How to remove bloatware

Bloatware, aka junkware, is software that the PC maker preinstalls on your machine -- software you probably don't want. Bloatware comes in many varieties and levels of malignance, from extra icons cluttering your desktop to resource hogs that slow PC performance to computer-compromising malware. Read on to learn how to rid your PC of this unnecessary and sometimes dangerous baggage.

Uninstalling Windows bloatware

Removing bloatware can be easy or difficult, depending on how... Read More »

Topics: Security Software , Windows Software , Security , Utilities

Passwords 101

Passwords are stupid. Many of us choose weak passwords because they're easy to remember, and we use the same one or few everywhere, which is risky. Also annoying: each account that needs a password has different requirements ("Use six or more characters, a capital letter, a number, and any special character except % and @). Your resulting password is more secure than "pa55w0rd" or "12345," but some security analysts think passwords that meet standard requirements are... Read More »

Topics: Security Software , Windows Software , Mac Software , Security , Android Software , iOS Software

What is malware?

You know that viruses are bad for your system, but they are just one type of malicious software. Broadly speaking, malware is any software developed to disrupt your computer or device's normal functioning. Malware is often used to steal, to spy, or to destroy. It can target your personal information, corrupt your files, spam your contacts, use your computer for nefarious purposes, or even render it useless.

There are currently over 375 million malicious programs out there, with another 390,000 recorded... Read More »

Topics: Security Software , Windows Software , Mac Software , Security , Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: malware

How to beef up your browser security

Browsers are your window to the Web, but while you're looking out, other people may be peeking back at you or breaking in to steal your stuff. Without the right tools, you can't block intruders -- you may not even know they're there. The good news: browser security tools are simple, and many are free. Read on to find out how to lock down Chrome and Firefox, check for encrypted sites, and practice safer browsing.

Google Chrome settings

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Topics: Browsers , Security Software , Windows Software , Mac Software , Security , Android Software , iOS Software

What to look for in a password manager

Why use a password manager? Because it's one of the best apps you can invest in, saving you time and protecting all the accounts you need a password for. A good password manager generates and stores passwords and makes it easy to change them. Many managers offer other features, like filling in your information in online forms. However, not every password manager is worth its weight in code. To be truly useful, a password manager must provide good... Read More »

Topics: Security Software , Windows Software , Mac Software , Security , Android Software , iOS Software

The best password manager

Best Password Manager: Dashlane Password Manager & Secure Digital Wallet

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Price: $19.99 to $39.99 for 1 year; free 30-day trial

A password manager is your first line of defense against snoops and identity thieves. But some perform far better than others, as we discovered over months of hands-on testing. We looked for password managers that are easy to set up and use, generate excellent passwords, work across all major platforms, and offer... Read More »

Topics: Security Software , Windows Software , Mac Software , Security , Android Software , iOS Software

​Backup basics

The rule of thumb for PC backup is simple: just do it. If you've ever lost data as a result of a computer crash, you know what a long, expensive process recovery can be. It's far easier just to restore data from a backup, whether that's the cloud, network-attached storage, or a USB device. Here's an overview of your backup options and a step-by-step guide to backing up your Windows PC.

Built-in Windows backup

Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 contain... Read More »

Topics: Security Software , Windows Software , Security , Backups

Two-step verification 101

Two-step verification is just an app's way of asking you for two forms of ID. You keep a lot of private information in your apps and online accounts -- home address, photos of your kids, credit card numbers, maybe even health details -- and usually that sensitive data is secured with just one line of defense, your password. A strong password helps, and so does a password manager, but for a hard-to-hack second line of defense,... Read More »

Topics: Security Software , Windows Software , Mac Software , Security , Android Software , iOS Software

Tags: security , howto-security

A buyer's guide to VPNs

You can't always trust your Internet connection, but virtual private networks (VPNs) give you some protection and privacy on the Web. Find out why you may want a VPN, what to look for when choosing a service, and whether it's worth paying for one.

Why use a VPN?

Virtual private networks used to be chiefly a workplace tool, so employees could connect securely to the company server. VPNs have evolved into a tool for personal anonymity online -- provided... Read More »

Topics: Security Software , Windows Software , Mac Software , Security , Android Software , iOS Software

The best paid VPN for Windows

Best paid Windows VPN: IVPN

Price: $100 per year or $15 per month

IVPN is not the cheapest choice, but it's the one that inspires the most confidence. You can spend a lot less (or nothing) for a virtual private network, but you may end up getting what you pay for. We like IVPN for its privacy protection, cross-platform compatibility, client and payment options, and helpful, transparent guides to what VPNs can and can't do to... Read More »

Topics: Security Software , Windows Software , Security , Networking Software