Com­put­er­ac­tive Edi­tor Daniel Booth has made all th­ese mistakes in the past. He’s learnt his les­son now, and wants to help you do like­wise

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1 Let­ting Win­dows 10 up­dates ruin your day

For­get TVS, dish­wash­ers and sand­wich toast­ers - the great­est in­ven­tion of the 20th Cen­tury was the ‘snooze’ but­ton on alarm clocks. Mi­crosoft added the op­tion (see screen­shot be­low) to the Win­dows 10 Cre­ators Up­date (re­leased in April), let­ting you post­pone up­dates for up to three days. You can also click ‘Pick a time’ to sched­ule when you want an up­date in­stalled.

It’s prob­a­bly the most help­ful thing Mi­crosoft did in 2017. No longer will huge up­dates force them­selves on your PC unan­nounced. This op­tion ap­pears only for Mi­crosoft’s twice-yearly ma­jor up­dates - in 2018 they are co­de­named Red­stone 4 (Ver­sion 1803, due March) and Red­stone 5 (Ver­sion 1809, due in Au­tumn).

2 Us­ing soft­ware to de­frag your com­puter

Pir­i­form makes four es­sen­tial pro­grams. Ac­tu­ally, make that three. While we rec­om­mend Speccy, Re­cuva and Ccleaner (when it’s not smug­gling Avast on to your PC - see page 16), we’re less keen on De­frag­gler. Such de­frag­ging tools were once es­sen­tial to keep your hard drive healthy, but most mod­ern PCS can do the job them­selves.

In Win­dows 10 it’s bet­ter to use the Op­ti­mise Drives tool. Win­dows runs it on a sched­ule, so you should never need to open it man­u­ally. It’s best to leave it get on with the job. The golden rule of de­frag­ging is that it’s un­nec­es­sary on SSDS. Worse, it can even dam­age the drive. Win­dows 10 knows this, so au­to­mat­i­cally turns off Op­ti­mise Drives when it de­tects you’ve in­stalled an SSD.

3 For­get­ting where you parked your car

None of the world’s 10 largest car parks are in the UK (they’re all in the US and Canada, since you ask), but it can still be in­fu­ri­at­ingly tricky to lo­cate your ve­hi­cle in air­ports, theme parks and shop­ping cen­tres. It’s one of the prob­lems Google solved in 2017 with an up­date to its Maps app in March.

Once you’ve parked, open Google Maps on your phone, tap the blue dot that in­di­cates your lo­ca­tion (and there­fore where your car is), then tap ‘Save your park­ing’. When you’re ready to re­turn to your car, tap the ‘You parked here’ pin (see screen­shot be­low), then Di­rec­tions. You can make notes about where you parked by tap­ping ‘Park­ing lo­ca­tion’ at the bot­tom, and set a timer so you re­turn in time and avoid in­cur­ring a fine.

Ap­ple users may be for­given for smil­ing smugly be­cause the car-find­ing op­tion was added to iphones six months ear­lier, when IOS 10 launched. Ap­ple pro­vides in­struc­tions at www.snipca.com/26452.

4 Us­ing Of­fice 2007

When making their plans for 2017, hack­ers would have ringed the date ‘10 Oc­to­ber’ in their cal­en­dars. It’s when Mi­crosoft ended ‘Ex­tended’ sup­port for Of­fice 2007, mean­ing it’ll never re­ceive an­other se­cu­rity up­date. You can still use it, but with ev­ery day that passes it be­comes less safe. It’s time to move on.

You have three re­al­is­tic op­tions: up­grade to the lat­est ver­sion of Of­fice; switch to a non-mi­crosoft of­fice suite like Li­bre­of­fice ( www.li­bre­of­fice.org); or swap down­load­able desk­top pro­grams for on­line of­fice tools.

Up­grad­ing to the new ver­sion in­volves a choice be­tween Of­fice 365 (sub­scrip­tion only; £5.99 a month, or £60 a year) and Of­fice 2016 (a one-off pay­ment of £120). In con­trast, switch­ing to Li­bre­of­fice

means a choice be­tween noth­ing and nada. Yes, it’s free, and is quickly be­com­ing a favourite with Com­put­er­ac­tive read­ers and writ­ers alike (we’ll start in­clud­ing it soon in our Make Of­fice Bet­ter page).

Th­ese down­load­able pro­grams are ideal for heavy of­fice users. If your needs are less ad­vanced, try Mi­crosoft’s free Of­fice Web Apps ( www.snipca.com/25198) and Google Drive ( https://drive.google.com). The lat­ter is more ver­sa­tile be­cause it works off­line. Mi­crosoft is un­likely to pro­vide this be­cause it still wants peo­ple to cough up for the paid-for ver­sions of Of­fice.

5Us­ing poor screen-record­ing apps on iphone and ipad

One of the best things about an up­date to Win­dows, IOS and An­droid is they come with new tools built into the sys­tem, mean­ing you no longer need to use shoddy apps made by other de­vel­op­ers. One of the most use­ful in 2017 was the new screen-record­ing tool in IOS 11, re­leased at the end of Septem­ber.

You first need to add it to your Con­trol Cen­tre by tap­ping Set­tings, Con­trol Cen­tre, Cus­tomise Con­trols, then tap­ping the green but­ton next to Screen Record­ing. Next, open the Con­trol Cen­ter by swip­ing up from the bot­tom of your screen. You should see the red Screen Record­ing but­ton in the bot­tom-left cor­ner (see screen­shot be­low). When you tap this to start a record­ing, you’ll be prompted to turn the mi­cro­phone on or off. Turn it on if you want to add a com­men­tary to your record­ing. Your videos are saved on your Cam­era Roll, so open the Pho­tos app to watch and edit them.

6Let­ting old files clog up your PC

With a new Paint 3D app, Mi­crosoft wanted the Cre­ators Up­date to in­spire the in­ner artist in all of us. More use­ful though was the ‘Stor­age sense’ tool, which au­to­mat­i­cally deletes tem­po­rary files that your pro­grams aren’t us­ing. The Fall Cre­ators Up­date, re­leased in Oc­to­ber, added the op­tion to delete files in the Down­loads folder that haven’t changed in 30 days. ‘Stor­age sense’ is turned off by de­fault. Ac­ti­vate it by go­ing to Set­tings, Sys­tem, Stor­age, then click­ing the ‘Stor­age sense’ slider (see screen­shot above).

7Hop­ing that ran­somware will go away

There are two strate­gies for deal­ing with ran­somware. One is what we call the stick-your-fin­gers-in-your-ears-and­hope-it-goes-away method. It’s tempt­ing, but deeply flawed. An­other is to de­vise a clever backup pro­ce­dure to keep your files safe. That’s the plan we pre­fer.

The key to sur­viv­ing an at­tack is sav­ing your files to a hard drive that’s not nor­mally con­nected to your PC. Free pro­gram Veeam Agent ( www.snipca. com/26464) does the job. It can back up files on a sched­ule, but we rec­om­mend choos­ing the op­tion to back up when the ‘tar­get’ is con­nected. This means it will au­to­mat­i­cally back up files when you at­tach your hard drive. Also tick the ‘Eject re­mov­able stor­age once backup is com­pleted’ op­tion. You should save Veeam’s Re­cov­ery Me­dia file to a USB stick so you can ac­cess your files from it if

at­tacked by ran­somware. Your files should now be be­yond the reach of hack­ers. Just make sure you don’t ditch your hard drive in a land­fill site (see box above).

8 Email­ing large files

One pro­gram that de­served greater plau­dits in 2017 was the free Filedi­rect ( www.oo-soft­ware.com/en/filedi­rect) from Ger­man soft­ware com­pany O&O. Re­leased in May, it lets you send files of any size with­out hav­ing to at­tach them to an email. You need the pro­gram in­stalled on your PC, but the re­cip­i­ent doesn’t. In­stead you send them a down­load­able link by email which they open in their browser (Chrome, Fire­fox and Opera; it doesn’t work on Edge and IOS de­vices).

Also new this year was Fire­fox Send (https://send.fire­fox.com), which sends files up to 16GB (though Fire­fox rec­om­mends no big­ger than 1GB for “re­li­able op­er­a­tion”). The email link re­ceived by the re­cip­i­ent self-de­structs af­ter 24 hours.

Google Maps now shows you where you parked your car

Click ‘Snooze’ to post­pone Win­dows up­dates for up to three days

Ac­ti­vate Win­dows’ ‘Stor­age sense’ to keep your PC free of un­wanted files

Tap the bot­tom-left Screen Record­ing but­ton to record a video in IOS 11

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