Why you can trust free software (or at least some of it)

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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Jeanne Light wonders whether it’s safe to use free software. “What do [the authors] get out of it?” She feels, understandably, quite skeptical.

It’s good to be skeptical. And careful. Free products often come with strings attached. But if you pay attention and listen for the right recommendations, you can get some excellent software for free—without breaking the law.

There are some perfectly good reasons why an individual programmer, a programming collective, or even a for-profit company will let you use the fruit of their labor without getting paid.

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How to recover deleted files

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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Megan Aitken’s partner lost “a load of photos.” Here’s my advice for recovering them.

Lost files can usually be recovered—if you discover the loss soon enough. But every time you write to the hard drive, you lower the likelihood of a successful recovery. So use that computer as little as possible until the files are recovered or you’ve given up hope.

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

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Update to the 8.1 Update

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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Robert Pepe uses Windows 8.1. He asked if it is necessary to get the update, and how to do it.

I’d have a hard time coming up with a more ridiculous label than “Windows 8.1 Update.” Things would have been far less confusing if Microsoft had simply called this one Windows 8.2.

Regular readers know that I hated Windows 8 from the start. But Windows 8.1’s user interface improvements were a step in the right direction. The Windows 8.1 update, which brings several more improvements, is another good step.

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How to install Ubuntu and keep Windows

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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Amar Thakur wants to install Ubuntu on a PC without removing Windows 7. “How will I do that?”

Ubuntu offers three ways to launch the operating system without hurting Windows. Two of these options require a bootable Ubuntu CD or flash drive, so I'll first discuss how to set up those devices.

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

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How to set and keep your preferred default font in LibreOffice Writer

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 How to set and keep your preferred default font in Word, Paul Reitman asked about doing the same thing in the free LibreOffice.

Not everyone wants to pay for their word processor and spreadsheet, and they often don’t have to. LibreOffice offers a reasonably powerful and versatile set of tools for free. It’s not for everyone (I still prefer Microsoft’s suite for a number of reasons), but for many people it’s a perfectly good substitute.

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

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Protect your privacy while you browse

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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It once sounded like paranoia; now it’s more like common sense. Steve asked for safe and secure ways to access the Internet without being tracked by crooks, corporations, and governments.

There’s no such thing as complete, 100-percent perfect privacy or security. The Heartbleed vulnerability made that patently clear. But you can lock down your Internet access, making a security breach much less likely.

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

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How to run DOS programs in a current version of Windows

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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Kenneth M. Frith is moving away from Windows XP (as he should). But he still has some old DOS programs he’s either unwilling or unable to give up. Can they run in Windows 8?

The big question is: Does your new PC run the 32- or 64-bit version of Windows 7 or 8? If you have the 32-bit version (referred to as x86 for historical reasons), you should have no trouble with many (but not all) DOS programs. But if you’re using the 64-bit version (x64), running a DOS program is officially impossible.

But that doesn't mean it can't be done.

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