If error messages appear when your PC boots, try this

Every time Muhammad Athar boots his PC, an error message pops up warning him of missing files.

Assuming that nothing else bad happens, this type of error message—coming up every time you boot and only when you boot—probably isn’t dangerous. It’s likely just the remnants of an autoloader that didn’t get removed properly. (An autoloader is a program that loads automatically every time you boot, such as your antivirus program.)

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

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3 ways to make it easier to search for photos on your PC

Entisar Hassen asked for a way to find the right photo in his large collection. “Is it possible?”

If you’re like me, you have thousands of photos in your personal collection on your PC—maybe tens of thousands. That makes finding the right photo very difficult. But you can make it easier with a little thought, and maybe some planning ahead of time.

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

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5 ways to troubleshoot Windows 10 update problems

Jeffrey Hahner upgraded to Windows 10. But the new version isn’t updating itself as it should.

Operating systems need to update regularly to fix bugs and close security holes. So if Windows 10 isn’t successfully updating, you’ve got a serious problem. Even worse, the failure to update itself might be a symptom of a malware infection.

A quick note: I had to deal with this situation myself recently, but I didn’t think to grab images off the screen at the time. So some of the images below are faked.

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Why upgrading to Windows 10 is less alarming than it used to be

Eldon asked whether he should upgrade to Windows 10.

My short answer: If you’re using Windows 8.1, probably yes. If you’re using Windows 7, probably no. But of course it’s much more complicated than that.

Last July, I recommended that people wait at least three months before accepting Microsoft’s free upgrade. Now that those three months and another three have gone by, chances are that Windows 10 will be stable and compatible on your machine (although there are no guarantees). But is it worth the learning curve and the possible hassles?

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Online privacy tips: 3 ways to control your digital footprint

Christine asked about her digital footprint: “What can I do about it.”

Like real footprints, your digital tracks leave a record of where you’ve been and what you’ve done. They show your searches, what you bought, which sites you visited, and the opinions you’ve expressed on social media.

Many for-profit companies, both legitimate and criminal, can make a profit out of knowing you better. Governments also like to get into the act.

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What to do when a power outage or surge damages your PC

Sharon Hanan wants to know what to do about her husband’s PC. A power outage left it unusable.

Electricity doesn’t always behave itself. Sometimes a power surge can fry a piece of your computer, rendering it useless. A surge protector significantly reduces the risk, but it’s still a possibility. And yes, a power outage often ends with a power surge.

Should an electrical disaster leave your PC useless, you’ll want to protect your data, and then figure out what’s damaged. It’s easier and cheaper to replace a power supply than a whole computer.

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The tricks for using Gmail folders vs. labels

Brenda Wilson recently switched from Outlook to Gmail. Now she’s “trying to get my head wrapped around the whole ‘label’ thing. When I moved an email to a folder in Outlook. it no longer appeared in my Inbox.” That’s not the case with Gmail.

Gmail can confuse people used to other email clients, and the concept of labels causes a lot of that confusion. Labels don’t quite behave like folders, although sometimes they do. Because you can attach multiple labels onto a single conversation, you have far more options.

(Remember that Gmail, by default, organizes not by individual messages but by conversations, each of which contains an original message and all of the replies to that message.)

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