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Short PC tips and tricks

How to Check the Size and Reclaim Disk Space from WinSxS in Windows 8.1

Windows 7 and 8.x use a folder in the Windows directory called "WinSxS" to store certain system components and a variety of temporary and backup files. At times this folder can grow quite large and a previous tip showed how to free up disk space by reducing the folder’s size in Windows 7. Here are some additional methods that are useful in Windows 8.1.

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Another Easy Way to Make Dozens of Tweaks to Windows

As far as I know, nobody has counted them all but there must be thousands of possible tweaks for Windows operating systems. Many are not particularly useful but there are a number that can be quite worthwhile. Unless you are expert at delving through the Windows Registry, the best way to select and make tweaks is to use one of the many tweaking utilities that are available. I recently took a look at one called Windows Tweaker.

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Who's Been Using All My Internet Bandwidth?

It's often useful or informative to be able to find out how much internet bandwidth your computer has been using.  Perhaps because you need to keep within the limits set by your ISP, or because you're using someone else's wifi network and you promised you wouldn't overstay your welcome.  Or perhaps you want to use it to provide an insight into what exactly the rest of your family get up to when they're supposed to be working on a business spreadsheet or a homework essay.

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How to Create Your Own Personalized Windows Installation Disk

Would you like to have a complete Windows installation disk with all the correct drivers for your system together with all the Windows updates and your favorite software applications and tweaks already on it? There are several free programs available for creating your own personalized Windows installation disk but Win Toolkit is one with many features.

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Excellent Free Media Player VLC Gets Substantial Cross-Platform Update

VLC media player is one of Gizmo’s top choices in its category and is my own favorite. VideoLAN has just released  version 2.2.0 for Windows, Mac, and Linux and there are quite a few new or improved features. There are also major cross-platform updates with releases for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Here is a list of new features from the VideoLAN press release.

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Five Useful but Lesser Known Free Windows Utilities from Microsoft Sysinternals

You are probably familiar with powerful and highly useful free Sysinternals applications such as Process Explorer and Autoruns but there is actually a large suite of utilities provided by Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich and his Sysinternals co-workers.

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Two New Tricks to Quickly Close and Restart File Explorer in Windows 8 and 8.1

Knowing a quick way to shut down File Explorer and restart it is useful when you modify the Registry or make other system changes that might otherwise need the user to log off and back on before the changes would take effect. Simply switching File Explorer off and on is often sufficient and is easier than having to log a user off and on. Several methods for doing this have been well-known for years but there are some new wrinkles in Windows 8/8.1.

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Free Browser Extension that Efficiently Blocks Ads Using Less Memory

In response to a recent tip about a paid whitelist on a well-known ad blocker for Internet browsers, several readers recommended a different ad blocking extension called µBlock. Based on their recommendations and a discussion in our forum, I decided to try µBlock and I am glad I did.

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How to Block Ads on Adblock Plus Paid Whitelist

Adblock Plus is a widely used free browser add-on for controlling the ads shown on web pages. For some time the add-on has employed a whitelist that allows certain kinds of ads to pass through and to be displayed. Google has previously been reported to be paying to get its ads displayed. Now, it has just been reported that a number of large companies such as Microsoft are also paying to be whitelisted.

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