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How to setup a mobile hotspot inside of Windows 10

Wi-Fi hotspots have become quite familiar with smartphone users. Having the ability to share your Internet connection can be a lifesaver at times. But did you know that you can do the same thing with a Windows 10 computer? Here's how to create a mobile hotspot in Windows 10.

How to setup a mobile hotspot inside of Windows 10

It used to be that if you wanted to share your Internet connection on your laptop or desktop computer, you had to use third-party software like Virtual Hotspot. The cool thing is Microsoft has built that feature right into Windows 10.

I know what you're thinking; "When would I ever use a Wi-Fi hotspot?". Using the Windows 10 mobile hotspot can be extremely helpful if you have to pay for Internet access, like at a hotel or airport.

For example, when I travel, I like to set up my laptop to use a wired (Ethernet) Internet connection, because they usually are faster than wireless. Once I've established a wired connection to the Internet, then I share that connection with all of my wireless devices (smartphone, tablet, etc.).

Now there are a couple of requirements that your system has to have before the mobile hotspot feature becomes available. You have to have at least two (2) network adapters, and one of them has to be a wireless adapter. The connection to the Internet can be either wired, wireless, or cellular.

The mobile hotspot uses WPA2-PSK security, and only 8 (eight) devices can connect to it at one time. And the only thing you can share is your Internet connection. Devices connected to the mobile hotspot cannot access folders, files, or printers on the host computer.

How to set up a mobile hotspot in Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start button (Windows logo) to bring up the Start menu.
    Windows 10 mobile hotspot setup 1
  2. Left-click on Settings (gear icon).
    Windows 10 mobile hotspot setup 2
  3. Left-click on Network & Internet.
    Windows 10 mobile hotspot setup 3
  4. In the left-hand column, look for the Mobile hotspot tab. You don't see it; your computer doesn't meet the requirements.
    Windows 10 mobile hotspot setup 4
  5. Under Network status in the right-hand column, make a note of which type of connection you are using.
  6. In the left-hand column, left-click on Mobile hotspot.
    Windows 10 mobile hotspot setup 5
  7. In the right-hand column under Mobile hotspot, make sure the connection shown under Share my Internet connection from is the same connection from Step 5. If not, use the pull-down menu to change it.
  8. Directly below the Share my Internet connection from pull-down menu is the Network name and Network password. If you want to change either of these, left-click on the Edit button below them.
    Windows 10 mobile hotspot setup 6
  9. Now go back to the top of the right-hand column and left-click on the Share my Internet connection with other devices slider switch to turn on your mobile hotspot.

What is a Bit? What is a Byte?

You hear these terms when you talk about computers: Megabyte, Gigabyte, Terabyte, 32-bit, 64-bit. For a novice computer user, these can be quite confusing. So, here's an explanation of a Bit and a Byte.

What is a Bit? What is a Byte?

The terminology is familiar to almost everyone, but do you know what they are? To understand it, we have to go break it down to the primary 0's and 1's.

What is a Bit?

A Bit is the basic unit in computer information and has only two different values, generally defined as a 0 or 1. These values can be interpreted as on or off, yes or no, true or false, etc. It just depends on the binary code.

What is a Byte?

A Byte is just 8 Bits and is the smallest unit of memory that can be addressed in many computer systems. The following list shows the relationship between all of the different units of data.

0 (Off) or 1 (On) = 1 Bit
8 Bits = 1 Byte
1,024 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte
1,024 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte
1,024 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte
1,024 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte
1,024 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte
1,024 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte
1,024 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte

Let's take a look at a simple text file I created called sample.txt. It contains only eight (8) characters, four (4) upper case, and four (4) lower case letters. I created my text file using Notepad, so it is encoded using the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard binary code.

A sample text file with only eight characters opened in a text editor
A sample text file with only eight characters opened in a text editor

The closest we can get to viewing raw binary code is to open my sample text file in a hexadecimal file editor. Hexadecimal digits allow for a more human-friendly representation of binary code.

A sample text file with only eight characters opened in a hexadecimal editor
A sample text file with only eight characters opened in a hexadecimal editor

Since the ANSI code standard is a revision of the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) code, we'll need to use that standard for references to binary information. Using the table of ASCII printable characters on Wikipedia, we can find the binary code equivalent.

Character Hexadecimal Binary
A 41 01000001
a 61 01100001
B 42 01000010
b 62 01100010
C 43 01000011
c 63 01100011
D 44 01000100
d 64 01100100

So, as you can see, each character contains 8 bits or 1 byte, and the whole sample.txt file is 8 bytes in size. To put this in perspective, I created a Microsoft Word document (sample.docx) with the same characters as the sample text file.

A sample Microsoft Word file with only eight characters opened in Microsoft Word
A sample Microsoft Word file with only eight characters opened in Microsoft Word

A sample Microsoft Word file with only eight characters opened in a hexadecimal editor
A sample Microsoft Word file with only eight characters opened in a hexadecimal editor

Here you can see all of the underlying formatting, and the size has increased significantly. The sample.docx file is almost 12 kilobytes (11,513 bytes) in size but contains only eight (8) characters.

What is 32-bit / 64-bit?

The terms 32-bit and 64-bit define the fixed-size piece of data a processor can transfer to and from memory. So, in theory, 64-bit computers can handle data twice as fast 32-bit systems.

The 32-bit computer architecture is most commonly known as x86 and was based on the Intel 8086 / 8088 processor. The Intel 8086 / 8088 processor was found in the original stand-alone Pac-Man video arcade console. The term for 64-bit computer architecture is x64, a little more straight forward.

The following Wikipedia articles were used for reference:

Bit - Wikipedia
Byte - Wikipedia
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) - Wikipedia
American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) - Wikipedia
Binary code - Wikipedia
Hexadecimal - Wikipedia

How to backup and restore the registry in Windows 10

Everyone knows that when you make any significant change to your computer, you need to backup the registry first. But not many casual computer users understand what the registry is and how to back it up. So here's how to backup and restore the registry in Windows 10.

How to backup and restore the registry in Windows 10

So what is the registry? The registry is a database that contains information on the hardware, software, and user(s) installed on your computer. Even though it may sound like it is a single entity, it consists of several different files. The collection of these files is called the registry hive.

FYI: The information in the registry hive is stored in two (2) essential elements; Keys and Values. Keys are like folders; they can contain values and keys. Values are like files; they contain data in various formats.

Automatically backup and restore the registry in Windows 10

The System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box inside of Windows 10
The System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box inside of Windows 10

Now the simplest way to backup the registry is to create a restore point. Restore points contain backup copies of the registry, most drivers, and files with particular extensions.

Restore points can be a lifesaver if your system fails to start up after a change or modification. Just make sure to create a system repair disk (instructions below) and have it on hand only in case your system won't start up correctly. You can use it to boot your computer and access a restore point.

How to create a restore point in Windows 10

  1. Bring up the System page by either:
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Pause.
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X to bring up the Power User menu and press Y to select System.
    • Right-clicking on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start menu to bring up the Power User menu and select System.
  2. Left-click on the Advanced system settings link.
  3. Left-click on the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.
  4. At the bottom of the System Protection tab left-click on the button under the Protection Settings section labeled Create ....
  5. Type in a descriptive title for your restore point (the date and time are automatically added).
  6. Left-click on Create.

How to use a restore point in Windows 10

  1. Bring up the System page by either:
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Pause.
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X to bring up the Power User menu and press Y to select System.
    • Right-clicking on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start menu to bring up the Power User menu and select System.
  2. Left-click on the Advanced system settings link.
  3. Left-click on the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.
  4. At the top of the System Protection tab left-click on the button under the System Restore section labeled System Restore ....
  5. When the starting screen appears, left-click on Next >.
  6. Highlight the restore point you want to use, then left-click on Next >.
  7. When the confirmation screen appears, left-click on Finish.
  8. A warning should appear telling you not to interrupt the system restore process. Left-click on Yes to proceed.
  9. Your computer will start restoring the system (including the registry) to the way it was when the restore point was created and then reboot.

How to create a system repair disk in Windows 10

  1. Bring up the Run dialog box by either:
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R
    • Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run
  2. In the Run dialog box that appears, type recdisc and select OK. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. Just follow the prompts, and you should be good to go.

Manually backup and restore the registry in Windows 10

The Registry Editor interface inside of Windows 10
The Registry Editor interface inside of Windows 10

Another way to backup the registry is to use the built-in Registry Editor. The beautiful thing about using the Registry Editor is that you don't have to backup the whole registry if you don't want to. You can just backup any key or value you want.

Now there is a down-side to using the Registry Editor to manually backup the registry. To restore anything with the Registry Editor, you have to boot your computer in either standard or safe mode. A system repair disc doesn't have the Registry Editor included.

How to manually backup the registry using the Registry Editor in Windows 10

  1. Bring up the Run dialog box by either:
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R
    • Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run
  2. In the Run dialog box that appears, type regedit and select OK. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  3. When the Registry Editor appears either:
    • Highlight Computer in the left-hand column to backup the complete registry.
    • Highlight the key or value you want to backup.
  4. Left-click on the File pull-down menu and left-click on Export.
  5. Select the location and a descriptive file name for the backup file and then left-click on Save.

How to manually restore the registry using the Registry Editor in Windows 10

  1. Bring up the Run dialog box by either:
    • Pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R
    • Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu or press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X and then select Run
  2. In the Run dialog box that appears, type regedit and select OK. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  3. When the Registry Editor appears either:
  4. Left-click on the File pull-down menu and left-click on Import.
  5. Navigate to the location of the REG file you want to import and left-click on it.
  6. Left-click on the Open button. You should get a confirmation screen telling you successfully imported the file.

How to disable or enable auto-start programs and drivers in Windows 10

Updated July 11, 2020

In doing computer repair, I often get asked, "Why does my computer take so long to start up?". Quite often, it turns out that there are items set to auto-start that don't need to or don't exist anymore. Here's how to disable programs, drivers, and services that auto-start in Windows 10.

How to disable or enable auto-start programs and drivers in Windows 10

Now this one doesn't cost any money and can dramatically improve the time it takes for your computer and programs to start up. By minimizing the number of applications that launch at startup, you can also free up memory.

Now there are three (3) programs I use to enable or disable programs, drivers, or services that start up in Windows 10. The built-in programs (Task Manager and System Configuration) are pretty safe to use but still can degrade performance if not used properly. The third program (Autoruns / Autoruns64) can be dangerous because not only can it enable or disable entries, it can also delete them.

Note: I recommended that you make changes one at a time and restart between them. That way, you can find out if you need that program or service you just disabled. Yes, it's time-consuming, but sometimes you have to do it.

Task Manager (Auto-start programs)

The Startup tab inside of Windows 10 Task Manager
The Startup tab inside of Windows 10 Task Manager

Using Task Manager is the most comfortable and safest way to enable or disable programs that auto-start with Windows 10. None of the programs listed here are going to prevent your computer from starting if disabled. You will not find any program listed here that Windows 10 requires to operate.

Now for those of you that are not familiar with Task Manager, it's a built-in program that does a lot of different things. It monitors running programs, system performance, and active processes. And it also manages programs that auto-start with Windows 10.

How to start Task Manager in Windows 10

  1. Right-click on an empty area of the Taskbar.
  2. On the context menu that appears, left-click on Task Manager.

or

  1. Press CTRL + ALT + DEL all at the same time.
  2. From the security screen that appears, left-click on Task Manager.

The first time you run Task Manager, it only displays running apps. You have to left-click on the More details arrow to view all of the tabs. Once you have the tabs displayed, left-click on Startup.

From here, all you have to do is highlight the program name and select the Enable / Disable button located in the bottom right-hand corner.

System Configuration (Auto-start services)

The Services tab inside of Windows 10 System Configuration
The Services tab inside of Windows 10 System Configuration

This program is used mainly for diagnostics, so there are no splashy graphics here. With System Configuration, you can change the services that auto-start with Windows 10. Be careful about making changes here, as they can have a significant impact on system performance.

How to start System Configuration in Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start Menu and scroll down the list of applications to Windows Administrative Tools.
  2. Left-click on Windows Administrative Tools to expand the contents.
  3. Scroll down and left-click on System Configuration.

or

  1. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R to bring up the Run dialog box.
  2. Type in MSCONFIG and left-click on OK.

From the default dialog box, select the Service tab. There you will find all of the services that auto-start with Windows 10. Remember that some of the Microsoft services listed cannot be disabled, so it's always best to select the Hide all Microsoft services checkbox at the bottom of the services section.

Once you have made your changes left-click on the Apply button, then left-click on the OK button. You will get a dialog box prompting you to either Restart or Exit without restart. Left-click on Restart, and you're ready to go. Remember to make changes one at a time and restart in between changes.

Autoruns / Autoruns64 (Auto-start programs, drivers and services)

The Everything tab inside of Microsoft Autoruns
The Everything tab inside of Microsoft Autoruns

Autoruns.exe (32-bit) and Autoruns64.exe (64-bit) are part of Microsoft's Sysinternals Suite of troubleshooting utilities and do not come with Windows 10. But they are free, require no installation, and can be downloaded separately or with the complete suite (see links below).

This program is the most complex of them all. And the most dangerous! Why do you ask? Besides being able to disable programs, drivers, and services that auto-start, you can also delete their load points altogether. So be careful!

Once you downloaded the files and extracted them to a permanent location, open that folder with File Explorer. Locate either Autoruns.exe or Autoruns64.exe (depending on your version of Windows 10). Right-click on the release of Autoruns for your version of Windows 10 and select Run as administrator from the context menu.

When you start Autoruns, it automatically scans your computer for auto-start programs, drivers, and services. Autoruns has multiple tabs for the different Windows auto-start locations (logon, services, drivers, etc.), including one called Everything. And if you select the User pull-down menu on the toolbar on top of the program, you can also select the different user profiles.

If you want to disable/enable a program or driver, left-click on the checkbox on the left-hand side of the entry. You can also delete an entry, but I recommend that you back it up first, just in case. If you find you don't need the backup, you can delete the file later.

To back up an entry in Autoruns, you right-click on it, and a context menu will appear. Left-click on Jump to entry ... and the Registry Editor opens to the location in the registry of that entry. Right-click on the selected entry in the Registry Editor, and a context menu appears. Left-click on Export and select a location and file name for your backup file.

Autoruns
Sysinternals Suite

Navigating Windows 10

Updated June 4, 2020

It seems nowadays everyone is looking for ways to get things done quicker. The same holds for your computer. The faster you can open a program or document, the better. So here are my favorite tips for navigating Windows 10.

Navigating Windows 10

Since I do computer repair for a living, I've had to find ways to navigate Windows' different versions. With Windows 10, Microsoft keeps some of the cooler features while adding some new ones. And they even brought back one feature from previous versions. Let's take a look at my favorite ways to get around inside of Windows 10.

Power User menu

This little pop-up menu is a fast way to find some of the core features inside of Windows 10. It first appeared in Windows 8 to supplement the loss of the Start Menu. It never got the publicity it deserved, and only real geeks knew it existed. My customers are still amazed the first time I use it in front of them.

Lucky for us, Microsoft decided to keep the Power Users menu in Windows 10. It is still the fastest way to get to features like the Apps and Features, Network Connections, and Computer Management. Here's how to display the Power User menu in Windows 10.

Windows 10 Power User menu

There are two (2) ways of displaying the Power User menu in Windows 10: Mouse or Keyboard.

Using your mouse to display the Power User menu in Windows 10

Right-click on the Windows logo Windows logo key on the Start Menu

Using your keyboard to display the Power User menu in Windows 10

Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + X

If you use the keyboard to bring up the Power User menu, you'll find that the programs/features listed have a single letter in their name underlined. These are also keyboard shortcuts to that particular program/feature. Here's a link to the complete list of the Power User menu keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10.

Power User menu keyboard shortcuts

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

Here's is another handy feature that nobody knows about, the Windows logo key. I have customers ask me, "What does that key with the Windows logo do?". Well, its primary use is to bring up the Start Menu, but it does more. Allot more.

The Windows logo key was introduced over twenty-five (25) years ago alongside Windows 95 and the new Start Menu. There were only a handful of Windows logo key shortcuts at that time, and you had to purchase a Windows 95 compatible keyboard to use them. Now you can't find a Windows-compatible keyboard without it.

There are now close to forty (40) Windows logo key shortcuts in Windows 10. Once you try them out, you'll wonder how you lived without for so long. Here's a link to the complete list of Windows logo key shortcuts.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 10

Shortcut keys in Windows 10

Here is one of those 'old school' features that I love to use. Did you know that you can open almost any shortcut with just your keyboard? By simply editing a shortcut, you open it with a combination of three (3) keys.

Now, if you have used Windows for a while, you know what a shortcut is. And if not, no biggie. Here's how to create a shortcut in Windows 10.

Allot of people don't know that they can edit a shortcut and change how it works, including adding a keyboard shortcut to it. The keyboard shortcut for your shortcut needs to be a combination of three (3) keys, and the first two (2) keys have to be CTRL and ALT. The third key is your choice, but I try to use either the first letter of the program/file or a letter close to CTRL and ALT keys.

The shortcut key field inside of the properties a shortcut
The shortcut key field inside of the properties of a shortcut

How to add a keyboard shortcut to an existing shortcut

  1. Right-click on the shortcut you want to modify and from the context menu that appears select Properties.
  2. When the properties dialog box appears, make sure the Shortcut tab is selected.
  3. Go down to the Shortcut key field and left-click inside the area (the cursor will blink).
  4. Press the CTRL key and the key you want to be assigned to the shortcut simultaneously (Windows will automatically add the ALT).
  5. Left-click on Apply and you are done.

Start Menu

And last but not least is the Start Menu. After a brief disappearance in Windows 8, Microsoft decided to bring it back. It's now got a slightly different look and feel, but it still does what it is supposed to do: Navigate.

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