How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems

How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems

Is your computer unstable? There may be a problem with its RAM. To check, you can either use a hidden system tool included with Windows or download and boot a more advanced tool.

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Both of the below tools function by writing data to each sector of your computer’s RAM and then reading it back in turn. If the tool reads a different value, this indicates that your RAM is faulty.

Option 1: Run the Windows Memory Diagnostic

To launch the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool, open the Start menu, type “Windows Memory Diagnostic”, and press Enter.

You can also press Windows Key + R, type “mdsched.exe” into the Run dialog that appears, and press Enter.

How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems

You’ll need to reboot your computer to perform the test. While the test is happening, you won’t be able to use your computer.

To agree to this, click “Restart now and check for problems (recommended)”. Be sure to save your work first. Your computer will immediately restart.

How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems

Your computer will restart and the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool screen will appear. Just leave it be and let it perform the test. This may take several minutes. During this process, you’ll see a progress bar and a “Status” message will inform you if any problems have been detected during the process.

However, you don’t need to watch the test–you can leave your computer alone and come back to see the results later.

How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems

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When it’s done, your computer will automatically reboot and return to the Windows desktop. After you log in, the test results will appear.

At least, that’s what the tool says is supposed to happen. The results didn’t automatically appear for us on Windows 10. But here’s how to find them, if Windows doesn’t show you.

First, open the Event Viewer. Right-click the Start button and select “Event Viewer”. If you’re using Windows 7, press Windows Key + R, type “eventvwr.msc” into the Run dialog, and press Enter.

How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems

Navigate to Windows Logs > System. You’ll see a list of a large number of events. Click “Find” in the right pane.

How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems

Type “MemoryDiagnostic” into the find box and click “Find Next”. You’ll see the result displayed at the bottom of the window.

How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems

Option 2: Boot and Run MemTest86

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If you’re looking for a more powerful testing tool, you can download and use MemTest86. It performs a wider variety of tests and may find issues that the included Windows test won’t. The latest releases of this tool offer a paid version with more feature, although the free version should do everything you need. You don’t need to pay for anything. MemTest86 is signed by Microsoft, so it will work even on systems with Secure Boot enabled.

You could also try the free and open source MemTest86+. However, this tool doesn’t seem to be actively developed anymore. We saw reports that it didn’t work properly on some newer PCs.

Both of these are bootable, self-contained tools. MemTest86 provides both an ISO image you can burn to a CD or DVD and a USB image you can copy to a USB drive. Just run the .exe file included with the download and provide a spare USB drive to create a bootable USB drive. This will erase the contents of the drive!

How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems

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Once you’ve created bootable media, restart your computer and have it boot from the USB drive or disc you copied the memory test tool to.

The tool will boot and automatically start scanning your memory, running through test after test and informing you if it finds a problem. It will keep running tests until you choose to stop it, allowing you to test how the memory behaves over a longer period of time. Information about any errors will be displayed on your screen. When you’re done, you can just press the “Esc” key to exit it and restart your computer.

How to Test Your Computer’s RAM for Problems


If memory tests give you errors, it’s very possible that your RAM–at least one of the sticks–is faulty and needs to be replaced.

However, it’s also possible that the RAM isn’t compatible with your motherboard for some reason. It’s also possible that your RAM can’t reliably run at its current speeds, so you may want to adjust your RAM speed to a lower setting in your UEFI or BIOS settings screen.

After making a change, you can run the RAM test again to see if there’s a problem.

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

Android has come a long way in terms of battery life over the last few years, and the built-in tools for monitoring battery usage have gotten significantly more useful. Still, sometimes the stock options just aren’t enough. Thankfully, there are ways to easily gauge your battery usage, remaining time, and even hunt down apps that are stealing your precious juice.

Before we get into the details though, let’s talk about one thing you shouldn’t do to your battery. We’ve all seen those awful “optimization” apps that promise to improve battery life, but really, you should stay far away from those. Basically, they operate under the old-school thinking that background apps are chewing through your battery, so they just kill them. That’s really a terrible idea, because these apps are effectively just glorified task killers. And no one should ever use a task killer on Android. Ever.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s dig in to how to really get a better idea of what’s going on with your battery, and what you can do about it when something goes wrong.

Check Your Active CPU Frequencies with System Monitor

System Monitor (free, Pro) is one of my favorite apps for, um, monitoring Android’s system. While it can do a lot of different things, we’re just focusing on one today: keeping an eye on CPU frequencies. Basically, this watches the processor’s most-used frequency states—1.2GHz, 384MHz, etc.—and then tracks how much of the time it’s in those states. For example, if your phone has been lying on your desk for four hours with very little use, you want the top CPU state to be “Deep Sleep,” which means everything is working like it should be—there are no apps keeping the processor alive, thus keeping the phone awake and draining the battery. But if you’ve been playing a game for the last hour, the top state may be something like 1.5GHz, because it’s more taxing on the processor.

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

The point is this: knowing what the processor is doing in the background can give you a lot of insight into what’s going on with your battery. If you haven’t been using your phone and the top process isn’t “Deep Sleep,” then something is going on in the background and you’ll need to figure out what it is.

The good news is that System Monitor can kind of help with that, too (though there are better apps for that, which we’ll discuss later). One swipe to the right of the CPU Frequencies tab is “Top Apps,” which will show you what apps are being the most active in real-time. The top will always be System Monitor itself, because it’s the foreground app. It’s the stuff bouncing around beneath it that you’ll want to take a closer look at.

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

To easily keep an eye on what’s going on with CPU Frequencies, I highly recommend using its widget. I always drop it on one of my home screen for a quick look at what’s going on—you know, just in case. The only thing worth noting here is that it doesn’t always stay active and up-to-date, so sometimes you need to cycle through the various states by tapping the widget; doing this will force it to update.

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

Anticipate Remaining Time and Find Trouble-Causing Apps with GSam Battery Monitor

One of the most difficult things to judge is how much time your battery has left until you have no choice but to hit the charger. Thankfully, there’s a pretty easy way to at least get a solid idea of what’s going on: an app called GSam Battery Monitor (free, Pro). As far as battery monitoring apps go, this one is probably the best out there—it does an excellent job of covering all the bases in a simple, easy-to-use package.

My personal favorite feature of GSam is the battery info notification. It’s a simple pinned notification (with a toggle-able icon) that shows the current battery percentage and temperature, as well as average time left and time left based on the last 15 minutes of usage. Basically, it’s an incredibly easy way to get an idea of what battery life will be like based on that day’s usage, as well as what it’ll look like if the rest of the day is going to look more like the last 15 minutes. It’s pretty brilliant.

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

But GSam does a lot more than just that. A quick tap on the notification will launch the app, which gives a nice overview of where battery is going: phone, screen, phone radio, Wi-Fi, awake time, Bluetooth, and app usage. It also keeps up with average over time, so the longer you use it, the more useful it gets. For example, it shows average battery life since its install date, as well as the average screen-on time. That’s just plain awesome.

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

But wait, there’s more! It has a killer feature called “App Sucker.” Remember earlier when I mentioned there being better apps for finding out what’s chewing through battery when the phone should be asleep? Well, this feature is it. App Sucker will tell you which apps are using the most battery—if this section shows something you haven’t been using lately, you know that’s what killing your battery in the background. Overall, I’ve found it to be much more useful than Android’s built-in battery stats, too. You can access App Sucker by tapping the second icon to the left in GSam’s bottom navigation bar.

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

If you’re into tracking your battery use over time, there’s also an excellent way to do that GSam. Tapping the first icon in the nav bar will pull up the Charts section, which covers temperature, phone signal, charging rate, CPU, and “others” (GPS, in call, Wi-Fi, screen, and Doze). If you’re really dedicated to fine-tuning battery usage, this is your section.

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

Get Even More Info with a Rooted Device and Better Battery Stats

Both of the above-mentioned apps are excellent tools on their own, but both of them also offer more advanced features for rooted users. GSam can provide more advanced usage details, like wakelock and sensor usage, and System Monitor can provide access to app cache. While the latter doesn’t necessarily help with battery life, it can at least help clear up some space on your phone.

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

There’s also an app called Better Battery Stats that essentially relies on root access to provide its information. If you’re running a rooted handset, it’s incredibly valuable. It allows users to get a detailed look at what’s happening behind the scenes, including app usage and wakelocks, with the ability to find changes in behavior quickly so rogue apps running in the background can be dealt with as soon as possible.

How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone How to Get More Meaningful Battery Stats on Your Android Phone

While the first two apps mentioned in this post are both fairly straightforward and easy to understand, Better Battery Stats is definitely for more advanced users. It covers battery use at the system-level—things like partial and kernel wakelocks. It requires a slightly deeper knowledge of Android in order for it be as valuable as it can be, but if you’re rooted and looking for a way to know essentially everything possible about your battery, this is it.


With the right tools, managing Android’s battery can be simple. Finding battery-draining rogue apps can be a quick and painless process if you know exactly where to look, and with the apps in this post, you’ll be armed for the job.

How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC Problems for You

How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC Problems for You

The Windows Control Panel includes a variety of “troubleshooters” designed to quickly diagnose and automatically solve various computer problems. Troubleshooters can’t fix everything, but they’re a great place to start if you encounter a problem with your computer.

Troubleshooters are built into the Control Panel on Windows 10, 8, and 7, so practically all Windows users can take advantage of them.

Find the Troubleshooters

To find the troubleshooters, first open the Control Panel. Click “System and Security” and then click “Troubleshoot Common Computer Problems” under Security and Maintenance. On Windows 7, click “Find and Fix Problems” instead.

How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC Problems for You

You’ll see a list of the most common troubleshooters you might need.

How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC Problems for You

These aren’t the only available troubleshooters. Click “View All” in the sidebar to view a full list of troubleshooters. As of Windows 10 with the November update — version 1511 — here’s the full list:

  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service: Finds and fixes problems with the Background Intelligent Transfer Service, which Windows Update and some other services use for background downloads.
  • Hardware and Devices: Checks your computer for issues with hardware devices. If a hardware device–particularly a recently installed one–isn’t working properly, this troubleshooter can find and fix problems with hardware detection and drivers.
  • HomeGroup: Looks for problems with your HomeGroup network and file-sharing settings.
  • Incoming Connections: Checks if the Windows Firewall is blocking incoming connections you need and help you unblock them.
  • Internet Connections: Detects and fixes problems with your Internet connection and loading websites.
  • Internet Explorer Performance: Identifies problems that can slow down Internet Explorer and fixes them.
  • Internet Explorer Safety: Identifies settings that can cause security and privacy problems in Internet Explorer and fixes them.
  • Network Adapter: Finds and fixes issues with your Wi-Fi adapter or other network adapters.
  • Playing Audio: Scans for problems that can prevent sound from playing properly.
  • Power: Identifies and fixes problems with power settings to increase your computer’s battery life.
  • Printer: Checks for and fixes problems with printers and printing.
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  • Program Compatability Troubleshooter: Helps you choose the best compatibility settings for running programs designed for older versions of Windows.
  • Recording Audio: Scans for problems that can prevent microphone audio recording from working.
  • Search and Indexing: Fixes problems with Windows Search and the indexer.
  • Shared Folders: Identifies issues that can prevent shared network folders from functioning.
  • System Maintenance: Finds and fixes broken shortcuts and performs and system maintenance tasks, including checking if your clock is the correct time.
  • Video Playback: Detects problems that can prevent videos from playing back properly and fixes them.
  • Windows Media Player DVD: Fixes issues that can prevent DVDs from playing in Windows Media Player.
  • Windows Media Player Library: Fixes issues with Windows Media Player’s media library.
  • Windows Media Player Settings: Fixes issues with Windows Media Player’s settings.
  • Windows Store Apps: Repairs problems that can prevent Windows Store apps–in other words, Windows 10’s new Universal Windows Platform apps–from working properly.
  • Windows Update: Identifies and fixes issues that can cause Windows Update to not work at all, or fail to install some updates.

Microsoft is also adding a “Windows Activation” troubleshooter in Windows 10’s Anniversary Update. It will help fix issues with Windows Activation and suggest solutions.

How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC Problems for You

How to Run a Troubleshooter

To run a troubleshooter, just click it in the Troubleshooting pane. To quickly find a relevant troubleshooter, you can perform a search from the Troubleshooting window.

How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC Problems for You

The troubleshooter will launch after you click it. Just click “Next” to begin troubleshooting.

Most troubleshooters will run automatically, looking for problems and fixing any issues they find. To prevent the troubleshooter from automatically making changes to your system, click the “Advanced” link at the bottom left corner of the troubleshooter window and uncheck the “Apply Repairs Automatically” option. You’ll be prompted with more information before the troubleshooter makes any changes to your system.

How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC Problems for You

While most troubleshooters run automatically, some troubleshooters will give you options you need to click. For example, the Program Compatibility troubleshooter will walk you through choosing a program that isn’t working properly and changing its compatibility settings. The Incoming Connections troubleshooter will ask you what you’re trying to do so it know what type of incoming connection to troubleshoot.

How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC Problems for You


That’s about it. There isn’t a troubleshooter for every issue you’ll encounter, and the troubleshooters that do exist won’t be able to fix every problem. But troubleshooters are a good place to start when you encounter a problem with something.

How to Free Up Space on Your PlayStation 4

How to Free Up Space on Your PlayStation 4

Sony’s PlayStation 4 includes a 500GB hard drive, but games are getting bigger and bigger–Grand Theft Auto V alone requires 50GB of space on the hard drive, even if you have the disc. Here’s how to free up space–and upgrade your PS4’s storage capacity so you can fit more games.

Upgrade Your PlayStation 4 With a Larger Hard Drive

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If you find yourself reaching the limit regularly, consider getting a larger hard drive for your PS4. The PlayStation 4 opens up and allows you to get at that 500GB drive, so you can pop it out and replace it with a larger one. You can pick up a 2TB drive and replace it, quadrupling your PS4’s internal storage. Upgrading to a solid-state drive can even make your games load quicker, too.

Unlike the Xbox One, the PS4 doesn’t allow you to install games on external drives. To expand your console’s storage for games, you need to replace the internal drive.

See What’s Using Space

To see exactly what’s using space on your console, head to Settings > System Storage Management. You’ll see exactly how much free space you have available as well as how much data is used by applications, the capture gallery (which contains your saved video clips and screenshots), saved data (like save games), and themes.

Select any of the categories here to see exactly what’s using space and start deleting things.

How to Free Up Space on Your PlayStation 4

Delete Games and Apps

Games are likely consuming most of the storage space on your PlayStation 4, so to free up space, you’ll want to start by deleting games.

To see exactly how much space each game is taking up, head to Settings > System Storage Management > Applications. To delete one or more games, press the “Options” button on your controller and select “Delete”. Select the games you want to delete and select the “Delete” button.

When you delete a game, its game save data isn’t deleted. You can reinstall the game in the future and resume from where you left off.

If you want to play a game again, you’ll need to reinstall it. We recommend uninstalling games you own on disc rather than digital games. Games you own on disc will be installed from the disc when you insert them, although they may have to download gigabytes of patches afterwards. You can redownload digital games you own for free, but they will take much longer to download–not to mention they’ll drain your Internet service provider’s bandwidth cap more, if you have one.

How to Free Up Space on Your PlayStation 4

Delete Game Saves (and, Optionally, Back Them Up First)

To view how much storage is used by game save data, head to Settings > Applicaiton Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage > Delete.

How to Free Up Space on Your PlayStation 4

If you won’t play the game again in the future and don’t care about the save data, you can remove this data from your console to save space. Some games aren’t well optimized and will have very large save files you can remove to free up a noticeable amount of space. To remove data, select a game in the list, select the save games you want to delete, and select “Delete”.

How to Free Up Space on Your PlayStation 4

If you might play the game again in the future and want to back up the saved data, head to Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage > Copy to USB Storage Device. From here, you can copy save games to a USB drive or external hard drive connected to your PS4 and restore it to your console in the future.

Note that, if you have a paid PlayStation Plus subscription, your PS4 will also back up your save games online. You can head to Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage > Upload to Online Storage to confirm the data is uploaded before you delete it.

How to Free Up Space on Your PlayStation 4

Clean Up Screenshots and Recorded Videos

Screenshots you take and videos you record are stored on your PS4’s internal storage. You may be able to free up some space by managing them. To view your screenshots and videos, head to Settings > System Storage Management > Capture Gallery.

To delete all screenshots and videos associated with a specific game, select a game icon here, press the “Options” button on the controller, and select “Delete”. There’s also a “Copy to USB Storage” option here that will copy the screenshots and videos to a USB storage device before deleting them.

If you like, you can also select a game and manage the screenshots and videos individually.

How to Free Up Space on Your PlayStation 4


Themes can also use a small amount of space if you have several installed, and you’ll see how much space they take up on the System Storage Management screen. To manage themes, head to Settings > System Storage Management > Themes. Remove any themes you don’t use. You can always download them again later.

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

You’ve invested a lot of energy gathering and curating so many great movies and TV shows in your Plex Media Server, wouldn’t it be great if you could share all that content with your friends? With a few small tweaks, you can–we’ll show you how.

Why You Would Want to Do This

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably spent a lot of time building up your media center and carefully curating movies and shows you really love, complete with carefully picked fanart to go with it. It’s a shame to not share that kind of content with your friends when Plex Media Server makes it so easy to do so.

With very little effort, you can configure your Plex Media Server to share content with your friends (and your friends can, in turn, share their content with you using this same tutorial). Now instead of conversations like “Oh man, have you seen XYZ show? It’s the best sci-fi I’ve seen in ages…” and then explaining what channel to watch it on and when, you can just tell your friend to check out the new show on your media server and tell you what they think.

Before we dive into the tutorial, however, there is one situation where sharing your Plex Media Server is a poor fit: if you’re stuck with a cruddy, low speed connection at home. If you already have a hard enough time accessing your own Plex Media Center while you’re away from home due to a slow upload connection, then sharing the same connection with one or more friends will just lead to frustration. Barring that, however, sharing your personal library is a fun way to share your favorite media with friends.

Let’s take a look at what you need to get started and some minor considerations.

What You Need to Share Your Library

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To follow along with this tutorial, you only need a few things. First and foremost, you need a Plex Media Server up and running. While we can presume, if you found this article, that you have a server up and running, some readers may need to backtrack and read our guide to setting up Plex first.

Second, you need to ensure your Plex Media Server is accessible outside your home network. While its practically impossible to set up Plex so you can’t access it within your home network, sometimes you need to do a little troubleshooting to ensure you can access it when you’re away from home. If remote access doesn’t work for you, it certainly won’t work for your friends.

Finally, each friend you share your media center with needs a free Plex account. Note, they do not need their own Plex Media Server. If they have their own Plex Media Server and can turn right around and share their server with you, that’s great. If they don’t have a Plex Media Server, no big deal: their primary libraries will simply default to the libraries you share with them. They can sign up for their free account here.

How to Share Your Library

Once you check the prerequisites off–server set up, accessible from outside your home network, and your friend has a Plex account–the rest is very straight forward. To get started log into your Plex account and look for the profile icon in the upper right corner. Click on it and select “Users”.

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

On the left hand side of the resulting menu, select “Friends”.

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

In the “Friends” menu, which is where you’ll manage friend requests and invitations as you continue to use the system, you’ll see an entry in the upper right navigation bar “Invite Friend”. Click on that now.

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

In the invitation box that pops up, enter the email address your friend used to register for Plex. If they have not yet registered for Plex, you can send it to their primary email address (they’ll be prompted to create a Plex account when they accept your invitation via email). Click “Next” once you’ve entered their email.

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

In the next screen, the invitation wizard will show your available Plex Media Servers. For each server you can select whether you wish to share all your libraries or some of them. If you uncheck “All Libraries” in the “Share” section, you’ll be able to individually select which libraries are shared. Unless you have a pressing reason to not share a library, it’s easiest just to leave them all shared. You may notice the “Restrictions” tab beneath your servers. The only restriction toggles available for free users are sharing/not sharing the “channels” function. By default, this share is turned off and we recommend you leave it as such; if both you and your friend subscribe to the same channel like, say, the BBC world news channel, then your settings for the channel will overwrite theirs. All other restriction settings (like restricting content based on ratings), is limited to users with Plex Premium accounts.

Once you’ve selected which libraries you wish to share, click “Invite”.

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

At this point the central Plex system will send an email to your friend’s account. They need to open that email and click on the invitation link to confirm your invitation.

How to Access a Shared Library

When someone shares a library with you, you receive both an email notification as well as a notification within your Plex dashboard. Let’s look at two scenarios, one where the Plex library shared with you is your only library and one where the Plex library shared with you exists alongside your own library.

For this tutorial, we shared our Plex Media Server with our friend, “J” who has no Plex library of his own. Here’s what our invitation looks like in J’s dashboard.

To accept the request, you need to first click on the profile icon in the upper right corner, just like we did when we sent the invitation from our account. Click on the profile icon then select “Users”. The “1” subscript on both icons indicates the invite has already arrived.

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

Click on the “Friends” tab in the left hand menu and then click the green checkmark next to the invitation to accept it.

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

Once the invitation is accepted, if you return to the main Plex screen you’ll see that J’s library has defaulted to our library and his previously empty dashboard is populated with media from our server.

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

At this point, our friend J has full viewing rights to all the libraries we’ve shared with him, and can easily watch whatever he wants. The Plex system will track what he’s watched, keep track of where he left off while watching, and give him all the other benefits we get from Plex Media Server.

What about when someone shares a Plex Media Server with you, however, and you already have media of your own? You simply switch between the server you wish to access with a toggle. While logged into your Plex Media Server control panel or using any Plex Media Server app (like Plex for iOS), you just click on the server selection menu, seen below and located in the upper left corner of the web control panel, and pick from the other available servers.

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

In the screenshot above, you can see our server (not so creatively named the default “plexmediaserver_1”) and our friend’s server “invention”. To watch the shared content, we simply switch between the two servers with a click.

Although switching between the two servers is great if you’re in the mood for some aimless browsing, it’s not even a necessary step. The Plex search function will scan both your own library and all the libraries shared with you. If we search for the term “war”, for example, you can see that the first search result is located on our server but the next three results are located on our friend’s server:

How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

Pool the resources of a couple friends with diverse tastes and large libraries, and suddenly you’ve got a pretty nice selection of titles across a wide variety of genres.


It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to get a Plex sharing up and running, but once you do you can not only share your favorite movies and shows with your friends but, in turn, enjoy their favorites too.

How to Set Up Google’s New Code-Less Two-Factor Authentication

How to Set Up Google’s New Code-Less Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is an excellent way to make sure your account is secure, but having to input a code every single time you need to log in can be a real pain. Thanks to Google’s new code-less “Prompt” authentication, however, getting access to your Google account can be a lot simpler—you just need access to your phone.

Essentially, instead of sending a code, the new “Prompt” actually sends a push notification to your phone asking if you’re trying to log in. You verify, and that’s pretty much it—it automatically logs you in with the tap of a button. And best of all, it’s available for both Android and iOS (but requires the Google App on the latter).

First things first—you need to have two-factor authentication (or “2-Step Verification” as Google often refers to it) enabled on your account. To do that, head over to Google’s Sign-in & Security page. From there, you can enable 2-Step Verification in the “Signing in to Google” section.

How to Set Up Google’s New Code-Less Two-Factor Authentication

Once that’s all set up—or if you already have 2FA enabled—just jump into the 2FA menu and input your password. On this page, there are a handful of different options, including your default option (whatever that may be—for me it’s “voice or text message”), along with your list of 10 backup codes. To get started with the new Google Prompt method, scroll down to the “Set up alternative second step” section.

How to Set Up Google’s New Code-Less Two-Factor Authentication

There are a variety of options here, but the one you’re looking for is “Google Prompt.” Click the “Add Phone” button to get started. A popup will appear, giving you details of what this option is: “Instead of typing verification codes, get a prompt on your phone and just tap Yes to sign in.” Sounds easy enough—click “Get started.”

How to Set Up Google’s New Code-Less Two-Factor Authentication

On the next screen, you’ll choose your phone from a drop-down list. It’s worth noting that this requires a phone with a secured lock screen before it will work, so if you don’t already use one, now’s the time to enable it. If you’re an iOS user, you’ll need the Google App from the App Store.

How to Set Up Google’s New Code-Less Two-Factor Authentication

Once you’ve selected the appropriate phone (or tablet), go ahead and click “Next.” This will immediately send a push notification to the selected phone, asking you to verify that you’re trying to log in.

How to Set Up Google’s New Code-Less Two-Factor Authentication

Once you tap “Yes,” you’ll get a verification back on the PC. That’s pretty neat.

How to Set Up Google’s New Code-Less Two-Factor Authentication

This will also change your default second step to Google Prompt, which really makes a lot of sense because it’s so much easier. Honestly, I wish I could use this option for every account I have 2FA enabled on. C’mon, Google, get on that.


Two-factor authentication is a extra layer of security that everyone should really be using on every account that offers it. Thanks to Google’s new prompt system, it’s a lot less hassle to ensure your Google Account is as protected as it can be.

 

Robot Vacuums Aren’t as Convenient as They Seem (or Why I Returned My Roomba)

Robot Vacuums Aren’t as Convenient as They Seem (or Why I Returned My Roomba)

Robot vacuums sound great. They do the vacuuming for you, saving time and hassle. And they’ve come down in price, too–you can get a decent Roomba for a little over $300. But while plenty of people seem happy with their Roombas, but I decided to return mine. Vacuuming still isn’t fun, but a solid cordless vacuum is more useful to me than a gimmicky robot.

The Roomba is far from “set and forget”–in fact, it still requires a fair amount of manual work on your part, and you’ll still have to pull our the traditional vacuum for some spots. To me, this kind of defeats the purpose of a robot vacuum in the first place. Let me explain.

My Apartment Was Ideal for a Roomba, But Not Every Home Is

First, a robot vacuum isn’t going to work well in every home. If you have stairs, the robot can’t go up and down those stairs. It won’t hurtle down the steps–it’s too smart for that–but it would need you to carry it up and down the stairs. If you have a large home, the Roomba isn’t going to clean it all on a single charge. And, if you have thick, deep carpet, the Roomba isn’t going to be able to deep-clean that carpet properly.

But I had just moved, and my new apartment seemed like optimal Roomba territory. With less than 900 square feet to cover, no stairs, and floors consisting of tile and short carpet, the new apartment seemed like ideal Roomba territory.

I needed a new vacuum anyway, and robot vacuums were surprisingly cheap. At $324 for an iRobot Roomba 650, a Roomba seemed like a fine deal if it really saved me time.

You Have to Prepare Your Home For the Roomba to Vacuum

After plugging in the base station and charging my roomba, I turned it on. It whirred to life, rolled across the room until it hit a closet door with a little more force than I thought was necessary, made a left turn, and promptly got stuck on a power cable in the corner of the room.

Yikes. That wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. That drove home a valuable lesson: Roombas aren’t set-and-forget appliances. You need to prepare your home for the Roomba to clean it. Before running the Roomba, I needed to do a quick walkthrough of the apartment and ensure there weren’t any cables the Roomba would have to tangle with, clothes on the floor in the bedroom, and other obstacles that would prevent the Roomba from working.

Roombas won’t dive off stairs because they have a ledge detection sensor. Roombas won’t go over dark carpets, rugs, tiles, or anything that looks like it could be a ledge to the sensor. To make my Roomba clean my bathroom, I’d have to lift the rug from the floor. Otherwise, the Roomba would be deathly terrified of the bathroom rug and refuse to go over it. There are ways to modify your Roomba, blocking the sensors so that it will go over dark surfaces. However, this will also cause the Roomba to throw itself off ledges and stairs.

Robot Vacuums Aren’t as Convenient as They Seem (or Why I Returned My Roomba)

You Should Clean Your Roomba Every Time It Runs

Traditional vacuums only require you to empty the bag once in awhile, but you’re supposed to empty a Roomba’s dirt bins after every use. You’ll also need to check your Roomba’s brush rollers and remove any hair that wrapped around them–something that will be a serious, regular problem if you live in a home with long-haired pets that shed, for example.

While the Roomba does charge itself and can be scheduled to run, you still have to perform some maintenance on it, which to me defeats the purpose of a robotic vacuum a little.

Robot Vacuums Aren’t as Convenient as They Seem (or Why I Returned My Roomba)

The Roomba Won’t Always Do a Good Job

All these limitations wouldn’t be a problem if the Roomba did a decent job when I ran it. But I quickly found that this isn’t guaranteed.

The less expensive robot vacuums basically wander around randomly. Only the more expensive models map out your floor and methodically cover every inch. Overall, the seemingly random wandering works fairly well. The first time my Roomba ran, it managed to cover every corner of the apartment before it went back to charge itself. I was impressed.

The second time the Roomba ran, it only cleaned about half the apartment. It spent a lot of time in the bathroom, bedroom, and office, poking into the kitchen and living room only once before returning to the other rooms. It cleaned those few rooms over and over before returning to charge itself. The Roomba only runs for about an hour on a charge, and then it tries to find the charging station and stops. It gets to what it gets to.

I wasn’t impressed with this second run. Now I had to go empty out the dirt bin, but I still had half my apartment that needed to be vacuumed. You can’t just run your Roomba again immediately, as the 650 model may need more than six hours to charge before you can run it again. You need to run your Roomba more often than you’d normally vacuum to ensure it actually vacuums all the corners of your home on a regular basis.

The Roomba Can Do Some Damage

Worse yet, the Roomba caused a bit of damage. I was initially concerned about the amount of force the Roomba bumped into things with, and worry that it might damage furniture in the long term.

But that wasn’t the problem–it was the Roomba’s brush. The Roomba has a brush that spins in circles as it slides along walls, kicking up dirt from the edge of the carpet so it can be vacuumed up. I noticed that brush had started to chip some of the paint from the bottom of the doors.

Maybe whoever painted these doors didn’t do the best job, but in a rental unit, that isn’t my problem. My concern is not damaging them so I can get my security deposit back when I move out. The Roomba didn’t do a massive amount of damage, but I was concerned about running it several times a week for a year when it seemed so forceful.

Robot Vacuums Aren’t as Convenient as They Seem (or Why I Returned My Roomba)

It doesn’t look that bad yet, but I only ran the Roomba a few times.

You Still Need a Normal Vacuum, Too

I was already regretting this whole Roomba experiment, and it seemed all the more ridiculous when I realized something: A Roomba doesn’t eliminate the need for a regular vacuum. Even people who speak favorably of robot vacuums seem to agree they can’t be your only vacuum.

When you spill something on the floor in the kitchen, or you want to vacuum a room before someone visits, you can’t just rely on your Roomba to do the job. You need to pull out a regular vacuum so you can quickly do a good job of cleaning a precise area.

Worse, if you have deeper carpets, you’ll need to regularly vacuum them with a more powerful vacuum to pull all the dirt out. A Roomba can do some cleanup work, but not all of it.

The Verdict: I Returned the Roomba and Got a Cordless Vacuum

It seemed crazy that I had just spent $324 on a vacuum and was about to spend even more. I decided to return the Roomba.

In its place, I purchased a Hoover cordless vacuum for $132 from Amazon, much less than a Roomba costs. Once a week, it takes me about ten minutes (fifteen maximum) to quickly vacuum the entire apartment.

I can do this all on battery power, so I don’t have to move the vacuum from outlet to outlet. I know I’m covering every inch of the floor, and I can do a targeted cleanup job every time. I don’t have to go through the trouble of preparing my apartment, as I can quickly move stuff out of the way while vacuuming if I have to. I’m not worried about it eating into my security deposit by bumping into things. I’m happier with this appliance than I ever was with my Roomba.

Robot Vacuums Aren’t as Convenient as They Seem (or Why I Returned My Roomba)


This is just my personal story. Some people are happy with their Roombas, even if they do have to pull out another vacuum on a regular basis. But a Roomba just seemed like a gimmicky gadget to me. Sometimes, it’s better to do something the old-fashioned way, especially if the newfangled gadget is this inefficient. I won’t tell you what to do–but at least think twice before you buy, and buy from somewhere with a good return policy in case you find it as lackluster as I did.

Image Credit: Karlis Dambrans

How to Disable “Facebook Live” Notifications

How to Disable “Facebook Live” Notifications

Facebook recently introduced “Facebook Live”, a live video streaming function that allows Facebook users to broadcast events in real time to their friends and followers. It seems innocuous enough, but by default, it sends notifications to all of someone’s friends whenever they start a stream–which means you end up with a bunch of notifications you don’t want.

This means unlike a photo or a shared post–where you would only be notified if  your friend tagged you in some way–you’ll get a notification for any Facebook Live events your friends create, even if you aren’t tagged. On the surface this makes sense: if the event is live then notifying people when it is happening will ensure they see it live. In practice, however, it’s pretty annoying. Thankfully, sweet relief is just a simple settings tweak away.

How to Turn Off Facebook Live Notifications

Like most Facebook annoyances, the fix is pretty easy to apply if you know where they tucked the setting away. While logged into your Facebook account click on the menu arrow located in the upper right corner of the top navigation bar and select “Settings”, as seen below.

How to Disable “Facebook Live” Notifications

Look for the “Notifications” entry on the left hand navigation column. Click it.

How to Disable “Facebook Live” Notifications

Within the “Notifications” menu, click on the “Edit” link next to “On Facebook” at the top of the list.

How to Disable “Facebook Live” Notifications

Scroll down in the rather lengthy notifications menu until you see “Live Videos” near the bottom. Click on the dropdown box beside “Live Videos” and change the default “On” to “All Off”.

How to Disable “Facebook Live” Notifications

The change is immediate and from this point forward you should no longer receive notifications that a live stream has started.


That’s all there is to it. With a little notification menu housekeeping, you can go back to the relative silence and order that proceeded the introduction of Facebook Live.

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

In the Windows 10 Fall 2015 update, Microsoft introduced what they call the “Microsoft Consumer Experience”, which includes some rather annoying “suggestions” in the Start menu–both on the left side, under your apps, and on the right side as live tiles.

Those aren’t the only things the consumer experience includes–you also might see ads on your lock screen, as well as toast notifications about your Microsoft account. If you want to turn these things off, you have a few options.

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Turn Off Some Suggestions with Windows’ Built-In Setting

When Microsoft introduced this feature, they actually added a Personalizataion setting to turn some of it off. Just open Windows 10’s Settings app, head to Personalization, and click the Start tab. From there, just switch off “Occasionally Show Suggestions in Start”.

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

The only problem, though, is that this doesn’t turn off all suggestions–only the ones in the left side of the Start menu. You’ll still get suggestions as Live Tiles, plus occasional notifications from Microsoft. To turn off all suggestions, you’ll need to disable the entire “Microsoft Consumer Experience”, which you can only do from the Registry Editor or Group Policy Editor. If you aren’t comfortable doing so, this setting will help a little. But if you’re willing to dig in, here’s how to get rid of those suggestions completely.

Home Users: Disable the Microsoft Consumer Experience by Editing the Registry

If you have a Windows Home edition, you will have to edit the Windows Registry to make these changes. You can also do it this way if you have Windows Pro or Enterprise, but feel more comfortable working in the Registry than Group Policy Editor. (If you have Pro or Enterprise, though, we recommend using the easier Group Policy Editor, as described in the next section.)

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Standard warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

To get started, open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing “regedit.” Press Enter to open Registry Editor and give it permission to make changes to your PC.

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

In the Registry Editor, use the left sidebar to navigate to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Policies/Microsoft/Windows/

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

Next, you’re going to create a new key inside the Windows key. Right-click the Windows icon and choose New > Key. Name the new key Cloud Content .

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

Now, you need to create a new value inside that new key. Right-click the Cloud Content key and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the new value DisableWindowsConsumerFeatures.

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

Double-click the new DisableWindowsConsumerFeatures value to open its properties window. Change the value from 0 to 1 in the “Value data” box and then click OK.

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

You can now close Registry Editor and restart your computer (or sign out of your account and sign back on). Note that existing suggestions on your Start menu won’t usually be removed automatically, though you can right-click them and remove them yourself. However, new suggestions and live tiles should no longer appear.

To reverse the change, just follow the same steps and set the DisableWindowsConsumerFeatures value back to 0.

Download Our One-Click Registry Hack

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

If you don’t feel like diving into the Registry yourself, we’ve created two downloadable registry hacks you can use. One hack disables the Microsoft Consumer Experience and the other enables it, restoring the default setting. Both are included in the following ZIP file. Double-click the one you want to use, click through the prompts, and then restart your computer.

Disable Consumer Experience Hacks

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These hacks are really just the Cloud Content key, stripped down to the two values we described above, and then exported to a .REG file. Running the “Disable Microsoft Consumer Experience” hack creates the Cloud Content key and the DisableWindowsConsumerFeatures value and also sets that value to 1. Running the “Enable Microsoft Consumer Experience (Default)” hack sets the value back to 0.  And if you enjoy fiddling with the Registry, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to make your own Registry hacks.

Pro and Enterprise Users: Disable the Microsoft Consumer Experience with the Local Group Policy Editor

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If you’re using Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, the easiest way to disable the Microsoft Consumer Experience is by using the Local Group Policy Editor. It’s a pretty powerful tool, so if you’ve never used it before, it’s worth taking some time to learn what it can do. Also, if you’re on a company network, do everyone a favor and check with your admin first. If your work computer is part of a domain, it’s also likely that it’s part of a domain group policy that will supersede the local group policy, anyway.

In Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, hit Start, type gpedit.msc, and press Enter.

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

In the Local Group Policy Editor, in the left-hand pane, drill down to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Cloud Content. On the right, find the “Turn off Microsoft consumer experiences” item and double-click it.

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

In the properties window that opens, select the Enabled option and then click OK.

How to Get Rid of “Suggested Apps” in Windows 10

Exit the Local Group Policy Editor and restart your computer (or sign out and back in) to allow the changes to finish. If at any time you want to enable the Microsoft consumer experience again, just follow the same procedure and set that option back to Disabled or Not Configured.

And that’s it. Yes, to really clean the suggestions and added tiles from your Start menu, you have to do a little work in the Windows Registry or Group Policy Editor. But at least the option is there and the changes are pretty simple to make.

Phablet

A Phablet is a device that combines physical characteristics and other features/abilities of mobile phones and tablets together into a singular “package”.

Phablets are still small enough to fit into most pockets, provide cellular call service (3G and 4G), and may even have stylus/pen input available as well.