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5 iPhone Problems You Can Fix Using DFU Mode

Your iPhone isn’t impervious to problems. In fact, most of us experience at least a few issues with our iPhones throughout their lifespan. One of the strongest tools at your disposal for fixing these issues is iOS’s Device Firmware Update (DFU) mode.

DFU mode is a special iPhone state you can use to reinstall every line of software and firmware on your device. It’s the deepest possible restore for an iPhone, and is even more effective than putting it in recovery mode.

Here are some iPhone problems you can fix using DFU mode.

1. Unresponsive Devices

You might think you’ve got a bricked iPhone when actually it’s suffering from firmware problems. Among other tasks, the firmware is responsible for telling your iPhone how to respond to the different buttons on your device.

When you press the Sleep/Wake button, for example, the firmware starts booting up iOS. If your iPhone doesn’t power on, it could be because the firmware isn’t responding to that button correctly.

2. Boot Loops and Failed Startups

iPhone in Boot Loop with Apple logo on Screen
Image Credit: vencav/Depositphotos

A boot loop is the term for when your iPhone can’t get past the Apple logo during startup. This happens if there’s a problem with the operating software on your device.

It’s difficult to try other troubleshooting suggestions if you can’t get past the boot screen, but you can still put your iPhone in DFU mode. This lets you reinstall the software, overwriting any errors that caused the boot loop.

3. Firmware Corruptions

A lot of people already know how to use the iPhone’s recovery mode to fix corrupt software

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, but corrupt firmware is another matter entirely. If a popup message says your iPhone firmware is corrupt, your only option is to fix it using DFU mode.

Firmware corruptions affect all manner of components in your iPhone. They can lead to anything from slow performance to bad Wi-Fi connectivity. When you reinstall the firmware via DFU mode, it fixes all kinds of problems like this.

4. Failed Software Updates

Backlit iPhone with Software Update badge
Image Credit: ifeelstock/Depositphotos

There’s a reason your iPhone doesn’t start software updates when the battery is low. If you lose power mid-update, your operating software will end up in limbo. That usually means your iPhone can’t finish updating and can’t use the previous software either.

When you use DFU mode to restore your device, it overwrites the incomplete software with fresh code, updating your iPhone to the latest version of iOS in the process.

5. Hardware-Related Issues

Your iPhone firmware tells the device how to work with different hardware components. As a result, problems that seem as though they need a physical repair can actually be the result of faulty firmware.

Some of these issues include:

  • Erratic battery life
  • Unresponsive buttons
  • A blank display that’s all white or black
  • Unpredictable touchscreen responses

Before You Put Your iPhone in DFU Mode

iPhone creating an iCloud backup
Image Credit: Afotoeu/Depositphotos

If you’re experiencing any major problems with your iPhone, there’s a good chance you can fix them using DFU mode. When you restore your iPhone with this mode, it reinstalls the software and firmware and also erases all your content. Your iPhone should be as good as new by the time it’s finished.

That said, there are a couple of risks associated with DFU mode.

Make a Backup of Your iPhone First

When you restore your iPhone using DFU mode, it erases all the content on your iPhone. You need to ensure you have a recent backup first so you don’t lose any photos, videos, messages, apps, or other personal data.

It’s not possible to back up your iPhone after you put it in DFU mode. See our iPhone backup guide

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for more details on how to do it ahead of time.

Don’t Use DFU Mode on Damaged iPhones

If your iPhone is physically damaged, restoring it with DFU mode can make it totally unusable. It doesn’t matter whether you dropped your iPhone in water

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, cracked the screen, or broke the headphone port—if your device is damaged, we don’t recommend using DFU mode.

The reason for this is because DFU mode asks your iPhone to reconnect with various hardware components. If that isn’t possible due to damage, it can’t finish restoring the firmware and your iPhone is thus left unusable.

How to Put an iPhone in DFU Mode

iPhone in DFU mode connected to a computer

The process for putting your iPhone into DFU mode depend on which model iPhone you have. You’ll know you got it right if your computer recognizes the device but nothing shows up on the iPhone screen.

To start, use an Apple-certified USB cable to connect your iPhone to a computer. Once you complete the last step, if your iPhone screen stays blank, it is in DFU mode. You can follow the prompts on your computer to restore your device.

However, if you see a computer or iTunes icon on your iPhone screen, that means you put it in recovery mode instead. Reconnect your phone to your computer and repeat the instructions from step one again. It’s common to get the timing wrong when you first try it.

iPhone 8, iPhone X, and Later

  1. Quickly press and release the Volume Up button, followed by the Volume Down button.
  2. Press and hold the Side button.
  3. When the screen goes black, also press and hold the Volume Down button.
  4. Keep holding both buttons for five seconds, then release the Side button but keep holding the Volume Down button.
  5. Walk through the prompts on your computer.

iPhone 7

  1. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Volume Down button.
  2. Keep holding both buttons for eight seconds, then release the Side button but keep holding the Volume Down button.
  3. Keep holding the Volume Down button until your computer recognizes your iPhone.
  4. You can now restore your device using your computer.

iPhone 6S, iPhone SE, and Earlier

  1. Press and hold the Side (or Top) button and the Home button.
  2. Keep holding both buttons for eight seconds, then release the Side (or Top) button while still holding the Home button.
  3. Keep holding the Home button until your computer recognizes the iPhone.
  4. You’re now ready to complete the restoration process.

Get Your iPhone Repaired or Fix It Yourself

After you restore your iPhone using DFU mode, you shouldn’t have any more software or firmware problems. If it didn’t work, restore your device again but don’t recover any data from a backup. Should you do this and still have issues, your iPhone needs a physical repair.

Schedule an appointment with an Apple Authorized Service Provider to find out what part needs replacing. If your iPhone is covered under Apple’s warranty, you may be entitled to a free repair. Otherwise, there are plenty of websites that show you how to repair an iPhone yourself

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Will Windows 10 Update If My Computer Is in Sleep Mode?

Windows logo

Windows 10 will keep you safe and secure by applying updates automatically. Typically, users schedule “active hours,” so Windows 10 doesn’t install updates at inconvenient times. Will Windows 10 update if a PC is asleep? Technically, no.

Windows 10 Wakes Your Sleeping PC to Update

When your Windows 10 PC goes into sleep mode, it saves the current system state and stores that information into memory. The PC then goes into low-power mode, shutting mostly everything down save for the RAM sticks.

What happens next depends on your PC, its active power profile, and wake timers. The latter is your PC’s “alarm clock” within Windows 10 that pulls it out of sleep.

If you’re on a laptop, wake timers can be disabled while running solely on a battery. That means your laptop definitely won’t wake to update and overheat while stuffed in a bag. Plug the computer in, and it will likely wake only for important scheduled tasks.

Go into the power options where you’ll see three wake timer settings: Disable, Enable, and “Important Wake Timers Only.” System updates are one of many scheduled tasks that fall under that “important” umbrella.

You can also determine which tasks jolt your PC awake using the PowerShell, Event Viewer, and Task Scheduler.

Prevent Windows 10 from Waking by Disabling Wake Timers

Windows 10 provides the means to stop automatic updates while it sleeps, it’s just not apparent. Go into Settings > Update & Security > Advanced Options, and all you will find are settings to delay and pause “feature” and “quality” updates.

You can disable wake timers altogether so that nothing wakes your PC—not even drive scans or antivirus sweeps. As previously stated, this setting resides within your power plan listed in the Control Panel.

First, type “Control Panel” in the taskbar’s search field and select the resulting Control Panel desktop app. Select the “System and Security” option in the following window.

Next, under “Power Options,” click the “Change When the Computer Sleeps” link.

Change When Computer Sleeps

Select the “Change Advanced Power Settings” link in the next window.

Change Advanced Power Settings

The Power Options pop-up panel appears. Click the “+” next to “Sleep” in the list to expand this setting. After that, click the “+” next to “Allow Wake Timers” to expand this setting.

On a desktop, a single setting might say “Enable” or “Important Wake Timers Only” by default. Click this setting and select “Disable” in the drop-down menu.

Power Options Wake Timer Desktop

On laptops, you should see two specific settings: “On Battery” and “Plugged In.” Select “Disable” for both.

Power Options Wake Timer Laptop

Windows Update Won’t Wake Your PC from Hibernate

A hibernating PC won’t wake to update. It’s powered off, as hibernate is a deeper version of sleep mode that saves the current system state to the local hard drive or SSD, not the memory. The only difference between this mode and fully shutting down your PC is that apps, programs, and files remain open after waking from hibernation.

If you want to control how your PC hibernates, we have a guide for that, too. In summary, this setting resides in the Sleep section under Power Options. The path to this panel is Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Edit Plan Settings > Change Advanced Power Settings.

For desktop, you’ll see a “Hibernate After” setting. You can set it to “Never,” enter a specific time in minutes using the arrow buttons, or manually enter numbers with a keyboard.

On laptops, you might see hibernate enabled by default to conserve the battery charge. You’ll find the same “Hibernate After” entry broken into two settings: “On Battery” and “Plugged In.” Again, you can choose when hibernation begins—if at all—by entering the time in minutes.

A hibernate option is also located in the “Battery” section under “Power Options” on laptops. It’s one of three choices for the “Critical Battery Action” setting.

If your PC doesn’t have hibernation enabled, check out our guide to re-enable this mode in Windows 8 and Windows 10.

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You Can Now Use Google Maps in Incognito Mode

Google is rolling out Incognito mode for Google Maps. Incognito mode for Google Maps is now available on Android, with iOS also getting the feature in the future. Which means you no longer have to worry about Google knowing your whereabouts.

What Does Incognito Mode Do?

Incognito mode has been a staple of Google Chrome for many years. Once enabled, it means you can browse the web privately, without other people who use the same device from being able to see your online activity.

This doesn’t offer VPN-levels of online privacy

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, so your ISP, the websites you visit, and your employer will still be able to see what you’re doing online. However, it prevents Chrome from saving your browsing history, cookies, and information entered in forms.

Google Launches Incognito Mode for Google Maps

Now, Google Maps has its own Incognito mode. Once Incognito mode has been enabled, Google Maps won’t save your activity to your Google account. This includes the places you search for, and the destinations you ask for directions to.

According to Google Maps Help, turning on Incognito mode means Google will not “save your browse or search history or send you notifications, update your Location History or shared location, if any, or use your personal data to personalize Maps.”

How to Turn On Incognito Mode in Google Maps

To turn on Incognito mode in Google Maps, open the Google Maps app on your Android device. Then, tap on your profile picture. Then tap “Turn on Incognito mode”. You can turn it off again in the same way when you want to get a more personalized experience.

You can read more about Google Maps’ Incognito Mode in a post on The Keyword. Google also discusses expanding its Auto-delete feature to YouTube, using Google Assistant to control your privacy settings, and how to use Google’s Password Checkup tool

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How to Force Dark Mode on Every Website in Google Chrome

Chrome forcing dark mode on Google's home page.

Chrome 78 has a new trick up its sleeve. It can forcibly enable dark mode on every website you visit, putting an end to those blinding white backgrounds on your nice dark desktop.

This is a Brute-Force Solution

Google Chrome already has a built-in dark mode. Websites can automatically switch to dark mode if you’re using it, assuming the site supports this. But most websites don’t have automatic dark mode—or any dark mode.

Rather than waiting for millions of websites to jump on the dark mode bandwagon, Chrome’s new “Force Dark Mode for Web Contents” option will turn all those bright websites dark. It’s a little like using “Smart Invert” on an iPhone—light colors will turn bright, but it’ll leave images alone.

This is a brute-force solution, and it won’t be as pretty as waiting for websites to enable their own shiny new dark themes. But it’ll turn the web dark everywhere. Previously, you could download and install browser extensions that automatically turned light websites dark. Now, it’s built into Chrome.

Google Chrome forcing dark mode on How-To Geek's homepage.

Enabling this option won’t turn on dark mode on Chrome—for that, you’ll need to enable your operating system-wide dark mode option. For example, on Windows 10, head to Settings > Personalization > Colors and select “Dark” under Choose Your Default App Mode. On macOS, activate dark mode from System Preferences > General.

RELATED: How to Enable Google Chrome’s Dark Mode on Windows 10

How to Force Dark Mode on All Websites

Want to try it out? This option is available as a hidden flag in Chrome 78. Like all flags, it’s an experimental option that may change or be removed at any time. It one day may graduate to a proper option on Chrome’s Settings screen, or it may vanish completely.

To find it, type “chrome://flags” into Chrome’s Omnibox and press Enter.

Search for “Dark Mode” in the search box at the top of the Experiments page that appears.

Finding the "Force Dark Mode for Web Contents" flag.

Click the box to the right of “Force Dark Mode for Web Contents” and select “Enabled” for the default setting.

Enabling forced dark mode for website in Chrome's experiments.

Click “Relaunch” to relaunch Chrome. Chrome will close and relaunch all your open web pages. Be sure to save any content on those pages—for example, things you’ve typed in text boxes—before relaunching the browser.

Relaunching Chrome after enabling a flag.

Browse and see how it works. If you don’t like it, head back to Chrome’s Experiments screen, change this option back to “Default,” and relaunch the browser. Chrome will stop messing with website colors after you disable this option.

You can also try other Force Dark Mode options. The different modes will products different results on web pages. Some of them will even invert light images, turning those images dark. This will make images look different, of course, but it may be convenient if you want a consistently dark desktop.

Don’t feel compelled to use dark mode if you don’t like it. Dark mode is trendy, but it may not actually be better for you. Despite that, we love dark mode anyway.

RELATED: Dark Mode Isn’t Better For You, But We Love It Anyway

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How Dark Mode Really Affects Us

There are a lot of concerns about how the technology we use affects us physically and emotionally. Too much time at a computer can lead to eye strain, back problems, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Using smartphones, tablets, and other blue-light emitting screens can disrupt our sleep cycles. Even time spent on social media can lead to feelings of negative self-worth. Then there’s Dark Mode…

Over the last few years, everyone’s been talking about Dark Mode. It’s said to boost productivity and focus while reducing eye strain. It’s also supposed to be better for your battery life.

But is that the whole story?

Research into the matter suggests that Dark Mode might not be so healthy for us after all. Today, I want to take a look at what the data suggests and how you can use this information to determine how and when Dark Mode should be used.

Dark Mode is everywhere: Twitter has it; Slack does, too; Mac users can get it; Sketch has a Dark Mode; Atom comes with it out of the box; and Chrome allows its users to choose what kind of dark mode they use.

Like I said, it’s in a lot of places where we work. The question is, though, is it a good idea to use it?

Here’s what we know:


1. Polarity Affects Legibility

Polarity, in web design, refers to the contrast between the typography and the background it sits on. Positive polarity is when black text appears on a white background and negative polarity is when white text appears on a black background.

A number of studies in recent years prove that positive polarity is best for legibility.

Study #1: In 2013, researchers set out to determine how polarity affected the act of proofreading. What they found was that positive polarity provided an easier reading experience, especially with smaller font sizes (they tested fonts between 8 and 14 pts). They attribute this enhanced legibility to the brighter luminance of the white background.

Study #2: In 2014, researchers wanted to test whether or not it really was luminance that affected legibility. To determine this, they studied subjects’ pupil sizes as they read positive polarity and negative polarity texts. Those who read positive polarity text had smaller pupils. And because smaller pupils sharpen one’s ability to perceive finer details, the study proved that positive polarity leads to a better, more accurate reading experience.

Study #3: In 2016, further research was done into the matter. This time, their focus was on glance-like conditions (like while driving a car or, say, glancing at a line of code you just wrote). The results of the study showed that negative polarity in a dark ambient environment made it the most difficult to read. Only the positive polarity environments (in both dark and brightly illuminated areas) were ideal.

Bottom Line

Black text on a white background provides the optimal reading experience. If for some reason you prefer the Dark Mode interface, only use it when you don’t have much reading to do and accuracy isn’t an absolutely must.


2. Some Medical Professionals Don’t Believe It Has Any Effect

It’s not just researchers that have taken an interest in the validity of Dark Mode’s health benefits. Medical professionals are getting in on the conversation, too.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Euna Koo spoke to CNN Business about this subject and said:

I do not think dark mode affects eye health in any way given the data that is out there in the literature. The duration of use is likely much more important than the mode or the intensity of the brightness of the device when it comes to the effect of this dark mode on eye fatigue and potentially eye health.

Ophthalmology Director of Modernizing Medicine, Dr. Michael B. Rivers, echoed that sentiment in a recent Forbes article:

While bright light in the evening is known to disrupt circadian rhythms, there’s no real evidence that white font on a dark screen is easier to read than the reverse.

Wired rounded up the opinions of a couple professors of human-computer interaction from UCL. This is what Anna Cox had to say about the relationship between Dark Mode and productivity:

Unfortunately, externally driven distractions don’t just disappear by changing their colour, and internally driven distractions aren’t inhibited by looking at something dark.

So, if doctors and professors are coming forward to debunk the myth that Dark Mode helps with visibility and concentration, we should probably listen to them.


3. It Might Be Affecting Your Mood

This one I don’t have as solid proof for, though I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more studies done on this in the coming years. Here’s what I do know:

The deprivation of light can change how our brains work and can lead to greater levels of depression. For those of you who’ve lived in a place like Seattle before, you know what I’m talking about.

Seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) is a condition that causes people to feel tired, unmotivated, and depressed…all because of a lack of exposure to light. This is especially problematic in parts of the world where the days are short and the sun only comes out a couple months of the year.

I can attest to this. It took just one year of living in Seattle before I had to see my doctor about the extreme fatigue and depression I was experiencing. She and a couple other medical professionals I talked to all said the same thing: “Oh, that’s normal. We’re all depressed here. Get a SAD lamp.” (Basically, because there is no sunshine to naturally wake your body up or to help rejuvenate you throughout the day, your circadian rhythms get all messed up. And a SAD lamp emulates that boost of light you’re missing throughout the day.)

Considering what we know about blue light and its disruptive effects on melatonin and sleep, I can’t help but wonder if these same blue light-emitting screens can help us stay awake and focused during the day. If that’s the case, Dark Mode — at least when used in excess — might actually be hurting our productivity and alertness.



As more of the tools we use to do business with offer up a Dark Mode option, should we take it?

Based on what the research and professionals are saying, I don’t think so. It seems like Dark Mode is more of an aesthetic choice than one you’d make because it’s going to improve how effective you are at work.

And, hey, if you prefer the sleek and subdued look of Dark Mode and find that it doesn’t have any adverse effects on you, have at it. That said, if you’re wondering why you can’t stay focused or awake at your computer, a better option might be to stick with the traditional white screen and adhere to smarter work practices: take frequent breaks from the screen, get outside, and work during your most productive hours.


Featured image via Unsplash.

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How Overwatch Competitive Mode Works

Each year, Overwatch players flock to Competitive Mode with hopes of reaching the top 500 leaderboard. However, you can’t waltz right into Competitive Mode if you’re accustomed to Quick Play mode. There are certain differences to look out for.

Elements such as Role Queue, Skill Rating, Seasons, Point Systems, and Rewards have changed the dynamic of the game and the Overwatch ranking system. In this article we explain how Overwatch Competitive Mode works and how the Overwatch rankings work.

Competitive Play Seasons

You’ll get the chance to play Overwatch competitively six times per year. Every season lasts two months with a few days of offseason play. Players receive rewards at the end of each season depending on their rank.

If you achieved a high rank during the season, you can’t keep it—your rank is reset at the end of each season, but your matchmaking rating (MMR) isn’t.

Role Lock and Role Queue

Before we get into the technicalities of the Overwatch ranking system, it’s important to understand the types of Overwatch heroes

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, along with the changes that come along with Role Lock.

Overwatch has implemented Role Lock in both Competitive and Quick Play modes, which forces players to play in balanced teams. The rule change was mainly added because of the Overwatch GOATS eSports team, and their unique team composition. Their team consisted of three Tanks (Reinhardt, Zarya, D.VA), along with three Supports (Moira, Lucio, Brigitte). This led many aspiring professional teams to copy the same overpowered formation.

Since the introduction of the Role Lock, teams must now have two Supports, two Damage characters, and two Tanks. While some view this change as beneficial, other players are frustrated that they might have to take on a role they aren’t familiar with. Once you choose a role, you’re only able to swap between characters of the same type during a match.

Role Lock also affects your ability to play the game. When you decide whether to play as a Damage, Tank, or Support character, you’ll enter into a queue for that role. Unfortunately, many players wanting to play as a Damage character get stuck with long wait times, as this type is the most popular to play.

How Does Overwatch Ranking Work?

The Overwatch ranking system has been through a fair amount of scrutiny from the game’s userbase thanks to the latest Role Lock rule change. These are the basics of skill rating (SR) as they stand today.

Overwatch SR Basics

At level 25, players unlock Competitive Play mode. To get an official rank, players must complete a minimum of five placement matches in one specific role. That means you’ll have to play a maximum of 15 placement matches if you decide to play as a Tank, Damage, and Support character. In other words, you have to play five matches per role.

Overwatch Placement Matches Role Lock
Image Credit: Blizzard

According to the number of games won in each role, players are granted an SR between one and 5,000. The higher the ranking, the greater the skill. Unlike the previous Competitive Play mode, you’ll receive three SRs—one for each role you play.

Overwatch Competitive Ranks

Blizzard has developed a ranking system that consists of seven different ranks. Players are given up to three of these ranks according to their SR:

  • Bronze: 1,500
  • Silver: 1,500-1,999
  • Gold: 2,000-2,499
  • Platinum: 2,500-2,999
  • Diamond: 3,000-3,499
  • Masters: 3,500-3,999
  • Grandmaster: 4,000 and up

The lowest rank, Bronze, usually consists of mostly new players, while the highest rank, Grandmaster, is reserved for the best of the best.

Maps and Game Modes

There are four game types, all with distinct challenges, player requirements, and maps. Here’s a brief overview of each mode.

Escort and Hybrid (Payload) Maps

Escort maps are similar to Hybrid maps, as Hybrid mode combines elements of both Assault and Escort modes.

The Escort maps are: Dorado, Route 66, Watchpoint: Gibraltar, Havana, Rialto, and Junkertown.

The Hybrid maps are: Hollywood, King’s Row, Numbani, Eichenwalde, and Blizzard World.


In Escort maps, the attacking team must escort a payload to an ultimate destination. Each team is randomly assigned an attacking or defending role. The team on offense must escort a payload to the objective, while the team on defense attempts to stop them.

In the next round, the teams switch roles. Whoever pushes the payload farther wins. If both teams manage to reach the objective, additional rounds will start.

Like Escort Mode, Hybrid Mode also involves a payload. The only difference is that the team must assault a map location first before moving the payload.

Control (King of the Hill) Maps

Control maps work off of a best-of-three, single objective system. The Control maps are: Ilios, Lijiang Tower, Nepal, Oasis, and Busan.


Both teams aim to capture and control their objective. The first team to score two points wins. Points are scored by achieving a 100 percent tally on the map objective. The more players on the point, the faster the point is taken.

Assault (Capture) Maps

Assault maps have one team play as offense, while the other plays as defense. The Assault maps include: Hanamura, Horizon Lunar Colony, Paris, Temple of Anubis, and Volskaya Industries.

Teams take turns defending and attacking certain objectives. Wins are contingent on the point system, with a possibility of two points each map. If the ally team scores more points, thereby taking more objectives, than the enemy team, the ally team wins.


Assault map matches split into attacking and defense rounds. Time is added to your clock by capturing objectives, and the specific time added by each objective is subject to change based on patch updates. The match is considered a draw if no team captures more than 33 percent of a point.

Competitive Play Rewards

Competitive Play wouldn’t be competitive without a rewards system. These rewards are subject to change with the upcoming seasons.

Player Icons and Sprays


Once a player has completed the placement matches, they’re officially a part of Competitive Play. That means they’ll earn a special spray and player icon at the end of the season.

New icon and spray sets get released every season, giving players an incentive to keep playing Competitive. Additionally, a special icon will be available to the top 500 players of the season.

Golden Weapons


By far the most appealing items received through Competitive Play are the golden weapons. Golden weapons cost Competitive Points (CP), which players receive whenever they win a Competitive match. Keep in mind that these weapons do not provide added damage to the character—they’re for aesthetic purposes only.

Leaver Penalties

Blizzard has instituted hard penalties for players that leave matches early in Competitive Overwatch mode. For one, you will not be able to join a new match for the span of the original match.

If you experience issues with connecting to a match, you can Rejoin. However, failing to rejoin a match will result in a penalty.


Continued infractions will lead to locked Competitive Play. Players will no longer be able to join Competitive matches for a certain period of time. More infractions may lead to a season-wide ban and the forfeiture of any rewards acquired during that season, along with a skill rating penalty.

If a player leaves a beginning match, the match is canceled and your SR is not affected. If, however, a player or players leave(s) while the match is well underway, the match will continue and you will be given the choice of leaving the match. Although you will lose SR for leaving the match, the leave will not count as an infraction.

Tips for Taking Over the Competition

These tips will tilt the scales of Competitive Play in your favor. Use them to prevent an SR freefall.

Use a Mic

No matter how skilled the enemy player’s Genji is, there’s no better indicator of a winning team than communication. All Overwatch maps feature choke points—individual map locations designed to narrow a team’s maneuvering ability.

The team that meets at a point and pushes towards the other points as a unit is often the team that wins. This is true for all maps and skill levels, so if you can, use a mic as often as possible to group, warn, and communicate with other players.

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to get you started.

Exploit Map Vulnerabilities

Every map has certain vulnerabilities that players can use to reach target objectives faster. Don’t settle for the main path. If your character can jump, fly, or otherwise maneuver around a map, take that into account when maneuvering the map.

Emulate the Pros

Twitch and other streaming services have changed the video game industry

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—you can now watch professional players play your favorite game. Tuning into Overwatch tournaments, and watching the pros play on Twitch can help you improve your own gameplay.

If you want to take your skills to the next level, use Overwatch pro settings to get the same setup as some of the best players.

Keep Track of Character Usage and Patch Updates

The better you can counter the most-used heroes in Overwatch Competitive Play, the more likely you are to defeat the players. That’s why sites like MasterOverwatch provide seasonal statistics ordering characters by popularity, win rate, K/D ratio, etc.

MasterOverwatch Character List

Character popularity will change according to the different nerfs (performance limitations) and buffs (performance additions) of future patches. Minor character fixes like this will push your game to the next level before players even realize where your added edge came from.

Read Guides

It’s surprising to note just how much information is out there for competitive players already. Excellent players will gladly create large write-ups for free, and post them online for everyone to enjoy. If you want to get better at Overwatch Competitive Mode, read character and map guides online.

Group and Go

The best teams in Overwatch are those that commit two simple actions: group and go. Running towards objectives without teammates usually results in death, while working as a team often results in wins. You can only overwhelm objectives as a team. The faster everyone on your team can reach a point together, the faster you’ll win.

Learning How Overwatch Competitive Works

Overwatch Competitive Play is a serious matter, and should be treated as such. Quick Matches are for character testing, while Competitive Play is for players attempting to prove their worth.

Once you’re acquainted with the basics, you shouldn’t have any problem climbing the Overwatch ranks. If you’re thinking of playing Competitive Mode in Overwatch, gear up, study up, and get ready for an arduous climb.

One of the reasons why Overwatch is such a great game is because it’s cross-platform. If you want a break from Overwatch, check out these other awesome cross-play games worth buying

The 7 Best Cross-Play Games Worth Buying

The 7 Best Cross-Play Games Worth Buying

Want to play games with friends who are on other platforms? It’s possible! Here are the best cross-play games to play right now.
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Play Mobile Games Ad Free and In Peace with Airplane Mode – LifeSavvy

a large passenger aircraft flying off into the sunset
Yuichi Kosio/Flickr

For years my primary mobile gaming time has been on airplanes. It wasn’t until recently I discovered just how many damn ads mobile games have. It turns out the feet-on-the-ground fix gives you more than just ad-free game time.

Call me blissfully naive if you want, but for the longest time I simply thought my favorite mobile games didn’t have the same ads-everywhere problem that plagued most mobile games. It turns out that wasn’t the case.

The case was that when I was at home, I would use a game console or PC to game; when I was away from home traveling for work, I’d play games on my iPhone on the plane. When you’re on the plane, your phone is in airplane mode and, you guessed it, when you’re in airplane mode, there’s no network access to deliver and load the ads—so the app simply doesn’t bother.

Home from a recent trip, I went to show my family a puzzle game I’d really enjoyed and was surprised to see the thoughtfully designed puzzle game had full-screen ads (for the dumbest cartoon-style Sims knockoff I’d ever seen) playing after every single puzzle.

The solution? Pop the phone into airplane mode and enjoy not only an ad-free game experience but a nice break from the pings, dings, and constant notifications that permeate modern life.


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Amazon Kindle for Kids, Improve Mac Gaming, Boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode

The tech podcast for technophobes is back with news of the Amazon Kindle for kids, how to maximise gaming on a Mac, and tips for booting your Windows 10 PC into Safe Mode. Plus we take a look at some cash back apps, text adventures you can play in your browser, and Google Maps’ new voice guidance feature for visually impaired people.

Oh and there’s news of Christian’s Samsung tablet repair.

Really Useful Podcast Season 4 Episode 7 Shownotes

In this week’s show, we bring you:

Help us reach and help more people by subscribing, reviewing, and even sharing the Really Useful Podcast. You’ll find us anywhere you can listen to podcasts, as well as:

Come back next week for another Really Useful Podcast!

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How to Boot in Safe Mode on Windows 10

Ever attempted to troubleshoot your own computer? Then you’ve encountered Safe Mode. Safe Mode is an inbuilt troubleshooting feature which disables unnecessary drivers and programs during the startup process. It allows us to isolate any setting or system errors and fix them at the root, without non-essential applications interfering.

For example, you can use Safe Mode to run System Restore when troubleshooting your computer or to delete a file in use by another program. Here we’ll take a quick look at booting into Safe Mode with Windows 10, and what to do if you cannot boot into Safe Mode.

Method 1: System Configuration

To open the System Configuration screen, type msconfig in your Start Menu search bar and select the Best Match. Open the Boot tab and note the Boot Options. Selecting the Safe Boot option will force your system to boot into Safe Mode following its next restart.

windows 10 system config

You can choose from additional options. Here’s what they do:

  • Minimal: Starts Safe Mode with the absolute minimal amount of drivers and services, but with the standard Windows GUI (Graphical User Interface).
  • Alternate Shell: Starts Safe Mode with a Command Prompt, without the Windows GUI. Requires knowledge of advanced text commands, as well as navigating the operating system without a mouse.
  • Active Directory Repair: Starts Safe Mode with access to machine-specific information, such as hardware models. If we unsuccessfully install new hardware, corrupting the Active Directory, Safe Mode can be used to restore system stability by repairing corrupted data or adding new data to the directory.
  • Network: Starts Safe Mode with the necessary services and drivers for networking, with the standard Windows GUI.

Select Minimal > Apply > OK. System Configuration will now ask if you want to restart your system. Selecting Restart will immediately initiate the restart process, so be sure to save any active documents or projects.

Method 2: Advanced Startup

Your next option is Windows 10 Advanced Startup. It isn’t that advanced, but it is really useful to know.

Windows 10 Advanced Startup

Type advanced start up in your Start Menu search bar and select the Best Match. Now, under Advanced start-up, select Restart Now.

Clicking Restart Now will restart your system in recovery mode where you will encounter three options: Continue, Troubleshoot, or Turn Off Your PC.

Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options. You now have a new range of options to choose from.

Select Start-up Settings > Restart. Your system will restart. The Startup Settings screen will load after you reboot. From here, choose the requisite option for Safe Mode.

windows 10 advanced startup settings

Advanced Startup Shortcut

You can skip the somewhat lengthy clicking process by holding down Shift and clicking Restart under Power, found in the Windows 10 Start Menu. This reboot takes you straight to the Recovery options, where you can select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings.

Windows 10 Restart

Method 3: Tapping

Until the introduction of Windows 8, the most common method for entering Safe Mode was tapping F8 on your keyboard during startup. Tapping F8 brings up the Safe Mode options screen, listing the options found under Method One (above) and several alternatives.

Windows 10 (and Windows 8/8.1) has F8 Safe Mode disabled by default. However, you can sacrifice a couple of seconds during startup by enabling the F8 menu using the Command Prompt.

Begin by opening an elevated Command Prompt. Right-click the Start menu and select Command Prompt (Admin). Select Yes in the User Account Control dialogue, if it appears. Command Prompt should now be open.

Windows 10 Start Option

Input (or copy/paste) the following command:

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy legacy

Job done!

Windows 10 Command Prompt BCDEdit

To undo this legacy command at any time, reopen the elevated Command Prompt as per the above instructions and type:

bcdedit /set {default} bootmenupolicy standard

This returns startup to its original state, so to reach Safe Mode you’ll have to use one of the alternate options in this article.

What If Nothing Works?

Even if none of the above works, you still have two aces up your sleeve.

If you installed Windows 10 via a disc or USB flash drive, you can boot straight into recovery mode by inserting the said installation media before turning your system on.

Choose your keyboard layout, followed by Repair Your Computer, in the bottom-left of the screen. From here you can head to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options where you’ll find System Restore, System Image Recovery, Startup Repair, Command Prompt, and Go Back to the Previous Build.

windows 10 repair your computer

For System Image Recovery to work, you’ll have to have made a backup image before your system error, something we would absolutely advise you to do. You can create a System Image by typing recovery into the Start Menu search bar and selecting the Best Match. The Advanced Recovery Tools will open. Select Create a Recovery Drive

How to Create a Windows 8 Recovery Disk

How to Create a Windows 8 Recovery Disk

The days of reinstalling Windows when it acts up are long since gone. All you need to fix Windows 8 is a recovery disk, either on CD/DVD, a USB or an external hard disk drive.
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and follow the steps.

System Repair Disc

Another helpful tool at your disposal is the System Repair Disc. Unlike the System Image, these aren’t machine-specific, so you can acquire one via a friend if all goes completely pear-shaped.

Windows 10 System Repair

Head to Control Panel > System and Security > Back-up and Restore (Windows 7).

Don’t let the Windows 7 tag put you off: you’re in the right place. Select Create a System Repair Disc from the left-hand column, and follow the instructions.

How Do I Get Out of Safe Mode?

Once you fix your Windows 10 issue, you can leave Safe Mode. But how do you get out of Safe Mode once you’re in there?

There are two options, depending on how you booted into Safe Mode.

If you entered Safe Mode using Method 1 (via System Configuration), you must turn the Safe Mode option off in the configuration window. Otherwise, Windows 10 will boot back into Safe Mode after each restart.

If you entered Safe Mode using Method 2 (via Advanced Startup) or Method 3 (via Tapping Your Keyboard), shut down or restart your system to leave Safe Mode.

Accessing Safe Mode on Windows 10 Is Simple

You now know the three easiest methods to access Windows 10 Safe Mode. Make sure to take note of the final section on System Image Recovery and System Repair Discs. Do always remember the former only works if you’ve set the recovery location before your world began collapsing in a BSOD-induced nightmare.

If you’re truly in a terrible state of affairs, with no Image Recovery and no repair disc, you could always try tech-support savior Hirens BootCD

The 5 Best Rescue and Recovery Disks for a Windows System Restore

The 5 Best Rescue and Recovery Disks for a Windows System Restore

Here are the best Windows rescue disks to help you access your computer for making repairs and backups, even when it won’t boot.
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. It has saved many people, many times, and it’ll save you too!

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Google Announces Maps Incognito Mode and More Privacy Controls

Google security lock icon

Today, Google is announcing a plethora of new privacy and security features: Incognito Mode for Google Maps, auto-deletion of your YouTube history, voice privacy controls in Google Assistant, and Password Checkup built into Google’s password manager.

First up: Google Maps is getting Incognito Mode soon. Google says it will start rolling out on Android later this month, with support for iPhone and iPad coming soon. Just like using Incognito Mode in YouTube, you can search for locations in Google Maps and view them without those locations being added to your history. They won’t be used to personalize your experience.

When this feature arrives, you’ll be able to tap your profile photo and then turn Incognito Mode on. Google didn’t say whether this feature is coming to the Google Maps website for desktop, but you can always open Google Maps in an Incognito window in Chrome for desktop.

YouTube History auto-deletion controls.

YouTube is getting auto-delete, a feature that’s already available for your Google account’s location history and web & app activity. When you enable it for your YouTube History, Google can automatically delete your YouTube watch and search history every 3 months or 18 months—whichever you choose.

You’ll get some of the benefits of personalization, but YouTube won’t build up a years-long history of your interests.

Deleting what you said to Google Assistant via voice.

Google Assistant is getting better voice controls. Rather than digging through Google’s app or website to delete things you’ve said to Assistant, you can now say “Hey Google, delete the last thing I said to you” or “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week.”

Google says this feature will arrive in English next week and for other languages next month.

Password checkup in Google's password manager.

Google’s password manager is getting better, too. Password Checkup is arriving in Google’s password manager on the web. Just like similar features in password managers like LastPass and 1Password, it’ll want you about which passwords are weak, which you’ve reused across multiple websites, and which were discovered to be compromised in a data breach. You then know which passwords you should consider changing.

The password features are arriving in Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is apparently October. A Google/Harris survey found that 66% of Americans reuse the same password for multiple sites and that only 12% of Americans use a password manager. It’s good to see Google’s password manager getting more and more capable.

Google also says the Password Checkup feature is coming to Chrome later this year. If any of your usernames or passwords has been leaked in a known data breach, Chrome will warn you and suggest you change your password. In other words, Google is building its Password Checkup extension into Chrome.

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