All about drive letters and drive names

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Paras Bansal's hard drive has three partitions with the same name. I explain how to change drive letters and names, and why Paras' situation may be confusing, but not serious.

In the Windows world, drives can be identified by their names (such as "Windows7_OS") and their drive letters (such as "C:"). The important thing to remember is that Windows really only cares about the drive letter. That has to be unique; you can't have two drives labeled E: on the same computer.

 [Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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Computer repair: Prepare your PC for a trip to the shop

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Peggie Oliver needs to send her computer out for repairs. She wants to know what she should do with it first.

Your computer contains important information, much of it private. The people who will repair it may need to alter Windows, which generally requires access to your password-protected administrator account. They're probably honest, but you can't count on that. And even if they're honest, they may still wipe your hard drive out of necessity or incompetence.

But with the right precautions, taking your PC on a service trip shouldn't result in a disaster.

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How to remove the Windows shortcut arrow from desktop icons

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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William Beaver asked for "a simple, safe" way to remove the arrows from the shortcuts on his desktop.

Shortcuts point to files--usually but not always programs--that are stored elsewhere on your drive. If you drag and drop a program from the Start menu to the desktop, you create a shortcut to the original program. To make it clear that it's a shortcut and not the original file, Windows displays an arrow in the lower-left corner of the icon.

If you don't like the arrows, you can turn them off by editing the Windows Registry. But William asked for a safe solution, so I'm offering an easier, less dangerous way to make the change.

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The 6 essential Windows software programs for any PC

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Bruce Johnson asked for “a list of minimum programs and applications needed to…operate my laptop?”

PCWorld senior editor Brad Chacos wrote an excellent story about the best software for a new PC. But if we're talking the barest minimum, anyone with a Windows PC really, absolutely must have a program in each of the categories below.

 [Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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How to stop autoloading programs in Windows 7 and Windows 8

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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After reading my article on killing unwanted processes, Joe Balbona asked how he could keep those processes from loading in the first place.

There’s no direct correlation between the programs that load when you boot and the processes slowing down your PC six hours later. Many autoloaders (programs that automatically load when you boot) do their thing and then close down properly. And some programs you load manually long after the boot leave processes running even after you’ve closed them.

Nevertheless, most Windows PCs load way too many programs at boot time. These definitely slow the boot process. Some remain running and can slow Windows. And some may cause conflicts and instability, although that’s rare.

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How to clean your Windows Temp folder

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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Krishna Bam asked about cleaning out his temp folder.

As the name implies, the temp folder contains files that are only needed temporally. Unfortunately, these files don't always get deleted after their job is done, resulting in wasted drive space.

To open the temp folder, click Start or go to the Windows 8 Search charm, type %temp%, and select the folder that appears.

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What to do when your USB device doesn't work

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

Freelance journalist (and sometimes humorist) Lincoln Spector has been writing about tech longer than he would care to admit. A passionate cinephile, he also writes the Bayflicks.net movie blog.
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R. Welling can't get a USB device to work properly in his computer. "What could be wrong?"

Clearly, something is broken. But is it hardware, software, the device or the computer? That's going to take some experimentation.

First, let's get the obvious out of the way: Unplug the device, then plug it again. Did that fix the problem?

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