How to skip the Black Friday crowds and still find great deals online

Sometimes the biggest pain with a new PC is simply buying it, especially if you’re eyeing one of those Black Friday deals set to go live next week. Thanksgiving weekend can be a great time for deals, but it’s also notorious for massive crowds and long waits.

This year, try something new. Instead of leaving your Thanksgiving dinner and the warmth of family and friends behind, fire up your laptop, tablet, or smartphone and shop for deals online.

Sure, you might miss out on some jaw-dropping doorbuster deals that are in-store only. But here’s the truth about doorbusters: Most stores stock precious few of those amazing doorbuster deals, making your chances of grabbing that $200 laptop slim anyway. 

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How to find free Internet for your laptop while traveling

Sure, you can do a lot on a smartphone, phablet, or slate, but there are times when only a laptop will do. Unfortunately, situations like this always seem to pop-up while I'm on the road with no obvious Internet access.

But have no fear, weary traveler. This is no time to cave and start paying for Wi-Fi. Instead, put this three-step plan for finding free(ish) Wi-Fi into action before you even think about paying for that Boingo or Gogo day pass.

Wi-Fi hotspots

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Office 2013 tips: How to open common files quickly and save to any cloud storage service

We may live in the era of free productivity apps like Google Docs and Office Online, but I still find value in owning the paid, desktop-bound version of Microsoft's productivity suite—especially with all the extras Microsoft keeps throwing at Office 365 subscribers, like boundless cloud storage.

Today, I've got two quick tips for Office 2013 owners and Office 365 customers. One helps you keep your oft-used files and folders at the top of your Office suite apps, and the second one is for those who prefer to use Dropbox or another cloud storage service over OneDrive.

Pin your files

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How to automatically delete your cookies every time you close your browser

On Monday, Mozilla introduced a new Forget button to Firefox that makes it really easy to clean out your recent cookies and browsing history in one click.The new button gives you options to wipe out your history and cookies from the last 5 minutes, or 2 or 24 hours.

That's great if you feel the need to wipe out your history and cookies infrequently. But if you're trying to stymie online tracking cookies, you need a more permanent solution.

One way to defeat online tracking—at least a little bit—is to flush your cookies every time you shut down your browser.

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3 things to consider before ditching your laptop for a tablet

For a few years now I’ve been watching tablets develop into ever more potent machines, with an eye towards making the jump from a laptop to a slate for my mobile workstation. Sure, people have been working on iPads for years, but until recently it’s always seemed like a bit of a hack to me.

But between a legion of slimmed-down, powered-up Windows tablets hitting the streets and the increasing performance of the iPad, the day may soon come when I officially make the leap. And PCWorld senior editor Mark Hachman has already embraced the Surface Pro 3 for work and for play.

If you’ve been thinking about making the switch too, here’s a look at three features to keep top of mind when pondering the jump from a clamshell to a tablet.

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Make Chrome's New Tab page beautiful and more productive with these extensions

Browser extensions excel at making your browser more useful, but these customizations often aren't about improving the actual look of the browser itself, Firefox's earth-changing UI themes aside.

That makes sense: Browser aesthetics are pretty clearly defined, with not a whole lot to improve—except when it comes to Chrome's New Tab page.


Chrome's new tab page.

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Back up your PC's files for free with these 3 tools

Regular backups are often the only thing that can save your bacon when a hard drive failure or otherwise catastrophic PC meltdown occurs. If your files go poof, they're gone forever unless you've safely stashed copies elsewhere.

You would ideally have at least two back-ups: one kept at home and one stored off-site—a feat that’s easily done with cloud solutions like Backblaze or CrashPlan. There are also various kinds of back-ups you can do like system images that include your files and an OS backup.

But today we’re going to focus on a trio of free, automated tools to back up just your personal files to an external hard drive or other PC—because that’s really the most critical stuff you want to save. PCs and their operating systems can be replaced, but treasured photos of your kids or accounting documents? Not so much.

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