What to do when you hate Windows 10

I usually start this column with “so and so needed something done to their PC,” but if I were to include the names of all the people who have written me about how unhappy they are with their Windows 10 “upgrade” the file would be so large the server that hosts this page would need a new hard drive. I’ve been inundated with unhappy Windows 10 users for the past two months, and my heart goes out to these folks. A lot of them were upgraded unsuspectingly, and Microsoft deserves a ton of scorn for its malware-like Windows 10 upgrade tactics. That said, now that you have Windows 10 on your PC and you’re not happy, here’s what you can do about it.

1. Keep it, but make some changes

I know this is probably not what you want to hear, but overall I don’t think Windows 10 is a bad OS like Windows 8 was when it launched. It’s essentially a hybrid version of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, and it’s going to be around for a very long time in one form or another so you might as well get comfortable with it now. It also offers a lot of tweaks that could help it grow on you. Here are some of my favorites:

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Importing bookmarks and favorites to Edge is easier with the Anniversary Update

Back in September my colleague Lincoln wrote a handy column on how to import bookmarks and favorites into Microsoft’s Edge browser. Now that Microsoft’s Anniversary Update is out in the wild, things have changed for the better (which hasn’t been the case with all aspects of the Anniversary Update, unfortunately). Here are the two ways you can do it. 

Import Link

If you’ve never used Edge before a handy link to import your favorites will appear the first time you open the browser. 

First, when you open Edge for the very first time, it’ll display a handy link right at the top of the browser that will take you right to the import dialog. Yeah, pretty easy.

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You can remove Cortana from Windows 10, but it's tricky

Travis wanted Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant for Windows 10, out of his PC once and for all. He’s probably not alone, so I figured I’d detail exactly how to perform a Cortana-ectomy.

This procedure was done on the latest build of Windows 10, which is 1607 (the Anniversary Update). Once complete you’ll have a regular search bar like in previous versions of Windows. Big kudos to this forum, where I unearthed these tips. 

No Cortana

Windows 10 search sans Cortana is just like in the olden days of Windows 8.

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Why your USB drive's file format matters: FAT32 vs. exFAT vs. NTFS

Majid was unable to copy a movie from his PC to his newly acquired 32GB USB key, and wondered why. He sent me a screenshot that clearly indicated the problem, as it read “The file is too large for the destination file system.” I replicated the issue quite easily by trying to move a 10GB file to a Fat32 disk, as Fat32 can’t handle any file larger than 4GB.

File too big!

FAT32 has a 4GB file size limitation, making it tough to copy HD or 4K video footage.

In dealing with this it occurred to me that Majid probably isn’t alone, and people might not be aware of the fact that you can format a USB key in Windows using one of three available file systems, and that each system has both advantages and limitations. My colleague wrote about this previously in regards to external drives, but he was discussing high-capacity hard drives you plug into your PC. Though Windows file systems work the same regardless of drive type I wanted to expand on his piece a bit by including the system called exFAT, so in this piece I’ll discuss the three file systems, their pluses and negatives, and which one to use according to your needs.

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How to remove your login password from Windows 10

Barry asked how to remove the login from his new Windows 10 laptop.

Recently Answer Line discussed getting rid of the Windows 10 password by tinkering with Windows’ power settings. Those tips to remove the password prompts certainly work as long as you’re not on a laptop, but I’m going to show you how to remove the password entirely so you’ll never need to enter it.

Of course, this unsafe maneuver comes with all the typical disclaimers such as this isn’t secure and it will allow anyone to access your PC, so you’ve been warned. This is just for people whose PCs live at home, in an environment with little to zero strangers passing by, and no need for it to be under lock and key all the time. Also these instructions were carried out on my personal system, which runs Windows 10 Home.

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What Microsoft won't tell you about your Windows 10 recovery drive size

Attila Balaton bought an 8GB USB key to create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive only to find out 16GB was required.

Mea culpa: Answer Line was partly to blame, as my former colleague wrote that Microsoft suggests “at least a 4GB USB key.” It’s not his fault, though, as on this support page Microsoft says in order to create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive you will need a, “USB thumbdrive with 4 GB of space or more.” Confusing things further is this page from Microsoft, where the company doesn’t even mention how much space you’ll need. Finally, on its support page for Windows 8 Microsoft says the recovery image the software creates, “…is typically 3 to 6 GB in size.“

However, based on Atilla’s feedback I went in and updated our article. Also in the video that accompanied the above article, we mention that when we tried the process on a laptop in our office it said we needed a 16GB key! This got the staff at PCWorld curious, so we also looked into this further to see if we could nail down a specific size requirement, and also figure out what factors play a role in determining the size of the recovery data.

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When your computer beeps at you, that's a cry for help

When Mohit starts his computer, all he hears is “nonstop beeping,” and then his monitor enters power-saving mode.

All I can say is “we’ve all been there,” or at least I certainly have many, many times. It’s like turning on your car expecting to hear the engine fire up and purr like a kitten, only to hear sputtering and coughing and be left with a hairball. Not all is lost, though, because those annoying beeps are actually like a Morse code in computer BIOS language.

The POST screen

Every computer runs a quick test before booting to make sure everything is functioning properly.

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