Awesome Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts

More Keyboard shortcuts than you can shake a stick at.

Turning multiple mouse clicks into a simple press of a key or two may not seem like a lot, but if you are an avid user of keyboard shortcuts you’ve likely noticed just how helpful they can be. Although memorizing which shortcuts do which functions can be a little daunting at first, it’s important to remember not everyone needs to know every shortcut. Learning and using the ones that are most important to you is a great way to enhance your Windows 10 experience.

Keyboard shortcut Action
Windows key Open or close Start Menu.
Windows key + A Open Action center.
Windows key + C Open Cortana in listening mode.
Windows key + D Display and hide the desktop.
Windows key + E Open File Explorer.
Windows key + G Open Game bar when a game is open.
Windows key + H Open the Share charm.
Windows key + I Open Settings.
Windows key + K Open the Connect quick action.
Windows key + L Lock your PC or switch accounts.
Windows key + M Minimize all windows.
Windows key + R Open Run dialog box.
Windows key + S Open Search.
Windows key + U Open Ease of Access Center.
Windows key + X Open Quick Link menu.
Windows key + Number Open the app pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.
Windows key + Left arrow key Snap app windows left.
Windows key + Right arrow key Snap app windows right.
Windows key + Up arrow key Maximize app windows.
Windows key + Down arrow key Minimize app windows.
Windows key + Comma Temporarily peek at the desktop.
Windows key + Ctrl +D Add a virtual desktop.
Windows key + Ctrl + Left or Right arrow Switch between virtual desktops.
Windows key + Ctrl + F4 Close current virtual desktop.
Windows key + Enter Open Narrator.
Windows key + Home Minimize all but the active desktop window (restores all windows on second stroke).
Windows key + PrtScn Capture a screenshot and save in Screenshots folder.
Windows key + Shift + Up arrow Stretch the desktop window to the top and bottom of the screen.
Windows key + Tab Open Task view.
Windows key + “+” key Zoom in using the magnifier.
Windows key + “-” key Zoom out using the magnifier.
Ctrl + Shift + Esc Open Task Manager.
Alt + Tab Switch between open apps.
Alt + Left arrow key Go back.
Alt + Right arrow key Go foward.
Alt + Page Up Move up one screen.
Alt + Page down Move down one screen.
Ctrl + Alt +Tab View open apps
Ctrl + C Copy selected items to clipboard.
Ctrl + X Cut selected items.
Ctrl + V Paste content from clipboard.
Ctrl + A Select all content.
Ctrl + Z Undo an action.
Ctrl + Y Redo an action.
Ctrl + D Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin.
Ctrl + Esc Open the Start Menu.
Ctrl + Shift Switch the keyboard layout.
Ctrl + Shift + Esc Open Task Manager.
Ctrl + F4 Close the active window.

Awesome Touchpad gestures for Windows 10

Power users! Try out these gestures on the touchpad of your Windows 10 laptop. Some of these gestures will only work with precision touchpads, so don’t fret if a move won’t work for you.

  1. Select an item: Tap on the touchpad.
  2. Scroll: Place two fingers on the touchpad and slide horizontally or vertically.
  3. Zoom in or out: Place two fingers on the touchpad and pinch in or stretch out.
  4. Show more commands (similar to right-clicking): Tap the touchpad with two fingers, or press in the lower-right corner.
  5. See all open windows: Place three fingers on the touchpad and swipe them away from you.
  6. Show the desktop: Place three fingers on the touchpad and swipe them towards yourself.
  7. Switch between open windows: Place three fingers on the touchpad and swipe right or left.

What’s the difference between memory and hard disk space?

Memory, hard disk, and RAM: I get a surprising number of questions that show a misunderstanding between these most basic of computer terms.

The most common mix-up is that people believe they are the same. While they’re not, I can see how it could be easy to confuse them at a conceptual level. So, let me explain these three terms.




RAM – Random Access Memory


RAM stands for Random Access Memory. RAM is a collection of electronic circuitry where your computer’s programs and data are stored when it is running.

As you can see to the right, RAM is one or more small circuit boards containing several integrated circuits where the actual microscopic circuitry lives. Each computer typically comes with a certain amount of RAM installed. It also has a limit to how much total RAM it can contain.

The machine I’m using as I type originally came with two gigabytes (roughly two billion bytes) of RAM, and has since been upgraded to its maximum capacity of eight gigabytes. This maximum is a hardware limitation of the main computer circuit board or “mother board” into which the RAM modules are inserted. If I wanted to exceed this limit, this computer would need a new motherboard, although most folks would simply get a new computer with greater capacity.

The one characteristic that differentiates RAM from other types of data storage is that it requires power to retain its contents. Remove power from RAM and it forgets everything that it had contained.

Hard Disk

A Hard Disk Drive (HDD), or sometimes just hard disk or hard drive, uses physical platters coated with magnetic material to store data. As the disk spins underneath read/write heads, the changes in magnetic polarization can be read by the read head, or they can be set or written by the write head.

A hard disk is a physical device that typically resides in your computer, although it’s very common to have external hard drives connected to your machine using USB or Firewire.

There are two things that distinguish hard drives from other forms of storage:

  • A traditional hard drive involves moving parts. The platters spin at speeds measured in thousands of revolutions per minute and the read/write head moves back and forth across the spinning platters.
  • Because magnetic and not electronic components are used for storage, a hard drive retains its contents even when the power is removed.

Computers come with a hard disk on which the operating system and initial set of programs are installed. This is where you’ll save your work. You can replace the hard disk with a larger one, taking care to move the data from the old hard disk to the new. You can also add additional hard disks either internally, if your computer has room, or externally, through USB and similar interfaces. Technically, there’s no limit to how much hard disk space most computers can have, but practically, the sheer number of drives, connections and power required for more drives limits the amount of space you can add.

The machine that I’m working on now came with a 300-gigabyte drive. It has since been upgraded to include a one terabyte (one trillion bytes) drive, a 1.5 terabyte drive internally and a 500-gigabyte drive attached via a USB connection.


“Memory” is RAM. It’s that simple.

Normally, the term memory refers only to RAM, not your hard disk.

It’s this confusion that I see frequently. A statement like, “I just added 500 gigabytes of memory to my machine,” is unlikely to be true. You might have added 500 gigabytes of hard disk space, but at this writing, 500 gigabytes of RAM is well beyond the reach of any consumer PCs, which tend to max out in the eight, 16 or maybe 32 gigabyte range.

Memory = RAM.

Hard disk space = hard disk space.

I can see why there’s confusion. As hard disks are used to save and “remember” stuff, this certainly sounds like memory. But that’s simply not how memory is used when it comes to computers.

Memory means RAM.

Flash Confusion

USB Memory Stick



Newer technologies blur the lines of which technology is used where.

Flash memory, for example, is used to make USB Thumb drives. Flash memory is a type of circuitry that’s similar to RAM, except that it retains its contents when power is removed . Hence, it’s most frequently used to create what we’ve come to call USB sticks, thumbdrives, jump drives, RAM sticks and a whole collection of other terminology.

Circuitry, sort of like RAM, is used to make storage that’s sort of like a hard drive.

The important take-away here is that flash devices, even though they use flash memory, are not referred to as simply “memory”. If anything, they’re simply called drives, or flash drives. Occasionally, they might be called flash memory but it’s the “flash” that distinguishes this from the plain old “memory”, which is RAM.

Solid State Drives (SSDs)

SSDs give us another opportunity for confusion in terms.

SSDs are devices that act like large capacity internal hard drives, but are made using flash memory. They’re similar to USB thumbdrives, except bigger, faster, more expensive and use a higher quality of flash memory designed to actually replace a traditional hard disk drive inside a computer.

Flash memory is faster than a spinning hard drive, thus SSDs are typically much faster than traditional hard drives.

Even though they are made using flash memory, an SSD is not referred to as memory. It is used as a disk drive equivalent, and therefore it’s referred to as a “disk drive”, even though no disks are actually used.

Phishing: How to Know it When You See It

Phishing is a way that internet scammers trick you into providing your personal and financial details. Phishing opens the door to identity theft, and more.

I’ve received an email from “” asking for billing details and threatening the end of my MSN service. Contacting MSN resulted in referral to a support alias, but no answer. Is this a problem, or a forgery?

Phishing is a word you hear a lot in the news these days, and this question brought it to mind.

You’re right to be suspicious: this definitely sounds like a phishing expedition.

Phishing: what it is

Phishing is very much like fishing, except that you’re the fish and that threatening email is the bait. If you bite, you run the very real risk of account or identity theft and all the hassle that entails.

Phishing is, essentially, an email message that tries to trick you into taking some action by fooling you into thinking that the message comes from someone official when it does not.

There are three basic scenarios.


1. The misleading link

The bad guys, or “phishers”, create an email that looks VERY much like an official email from some important entity, like eBay, Microsoft, Paypal, or perhaps a bank. The key is that the email asks you to visit some site via a link provided in the email. The site that you land on looks very official and proper. At that site, you’re then prompted to enter all your personal information, typically in the guise of “verification”.

The problem is that you’ve just handed over all your personal information to a thief.

The trick used here is that a link can be made to look like one thing, and yet take you somewhere else entirely. For example:

That looks like a link to ebay, right? It’s not. Click on it and you’ll be taken somewhere else entirely ( It’s possible due to the way that HTML and rich-text email can be encoded.

So if you’re tempted at all, hover your mouse over the link, and look before you click:

  • The actual destination should match what you expect. Exactly. If the link claims to be eBay, is not where you want to go. Nor is (note that it’s not “.com”). That’s a big red flag.
  • The actual destination should be a name, not a number. If the destination of the link takes you a link that has numbers, such as, chances are it’s not valid.
  • The actual destination should be secure. That means it should begin with https:. If the target destination for anything that claims to be secure, or account validation related begins with the regular, unsecured http:, chances are it’s not legitimate.

Avoiding this is simple. Never click on a link in the email you receive in these scenarios. Instead, open up your browser and go to the site in question yourself using your own bookmarks or by typing the URL you already know to be correct.

2. The misleading attachment

Another common approach phishers use is to provide you with an attachment that, supposedly, contains important information for you to read or review. One common variant uses the promise of a package shipment via one of the popular shipping services that requires you to acknowledge the attached document.

The problem here is that the attached document isn’t a document at all. It’s typically a mis-named file that looks like a document but is actually a program (report.doc.exe), or the “document” is in a zip file that you must first open’ and inside another program to be run.

That program? Malware.

There is no package. Whatever the email is trying to convince you of, it’s lying. By opening that attachment, you’ve just allowed your machine to become infected.

Once again, avoiding this is simple: never open attachments that you aren’t 100% certain are legitimate. When in doubt, don’t.

3. Misleading threat of closure

A surprisingly successful phishing attack boils down to this: an email that threatens your online account with closure unless you respond with your account credentials.

Including your password.

This is the easiest of all to avoid. Legitimate businesses will never, ever ask you for your password via email.


Don’t even think about it. Delete that email – better yet, mark it as spam – and move on.

If there’s a real issue

For any of these scenarios if the messages you get concern you, and you want to ensure you’re not missing something important, that’s also very easily dealt with.

Step one: ignore the email. Completely. Personally, I’d delete it right now.

Step two: go to the site in question manually. Use your own bookmark, or type what you know to be the correct URL into your browser by hand, and log in to your account as you normally would. If there’s something you need to do or verify, then you’ll probably see it then.

And if you’re still not sure, then give the institution a call or contact their support line or search their support site. Trust me, they’d much rather have you ask than have to deal with the possibility of identity or account theft.

10 steps to keep your account from getting hacked

These days hacking accounts seems like a common occurrence. Here are the steps you need to take to prevent losing your account – forever – to a hacker.

My account has been hacked into several times. If I’m able to recover it, it just gets hacked again. Sometimes I can’t recover it, and I have to start all over with a new account. What can I do to stop this all from happening?

The only salvation is in prevention, and this applies to email, social media, and pretty much any password-protected account you might have.

So what can you do to make sure your account doesn’t get hacked into in the first place?


1: Select a good password

I’m sure you’d be shocked at how easy many passwords are to guess. Your pet’s name, your pet’s name spelled backwards, your favorite TV character’s catch phrase, your boyfriend or girlfriend’s name (or “ilove” followed by that name), and so on.

If you think people can’t guess it, you are wrong. They can, and will.

“iLoveMikey” is a bad password. “j77AB#qC@^5FT9Da” is a great password. You can see the problem though – great passwords are hard to remember.

So compromise: never include full English words or names; always include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers; always make sure that the password is at least 10 or 12 characters long.

“Macintosh” is bad, “Mac7T0sh” might be good, and probably easier to remember. “HondaPrelude” is bad, but “Pre7ood6″ might be ok.

Bottom line: pick a random looking password that YOU can remember, but that THEY would never guess – and assume that THEY are always really great guessers.

2: Protect your password

A scenario I see much too often starts with “I thought I could trust my boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife / co-worker so I shared my password. Then we had an argument.”

How much damage can someone do if they’re angry with you, and they have the password to your account? A lot.

It’s very simple: Trust no one. I’m serious on this. Your friends are your friends until one day they’re not. Naturally there are exceptions, but if there’s the least little bit of doubt, don’t reveal your password. Especially if someone is pressuring you to do so.

3: Set and protect your “secret answer”

Many systems use a “secret question” and its corresponding answer as the key to password recovery or reset. The problem is that many people choose secret answers that nearly anyone can guess.1 Do people know where you were born? Then they know the answer to that secret question. Do people know what you’re pet’s name is? Then “favorite pet’s name” is probably a bad secret question for you.

And yet people do exactly that. If your account is repeatedly hacked after you recover the password, I’d guess that your “secret question” isn’t that secret after all.

A great approach to this is to realize that there’s nothing that says your answer actually has to correspond to the question, or to anything else in your life. So, pick an unrelated answer that has nothing to do with you. Perhaps your “City of Birth” should be “Crayola”, “Chardonay” or “WindowsExplorer”. As long as you can remember it it doesn’t matter what it is.

An even better approach is to treat it like just another password – a password to your password, for example. Make it long, and obscure, completely unrelated to the “question”, and impossible for someone else to guess.

4: Set (and maintain!) an alternate email address

Many services will use an “alternate email address” to mail you a password recovery link if you forget yours.

First, make sure to set that option up, and set it up using an email account on a different system. Create and use a Yahoo account for your Hotmail alternate email, for example.

And second: don’t lose the alternate account. For many systems, if you can’t access that alternate email account, you cannot get your password back,  and you will not be able to recover your primary account.

I’ve seen too many cases where people lose their alternate email address or let that account lapse, only to be totally out of luck when they find they really really need it to recover their primary account.

5: Set (and maintain!) additional security measures offered

Many services now offer additional security measures such as:

  • Two-factor authentication – requiring that you prove you have your phone by entering a code texted to you, or a number generated by an authenticator app.
  • Mobile phone account recovery – similar to using an alternate email address, if you ever do lose your password you can authenticate your recovery attempt by responding to or entering a code sent to your phone.
  • Trusted friends and family – Facebook in particular allows you to designate other Facebook accounts as “trusted contacts” that can be used to validate that you are you and that you should be allowed access to your account.

In almost all cases these measures need to be set up before you need them, so set them up now, while you’re thinking of it. And remember to change them when, say, your mobile number changes, or your friends change.

6: Use a different password on every site

The reason is very simple: if a hacker manages to discover your password on one account they very often will go try your username and password, or email and password, on a multitude of other services. If you used the same password on another service that they happen to try, then that account will quickly be hacked as well.

Password safes like LastPass, Roboform and others are excellent ways to maintain multiple, complex passwords for multiple sites without needing to remember each and every one yourself.

Speaking of your memory….

7: Remember

I realize that “hard to guess” is at odds with “easy to remember”, but both are absolutely critical.

If you forget your password, and you forget the answer to your secret question or lose access to your alternate email account or some how lose the ability to use any of the password recovery mechanisms provided by the service … well, to put it bluntly, you are severely out of luck.

Don’t forget your own password. Don’t forget the answer to your own secret question(s). If you must write your information down keep it in a secure place. A sticky note on your monitor under your mouse pad or other, easy to get to place, is not secure. Your wallet might be secure. A locked cabinet or safe might be secure. A properly encrypted file on your computer might be secure.

And once again, a password safe can be used to do the remembering for you.

8: Don’t fall for phishing schemes

Phishing is the attempt to represent one’s self – typically via email – as someone or some organization that you are not for the purposes of maliciously acquiring sensitive information.

The most common examples are emails that are carefully crafted to appear as if they had come from a banking institution, directing the recipient to a web site which itself looks very much like the bank’s official website. The catch is that the email is not from the actual bank, and the website is a forgery. By fooling the visitor into thinking that the site is legitimate the phishers can then obtain that person’s login credentials when they attempt to log in to this fake site.

Some very poor, yet surprisingly successful, phishing attempts don’t use web sites at all, but simply portray themselves in email as a major online service. The email requests that the recipient reply with account information often including username and password for some made up, yet important-sounding reason.

You should never have to email anyone your password, EVER!!!

There are some very common phishing attempts that will threaten you with account closure unless you respond to the email with information about your account. Information like your login name and password.

Those emails are bogus. Mark them as spam and ignore them.

Any email that requires you to respond with any information that includes your password is almost certainly a phishing scam.

9: Remember that there is little to no support

The vast majority of the account hacks that I hear of – the hacks where people are ultimately unable to recover their accounts – involve free services with little to no support.

There may be a knowledge base, or a peer-to-peer support forum, but there is rarely someone to email and almost never someone to call.

You are responsible for your own account security. It’s often true, and certainly safest to assume, that no one will help you should something go wrong.

That means it’s up to you to take the preventative measures I’ve outlined, as well as keeping your information up to date as things change.

10: Learn from your mistakes

Finally, if looking at this list you realize that:

  • the answers to your secret questions are obvious, or
  • you no longer have access to your alternate email address, or never set one up, or
  • you no longer have access to your old mobile number, or never set one up, or
  • your passwords are short and just plain lame and you use the same one everywhere as well

Then fix it! NOW! Before it’s too late.

Trust me, if you get hacked and it’s for one of those reasons, or you lose access to your hacked account because you never bothered to prepare, you’ll kick yourself.

And you may very well lose access to that account forever.

Important online security Tips

Only The Paranoid Survive is a tract on corporate fundamentals penned by Intel’s ex-Chairman Andy Grove.

The words should, however, be tattooed on the back of every PC owner’s mouse hand.

The internet is full of thieves and vagabonds united by one common goal – to separate you from your hard-earned cash. Here’s our guide to staying one step ahead of the bad guys. Follow our internet security tips to stay safe online and you can shop, surf and socialise online, and sleep soundly afterwards too.


1. Guerrilla psychology

Don’t be fooled into thinking cyber crime is a technical problem with a purely technical solution. A firewall and antivirus software can protect your computer, but they won’t keep you and your identity safe.

Social engineering is the black art of influencing people, and it’s the hacker’s best friend. In essence, hackers can control us thanks to a refined understanding of human characteristics such as trust, ignorance, greed, the need to be liked, the desire to help and plain old gullibility. Not even the most sophisticated software can hope to protect us from ourselves.

In order to stay safe, educate yourself about social engineering. Take a trip to the Symantec website for a brilliant briefing on the subject. If you get keen, check out The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security by Kevin Mitnick.

2. Avoid being a mule

Working from home, earn £500 a week commission. It sounds to good to be true, and it is. Scammers pass stolen cash to unsuspecting people, who transfer it back to the thieves via electronic payment. Your job with the work taken out is money laundering. Beware.

3. Set a serious password

If you’re struggling to create passwords that will stump a hacker, check out Microsoft’s guide to adding complexity to access codes in such a way that you can still remember the logon.

When you’ve made a password, you should rate its relative security. Microsoft offers an excellent password checking tool, which can be found here.

4. Split your emails

Rather than linking Facebook, Twitter, newsgroups, forums, shopping and banking sites to one email address, use multiple addresses. As a minimum, use one for social activities and one for financial business.

Your social address will rightly draw more attention than your business one – that’s the way you want it to be. If the former is hacked, it won’t be as nightmarish as losing control of your financial address.

5. Take care on public networks

Never, under any circumstances, use a public network for financial transactions. Only send your personal and financial details over a network you’ve set up yourself, or one you know to be secure. Who knows what horrors are lurking on the hard disk of that internet cafe machine, or somewhere between it and its internet access point?

Hackers have also been known to set up laptops to broadcast networks with names such as ‘Free Internet Access’ in hotels. They’ll let you pass internet traffic through them and harvest any juicy details as you type.

6. Virtualise

The truly paranoid should virtualise. The idea is simple: create a virtual PC, use it to surf the internet and, when you’ve done, destroy it, along with any viruses that may have infected it while you were online.

Running a virtual version of Ubuntu from within Ubuntu is likely to be the easiest way of achieving this style of computing, and it’s likely to be very safe too.

7. Anatomy of an iffy shop

By making online shops look slick, official and safe, online criminals hope to dupe us into disclosing credit card details. Fake shopping sites, like much online criminality, rely on social engineering.

There are, however, some tell-tale signs that should help you spot an iffy shop. First, avoid sites that ask for cash, cheque or virtual cash payments only – only do business with sites that accept credit cards.

Always ensure that the shop has a physical address.

8. Be wary of Facebook

There are two key areas of social networking security – the technical sphere and the human one. Technical security is about setting up your profile correctly – your favourite site will explain how, so follow its guides. Next is the human aspect of security and our old friend, social engineering.

No quantity of settings and checkboxes can prevent a user from willingly complying with the bad guys, and this is what they depend on. There’s one simple rule to follow here: don’t do or say anything online that you wouldn’t do or say in real life.

9. A price on your identity

If you’re in doubt about the value of your credentials, visit Complete the questionnaire and discover what you’re worth to a scammer…

10. Beware geeks bearing gifts

Social engineering can be our worst enemy when it comes to making us run malware installers.


On the day StarCraft II was released, security firms reported a huge number of warez downloads for the game that were really wrappers for viruses. On the day Michael Jackson died, sites sprang up claiming video exclusives of the singer’s last moments. Again, these were links to malware.

Employing the lure of a hot topic as a means of walking us towards malware is a common hacker tactic. When you’re tempted to click a link, follow the old mantra: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

11. Choose your flexible friend

Never be tempted to use or enter details from your debit card – always use a credit card. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (1974) make credit card companies liable to pay if you’re the innocent victim of fraud.

Card companies may, however, avoid paying out if you’re proved not to have taken ‘reasonable’ care with your card – doing something like writing down your PIN, for example.

Credit cards themselves also offer different levels of fraud insurance, so shop around before choosing a card and make sure you read the terms and conditions closely.

12. Pump and dump

Don’t be tempted to follow unsolicited dead-cert share tips. The senders will probably hold a lot of them. When you and other victims buy, the price will go up. They’ll then sell, leaving you holding the baby.

13. Just like that

A common online action site scam is to sell goods that are ‘like’ top brand goods. Your new watch may be like a Rolex insofar as it ticks, but that could be your lot.

14. Act on your doubts

If you think an online shop or service is dodgy, do some checking. A WHOIS search may let you see the registration details of a site. Visit the website and check out your suspect site.

Companies House also enables you to check out details about company addresses, owners and the like. Look for big discrepancies between onscreen addresses and physical offices.

15. We’ve found a virus

Bogus security experts call unsuspecting PC owners claiming they’ve found a virus on their hard drive. All you need do is pay a fee and they’ll remotely remove the nasty.

In reality, the scammers are just working through phone lists, planting the seeds of fear and then collecting bucketloads of cash.

16. Ditch IE6

If you’re still using Internet Explorer 6, shame on you. Not only are you likely to be getting less from the internet – Google and YouTube have now stopped supporting the ageing browser – but it’s also riddled with security flaws. Do yourself a favour and download a newer browser.

17. Check out Virus Total

If you’ve received a file and are worried about its provenance, upload it to The site will run the file through a number of virus-scanning engines to find any hidden malware. It’ll also send you a handy report document.

18. Listen to Bruce Schneier

Renowned security expert, blogger and self-styled security guru Bruce Schneier has a thing or two to say about every aspect of the topic, ranging from the virus right up to national security policy. Visit his blog at and add it to your bookmarks.

19. Check firewall logs

Firewalls keep logs of traffic they’ve rebuffed. Check these and look for patterns – maybe a particular IP address is pinging your network or a certain port on your setup is spewing out too much traffic. These sorts of things can suggest a viral infection.

20. Stop redundant services

The more software and services you’re running, the greater the risk you could be compromised. Be ruthless – delete or deactivate applications and services you don’t use. This will reduce the number of ways into your machine that are available to hackers.

21. Be cautious

If you must use file sharing, do so with the utmost paranoia about security. When you’ve downloaded a file, isolate it and, if possible, execute it from a virtual environment to ensure it’s safe before letting it into your true computing environment.

22. Update software

Windows 7 and most major apps are happy to update themselves automatically, but you should still run their update systems manually to ensure they’re working. Smaller apps may need updating manually, so check their makers’ sites for updates.

23. Enter your own URLs

Never follow links to URLs emailed to you and don’t Google your bank’s address. Google can be tricked into moving spoof sites up its rankings table by criminals looking to entice people to sites designed to harvest logon details. Enter important URLs yourself.

24. Check site safety

Download McAfee’s excellent SiteAdvisor from The browser plug-in has a traffic light system that shows dangerous sites in search results. Following its green, yellow and red site rating icons will help you to avoid compromised web locations.

25. Test your system

Test your antivirus system using the Eicar string. It’s a text file that all antivirus engines should pick up, no matter how it’s wrapped or compressed. Get it from It’s completely safe and won’t land you in legal hot water.

How to Create a New Partition on a Windows 7 Hard Disk Without Formatting Your Computer System

The Windows 7 Disk Management tool provides a simple interface for managing partitions and volumes.

Here’s an easy way to create a new partition on your disk.

  1. Open the Disk Management console by typing diskmgmt.msc at an elevated command prompt.partition1.jpg
  2. In Disk Management’s Graphical view, right-click an unallocated or free area, and then click New Simple Volume. This starts the New Simple Volume Wizard.
  3. Read the Welcome page and then click Next.
  4. The Specify Volume Size page specifies the minimum and maximum size for the volume in megabytes and lets you size the volume within these limits. Size the partition in megabytes using the Simple Volume Size field and then click Next.partition4.jpg
  5. On the Assign Drive Letter Or Path page, specify whether you want to assign a drive letter or path and then click Next. The available options are as follows:partition5.jpg

    Assign The Following Drive Letter Select an available drive letter in the selection list provided. By default, Windows 7 selects the lowest available drive letter and excludes reserved drive letters as well as those assigned to local disks or network drives.
    Mount In The Following Empty NTFS Folder Choose this option to mount the partition in an empty NTFS folder. You must then type the path to an existing folder or click Browse to search for or create a folder to use.
    Do Not Assign A Drive Letter Or Drive Path Choose this option if you want to create the partition without assigning a drive letter or path. Later, if you want the partition to be available for storage, you can assign a drive letter or path at that time.

  6. Use the Format Partition page to determine whether and how the volume should be formatted. If you want to format the volume, choose Format This Volume With The Following Settings, and then configure the following options:partition6.jpg

    File System Sets the file system type as FAT, FAT32, or NTFS. NTFS is selected by default in most cases. If you create a file system as FAT or FAT32, you can later convert it to NTFS by using the Convert utility. You can’t, however, convert NTFS partitions to FAT or FAT32.
    Allocation Unit Size Sets the cluster size for the file system. This is the basic unit in which disk space is allocated. The default allocation unit size is based on the size of the volume and, by default, is set dynamically prior to formatting. To override this feature, you can set the allocation unit size to a specific value. If you use many small files, you might want to use a smaller cluster size, such as 512 or 1,024 bytes. With these settings, small files use less disk space.
    Volume Label Sets a text label for the partition. This label is the partition’s volume name and by default is set to New Volume. You can change the volume label at any time by right-clicking the volume in Windows Explorer, choosing Properties, and typing a new value in the Label field provided on the General tab.
    Perform A Quick Format Tells Windows 7 to format without checking the partition for errors. With large partitions, this option can save you a few minutes. However, it’s usually better to check for errors, which enables Disk Management to mark bad sectors on the disk and lock them out.
    Enable File And Folder Compression Turns on compression for the disk. Built-in compression is available only for NTFS. Under NTFS, compression is transparent to users and compressed files can be accessed just like regular files. If you select this option, files and directories on this drive are compressed automatically.

  7. Click Next, confirm your options, and then click Finish.partition7.jpg

The Windows 7 Disk Management tool will now show the space configured as a new partition.


For further reading, click here

Tip adapted from Windows 7 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek

A drive with all my data is showing as unformatted – what do I do?

I recently replaced my system hard drive and have taken my old internal hard drive out and installed it into a external enclosure. When I plug it in, it shows up on my computer, but without a file system label, only a letter designation (G). Disk management says it is unformatted. It was NTFS as an internal drive. I’m concerned that if I format it, I will lose all of my data now stored on the drive. What steps do I take to format this external drive without losing my files? Or am I missing a step in accessing the information on the drive?

First, don’t format the drive.

Formatting will erase whatever’s on there or, at a minimum, make it more difficult to recover your data.

I do have some suggestions of next steps to take instead.



When the system indicates that a drive is unformatted, it’s the result of attempting to read the master boot record, partition table, or other partition overhead information on the drive and getting something other than the expected data back.

In most cases, this is the result of the data on the disk somehow having been overwritten or otherwise damaged.

Hard drives do fail, and often without warning.

Less commonly, it can also be the result of a hardware failure, either in the disk itself or the circuitry connecting that disk to your computer.

Hardware problems are easiest to rule out.

Try another machine

If you have another computer available, plug the external drive into that and see if it is properly recognized.

If it is, then:

  • You have access to your data (back it up!).
  • You know that there’s an issue with your computer that needs to be addressed.

Verify that external enclosure

Because you indicated that you placed your formerly internal drive into an external enclosure, I’m actually very suspicious that there’s a problem with the assembly.

A working USB interface improperly connected to a hard drive could appear as an unformatted drive.

I’d make absolutely certain that the drive was properly connected to the interface card that’s in that external enclosure. Double (even triple) check that all of the assembly instructions were followed and that the drive is attached the right way.

If you have another known-working hard disk, I’d be really tempted to place that in the enclosure and try it. If it works, then you know that you have a problem with the actual hard disk (which we’ll look into next). If it fails, then you know that there’s either a problem with the enclosure itself, its circuitry, or the connection to your PC.

Data Recovery

If everything seems to be connected and working properly, yet your drive still shows as “unformatted”, it’s time to haul out data recovery software.

Piriform (the company that makes CCleaner) also puts out a free tool called Recuva. Among the other features that they list, they state, “Even if you’ve formatted a drive so that it looks blank, Recuva can still find your files on it.”

Naturally, no one can guarantee complete recovery, but it’s a place to start.

Another tool to consider is GetDataBack. It’s not free, but the free demo version should allow you to determine if the utility will be able to recover anything. If so, the tool might be well worth it. From their feature list: “GetDataBack will recover your data if the hard drive’s partition table, boot record, FAT/MFT or root directory are lost or damaged …”

This would have been moot if…

I’d be remiss in my job if I didn’t point out that none of this would matter or at least it wouldn’t matter nearly as much, if you’d had a backup of the contents of that drive.

Remember the rule of thumb: if it’s only in one place it’s not backed up.

Hard drives do fail and often without warning. That can result in complete data loss.

Whether or not you recover your data this time, resolve to put a backup strategy into place so that the next time that there’s an issue (and please trust me, there will be a next time) the solution is simple to get the most recent backup.

Awesome Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts


The Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts are a one-way ticket to enhanced productivity. If you are familiar with the shortcut keys, you can fully utilize it to increase your work productivity.

 Windows 7 has more cool new shortcuts than you can shake a stick at. The following show some of the commonly used shortcut keys.


Press this key

Will do this


Displays Help

Ctrl + C

Copy the selected item

Ctrl + X

Cut the selected item

Ctrl + V

Paste the selected item

Ctrl + Z

Undo an action

Ctrl + Y

Redo an action


Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin

Shift + Delete

Delete the selected item without moving it to the Recycle Bin first


Rename the selected item

Ctrl + Right Arrow

Move the cursor to the beginning of the next word

Ctrl + Left Arrow

Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous word

Ctrl + Down Arrow

Move the cursor to the beginning of the next paragraph

Ctrl + Up Arrow

Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous paragraph

Ctrl + Shift with an arrow key

Select a block of text

Shift with any arrow key

Select more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or select text within a document

Ctrl with any arrow key

+ Spacebar

Select multiple individual items in a window or on the desktop

Ctrl + A

Select all items in a document or window


Search for a file or folder

Alt + Enter

Display properties for the selected item

Alt + F4

Close the active item, or exit the active program

Alt + F4 (On Desktop)

Displays the Shutdown, Hibernate, sleep, etc. functions

Alt + Spacebar

Open the shortcut menu for the active window

Ctrl + F4

Close the active document (in programs that allow you to have multiple documents open simultaneously)

Alt + Tab

Switch between open items

Ctrl + Alt + Tab

Use the arrow keys to switch between open items

Ctrl + Mouse scroll wheel

Change the size of icons on the desktop

Windows logo key + Tab

 Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Aero Flip 3-D

Ctrl + Windows logo key +Tab

Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Aero Flip 3-D

Alt + Esc

Cycle through items in the order in which they were opened


Cycle through screen elements in a window or on the desktop


Display the address bar list in Windows Explorer

Shift + F10

Display the shortcut menu for the selected item

Ctrl + Esc

Open the Start menu

Alt + underlined letter

Display the corresponding menu

Alt + underlined letter

Perform the menu command (or other underlined command)


Activate the menu bar in the active program

Right Arrow

Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu

Left Arrow

Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu


Refresh the active window

Alt + Up Arrow

View the folder one level up in Windows Explorer


Cancel the current task

Ctrl + Shift + Esc

Open Task Manager

Shift when you insert a CD

Stop the auto-play CD from starting automatically

Windows logo key

Open or close the Start menu.

Windows logo key + Pause

Display the System Properties dialog box.

Windows logo key + D

Display the Windows desktop.

Windows logo key + M

Minimize all windows at once.

Windows logo key + Shift + M

Restore minimized windows to the desktop.

Windows logo key + E

Open Computer / Windows Explorer.

Windows logo key + F

Search for a file or folder.

Ctrl + Windows logo key + F

Search for computers (if you’re on a network).

Windows logo key + L

Lock your computer or switch users.

Windows logo key + R

Open the Run dialog box.

Windows logo key + T

Cycle through programs on the taskbar.

Windows logo key + number

Start the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number. If the program is already running, switch to that program.

Shift + Windows logo key + number

Start a new instance of the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.

Ctrl + Windows logo key


Switch to the last active window of the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.

Alt + Windows logo key


Open the Jump List for the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.

Windows logo key + Tab

Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Aero Flip 3- D.

Ctrl + Windows logo key + Tab

Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Aero Flip 3-D.

Ctrl + Windows logo key + B

Switch to the program that displayed a message in the notification area.

Windows logo key + Spacebar

Preview the desktop.

Windows logo key + Up Arrow

Maximize the window.

Windows logo key + Left Arrow

Maximize the window to the left side of the screen.

One change you should make to Windows Explorer right now to stay safer

Windows Explorer tries to help by hiding some information. Unfortunately, that opens a hole that hackers can use to fool you.

The vast majority of Windows default settings boil down to a matter of personal preference.

Over the years, as I’ve installed Windows over and over again on new machines, test machines, and more, I’ve slowly adapted to simply accepting the default settings rather than re-applying a large number of customizations every time.

There’s one setting that I and many other security-conscious folks feel that Microsoft simply got wrong. It’s a setting that you should probably change right away.

You don’t want Windows Explorer to “Hide extensions for known file types”.


This is WINDOWS Explorer

Important: I’m hearing from a lot of people who aren’t finding this setting in Internet Explorer.

That’s correct. It’s not in Internet Explorer.

The program this applies to is Windows Explorer.

Follow the instructions that follow to run Windows Explorer.

Changing the setting

Run Windows Explorer – Windows Key + E will do, or right-click the Windows 7 start orb and click Open Windows Explorer.

If the menu bar is not visible, press and release the ALT key on your keyboard to make it appear.

Click Tools and then Folder Options…:

Click the View tab.

Make sure that Hide extensions for known file types is NOT checked. By default, it is.

Why this is so important

An extension is the end-part of a filename, from the last period onward. For example, in picture.jpg, the extension is .jpg. For resume.doc, the extension is .doc.

File extensions tell Windows what to do with a file when you double-click it (among other things). For example, when you double-click picture.jpg, the file extension tells Windows that it should open up your image viewing program. For resume.doc, it would indicate that a document editing program be run.

At any point in time, Windows “knows about” many different file extensions, depending on the applications that you have installed.

“Hide extensions for known file types” causes Windows Explorer to hide – not display – the file extension portion of the filename.

For example, here’s example.doc with Hide extensions for known file types unchecked:

And in the default case, with it checked:

You can see that the .doc is not displayed. The Type column shows what type of file Windows thinks it is, but the actual extension is hidden from view.

Now, let’s use a more sinister example.


When a file with that name is shown using Windows default settings to hide the file extension, it looks like this:

What shows is “example.doc”, even though the filename is really “example.doc.exe”.

You might be tempted to think it’s a .doc file, even though it’s not. It’s a .exe file. The Type column shows the correct type – Application – but the display looks like it’s a .doc file.

The malicious scenario works like this:

  • You receive an attachment or download a file named something.doc.exe.
  • You view that file in Windows Explorer and see only something.doc.
  • Seeing this, you believe that it’s a document and double-click the file to open it.
  • Because the real filename is something.doc.exe, it’s an application and Windows treats it like a program and runs it.
  • Then, the program installs malware on your machine.

The best way to prevent this? Don’t “Hide extensions for known file types”.

That way, the file is revealed for what it truly is.