also too complicated for beginners, and too underpowered for experts, but it is useful if you have a lot of devices to protect. Q Cujo may be a convenient way to protect connected devices from attack, but setup can be tricky.

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Sony MDR-1000X Wireless Headphones £330 | $349.99 www.sony.com

A pair of noise-cancelling headphones for people who care about Hi-Res Audio

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ere we go again. Another Bose QuietComfort 35 competitor. Samsung just made the Level On Pro Wireless, and now Sony’s crashing the party with its MDR-1000X. It’s an exceptionally fierce competition, but while there are some definite similarities between them – they’re all noise-cancelling headphones with four microphones, 20-hour battery life and proprietary codecs that deliver Hi-Res Audio when paired with their own brand’s music players – Sony’s MDR-1000X brings its own bag of tricks to the table. It’s these tricks, this attention to the minor details, that gives the MDR-1000X the edge on the Quiet Comfort C35s when paired with a Sony Xperia mobile: Sony’s X-factor – the LDAC codec and DSEE HX software – converts 44.1kHz/16-bit files to near Hi-Res quality sound. In short, these are active noise cancelling headphones that not only keep sound out really well, but

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make the audio coming through them sound even better. At £330 ($349.99), the MDR-1000X aren’t the cheapest headphones in the world, even when compared to other noise-cancelling models. Why so pricy? Sony has a lot of hardware inside the MDR-1000X – from the quartet of microphones to the processing chip, which enables the noise-cancelling software to work in real time. Throw in the touchcapacitive earcup controls and the pricing makes sense.

Design Sony’s been using a similar design on its premium headphones for some time now. Each earcup houses a 40mm closed dynamic driver encircled by a thick faux leather pad – and since they’re over-ears they’re extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Further up the bridge is a hinge that enables the earcups to fold for

easy storage and a padded plastic band. The band is fairly flexible and strong enough to resist a fair amount of force, but it’s still worth being careful around. We would have expected Sony to have made the bridge sturdier – that’s where the vast majority of breaks happen – but overall it’s a minor complaint. Along the underside of the cups are two ports: a standard 3.5mm audio input, plus a microUSB port that you use for charging. The MDR-1000X comes with a USB-tomicroUSB charger, but not a wall converter, which suggests that Sony expects you to use your PC to recharge the headset’s built-in battery. A 1.5m 3.5-3.5mm cable is also included in the price. The touch-capacitive controls we mentioned earlier can be found in the right earcup and work very well. Tapping twice pauses/plays the current song. Swiping left skips back, while right moves you forward. Swiping up raises the


Upgrade Sony MDR-X1000 KEY FEATURES Sony MDR-1000X Supplier www.sony.com Driver type 40mm, dome type Frequency response 4Hz-40,000Hz Headphone type Closed, dynamic Impedance 16 ohm (1kHz) Sensitivity 103dB/mW (1kHz) Bluetooth Version 4.1 Supported audio formats SBC; AAC; aptX; LDAC Battery life 20-22 hours, depending on whether or not noise cancelling is active Weight 275g

volume and down h has the v l d swiping gd h opposite effect effect. Logical Logical, really really. The added benefit of touch controls is that you can use the built-in microphones to answer incoming phone calls with two taps on the right earcup and activate your personal assistant of choice by pressing and holding the centre of the earcup for a few seconds. Phone calls sound exceptionally clear in both directions. Sadly, the touch controls only work when the headphones are in wireless mode. Plug them into your

tto counteract them. To prove the point a Sony engineer took us point, through three everyday scenarios that its noise-cancelling tech can counteract. The first was the roar from an aeroplane engine; the second was ambient sounds and conversation on a bus; and the third was office-based. Sony then demoed each scenario in turn, the most successful of which was the plane demo which saw the background roar of the engine’s almost completely disappear. The results of the next two scenarios

“Noise cancelling is arguably the biggest reason why these headphones cost as much as they do” laptop, tablet or phone and the controls no longer work. The headphones support NFC for quick pairing on Android devices that support the feature. However, you can’t connect the headphones to more than one device at a time – a problem if you want to listen to music on your laptop, and have the MDR-1000X connected to a phone in case someone calls.

Performance Noise cancelling is arguably the biggest reason why these headphones cost as much as they do, and one of the reasons they’re so great. What separates Sony’s noise cancelling tech from Bose’s is that Sony’s identifies different types of audio cues and works specifically

was more mixed. As you’d expect, the headphones blocked out the background sounds from the bus and office just fine, but Sony claims that the headphones enable voices to pass through. This is done so if someone is talking to you, you can actually hear them. But this mode didn’t work very well, either during the demo or when we used the headphones around town. Much better is Quick Attention Mode, which drops the volume immediately when you cup a hand over the right speaker, with the external microphones directing all incoming noise into the headset. It’s a similar story with music playback. One of the MDR-1000X’s biggest draws is that they support Hi-Res Audio via Sony’s LDAC codec

and DSEE HX which takes MP3 files and digitally adds in the data that’s lost during compression. DSEE HX converts uncompressed or lossless 44.1kHz/16bit files to near Hi-Res quality sound – up to 96kHz/24bit. That said, whether you’ll be able to hear the difference between audio upconverted using DSEE HX is up for debate. Music transmitted via LDAC sounds amazing, however the only players that support it are Xperia Z series phones (Z3 or later), Hi-Res Walkmans, 4K Sony TVs, AV receivers and wireless speakers. If you don’t own any of those devices, it’s not all bad. The MDR-1000X also support SBC, AAC and aptX codecs. Music in aptX and AAC sounds relatively crisp with sparkling highs and crystal-clear mids. The MDR-1000X are a solid-sounding pair of headphones, and clean, too. You won’t find a lot of artificial tampering here like you do on any of Beats’ headphones, but in order to get the best sound you’ll probably need a Sony device.

Battery life Sony says you can expect the MDR-1000X to last around 20 hours between recharges with active noise cancelling and Bluetooth on, or around 22 hours without noise cancelling. That’s conservative. We wore the headphones for two days straight, listening to music for around eight or nine hours each day and the battery just dipped below 50 percent. That said, all internal batteries wear down over time and Sony doesn’t offer battery replacements on the MDR-1000X. Q If you own a Sony handheld that supports Hi-Res Audio, these headphones are excellent.

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Acer Swift 3

£749 | $599 www.acer.com Don’t be deceived – this laptop is better than it looks

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he Swift 3 is the latest budget laptop from Acer, whose most notable contributions to the PC space this year have included a £9,000 ($9,000) gaming laptop and the world’s thinnest Ultrabook. For that reason, you may have expected the company to go big or go home with its next project, a goal that it all but set out to achieve. If the Swift 7 was Acer’s flagship, the Swift 3 is, well, just a cheaper version of that. This laptop is, through and through, intended for frugal shoppers. Making the best of a 14-inch, 1080p Full HD display, a 18mm thick frame and 1.6kg of muscle mass, there’s no denying that the Acer Swift 3 is nothing short of generic at first glance. Take a look inside, however, and you’ll discover a set of burly components that are equally at home within the all-aluminium chassis of the Acer Swift 7.

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Pricing and availability Like most laptops, the Acer Swift 3 comes in a number of different configurations, each with its own unique specs and pricing. In the UK, you get an entry-level Ultrabook with an Intel Core i3-7100U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD for £649; while the US model offers nearly identical spec, but makes do with 4GB of RAM at $499. Contrarily, the top-end model will set you back $849 in the US, but caps off at £749 in the UK. That’s primarily because the most powerful Acer Swift 3 in North America takes advantage of an Intel Core i7 CPU, while the UK gets an Intel Core i5. The other difference is the SSD, which maxes out at 256GB in the UK; and 512GB in the USA. The UK version is the model we were sent for review. For $599, US readers can opt for the exact same model as the configuration we tested, that is one that envelopes an Intel Core i5-7200U, 8GB of

SDRAM and a 256GB SSD. Bear in mind, there’s no getting away from the 1080p screen, so if you’re after a 4K display, look elsewhere.

Design To be frank, the Acer Swift 3’s looks are arguably its weakest point. Although it can be had in a sleeker gold or black finish in the US, or even a pink one in the UK, the unit we were sent for review appears to be the most drab of the bunch. Sure, it dons an angled hinge embroidered with the word ‘SWIFT’, but the Acer Swift 3 fails to distinguish itself from the likes of the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin and the Asus ZenBook Flip, aside from lacking the 2-in-1 capabilities that make those laptops worthwhile. Then again, what the Acer Swift 3 lacks in coffee shop appeal, it more than makes up for in comfort and practicality. The first thing we noticed when propping it up alongside a MacBook was just how


Upgrade Acer Swift 3 KEY FEATURES Acer Swift 3 Supplier www.acer.com Processor 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3.1GHz) Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620 Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM Storage 256GB SSD Display 14-inch, 1080p Full HD Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0; 2x USB 3.0; 1x USB 2.0; 1x Type-C; 1x HDMI; headset jack; SD card slot Weight 1.6kg

laptop makers continue to do this, but we can’t stress enough how counterintuitive it is to put the speakers on the bottom of the machine. Particularly on a standard, non-hybrid notebook like this one. The audio on the Acer Swift 3 is effectively muffled as a result to the point where we can’t tell if the speakers would otherwise be any good. Still, at least the headphone jack is in place as well as Bluetooth.

Battery life roomy the trackpad is. Pair that with the just-fine screen resolution and, finally, you can control your cursor on a Windows laptop without it being a total nuisance. The keyboard, on the other hand, feels way better than Apple’s 12-inch clamshell of yesteryear, and is complemented by backlighting of which there are four levels. You’ll notice, too, that beneath the directional keys is a pint-sized fingerprint reader, designed to be used with Windows Hello. Although it didn’t work flawlessly on the first

would find in the Swift 7 or the Core m3 in an entry-level MacBook. This qualifies the Acer Swift 3 to be mentioned in the same breath as much more expensive machines. Performance-wise, it isn’t too far off the £979 ($999) Surface Laptop or even the £1,199 ($1,049) Asus ZenBook UX310UA. Despite coming up short when it comes to screen resolution, its specs are eerily similar to both of these devices. What’s more, while we can’t compare its benchmark scores to the Surface Laptop, the Acer Swift 7

“One of the more commendable choices Acer has made in the Swift 3 is the inclusion of legacy ports” go, it’s a worthwhile addition once you get used to how its slimline rectangular shape doesn’t quite match up with that of your digits. One of the more commendable choices Acer has made in the Swift 3 is the inclusion of legacy ports, the most notable of which are two USB 3.0 connections and an SD card slot. Even so, laptop futurists need not be alarmed, as a single USB 3.1 Type-C port rests snugly on the left side of the machine.

Performance This is among the Acer Swift 3’s most redeeming qualities. No matter which model you go for, you’re getting full-on Intel Core ‘U’ series processors, not the lowfrequency ‘Y’ series chips you

beat out the Asus ZenBook UX310UA in every test that challenged its CPU and graphics abilities. In the DirectX 11 Sky Diver benchmark, for instance, the Acer Swift 3 achieved 1,870 points more than the ZenBook UX310UA. It’s also worth noting that the Swift 3 attained nearly double the frame rate of the ZenBook in the Cinebench OpenGL test, claiming 42 frames per second (fps) against the ZenBook’s 21.69 fps. As such, we’re convinced that the Acer Swift 3 has a clear advantage when it comes to graphical output, making it the winner for light gaming and other media-focused tasks. Where the Acer Swift 3 doesn’t come on top is with its sound. We’re still not totally clear on why

In our PCMark 8 battery life test, the Swift 3 lasted four hours and 18 minutes besting the ZenBook by five minutes. That’s not a drastic difference, but it goes to show you don’t need to shell out over a grand for sufficient performance matched with an unwavering battery life. Even more impressive are the results demonstrated by the Acer Swift 3 in our movie test, where we loop Guardians Of The Galaxy at 1080p until the machine dies. There the Swift 3 outperformed the Asus ZenBook UX310UA by over three hours, surviving eight hours and three minutes. That’s surprisingly close to the Surface Laptop, which lasted eight hours and 47 minutes.

Summary Although it’s a budget laptop, the Acer Swift 3 packs the performance and battery life to compete outside its price range. The wide range of ports and top-notch keyboard and touchpad are the icing on the cake. As long as you don’t mind its lack of style, you can’t get much better than the Swift 3. Q Delivering a great performance at a low price, the worst thing about the Acer Swift 3 is its lack of style.

November 2017 |

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THE BEST FREE VPN CLIENTS 2017

Remain private online, wherever you are

1 Tunnel Bear

Winner!

www.tunnelbear.com

TunnelBear might have a cutesy design, but it’s a serious free VPN. There are free and paid-for subscriptions to choose from. The only restriction with the free one is that you are limited to 500MB of traffic each month.

This isn’t a huge amount, so you won’t be able to use TunnelBear without paying, but it’s great for those times when you feel like you need a little extra protection. Performance is impressive and ease of use is second to none. In

Protecting your identity doesn’t get easier than this. TunnelBear is one of the best free VPNs around.

all likelihood you won’t need to change any of the default settings, and the automatic connection option should work fine, but you can manually choose from one of 20 countries as your adopted location. Delightfully simple and reassuringly secure, TunnelBear is certainly one of the best free VPNs for all of your devices. Note that TunnelBear recently tuned up its privacy policy, so it collects even less data on users – removing the need to supply a first name to sign up, and ditching its record of the user’s number of total lifetime connections.

RATING

2 Windscribe

https://windscribe.com Windscribe is a relative newcomer, but its generous data allowance and commitment to protecting your privacy make it one of the best VPNs around. The free service

gives you 10GB of bandwidth per month and lets you choose from eight remote server locations. You only need to create a username and password to sign

Windscribe is a super secure free VPN with a very generous data cap.

up. Windscribe doesn’t store connection logs, IP stamps or visited sites; when you’re actively connected to a server it stores your username, the VPN server you’re connected to and the amount of data transferred, but this is erased within three minutes of the session ending. The 10GB data allowance is enough to make Windscribe’s free service a practical option for everyday browsing and there are several ways to boost it higher. And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, there’s even a built-in adblocker and firewall.

RATING

88

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| November 2017


Software Test Best free VPN clients

3 Hotspot Shield Free www.hsselite.com

Hotspot Shield Free is one of the best free VPNs around today. You can choose to anchor yourself to one of 20 countries if you pay for the Elite version of the

app, and this should enable you to access just about anything you want; in the free version, you’re limited to locations that Hotspot Shield chooses for you.

If you use public Wi-Fi regularly, this is a great free VPN for protecting your privacy.

Hotspot Shield Free gives you the option to have the free VPN automatically enabled whenever you connect to a wireless network that is deemed ‘unsafe’. Online performance does seem to suffer a little when Hotspot Shield is enabled, but the bandwidth limit of 750MB per day is generous. Note: Hotspot Shield’s free VPN service recently came under fire from the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), a pro-privacy non-profit organisation. The CDT said Hotspot Shield intercepts and redirects traffic to partner sites, including online advertising firms. p however, has denied this. Hotspot,

RATING

4 Speedify

http://speedify.com Speedify has one main aim as a VPN provider: to ensure that while you benefit from encryption, your internet connection remains as speedy as possible.

To that end, Speedify makes use of all available connections to get the best performance, potentially combining Ethernet, say, with a tethered mobile connection. Even

Want a secure, yet speedy free VPN connection? Then look no further.

if you only have one type of connection, the firm claims its turbocharging technology will still help speed things up. As well as the promise of better performance, Speedify operates a clear no logging policy, so it won’t monitor your traffic. Plus, it offers access to over 30 VPN servers. The free plan boasts full access to those servers, with the only restriction being the amount of data you can download. Free users get 4GB of data in the first month, but that drops to 1GB after. That’s not a massive amount, but it’s still enough for basic surfing.

RATING

November 2017 |

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10 Novemb er 2017

START AGAIN!

Recover from problems and reinstall Windows for speed and stability

HOW USB CHANGED

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HOW TO Ȼ Build your own websiite Ȼ Find any file on your PC Ȼ Get started with Kodi Ȼ Recover missing files

Catch up p with h us on… …

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