How to upgrade to a larger hard drive

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Corinda Farley bought a new hard drive for her old computer. How does she get Windows, her programs, and her files onto the new drive?

You can’t simply remove your old hard drive, then install a new one, and expect Windows to boot. You need to bring everything, including Windows itself, to the new drive. That’s not a difficult task, but it’s not an intuitive one, either.

[Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com.]

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How to keep your neighbors from hijacking your Wi-Fi

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Rose’s Internet service intermittently slows to a crawl. She wants to make sure that her neighbors haven’t hacked her Wi-Fi for free connectivity.

A number of issues can produce intermittently slow Internet access, and most of them don’t involve foul play. You could have bad cables, a bad modem or router, or simply outdated firmware on either of these devices. The problem may be with your ISP, and therefore completely out of your hands. For more on these possibilities, see my past column on obscenely slow Internet connections. Also, check out Nick Mediati’s primer on how to test your home Internet connection speed.

But as much as we’d like to think otherwise, your problem could be with a dishonest neighbor. And in these days of data caps, such neighbors could be running up your bill as they’re slowing down your connection.

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How to recover files after a malware attack

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Malware infected Jones888’s computer, and important files are no longer accessible. How can Jones get them back?

A malicious program infects your PC and makes your documents and other important files inaccessible, then it pops up a message demanding money to get the files back. You’ve got a ransomware infection, and that isn’t good.

How do you get the files back without paying for them? That’s simple: Restore them from a backup. That is, of course, if you’ve been backing up daily.

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Create a website the easy way

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Gabe Tockatly asked about an easy and inexpensive way to create a website.

As President Obama discovered last fall, building a good website can be a daunting task. But if you don’t require a lot of complex forms that share data with hundreds of insurance companies, it’s actually pretty simple.

If you don’t want to learn the technical complexities of modern Web design, or hire someone who has already learned it, find another option. Go with a do-it-yourself online service that provides the building blocks and then hosts the site for you. There will be some limitations on how much you can customize the site design, but the results will still look good and have all of the functionality you need.

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How to set up a child's first PC

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Sandy is planning to give her grandson his first computer. She asked for advice on making sure that an adult maintains control.

We live in a digital society, and our children need to become part of it. These days, it’s almost impossible to do homework without a word processor and an Internet connection.

On the other hand, it’s a dangerous Internet out there. Immature minds can easily find pornography, hate speech, and massively destructive forms of bullying. And scammers can find those immature minds.

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How to preview PDFs in Windows Explorer

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Windows Explorer displayed .pdf files as preview thumbnails on Zill Niazi’s old Windows 7 laptop. But on a new laptop, also running Windows 7, it displays them only as icons. Can this be fixed?

I’m going to guess that your older computer--the one that previewed .pdfs--ran the 32-bit version of Windows 7, and that your new one, with its more powerful processor, uses  the 64-bit version. In its 32-bit incarnation, Windows 7 supports .pdf previews, but not in the “improved,” 64-bit product.

Why? If I could read Microsoft’s corporate mind I’d…well, I’d probably suffer a nervous breakdown.

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My hard drive is making scary sounds

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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A reader's hard drive is making new and unpleasant noises. Could it be on its last legs?

I would say yes. If your hard drive is making sounds it never made before, especially grinding or screeching noises, you have to assume that it won't be around for long. Any moment now, it could be as dead as Michael Palin's parrot.

[Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com.]

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