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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Two good reasons to stick with POP3 email over IMAP

Lately, I’ve noticed quite a few stories and discussions online centering around the always popular debate about whether to use IMAP or POP3 for email. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, IMAP and POP3 are the protocols you use to access email via clients like Outlook, Thunderbird, or Android's stock email app.

The general consensus is that the more modern IMAP is the way to go and the aging POP3 standard should be abandoned at all costs.

But that’s just not the case. In fact, I am going to point out two very good reasons to go on using POP3, or perhaps even actively switch to it.

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Stop typing and start dictating documents in Windows

The easiest way to operate your PC is with your hands whether you're navigating a touch screen, or using a mouse and keyboard. But for some people that's just not possible, especially when it comes to typing.

Maybe you broke your finger or you suffer from a repetitive strain injury that makes typing impossible. Or perhaps you simply want to get work done while running on a treadmill.

But just because you can't type doesn't mean you can't create documents. All you need is a microphone for your PC and Microsoft Word to take the stress off your hands and start using your voice.

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Three services that take the headache out of creating a website

Even in this time of Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook many people argue you need your own online presence with a personal or professional website. Having your own website gives you a place to represent you that is under your complete control.

There are a wide number of services that make it easy to create something quickly, even if you don’t have a deep knowledge of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript (JS)—the building blocks of the web.

Here are three free services that can help you create a website. By default, they all direct your newly created site to a generic domain name, but all three also let you use your own purchased website name if you choose.

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Three easy ways to create a collaborative photo album

Special events like holidays, weddings, and school reunions just beg to be captured in pictures—but organizing photos from friends and family after the event can be a pain. 

It doesn't have to be! Here are three easy ways to collect everybody's photos and share them with all participants after your get-together is over.


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Find downloaded files faster with these two quick tips

Managing your PC's downloads folder is a lot like dealing with e-mail: if you don't have a good strategy to stay organized, it can get really cluttered, really quickly.

Even still, many of us treat the downloads folder as a dumping ground. It's a place we pay little attention to except for those odd times that we have to dive in to find a specific file or free up space on our hard drive. Otherwise, it's usually out of sight and out of mind.

Don't let the digital equivalent of shoveling everything in the closet muck up your PC. These two quick tips can make it easier to keep your files under control and find the files you're looking for quickly.

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Three free tools that reveal your PC's deepest details (including product keys)

When you need to know your specs to figure out if you can play a video game, it's best to just automate the process. But sometimes you need to dive deep and really find out nitty-gritty details about what's going on inside your computer, most often to aid with troubleshooting efforts or determine whether or not its time to upgrade your hardware. 

Maybe you want to check how much RAM your PC has. Maybe you want to know how fast your processor is, or the voltages being supplied to your PC components. Perhaps you've lost a software product key or are trying to figure out exactly which driver your printer is using. Some—but not all—of that info you can just grab from Windows itself, but it's spread across different locations and a pain to navigate to.

A better option is to try out a number of third-party apps that can analyze your system and supply all the information you need. Here's a look at three free, easy-to-use programs that deliver just that kind of information—and then some.

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