Biggest tips guide ever! (Part 6)

3/30/2012 9:11:39 AM

Biggest tips guide ever! (Part 6)

PC Problems: Email; Browsing

Description: ReadyBoost

Use ReadyBoost to grab extra RAM from a USB drive

One PC: many users

Security and parental controls are two good reasons to have different login accounts for family members. Preferred desktop layouts, browsers, email clients, backgrounds and screen settings are another. Head to the Control Panel and click User Accounts to get a personalized desktop for everyone.

One careful user

If no-one else uses your PC, you can speed up logins by having a single user account with full admin rights and no password protection. This isn't recommended if it's a laptop that ever leaves the house, though.

Limited users are liberated users

You need one Windows user account for the administrator. Getting into the habit of instead logging into a separate 'limited' user account makes sense from a security point of view. Malware needs admin rights in order to get to the Registry and to make other substantive changes to your computer's setup. It can't do this if you're using the PC in non-admin mode.

Switch your operating system

If you want to play it even safer, running Mac OS X or a Linux OS rather than Windows is a good alternative. If you're comfortable partitioning a hard drive, you can dual-boot your PC and keep your OS options open. Parallels software is another good option and supports multiple OS environments.

Copyright your work

You've probably noticed watermarks on images on the web; you can add the equivalent to your own work by choosing the Tools, Protect document option In Microsoft Word. Click the Read Only button and select a password before allowing that report you composed to be published.

Protect it with a PDF

PDF creation used to be the preserve of the publishing industry, but there are now free tools such as Nitro Pro ( that can create them at a much lower cost than Adobe's Acrobat. More recent versions of Word and Excel also have a File, Save As, PDF option in their drop-down menus. By saving this way, you prevent someone easily editing your words or spreadsheet contents.

Micro-manage your email

Description: Gmail Labels

Gmail Labels let you color-code contacts for easier organization

Filters and rules are often used by office workers to keep on top of the vast amount of email flooding into their inboxes. Webmail software such as Hotmail and Gmail also support filtering. Go to the Filters tab and click Edit in the Gmail Inbox view to create and apply rules for bypassing or filing items.

Visual email overview

Click on the Labels tab at the top of your Gmail inbox to start color-coding contacts to earmark personal and work mail.

Description: Portable Apps

Portable Apps can be taken with you on a U3 drive

Trace an email's origins

If you want to known the source of a suspicious email or URL, check its IP address. To trace the IP address of a web domain, such as, go to Start, Run and type cmd. In the command prompt that pops up, type tracert, followed by the domain name. Tracert will track all stages of connection between you and the website, and then provide a final line that includes Its IP address. Use this to check the location of the server by using or

Perform a ping test

The simplest of all internet tools is the humble ping command, which lets you use the command prompt to contact a website and see whether it's alive and responding. It also resolves host names to IP addresses, so if you issue the command ping It will tell you the site's associated IP address. And it also tells you the speed of the connection and response - handy if you want to check on your own connection.

Browsing: Musics Video

Manage browser add-ons

Use Microsoft's Mats Run utility to check for browser toolbars and add-ons. To disable unwanted toolbars, right-click the internet Explorer toolbar and deselect any you don't use. You may need to look in Manage add-ons or Add/Remove Programs to disable them.

Update your browser to fix performance issues

If a once favored browser no longer works flawlessly, upgrade to the latest version. Not only will that stop its makers bugging you about the upgrade's availability, but it will improve stability and content handling, too.

Test your web connection

Description: Speedtest.Net

Speedtest.Net use a ping test to check your connection speed

Another web speed test,, also uses a ping test to check the bandwidth between you and the web server your ISP has provided. Remember that connection speeds vary across the day, with peaks of usage in the early evening.

Download domains

For downloads, using a local mirror server somewhere in Europe rather than the US will generally result in faster access to the program you crave.

P2P file-sharing danger

Peer-to-peer file-sharing and torrent sites      are among the most dangerous places you can visit on the web. They are fronts for the nastiest forms of malware, and are especially effective as they require you to open ports on your PC to let other users access your files.

Stream music and video for free

Rather than amassing a digital music library by buying through iTunes or Amazon MP3, you could use the web to stream music instead. There are thousands of online radio stations, but also free versions of music-streaming and subscription services. Napster and are two good examples; both allow you to enjoy music playlists and to save tracks you like for later offline listening.

Rent your tunes

As long as you're happy to pay $7.5 per month, Spotify and Napster are content to share their seven million-strong music libraries with you - including live sets and unreleased studio sessions. Depending on the subscription model you choose, you can log into the account on your PC, laptop, tablet and smartphone, and bring up your chosen playlists whenever you tike. Your favorite albums can even be enjoyed offline, so you can tune in without a web connection.

Google, Amazon and Tesco

All of the above companies have recently launched video-on-demand services that let you rent or buy outright Hollywood blockbusters, British indie flicks and renowned TV series. Tesco's is called Blinkbox and is preinstalled on some Smart TVs. A limited number of free films and programmes are also on offer, and you don't even need to log in.

BBC iPlayer is now even better

The BBC iPlayer app is so popular that UK ISPs groaned about the extra bandwidth we started using. It's now available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wit consoles, but also on iPad and Android tablets, so you can enjoy it in comfort rather than simply through a PC screen.

Add a parental lock to iPlayer

A potential caveat of the iPlayer is that it will: play anything it's asked to, at any time. Click on a post-watershed programme title, click the padlock icon next to the Guidance button, and enter a password and your email address on the Parental Guidance page that pops up.


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