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Question and Answer
How can I easily find and remove duplicate files on our home computer? After just 2 years I believe our 160GB hard drive is filled with hundreds of duplicate files such as photos, music and various documents. My concern is twofold. First, I was told that a full hard drive can negatively impact my PC performance. Second, I'd like to save money by not having to buy another hard drive. Plus we pay for on-line back up and I don't want the added cost for storing duplicates files on-line.
– Chloe L., Santa Fe, NM
Good question Chloe. Removing duplicate files from your computer can improve PC performance and indeed saves money by freeing up valuable disk space. The best product we have tested for finding duplicate files is Easy Duplicate Finder. Of course, you can find and delete duplicate files manually, but it can be tricky and time consuming. We found Easy Duplicate Finder to be a simple-to-use program that will safely and easily do the job. In addition, they offer TouchStoneSoftware users a free trial.

» Click here for more information on Easy Duplicate Finder
I'm constantly getting notifications of Windows updates. Do I really need to install them all? What benefit will I get from them?
– Don C., Carson City, NV
The most common things that hackers use to hack your system are the known vulnerabilities in the OS. Many of the updates that are marked as "critical" are security related. Therefore it's a very good idea to install the updates in the RECOMMENDED section, because it is most likely addressing a vulnerability that a hacker has found. At the very least, make sure you keep Windows Update active so that you will at least know when the updates become available. Adding and improving features is another good reason to install updates. You can also set Windows Update to automatically install updates so you won't need to do any manual installation of the updates. Instead, you will just be notified that Windows has installed the updates.
Some of my file associations in Windows 7 have changed. Can you tell me how to fix this to get it back the way it was?
– Laurie S., Brooklyn, NY
This could be an indication that your machine has become infected with a virus, but it could also just be a simple glitch. It could have been caused by an application that you installed. If a virus is suspected, then be sure to run a complete virus scan on the system. If you need to re-associate files with a certain application, it's pretty easy to do. In Windows 7, simply right click a file or file icon and select OPEN WITH. Select CHOOSE DEFAULT PROGRAM and select the program you want to associate the file with. Be sure to check the ALWAYS USE THE SELECTED PROGRAM TO OPEN THIS KIND OF FILE checkbox. The file should now always open with the application you have chosen.

PC Performance Tip: Change Your Logon Screen Background

Changing the wallpaper on your desktop is one of the easiest things to do in Windows. But if you can have that display any image you want, why not do the same with your logon screen?

  1. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindows
  2. Find the OEMBackground key; or right-click in the right pane and select
    New, then DWORD (32-bit) Value to create it (and then give it that name).
  3. Double-click on OEMBackground to open it.
  4. Change the value in the Value data field to 1.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to your Windows directory, then System32oobe. If there's a folder in here called info, go into it; if there's a folder inside of that one called backgrounds, go into that. If neither exists, you'll need to create them both first.
  7. Copy the image (it must be a JPEG, and smaller than 256KB in size) you want to use as your logon screen background into the infobackgrounds folder.
  8. Rename the image backgroundDefault.jpg. (Note: If you choose an image that's sized differently than your desktop and you change your resolution, it will be adjusted to fit—with a possible loss in quality. The infobackground folder also supports 12 other files of specific resolutions. The files should be named backgroundXXXXX.jpg, where the XXXXX is one of the following:

    • 900×1440
    • 960×1280
    • 1024×1280
    • 1280×1024
    • 1024×768
    • 1280×960
    • 1600×1200
    • 1440×900
    • 1920×1200
    • 1280×768
    • 1360×768

    For example, background1920x1200.jpg will be used at 1,920-by-1,200 resolution, and so on.)
The next time you restart your computer, or log out, you'll see this image as the new logon screen. If you chose an image that prevents the buttons and text from looking their best on the logon screen, you can adjust their appearance as well.

  1. Navigate back to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindows
    (you're not going into Background this time).
  2. Add a DWORD value called ButtonSet.
  3. Change its value to either 1 (darker text shadows and lighter buttons, intended for lighter backgrounds) or 2 (no text shadows and opaque buttons, for darker backgrounds); 0 is the Windows default.
Please Note: Before performing these tweaks, we recommend backing up your systems registry.

To back up the Registry the easy way, simply open Control Panel, click System, and then click System protection on the left sidebar. Click the big Create button to have Windows walk you through the straightforward process of creating a System Restore Point — it's as easy as that.

» Download RegistryWizard Now! (New version now available)

Driver Tip: The Advantages of Updating Video Card Drivers

We get asked a lot if there really are any advantages to upgrading the drivers for your video card. Does it really make a difference?

Well the answer is yes. It does make a difference. There are several reasons to update your Video Card drivers. Here are a few:

First, if you are a gamer you will notice the difference much more than the average computer user. Secondly if you are someone who watches a lot of movies or videos on your computer, up to date drivers are a must.

With many of today's game titles and streaming video technologies, the need for more advanced video cards has arisen. Along with the new equipment it is important that you keep your drivers up to date.

Keeping your video drivers up to date fixes Limited Screen Resolution settings, along with providing support for higher refresh rates, it will also eliminate jitters in 3D modeling.

The newest driver will help with video creation/editing software and eliminate skips and pauses during video playback. The drivers will fix issues where videos play normally when scaled down, but play poorly or refuse to play at full screen. The new drivers will also help with higher frame rates (or Frames per Second) during game play or video playback resulting in smoother appearance and better experience, which will lead to increased system stability.

BIOS Tip – Why Update the BIOS?

Many of our customers ask us, "Why should I update my BIOS?" Well, in the past there have been compelling reasons to upgrade your BIOS, such as for Y2K compliance or to support high capacity hard drives that older BIOS chips simply wouldn't recognize.

These days the rate of technological development is such that motherboard manufacturers release new BIOS versions far more frequently than in the past, generally to include new features such as support for:

  • Additional CPUs
  • Larger hard drives
  • New, or faster memory
  • New, or faster peripheral interfaces
  • Additional plug & play devices
  • New operating systems.
Increasingly, another reason is to fix problems in earlier releases! Manufacturers have made great strides in making the process easier in recent years. Make sure to run BIOS Agent Plus frequently and keep your BIOS updated.

» Perform a BIOS scan now!

Tech Tip
Did You Know You Can Make Your Windows 8 Start Screen Tiles Smaller?
You will notice that Windows 8 Start Screen have some small tiles while other tiles are bigger in size and occupies more space. When you right click a tile, it will display few options. If this is a large tile then you can choose the option to make it smaller.
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Quote of the Month
"Doing research on the Web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly."

- Roger Ebert

Sites of the Month

Fun Sites
Audio Drama Directory
A comprehensive database of audio shows for you to listen to for free. Choose from action or adventure, horror stories, comedy, fan fiction, drama, old-time radio and more.

Useful Site
The ultimate resource for your HDTV. If you are looking to optimize your HDTV settings, there is no better resource on the web. Enter your TV's model number and get the optimal calibration settings.

Stat of the Month

Windows 8 Behind Vista in Desktop OS Market
(% of Desktop PC's with OS)

  • Windows 7 – 44.73%
  • Windows XP – 38.73%
  • MAC OS X 10 – 6.33%
  • Windows Vista - 4.99%
  • Windows 8 – 3.17%
  • Others – 2.05%
As of March 2013

Vocab Test


A term of endearment referring to those whose lives seem to have been consumed by the Internet.

Browser Add-On

Color My Facebook

Tired of boring Facebook blue? Choose your own color for your profile!

SmartPhone App


Instant music search and discovery. Names a tune playing from a speaker in as little as four seconds - and even works if you sing or hum!

  Twitter Tip

Keep it to 140 characters. Forcing your followers to click to finish reading your tweet can get frustrating.

iPhone App



iOptimizer is the ultimate application for getting to know your iPhone, iPad or iPod better. iOptimizer monitors the performance of your device, so that you can configure it for optimal use. It will also help you find out everything about your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch both on the system and on the user level. iOptimizer is powerful, intuitive, and extremely easy to set up and use.

(New Version - May 2013)
  • iPad Support
  • Improved 'Activity' Section
  • Improved 'Processes' Section
  • Improved 'Battery' Section
  • Improved 'System' Information
  • Improved 'Network' Section
Best of all — It's FREE!

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