Control how Windows locks down and saves power when you're not using it

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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What happens when you get up and walk away from your PC? I answer a reader's question about setting Windows to secure itself and save power when not in use.

For purposes of security and energy conservation, Windows can automatically shut down in several different ways when no one has touched the keyboard or mouse for a set period of time. Here are three particularly useful ways to suspend Windows. All of them, by default, require you to reenter your logon password to regain access.

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

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Understanding tech language: The difference between malware and a virus

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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While cleaning up an infected PC, Flingwing asked the Antivirus & Security Software forum to explain the difference between malware and viruses.

Depending on how technically correct you want to be, viruses are a subset of malware, or the two words mean the same thing.

The word malware (malicious software) describes any piece of code designed to infect your computer (or mobile device) and make it do things that you don't want it to do, such as mass-mail spam or steal your banking passwords. Trojans, worms, and rootkits are all types of malware.

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Why you may want a desktop instead of a laptop

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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Patrick Moore asked the Laptops forum about the advantages of going with a desktop computer.

Laptops long ago surpassed desktops in sales, and tablets and smartphones are taking major market share from laptops. The tendency is clearly towards smaller, lighter, and more portable computing. But there are some good reasons to stick with a big box that sits on or below your desk.

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

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Yes, you can still upgrade to Windows 7

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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Arcticsid knows he can't continue using Windows XP. He asked the Windows forum about upgrading to Windows 7 rather than Windows 8.

Yes, you can still update to Windows 7. Not only can you buy the operating system; you can even buy a new PC that's running it.

But for how long can you use it? Microsoft will end Windows 7 mainstream support in January, 2015. That seems awful close, but it's really not a problem. After all, XP's mainstream support ended in 2009. The important date is when extended support ends. That will be January, 2020.

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Your Twitter account has been hacked! Here's what to do about it.

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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Kirsty woke up to find that someone else had taken control of her Twitter account. I tell her how to get it back.

You have to fix this immediately. When someone else is sending out tweets and DMs under your name, you're in danger of losing your credibility.

The first thing you need to do is try to log onto Twitter. If you can do that, change your password. This will stop the Twitter thief in his or her tracks, and regain you control of your account--if the thief hasn't already changed the password and locked you out.

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Keep other people off of my 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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Aris Cristian doesn't mind friends using his PC, but he worries that they might damage Windows or his files.

Generosity is a virtue, but so is taking precautionary measures. If a visiting friend needs larger-than-mobile Internet access while at your home, you don't want to deny it. But neither do you want new browser settings, a malware infection, or a formatted hard drive.

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

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Sync Google Earth placemarks across different 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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Dick uses Google Earth on more than one PC. He asked how to sync placemarks between them.

Oddly enough, Google's extensive cloud services don't do much for Earth (the program, not the planet--although it probably doesn't do much for that, either). You'd expect that if you have a Youtube, Gmail, or other Google account, Earth would sync automatically. But it doesn't.

Luckily, there is a workaround, even if it's a bit clumsy.

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