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How to speed up Windows 10 using ReadyBoost

Looking an inexpensive way to give your Windows 10 computer a boost in performance? Do you have a USB flash drive and a spare USB port on your computer? Then ReadyBoost in Windows 10 might be a perfect solution.

How to speed up Windows 10 using ReadyBoost

If you have never heard of ReadyBoost, it is a program that caches files that are frequently used by Windows 10. It stores the cached files on USB flash drive(s) or SD memory card.

ReadyBoost utilizes a service called SuperFetch. SuperFetch uses an algorithm that determines which files should be stored in the cache. The cache can include system files, application files and user documents.

Now when those files are needed, instead of reading the files from the disk drive, they get read from the ReadyBoost cache instead. If a file gets changed on the disk drive, it also gets changed in the cache and visa versa.

Now it is recommended that you use only USB flash drives for ReadyBoost for desktop computers. It can be connected to either a USB 2 or USB 3 port, but a USB 3 port is recommended. But you can use an SD memory card for a laptop computer, as long as it has a fast-enough transfer rate.

And you can use more than one (1) USB flash drive for ReadyBoost. In fact, the recommended ratio between the ReadyBoost cache and system memory is 1:1 to 2.5:1.

So, if your computer has 8GB of memory, you could create a ReadyBoost cache that is between 8GB and 20GB. But you could just use a 32GB flash drive and allocate all of it to ReadyBoost.

The one thing you need to know is ReadyBoost is mainly meant to be used with systems that only have Hard Disk Drives (HDD), since they are known to have slower read access times than Solid State Drives (SSD).

ReadyBoost requirements for Windows 10

  • Minimum free space per flash drive / memory card: 1 GB
  • Maximum free spade per flash drive / memory card: 32 GB
  • Minimum transfer rate: 3.5 Mbit/s.
  • The flash drive / memory card format: NTFS

Now to make sure that your computer is ready to use ReadyBoost, you will need to make sure the SuperFetch service is running. To check the status of the SuperFetch service just follow these steps:

  1. Open a Run dialog box by pressing the Windows Logo key Windows logo key + R.
  2. In the Open field type services.msc and then click on OK.
  3. Scroll down the list of services until you find SuperFetch.
    The status of the SuperFetch inside of Services console
  4. Make sure it is running and set to start Automatically.

You are now ready to set up a USB flash drive or SD memory card for use with ReadyBoost. Just insert the drive into a spare USB port or SD card slot and follow the instructions below.

How to turn ReadyBoost on or off inside of Windows 10

  1. Insert the USB flash drive or SD memory card you want to use with ReadyBoost.
  2. Open File Explorer by using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the manila folder icon to the Taskbar.
    • or
    • Press the Windows Logo key Windows logo key + E at the same time.
  3. Navigate to the USB flash drive or SD memory card you want to use with ReadyBoost.
  4. Right-click on the drive you want to use for ReadyBoost..
    The context menu for a USB flash drive with Properties highlighted
  5. From the context menu that appears, left-click on Properties.
  6. On the Properties dialog box, left-click on the ReadyBoost tab.
    The ReadyBoost tab inside of USB flash drive Properties dialog box
  7. Once the system has analyzed the drive, select the options you want to use.

Check your e-mail and more with Mozilla Thunderbird

Looking for an e-mail program that has a ton of features? One that has a calendar, task scheduler and can handle multiple e-mail addresses? Then look no further than Mozilla Thunderbird.

Check your e-mail and more with Mozilla Thunderbird

You probably have heard of Mozilla's popular web browser Firefox, but did you know they also have a really great e-mail program, Mozilla Thunderbird? And it has some fantastic features too.

When it comes to free e-mail programs, normally they lack the features that you would find in the corporate standard Microsoft Outlook. Even the e-mail program that comes with Windows 10, Mail, has a limited feature set.

But with Mozilla Thunderbird you get all sorts of features right out of the box. It includes a calendar, address book and a task scheduler.

Account settings inside of Mozilla Thunderbird
Account settings inside of Mozilla Thunderbird

When it comes to e-mail, Mozilla Thunderbird can handle multiple e-mail addresses (POP or IMAP) and can send mail in either plain text or HTML format. You can also add signatures (HTML or plain text) for each individual e-mail account.

Mozilla Thunderbird also includes an adaptive junk mail filter for each account, you just have to train it using the Junk toolbar. You can also request return receipts, just like in Outlook.

There are also message filters similar to rules in Outlook, so that you can automatically process mail as it comes in. You can also create folder and sub-folders for local storage too.

Now when I compared Mozilla Thunderbird to Microsoft Outlook, I found they both had almost the same features. In fact, Mozilla Thunderbird has a couple features that Microsoft Outlook does not.

One of those features, just like Mozilla Firefox, is the ability to add more functionally with Add-ons. With Add-ons, you can extend what you can do with Mozilla Thunderbird.

There are Add-ons that allow you to connect to a Gmail calendar, sync the address book with Gmail contacts and create custom menus. And if you want to change the way Thunderbird looks, there are numerous themes too.

The only feature that is missing from the current version of Mozilla Thunderbird is the ability to import data from Microsoft Outlook. If you want to import Outlook data, you have to first install Thunderbird version 31.8, import your Outlook data and then upgrade Thunderbird to the current version.

There are versions of Mozilla Thunderbird that run on Windows 7 thru Windows 10, Mac OS X 10.9 thru Mac OS 10.12 and GNU/Linux. For a complete list of system requirements, see the link below.

As with Mozilla Firefox, Thunderbird is also open source and free for personal / commercial use. In fact, Mozilla is a non-profit organization that relies on donations.

So, if you find Mozilla Thunderbird useful, make a donation to help support the ongoing development of it. Click here to go to their donation page.

For more information on Mozilla Thunderbird, just follow the links below.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird - system requirements

How to make your computer look and run like brand-new

For most people, there is nothing better than a brand-new computer. But of course, you cannot get a new computer every few months. But you can get that same feeling. Here is how to make your computer look and run like brand-new.

How to make your computer look and run like brand new

For most of us, getting a brand-new computer every year is not financially possible. It would be nice, but realistically it is out of the question. But with a little work, you can get that brand-new feeling from your existing computer.

Looking brand-new

Perception is everything. If it looks new to you, it will feel new to you. And with a little cleaning and maybe a couple hardware changes, it can look brand-new.

First place to start is with the keyboard. Most keyboards are black and will show dirt and grim like no tomorrow. You will be amazed at how a good cleaning will make it appear brand-new.

A really dirty keyboard before cleaning
A really dirty keyboard before cleaning

Now when cleaning your keyboard, you will need to turn off your computer. That way you do not accidentally press the wrong keys. I have seen it happen, especially with laptops with FN keys.

Since most of us actually eat while we work, compressed air can help dislodged anything that may have gotten in between or under the keys. A good spray of compressed air should get rid of the large debris.

When it comes to psychically cleaning the keyboard, remember that liquid and electronics do not mix. Never spray a cleaning solution directly on your keyboard. Always apply it to the cleaning material (cotton swab, paper towel, etc.) first.

Lightly dampen a cotton swab or paper towel with cleaning solution and ring out any excess liquid before you start cleaning. It may take some time to clean all of the keys, but remember how long it took to get them dirty (months? years?).

That same dirty keyboard after being cleaned
That same dirty keyboard after being cleaned

Now if the printing has faded or worn off, maybe it is time to go ahead and just replace the keyboard. Desktop keyboards are easy to replace, laptop keyboards can be a little tougher. For new laptop keyboards, I recommend LaptopKeyboard.com.

When comes to your mouse, the body will get dirty and the buttons get looking worn. The same cleaning technique used for your keyboard applies to your mouse.

If it is a wired mouse, turn off the computer. If it is wireless, turn it off. Clean both the top and bottom with a lightly dampened paper towel. Use a lightly damped cotton swab to clean the optical lens on the bottom.

Next thing you might want to clean is the monitor. As with the keyboard and mouse, you will want to turn it off, unplug it and let it cool down. Once it is cooled down you can start to clean it.

Just like with your keyboard, you want to start cleaning your monitor with some compressed air. If your monitor is really dusty, you may want to take it outside before clean it with compressed air.

Use the compressed air to clean out all of the ventilation holes in the case. Make sure you get as much of the dust out as you can, as dust does conduct electricity.

Now lightly dampen a paper towel with cleaning solution and wipe the outside of the case. When you get done with that, it is time to clean the screen.

To clean the screen, I recommend using a soap based, not ammonia based, glass cleaner and micro-fiber towels to protect the finish. Never directly apply the glass cleaner to the screen to prevent damage to it.

Just lightly dampen a micro-fiber towel with glass cleaner and thoroughly wipe the screen. Now before it has a chance to dry, wipe the screen off with a dry micro-fiber towel to get rid of any streaks that may have appeared.

Last thing to clean is the outside of computer case itself. Make sure you turn it off and unplug the power cord (desktop computer) or ac adapter (laptop computer) before you start to clean it.

Lightly dampen a paper towel with cleaning solution and wipe down the outside (front, sides, top, bottom and back). If you have any old and faded stickers, this would be a great time to remove them.

To remove stickers, I recommend using an adhesive remover like Goof Off. Just make sure the area with the label is laying completely horizontal, so you can let the adhesive remover sit on it for a little while.

Once you have let the adhesive remover soak in, use a plastic razor blade or plastic putty knife to scrape the label off. If it has been on the case for a long time, you may have to a couple of passes at it before it comes off completely.

When all of the labels are gone, go ahead and clean that area with a paper towel with cleaning solution. You want to get any residue from the adhesive remover off.

Next thing we want to do is clean the inside of the computer with some compressed air. For this step we will need to disconnect all cables that are attached to the computer and take it outside.

Now the procedure is about the same for desktop and laptop computers. For desktop computers, here is a detailed article we did a little while back on how to clean the dust out of your computer.

The same procedures in the article above apply to laptops as well. For a laptop computer, all you have to do is locate the air intake for the cooling fan(s). But instead of a using nonmetallic rod to hold the cooling fan(s), use a straightened-out paper clip.

Running like brand-new

Now that you have the outside and inside clean, maybe it is time to get the operating system and programs cleaned up. Using Windows built-in Disk Cleanup tool is a good place to start.

Windows 7 Disk Cleanup

Windows 8.1 Disk Cleanup

Windows 10 Disk Cleanup

Once you have used the Disk Cleanup program, you can now look at getting rid of some of the programs you no longer use. You will need to get to the Control Panel to do this. The quickest way to get to the Control Panel is by using the Run dialog box.

How to get to and use the Run dialog box in Windows

My favorite (and the fastest way) to bring up the Run dialog box is to press the Windows Logo key Windows logo key + R keys at the same time. When it appears, just type control and then select OK.

When the Control Panel appears, select either Uninstall a program (category view) or Programs and Features (icon view). You can then start to uninstall the programs you no longer use.

Now if you want your computer to have that brand-new feeling, you can reset Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. The procedure is similar for both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

How to reset Windows 10

But if you really want that brand-new feeling, a clean installation of Windows is the way to go. Follow the instructions in the following article to perform a clean Windows 10 installation.

How to perform a clean Windows 10 installation

You can use the same procedures listed in the article above for Windows 8.1, but you will have to download the Windows 8.1 Media Creation Tool.

Windows 8.1 Media Creation Tool

You can also do the same for Windows 7, but you need to have a valid product key to download the Windows 7 ISO Image.

Download Windows 7 Disc Image

What you can do with an ISO file

What you can do with an ISO file

Have you ever downloaded an ISO file and did not know what to do with it? More and more software companies are now distributing their software using ISO files. Here is what you can do with an ISO file.

What you can do with an ISO file

Nowadays, it seems like everyone is starting to use ISO files for distributing software. In fact, ISO files are just an image of a CD or DVD disk. You commonly see them used to deliver software that is bootable.

Now really quick, ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. They have a set standard (ISO 9660) for the file system used for optical disks (CD, DVD, BD, etc.).

Even Microsoft is now using ISO files for distributing Windows. If you download Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 from Microsoft, you will get the option of downloading an ISO file.

But once you download the ISO file, what can you do with it? If you are running Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 you have basically three (3) options; mount it as a virtual optical drive, burn it to a disk or create a bootable USB drive.

You can also create your own ISO image files. For more information, check out How to create ISO files from your software disks.

How to mount and access files in an ISO file

By default, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 have the ability to mount an ISO file as a virtual optical drive built-in. Windows 7 requires a third-party program to mount an ISO file.

Once you mount an ISO file as a virtual optical drive, you can then access the files and folders inside of it. Most of the time you will use this feature to run a software installation.

For Windows 7, we are going to use the open source optical drive emulator WinCDEmu. Just download and install it using the default settings. Once it is installed, the process for mounting a ISO image is almost the same as Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.

Windows 7

  1. Open Windows Explorer by using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the manila folder icon to the Taskbar.
    • or
    • Press the Windows Logo key Windows logo key + E at the same time.
  2. Navigate to the ISO image you want to open.
  3. Right-click on it and select Select drive letter and mount on the context menu that appears.
    The Mount option highlighted on the ISO file context menu inside of Windows 7
  4. On the WinCDEmu screen that appears, select the drive letter you want to use for the virtual optical drive and left-click on OK.
    The main screen for WinCDEmu
  5. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the virtual drive you just mounted. You can now use it as you would with any other physically attached optical drive.
  6. When you are done, you can remove the virtual optical drive by right-clicking on it and selecting Eject on the context menu that appears.
    The Eject option highlighted on the ISO file context menu inside of Windows 7

Windows 8.1 and Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer (name changed in Windows 8.1) by using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the manila folder icon to the Taskbar.
    • or
    • Press the Windows Logo key Windows logo key + E at the same time.
  2. Navigate to the ISO image you want to open.
  3. Right-click on it and select Mount on the context menu that appears. Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 automatically assign the next available drive letter.
    The Mount option highlighted on the ISO file context menu inside of Windows 10
  4. Using File Explorer, navigate to the virtual drive you just mounted. You can now use it as you would with any other physically attached optical drive.
  5. When you are done, you can remove the virtual optical drive by right-clicking on it and selecting Eject on the context menu that appears.
    The Eject option highlighted on the ISO file context menu inside of Windows 10

How to burn an ISO image file to a disk

The process for burning an ISO image to disk is exactly the same for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Just make sure you have the correct blank media for the disk you want to burn.

For example, if your ISO file is under 700 MB's (Megabyte), it will fit on a CD. If it is between 700 MB's (Megabyte) and 4.7 GB's (Gigabyte), then it will fit on a DVD. If it is between 4.7 and 8.5 GB's (Gigabyte), it will fit on a Double Layer DVD. Anything over 8.5 GB's (Gigabyte) and it is going to go on a BD.

For more information on Megabytes and Gigabytes, check out What is a Bit? What is a Byte?.

Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10

  1. Open Windows Explorer (Windows 7) or File Explorer (Windows 8.1, Windows 10) by using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the manila folder icon to the Taskbar.
    • or
    • Press the Windows Logo key Windows logo key + E at the same time.
  2. Navigate to the ISO image you want to burn to disk.
  3. Right-click on it and select Burn disk image on the context menu that appears.
    The Burn disk image option highlighted on the ISO file context menu inside of Windows 10
  4. From the pull-down menu on the Windows Disc Image Burner screen, select the optical drive you want to use for burning the disk. You also have the option to verify the disk after it is created. When you are ready, left-click on the Burn button.
    The main Windows Disc Image Burner screen inside of Windows 10
  5. When the optical drive is finished burning the disk, just left-click on the Close button.
    The Windows Disc Image Burner screen verifying the disc has been burned inside of Windows 10

How to create a bootable USB drive from an ISO file

When you want to create a bootable USB drive, you will need one that is empty or one that you do not mind if it gets erased. If the USB drive you want to use has been used before, double check it to make sure there is nothing on it you want to keep.

Remember to use a USB drive that is larger than the ISO file you want to put on it. A good rule of thumb is to use one that the capacity is more than 4GB. I prefer using 8GB or larger.

To create a bootable USB drive will require downloading and installing a separate program. There are several out on the Internet, but here are the two (2) most popular programs.

Windows USB/DVD Download Tool from Microsoft

This free tool is mainly meant for creating bootable Window 7 USB drives from downloaded installation media. It is recommended to only install it on Windows 7, as the system requirements do not list support for Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.

Rufus - Create bootable USB drives the easy way

The thing about Rufus is it requires no installation, just download it and it is ready to go. And there are a lot more options including partition scheme, file system and cluster size. You also have more boot options including MS-DOS and FreeDOS.

Overlooked features inside of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Microsoft recently released the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10. As usual, Microsoft has added some pretty cool features in this version of Windows 10. Let's take a look at some of the new overlooked features included in the Window 10 Fall Creators Update.

Overlooked features inside of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

There are a couple of new features that have gotten all sorts of publicity, the support of virtual reality headsets and mixed reality. But there are a few new features that have gotten passed over.

Make a movie using the Photos app

Creating a video using the Windows 10 Photo app
Creating a video using the Windows 10 Photo app

This feature is reminiscent of the old Windows Movie Maker program. You just select some pictures and videos, set up the different parameters and then export your video out.

A one of the coolest features in that you can add either predefined generic music or use your own. Another is the predefined themes that you can apply to your video. Here is a list of some of the other options.

  • Changing the order of the photos
  • Changing the duration a photo is shown
  • Various predefined photo filters
  • Adding text to a photo
  • Predefined motion styles

Easily insert an emoji

The emoji panel inside of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
The emoji panel inside of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Do you like to use emojis? Well inserting them just got a whole lot easier. With the release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, you can now insert an emoji with just a couple of keystrokes.

All you have to do is open a program that supports using emojis, like webmail in a browser or e-mail client (Outlook, Windows 10 Mail) You can even insert an emoji into a Microsoft Word document.

To bring up the emoji panel just press the Windows Logo key Windows logo key + Period (.) or Semicolon (;) and left-click on the emoji you want to insert. If you want to insert multiple emojis, then you will have to repeat the keystroke combination for each emoji.

There appears to be over 1200 emojis to choose from. And if you left-click on the search magnifying glass and type the first few characters of the emoji name your looking for, the panel will display all the emojis that match.

And some of them you can even change the skin tone. To see this is action, search for Santa and use the skin tone box in the upper right-hand corner to change his skin tone.

Quick and easy dictation

The dictation box inside of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Now let's look at one of the cooler features inside the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, the on-the-fly dictation. If you have a microphone it's a pretty cool little program.

OK, I'm a little skeptical when it comes to doing voice recognition to text. I have had programs that said that they would translate from voice to text but none of them really worked well, but this one works pretty good.

I found the dictation program inside of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will work with any program that the basically types text, like Notepad or WordPad. Sure, it has its little quirks, it doesn't capture all of the words properly.

But about 95% of which you speak does get translated to decent human legible text. And if you hate to type, the dictation app could really help.

You can bring up the dictation app two (2) different ways:

  • Press the Windows Logo key Windows logo key + H on a physical keyboard
  • or
  • Select the microphone icon on the touch keyboard

Controlled folder access inside of Windows Defender

The controlled folder option inside of Windows Defender
The controlled folder option inside of Windows Defender

One of the most anticipated new features of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is the controlled folder access inside of Windows Defender. With all of the file encrypting malware outbreaks, this is a great new feature. But it does have its pros and cons.

In essence, Windows Defender blocks access to your special folders (desktop, documents, favorites, pictures, music and videos) from programs that it does not recognize (non-Microsoft). You can also add any other folder you would like to protect too. But you will have to turn this option on, as it is disabled by default.

Now this can also be an issue with non-Microsoft programs accessing files in the protected folders. Case in point, I recently updated a client's computer to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and QuickBooks couldn't get to the documents folder. But it was easily fixed by adding QuickBooks to the allowed programs list inside of Windows Defender.

Even though you can have Windows Defender working side-by-side with your existing anti-virus software doing periodic scans, the controlled folders option only works when Windows Defender is the only anti-virus program installed.

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in all aspects of Computer Repair / PC Repair / Laptop Repair. Since 2008, our expert computer repair technicians have been providing outstanding Computer Repair, Virus Removal, Data Recovery, Photo Manipulation and Website Support.

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