How to test the speed of your USB drives

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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After reading my article on USB 3.0 speed, Mark Gold asked “How can I check the speed of my USB devices, both 2.0 and 3.0?”

You could sit in front of your PC with the stopwatch and time how long it takes to move a 100MB file from an internal drive to an external one. But that’s tedious, prone to errors and not that accurate.

It's better to use benchmarking software, even though that isn’t perfect, either. Every test designed for benchmarking is going to show some biases of its designer—big files versus small files, reading vs. writing, and so on. But any good program will still tell you what drives are faster than others.

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Back up and sync between your home and travel PCs

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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Carol-Anne Croker wants to know two things: How best to sync files between two computers, and how to back up the more portable PC on the road.

You can sync two or more computers—along with portable devices such as tablets and smartphones—very easily these days. Backing up two computers, on the other hand, can be a bit trickier. Fortunately, the way you sync everything can help with the backup.

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

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How to move Outlook Data to a new 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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Bruce Hillyer is moving to a new PC. He asked about bringing his email, contacts, and appointments from Outlook on his old PC to Outlook on his new one.

If you use Windows' Easy Transfer tool, the actual file moving should be no big deal, although I wouldn't bet the farm on it working well every time. I gave up Easy Transfer years ago, finding it easier to simply drag and drop my files over the local network. However you move the files, Outlook can be particularly tricky.

I'm assuming here that your new computer has Office, and therefore Outlook, 2013 or 365. I'm also assuming that your old computer has Office 2010 or something older.

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When your computer won't turn on

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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Lou C. sent me a very terse message: "Computer does not come on?" There are many possible answers.

A lot of problems can keep a computer from booting Windows (or any other operating system). Fortunately, you can get a pretty good idea by noting how and when the PC fails. If you press the power button and nothing happens, you've got a very different problem than if the PC starts but Windows never loads.

Let's take a look at some of the possibilities.

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Control your desktop, or Windows will control it for you

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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Al Nagy asked how to stop Windows from rearranging the icons on his desktop.

Windows likes a neatly-arranged desktop. It wants to snap everything into a grid that starts in the upper-left corner of the screen. Unfortunately, the program's idea of "neatly-arranged" may not coincide with yours.

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

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Buying a new PC? Don't worry, Windows 8 is just fine.

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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Jill’s planning to buy a new PC. She asked me if she should go with Windows 7 or Windows 8.

We’re allowed to change our minds. Back in 2012, I wrote an opinion piece called Why you shouldn’t upgrade to Windows 8. At that time I so hated what Microsoft was doing that I wondered if I’d ever buy another Windows computer.

I still haven’t upgraded my main PC. But when it comes time to replace it, I’ll be more than happy to move over to Windows 8.whatever.

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Brush up on your tech acronyms

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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H. Basco asked for “a list of all the abbreviations that computer-savvy geniuses use, thinking we all KNOW what they mean!”

Sorry, but I can’t provide you with every tech acronym in existence. That would require writing a very large book. And it would be out of date long before I could finish it. But I’ve provided a handful of the more common abbreviations.

For the others, just search the web.

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