20 Things They Don't Want You to Know
You Too Can Exploit Windows' Bad Security
My PC's firewall, antivirus scanner, spyware remover, pop-up blocker, and spam filter all agree: Windows is sorely lacking in PC security. That situation may not change until Windows Vista (formerly Longhorn) comes out sometime next year. Meanwhile here are a few ways to turn Windows' poor security to your advantage.
If you ever have to reinstall Windows, you'll need the license key that came with your copy. But that string of 25 random letters and numbers isn't always handy. You'd think that in a world where you can't use Windows without activating it, the code required to do so would be a well-guarded secret, but thanks to lax Windows security, a 252KB download--Magical Jelly Bean Software's free Keyfinder 1.41--will recover your license key in a snap. Just download and run the app, and write down your key. Now if only Keyfinder could find my Windows CD....
While your license key might be written down somewhere, your Web site passwords probably aren't. I've set Windows to remember a bunch of mine so that I don't have to figure out the right log-in and password every time I go to, say, Amazon.com. Still, my only record of the password is asterisked out on Amazon's site. Because Windows doesn't do much to secure those stored passwords, you can get them back using another download. Revelation 2 from Snadboy Software will reveal any asterisk-hidden passwords. (It's free, although the site asks for a donation if you keep the software.) A $15 utility called Aqua Deskperience pairs a similar password-revealing ability with some useful features such as a convenient screen grabber and the ability to copy text from any application (including those where a copy command isn't available).
Finally, if the password you've forgotten is your Windows XP administrator password--required for operations such as booting into Safe Mode--Microsoft has a knowledge base entry that will help you reset the password.