When Windows refuses to eject mass storage: 5 ways to safely remove a USB drive

Edy Wan asked how to safely remove a flash drive, or an external hard drive, when Windows says it isn't safe to do so.

If you unplug a USB external drive before making sure it's safe to do so, you're courting disaster. The sudden, unprepared removal of a storage device can corrupt files. I've even heard stories of it bricking flash drives.

Here's how to remove the drive safely, even when Windows tells you it's not safe. Try these five steps in order until one of them works.

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How to find the secret Start Menu built into Windows 8.1

I usually advise readers, but this time a reader gave me advice. Joe Rubenstein told me that "There is a Start Menu in Windows 8.1," then explained how to make it work.

Yes, it's true. You can add a Start menu--of sorts--to the Windows 8.1 taskbar without installing a third-party program. All of the code is built into Windows itself.

Three caveats: First, it's too small for touchscreens; you'll need a mouse. Second, Metro/Modern apps can't launch from this menu. And finally, it doesn't work with Windows 8.0. (Oddly, it works in Windows 7, where it's completely redundant.)

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The dangers of Android malware may be exaggerated, but you should still play it safe

Jagdish Shrimali asked if “it is necessary to install antivirus software on an android mobile device?”

It may not be necessary, but it’s still a very good idea. There’s definitely Android malware out there. While the level of the threat may be exaggerated, it’s really a matter of being better safe than sorry.

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

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How to run Android apps in Windows with a virtual machine

Anil Kumar wants to run Android apps on his Windows PC.

Android and Windows are two very different operating systems; programs designed for one won’t normally work on the other. To get around this, you need to set up an Android virtual machine (VM) on your PC. And as a general rule, setting up a VM can be a challenge.

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

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How to stop autoplaying HTML5 videos

P. Petropoulos blocked Flash videos from playing automatically without his permission. Now he wants to block HTML5 videos, as well.

On New Year’s Day, I told you how to block videos that play automatically when you visit a Web page. In fact, if such a video is starting to play right about…now, you may want to revisit that article.

My previous instructions concentrated on Flash videos, however, and Flash isn’t the only technology designed to annoy you with unwanted videos. So now I’ll tell you how to block HTML5 videos in Chrome and Firefox.

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Is your PC overheating? Here's how to tell

Hamed Bouattour worries that his PC is overheating.

Electricity, by its nature, heats things up. And heat, by its nature, can damage electrical circuits. Everyone with a computer has to work within that paradox.

I’ve written about overheated PCs in the past, but that was in the context of PCs that overheat so badly they shut down. But heat can cause problems before the crucial stage. Too much heat can reduce the CPU’s efficiency and wear out components faster than necessary.

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Read old emails from Outlook Express, Windows Mail, and Thunderbird

A friend of Russ and Sheila Stevens needs to access his late father’s Outlook Express messages—tricky since Outlook Express is no longer available. My answer covers more than Outlook Express.

Keeping old emails is pretty easy as long as you keep the same email client. Once you move from one mail client to another, however, you may need special software to access older mail.

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

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