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Simple Clear Ad
the Plain English
Campaign 6 News
One in three results
for popular online
FROM THE EDITOR searches are 69
dangerous, says study
Every PC goes
wrong from time 46 Hints & Tips
to time. Often Filter your emails in a 65 CA Investigates
Yahoo Mail account, manage saved We look at the pros and cons of smart
these problems energy meters, which track electricity
passwords in Firefox and use Autofill
are easy to fix but and gas consumption
effectively in Excel
tricky one comes 62 Consumeractive 66 Letters
along that We explain the rules surrounding A blocked credit card prompts a reader to
requires more software updates and investigate an ask whether telling your bank you are
drastic action, unnecessary broadband fee going away is a secure option
and that’s where many of us will think
about calling an expert. In this issue, 68 The best of the web
though, we explain how to find and 71 Find out how the clock that strikes
Big Ben works and design the
use 10 of the most useful hidden tools layout of a room
that the experts rely on – see page 10.
There’s also an exclusive chance to 69 Competition
win a laptop worth £400 simply by Win a copy of Magix Music Maker
answering our short survey on the 16 XXL and make music with the
products and topics that interest you. help of your computer
It will take about five minutes of your
time – see page 51 for details. 71 Gaming
Paul Allen Step into the shoes of everyone’s
email@example.com favourite Timelord, the Doctor, and
return to one of gaming’s oldest
heroes in Prince of Persia
www.computeractive.co.uk/facebook TRIED & TESTED
How to contact us EXC7
Sorry,but because of the huge number of A powerful PC that’s
enquiries we get,we can only give technical ideal for games and
help and consumer advice through published other taxing tasks
replies in the magazine – we cannot take
phone calls or answer letters personally. 26 Norton 360 26
Subscriptions and webstore, Version 4
see page 74. Security and performance
Letters page: tools in one neat package
firstname.lastname@example.org 17 BEST BUYS
email@example.com 24 Vodafone 28 Digital note takers
Consumer problems: Sure Signal Take notes digitally or convert
firstname.lastname@example.org Boost your mobile your handwriting into
Ideas for articles and Workshops: phone signal using editable text with our pick
email@example.com the internet of digital note-takers
Computeractive, Incisive Media,
32-34 Broadwick Street, London W1A 2HG 24
24 June to 7 July 2010
HOW TO COVER STORY Page 10
56 No Problem – our experts answer
your home computing questions
Add bullet points in Word, set Windows to remind you when
to download updates and get the right keyboard layout
How to find
FEATURES and use the
48 Lost in translation tools that
We explain the potential pitfalls of buying goods from abroad the experts
use to fix
52 Defend your network computers
Add a safety net to your home by blocking access fast
to unwanted websites
60 Share files
the easy way
48 52 We explain how to use PDFs effectively and
how to make your own using free software
WORKSHOPS 32 How to keep an
eye on your
Do you know how your
files and folders
Find out how a free tool can
broadband connection is keep your files in sync
being used? A free tool can
reveal all 41 Customise
Start menu items
34 Keep your email Discover ways to display
messages and favourite folders on the
settings safe Windows Start menu
Email messages are as
precious as any other 42 Organise open
personal information that is windows and
stored on your computer. running programs
Back them up simply, Organise open applications
quickly and for free by using free software to
create an invisible grid to
36 Create position windows
EASY TO USE columns in Word
Columns can give your
45 Quickly direct
files and folders
STEP-BY-STEP documents a lift.We explain
how to use them in Word
The SendTo command is a
PAGES - page 31 2003 and 2007 and how to
neaten up a layout
Learn how to use it
24 June257June 2010
12 - - July 2008 www.computeractive.co.uk 5
Search results link to scam sites
Study reveals ‘poisoning’ affects one-third of popular search results
ONE THIRD of search results for popular Symantec’s two-week study Google said it had set up a number of
queries are ‘poisoned’ , with most linking to used the 300 top search terms, automated systems to constantly scour its
dangerous websites, according to Symantec. as identified by Google’s index for potentially dangerous sites.
An investigation by the security firm into Trends service, each day, “We add a label to those that appear to be a
the growing problem of what is known as recording the first 100 results vehicle for fraudulent sites to protect users
search engine optimisation poisoning returned when each was input who might visit them. We also work with
found that, on average, at least 10,000 of into a search engine and webmasters to help them keep their sites
the 30,000 results checked each day had checking to see how many secure,” the search giant told us.
been compromised. of the results were But Mr Khanh warned that criminals are
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a malicious. still finding ways to evade detection. He said
means of getting more traffic to a website The company’s Khanh many of the malicious sites will present one
from search engines by adding links or Tran said that the single page to search engine ‘spiders’, which index
keywords so that it appears to be a more most poisoned search web page content, and another to human
popular or useful page. term during the period visitors, concealing the attack.
SEO poisoning is when criminals use produced results where
these techniques to ensure that their own
malicious pages appear prominently
over 90 per cent of
entries had been R HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
when users search for common terms. compromised. SEO poisoning is a growing threat but there are tools to
Such attacks often involve adding fake On some days over help you stay safe. Symantec has released a trial
web pages to legitimate but hacked sites. 250 of the 300 terms version of a tool, Safe Web Lite, that will scan search
People searching are then confronted checked returned results results and mark any that it knows to be dangerous.
with sites that, according to Ashwin where 10 per cent or AVG has a free web tool called AVG Linkscanner which
Athalye of Symantec, usually peddle fake more were poisoned. can identify threats in real time and let you know if a
security software known as scareware. He said that search page or link is dangerous before you click.
engines now attempt to www.snipca.com/x1633
qSymantec’s investigation found that on average at warn users of these http://linkscanner.avg.com
least 10,000 out of 30,000 results were compromised dangerous pages.
x IN BRIEF... LAW
I NHS UNDER FIRE
OVER DATA NEGLECT
Bill proposed to clarify ‘outdated’ libel law online
Commissioner’s Office A PROPOSED bill to 200 years old, said:“For a tChanges to libel laws would give bloggers a
(ICO) said it remains change the UK’s law to be effective it has to clearer idea about their legal responsibilities
“highly concerned” about “complex”and“outdated” be respected.”
the lax data security libel laws would make them The proposed changes that ISPs, blogging website
procedures practised by clearer for‘citizen would give internet service providers and others who
NHS trusts and medical facilities. It journalists’and bloggers. providers (ISPs) and have an indirect role in
revealed that NHS Stoke-on-Trent Although they may not people running blog sites publishing content now
failed to file 2,000 paper realise it, these people are and message boards know how long they have
physiotherapy records within its often most at risk from clarification about their to act on a complaint.
archive system and these may aggrieved companies or responsibilities to avoid “The 14-day period is a
have been accidentally destroyed other litigants. being sued. surprisingly long one,
or misfiled. Basingstoke and North They are also less able to Currently these third considering how serious
Hampshire NHS Trust emailed an defend themselves from parties have to rely on libel actions can be.”
unprotected spreadsheet, legal action. But changes wording which is The Bill would also
containing 917 patients’ laid out in the bill, proposed ambiguous; stating these effectively reduce the time
pathology results, via an by Lord Lester, a Lib Dem companies or sites can in which a libel action must
unsecure address to another peer, would take online escape liability for be taken. Currently the
department.The receiving content into account. publishing allegedly they would have a clearly constant availability of
department had no business need Bob Satchwell, of the defamatory material only if defined period of 14 days in online articles, blogs and
to have access to that number of Society of Editors, who they take it down which to act. opinions means legal action
clinical records. called the current law ‘expeditiously’when David Woods, a litigation can be launched years after
www.ico.gov.uk “outdated”and based on informed of it. expert at Pinsent Masons original publication.
many practices more than Under Lord Lester’s plans law firm said:“This means www.snipca.com/x1632
6 www.computeractive.co.uk 24 June - 7 July 2010
x IN BRIEF... BROADBAND MOBILE
I CRICKET MATCH
SCREENED IN 3D
Cricket fans will be able to watch
England’s first Natwest one-day
BT strike may hit services cap data use
international match against A STRIKE by BT engineers and call Computeractive to press. When we predicted that the
Bangladesh in 3D.The match, centre staff could have a significant contacted BT it said it would not major UK mobile
which will be played on 8 July, will impact on internet services throughout comment on the proposed strike but that networks will
be shown at over 1,000 pubs and the UK, the Communications Workers it had contingency plans in place. follow O2 and cap
clubs across the UK and Ireland; a Union (CWU) has warned. Although BT would not mobile internet use.
list of which is on Sky’s website. Many internet service elaborate on these plans, O2 has introduced a
Later in the year, 3D movies, sport providers (ISPs) lease and other ISPs would three-tier data allowance
and other content will be available their broadband lines not comment, the system for new and
to Sky subscribers at home but from BT Wholesale. CWU dismissed upgrading customers. Tariffs
they will still need to have access Like BT, these ISPs what it had heard range from £35 per month
to a 3D television. are dependent on about possible for a 500MB allowance,
www.sky.com/3dpubs BT engineers to backup plans. rising to £45 and £60
fix faults and keep “We have heard for 750MB and 1GB,
I GOOGLE GIVES the network that BT has respectively. O2 said the
CHROME A POLISH running. A been asking its changes offer a “more
Google has issued a fresh prolonged strike managers about transparent way of charging
round of security updates could mean them filling in for customers for data”.
for its Chrome web problems suffered by engineering and call Although the move
browser, which will their customers taking centre staff but that is has angered some O2
address 11 weeks to put right. laughable,” a union customers, analysts
vulnerabilities “We do not want to go on representative told us. stressed that data caps
covering the strike and the last time was over A strike by BT workers would would only affect a small
Windows, Mac OS X 20 years ago. But BT refuses to budge. It be the first since 1987. The CWU, which proportion of consumers.
and Linux operating systems. The is difficult to predict what will happen rejected BT’s offer of a two per cent pay Steven Hartley, principal
update comes just days after two regarding internet connections but if the increase this year, and three per cent analyst at Ovum, said he
of Google’s competitors in the strike goes ahead, and for a long time, it next year, has been pushing for a five per believes it is just a matter of
browser market delivered fixes of could have a significant impact on cent increase. The ballot papers are due time before the other
their own.Apple has included people,” a CWU representative warned. to be returned by 5 July and a result is networks follow suit.
security patches in its recent The union was in the process of expected the same day. www.o2.co.uk
Safari 5 web browser release, balloting its 55,000 members as www.cwu.org
while Microsoft has bundled a fix
for a critical security flaw in ULTIMATE GUIDE
Internet Explorer with its monthly JARGON
B U S T E R
www.google.com/chrome Maintain and extend the life of your PC Techno babble demystified...
I SECURITY TOOL THE LATEST issue of our from your PC and starting Blogger Someone who
FOR ANDROID Computeractive Ultimate again can seem daunting writes an online journal.
Security firm Symantec is Guide shows you how to but if you need to return
releasing a free testing version of a make your PC last longer. your computer to its factory GB A storage measurement,
security tool for smartphones Our step-by-step settings or want to get back usually for hard disks.
running Google’s free Android Workshops and informative its original speed, we show
operating system, which is based features, written in our tried you how to reinstall Hard disk A high-capacity
on Linux and used for portable and trusted plain English everything from scratch. disk used to store files.
computers and mobile phones, style, look at how the tools The free CD is packed
this month. Security experts built into Windows and with free and trial software ISP Provides you with an
are warning this popularity means third-party software can such Ashampoo internet connection.
the threat of hackers attacking keep things ticking over. Winoptimizer 2010 and
such devices is growing.The Key maintenance tools Registry Mechanic. Other MB A measurement of
Norton Smartphone Security app that are covered include software products such as storage, usually for
includes a blacklist system to warn defragmentation through the processes, Auslogics Disk Defrag are computer memory.
the user if they download a (reorganising the data on from simple, cost-effective explained in our detailed
dangerous application from the your PC) and registry upgrades, such as picking Workshops. Registry A file integrated
Android Market and tools to cleaning applications. the right memory, to more Computeractive’s into Windows that stores
automatically block telephone Sometimes a simple expensive makeovers such Ultimate Guide to Making data on all hardware and
calls or text messages from a upgrade can transform a as swapping a hard disk for Your PC last longer goes on software on your computer.
specified phone number. PC.We explain how to a faster storage device with sale 1st July priced £5.99.
www.symantec.com decide if it is necessary to no moving parts. www.computeractive- For full definitions visit:
upgrade and guide you Cleaning everything out direct.co.uk
24 June - 7 July 2010 www.computeractive.co.uk 7
x IN BRIEF... BROADBAND WIFI
I RATTLE RIVALS
WITH FOOTBALL APP
created for the
Net gain from licence fee privacy upset
Privacy International (PI) will
iPhone and iPod PARTS OF the BBC’s licence fee will be Mr Hunt also said licence fee money make a formal complaint to
Touch can turn used to fund faster broadband services set aside to fund independent news UK police regarding Google’s
these devices into across the UK, culture secretary Jeremy consortia would instead be used to bring gathering of Wifi data as
a football rattle. Hunt has confirmed. the next generation of even faster part of the search giant’s
All people need to Underspend on the money put broadband services to rural and Street View operation.
aside from licence fee income hard-to-reach areas. Google initially blamed the
do to recreate the
sound of a rattle to help pensioners and However, the money collecting of Wifi data on an
the software is to
with the digital TV
N set aside for this is
limited; calculated at
error. But according to PI, a
recent audit report released
wave the iPhone switchover will be about £250m per by Google “asserts that the
or iPod Touch used to push forward year up to 2012. system had intent to identify
around.The England Football the universal service He said that and store all unencrypted
Rattle, which has been developed commitment (USC). three market- Wifi content.” It said that
by PS Ventures, will speed up or Although he testing projects, Google’s action “goes well
slow down according to the speed called this led by a beyond the ‘mistake’” the
and vigour with which the device commitment to give government agency, search company claimed,
is waved.The application, which every household in Broadband Delivery and had breached the UK’s
costs 59p, can be downloaded the UK a minimum UK, will now begin to Regulation of Investigatory
from the Apple Store.
“paltry” and “pitifully
licence fee look at the best ways
and technologies to
A spokesperson for
unambitious”, he said the deliver this goal. Google said the company
I HUMYO GETS Government would support it. Antony Walker, chief executive would not comment further
TRENDY “It is a scandal that nearly three officer of the Broadband Stakeholder on the allegations, but in a
British online storage service million households in this country still Group, welcomed the news but warned blog post published in May it
Humyo.com has been acquired by cannot access 2Mbits/sec broadband that the sums of money offered by the described the collection as
the security firm Trend Micro. speeds, and less than one per cent of the Government were small. “a mistake” and that it
Humyo, founded in 2007, currently country is able to access the internet “Overall this is positive news. But it’s wanted “to delete the data
provides both free and paid-for using modern fibre-optic technology – not going to be easy to deliver these as soon as possible”.
services, with paying customers compared to an OECD average of around goals. There is an awful lot to think www.privacyinternational.org
getting access to an automatic 10 per cent,” he said. about,” he said.
online backup tool.A spokesperson
told Computeractive that “there will INTERNET
be a change in the branding” of the
service at some point, but that it
would remain “the same product,
run by the same people” and would
Disabled web users benefit from mobile applications
keep its storage servers in the THE GROWTH of qMobile apps are “The other
UK. He could not confirm whether applications and websites designed to work on platforms, such as
prices will change. for mobile phones and small screens Symbian and
www.humyo.com other internet-enabled Android, tend to be a bit
devices is good news for “In order for of a free-for-all.Apple
I PLAY GAMES AND disabled web users, a these mobile has been very
SUPPORT A CHARITY leading charity has said. websites and consistent in the way it
People with Playstation3 games Robin Christopherson, of apps to work on ensures accessibility,
consoles are being encouraged to Abilitynet, said rather than smaller screens, and this applies to the
buy a triple-pack of recent titles excluding people with the developers apps it allows.
with part of the proceeds going to disabilities, mobile websites have had to make “It won’t approve an
charity Gamesaid.The pack, and applications, or‘apps’ , them simpler, application unless it
which contains Tomb Raider: make it easier for them to which in turn has meets a certain
Underworld, Sega Superstars use the internet. made them more standard,” he said.
Tennis and racing game Fuel can As the head of accessible. He also pointed out
be bought at the suggested retail accessibility services for the “The that there will
price of £30.At least half of the national charity, which developers have obviously always be
money raised will be sent to helps adults and children gone back to basics with computer,” he said. some apps some people
Gamesaid.The organisation with disabilities use websites.This means that He said Apple in won’t be able to use, and
hopes to raise at least £500,000 computers and the internet, people with disabilities, particular deserved that some people may only
from the packs. he told Computeractive he from visual impairments to recognition for its strict be able to use mobile
www.gamesaid.org was“excited”about the learning difficulties find control over the apps it websites on a computer.
developments. them easier to use on a allows for its devices. www.abilitynet.org.uk
8 www.computeractive.co.uk 24 June - 7 July 2010
x IN BRIEF... MOBILE PHONE CHARGES SOFTWARE
I WEB TELEVISION
BOOM IS COMING
There will be a boom over the next
four years in the number of
Call costs fall in the EU released
Microsoft has released the
web-enabled TV sets that are sold THE COST of making phone calls from COST OF CALLS WITHIN THE EU consumer version of Office
in the UK, according to industry within the European Union has fallen 35p 2010 with new features
experts.A number of again; despite a challenge from several 32p including a photo-editing
manufacturers are producing sets mobile operators. function in Word to edit
that can download and play From 1 July, charges before Vat for 25 images in documents.
content directly from the internet making a call have fallen from just over Calls received More video capabilities
without the need for a separate 35p (43 euro cents) last summer to 32p have been added to
set-top box or a PC. However, per minute. Receiving a call will now 15p Powerpoint and there is also
many in the industry think it will be cost approximately 12p, down from 12p a function linking people
15-20 years before 3D TV around 15p per minute. with social-networking
becomes a mainstream The costs of sending a text message sites. This lets people merge
consumer technology. remains at around 10p and they remain their inbox with any
www.snipca.com/x1626 free to receive. Mobile operators must social-
also ensure that from 1 July they paying up to 70 per cent less when networking site
I EMAIL ITEMS TO implement an automatic cut-off facility making and receiving calls and sending such as
NEW HP PRINTERS for data downloads. text messages. Facebook and
HP has announced a line-up of This will stop users from running up Mobile phone operators T-Mobile, see their most
new printers that allow documents an enormous bill by cutting off their Vodafone, Orange and Telefonica O2 recent updates.
to be printed from any email- mobile internet access once the cost challenged these limits. But the It is expected
enabled device.The range reaches a pre-set level. European Court of Justice ruled at the that the Home
includes the Photosmart Premium The default limit is around £40 a beginning of June that roaming and Student
e-All-in-one, due in October month but customers can choose a legislation that places a maximum on version will go on sale for
priced at £180, the Photosmart different amount if they prefer. People what mobile operators can charge is, in around £109.
Plus e-All-in-one, available from must also receive a warning when they fact, legal. An advert-supported
September for £150 and the hit 80 per cent of their chosen limit. Giles Chichester, Conservative MEP, version, Office Starter 2010,
Photosmart Wireless e-All-in-one, The Roaming Regulations were first said: “This is welcome news, particularly will be pre-installed on
available from July priced at £100. introduced in 2007. Since their as we approach the summer period when some new PCs.
www.hp.com/uk implementation the European most of us take holidays abroad.” www.microsoft.com
Commission has said people are www.snipca.com/x1617
B U S T E R
Pinpoint your family’s history Apple unveils iPhone 4 Techno babble demystified...
FAMILY HISTORY Street View image if it
website Historypin wants exists, so they can be seen APPLE HAS operating system High definition A TV
people to upload old in the context of how the unveiled its (OS), which Apple picture with a higher
photos of places to create street or area looks now. latest incarnation calls iOS4 and will resolution than normal.
an interactive historical The project is being run of the iPhone. include support for
map of the UK and other by the London-based non- The slimmer running several Mbits/sec Megabits per
parts of the world. profit group We Are What and sleeker apps at once. second. A measure of data
The pictures are then We Do, in partnership with iPhone 4 has a As this issue of transfer speed.
‘tagged’with dates and Google, which is providing new touchscreen Computeractive
explanations so others the online storage space display with a high went to press, Operating system
can view them and find for the pictures. resolution of Apple said it is Governs the way hardware
out about their history. All copyright and other 960x640 pixels. planning to and software in a computer
Photographs can also rights will remain with the Other changes deliver the OS to work together.
be placed onto a Google owner of the pictures. include extended most iPhone
Other users can view the battery life and a and iPod Touch Resolution The amount of
pictures, select dates to new front- users as a free detail shown in an image.
view and add their own mounted camera. update on 21 June.
comments and links. The back-mounted The OS also supports a Server A computer on a
Access to the site is camera is capable of video-chat service called network that distributes
free. If users do not have a shooting high-definition Facetime for those with information to other PCs.
scanner, a paid-for service video clips, which can be compatible handsets. Price
is available so they can edited using the company’s plans are yet to be Wifi Wireless networking.
have pictures scanned. new iMovie app. announced, but unlocked
www.historypin.org The handsets use the models cost from £499. For full definitions visit:
fourth version of the iPhone www.apple.com/uk
24 June - 7 July 2010 www.computeractive.co.uk 9
HOW TO USE WINDOWS’ EXPERT TOOLS
Need a quick computer fix?
We show how to find and use
10 hidden troubleshooting tools
that the experts rely on
f you have had a computer for a while, you have 1 Command and conquer
probably discovered that Windows comes with a Before graphical operating systems such as Windows
load of useful tools. You have probably worked caught on, most PCs ran DOS (short for Disk Operating
out sums in Calculator, protected files using System), which is a text-based system where you could
Backup and, if you read our article in issue 320, move files and start programs by typing commands. In
you may even have got the measure of your system with fact, Windows effectively ran on top of this older
the Windows 7 Resource Monitor. operating system up to and including Windows 98 and
The chances are, though, that there has also been a Me. Modern versions of Windows can still create a
time when your computer had a problem and you DOS-like interface using the Command Prompt.
weren’t sure if you had the tools to fix
it. Windows and the applications that
run on it can slow down, go wrong or
just act oddly, leaving even confident
users baffled. But not all of Windows’
tools are in plain view.
When most of us think that it’s time
to give up, we may call on an expert
who knows how to fix the problem
using tools that aren’t tricky to use:
Image: Steve Kirk
they’re just hidden away. In this
article we’ll show you where 10 of
these hidden tools can be found and
how to use them. 9Run the Command Prompt as Administrator in Windows 7 or Vista
10 www.computeractive.co.uk 24 June - 7 July 2010
USE WINDOWS’ EXPERT TOOLS HOW TO
The command prompt isn’t so useful in
everyday computing, but when programs or
Windows go wrong it can be a vital tool. On
B U S T E R
its own it can be used to give additional Techno babble demystified...
instructions to many Windows programs,
telling them to behave in a certain way when they Adware Software that
start up. Even more importantly, it’s the only way to displays unwanted adverts.
run some of Windows’ most useful expert tools,
including a few we’ll explain later in this article. In Anti-virus Software that
Windows XP, start the Command Prompt by clicking detects, repairs, cleans or
the Start button, clicking Run, then typing cmd in the removes viruses.
box that appears and clicking OK.
Starting a Command Prompt is even easier in Defragment or ‘defrag’.
Windows 7 and Vista: simply click Start, type To reorganise the data
Command in the Start Menu’s search box and you stored on a hard disk so it
should see ‘Command Prompt’ appear top of the 9The System Information Tool lists the hardware in your computer can be accessed as quickly
results. Left-clicking this will start a regular as possible by the computer.
command prompt, but to run most expert tools you’ll most basic level. To use it, type ping into the command
also need to make yourself an Administrator. To do this, prompt, followed by a space, then the device you want Dialogue box A window
right-click the ‘Command Prompt’ entry in the search to connect to, and then press Enter. For example, if your that pops up to display or
results and choose ‘Run as administrator’. Answer Yes network has two computers named Dave and Sally, you request information.
to the User Account Control dialogue box that appears. could check that they can communicate by starting a
The command prompt will appear as a black window Command Prompt on the computer called Sally, typing Double-click To click
into which you can type text, shown in white. For now, ping Dave and hitting Enter. twice quickly in succession
simply close the prompt by typing exit and hitting the If the network is running you should see lines of text on a mouse button.
Enter key. Alternatively, you can just close the Window, appear that start with Reply and include a time in
but we wouldn’t recommend it if you’re running one of milliseconds. If you get an error message or no answer Download Transferring
the utilities described below. then it’s time to check the cable or wireless network. files onto your PC directly
For a quick way to check whether your from the internet.
internet connection itself (rather than your
web browser) is running properly, try typing Driver A program that
ping google.com and pressing Enter. allows Windows to
Ping can be left running by adding -t, for communicate with a
example typing ping -t google.com will carry peripheral device.
on pinging Google’s servers until you hit the
Ctrl and C keys at the same time to stop it. Encrypt To scramble data
This can be handy, allowing you to instantly so it can only be read by the
see when your connection problem is fixed. sender and recipient.
3 Info a penny Firewall Software or
Nobody remembers every detail about their hardware that prevents
9Test whether two computers or devices can communicate using the Ping tool computer, but there are times when you’ll unauthorised access to a
need to check. A full breakdown of a PC’s computer over a network.
2 Just the Ping hardware and software is vital information for anyone
Ping is a simple hidden tool that can be invaluable when providing technical support, while even a basic Floppy disk A small, rigid
trying to work out what’s wrong with your computer on overview can be checked against the minimum square of plastic used to
a network. Like many advanced tools it can only be requirements of some new software you’re thinking store data. Inside the case is
accessed from inside a command prompt, so follow the about buying, preventing a costly mistake. a circular magnetic disc.
instructions above to open one. Windows provides a handy but hidden way to get
The purpose of ping is to test whether two computers both in the shape of the System Information tool. This Hard disk A high-capacity
or devices can communicate with one another on the can be run in Windows 7 or Vista simply by typing disk in PCs used to store
both applications and files.
While Windows comes with plenty of tools, 3DMark/PCMark probably the most powerful and Text-based communication
hidden or easily found, these don’t cover www.futuremark.com comprehensive suite of tools available for over a network.
everything you may need. These tests show how fast a computer, or troubleshooting a PC.
Even when they do, extra software may its graphics system, is. Because they work Memory The computer’s
do a better job of the same thing. Here are the computer hard they can also reveal Microsoft Security Essentials temporary storage area.
a few suggestions: any underlying problems that are www.snipca.com/x1562
occurring, such as overheating. Windows Defender, which is included with Motherboard The main
Memtest86+ Windows 7 and Vista, protects against circuit board inside any PC
www.snipca.com/x1564 Windows Sysinternals spyware and adware but it doesn’t into which every other
If you know how to create a bootable CD, www.snipca.com/x1563 watch for virus infections. Download component connects.
this is a better memory test than Started in 1996 and bought by Microsoft Security Essentials to add this protection
Windows’ own version. 10 years later, the Sysinternals tool is to your computer at no cost.
Continued on P13q
24 June - 7 July 2010 www.computeractive.co.uk 11
HOW TO USE WINDOWS’ EXPERT TOOLS
R THE PITFALLS
system information into the Start Menu search
box, then clicking the top result that appears. It’s
a bit more hidden away in XP, where you’ll need
We have only highlighted a to click the Start button, click Run and type
handful of Windows’ hidden c:windowssystem32dllcachemsinfo32.exe
tools, concentrating on into the box that appears, before clicking OK.
useful ones that are unlikely The System Information Tool starts with a
to do any harm to your system summary that usually includes all sorts of
computer. There are plenty of handy information and is often the only way to
other utilities that can be find out which motherboard is inside the
very powerful, but also very computer without grabbing a screwdriver, for
dangerous if you click the example. Clicking on the Components or
wrong option. Software Environment categories in the left-hand
Probably the most pane reveals more detailed information on a PC’s
important of these is the hardware or software makeup.
Registry Editor, through The search box at the bottom makes it easy to
which advanced users can search for a specific component or manufacturer
change which software name, which is handy if you’re seeing error 9System Restore takes a snapshot of the PC’s settings for recovery purposes
loads when, how it behaves, messages from a component that you’ve never
and alter fundamentals of heard of and want to find out what it does. Best of all, would also advise care when using the option to
Windows itself. It sounds there’s no need to feel intimidated, as the tool is for ‘Compress old files’, found in Windows XP, as this can
inviting, but there are few information only so you can’t damage anything here. liberate lots of space but it can take hours to complete.
harmless changes to the
registry, and many that could 4 Clean and clear 5 Restore and repair
mess up Windows. It’s Today’s computers come with lots of storage space but Most PC users have had a moment where they thought
generally one to avoid. even the most careful of users will find that their hard “I wish I hadn’t done that”. In many cases the System
Sometimes even a disk fills up with junk over time. It’s hard to know what Restore tool can make that wish come true. The utility
harmless tool can be open to is safe to delete, so Windows comes with a tool to help. works in the background, keeping a lookout for big
abuse. In Windows NT and Disk Cleanup can be found by opening Computer (My changes such as new software being installed, or a
2000, the simple ‘Net send’ Computer in Windows XP) from the Start Menu or backup being restored. When such a change is about to
command could be used to Desktop, right-clicking the disk that’s running out of happen it takes a ‘snapshot’ of the PC as it is. If
create a pop-up message on space, selecting Properties and then clicking the Disk something goes wrong, or if the user simply changes
another computer on the Cleanup button on the page that appears. their mind, System Restore can be used to return the
network. Or every computer, Disk Cleanup looks for files that could be deleted on computer to how it was before the change was made.
making it easy for pranksters a disk and presents its recommendations in a list Windows XP users can start System Restore by
or troublemakers to grouped by theme. Highlighting an item explains more opening the Start Menu, clicking All Programs, then
bombard every PC with about it so you can make an informed decision. Accessories, then System Tools, then ‘System Restore’.
spam messages. The The More Options tab makes it possible to cut down Windows 7 and Vista users might find it easier simply
feature was disabled by on installed programs, Windows components or to search for the tool from the Start Menu, and they may
default in XP, and removed restore points (see below), freeing-up even more space. also be prompted for permission before it will run.
from Vista onwards. We would recommend caution, though, as it’s easy to Once started, System Restore lets the user choose the
remove something you don’t realise you need. We point they want to restore to, and Windows 7 even
shows which programs and drivers might be deleted or
re-installed by each restore point.
6 Forget me not
A hardware problem can cause Windows to become
unstable, but while some are easy to trace there’s one
that can be a real pain: faulty memory. Memory
problems can cause serious instability, but of course
there’s no way to spot a dodgy stick of memory by
looking at it.
Handily, Windows Vista includes a new Memory
Diagnostics Tool – find it by typing memory diagnostic
into the Start Menu search box. It’s also included in
Windows 7, called Windows Memory Diagnostic.
The tool first asks whether you want to restart and
perform a check immediately, or wait until the next
time you restart your computer manually. When the PC
restarts the tool loads before Windows does to perform
a series of intensive tests on the memory chips in your
computer. You can access more advanced settings by
pressing F1 once it has started.
qDisk Cleanup recommends Although the tool doesn’t come with Windows XP, it
files that can be deleted to free can be downloaded free from Microsoft at
up space on your PC www.snipca.com/x1605. This version isn’t quite as easy
12 www.computeractive.co.uk 24 June - 7 July 2010
USE WINDOWS’ EXPERT TOOLS HOW TO
8 Be resourceful
While faulty hardware can cause problems with a
PC, many everyday hitches are likely to be down to
B U S T E R
software that hasn’t installed properly or which has Techno babble demystiﬁed...
become corrupted, perhaps for a simple reason such
as the computer not being properly shut down. When Operating system
this happens to an important Windows file it can Governs the way hardware
result in an unstable computer, or one that won’t and software in a computer
perform certain tasks. work together.
In such a case, it’s a good idea to restore the
computer to an earlier time using System Restore Registry A file integrated
(see page 12) and to scan with your anti-virus into Windows that stores
software, but if this doesn’t solve the problem there’s information on all hardware
the Windows Resource Checker. This simple and software installed on
command, run from a Command Prompt, causes your computer.
Windows to check the status of all the important files
it needs to start up successfully. If any are corrupted Router A device used to
9The Memory Diagnostics Tool will help you locate memory problems or missing they are replaced with the correct version connect more than one
but you’ll need your Windows installation CD. computer or other device to
to use, however, and it will prompt you to create a The resource checker is run by starting a Command the internet.
special floppy disk or CD. You’ll have to start the Prompt, remembering to grant Administrator
computer from that disc to run the test. privileges if you have Windows 7 or Vista (see page 10). Spam Junk email sent to
large groups of people
7 System settings offering such things as
Sometimes, if Windows is particularly slow or refuses money-spinning ideas,
to start properly it may be because a piece of software holidays, and so on.
that loads automatically is causing problems. You can
get around this by starting Windows in Safe Mode Spyware Software
(press F8 after the computer beeps on startup), but if installed (usually
you can get Windows to start up once there’s a far surreptitiously) to monitor
simpler method: the System Configuration tool. and report back on a
It’s easily found in Windows 7 or Vista by typing computer’s use.
system config into the Start Menu search box.
Windows XP users can usually run it by clicking Start, Virus A malicious
clicking Run, and then typing c:windowspchealth computer program
helpctrbinariesMSConfig.exe in the box that appears designed to damage data.
and clicking OK. Once started, this powerful tool lets
you choose exactly what happens each time Windows For full deﬁnitions visit:
starts up. The Startup tab lets you disable various other
utilities that would normally start with Windows, 9Use the Resource Checker to check all vital Windows files
allowing you to weed out any you suspect of being
unstable, but you should use care when doing this. If you can’t do this as the computer won’t start
We would recommend caution with options on the normally, try starting the computer in Safe Mode (press
Services tab, as unticking these can cause more trouble F8 after it beeps at start up). At the Command Prompt,
than they fix. Perhaps most useful is the Tools tab, type SFC /scannow and pres Enter. The process of
which shows a complete list of diagnostic tools in checking and replacing files can take a while but in
Windows, many of them hidden (and several listed in some cases it can save having to re-install Windows on
this article). Choose one and click Launch to use it. a PC that seems like a lost cause.
9 Pass the remote
New computer users often need a bit of help, and if
you’re an experienced computer user you’ll most likely
often want to help others out. This is easy if you’re both
in the same room but what if you want to help a family
member who lives halfway across the country – or
halfway across the planet? Since Windows XP, though,
Microsoft has included Remote Assistance, which is a
brilliant tool that can allow a remote helper to view
your computer’s display just as you do. If you’re really
stuck, you can even allow them to take control of your
computer to directly fix a problem.
Unfortunately, Windows XP’s remote assistance has
one big problem: unless you’re both using Microsoft’s
Windows Messenger instant-messaging tool the firewall
built into many internet routers will block it. If you have
9Fix startup problems with the System Configuration tool Windows 7 or Vista on your PC this isn’t a problem.
24 June - 7 July 2010 www.computeractive.co.uk 13