How to Troubleshoot Problems in Windows 8.1

How to Troubleshoot Problems in Windows 8.1

04:02 0
Today’s article is a quick tip on how to troubleshoot problems in Windows 8.1, which you will most definitely run into using Microsoft’s shiny new OS. However, most problems don’t require booting into safe modeor following a 10 step guide to fixing WiFi problems.
Microsoft has also gotten smarter and included a lot of tools and help guides in the OS itself to diagnose and fix problems. I’ve found that teaching my clients how to use these built-in tools saves me a lot of time because they are able to fix problems in Windows 8.1 themselves. In this article, I’m going to talk about the built-in Windows 8.1 troubleshooters that can help you fix common problems.

Windows 8.1 Troubleshooters

Before I show you some of the troubleshooters, let’s see how to get to them in Windows 8.1. First, open the Charms bar by pressing Windows key + C or moving your mouse to the upper or lower right of your screen. Click on Search and then type in troubleshooting in the search box.
charms search troubleshooting
Click on the first result, Troubleshooting, and the main window will pop up where you can start troubleshooting computer programs. The main interface is broken down into categories like Programs, Hardware and Sound, Network and Internet and System and Security.
troubleshooting control panel
You can either choose from the list that is shown or you can click the View all link at the top left. I tend to click on that just so I can see all the options.
troubleshooting windows 8
As you can see, there are quite a few troubleshooters. You can fix problems with a homegroup, troubleshoot Internet connection issues, check the configuration of your network adapters, get help with printing problems, fix sound issues, fix Windows Updates problems and lots more. If you click on one of the troubleshooters, you’ll get a pop up dialog like below:
troubleshoot network adapter
All of them will have a little Advanced button at the bottom, which you want to click on to see more options. It’s a good idea to keep the Apply repairs automatically checked and to click the Run as administrator link. Running the troubleshooter as an Administrator will allow windows to find more possible issues. When you click Next, the troubleshooter will start trying to detect any issues. For example, when I ran the Printer troubleshooter, it checked the spool service for errors and gave me a list of printers to see which one I was having trouble with.
troubleshoot printer
Before Windows 7, these troubleshooters were pretty useless and didn’t do much of anything. However, starting with Windows 7 and definitely more so in Windows 8, they can actually fix a wide range of issues without any user input. If there is an issue detected, the troubleshooter will attempt to repair the problem by itself. Most of the time this works, unless it’s a serious problem. On one Windows 8.1 computer, I had some Windows Update issues that were fixed by the troubleshooter:
troubleshooting completed
You can click on View detailed information to see exactly what issue was detected and fixed. In my case, it looked like one of the components for Windows Update was configured incorrectly.
error detailed informationThat’s about it! Using the troubleshooters built into Windows 8.1 is always a good first step. If the troubleshooter doesn’t work, it’s time to start Googling around for a solution, but hopefully you won’t have too.

Download VLC Media Player The Latest Version 2015 Free

05:46 0
VLC Media Player is the most popular and robust multi format, free media player available. The open source media player was publically released in 2001 by non-profit organization VideoLAN Project. VLC Media Player quickly became very popular thanks to its versatile multi-format playback capabilities.

Download VLC Media Player The Latest Version 2015 Free

It was aided by compatibility and codec issues which rendered competitor media players like QuickTime, Windows and Real Media Player useless to many popular video and music file formats. The easy, basic UI and huge array of customization options have enforced VLC Media Player’s position at the top of the free media players.


VLC plays almost any video or music file format you can find. At its launch this was a revolution compared to the default media players most people were using that often crashed or displayed “codecs missing” error messages when trying to play media files. VLC can play MPEG, AVI, RMBV, FLV, QuickTime, WMV, MP4 and a shed load of other media file formats. For a full list of compatible file formats please click here. Not only can VLC Media Player handle loads of different formats, VLC can also playback partial or incomplete media files so you can preview downloads before they finish.

Easy to Use

VLC’s UI is definitely a case of function over beauty. The basic look does however make the player extremely easy to use. Simply drag and drop files to play or open them using files and folders then use the classic media navigation buttons to play, pause, stop, skip, edit playback speed, change the volume, brightness, etc. A huge variety of skins and customization options mean the standard appearance shouldn’t be enough to prevent you choosing VLC as your default media player.

Advanced Options

Don’t let VLC Media Player’s simple interface fool you, within the playback, audio, video, tools and view tabs are a huge variety of player options. You can play with synchronization settings including a graphic equalizer with multiple pre-sets, overlays, special effects, AtmoLight video effects, audio spatializer and customizable range compression settings. You can even add subtitles to videos by adding the SRT file to the video’s folder.


VLC Media Player is quite simply the most versatile, stable and high quality free media player available. It has rightly dominated the free media player market for over 10 years now and looks like it may for another 10 years thanks to the constant development and improvement by VideoLAN Org.

DOWNLOAD VLC Media Player 2.2.1 (32-bit)

How to Check an Internet Link without Actually Clicking It

How to Check an Internet Link without Actually Clicking It

20:41 0
Warning of dangerous website

It is a standard warning that the Internet is full of unsafe links from phishers and malware artists and that you should be very wary about clicking on links in messages, websites, or other Internet places. But obviously many links are legitimate and you need to know the difference. If you see a link you want to use but are not sure if it is safe, here are some easy ways you can check it.

How to safely display the actual content of a hyperlink

Malware writers and phishers often disguise links. The text that is displayed on a web page can say anything. To check that a link is really related to what you see on a web page, hover the mouse pointer over the link. The actual hypertext for the link will be displayed in the lower left corner of the screen on major web browsers. Try it on this link:

Read the hyperlink very carefully

Once you see what the hyperlink is, you need to decide if it is safe. If it is a well-known web site that you recognize, then you can proceed. However, the hyperlink must be read carefully. Malware writers and spammers often use web addresses that contain the names of well-known sites or software. For example, they might try to fool you with something There are also a number of ways to obfuscate a web address so that the real address is hidden.  This link has a discussion of ways that web addresses can be obscured or made misleading. 

Check the target page of a hyperlink 

There are various ways to check the target of a link. One way is to copy the link to the clipboard and then paste it into some test feature. To copy a link, right-click it (not left-click) to open a context menu, then select “Copy link address” (in Chrome), “Copy Link Location” (in Firefox), or “Copy shortcut” (in Internet Explorer).  This copies the  URL to the clipboard so that you can paste it into any search field for testing. This article at Gizmo’s discusses a number of security sites where a link can be tested.
Sometimes the URL may be in one of the shortened formats from services like,, or This article gives sites that will reveal the actual URL behind a shortened link. There is also a website to enter and unshorten short URLs at

Browser add-ons and link scanners

Of course, there are also any number of browser add-ons that can help you check out an URL so another approach is to skip copying the URL and instead rely on a browser feature or add-on to warn about potential bad web pages before you actually go there. This article lists a number of browser plug-ins and extensions that will provide safety checks for URLs. One favorite at Gizmo’s is Web of Trust (WOT).
And there you have it – how to avoid those phishing and malware links.
How to Speed Up Logging Into Windows

How to Speed Up Logging Into Windows

20:36 0
However, there are situations where you simply can’t disable everything. Maybe you working in a corporate environment and are required to have certain programs startup when you login. If you’re a business owner or professional, you might have certain business applications that you want to start up when you login.
In this type of case, you need something different. One interesting solution to this problem is to delay the loading of the startup programs by the few minutes after you login. In this article, I’m going to talk about a program called Startup Delayer, which does exactly that.

Startup Delayer

Once you download and install the program, it will show you a dialog the first time you run the program. Here you have to choose how you want Startup Delayer to behave.
startup delayer behavior
Note that you can change whatever settings you picked here later on in the program settings. The dialog has a slider where the far left means you want your programs to load as fast as possible and you don’t mind your computer running slow or sluggish. There really isn’t any point to using this application if you choose the far left because all the programs loading immediately is what’s happening by default when you log into Windows.
As you move the slider to the right, you’ll see it’s pretty much the same except for the CPU and Disk Idle values. By default, its set to 30%, which means the program will wait till your computer is at least 30% idle before launching the delayed applications you have chosen.
Moving to the far right means your delayed applications will start later, but smoother. You might have to wait a minute or so before the application will launch. Startup Delayer manages all of this and will automatically launch the applications when the desired idle value is reached.
Once you click Save, you’ll get to the main program interface. Here you will see 3 tabs across the top:Startup ApplicationsRunning Tasks and System Services. As the name of the first tab implies, any startup applications that start with Windows will be listed here.
startup delayer gui
The startup items are broken down into three different categories: Delayed, Normal Startup and Disabled. You can simply drag and drop the items to the section you like. To delay an application, just drag it from Normal Startup to Delayed like shown below.
delayed startup items
The first item you drag and drop will be given the first priority when loading. As you add more items, they will be added to the queue. When Startup Delayer loads the programs, it will launch then in the order listed. You can change the order of the items by dragging and dropping the items.
When you select an item, you will see that Automatic Delay is selected and the default values for CPU and DISK idle are listed. You can change the idle values for each application individually if you like also by simply selecting the item and typing in new values.
If you double-click on any of the delayed applications, you can configure the advanced settings. TheGeneral tab lets you edit the target in case you want to add any command line parameters to the program.
launch details
On the Delay tab, you can again edit the idle values or choose to do a Manual Delay if you like, but the program developers don’t recommend using manual delays.
delayed program wait
On the Wait tab, you can check a box to ensure that the application has completed loaded before Startup Delayer continues loading other applications. You can also set it so that Startup Delayer will wait until the current program is terminated or a user gives confirmation before launching the next application.
delayed program advanced
On the Advanced tab, you can configure options so that the program launches on certain days only, doesn’t launch if another instance is already running, or launches if an Internet connection is detected. This option can be useful in certain situations. For example, do you really need Skype to launch if there is no Internet connection?
Finally, going back to the main screen, you can click on the green Add New button to add a program that is not already listed. This can be really useful for things like launching a web browser or a MS Office application or any other program that may not automatically startup when logging into Windows.
The Running Tasks lists out all of the current processes running on the system. Again, if something is not listed in the main tab, you can go to Running Tasks, select a process and then click the small round plus button. I would be very careful about adding anything from here to the delayed section because many of the processes listed are Windows processes.
Luckily, they have a filter that lets you hide all the Microsoft processes so that you see only processes created by third-party programs. Just click on the Filter button and then click Hide all created by Microsoft.
hide microsoft processes
The last tab is System Services, which lets you stop, start and disable Windows services, but for the purposes of this article, you should just leave it alone unless you know what you are doing.
Before we get into whether this program actually works well or not, there are a couple of other small items to mention. Firstly, you can click on the Options button at the top right of the main interface to change how the program behaves. I personally haven’t had to mess around with any settings here, but if you want more information during the login process, you can click on the Launch Process tab and select Show always during Startup and check the Show Launch Process Window on Startup.
launch options
By default, the program keeps itself very well hidden and only pops up during the login process if something goes wrong. Otherwise, you won’t even know anything is going on. What’s nice about the program is that it has a plethora of options so you can see more info if you like.
Secondly, you can click on the Tools button to do even more stuff like create startup profiles, view the last launch log, view the last performance graph, create a backup of all your settings, etc.
startup delayer tools

Performance Results

So does this program really work? Well, when I tried it out back in 2008, it didn’t work all that well. Back then, it simply did a manual delay, which didn’t work very well. However, in the ensuing years, the program has gotten a lot more advanced and in my tests on Windows 7, it made a significant difference in the user experience.
Instead of sitting around waiting for the desktop to become clickable or waiting for the Start menu to appear after clicking on it 10 times, Startup Delayer can make everything seem snappy. You obviously have to wait a bit longer for some programs to load up, but I have never once felt I needed one of those startup programs to load immediately after logging in.
It’s also worth noting that the program becomes more useful if you have a larger number of startup items. If you only have a couple of things loading up on startup, it’s probably not going to make a major difference. Let us know if the program helped on your system or not. Enjoy!
How to Back Up Windows App Settings Before Upgrading to Windows 10

How to Back Up Windows App Settings Before Upgrading to Windows 10

09:48 0
Now that we all know the upcoming version of Windows, i.e. Windows 10, will be free for anyone, it gives us even more reason to upgrade. Time and again, I have always mentioned the fact that flashing an Android OS is way easier than formatting/upgrading a Windows operating system. Data backup of photos, music, and other important files can be easily performed on both the operating systems, but Android gives the ability to take backups of app settings to be restored after an upgrade.
Saved app data on Android, when restored, takes away the hassle of going to every nook and cranny of the settings in order to make them just like you had it before flashing.
Well, till just a few months back, there was no software available that could pull that stunt on Windows. But not anymore. Just in time for most of us to upgrade to Windows 10, there’s a tool that can back up your installed application settings.

The CloneApp for Windows

CloneApp is a nifty tool that can easily back up and restore application-based settings of some popular Windows applications. The app is portable in nature, so you can extract it to a folder when you download it – Although it’s advisable not to extract the app in the system directory.
clone app
After you download and run the application, the very first thing you will notice is that the interface resembles CCleaner.

Creating Backups on CloneApp

Under the Clone settings, you will find a list of all the apps supported by CloneApp. The complete list can be found at this link, but some of the most useful are Google Chrome, Microsoft Office, iTunes, uTorrent. Now all you need to do is select the apps you have installed on the system and click on the button Start CloneApp. The Select Installed option automatically selects the apps that you have installed on the system and makes sure you don’t miss out on anything.
start clone app
See What’s Being Backed Up
The app makes a backup of all the files and registry settings it has on your computer. The backup doesn’t include the installed files, but related files used by the app or any profile data it has on your system. Like in the case of iTunes, the app backs up the entire library along with user settings from the registry. The backup is saved to the same folder where you extracted the app.
Note: Registry backups are quick, but if files have to be copied, it might take some time to copy all the related files. If the process is interrupted in between, please delete all the items in the backup folder and start the process again.
backup folder
Backup Settings
To restore the settings after all the apps have been installed, click on the Restore button.

Added Bonus

Officially, the app supports around 138 applications, but additional apps can be added in the future using simple plugins. If you know the backup path of a particular app, click on custom and create a manual backup. Select the files, folders, and registry keys and add it into the list of backups.
backup settings
Manual Back Up
Another interesting feature of the app is the ability to create a list of all the apps that are currently installed on your system. This list can then be used to keep track of every app you require after your system is upgraded. The list can be created by hitting the Windows button and clicking on the option Export Apps to Test File.
windows list
Create a list of installed Windows Apps

Let’s Collaborate to Upgrade to Windows 10 Effortlessly

Ninite, DriverMagic, and now CloneApp. The combo of these three free utilities can really take away the pain of initial configuration after installing a fresh version of Windows. Make a cloud backup of the data from these apps and you are covered for years to come. Additionally, if you would like to recommend a tool that would help in the Windows 10 migration, please drop a comment. It would help me and our readers to have a smooth transition.