How to check your CPU temperature

There are many important stats to keep track of if you’re interested in the working health of your PC, but few are as important as the temperature of major components like your central processor. If you’re not sure how to do so though, don’t worry about breaking out the mercury thermometers, there are a number of quick and easy ways to keep an eye on how toasty your CPU is.

In this guide we’ll walk you through exactly how to check your CPU temperature, from your motherboard’s own reporting tools, to great third-party apps for occasional checks, to software and hardware solutions that keep you in the loop whenever you’re system’s booted.

Windows apps

You don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty of UEFI/BIOS to measure your CPU’s temperature. Monitoring applications use the same physical temperature sensors in your system as your UEFI/BIOS, but make it accessible right through Windows. That means you can check it without a restart and you can also force your CPU to do something difficult so you can see how warm it gets when it’s working hard.

There are a number of first and third-party apps out there that you can use to get quick and easy access to your CPU’s temperature and a lot more information besides. Some of them can be a little overwhelming, but if you’re just looking to find out how to check your CPU temperature, our favorites listed below will see you right.

INTEL XTU

If you have an Intel Core processor, then Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) is arguably the best way to check how hot your processor is running. Although designed primarily as an overclocking tool, Intel XTU comes with a number of built-in monitoring functions as well.

Step 1: To find out how hot your CPU is when running it, download the program from Intel’s download center and install it like you would any application.

Step 2: Booting it up, you’ll be presented with a lot of information, but in the lower panel of the main screen, you’ll see a few pieces of key information about your CPU. Most important for this particular guide however, is the “package temperature,” and associated graph. That’s your CPU temperature.

Step 3: You can also see how hard your CPU is working by its “CPU Utilization” percentage. The higher that is, the more your CPU is having to do. If you want to see how it does under stress, you can use the XTU’s built-in CPU benchmark under the relevant left-hand tab.

AMD RYZEN MASTER

Step 1: If you’re running one of AMD’s new Ryzen processors you can make use of AMD’s own Ryzen Master tool. It works in much the same way as Intel’s XTU, but for Ryzen chips instead. Head on over to its download center to install the program.

Step 2: Alongside its core clock tweaking abilities, it also has a CPU temperature monitor you can view on the left-hand side. Like the XTU, there’s also a graph that can plot your CPU’s temperature over time, even breaking it down by the core, so you can see if individual cores are getting warmer than others.

Step 3: The Ryzen Master tool can also give you average and peak readings, so you can see how hot your CPU gets over a long period of time — great for those concerned about time of day or outside forces affecting CPU temperature.

AN ALTERNATE SOFTWARE OPTION: HWMONITOR

A classic PC monitoring solution, HWMonitor can tell you everything about the various components in your system, from the voltages they require — to the temperatures they run at. It doesn’t feature any sort of overclocking tools and its interface is barebones, but it’s clean, lightweight and easy to parse at a quick glance.

Hardware monitors

If none of the above methods are quite what you’re looking for when it comes to checking your CPU temperature, you could always opt for a hardware monitor. These typically come as part of fan controllers which slot into one of the optical drive ports on desktop systems. They sometimes use your onboard temperature sensors, but many come with their own wired thermometers to give you additional information about how hot your CPU is getting.

Note: These hardware monitors do require installation to some degree, so be prepared to open up your system to fit them, or pay to have it done by a professional.

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How to Charge Your iPhone Faster

When your iPhone’s battery is depleted, it can’t charge fast enough. Being stuck without your phone often means being stranded without social contact, your map, your music library and your video game collection among other things.

The iPhone doesn’t have quick charging technology built-in like some Androids do, but there are a few things you can do to make your iPhone charge slightly faster. The less your iPhone is doing, the faster it’s battery will recharge. This is why many believe switching your phone into Airplane Mode helps it charge more quickly, since this cuts off the phone’s ability to connect to the Internet and fetch information. If you still want to receive texts and calls while charging, there are some other settings you can change to make your iPhone charge faster. Turning off Wi-Fi, lowering the screen brightness, and disabling app notifications can help.

Apple also says removing your iPhone’s case may help it preserve battery life, especially if it’s overheating. If you have an iPad charger readily available, try charging using it to charge your iPhone to speed up battery replenishment.

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KNOWHOW guide to preventing your laptop from overheating

Some simple steps to prevent your laptop from overheating, and a guide to getting it running again if it does

If your laptop switches off for no reason, the likely cause is overheating. You should be able to tell if this is the case by touching the bottom of the machine. If it feels very hot, here are the steps to follow to get it running again. It should take you about thirty minutes. You’ll need a Philips head screwdriver, a flat-head screwdriver and a soft brush.

The first step to avoid overheating in the future is to ensure that the vents underneath the laptop are not blocked. You should keep it on a hard, flat surface or worktop. In spite of its name, it’s never a good idea to use your laptop on your lap, or on the bed or sofa. If you want to use it like this, you can buy a laptop support or stand that provides a flat surface for it to rest on and allows air to circulate underneath it and keep it ventilated.

If your laptop has already overheated, you’ll need to clean the fans inside.

Note: Opening your laptop voids the manufacturer’s guarantee. Please do so at your own risk. If you have insurance or your laptop is still under warranty, please contact the manufacturer or return it to the shop you bought it from for further help.

The inside of your laptop can get very dusty, so it will need a clean from time to time. To clean your laptop, follow these steps:

  1. Unfasten the screws and open the back of the laptop.
  2. Be careful to avoid touching anything in the laptop other than the fans.
  3. Using a cotton swab or small soft brush, gently wipe away any dust caught in the fans.
  4. Once you’re finished, place the cover back on and fasten the screws again.

Watching DVDs or having lots of programs open at once can consume more processing power –which can lead to overheating. If this is the case, you should change your laptop’s power settings so it’s not running on full performance. This can be done in Control Panel > Power Options.

Viruses and Spyware running in the background can also take up a hefty amount of power. To ensure your laptop is clean and not overheating for this reason, run a full anti-virus scan.

Leaving the problem can damage your laptop, which can include corrupting your hard drive. If your laptop is overheating, make sure you take the correct steps in fixing it or if you’re unsure of what to do, contact the manufacturer for help.

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Keep your laptop or desktop PC clean

Discover how to keep your PC free from dust and other dirt in this simple step-by-step guide

The build-up of dust and dirt in your PC does more than simply make it look scruffy. Over time it can affect its reliability and performance too, as the dirt clogs up your airways and fans, your PC runs hotter and components wear out faster and struggle to perform at their best. In this tutorial, we’ll reveal ways of safely cleaning out the dirt to keep your PC running at its best for longer.

  1. Assemble your toolkit

Start by putting together the tools you need for cleaning. Start with an anti-microbial cleaning cloth for cleaning the outside of your computer – PC World stocks an ESSENTIALS washable cloth that’s sensibly priced. Hard-to-reach areas can be cleaned using a can of compressed air, like this FELLOWES Mini Turbo Air Duster. You may also need a small handheld vacuum cleaner and a small, soft brush that won’t shed its hairs easily – a make-up brush or soft paint brush is ideal.

  1. Prepare to clean

Switch off your computer and unplug it from the mains before removing any other cables from the main chassis. Leave it a good 20-30 minutes to cool down, particularly if you plan to open it up to clean the inside. Place it on an accessible, clean surface such as a table.

  1. Clean the outside

Use your vacuum cleaner to carefully remove obvious dust from the vents and various ports (USB , network, monitor and so on). Try to avoid spinning the fans in the wrong direction when vacuuming near them to prevent possible damage – for this reason don’t use a can of compressed air. Once complete, use your anti-bacterial cloth to give the PC’s exterior a good clean, removing any additional dust and grime you find. Earbuds are a good cleaning tool for crevices, grills and other small gaps.

  1. Clean the keyboard

Don’t forget to clean your laptop’s keyboard – the can of compressed air and soft brush can help dislodge the worst of the dirt that’s fallen down inside it. Cleaning the keys themselves might require a brush with harder bristles to gently scrape off the dirt. If you plan to use a cleaning solution, use isopropyl to moisten a paper towel or damp rag to clean the tops of the keys, and a moistened ear bud to clean between them. Do not pour the solution directly on to the keyboard!

  1. Clean other devices

Use the cloth to clean all your cables and peripherals such as printers, removing any obvious dust and grime. Use your soft brush to clean inside any small holes to help dislodge any dirt inside. Look for dedicated cleaning products for certain elements, such as monitor screens.

  1. Clean inside your desktop

If you’re a confident user, comfortable with opening up your desktop PC, you can go further and carefully clean its insides too. We strongly recommend you wear an anti-static wristband, which should be clipped to the side of your case after removing the cover.

Start by using your vacuum’s nozzle to remove the worst of the dust inside, but make sure it doesn’t touch any of the components. For a more thorough clean, use short bursts of compressed air (any longer and you might introduce moisture) in conjunction with your soft brush or cloth to shift more stubborn dirt. Advanced users may also wish to take out expansion cards and cables to clean them, but make sure you know exactly where they came from!

 

Once you’ve finished cleaning your laptop or desktop PC, you should find it runs smoother, quieter and cooler – all without upgrading or repairing it.

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Guide to prolonging your laptop battery’s charge

Use these tricks and tips to ensure your laptop battery doesn’t run down when you’re out and about and to increase its lifespan.

One of the great advantages of laptops is their mobility. If you’re out and about, in a meeting or in a coffee shop, your laptop can connect you to work and friends. But if your battery dies before you can get to a plug, documents and updates can be lost. Batteries don’t last forever and we all know they have a mean-spirited trick of running out when you’re in the middle of something vital. So here are some power-saving tips that might just allow you the juice to save that all-important document in time.

It’s impossible to predict exactly how long a battery will last but here are some of the factors that affect battery life:

  • Ÿ how often you use your wireless network or DVD drive;
  • Ÿ your screen brightness;
  • Ÿ how many programs are running on your laptop;
  • Ÿ if you’re using any inbuilt power-saving features;
  • Ÿ the age of your battery.

Work through the list of power-saving tips below to make your battery last as long as possible and remember that you can make adjustments when you’re away from a wall socket to get you a little more time.

Power saving tips

Brightness

Use your laptop’s brightness controls to reduce the brightness to the lowest comfortable setting. Usually this will be a hotkey combination (Fn + F key). Look for a sun or bulb icon.

Sound

Lower the volume to the quietest comfortable level using a hotkey combination (Fn + F key) or separate volume control. Avoid using the DVD drive when your battery is low.

A CD or DVD drive is one of the most power-hungry devices on your laptop, especially when it’s writing discs. Try to use your CD/DVD drive only when your laptop is running on mains power.

Minimise the use of external devices

External hard drives, CD/DVD drives and USB sticks all draw power from your laptop’s battery. Only plug them in when you need to and disconnect them as soon as you are finished.

Turn off an unused wireless connection

Disable your wireless network card or Bluetooth when not in use. Your laptop will have a hotkey combination or wireless switch for quick access.

Power plans

A power plan is a collection of hardware and system settings that manage how your laptop uses power. These are designed to help you save energy, maximise system performance or strike a balance between the two.

Reduce the number of open programs

Every program running on your laptop uses system resources and therefore draws power from your battery. The fewer programs you have running at the same time, the longer your battery will last.

Extending your battery’s lifespan

As batteries get older, they don’t seem to have as much energy as they used to – just like the best of us! Even though you’ve given it a good night’s charge, the battery still needs a mid-afternoon nap and any strenuous activities wear it out in no time. While its lack of power may leave you feeling a little flat, there’s no need to retire your battery just yet. There are a number of simple ways to extend your battery’s lifespan and while they won’t return it to the heady days of its youth, they’ll at least put a spring back in its step.

Things that can drain your laptop’s battery life

  1. Batteries wear out a little each time they go through a charge cycle, whether the battery is charged from flat or nearly full. If the battery is used regularly for short periods and then recharged, it will wear out faster. Many users leave their laptop on a desk running on mains power. Doing this, removing the battery and only using it when you go mobile will increase its lifespan.
  2. Laptops run on lithium-ion (sometimes called Li-ion) batteries, which gradually lose their performance over time. The decline is very gradual and you may not notice any difference for a long period but when they get near the end of their lives, their performance will very suddenly drop off and your battery will only last for 10 minutes or so. A very short battery life is a sign that it is time to purchase new batteries.
  3. Even if you don’t use your laptop, the Li-ion battery will slowly discharge over time and will eventually need recharging again. If the battery is left in your laptop, it will discharge quicker as your computer uses a small amount of power from your battery even when it’s shut down.

Caring for your battery

Your computer’s user guide or manual will have recommendations for battery usage and storage. In addition, you can take the following steps to prevent a short battery life or low capacity:

  1. Store Li-Ion batteries between 20°C and 25°C with approximately 50% charge.
  2. Do not expose the battery to high temperatures for extended periods. For example, don’t leave your laptop/battery in a hot car or next to a radiator.
  3. Remove the battery when the computer is going to be stored or not used for more than two weeks.
  4. Remove the battery from the computer if it’s going to be plugged into mains power continuously for more than two weeks.

If your battery is not charging

If your battery runs completely flat, it may appear that it isn’t recharging. Don’t be alarmed, as your battery is designed to allow only a ‘trickle charge’ when charging in this state. It does this to prolong the battery’s life and prevent overheating.

Once the battery has charged to a certain level, it will start charging at a normal rate again. You may need to leave your battery charging for up to 12 hours.

Calibrating a battery

Sometimes the computer and battery can get out of sync and your laptop can misread the remaining amount of charge. For example, Windows may display that you have an almost full charge, only to drop down suddenly to almost nothing in a short space of time.

Use one of the following methods to calibrate the battery and you will get a more accurate guide to the life of your battery.

Calibrate the battery while your laptop is in use with Windows 7

A calibration cycle requires that the battery be completely charged and then completely discharged. Here is a step-by-step guide to doing so:

  1. Connect the mains adaptor and fully charge the battery.
  2. Unplug your mains adaptor.
  3. Open the Start menu, type ‘power’ in the Search Programs and Files panel and press Enter.
  4. Choose Power Options from the Control Panel section.
  5. Click Create a Power Plan from the left hand menu and click Next.
  6. In the On battery column, select ‘Never’ for the following options:

-Dim the display

-Turn off the display

-Put the computer to sleep

  1. Press Create and close the Power Options.
  2. Allow the battery to discharge completely until the PC shuts down; this may take some time.
  3. Connect your mains adaptor and restart the computer.
  4. Return to the Power Options and select your desired power plan.

The battery is now calibrated.

Calibrate your battery when not using your computer

For this you need to completely charge and then discharge your computer’s battery. Calibrating your computer this way can take several hours, depending on the age of the battery and your computer’s configuration.

Follow the steps below to calibrate the battery power meter readings:

  1. Shut down your computer.
  2. Connect the mains power adaptor and charge the laptop until the battery is completely charged. (Note: your computer’s User Guide will have details on how your battery indicator light shows this.)
  3. Restart the computer and start tapping F8 while it boots up.
  4. Ensure Safe Mode is highlighted in the Windows Advanced Boot Options menu and press Enter.
  5. Unplug your mains power adaptor from your computer.
  6. Allow the battery to discharge completely until your computer shuts down.
  7. The battery is now calibrated.

Following these steps and choosing the right power plan will help you see there’s life in the old battery yet. While it may not have quite the charge it used to, it’s still game.

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Your iPhone & iPod Battery Replacement Options

A well-cared-for iPhone or iPod can last many years, but there’s a downside to that longevity: sooner or later, you’re going to need a battery replacement.

A device that’s used regularly can start to show decreased battery life after 18-24 months (though some last much longer). If you’ve still got the device after two or three years, you’ll likely notice that the battery holds less juice, making it less useful.

If you’re still satisfied with everything else about your iPhone or iPod, you may not want to buy a whole new device when all you need is a new battery.

But, the battery on both devices is not (easily) replaceable by users because the device’s case has no doors or screws. So what are your options?

iPhone & iPod Battery Replacement Options

Apple—Apple offers a battery replacement program for both in- and out-of-warranty models through its retail stores and website. There are conditions, but many older models should qualify. If you’ve got an Apple Store nearby, stop in and discuss your options. Otherwise, there’s good information on Apple’s website about both iPhone repair and iPod repair.

Apple Authorized Service Providers—Apple isn’t the only company authorized to provide repairs. There’s also a network of authorized service providers whose staff has been trained and certified by Apple.

When you get a repair from these stores, you can be sure that you’re getting good, knowledgeable help and your warranty won’t be voided (if your device is still under warranty). Find an authorized service provider near you at Apple’s website.

Repair Shops—Many websites and mall kiosks offer iPhone and iPod battery replacement services.

Google “ipod battery replacement” and you’ll likely find a decent selection, often with prices lower than Apple’s. Be wary of these options. Unless they’re Apple authorized, their staff may not be experts and they could damage your device by mistake. If that happens, Apple may not be able to help.

Do It Yourself—If you’re handy, you can replace your device’s battery yourself. This is a little trickier,  but Google will supply you many companies willing to sell you the tools and battery you need to do this. Make sure you’ve synced your iPhone or iPod before you start to back up all your data and know what you’re doing. Otherwise, you could end up with a dead device.

iPhone & iPod Battery Replacement Prices

For the iPhone, Apple will service the battery on models as old as the iPhone 3G up to the most recent. As of this writing, the company charges US$79 for iPhone battery service.

For the iPod, prices range from $39 for an iPod Shuffle to $79 for an iPod touch. For iPods, though, Apple only services the battery on more recent models. If you’ve got an iPod that’s a couple of generations old, you’ll probably have to seek out other repair options.

Is Replacing an iPhone or iPod Battery Worth It?

Replacing the dead or dying battery in your iPhone or iPod may seem like a good idea, but is it always worth it? It really depends on how old the device is. I’d recommend approaching the issue like this:

  • Ÿ If your device is still under warranty, yes, definitely replace the battery.
  • Ÿ If it’s recently out of warranty and still working well for your needs, it probably makes sense to replace the battery.
  • Ÿ If it’s out of warranty and a couple of generations behind/a few years old, it probably doesn’t make sense to replace the battery.

In the last case, you need to weigh the cost of replacing the battery against the cost of a new device.

For example, if you’ve got a 4th gen. iPod touch that needs a new battery, that will cost you $79. But buying a brand new iPod touch starts at just $199, a little over $100 more. For that price, you get all the latest hardware and software. Why not take the plunge and get a better device?

How To Make Your iPhone or iPod Battery Last Longer

You can avoid needing battery replacement as long as possible by taking good care of your battery. Apple suggests doing the following things to give your battery the longest possible lifespan:

  • Ÿ Keep your device in a cool area—iPhones and iPods function best when they’re used in an ambient temperature between 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (0-35 C). Operating the device outside of these temperatures can permanently damage the battery. You especially don’t want to charge your device if the ambient temperature is above 95 degrees, as this can also damage the battery.
  • Ÿ Remove cases before charging—Some protective cases can cause your device to get too hot while it charges. Taking off the case can help them stay cool while getting power.
  • Ÿ Charge the battery before long-term storage—If you’re planning not to use your iPhone or iPod for a long time, charge its battery to 50% and then turn it off. If you store it for very long periods of time, charge it to 50% every 6 months.

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Everything We Know About the Samsung Galaxy S9 So Far, From Rumors to Release Date

Samsung is just a few weeks away from releasing the long-awaited Galaxy S9, the latest in its long line of Android-based Apple iPhone competitors.

Companies like Samsung are notoriously tight-lipped about what their upcoming smartphones might look like, or what features they might include. So far we know for sure when Samsung’s Galaxy S9 will be officially unveiled, and that Samsung is pitching the S9’s camera as a main selling point.

But there’s an entire cottage industry built up around smartphone rumors and leaks that we can use to glean some more information about the Samsung Galaxy S9’s potential features, specs, price and more.

Here’s what we know about the Samsung Galaxy S9 so far.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Release Date and Price

Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S9 (and likely a larger Galaxy S9 Plus version) on Sunday, Feb. 25 during Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain. Samsung typically begins shipping new smartphones within a few weeks of announcing them. So it’s a safe bet you’ll start seeing the Galaxy S9 on store shelves and available online by mid-March or so.

The Galaxy S9 price isn’t clear yet. But it’s likely to be comparable to Apple’s most expensive phones — that is, in the $699-$999 range.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Specs

The U.S. version of the Samsung Galaxy S9 could use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor, which will help it take better pictures and video, enable new artificial intelligence improvements, and result in overall better and more efficient performance. The Snapdragon could help improve the battery life on Samsung’s Galaxy S9 without physically larger batteries, too.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 that will be sold in other parts of the world might use Samsung’s own Exynos processor instead of the Snapdragon, CNBC reports.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Camera

The camera will be a chief selling point for the Galaxy S9, if Samsung’s promotional teaser is any indication. The aforementioned Snapdragon 845 processor would certainly help in that regard. The Galaxy S9 could get some improvements in the camera system itself, too, with a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera featuring an f/1.5 lens, Forbes reports. A lens with that wide an aperture would certainly help with low-light photography.

It’s unclear whether Samsung will give both the standard issue Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9 plus a dual rear-facing camera system, or only put such a setup on the Plus model. Details about the front-facing camera system are also shaky at this point.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Features

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 is rumored to have some bonus features that might excite some Android fans out there. Samsung is reportedly working on big improvements to its eye-scanning tech, for example, making it more secure and function better than it does on previous Galaxy models. There’s also a chance the Galaxy S9 could have some kind of face-scanning unlocking feature similar to Apple’s Face ID system.

There have been rumors that the Samsung Galaxy S9 would include a fingerprint scanner built directly into the touchscreen, but recent reports say that might not be the case after all.

Also worth noting: The Galaxy S9 could feature an FM radio option, Tom’s Guide reports, allowing users to tune in to local radio broadcasts. That may seem a little retro on such a high-tech device, but it’s an option that some people have long wanted.

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What is a hybrid smartwatch? The ideal wearable for watch fans

You’ve heard of a watch, right? And you’re likely fully aware of smartwatches, and how the two differ. But you may have also read about hybrid smartwatches. Confused as to what a hybrid watch does? We’re here to explain everything, from what a hybrid smartwatch is and what they can do, to a few examples of the best out there.

What is a hybrid smartwatch?

A hybrid smartwatch is a fusion between a regular mechanical watch and a smartwatch, in that it combines some connected features with traditional watch mechanics. It doesn’t have a touchscreen, doesn’t usually require charging up every day, and doesn’t look like a piece of technology. It looks like a normal watch. If the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear Sport, or touchscreen Android Wear watches like the Emporio Armani Connected, don’t appeal because they don’t really look like watches, then the hybrid is your gateway to the smartwatch world.

Show, don’t tell

The best way to understand what a hybrid smartwatch does is to see and play around with one. The above photo shows off the Fossil Q Crewmaster. We chose it as our example because the design is based closely on an existing Fossil watch, which the company chose to augment with smart connected features. You can see it has an analog dial, traditional watch styling, and it’s slim and stylish.

It’s smart because it has Bluetooth connectivity built-in, and it pairs with your smartphone through an app. The app is available for iOS and Android, which means there’s a high chance whatever phone you have works with the watch. It’s not like the Apple Watch, which only works with the iPhone.

What does a hybrid smartwatch do?

The vast majority of hybrid smartwatches share similar functionality. A hybrid watch will track your steps, while the app works out calorie burn and activity time. Some watches will also track your sleep, but it’s not as common considering most people are unlikely to wear the watch 24-hours a day. The watch will alert you of notifications on your phone with vibrations, and some kind of visual hint about which app is alerting you.

The method for notification alerts varies. Fossil, for example, makes the watch hands zip around to point at a single number, which you designate to a certain app or contact when you first set up the watch.

For example, if email notifications are linked to the number 3, the hands will move to 3 o’clock on the watch and will linger there long enough for you to take a glance. Other watches do it it different, such as the NYSW GTS Activity Tracker, which has a dedicated sub-dial for notification alerts. Hybrid watches from Guess and Martian have a small LCD screen for alerts.

You can also expect features like alarms, world time zones, and a programmable button that can be configured for different functions. This can include working as a remote shutter for your phone’s camera, for music control, or to make your phone ring in case you can’t find it.

Don’t expect most hybrid smartwatches to run apps, have watch faces you can change, or include more complex features like a heart rate sensor (though there are some like the Nokia Steel HR).

No charging?

Because most hybrid smartwatches don’t have a touchscreen, they don’t consume anywhere near the same degree of energy as one that does. Paired with Bluetooth Low Energy, a hybrid smartwatch can usually survive on a coin-cell battery, and therefore doesn’t require nightly charging.

The battery can last up to six months before it needs replacing, which can be done at home, and for a very low price. This makes hybrid smartwatches perfect for anyone that wants to avoid owning yet another device to recharge every day.

Anything else?

Because a hybrid smartwatch doesn’t deviate very far from traditional watch styling and design, you get many of the benefits associated with mechanical watches. Almost all are water resistant, and usually down to at least 5ATM (underwater up to 50 meters), not just a simple IP68 rating (limited to about 1.5 meters), and the standard size lugs mean you can pick and choose your own straps. Also, because the designs are more watch-like, there’s greater choice for women in the hybrid smartwatch world.

Finally, because hybrid smartwatches aren’t as technically complex as a full smartwatch, they’re often much cheaper.

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How to remove malware from your Windows PC

Beware the signs of a potentially malware-infested PC: slower-than-usual performance, the recent occurrence of lots of pop-ups, and other weird issues. It’s possible your system has been infected by a virus, spyware, or other nefarious entity—even if you have an antivirus program installed. Yes, out-of-the-ordinary behavior is sometimes the result of hardware issues, but it’s best to first rule out malware if your PC is acting up. Here’s a step-by-step guide for taking action.

Step 1: Enter Safe Mode

Before you do anything, you need to disconnect your PC from the internet, and don’t use it until you’re ready to clean your PC. This can help prevent the malware from spreading and/or leaking your private data.

If you think your PC may have a malware infection, boot your PC into Microsoft’s Safe Mode. In this mode, only the minimum required programs and services are loaded. If any malware is set to load automatically when Windows starts, entering in this mode may prevent it from doing so. This is important because it can make removing the nefarious files easier since they’re not actually running or active.

You may find that your PC runs noticeably faster in Safe Mode. This could be a sign that your system has a malware infection, or it could mean that you have a lot of legitimate programs that normally start up alongside Windows. If your PC is outfitted with a solid-state drive it’s probably fast either way.

Step 2: Delete temporary files

Now that you’re in Safe Mode, you’ll want to run a virus scan. But before you do that, delete your temporary files. Doing this may speed up the virus scanning, free up disk space, and even get rid of some malware. To use the Disk Cleanup utility included with Windows 10 just type Disk Cleanup in the search bar or after pressing the Start button and select the tool that appears named Disk Cleanup.

Step 3: Download malware scanners

Now you’re ready to have a malware scanner do its work—and fortunately, running a scanner is enough to remove most standard infections. If you already had an antivirus program active on your computer, you should use a different scanner for this malware check, since your current antivirus software may not have detected the malware. Remember, no antivirus program can detect 100 percent of the millions of malware types and variants.

There are two types of antivirus programs. You’re probably more familiar with real-time antivirus programs, which run in the background and constantly watch for malware. (Another option is an on-demand scanner, which searches for malware infections when you open the program manually and run a scan. You should have only one real-time antivirus program installed at a time, but you can have many on-demand scanners installed to run scans with multiple programs, thereby ensuring that if one program misses something a different one might find it.

Step 4: Fix your web browser

Malware infections can damage Windows system files and other settings. One common malware trait is to modify your web browser’s homepage to reinfect the PC, display advertisements, prevent browsing, and generally annoy you.

Before launching your web browser, check your homepage and connection settings. For Internet Explorer right-click the Windows 10 Start button and select Control Panel, then Internet Options. Find the Home Page settings in the General tab, and verify that it’s not some site you know nothing about. For Chrome, Firefox, or Edge, simply go to the setttings window of your browser to check your homepage setting.

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Microsoft issues emergency Windows patch to disable Intel’s buggy Spectre fix

If you’ve noticed any unexpected reboots or PC instability as a result of the recent Spectre patches, there’s a solution: Microsoft has issued an emergency Windows patch that rolls back the recent Spectre mitigations.

Confused? It’s a bit complicated. After the intial Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilites were disclosed, both Intel and Microsoft hustled out patches to mitigate the problem. Unfortunately, Intel’s latest microcode updates—and the BIOS updates from PC makers based upon them—were themselves buggy, causing instability, reboots, and data loss in some PCs.

Microsoft’s latest patch (KB4078130) allows people with affected systems to download the patch via the Microsoft Update Catalog, which disables the mitigations for the “Spectre variant 2.”

Note that the patch notes specifically state that you should run this patch “if you are running an impacted device” (emphasis ours). In other words, if your system is working normally, don’t bother downloading this patch. This is what Microsoft calls an “out of band” patch, and it doesn’t appear that it will be made available via Windows Update, either.

Why should you consider it? Intel has warned previously that the faulty patch can sometimes cause data loss and corruption, and Microsoft is saying the same: “Our own experience is that system instability can in some circumstances cause data loss or corruption,” the patch notes state.

There’s another wrinkle, though. As part of the patch, Microsoft is allowing users to edit the Windows registry to toggle the mitigations on or off. (Instructions are here.) It’s possible to toggle Microsoft’s patch off, and then, when Intel solves its own patching problem, re-enable it. That scenario is actually what Microsoft recommends—again, only if you’ve noticed system instability and want to take action against it.

Toggling the mitigations on and off is also a feature of the latest InSpectre utility.

What should you do? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But we can tell you what we’re doing: if a PC is working as expected, we’re leaving it patched and in place. If you’re backing up your data (to the cloud or an external drive) chances are your most crucial data will be saved in case your system goes down unexpectedly. Obviously, install Microsoft’s emergency Windows patch if you’re running into system issues. There’s no perfect solution—if you’re more paranoid than we are, feel free to deploy the patch even if your PC hasn’t hiccuped.

Good luck, and be sure to check out PCWorld’s guide on how to protect your PC against Meltdown and Spectre. Operating system updates are just one part of it.

As Bleeping Computer noted, system makers such as Dell and HP also advise rolling back their own BIOS patches to an earlier version, which they’re redeployed. It’s all horrendously confusing for consumers and IT organizations alike. Fortunately, at least, there haven’t been any public cases of these vulnerabilities being exploited, Microsoft says.

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