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Saying goodbye to Windows 7 isn’t easy, but you must

Listen, I get it. Windows 7 has worked really well. After the Vista fiasco, you were so happy to get a decent version of Windows. You dodged the Windows 8.x sinkhole, and, boy, were you glad! Then, you thought about Windows 10, but 7 just did the job so you stuck with it, and then you felt vindicated because of Windows 10’s dodgy upgrades and patches. Now, today, Jan. 14, 2020, Windows 7 has reached its end of life, and either you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 or you’re working on another Windows 7 alternative like Chrome OS, macOS or Linux, right?

I mean, you’ve moved on. Right?

Oh, no! What’s this!? According to the most accurate survey of who’s running what on the internet the running totals of the U.S. government’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) — on Jan. 9, five days before Win7’s end of life, 19% of Windows users were still using Windows 7.

People, people, people. It’s time to switch. Even the simplest update scenario, upgrading to Windows 10, takes a minimum of three hours. Moving your data and applications to Windows 10 can take anywhere from hours to days. It’s long past time to move. If you want an alternative operating system, it will take you even longer.

Of course, many companies are simply retiring their old PCs and replacing them with newer models running Windows 10. That’s the easiest way forward. But, as DAP’s numbers show, lots of people still haven’t made the move.

Indeed, just as in a lame action movie with a bomb countdown, as the clock ticks to zero on Windows 7, I’ve met some people who don’t plan on updating at all. Shudder!

They tell me they’ll be fine if they just keep updating their antiviral software. No! Just no! Where to begin?

First, antivirus (A/V) programs only protect you against known malware. There’s a lot of new trouble coming along every day. A/V programs don’t have a great track record of keeping up with the newest and nastiest malware. One of the best, Microsoft Security Essentials, dies on the same day as Windows 7 — today, remember? Windows Defender Antivirus? It was never available on Windows 7 and it’s sure not going to be ported over now!

Second, as former Firefox developer Robert O’Callahan and Google Chrome’s security chief Justin Schuh have pointed out separately, there is a lot of rotten code in A/V programs. In fact, many developers see A/V programs as more harmful than helpful. That’s because to protect a system they get so deep into it they can also be easily used as an attack vector.

Let’s also not forget that if something goes wrong and you call for help, it’s doubtful that you’ll get a helping hand for troubleshooting problems on an obsolete operating system.

Last, but not least, when new security holes are found in Windows 7 — and they will pop up — you’ll be wide open to attacks.

If you really, really must keep running Windows 7, I can only suggest you run it on a virtual machine (VM) without networking on another operating system. I recommend using Oracle VirtualBox on Linux Mint. It’s what I use for dodgy operating systems. That way you can still run your old apps and be relatively safe.

Of course, the really smart thing to do if you refuse to leave Windows 7 is to bite the bullet and pay for Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU). If you can get it.

First, it’s only available for those with Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise or Windows 7 Ultimate. Windows 7 Home? So sorry, you’re out of luck.

If you have a small business, you can get ESU, right? Sure! That is, Microsoft claims you can get it via a Microsoft cloud service provider (CSP). In practice, users are saying CSPs don’t want their business. They don’t want your custom because if you only need 30 or fewer ESU units, they can’t make a profit.

The bottom line is Microsoft really wants you to move off Windows 7 to Windows 10 right now. I know, I know, Windows 7 still works and it’s going to be a major headache to upgrade or migrate, no matter what you do. It always is. Nevertheless, the time has come. Move off Windows 7 today or feel a lot of pain tomorrow.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





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10 easy steps to make Chrome faster and more secure

Gather ’round, kiddos — ’cause it’s time for a story.

Once upon a time, Chrome was a lean, mean browsing machine. It was the scrappy lightweight kid in a block filled with clunky old blobs of blubber. People had never seen a browser so fast, so thoughtfully constructed! It stripped everything down to the essentials and made the act of browsing the web both pleasant and secure — qualities that were anything but standard back in that prehistoric era.

Chrome was “minimalist in the extreme,” as The New York Times put it — with “extremely fast” page loads and a “snappy” user interface, in the words of Ars Technica. Its sandbox-centric setup and emphasis on supporting web-based applications made the program “the first true Web 2.0 browser,” as some other tech website opined.

Well, fast-forward to today, and the fairy tale is over: Eleven years have passed since Chrome’s debut, and the browser — just like that one college buddy of yours — has grown considerably less lithe. These days, in fact, Chrome has earned a bit of a reputation for being somewhat bloated and, thanks to all the third-party software associated with it, not always entirely secure. My, how things have changed.

Still, Chrome remains the de facto standard of modern web browsing, commanding a whopping 67% of the global market, according to recent data from analytics vendor Net Applications. And it has plenty of positives to offer, not least of all its tight integration with the rest of the Google ecosystem — a particular boon for G Suite users.

So whether Chrome’s feeling slightly too sluggish or you simply want to tighten up its security, take the time to go through these 10 steps. They’re all easy to pull off and free from any significant side effects — and together, they’re practically guaranteed to give your browser a much-needed fitness boost.

(Note that, except where specified, these tips revolve around the Chrome desktop browser and should work the same regardless of your operating system — even with Chrome OS, where the browser is built into the system software.

1. Clean up your apps and extensions

Chrome is basically its own platform at this point, and the apps and extensions that run within it can work wonders in customizing the browser and expanding its capabilities. But every single one of those add-ons requires a certain amount of resources to operate — and the more of ’em you have installed, the more bogged down and slothful Chrome can become.

Not only that, but many Chrome apps and extensions require access to at least some of your web browsing activity. That’s why periodically looking over your list of installed apps and extensions and clearing out any items you no longer need is one of the easiest and most effective ways to speed up your browser’s performance while simultaneously strengthening its security.

So type chrome:extensions into your browser’s address bar and carefully evaluate every app and extension you see. If there’s anything you don’t recognize or no longer need, click the Remove button within its box to get rid of it.

The more you can clear out, the better.

2. Put your remaining add-ons under the microscope

For any apps and extensions that you didn’t uninstall, look closely at what sort of access they’re claiming to your web browsing data — and whether they really need to be privy to that much of your activity.

Start once more by typing chrome:extensions into your browser’s address bar — but this time, click the Details button associated with each remaining app and extension, then look for a line labeled “Site access.” If you don’t see such a line, the add-on in question isn’t accessing any of your browsing data. Check it off your list and move onto the next one.

If an app or extension is listed as having access “on all sites,” meanwhile, it’s able to see and even modify what’s in your browser all of the time — without any restrictions. Stop and ask yourself if it genuinely needs that ability. If it doesn’t, switch its setting to either “on specific sites” or “on click,” depending on which setup seems to make the most sense. (If you choose “on specific sites,” you’ll then have to designate which specific sites the extension is allowed to access. If it’s an extension that modifies the Gmail interface, for instance, you might want to set it to operate only on mail.google.com.)

02 chrome extension permissions JR Raphael/IDG

Just because an extension asks for access to your data on all sites by default doesn’t mean you have to leave it that way.

You may run into some extensions that stop working properly as a result of such a change, but it’s worth giving it a whirl. And if an extension won’t function with more limited access without any logical reason, well, it’s worth considering whether it’s really an extension you want to be using.

3. Step up your tab management smarts

If you’re the type of person who keeps tons of tabs open, listen up: Your hoarding habit is bogging your browser down. The more tabs you keep active at once, the slower Chrome will run. It’s inevitable.

The obvious solution is to stop leaving stuff open that you don’t actually need open — but if you absolutely need to have more than a handful of tabs running at any given moment, think about snagging an extension that’ll manage them more intelligently for you and prevent ’em from bringing your browser to a crawl:

  • The Great Suspender runs in the background and automatically suspends any tabs you haven’t looked at after a configurable amount of time. That way, your tabs remain readily available but don’t needlessly eat up resources when they aren’t actively in use.
  • Toby for Chrome transforms Chrome’s New Tab Page into a series of custom tab collections. The idea is that instead of leaving tabs open, you can save them there and then pick up where you left off later.
  • Tab Snooze takes a cue from email and allows you to send any tab away and then have it return at a set date and time. So instead of keeping everything you’ll ever need right in front of you, you can snooze tabs you aren’t actively working with and then have ’em reappear when you’re likely to need ’em.
03 chrome tab snooze JR Raphael/IDG

Tab Snooze brings a clever email-reminiscent organizational system into your browser.

One or more of those tools will go a long way in keeping both Chrome and your brain from getting overloaded.

4. Consider a script-blocking extension

You know what really slows the web down, more than anything connected to your own local browser? It’s certain sites’ overuse of scripts — tracking scripts, ad-loading scripts, video-playing scripts, you name it. (Not that, uh, we’d know anything about such matters ’round these parts. Insert awkward whistling here.)

A script-blocking extension like uBlock Origin will keep such scripts from running and make your web browsing experience feel infinitely faster as a result. You can even manually whitelist sites within the extension as you see fit — whether to keep legitimate scripts, such as video players you actually want to use, from being blocked, or maybe just to keep certain unnamed writers from being shackled in their publication’s basement for having encouraged readers to block revenue-generating scripts.

Erm, let’s move on, all right?

5. Put your mobile browser on a data diet

Here’s one for the Android-owning folk among us: The Chrome Android browser has a handy hidden option that routes slow-loading pages through Google’s servers in order to simplify their code and make them quicker to open. It all happens instantaneously, and nothing looks different as a result.

The feature’s called Lite Mode, and you can flip it on by going into Chrome’s settings on your phone, scrolling down toward the bottom of the list, tapping the line labeled “Lite Mode,” and then flipping the toggle to the on position.

05 chrome lite mode JR Raphael/IDG

The Chrome Android browser’s Lite Mode makes pages smaller and faster to load.

It won’t make a night-and-day difference, but it’s one of the few effective speed-enhancing options available in Chrome’s mobile form — and hey, every little bit helps.

6. Let Chrome preload pages for you

Waiting for a page to load is the worst part of web browsing, but Chrome has an out-of-the-way feature that can take at least some of that pain away by selectively preloading pages you’re likely to open.

It works by looking at every link within a page that you’re viewing, using some Google voodoo magic to predict which links you’re likely to click on, and then preloading the associated pages before you actually click ’em.

This one’s available in both the desktop browser and within the Chrome app on both Android and iOS:

  • On the desktop, type chrome:settings into your address bar, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click “Advanced,” then in the “Privacy and security” box look for the line labeled “Preload pages for faster browsing and searching” and activate the toggle alongside it.
  • On Android, open the Chrome app’s settings, tap “Privacy,” then look for the line labeled “Preload pages for faster browsing and searching” and make sure the box next to it is checked.
  • And on iOS, open the Chrome app’s settings, tap “Bandwidth,” then tap “Preload Webpages” and select either “Always” or “Only on Wi-Fi” from the options that pop up. (Going with “Always” will result in speedier browsing even when you’re using mobile data, but it’ll also burn through more mobile data as a result.)

If you want to take this same concept even further, the third-party FasterChrome extension will preload a page anytime you hover your mouse over its link for at least 65 milliseconds. That way, when you’re about to click something, the loading starts in the background — and by the time you get there, the time-consuming work is finished and the page is ready to appear.

7. Switch to a better DNS provider

Every time you type a web address into Chrome, the browser relies on a Domain Name System server to look up that URL, find the IP address where the site is located, and then take you to the right place.

More often than not, your internet provider is the one responsible for doing that job — and suffice it to say, it doesn’t tend to do it particularly well. By switching yourself to a third-party DNS provider, you can seriously speed up the time it takes for a web page to come up after you type in its address, and you can also keep your internet provider from collecting data about what websites you visit and then using that information to make even more money off of you.

Cloudflare and Google both offer DNS provider services for free, and both are generally considered to be among the fastest and most reliable options available — and, what’s more, both promise not to store any identifiable info about you or to sell any of your data. You can switch to either of them as your DNS provider by changing a setting in your router’s configuration or by adjusting your settings on a device-by-device basis. This easy-to-follow guide has specific steps for doing that on a variety of different products.

8. Fill in the web’s security gaps

By now, you probably know that most websites should be using HTTPS — a secure protocol that puts a lock icon in your browser’s address bar and lets you know (a) that a site actually is what it proclaims to be and (b) that everything you send to the site is encrypted.

But while most sites have come around to the standard, some still inexplicably cling onto the older and far less secure HTTP protocol.

Well, here’s the fix: A Chrome extension called HTTPS Everywhere will switch insecure sites over to HTTPS for you and ensure anything you transmit to them remains safe from snooping eyes. It’s developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Tor Project, and it’s completely free to use.

08 chrome https everywhere JR Raphael/IDG

HTTPS Everywhere gives you an effective one-click fix for any sites that still aren’t using the secure HTTPS standard.

9. Clean up your computer

If you’ve tried all these steps and your Chrome browser is still struggling, it might be worth checking to see if something funky is going on with your computer that could be affecting Chrome’s performance.

If you’re using Windows, Chrome has its own simple-as-can-be tool for seeking out and removing any malware or other programs that might be interfering with Chrome’s proper operation: Just type chrome:settings into your address bar, click “Advanced,” and then scroll all the way to the bottom of the screen and click “Clean up computer.” Click the Find button on the next screen, then wait while Chrome scans your system and walks you through the process of removing anything harmful it uncovers.

If you’re using a Mac or Linux system, look through your list of installed applications and see if there’s anything present that you don’t recognize — or try a third-party malware checker if you want to dig deeper. (You can find some specific scanner recommendations for Mac here and for Linux here.)

On Chrome OS, meanwhile, malware isn’t really an issue, thanks to the software’s unusual architecture, but it can never hurt to take a look through your launcher and make sure nothing unusual or unexpected catches your eye.

10. Give yourself a fresh start

Last but not least, you can always reset Chrome to its default state — eliminating all apps and extensions, restoring all settings to their out-of-the-box defaults, and giving you a completely clean slate on which to start over.

This isn’t something that’s advisable for everyone, but if your browser is really poky or having other problems and nothing else is making a difference, it’s a final step worth attempting. Type chrome:settings into your address bar, click “Advanced,” and look for the “Restore settings to their original defaults” option at the bottom of the screen. Click it, confirm that you want to proceed, and then sit back and wait for the deed to be done.

With any luck, your need for speed will finally be fulfilled — and you can start getting around the web with optimal security and without all the waiting.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Sound Not Working on Your Mac? Easy Fixes for Audio Problems

Audio glitches, internal components making strange sounds, problems with connecting an external audio device, or sound not working at all are some of the common Mac sound issues you may encounter.

At times, misconfigured apps or settings can result in static in your audio output, inability to change the volume, lack of stereo output, or even no output at all. Here’s a list of fixes to resolve sound problems on your Mac.

No Sound on Mac? Check the Volume First

Mac volume control through menu bar

Before you spend all day resolving a non-existent issue, check the volume and make sure it’s not muted. Press and hold the F12 button to increase the volume, or use the slider in the menu bar to adjust it.

Additionally, check your computer’s audio port to ensure that you haven’t forgotten about any connected headphones or other external devices.

Choose the Right Audio Device

If your Mac’s sound is still not working after the basic troubleshooting above, we’ll next find whether the sound problem is system-wide or only in a particular app.

When you can’t hear anything after plugging in your headphones, microphone, or any other external device, you must check the input/output audio device settings. Sometimes your Mac might select the wrong device due to incorrect configuration, driver incompatibility, conflicts, or other reasons.

From the Apple menu, launch System Preferences and select Sound. Jump to the Input tab to check the input audio device settings. Make sure you have the correct input device for your audio selected.

Mac choose the right input audio device

Repeat the same procedure for the output audio device settings. A common mistake is unknowingly having a Bluetooth device connected, so audio plays to that instead of through your Mac’s speakers.

Mac choose the right output audio device

Sometimes simply switching from one output to another can also fix the problem. Also, try unplugging and reconnecting your audio devices. Remember to uncheck the Mute option and adjust the output again.

You’ll get a better view of all output devices through the Audio MIDI Setup utility. Open the app (search for it using Spotlight with Cmd + Space) and choose Built-in Output. In here, you can configure the audio channel, bit-depth, format, and rate.

If your sound is acting funny, tweak the audio settings. After you’ve made changes, quit the app and try playing your audio again.

configure settings in Audio MIDI Setup utility

Reset Core Audio

Apple’s documentation defines Core Audio as a set of software frameworks designed to handle the audio needs in apps. This includes recording, editing, playback, signal processing, compression and decompression, and more.

On Mac, coreaudiod is the launchdaemon that powers Core Audio. Daemons typically run as root in the background, whether you’re logged in or not. Their process names end with the letter “d”. We’ve covered more about launchdaemons and their implications on macOS


How to Catch and Remove Hidden LaunchDaemons and LaunchAgents on Mac




How to Catch and Remove Hidden LaunchDaemons and LaunchAgents on Mac

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if you’re interested.

If the sound stops working or becomes distorted (crackling or noisy), then restarting the coreaudiod process should solve your problem. This effectively resets the sound on your Mac, and you can quit the processes in two ways.

One is to open Activity Monitor, type coreaudiod in the search box at the top-right, and click the Force Quit button to manually kill the process.

quit coreaudiod process in Activity Monitor

The other method is to launch Terminal and type the following command:

sudo killall coreaudiod

Press Return, input your administrator password, and check your sound again.

quit coreaudiod process in Terminal

The coreaudiod process should restart via either method. In rare cases, if it does not restart, you may not hear any sound at all. In this case, shut down and restart your Mac.

If rebooting isn’t an option at the moment, use this Terminal command instead:

sudo launchctl start com.apple.audio.coreaudiod

The launchctl command starts the daemon and reinitializes the coreaudiod process.

Sound Not Working Due to Third-Party App Issues

Third-party plugins that integrate with your system can cause the sound on your Mac to not work correctly. Music producers and audio engineers are cautious of this, because there are often hardware and software incompatibilities with a new release of macOS. While developers are usually quick and responsive to issue app updates, the operating system itself can be a major headache.

With the release of macOS Catalina, every audio unit plugin must be “notarized” by Apple’s security systems. Non-notarized apps are not allowed to run on Catalina, meaning that any older audio plugin will not work at all.

Also, macOS Mojave was the last release to support 32-bit apps. We’ve covered how to check for 32-bit apps


How to See Which 32-Bit Apps May Stop Working on Your Mac Soon




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on your Mac before you upgrade.

Points to Consider With Third-Party Apps

With so many creative audio apps available for Mac, it’s not possible to describe exact solutions for each app. Here are some general points to consider for fixing Mac sound problems with specific apps:

  1. Check the desired output device in Audio MIDI Setup utility as mentioned above. Launch the app and right-click the Built-in Output option to see the list of devices. Toggle the output device selection to correct configuration problems, if any.
  2. Every audio app stores a profile in the Audio MIDI Setup utility. If you see any errors like “Error in the sound driver of Core Audio,” delete the profile and restart the app.
  3. Mix multiple audio interfaces by creating an Aggregate Device. This increases the number of audio inputs and outputs and reduces the chance of any configuration-related errors. See Apple’s help page on Aggregate Devices for help.

Update macOS

Updating macOS using Mojave

Every macOS release comes with new features and improvements. Under the hood, you’ll notice many changes in kernel frameworks, audio drivers, Unix tools, and more. But often, people complain about new bugs aswell. USB-related audio issues in 2018 Macs were quite common in Apple’s discussion forums.

The macOS Mojave release notes highlighted some improvements. In macOS 10.14.4, Apple improved the reliability of USB audio issues used with the MacBook Air, Pro, and Mac Mini. And in macOS 10.14.5, Apple fixed the audio latency on MacBook Pro models introduced in 2018.

So if you’re having sound problems, updating your OS is a good solution. However, if you work with a dedicated audio workstation, it makes sense to install updates on other Macs before applying them to your production machine. You should also keep a backup of audio files in case something goes wrong.

Reset NVRAM

NVRAM (non-volatile random-access memory) is a small amount of memory that your Mac uses to store various types of settings, including sound volume, display resolution, start-up disk selection, the time zone, and more. Resetting the NVRAM can help clear up glitches with these and other attributes.

Follow our guide to resetting NVRAM and the SMC on your Mac


How to Do an SMC and PRAM/NVRAM Reset on Your Mac




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to try this.

Problems With External Devices

Sometimes when you connect an external device (like an HDMI TV), the sound will continue to come from your internal speakers. Bizarrely, the connection still results in a perfect picture. And the connected HDMI device won’t show up in Preferences > Sound > Output.

First, check the cable’s connection and inspect the HDMI cable for any physical defects. Even tiny flaws can cause problems, so you should try an alternate cable.

Ensure that your equipment is compatible. Some older components might be unable to receive audio via an HDMI connection, even though your Mac and other devices can play sound through it. Note that older MacBook models (around mid-2010) do not support passing audio through Mini DisplayPort.

Navigate to Sound > Sound Effects. In the Play sound effects through section, click the dropdown menu and choose your connected device.

adjust the sound effects setting

Restart your Mac. Afterward, open Sound > Output in System Preferences and select your TV from the Select a device for sound output section.

select HDMI tv from the output tab

Finally, launch the Audio MIDI Setup app once again. Select the HDMI option from the left panel and choose your TV from the Output tab. If you cannot see the speaker icon next to HDMI, click the cog button and select Use this device for sound output.

choose the correct output device for HDMI tv

Check Hardware and Ports

If after checking all these software aspects, you’re still facing sound problems on your Mac, then you should examine all ports. This includes Thunderbolt, HDMI, USB, and headphone (or microphone) sockets.

Detach all wired accessories connected to your system. While doing this, check the integrity of the cables to make sure nothing is frayed or split. Then shut down your Mac and plug in one peripheral at a time after each restart. Try playing your audio each time.

With this thorough check, you’ll figure out if there are any problems with your hardware, cables, or ports. If you use headphones and hear crackling noise, examine the socket. Modern Macs display a red light inside to warn of blocked sockets. Clean the jack, then connect your headphones and adjust the volume level to address the problem.

Reset Your Mac’s Sound and Move On

Troubleshooting sound issues on your Mac is not always easy. macOS lacks a comprehensive set of tools to diagnose and fix the problem. Thus, you’re left with trial and error and your judgment on finding the source of the problem. Hopefully, these tips will start to guide you through all the steps.

Sound issues aren’t the only problem you can have on macOS. You should know other warning signs of Mac problems


5 Warning Signs Your Mac Has a Problem (And What to Do About Them)




5 Warning Signs Your Mac Has a Problem (And What to Do About Them)

Your Mac often gives warning signs that it’s about to run into a problem. Here ‘s what to do for several common Mac red flags.
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so you can spot them early.



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Android Won’t Connect to Windows Over ADB? Fix It in 3 Easy Steps

Is ADB not detecting your device? If Android is unable to connect over the Android Debug Bridge (ADB), fixing it only requires three basic procedures.

We’ll show you how to get it working again.

ADB Can’t Find Your Device? Here’s the Fix

Sometimes, Android USB devices won’t connect to a Windows system. Failed ADB connections usually have one root cause: bad Android USB drivers that load in place of the right ones. Windows doesn’t make it easy to remove the wrong drivers, unfortunately.

But before attempting to troubleshoot an ADB connection, you must first enable USB debugging on your phone


What Is USB Debugging Mode on Android? Here’s How to Enable It




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if it’s not on already. When turned on, USB debugging gives you direct access to the file system of an Android device from a desktop computer. Without debugging enabled, it’s only possible to interact with your phone’s media storage, such as the SD card or a specially formatted media directory.

If you’ve already met the requirements, fixing the problem takes about five minutes and three basic steps:

  1. Connect your Android device and PC via USB and remove the ADB drivers. Then disconnect your device.
  2. Run a USB-driver eliminating utility, such as USBDeview, to kill all unnecessary Android drivers.
  3. Install Koush’s Universal ADB Driver.

We’ll go over each step in turn. Here’s the software you need:

Download: Nirsoft USBDeview (Free)
Download: Koush’s Universal ADB Driver (Free)

Step 1: Connect Your Device and Uninstall the Current Driver

First, connect your Android device to your computer via USB. This step allows your device to display in Windows’s Device Manager. Open this by typing Device Manager into the Start menu to search for it.

This image is of the Windows 10 device manager in the Search window

Next, in the Device Manager, remove your currently displayed Android ADB driver. To remove it, right-click on the category that contains your phone—this might be LeMobile Android Device, Portable Devices, or something similar.

Under this, you’ll see the Android Composite ADB Interface driver. Right-click this to bring up the context menu, then select Uninstall.

android device inside of Windows 10 device manager

Make sure to check the box for Delete the driver software for this device.

remove bad usb drivers for adb

Now you can disconnect your Android device from your PC. Doing this prevents the same incompatible driver from loading upon reconnecting the Android device. While technically not required, we recommend doing this because it will show you the driver causing the issue, in case it somehow reloads itself.

Step 2: Remove Bad ADB Drivers

The Nirsoft USBDeview utility comes as a zipped executable. That means you must unzip it and it doesn’t require installation. This utility may show up as malware in a virus scan, but rest assured that it’s safe.

After unzipping the file, open the extracted folder and run the executable utility inside it. USBDeview displays the total number of installed USB drivers on your computer, both connected and disconnected.

Look for the colored status indicator at the far-left of the USBDeview window. There are four colors. Each represents a different status:

  • Green indicates that the device is connected and that it functions properly.
  • Pink means the device can unplug and works properly (although in reality, it may not actually work properly).
  • Red indicates a disabled USB device.
  • Gray means the device is installed, but not connected.

USBDeview elimintes drivers for USB devices in Windows

Now, remove all gray items with the words “Google”, “Linux”, “ADB”, or “Android” in the title. When troubleshooting this issue, we typically remove every item that’s not green.

Removing a device driver means that you’ll need to reinstall drives for that USB device if you want to use it again. Fortunately, most of the time Windows automatically installs USB devices, so it’s not a big deal.

Step 3: Install the Universal Driver

Koush’s Universal ADB Driver works for every Android device, no matter how niche. After installing it, you should be able to assign the right driver to your phone.

Manually Install a USB ADB Driver

To do a manual install, first run the executable package for Koush’s Universal ABD Driver you downloaded earlier, which installs the driver to your computer.

Second, plug your Android device into your PC via USB. The correct USB drivers should load. You can check by going to Device Manager in Windows as discussed earlier. If there is a different driver listed than what you saw in the first step, chances are you have the correct USB driver loaded now.

android device located in windows 10 device manager

In the Device Manager, locate the new ADB/USB driver. This will likely be under your phone’s name in the Portable Devices section, but Android devices can appear in different locations in Device Manager. You may need to check each possible device class (such as Android Phone or Samsung) in the Device Manager before you find yours.

If you can’t find it, sometimes you’ll need to check the notification shade on your Android device for additional steps. This allows you to authorize a specific computer to connect to your device beyond charging purposes.

Once you find it, right-click on your device and choose Update Driver. From the resulting menu, choose Browse my computer for driver software, then Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer.

Here, you will see a list of compatible drivers. Choose one of these (starting at the top if fine). If it fails, repeat the process by going down the list to locate another driver that works.

android ADB interface in Windows 10

Install the Universal ABD Driver Instead

If you can’t get the right driver installed using the above method, you will need to perform a manual installation in order for Koush’s driver to work. Thankfully, the Device Manager lets you hand-pick a driver from your computer instead of browsing from a list.

Instead of selecting Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer in the previous step, hit the Browse button and manually find the directory where you installed Koush’s drivers.

The location in File Explorer should be something like this:

C:Program Files (x86)ClockworkModUniversal Adb Drivers

You may need to search for the folder if you don’t see it there. Once you select the right location, hit Next and Windows will install the drivers. From now on, whenever you connect your Android device with ADB enabled, Koush’s drivers will load in place of the ones that failed to work.

Finally, restart your computer and attempt to connect over ADB again. You should have success at this point.

Still Not Able to Connect to ADB?

If you still can’t connect to ADB, your device might have a deeper problem either at the firmware or hardware level. Major hardware issues include the following:

  • A damaged USB port on your computer or smartphone
  • Defective firmware on your smartphone, usually caused by a custom ROM
  • A damaged or defective charging cable

For example, I once owned a Nexus tablet that intermittently disconnected from the computer. Even after replacing the micro-USB port, the tablet continued to malfunction. The cause of disconnection turned out to be a buggy custom ROM. While custom ROMs are great for reviving old hardware, they introduce another layer of complexity that often causes issues.

There are many potential causes for a device that refuses to connect through ADB. Try various cables and ports on your computer to troubleshoot the problem. Our guide to fixing an Android phone that won’t charge


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Your Android Phone Won’t Charge? Here Are 7 Fixes to Try

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has some tips that can also help poor connections.

EasyTether Problems: Unable to Connect by ADB

Some people who use both a Mac and Android try to share their internet connection over a USB interface using the EasyTether app. However, we don’t recommend this. The app costs money and free methods exist that are both superior and easier to use. See our guide on how to USB tether with Android


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Tethering: How to Connect Mobile Internet to Your PC or Laptop

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for better ways.

For example, in newer versions of Android, Google offers native Bluetooth and USB tethering. If your phone has a dual-antenna design, you can even create a hotspot using a Wi-Fi connection.

If EasyTether (or any USB tethering app) fails, the best fix is trying to find the correct driver as outlined above. That means finding the incorrect ADB driver that Windows installed and swapping it out for something that works.

That may require additional troubleshooting steps, so we only recommend these apps for older Android devices that don’t support the latest in tethering technology.

Universally Good ADB Drivers

Now you know what to do when ADB is not working. This method of purging bad Android USB drivers and installing Koush’s drivers works for every Android device we’ve tried it on. It’s a bit ridiculous that Google never released a universal ADB driver for Android devices, despite the issues that many users continue to experience.

Now that you’ve got it set up, check out the best apps that utilize ADB on Android


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6 Android ADB Apps for Powerful Features Without Root

Want to get more control over your Android device? Try these apps that let you use ADB functionality without rooting.
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.



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5 Easy Ways to Infect Your Mac With Malware

Most Mac users don’t worry about security too much. Since the majority of malware targets Windows and macOS does a good job of keeping you safe out of the box, it’s easy to get complacent.

However, there are Mac security threats in the wild, and many of them come from user behaviors. Here are some dangerous practices than can infect your Mac with malicious software.

1. Download Dangerous or Pirated Software

Mac Gatekeeper Warning

The easiest way to mess up your system is to install sketchy Mac apps from random corners of the web.

In many cases, distributors of pirated software are only interested in making paid tools available for free. However, you can never fully trust cracked software, as there’s no telling what someone could have added into the package along the way. Indeed, many historical examples of macOS malware have arrived in pirated software downloads.

The safest places to install Mac apps are the Mac App Store and directly from trusted developers. By default, macOS’s Gatekeeper feature will only let you run apps from authorized developers, and displays a warning if you try to run an untrusted app.

Often, a legitimate developer might not have the money to register with Apple. You can step around this warning when that happens, but it’s important to make sure you trust the app when you do this.

2. Neglect App and macOS Updates

Mac-Up to Date

Everyone gets tired of seeing prompts to update their Mac or its software. But leaving your system unpatched makes you much more susceptible to attack.

Often, macOS system updates fix known vulnerabilities to keep you safe. If you continue to run an outdated version for months, you could fall victim to an attack that Apple has long since patched. Keeping yourself on the latest OS version means you’re one step ahead of malicious actors.

This is also the case for apps on your computer, especially your browser. There have been historical cases where popular Mac apps became infected with malware, such as the BitTorrent client Transmission in 2016. People who had the app on their system but never bothered to update it were open to attack for some time.

Thankfully, macOS makes it easy to update your apps and system. On macOS Mojave and newer, open the App Store and check the Updates tab to download new versions of App Store apps. You’ll find macOS software updates under System Preferences > Software Update.

For apps downloaded from other sources, you’ll need to open them and check for updates manually. You’ll usually find a Check for updates under the Help or app menu. At other times, you’ll find it in the app menu on the About [app] page.

3. Run Flash Player and Java

Once upon a time, browser plugins like Flash Player and Java were essential parts of the web, as they enabled you to enjoy multimedia content on all sorts of sites. However, with today’s web, these runtimes have fallen out of favor and barely anyone needs to use them.

Very few websites require Java or Flash now. Adobe plans to retire Flash at the end of 2020, and nearly all browsers have blocked Java for years. So you likely haven’t opened yourself up to attack in this way, but it’s still wise to check if you’re using these plugins and remove them if so.

To check, open System Preferences under the Apple menu. If you see an entry for Flash Player or Java, you have it installed.

Uninstalling Flash Player on Mac

Get rid of Flash Player by visiting Adobe’s Mac Flash Player uninstall page. Under the Download the Adobe Flash Player uninstaller header, click the download text next to Mac OS X, version 10.6 and later. Run the tool and it will remove Flash Player.

To complete uninstallation, you should also remove the following files from your user directory:

[USER]/Library/Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player
[USER]/Library/Caches/Adobe/Flash Player

How to Remove Java From Your Mac

Removing Java from macOS is a bit more complicated than installing it. First, press Cmd + Space to launch Spotlight search and open Terminal. Once the Terminal window is open, paste each of the below commands one at a time and press Enter to run them:

sudo rm -fr /Library/internet Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin
sudo rm -fr /Library/PreferencePanes/JavaControlPanel.prefPane
sudo rm -fr ~/Library/Application Support/Oracle/Java

We’ve looked further at why Java isn’t as big of a security risk nowadays


Why Java Is Less of a Security Risk Now on Windows, Mac, and Linux




Why Java Is Less of a Security Risk Now on Windows, Mac, and Linux

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if you’re interested.

4. Disable Your Mac’s Built-in Protections

SIP Protection in Terminal

As we mentioned earlier, macOS has several built-in layers of protection. One of these, System Integrity Protection (SIP), was introduced with OS X El Capitan. Essentially, SIP prevents users and programs from making changes


What Is SIP? macOS System Integrity Protection Explained




What Is SIP? macOS System Integrity Protection Explained

What is System Integrity Protection on your Mac? We explain what SIP does and how it affects macOS software.
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to core parts of the OS.

The addition of SIP stopped a lot of Mac deep system tweaks from working. As a result, you might look to disable SIP so you can use these old tools again. While it is possible to disable, doing so is a bad idea, as turning off SIP drastically reduces your security.

With no barrier to your protected OS files, malware could get in and wreak havoc. There are certain troubleshooting circumstances where you do need to turn off SIP for a short time, but you should always turn it back on right away to reduce risk to your system.

This is also the case for Gatekeeper, the feature that prevents unauthorized apps from running on your system. As mentioned, macOS allows you to allow apps only from the App Store, or from the App Store and identified developers. You can enable an Anywhere option using the Terminal, but this isn’t a good idea.

It’s smarter to run potentially untrusted apps on an as-needed basis so you don’t accidentally let something slip through.

5. Ignore Basic Signs of Danger

Just because you use a Mac doesn’t mean you should neglect to follow basic security practices. While it’s not as easy to accidentally pick up something nasty on a Mac, you should still keep an eye out for common forms of online attack


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Top 8 Internet Fraud and Scams of All Time

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.

Don’t click links or attachments in emails unless you’re sure you trust them. And avoid clicking fake links or popups that prompt you to install updates.

You should also know how to find malware on your Mac. If you think you might have done something that opened up your Mac to attack, run an anti-malware scan with a tool like Malwarebytes for Mac.

It’s also smart to be aware of widespread security vulnerabilities like Meltdown and Spectre, or the KRACK Wi-Fi exploit. While these don’t solely affect macOS, they still open Mac users up to attack in other ways.

It’s Up to You to Avoid macOS Malware

As we’ve seen, most Mac users will hopefully never run into a malware attack. The biggest threats to your system come from third-party software, so it’s vital to vet what you allow on your computer. A bit of proactive thought will help keep your system safe in the long run.

Think your Mac is already infected? Find out how to check if your Mac has a virus


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3 Signs Your Mac Is Infected With a Virus (And How to Check)

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.



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It’s Easy to Make Them at Home – LifeSavvy

woman dipping an apply in a bowl of melted caramel
Aquarius Studio/Shutterstock

Biting into a crisp, caramel-dipped apple is one of fall’s greatest pleasures. Learn how to make caramel apples following these easy steps.

There are many ways to make caramel apples right at home. To be clear, we’re talking about apples covered in buttery rich caramel that will cover your teeth with each bite—not the bright red and hard candy-coated apples that might send you to the dentist. For a rundown on the difference, check out this quick look at caramel and candy apples.

How to Make Caramel Apples

Making caramel apples is a fun fall tradition in many homes, but if you have yet to try it, we’ll walk you through the steps. From preparing your apples to choosing tasty Halloween toppings, we’ve got something yummy for you to try.

Making caramel apples isn’t a supply heavy task, but you do need a few things:

  • A candy thermometer: Depending on which recipe you choose, you may need a candy thermometer to ensure your caramel sauce is at the right temperature.
  • Lollipop or Popsicle sticks: You’ll need to pierce your apples after removing the stem to create a handle for this sweet treat. Sturdy skewers, chopsticks, or sticks from outside also do the trick. If you want your apples to look as professional as possible, you can always buy stout bamboo skewers made specifically for the task.

Supplies in hand, you’re ready to prep!

Prepare the Apples

Placing a skewer in an apple
Emilee Unterkoefler

Wash your apples thoroughly to remove all the wax from the skin and then dry your apples completely before dipping. Cortland, Empire, and Granny Smith apples are all popular for this yummy snack.

Remove the stems and use a Popsicle stick, lollipop stick, or skewer to pierce through the apple as a way to hold your delicious treat. You’ll want to pierce through the section of the apple where you just removed the stem.

Get the Cooling Station Ready

Generously buttering the parchment paper (apples in the background)
Emilee Unterkoefler

Place a piece of parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. Using room temperature butter, generously grease your parchment paper. The butter will help keep the caramel apples from sticking after being placed on the parchment paper.

Set Up the Yummy Decoration Station

Separate bowls of decorative ingredients including sprinkles, candy corn, chocolate chips, and M&M's
Emilee Unterkoefler

You can dazzle your apples in so many ways shortly after you coat them with caramel. You’ll want to choose which toppings you want to use beforehand, so they’re ready to go after your apples have been dipped and slightly cooled.

Once you’ve chosen your favorite tasty embellishments, prepare them by setting each aside in its own bowl. After you coat your apples, you’ll sprinkle or dip them with these yummy decorations.

Heat the Caramel Dipping Sauce

You can prepare caramel sauce in multiple ways, depending on which ingredients you have available or how much time you want to spend. We’ve included three recipes to show you the varieties of caramel sauces you can make.

Caramel Sauce Using Melted Caramel Candies: For a quick and easy caramel sauce using melted caramel candies, check out this recipe. Involve the kids by having them unwrap each individual piece. All you’ll need to do is add a couple of tablespoons of milk, warm it up in the microwave, and your dipping sauce will be ready to go.

Get the Recipe: All Recipes

Homemade Caramel Sauce: If you want to cook up your caramel sauce, you’ll love the flavor this popular recipe brings out in each bite. By combining butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and a few other ingredients, this sauce makes the perfect rich and delightful coating.

We used this recipe to create the images for this tutorial.

Get the Recipe: Food.com

Another Homemade Caramel Sauce: This caramel sauce uses a few different ingredients like heavy cream, sugar, and molasses, but the result tastes great, too.

Get the Recipe: Simply Recipes

While all three recipes are delicious, each is special in its own way.

Dip the Apples

Dipping apples in caramel sauce
Emilee Unterkoefler

After you’ve made your caramel sauce, transfer it to a room-temperature bowl. Placing the hot caramel into a separate bowl will help cool and thicken your sauce. This is also a cautionary step so that when you dip your apples, you don’t burn your hand.

Carefully dip one apple at a time in the caramel sauce. Swirl and turn your apple so that it becomes fully coated, but leave a little bit of apple near the stick showing.

Pull the apple up and allow the excess caramel to drip back into the bowl.

Cool the Apples, Then Decorate

After you dip an apple, transfer it to the cookie sheet with the generously greased parchment paper. Once all apples are coated and transferred, place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about ten minutes.

This will help cool the caramel just enough so the embellishments and tasty decorations still stick well.

You can either roll your apple in a bowl filled with your choice of decoration or sprinkle them on. Grab your favorite candy bar and crush it up or choose chopped nuts as your coating. The possibilities are endless.





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Ubuntu Remote Desktop: Easy, Built-In, VNC Compatible

Do you need to connect to your computer remotely? Perhaps you’re in a different room and need to grab a file from it. Rather than get up, if you’re on the same network, this should be easy, regardless of the operating system.

Using Ubuntu’s remote desktop tool gives you total control over your desktop from any other computer: Linux, macOS, or Windows. You’ll see what’s on that screen and be able to move the mouse, and even type!

The remote desktop feature supports VNC and is built into Ubuntu by default. Here’s how to use remote desktop software with Ubuntu.

Three Ways to Remote Control Ubuntu

Overall you have three options for remote controlling an Ubuntu PC:

  • SSH: Secure Shell
  • VNC: Virtual Network Computing
  • RDP: Remote Desktop Protocol

While many Linux users see SSH as their remote connection


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tool of choice, it lacks a graphical user interface (GUI). It’s a popular command line tool, Ubuntu’s built-in remote desktop tool, supports all three options.

Furthermore, you’re not limited to remote control from an Ubuntu or Linux computer. With sharing configured, your Ubuntu PC can be remotely accessed. Linux, Mac, and Windows PCs can use remote desktop tools to control Ubuntu. You’ll also find VNC tools for Android and iOS.

Turning Ubuntu Remote Desktop On

Enabling the Ubuntu Remote Desktop could not be easier. You don’t need to install a thing: Ubuntu has built in VNC support. However, you will need to move to the Ubuntu PC to set it up the first time.

Click Search and enter desktop sharing, then click Sharing. You’ll be presented with a simple window of options. Along the top edge of the window, click the switch to enable the feature. Next, click the Screen Sharing button and again, find the switch on the window and click it to enable.

Enable sharing to use remote desktop in Ubuntu

Ensure that Allow connections to control the screen is enabled. For security purposes, you should also set a password here.

As soon as you enable remote connection, the local name of your Ubuntu device will be displayed. This is a VNC address—keep a note of it for remote access later.

Remote Control Ubuntu With VNC

Controlling an Ubuntu PC over VNC is straightforward from another device. Just be sure you have a VNC client or viewer app installed. Here’s how to use VNC from another desktop computer.

Remote Desktop Ubuntu From Another Linux Device

Ubuntu (and many other Linux distributions) comes with a preinstalled remote desktop viewer. This means that once your Ubuntu PC is configured for remote connection, you can connect to it from whatever Linux distro you’re using.

  • Click Search and enter remote.
  • Select the first result, Remmina.

Open Remmina in Ubuntu

  • Select VNC in the drop-down menu on the left.
  • Enter the VNC address (or IP address) you noted earlier for the Ubuntu PC.
  • Tap Enter to commence the connection.
  • When prompted, input the password.

As you add devices, they’ll be saved in the list so you can quickly access them in future.

Use this tool to connect to other Ubuntu desktops on your network, and you’ll be controlling that computer remotely. The tool can also be used to control any computer with a VNC client installed.

Remotely Connect to Ubuntu From Windows

Want to control your Ubuntu computer from a Windows computer? Using the same VNC address (or your Ubuntu computer’s IP address) you can.

First, however, you’ll need a VNC client, such as VNC Viewer (from VNC Connect) installed on your Windows computer. Then you can connect to your Ubuntu machine by entering the VNC or IP address.

Check our guide about establishing a remote desktop connection to Ubuntu from Windows for full details.

Establish an Ubuntu Remote Desktop From a Mac

Mac users wanting to connect to their Ubuntu machines should use the built-in VNC Viewer tool.

Again, connecting to your Ubuntu machine is a simple matter of entering your IP address or the provided VNC address., Want for some in-depth information about using VNC on a Mac?

Check our tutorial to easy remote desktop support on the Mac


How to Setup Easy Remote Support on the Mac




How to Setup Easy Remote Support on the Mac


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.

What About Ubuntu’s RDP Support?

It’s also possible to connect to an Ubuntu PC over RDP.

Remote Desktop Protocol is a proprietary system developed by Microsoft. It has proven so successful that RDP server and client apps are available on most software platforms.

RDP’s authentication system relies on your computer username and password and is quick and easy to set up.

Configure Ubuntu RDP

Before connecting to Ubuntu over RDP, you’ll need to know the remote computer’s IP address. The easiest way is to open a terminal and enter

ifconfig

Be sure to note the inet addr value that corresponds with the connection type. For example, if the Ubuntu computer is on Ethernet, use this IP address.

Next, you’ll need to install xrdp. This is an RDP server for Ubuntu (and other Linux devices) and is required before remote connection.

Install with

sudo apt install xrdp

Once installed, launch the server with

sudo systemctl enable xrdp

With xrdp running, you’re ready to use RDP.

Remote Control Ubuntu With RDP

As noted, RDP clients are available for most platforms. For example, you can use Remmina’s RDP function if you’re using a Linux computer to remotely control Ubuntu. Similarly, RDP is built-in to Windows.

If you’re using a standard desktop, use these steps to use RDP to connect to Ubuntu.

  • Ubuntu/Linux: Launch Remmina and select RDP in the drop-down box. Enter the remote PC’s IP address and tap Enter.
  • Windows: Click Start and type rdp. Look for the Remote Desktop Connection app and click Open. Input the IP address of your Ubuntu computer and click Connect.

Launch RDP on Windows

  • Mac: Start by installing the Microsoft Remote Desktop 10 software from the App Store. Launch the software, click Add Desktop, add the IP address under PC Name, then Save. Simply double-click the icon for the connection in the app window to start a remote desktop session.

Our guide to using RDP on a Mac


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Microsoft Remote Desktop: How to Access Windows From Your Mac

Microsoft’s free Remote Desktop tool lets you access Windows from your Mac. Here’s how to set up Remote Desktop on a Mac.
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will help here. It’s aimed at remote controlling a Windows PC, but the setup is the same for Linux.

Note that RDP will prompt for your Ubuntu PC account credentials when the connection is first established.

Can You Remote Control Ubuntu Away From Home?

Want to connect to your Ubuntu machine while traveling? This is a little trickier, but not totally impossible. You’re going to need a static IP, or a dynamic address from a service such as DynDNS.

This basically forwards a web address to a device running DynDNS on your network. Read our tutorial for using DynDNS to connect to your computer from anywhere


Connect To Your Home PCs From Anywhere With DynDNS




Connect To Your Home PCs From Anywhere With DynDNS


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for details and examples.



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The Scrapestack API Makes It Easy to Scrape Websites for Data

Finding it time-consuming to visit all your favorite websites and read everything that matters? One solution is a web scraper, a software tool that gathers information you need from other sites.

We’re going to look at the scrapestack API, a web scraping service that you can subscribe to. Once set up, you can use scrapestack to grab whatever data you want from other sites.

Why You Need a Scraper API

Finding information online can be difficult, even with the power of Google. Specific types of information, published around the world, can differ slightly. This is often data that you find valuable.

There are several web scraping services available, but what if you wanted to manage your own? The solution is scrapestack, an API service available with tiered pricing and functionality to circumvent CAPTCHAs, geo-blocking, and other restrictions.

All it needs is the target website URL, and an API (available for free, with limitations). With the power of the scrapestack server, you’re able to scrape all the data you’re looking for.

What Does Scrapestack Do?

Using predetermined parameters, a scraper will visit a specified URL and take a copy of a certain type of data. This could be news on a very specific topic, such as a subset of current affairs or politics, or entertainment news from the NYCC. However, it doesn’t need to be news: it could be weather data, sports results, stocks and share prices, or currency values.

Various software tools exist for scraping that you can run locally from a PC, or wholly on a server. You might even employ a free website to scrape content. But with scrapestack, you have the power of a state-of-the-art server behind you.

The API provides security and reliability, while the scalable approach to the development/testing/release process means that developers can take as long as they need to perfect their scraping process.

Scrapestack: Affordable Packages for All Project Types

Scrapestack API Pricing

While the initial scrapestack signup is free, several packages are available from this scalable service. The Free package provides 10,000 monthly API requests, but support is limited. Standard proxies are in use with this option.

With Basic, you pay $19.99 a month and get 250,000 requests. By paying you get unlimited support, HTTPS encryption, concurrent requests (enabling multiple API use), JavaScript rendering support, and 100+ geolocations. Standard proxies are also available with this plan.

Scrapestack’s best value option is Professional. For $79.99 a month you get 1,000,000 requests, all the same features as Basic, plus Premium Proxies.

The Business package is $149.99, which includes 3,000,000 requests, premium support, and everything Professional has. Finally, there’s an Enterprise option for business-scale projects. Custom solutions, dedicated support, and high-volume API requests are available within.

To get started, of course, you’ll need the Free package. Simply sign up with your email address, grab the API, and begin testing the power of scrapestack.

Get Started With Scrapestack API

Want an idea of what’s behind scrapestack? The server manages over 1 billion monthly API calls, with 99.9 percent uptime. It boasts over 100 global server locations, capable of scraping more than 35 million IP addresses.

In addition, scrapestack claims “2000+ happy customers” and reckons you can get started in under five minutes. But how accurate is this?

Well, signup is quick and easy, with access given almost straightaway. In the account dashboard, you’ll find your API key, which you need to use the API. To protect your account, it’s vital that you don’t share the API key, so keep it safe.

All you need after this is a target URL to scrape data from. For example, you might like to grab data from a popular website such as MakeUseOf. To do that, use a basic URL string like the one below:

http://api.scrapestack.com/scrape?access_key=YOUR_ACCESS_KEY&url=https://apple.com

This will commence the scraping process. In your browser window, you’ll something like this returned:

Apple.com scraped with Scrapestack API

This is basically the page’s contents without JavaScript and CSS styling. Of course, you probably wouldn’t use the API with your browser. Instead, when used as part of a web application or script run from a live system, you can collect the results as plain text and analyze them later.

Use Optional API Parameters for Enhanced Scraping

There’s more to scrapestack API than the basic request, however. You can utilize several optional parameters, including:

  • render_js: Use 1 to enable rendering of JavaScript on the target web page (default is 0, off).
  • keep_headers: Use 1 to enable; it sends active HTTP headers to be returned in the API response.
  • proxy_location: Specify a two-letter country code (such as US) to use as a proxy for the API request.
  • premium_proxy: Use 1 to enable premium proxies; note one proxy API request counts as 25.

Usage of these parameters is simple: add an ampersand (&) at the end of to the basic URL, such as &render_js=1.

On top of all this, the API features some useful, plain English error codes. These include “103 invalid_api_function”, which means the API function does not exist. This commonly occurs following a typo in one of the above parameters. Similarly, “105 function_access_restricted” indicates use of a function that isn’t supported by your subscription.

If a code is not clear, you can check the scrapestack documentation page.

Use the Scrapestack API With Your Favorite Coding Language

The scripts above are available in several different programming languages. The scrapestack API features support for PHP, Python, NodeJS, JQuery, Go, and Ruby. These are arguably the most popular web and app development languages around.

While the basics of using the scrapestack API remain the same, there will of course be differences between languages. For example, here’s a code sample in PHP:

Use PHP to access the Scrapestack API

This Python script, meanwhile, holds the same purpose:

Accessing the Scrapestack API with Python

Obviously, you’ll want use the best code for the project. Suffice it to say that scrapestack API is up to the task, whatever the coding platform.

It’s Easier Than Ever to Scrape Websites With Scrapestack

Information that you need to collect quickly is easier to scrape with scrapestack. Its flexible API gives you the options you need for scraping and output. The error codes are descriptive, too, helping you to overcome issues easily.

With a range of packages and an initial free signup to get you started with development, scrapestack API could prove itself as the most powerful scraper you use. The API is compatible with PHP, Python, NodeJS, JQuery, Go, and Ruby, so it’s ideal for use across a range of development platforms.

Looking for other APIs? The powerful weatherstack weather data API


Integrate Weather Data on Your Homepage With Weatherstack API




Integrate Weather Data on Your Homepage With Weatherstack API

The weatherstack API provides an easy way to add weather data to your website or app, and it’s free to start.
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can help you build your own weather apps or include weather data on your website.



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This Intuitive Platform Makes Email Marketing Easy

Any business worth their salt needs to have a reliable email marketing strategy. Digital marketing may be evolving but email is still one of today’s most viable marketing channels. Still, it can be difficult to build a robust email strategy given the high prices of many platforms and the technical expertise needed to code your own emails. That’s where Sender.net comes in.

This automated email marketing software comes with an enormous gallery of pre-built templates and tools to help you create professional-looking emails without writing any HTML or navigating confusing settings. The intuitive, drag-and-drop email builder allows you to customize emails to fit your brand or messaging and automate when they’ll be sent to save you tons of time. With built-in email analytics, you’ll be able to quickly determine what is and what isn’t working so you can adjust your strategy on the fly to optimize results. Their streamlined deliverability and dedicated IPs avoid spam folders so you can rest assured your emails are always getting through to your list.

Other platforms may cost you hundreds. Sender.net is currently offering 50k email credits for 57% off the normal $114 price. That’s just $49.



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4 Easy Info Hash to Torrent Magnet Converters

If you’ve ever downloaded a torrent, you will have undoubtedly come across terms like “magnet” and “info hash.”

Most people think they’ll never need to worry about what the terms refer to or how they relate to the downloading process. But sometimes it’s beneficial to know.

Today, we’re going to look at what magnet and info hash actually mean, how they relate to each other, and how to convert an info hash into a magnet file.

Using Torrents: A Warning

MakeUseOf does not condone using torrents to download copyrighted material. Doing so could land you in trouble with your ISP and the authorities. In a best-case scenario, you could end up with throttled speeds. At a more severe level, you might receive a fine. Depending on the severity of your transgression, it could total tens of thousands of dollars.

To make sure you stay safe, you should always use a reliable paid VPN service to hide your activity. We recommend checking out ExpressVPN and CyberGhost.

What Is an Info Hash?

To explain what an info hash is, we first need to take a step back and look at how torrents work.

Unlike regular web traffic (which connects to a central server to download a file or webpage), torrent downloads are decentralized via a peer-to-peer (P2P) network. They do not require a central server in order to be operational.

Behind the scenes, you are simultaneously uploading and downloading a file. The downloaded parts arrive in small chunks from dozens of different users, then your computer pieces them back together again to make a single, usable file.

Because the file your downloading is so fragmented, there needs to be a reliable way to verify the contents. Otherwise, how does your torrent client know which bits to download from the P2P network?

This is where the info hash comes in. It is best thought of as a unique ID for the torrent you are downloading. It is identical for all users and across all trackers.

An info hash uses an SHA-1 cryptographic hash. SHA-1 hashes are 40 digits long (though you will also come across types of info hashes that are 32 or 64 digits). The hash is created by gathering specific information—such as file size, path, name, piece length, piece hashes, and privacy flags, then running it through a mathematical algorithm.

Once the torrent hash has been made, it provides some key benefits for end-users:

  • Verifies you’re downloading the right data.
  • Provides evidence if someone has tampered with the data.
  • Can highlight corrupted data.

If you’re technically minded, you can also use the info hash to bypass centralized torrent trackers and communicate directly with peers via a Distributed Hash Table (DHT).

What Is a Magnet Link?

There are two ways to add a file to your torrent client. You can either use the magnet link or a TORRENT (.torrent) file.

A TORRENT file is a small file which contains information about the larger torrent. When you use a TORRENT file, your torrent client creates the necessary info hash and begins looking for files on the network.

A magnet link takes a more simplified approach. It’s a hyperlink that contains the torrent hash. As such, your client doesn’t need to make its own hash—it can immediately start looking for files on the DHT.

You also don’t need to download any files onto your hard drive before you start downloading; a magnet file will open directly in your torrent client.

On a more practical level, magnet files also lead to more successful downloads. They are not affected if trackers are out-of-service or closed for registration.

How to Convert Info Hash to Magnet

Several online tools will let you convert an info hash to magnet files. They are useful if you want to create your own torrent or someone has a shared a torrent hash with you.

Here are four info hash to magnet converters.

1. Romanr.info

romanr hash to magnet tool

The Romanr.info tool looks a bit barebones, but it is one of the fastest hash to magnet converters. Just paste the info hash in the first text field, give the torrent a name (if desired), and hit Generate.

For a greater level of control, you can choose which trackers to include. 43 are included by default, but you can add and remove them as needed.

2. HashtoMagnet

hash to magnet tool

HashtoMagnet is a spin-off from the once-popular (but now defunct) Hash2Magnet tool.

The site has two features. Firstly, you can perform a hash to magnet conversion. To do so, you just need the info hash code.

Secondly, you can check the current seeder, leecher, and completed status for any torrent. It scans dozens of trackers and might help you bring a dead torrent back to life.

3. Daniel Aleksandersen’s BTIH to Magnet URI Converter

daniel aleksandersen hash to magnet

Developer Daniel Aleksandersen has created a hash to magnet converter on his website. The tool does not have an official name, but it works just as well as the other converters we’ve looked at.

There are no fancy customizations like selectable trackers or torrent names. Just paste the info hash, and the tool will create a new magnet link instantly.

4. Make the Magnet Link Yourself

It is possible to make your own magnet link based on nothing more than the info hash. From a formatting perspective, it is a complicated process. If you’re unfamiliar with working with cryptographic hash values, we do not recommend it.

To learn more about magnet files’ uniform resource identifier (URI) scheme, start by reading the associated Wikipedia article.

Learn More About Using Torrents

Hopefully, our detailed look at the relationship between an info hash and a magnet link has helped you to better understand the way torrents work.

And remember, if you ever need to convert a torrent hash into a magnet link, the tools we looked at will have you up and running in seconds.

If you’d like to learn more about using and downloading torrents, make sure you read our guide to the best alternatives to The Pirate Bay


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The Pirate Bay is a shadow of its former self. Head to these sites for some of the best Pirate Bay alternatives for free torrents.
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. For troubleshooting torrents, see our list of ways to unblock a torrent when it’s not working


5 Ways to Unblock a Torrent When It’s Not Working




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Image Credit: alphaspirit/Depositphotos



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