Category Archives: Digital Life

What Is A PC Driver?

Your computer contains all kinds of hardware, such as disk drives, DVD/CD-ROM drives, network adapters, and sound and video cards, as well as external devices, such as printers, keyboards, monitors, and USB drives. When you install an operating system (OS), such as Windows or Linux, that OS needs to be able to talk to the hardware in your computer to display items, play sounds and videos, and write data to and read data from an external drive, as well as other tasks.

That’s where drivers come in. A driver is a small piece of software that acts as a translator between a device and the OS and programs that use the device. The driver tells the OS, and installed software programs, how to talk to the hardware in your computer. For example, when you buy a printer, it usually comes with a driver on a CD (or, in recent years, a URL for download the latest driver software from the internet) that tells the OS how to print information on each page. Without the driver, the printer will not know how to interpret the data sent to it, if the data even makes it to the printer.

NOTE: Many drivers such as keyboard drivers and mouse drivers are already installed with the OS when you buy a computer.

The drivers installed in your system to talk to the devices are managed using the Device Manager. To access the Device Manager in Windows 7, enter “device manager” (without the quotes) in the Search box on the Start menu. Click on the Device Manager link under Control Panel.

All your hardware device categories, such as Display adapters, DVD/CD-ROM drives, and Mice and other pointing devices, are listed and the specific devices are listed below each heading.

If you are having trouble with a device, it’s helpful to know the version of the driver currently installed in your system. You may need to email this information to the manufacturer, or tell them over the phone. It’s also helpful if you are trying to find a solution yourself on the internet on various sites and forums.

  • To find out the version of a driver, right-click on the driver in the Device Manager and select Properties from the popup menu.

On the Properties dialog box, click the Driver tab. The Driver Provider, Date, Version, and Signer are listed. You can find out more information about the driver using the Driver Details button. Notice that you can also update the driver from this tab, disable the driver, uninstall the driver, and even roll back the driver software to the previously installed version, in case an update caused a problem with the device.

 

Steps To Edit Keyboard Language

For Windows Vista and Windows 7, open the Control Panel and click on Region and Language. Now click on the Keyboards and Languages tab and then click on Change keyboards.

You’ll see the current default input language and installed services. To add a language, go ahead and click on the Add button.

Now scroll down to the language you want to add and expand the keyboard section. Depending on the physical keyboard you are using, choose the correct keyboard option. You might have to play around with the different options because sometimes one keyboard doesn’t work properly.

You can also click on the Preview button to see how the characters for your language are mapped to the keyboard you are using.

In my example, I chose Hindi Traditional for the keyboard language. Scroll down to the Using the Language Bar section to see how to type into different applications using the new language.

Change Keyboard Language in your Windows

For Windows, you want to go to the Control Panel and click on Regional and Language Options. Next click on the Languages tab and then click on the Details button.

This will load up the Text Services and Input Languages dialog box. Here you will see the list of installed services and keyboards on your computer. You can click Add to install a new keyboard layout and input language.

Choose the input language and choose the type of keyboard that you have attached to your computer. If you want to type Spanish on an English keyboard, choose Spanish as the Input language and United States-Dvorak.

Using the Language Bar

When you install a new language in Windows, it automatically enables the language bar. This is really useful for quickly switching between languages in Windows. You’re probably not going to be typing in one language for every application, so the language bar makes it easy to switch.

You’ll see the language bar in your taskbar with letters to denote the language you are currently using. If you click on it, a list will appear and you can simply click on another language to select it.

Now you can open an application like Word, select the language from the language bar and start typing. You should see the characters for your language appear as you type.

That’s about it! So if you want to type in another language, such as a foreign language, or if you want to switch the keyboard language back to English, the above steps should solve your problem!

What Is Network Transfer Speed?

I recently bought a NAS (network attached storage) device from Synology, connected it up to my network and started transferring files. The first thing I noticed was how slow the network transfer speed was. I was copying over some large video files and it was taking forever! I decided to check the transfer speed between my NAS and PC to see the rate the transfer.

I downloaded a program called LAN Speed Test, which had gotten some excellent reviews, and tried it out. Sure enough, my transfer speed was less than 1 MB/s! Note that is megabytes per second, not megabits per second. I’ll go into more detail on Mbps vs MBps and all that fun stuff. After doing some research, I figured out what I was doing wrong and eventually got the transfer rate up to a super speedy 40 MB/s! Technically, you can only get that speed if you’re using gigabit ethernet. I’ll explain more about that below too.

LAN Data Rate Units

First, let’s get the numbers clear. There is standard 100 Mbps ethernet, which is what most people have at home. 100 Mbps is 100 megabits per second. That is translated into 12.5 megabytes per second (MBps or MB/s). It’s much easier to convert to MBs since that is something we are all familiar with rather than bits. This means that if you don’t have a gigabit router and gigabit network card on your computers or NAS, the maximum speed you’ll be able to transfer a file across your home network is 12.5 MBps.

Also, in the real world, it’s impossible to actually get that theoretical maximum. You’ll probably end up somewhere around 4 to 8 MBps. If you are getting something really low like 1 MBps or less, there are reasons for that which I will mention below. Note that even if your computer has a gigabit ethernet card, you won’t get that higher transfer speed unless all the devices that the data is being transmitted through support gigabit.

If you have a gigabit ethernet card on your computer, your router or switch is gigabit and the receiving device also has a gigabit ethernet card, your max transfer speed jumps to a whopping 1000 Mbps or 125 MBps. Again, you won’t get that theoretical speed, but you should be getting anywhere from 30 to 60 MBps depending on the type of files you are transferring and your network setup. Let’s go into more details about that.

Transfer Speed Depends on What?

So as we mentioned above, network transfer speed depends on the type of ethernet you have on your network, but that’s not the only factor. There are several other factors that determine your final transfer speed between two devices.

Hard Drive Speed

One major limiting factor is the hard drive speed. If you have a computer with a 5400 RPM, your transfer rate will be a lot slower than if you have two SSD drives in a RAID 0 configurations! How so? Well, it depends. I’ve heard of some friends getting close to 100 MB/s using some pretty insane setups. On my network, even with gigabit ethernet, I only get around 40 MB/s. One of those reasons is because I have slower hard drives.

 

 

What Is Host File?

The hosts file in Windows is like an address book for your computer. It is loaded into memory (cache) when Windows starts and associates host names, such as www.google.com with IP addresses, such as 74.125.224.72 for Google. The IP address is like the telephone number for that site. However, so we don’t have to remember a string of numbers for every site we want to visit, we enter easy-to-remember host names.

Because the computer uses IP addresses to find sites, it needs to translate the host name for a site into an IP address. If the IP address for a site is in your hosts file associated with a host name, your computer can use that to “call” the site when you enter the host name in your browser’s address bar. If not, your computer must contact a DNS (domain name server) computer on the Internet for the IP address before it can contact the site.

Initially, there are no host name/IP address associations in the hosts file. Examples of the format and layout of the IP addresses and host names are listed in the comments in the file.

If you add host names and their associated IP addresses into the hosts file for sites you visit often, access to those sites becomes faster. Your computer doesn’t have to query DNS servers on the Internet to get the IP addresses for those sites. If there are any sites that don’t have a domain name, you can enter the site’s IP address in your hosts file with a custom domain name which can serve as a “shortcut” to the site.

So how can you use a HOSTS file in Windows? Well, websites can collect various types of information about you as you surf the web. The hosts file can help block sites from tracking you, as well as block ads, banners, third-party cookies, and other annoying parts of web pages.

Each computer has a host address of its own, known as the “localhost” address. The IP address for localhost is 127.0.0.1. This can be used to block sites serving ads or objectionable content by entering a site’s host name in the hosts file and associating it with the localhost IP address. That refers the host name to your own computer, which then thinks it found the site and displayed it already, even though that site was never actually contacted.

 

What Is Windows MAC Address

Do you need to figure out what your MAC address is? I’ll explain how to do that in this article!

So what do you need to do to get your MAC address? It’s pretty simple actually! Let’s start off with getting a PC MAC address:

  • Click on Start and then click Run. In the text box, type in CMD. Click OK.
  • In the DOS window (the black box), type in the following without the quotes: “ipconfig/all” and press Enter.

You’ll notice a lot of stuff that might not make sense! Basically, this command gives you all the information for any network card in your system including the wired (Ethernet) network adapter, bluetooth adapter, any virtual adapters and the wireless adapter. So you’ll have to look under the specific heading you need because each adapter will have it’s own MAC address.

The MAC address is usually the last item in the list for each adapter and it’s called Physical Address. You’ll see a set of pairs of numbers separated by colons, i.e. 09:F2:96:3E…etc. This is your MAC address for that particular adapter.

You can then use the MAC address in your router settings if you are setting up MAC address filtering, which allows you to specify only certain devices that can connect to your WiFi network. Note that every device connected to your network has a MAC address including smartphones, printers, etc.

OS X Mac Address

If you have an Apple computer like a Macbook or Mac Mini, you can get your Mac address following the steps below.

  • Open System Preferences and click on Network.
  • Click on the connection that you want the MAC address for and then click on theAdvanced button at the bottom right.
  • Then click on the Hardware tab and you’ll see MAC Address written right at the top.

 

X Yosemite 10.10.3

Finally, Apple unveiled its latest operating system version 10.10.3 for Mac computers which is called X Yosemite operating system. And as far as the computer industry is concern, this operating system has a lot more to offer and is quite a pretty huge one compared to other operating system versions. The big revelation is just in perfect timing for Apple’s 12-inch Macbook.

For starters, the X Yosemite version 10.10.3 operating system features a new photo app that replaces the clunky and old iPhone at the same time, enables you to browse images by location and time in numerous new views. Storing photos to your iCloud library with original resolution and format is also possible with this latest version and you can also access all of them iCloud.com using any kind of Apple device.

It’s not a consolation to present Lightroom users and former Aperture user for this matter, but its Photo app introduces some consumer-level, and indigenous tweaking for images based on the slider adjustments similar to iOS 8.2 as well.

This newest desktop also Look Up Spotlight suggestions, improved connection reliability for Bluetooth, and Safari privacy and stability updates. There are numerous listed fixes for widely known problems included in the Yosemite OS as well. Wireless stability fixes are good example for this. Aside from that, Apple Yosemite version 10.10.3 also performs the following:

  • Enhances compatibility with Wi-Fi network environment
  • Enhances Wi-Fi connectivity and performance in several usage scenarios

There are plenty of reports surrounding the Internet today regarding user’s complaints on the Wi-Fi stability and performance of most Apple devices using both Yosemite versions 10.10.1 and 10.10.2 that includes unspecified Wi-Fi fix.

However, the version 10.10.3 of X Yosemite operating system also repairs a specific problem that makes Mac computers unable to response during start-up, and has few enterprise-level upgrades as well.

If you want to upgrade to this latest operating system version, you can use the Updates option from the App Store of your Macs to gain access to the latest OS X version, along with some other software upgrades available. You may also visit Apple’s Support Downloads to get copy of the installer needed. But be sure to have a backup for the operating system so that in case something wrong happens on the process, you can always start again by restoring its previous OS version. Mac computers tend to slow down just like any other Windows machine out there, that’s why it is very important to clean and install updates sometime in order to avoid problems that could harm your system and also your computer device.

 

Enhancing Mobile Security Of Smartphones

There are hundreds of free and paid security apps for Android phones and tablets. But many of those offerings are of uncertain quality.

Here’s a sampling of some of the best software for keeping Android devices free of malware, managing passwords, locking up your data, and more.

Android needs third-party security apps

If you have an Android phone or tablet, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news: You’ve picked the world’s best-selling mobile operating system. Something like 70 percent of all new phones and tablets run Google’s OS. That’s a strong incentive for software developers to build cool applications for the platform.

The bad news: Android’s open architecture and popularity have made it a favorite target for malicious hackers, thieves, and other criminals.

Android’s built-in security features have never been strong, and even the latest version offers only modest safeguards for your personal data and communications. For that reason, all Android devices need third-party security apps in order to be safe. (Virtually no operating system, by itself, is safe from malicious hacking.)

Fortunately, there are plenty of Android security tools to choose from. The Google Play Store has all manner of free and commercial apps. Note, however, that some are junk — amateurish software that could cause crashes, hangs, slowdowns, or other problems.

Other tools seem to work fine — until you look at them more closely. Take, for example, some “free” virtual private networking (VPN) apps, which provide some Web-browsing anonymity (especially on public Wi-Fi) by routing your data through the VPN provider’s servers. If the service is free, how does the provider pay the bills for running the servers and buying Internet bandwidth? How does the provider keep the lights lit? A cautious person might suspect that the company is mining user data.

That said, there are many reputable companies with excellent Android security products. Some are familiar and well-respected names you might recognize from the Windows world, while others are relative newcomers who develop products exclusively for mobile operating systems.

Below, I’ll provide summaries of well-regarded security apps — some paid, others free — in five essential categories:

  • Antivirus/anti-malware suites
  • Password management and encryption
  • Lost or stolen device recovery
  • VPNs
  • Secure file-wiping (to delete personal data when you’re selling or trading in your device

Tips To Get Windows Installation Media For Free

Sooner or later, you’ll need to repair, refresh, or reinstall Windows — a task that will require your original Windows installation/setup files.

But most new PCs no longer come with classic Windows setup discs; the vital recovery files are typically stored on the hard drive — where they are vulnerable to loss or damage.

Some PC manufacturers include a small utility on their new machines that lets you create setup/installation discs. But these factory images often put back the adware, co-marketed software, branded tools, and other crapware that originally came with the systems.

Fortunately, there’s now a better option. Because of changes in the way Microsoft distributes Windows setup files, all Windows 8 and Windows 7 users — and some Vista users — can now download copies of the full, free, official, 100 percent legitimate Windows install/setup files.

These “virgin” Windows setups are free of OEM add-on software. Moreover, their installation files can be burned to DVDs or copied to flash drives, which can then be used to repair or refresh a Windows system — or, if needed, do a total, from-scratch reinstall of Windows on an empty hard drive.

Windows setup medium doesn’t replace making regular backup images of your system — it is, however, a vital component of your PC-maintenance toolkit.

Microsoft’s new source for Windows ISOs

IT professionals can acquire ISOs via a pricey (around U.S. $700 and up) MSDN subscription, which includes downloads for Windows and other MS software such as Office and Windows Server. And in the past, everyone else could download Windows ISO images via a relatively low-cost TechNet subscription or from online services such as Digital River. Anyone with a legitimate Windows product key could use these ISOs to create a full, complete Windows setup.

But in late 2013, Microsoft shut down its TechNet subscription service; then, last month, it pulled its ISOs from Digital River.

So, what’s a Windows user to do? This article will show you where and how to obtain full, legitimate setup files for Vista, Win7, and Win8.

First requirement: A valid product key

None of the download methods I’ll discuss lets you upgrade from, say, Win7 Home editions to Win7 Pro — or create a bootleg copy of a Windows edition. In some cases, you’ll be required to enter the key before the download step even begins. (Losing product keys can be costly; always keep them in a safe place.)

So before you do anything, find and make note of your current Windows product key. You’ll usually find it on a sticker affixed to the PC, or on the original installation medium (or its packaging), or on ordering info or the receipt.

If you’ve lost records of the key, or if you have one of the newer Win8 PCs that store the product key in the BIOS (not the Registry, as do previous Windows versions), you can use a key-finder tool to dig it out.

 

 

Backup Software For Free- Not From Microsoft

The ideal backup routine should be reasonably easy to set up and as automated as possible. Windows 7 offers a reasonable backup tool, and Win8 has a much better one; but there are also non-Microsoft backup apps that are both more powerful and easier to use. Here are three good options.

Of course, you also need to know that your backup system is completely reliable. I recommend considering the three backup apps discussed below because they’re more versatile. Two of them have more flexible scheduling options than Windows backup tools, and all of them give more control over where you store backups. They can all create incremental image backups, which let you use one backup for both Windows and data. Moreover, they include filters that can control which files are regularly backed up.

Of course, no backup is truly free. You’ll want an external hard drive, connected via USB or your network. But that’s a small price compared to what a data-recovery service, described in the May 9, 2013, “Hard-drive crash! A tour of a data-recovery lab” Briefing Session will charge to restore data from a crashed drive — if they can restore the data at all.

There’s one problem that virtually all backup programs have when working with external drives. They assume that the drive will be connected to the PC 24/7. That’s certainly the most convenient way to keep your data safe — you simply set a schedule, and your data is archived automatically. Unfortunately, a backup drive that’s always plugged in isn’t completely secure. For example, the same power surge or ransomware that destroyed your original data might also take out the backups.

Cloud-based backup services solve that problem — it’s a solution I recommend for people who just won’t back up (say, a certain teenager). But cloud-based backup is usually slow and, in the long run, expensive. So the focus for this article is on local backups to an external hard drive. I’ll also note how scheduled backups work when the external drive isn’t available.

Basic Guide To Manage Error 440

Error 440 is a fairly common error that’s caused by various pieces of software on your computer being unable to process the files that they require to run. We’ve found that although Error 440 is continually showing when you run the likes of “MalwareBytes”, it’s relatively easy to fix. The way to fix this problem is to first clean out any of the problems that your software may have, and then clean out any of the issues inside the depths of Windows (most notably the registry database).

The 440 runtime error will generally show in this format:

“Runtime Error 440: Automation Error”

The way to resolve this problem, we recommend you first re-install the software causing the problem, then make sure that there are no problems with the files or settings of the application. After that, you should look to clean out any of the application issues that will typically prevent Windows from running smoothly, which typically means using a registry cleaner to scan through your PC & resolve the settings that could be corrupted inside.

How To Fix 440 Errors

Re-Install The Software Causing The Problem

  • Click “Start”
  • Click “Control Panel”
  • Click “Add / Remove Programs” or “Uninstall A Program”
  • Locate The ‘offending’ application
  • Click “Remove” next to it

This will get rid of any of the possible problems that the application may have, including the likes of the Runtime 440 Error.

Replace Any Missing Files

It’s often the case that Runtime 440 error will show a particular file that’s been misplaced or damaged. If you can see this, you should download a replacement for the missing file from the Internet, and then install a fresh copy of the file onto your system. This will get rid of any of the potential problems that you may have on your PC, ensuring that the Runtime 440 is not shown again.

Clean Out The Registry

Runtime 440 is often caused by a number of potential issues with the “registry”. This large database is a central storage center for all the options that a Windows computer will use to run. Although the registry is continually being used to help your system to run smoothly, it’s continually causing problems on your system, which can lead to everything from “Runtime” errors to DLL File errors. To fix this, you should use a registry cleaner like Frontline Registry Cleaner to resolve any of the potential issues that the registry may have, thus resolving one of the major causes of the 440 error.