Why spammers persist despite filters and well-informed users

Matilda Reich asked why, in a world where everyone knows about the dangers of spam, and every email program has a spam filter, these dreadful messages just keep coming.

To put it bluntly, some people don’t get it. As George Carlin put it, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

Spammers don’t even need to count on the less intelligent half of humanity. All they need to turn a profit is a very tiny fraction of the population.

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How to kill unwanted processes and applications that slow down Windows

Bobby Ekwere asked "Is there any free software that allows me to see and disable unwanted programs running in the background?"

Probably, but I know something better than free software for this job: software that comes with Windows. All current versions of Windows come with a tool to help you trim back what's running at the moment.

The look, behavior, and feel of this tool changed drastically (and for the better) with Windows 8. I'll cover Windows 7 and Windows 8 here, but the Windows 7 directions should work reasonably well with XP and Vista.

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How to test the speed of your USB drives

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

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

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

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

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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