Not all content is appropriate for children. Some Windows versions provide built in parental controls while others don’t. You can enable parental control settings in Windows 7, 8 & Vista via the Control Panel. In Windows 10 you will have to use a third party tool.
Parental Controls in Windows 7 & Vista
In Windows 7, 8 & Vista you can restrict access to the computer using Parental Controls. This works by setting restrictions on a particular user account. Set up this account to restrict the times that it can log in. Apply restrictions to games based on their rating. Additionally, restrict access to only a specific programs.
Detailed instructions on setting up Parental Controls are available from this How-To Geek article. Apply these settings via the Control Panel in the User Accounts and Family Safety category. The wording may be different in Windows 8 but the procedure is similar.
Please note that while this method may be useful it is by no means a fool-proof method of protecting your children. It is user account specific. Furthermore, tech savvy children may find ways to bypass this entirely.
Parental Controls in Windows 10
While the Parental Control settings available in earlier versions of Windows were removed in Windows 10, there are still options. A comprehensive list of parental control apps compiled by Comparitech provides a list of viable options. Some are free while others are not. Compare the features offered to your needs.
How To Use Parental Controls in Windows 7 (How-To Geek, 2010)
The Best Parental Control Software and Apps of 2017 (Comparitech, 2017)
It’s useful to find out what is using up your computer’s system resources out of curiosity or when you are troubleshooting a problem. This can reveal the programs that are memory hogs or indicate when a hardware upgrade may be necessary. On Windows there is an easy way to monitor your memory, CPU, network and disk activity using the Resource Monitor.
To open the Resource Monitor:
- Open the Task Manager (Ctrl+ Shift+ Esc or right click taskbar then click Start Task Manager)
- Click on Performance tab
- Click Resource Monitor… button at the bottom of the window.
How to Use Resource Monitor (PC World, 2011)
If you keep your PC on for long periods or make it hibernate instead of shut down you may lose track of when last you restarted Windows. If you are curious and want to know when last Windows was restarted you can do so using the command line.
- Press Windows Key + R to open the run dialog box
- Type cmd and press Enter
- In the command line type net stats srv and press Enter
- The line that starts “Statistics since” will indicate the last time Windows was restarted
How to find Windows uptime? – Microsoft Support
Multitasking is great and it is pretty easy to navigate between different programs on Windows. Multiple sounds, however, can be very annoying when they come from different programs. The sounds from a game can interrupt the music you are listening to or you may just want the volume of certain programs to be lower. In Windows 7 you can control the volume on a per application basis using the Volume Mixer.
To access the Volume Mixer simply click on the volume icon in the taskbar and click on the Mixer link below your sound device. This will display volume controls for your open applications which you can modify as you like.
With these settings in mind you can now use different browsers for specific activities based on your sound preferences. You could open YouTube in Chrome with higher volume settings than the pages you are browsing in Firefox. That way if a website decides to automatically play sound it does not disturb as much. You can also use this options to completely mute certain applications so that you hear no sound from them at all.
LifeHacker: Set Volume Levels for Individual Programs in Windows
Windows may be the most popular operating system but there are alternatives. The Macintosh operating system is also popular but it is proprietary and like Windows it is not free. Linux is a free and open source operating system that can be used together with or in lieu of the other more popular operating systems.
In the unfortunate event that your operating system gets corrupt you may risk losing all your data by reformatting the hard drive. Your data may be saved, however, if you can boot into your operating system using a bootable version of Linux saved on a USB drive.
Instead of booting into your standard operating system you install Ubuntu onto your USB drive and boot from the USB drive at startup. This may require changing the boot order in your computers BIOS. You can do this by pressing the appropriate BIOS setup keys shown when your computer is starting up.
Once you ave booted into Linux you can either install the operating system on a different partition or use it from the USB drive. Be very careful if installing Linux to ensure that you do not inadvertently overwrite existing files by formatting the a hard drive if you do not want its contents erased.
We know that there are benefits of hibernating your computer instead of shutting down, but shutting down periodically does have its benefits. Many critical Windows updates require you to restart your computer so that system files that are currently in use can be updated. This is annoying but a necessary step to ensure that your Windows PC is not susceptible to bugs and security vulnerabilities addressed in these updates.
Before shutting down your computer look for any notifications that updates are ready to be installed. If any such notification is present expect your computer to take a little longer to shut down. Also expect your computer to take a longer time to start up on the next boot because files are being updated.
You can keep your computer files and documents organized by using customized icons to represent different files and/or folders. Using different icons makes it easy to quickly differentiate between folders and allows you to change the icons into something more pleasing.
How to change a folder icon on Windows:
- Right click the folder icon that you would like to change
- Click on Properties
- Select the Customize tab
- Click the Change Icon… button
- Browse for the icon that you would like to use as your new folder icon
- Click Ok
- Click Ok again
How to change a folder icon on Mac:
- Press Control and click on the folder icon that you would like to change
- Click Get Info
- Drag the new icon to the top left icon in the folder information dialog box
If you do not already have the new icons you can find some free icons for download at Icon Archive. This site offers icons for both Windows (.ico) and Mac (.icns) so you can choose the appropriate format to download.
In versions of Windows prior to Windows 8 you would be accustomed to having your taskbar (containing the start button) at the bottom of the screen. You can however move the taskbar to the top or sides of your screen to create the workspace you desire. To do this right click on an empty area of the taskbar and ensure that the “Lock the taskbar” option is unchecked. You can then drag the taskbar to the top, left or right edge of the screen.
It can be a task to keep all the programs on your Windows computer updated. Allowing programs to automatically update themselves may slow down your computer start up time and hog system resources. Not updating software can make your computer vulnerable to security exploits fixed in newer versions or leave you without the new features of the updated software.
If you would like to update your Windows programs manually but want to easily see which programs are outdated you can try FileHippo’s Update Checker. You simply download the program and it scans your installed programs notifying you of those that are outdated afterwards. The Update Checker directs you to FileHippo’s website where the version information of outdated software is presented along with the version information of the latest available versions. You can then download the latest version directly from FileHippo’s website or search for it from each individual software vendor’s website if you prefer.
Since the FileHippo Update Checker only scans for programs in the FileHippo repository it may not detect all outdated software on your computer. It is also not a replacement for Windows Update which every Windows user should run regularly to stay updated with security updates from Microsoft. The Update Checker scans the programs installed on your computer and reports it back to the FileHippo website too provide you with the available updates so only use it if you are comfortable with this behaviour.
A couple months ago I wrote about how Windows wouldn’t boot but linux would. Back then I said I was waiting for Ubuntu 8.04 to be released before I tackled the problem and now I believe I have a better understanding of what happened and how to resolve similar problems in the future.
When installing Ubuntu Linux I installed GRUB (a linux bootloader) to the Master Boot Record (MBR). This was not a problem since you can use GRUB to start Windows without a problem. The problem was however that my PC came with a restore partition which I could use to restore the PC to how it was originally and by overwriting the MBR I removed the ability to boot from the restore partition.
My hard drive is also a SATA hard drive and I learnt that unlike IDE hard drives I needed to load drivers from a floppy in other for XP to recognize my drive when installing from a CD. This would explain the blue screen of death I received whenever trying to reinstall before I knew about the drivers. So after I downloaded the drivers and installed windows from the CD came the setup and the Windows Activation. Now since my PC did not come with a Windows CD (only the restore partition) my OEM Windows key would not work with the Windows XP CD I was using.
My search for a solution led me to Dell’s support forums. I had to create a boot CD with a program called DSRFix. This came as an ISO file which included a program called ptedit, so after I burnt the CD image I was all set. I was able to restore my MBR to its original state (I did have to use the command DSRFIX /F to fix errors found). After that I was able to reboot and press CTRL+F11 to boot into my restore partition and restore Windows to its original state.
Now that Windows was working I diverted my attention to reinstalling Ubuntu. This time I didn’t want to overwrite the MBR so I created my partitions and installed GRUB on the linux partition instead. I then used a program called BootPart to edit my boot.ini file so that Ubuntu would show up in the Windows bootloader. Note: BootPart is a DOS program so you will have to run it from the command prompt and after navigating to the program folder the command bootpart /? will give information on it’s usage.
This experience helped me understand the process of dual booting better but I would not recommend it as an exercise on a machine with mission critical data. I backed up all my data before trying this just in case. It was a time consuming fix but if you find yourself in a similar position it just might help.