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How to Use WhatsApp Web on PC: The Ultimate Guide

WhatsApp Web offers a quick and easy way to read and reply to WhatsApp messages on your computer. It lets you use WhatsApp online from your browser. And in this guide we show you how to use WhatsApp Web on your PC.

What You Will Need to Run WhatsApp Web

Largely speaking, it’s a simple process and you’ll have the necessary items at hand. But for the sake of thoroughness, here’s the list.

  1. An Android phone or an iPhone with a working rear camera.
  2. A laptop or desktop computer with any modern web browser, like Google Chrome.
  3. An active internet connection for both your phone and your PC.
  4. The latest version of WhatsApp.

Download: WhatsApp for Android | iOS (Free)

How WhatsApp Web Works

How to Install and Use WhatsApp Web on any computer

WhatsApp Web does not have all the features of the mobile app. In fact, it can’t work without the mobile app. You will need your phone to connect to and use WhatsApp Web.

This is, in essence, a clone or a mirror of what’s happening on your phone. If a message comes to your phone, you’ll see it in WhatsApp Web. If your phone doesn’t get a message because it doesn’t have an active internet connection or it’s switched off, then you won’t see it in WhatsApp Web either.

This makes WhatsApp Web inferior to other chat apps, but in some ways, it also makes WhatsApp Web more secure.

How to Set Up WhatsApp Web

Once you have these elements ready, setting up WhatsApp Web is simple:

  1. Open the browser on your PC and go to web.whatsapp.com.
  2. You will see a QR code that you need to scan to connect to WhatsApp Web.
  3. On your WhatsApp mobile app, tap Menu > WhatsApp Web to start the QR code reader.
  4. Point your phone’s rear camera to the QR code on your PC screen.

As soon as WhatsApp Web scans the QR code, it will connect your phone to your PC. In a jiffy, WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp mobile will be synced. You are now ready to use WhatsApp online through the computer.

What You Can Do With WhatsApp Web

  • Use your keyboard to type.
  • Access media (photos, videos, audio) in-line. You can also download any media directly to your PC. However, you cannot bulk download all media files; you have to manually click each.
  • View videos from Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube without leaving the chat window, through Picture-in-Picture mode.
  • Start a new conversation with any contact, or search for existing conversations.
  • View contact information.
  • Start a new group chat, talk in group chats, and view group information.
  • Connect multiple computers to your phone and save them for future. You can also remotely disconnect any browser from your phone.
  • Get or mute desktop alerts and sounds.
  • Share photos and videos, documents, and contacts.
  • Send emojis, GIFs, and stickers, as well as voice notes.
  • View WhatsApp Status updates from any contact.
  • Select multiple messages, and clear messages.
  • Reply, forward, star, or delete messages.
  • Edit your profile.

What You Can’t Do With WhatsApp Web

  • You can’t send a WhatsApp Broadcast.
  • You can’t make or receive WhatsApp Voice calls or WhatsApp Video calls.
  • You can’t post new WhatsApp Status updates.
  • You can’t share maps or your current location.
  • You can’t change media download settings, so all photos and videos sent to you are downloaded automatically.
  • You can’t use two browsers at the same time. While you can add multiple browsers/PCs to your phone, you can only use one at a time.
  • Settings are limited to notifications through WhatsApp Web and chat wallpapers.

Using Multiple WhatsApp Accounts

You can use multiple accounts with WhatsApp Web on one computer

Some folks have two numbers associated with two different WhatsApp accounts. You can still control WhatsApp online for both on a single PC.

To do that, you will need to open WhatsApp Web in two different browsers, such as Chrome and Opera. Alternately, you can open WhatsApp Web in an incognito window, but that automatically logs you out after an hour.

What Makes WhatsApp Web Special

WhatsApp Web is special because of the keyboard, you can finally type fast

So why should you use WhatsApp Web when it’s more limited than the phone? Because of the keyboard, of course.

If you want to engage in long conversations with someone, it’s easier to type using a keyboard. In fact, WhatsApp Web also works with WhatsApp Business, and you’ll be glad that you can take care of multiple customers through it.

You can use keyboard shortcuts too. The most useful two to remember are Ctrl + Shift + [ to go to the previous chat, and Ctrl + Shift + ] to go to the next chat.

How Safe Is WhatsApp Web?

While it initially got some flak for its lack of security, WhatsApp now boasts end-to-end encryption for all of its messages. This extends to WhatsApp Web as well.

Still, it’s a good idea to employ the best security practices for WhatsApp and understand how safe your photos are in WhatsApp, whether you’re using it your phone or using WhatsApp Web. For example, if you have to use WhatsApp Web on a different computer, always open it through an incognito window.

How to Log Out of WhatsApp Web

How to log out of all devices connected to whatsapp web

If you are using WhatsApp Web on your own computer, you can stay logged in even when you are done. It’s convenient.

If you are using it on someone else’s computer, then remember to log out after you are done using WhatsApp online. It’s best to do this on both the computer and the mobile app.

  1. To log out of WhatsApp Web through your computer, go to Menu > Log out.
  2. To log out of WhatsApp Web through your phone, go to Menu > WhatsApp Web > Log out from all devices. As the name indicates, this will close WhatsApp Web on any computer you are logged in.

Once you log out, you will need to run the WhatsApp Web QR Code scan again to reconnect to the device.

WhatsApp Web Tips and Tricks

The more you know about WhatsApp Web, the more astounded you will be by what you can achieve with it. In fact, we prefer it to the official desktop apps for WhatsApp since WhatsApp Web is more feature-filled, and even offers extensions.

There’s also a clever hack that makes WhatsApp Web worth using. Through WhatsApp Web, you can actually read your WhatsApp messages without marking them with blue ticks. It’s a sneaky one, but if you want to learn how to do that and more, check out our list of WhatsApp Web tips and tricks everyone should know.

Read the full article: How to Use WhatsApp Web on PC: The Ultimate Guide

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Video Cable Types Explained: Differences Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports

As technology has progressed, so, too, have the cables we need for our devices. Even though many manufacturers are moving to wireless solutions, you’ll likely always need some form of cable.

This is especially true for video devices. Televisions, monitors, and peripherals need a wide variety of cables and connections to work correctly. So, what are the differences between them all, and which ones do you need?

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular video cable types and when you may want to use each one.

VGA Cables

VGA display cable

VGA stands for Video Graphics Array. The connection was developed by IBM in 1987, making it one of the oldest video connections still in use today. It was widely used for video cards, TV sets, computer monitors, and laptops.

VGA can support resolutions up to 640×480 in 16 colors, although you can increase the colors to 256 by lowering the resolution to 320×200. This is known as Mode 13h and is commonly used when booting your computer into Safe Mode. Mode 13h was often used for video games in the late 1980s.

VGA is capable of transmitting RBGHV video signals, which includes, Red, Blue, Green, Horizontal Sync, and Vertical Sync. The iconic blue adaptor comes with a screw on either side to secure the connection. The socket consists of 15 pins, arranged in three rows of five.

It has since been surpassed by digital connections like HDMI and DVI but is still popular thanks to the resurgence of retro gaming and its inclusion on cheaper monitors and displays.

RCA Cables

RCA cable
Image Credit: William Krapp/Flickr

The RCA lead is one of the most visually identifiable video cables. The red, white, and yellow plugs are synonymous with audio/visual equipment produced in the 1990s and early 2000s. It was also the primary connection for many games consoles, including the Nintendo Wii. Most televisions no longer support RCA inputs, but there are still plenty of ways to connect your Nintendo Wii to your TV.

The name doesn’t refer to the technology itself, but to the company that popularized it, the Radio Corporation of America. The red and white connectors provide audio, while the yellow offers a single channel composite video.

When used together, the three cables transmit stereo audio with video up to 480i or 576i resolution. Just as with VGA, the once-popular RCA cable has been superseded by the digital DVI and HDMI connections.

DVI Cables

DVI video cable

The Digital Visual Interface, or DVI, was launched in 1999 by the Digital Display Working Group as the successor to the VGA cable. DVI connections can transmit uncompressed digital video in one of three different modes:

  • DVI-I (Integrated) combines digital and analog in the same connector.
  • DVI-D (Digital) supports digital signals only.
  • DVI-A (Analog) supports analog only.

DVI-I and DVI-D can come in single or dual-link varieties. Single-link can support 1920×1200 at 60Hz while adding a second digital transmitter for dual-link means the resolution can be increased to 2560×1600 at 60Hz.

To prevent forced obsolescence of VGA devices, DVI was developed to support analog connections using the DVI-A mode. This meant that DVI connections and devices could be backward-compatible with VGA connections.

HDMI Cables

HDMI cable
Image Credit: Lord_Ghost/DepositPhotos

The most popular digital video connection is the High Definition Media Input, also known as HDMI. This proprietary interface was created by a group of electronics firms, including Sony, Sanyo, and Toshiba. HDMI connections transfer uncompressed video and audio to computer monitors, TVs, and DVD or Blu-ray players.

There have been many iterations of the HDMI standard to accommodate advances in technology. The most recent is HDMI 2.1, which was launched in 2017. Among other technical changes, this update improved support for 4K and 8K resolutions and increased the bandwidth of HDMI up to 48 Gbit/s.

Importantly, HDMI cables are backward compatible, so that you can use a cable with the latest features on older devices. The reverse is also true, meaning you can use an older cable on devices made to the HDMI 2.1 standard. This is useful, as the HDMI Forum previously ruled that no HDMI cables or devices can display which standard they were manufactured to, making it impossible to determine your setup’s configuration.

HDMI uses the same video format standards as DVI, so the two are compatible through the use of an adaptor. As no signal conversion is necessary, there is no loss of quality either. Although, unlike HDMI, DVI does not support audio.

There are three commonly used HDMI connectors. Type A is the full-sized HDMI connection for use on TVs and home theater equipment. Mini-HDMI (Type C) is frequently used on laptops and tablets, while Micro-HDMI (Type D) is mostly used on mobile devices.

DisplayPort Connections

DisplayPort cable
Image Credit: Davis Mosans/Flickr

DisplayPort is a digital display interface developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). DisplayPort can carry digital video and audio, making it functionally similar to HDMI. As of DisplayPort 2.0, these connections support resolutions up to 8K, High Dynamic Range (HDR) at higher resolutions, and better support for multi-display configurations.

However, HDMI and DisplayPort were designed for different markets. While HDMI is primarily for home entertainment, DisplayPort was designed for connecting computing devices to monitors.

Due to their similar functionality, it is possible to connect DisplayPort and HDMI devices together using a Dual-Mode DisplayPort adapter. DisplayPort operates using packet data transmission, most commonly used in Ethernet and USB connections. Thus, making it ideal for use in computing rather than home entertainment.

Thunderbolt Connections

Thunderbolt 3 cable
Image Credit: Tony Webster/Flickr

Thunderbolt is an interface commonly found on Apple computers, iMacs, and MacBooks. Intel developed the standard with support from Apple as a means to connect peripherals to your computer.

The connection made its debut with the launch of the 2011 edition of the MacBook Pro and is still commonplace on the company’s hardware. If you own an Apple computer, it might be worth checking out the best Thunderbolt accessories for your Mac. Like other video connections, Thunderbolt cables integrate other technologies into a single device.

The connection combines PCI Express and DisplayPort, while also providing DC power, enabling up to six device connections on a single cable. To complicate matters, there is an overlap between Thunderbolt and USB Type-C. Thunderbolt specifications have been integrated into USB standards across the years.

With the introduction of Thunderbolt 3, all Thunderbolt cables share the same connector as USB Type-C cables. This means you can use the cheaper USB-C cable with Thunderbolt ports and devices. However, performance will be limited as USB-C cables don’t support the same rates of data transfer or power.

The Right Video Cable for Your Needs

When a new technology hits the market, manufacturers compete to make their version the global standard. This is why there are so many video cable connection types that are still in use today.

However, standardization is possible. In the mid-2000s, each cell phone would come with a proprietary charger. These days, it’s almost guaranteed your smartphone will charge via a micro-USB or USB-C connector.

The same is true of video standards, where HDMI has become the most common connection. If you need a new cable, then consider one of the best HDMI cables for Smart TVs and displays.

Read the full article: Video Cable Types Explained: Differences Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports

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What to Know Before Changing iTunes and App Store Country

We might live in an interconnected world, but international laws and policies can’t always keep up with our jet-setting ways. You’ll discover this first-hand if you ever try to change your iTunes or App Store account from one country to another.

Although it is possible to switch your iTunes or App Store country—which we’ll show you how to do below—doing so comes with a fair amount of drawbacks, like losing access to all your previous purchases.

Here’s everything you need to know about this process.

The Problem With Changing Your iTunes or App Store Country

App Store purchases not on this iPhone for download

Each country accesses a different version of iTunes or the App Store. Sometimes these stores have different apps, music, movies, and other media available in them. But even if two stores have exactly the same content, you can only access your purchased media from the store you bought it from.

That means you lose access to all your existing iTunes and App Store purchases when you change your Apple ID to a different country.

Anything already on your device is still available to use and apps you’ve already downloaded still get the latest updates. But you’ll need to change the App Store and iTunes settings back to your original country again if you want to access purchases that you hadn’t already downloaded.

The biggest issue with this is that you need a valid payment method for whichever country you want to change iTunes and the App Store to. You can’t use an Australian credit card in the US App Store, for example.

So if you moved from Australia to the US, you’d need to get an American credit card to change to the US App Store. Then, if you ever wanted to access your Australian purchases again, you’d need to use your old Australian card to change back. This might be impossible to do if you moved to America permanently and your Australian payment details have expired.

One way to get around this problem is to create a second Apple ID account, rather than changing the settings for your existing one.

The Benefits of Creating a Second Apple ID Account

Create Your Apple ID website with Country selected

Instead of changing the country or region for your existing iTunes and App Store account, sometimes it’s beneficial to create a second Apple ID to use instead. With two separate accounts—one for Australia and one for the US, for example—you can switch between them at any time without needing to update your payment information.

All you would need to do is sign out of iTunes and the App Store on your device, then sign in again using the second account. After doing so, you get instant access to all the iTunes and App Store content from that country, including your previous purchases.

It’s possible to create a new Apple ID account without attaching any payment information to it, allowing you to download free media from iTunes or the App Store in any country. If you want to buy something from another country, you can either add a payment method from that country or purchase a foreign iTunes gift card to use with that account.

The problem with this method is that it splits your purchases across two separate accounts. You need to associate each of them with a separate email address. And if you lose access to one of the accounts, you also lose all the purchases you made using it.

How to Keep iTunes and App Store Purchases From a Different Country

Downloaded purchased movies from iTunes

If you’ve already downloaded them to your device, you can still use any apps, music, movies, TV shows, books, and other iTunes or App Store purchases regardless of which country or account you purchased them from.

That means you should download all the purchases you want to keep using before changing your iTunes and App Store country, or before creating a separate Apple ID account.

If possible, create another copy of these purchases by making an iPhone backup on a computer. When creating the backup, be sure to select the option to Back up all the data from your device to your computer.

If you lose access to your original Apple ID account or if you’re unable to change the iTunes and App Store back to your original country, you can restore this backup to retrieve your original purchases.

How to Change the iTunes and App Store Country Settings

If you are moving to a different country permanently—meaning you only expect to change the country for iTunes and the App Store once—then you should change the settings for your account.

Otherwise, you should create a second account to make it easier to switch between iTunes and App Store countries multiple times. This second method is particularly useful if you don’t have a payment method for the new country you want to use.

We explain each option below.

Method 1: Change the Country Settings for iTunes and the App Store

There are a few steps you need to take before you can change your iTunes and App Store settings to a different country:

  • Cancel any existing subscriptions on your account, such as Apple Music or Apple TV+.
  • Leave your Family Sharing group, unless you’re the Family Organizer.
  • Spend any remaining credit in your Apple ID account.
  • Download any apps, music, movies, TV shows, books, or other media you might want to access in the future.

You also need to make sure you have a valid payment method and billing address for your new country. You’ll need to add this payment method to your Apple ID account when you change countries.

While you can change the iTunes or App Store country from any device, you only need to do it once. After you change the settings on one device, it affects the same account across all your other Apple devices as well.

On an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to [Your Name] > iTunes & App Store.
  2. Tap your Apple ID username and choose to View Apple ID from the popup.
  3. Tap Country/Region and choose to Change Country or Region, then select the new country you want to change to.
  4. After agreeing to the Terms and Conditions, enter the payment information and billing address for your new country and tap Done.

On a Mac:

  1. Open Apple Music and go to Account > View My Account from the menu bar.
  2. Under the Apple ID Summary section, click the option to Change Country or Region.
  3. Select the new country you want to change to.
  4. After agreeing to the Terms and Conditions, enter the payment information and billing address for your new country and tap Done.

Change Country or Region button in Apple Music app on Mac

Method 2: Create a Second Apple ID Account for Another Country

Creating a second Apple ID account is the best way to switch iTunes and the App Store to a different country temporarily. You don’t need a foreign payment method and it’s easy to switch back and forth between your old account and the new one within the App Store itself.

The easiest way to create a new Apple ID account is directly on your device. When you do so, make sure you select the right country for your new account. You’ll need to confirm this by adding a billing address in that country and verifying your account with an email address (and possibly a phone number as well).

You can use any phone number, even if it’s from a different country. But you need to use a new email address that isn’t linked to an existing Apple ID account.

On an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:

  1. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > Sign Out.
  2. Choose which iCloud data to save to your device and tap Sign Out.
  3. Open the App Store and tap the Account icon in the top-right corner, then choose to Create New Apple ID.
  4. Select your new country beneath the email address and password fields.
  5. Enter an email address and password to use with your new account. You can’t use an email address associated with another Apple ID account.
  6. Tap Next and fill in every requested Apple ID field. If you don’t have a payment method for this country, choose None. Even without a payment method, you need to find a billing address you can use in this country.
  7. Tap Done when you’re finished to create your new account.

Top Up Your Account With an iTunes Gift Card

After you create a new Apple ID account or change the settings on your existing account, you should be able to access content from iTunes or the App Store in the new country of your choice.

To make purchases, you need to ensure your payment information and billing address matches your new country. Alternatively, buy an international gift card and use it to add credit to your account. Learn all there is to know about iTunes Gift Cards before buying one to make sure you get what you need.

Read the full article: What to Know Before Changing iTunes and App Store Country

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How to Create and Boot From a Linux USB Drive on Mac

Linux has long been synonymous with bootable flash drives, whether it’s to fix some sort of problem with your primary operating system, or for trying various distros.

There are a few ways to create an Ubuntu (or other Linux) bootable USB drive for Mac. You can go the freeware route for an easy option, or put a little bit of time into creating the drive yourself using Terminal. Let’s look at both methods.

First: Prepare Your USB Drive

When you’re looking to create a bootable Linux USB drive on a Mac, the first step is to make sure you’ve got the right USB drive for the job, and that it’s formatted correctly to avoid any problems.

Some Linux variants may require larger volumes, so pay attention to the requirements when downloading. Generally speaking, anything above 4GB will do the job. Others don’t have any strict requirements, but formatting to FAT beforehand is a good idea regardless.

Warning: Everything on your drive will be erased when you do this!

  1. Insert your USB drive into your Mac and launch Disk Utility (under Applications > Utilities, or search for it using Spotlight with Cmd + Space).
  2. Select your USB device in the menu on the left, then click Erase.
  3. Give it a name and choose MS-DOS (FAT) under Format and GUID Partition Map under Scheme.
  4. Hit Erase to apply the changes. If it fails, try again—sometimes the system doesn’t unmount the volume in time and the process will be unable to complete.

Mac Disk Utility format

If you have persistent problems, try another USB drive. Now download a Linux distro to install on your USB stick, and you’re ready to get started.

Make a Bootable Linux USB Drive With Etcher

balenaEtcher is a free open source tool for burning disc images onto USB and SD drives. It makes creating bootable devices completely foolproof:

  1. Grab your desired Linux image, then download Etcher and install it.
  2. Insert your USB stick, then launch Etcher.
  3. Click Select image and find the Linux image you downloaded—Etcher supports IMG, ISO, and ZIP, among others.
  4. Ensure the correct USB device is selected—hit Change to see a list of connected devices.
  5. Finalize the process by clicking Flash and wait for the process to complete.

etcher bootable linux usb drive

You’ll likely see an error message warning that your USB drive isn’t compatible with your Mac. That’s normal—simply eject and go. Your bootable Linux USB drive is now ready; you can now skip to the Booting Your USB Drive section below.

Create a Live USB Using the Terminal

If for some reason you don’t want to use Etcher (maybe you’re on an incompatible version of macOS), you can accomplish this task using the command line. It’s possible using Terminal, your Mac’s built-in command line interface.

While this method requires a little more thought and patience, it’s actually pretty straightforward. You might even learn something new, plus you’ll feel smart afterwards. Assuming you’ve formatted your drive per the earlier instructions, here’s how it works:

1. Convert Your ISO

Launch Terminal and take note of where your Linux disc image is stored in Finder. Convert your image (usually an ISO) to an IMG file using the hdiutil convert command:

hdiutil convert [/path/to/downloaded.iso] -format UDRW -o [/path/to/newimage]

Replace [/path/to/downloaded.iso] with the location of your own ISO (you can drag and drop directly into the Terminal window if you want) and [/path/to/newimage] to wherever you want the new image file to be created.

convert iso to dmg

Note: Modern versions of macOS will automatically create a .DMG file. If your version doesn’t do this, try appending IMG to the end of your new image file name, such as [/path/to/newimage.img]

2. Write the Image to USB

Next, you’ll need to identify your drive’s mounted location so you can tell the Mac which drive to use. With Terminal open, use the following command to list all connected drives:

diskutil list

set up external drive

You’ll likely be able to identify the drive by its name, format, and size using a process of elimination. Take a note of the listing under the IDENTIFIER column, then unmount the drive using the following command:

diskutil unmountDisk /dev/[diskX]

You’ll need to replace [diskX] with the corresponding number, like disk3—if successful, Terminal will report that the disk was unmounted. If you’re having trouble unmounting a drive, you can launch Disk Utility, right-click on a drive, then choose Unmount (don’t eject the drive, though).

unmount drive mac

The final step is to write the image to your USB stick, using the dd command:

sudo dd if=[/path/to/newimage.dmg] of=/dev/[diskN] bs=1m

Replace [/path/to/newimage.dmg] with the path to the file created in the first step (again, drag and drop works best), and [diskN] with the location identified earlier. You’ll need to authorize with your administrator password immediately afterwards, since you used the sudo command.

install linux on usb drive mac

You’re now done, and your drive is ready for booting.

Booting Your USB Drive

Assuming all went well, you’ll now have a USB drive that will let you boot into Linux. Plug it into the Mac you want to use it on, then shut down the computer.

In order to access your Mac’s boot menu, you’ll need to hold the Option (Alt) key while it boots. The best way to do this is to shut down, hold the Option key, start your Mac, and wait. If you did it correctly, you’ll see a few options including your built-in hard drive and the USB device created earlier, titled EFI Boot.

Mac choose boot disk

To boot into Linux, select the USB device and click the arrow (or double-click it). Depending on what you’re using, you may get another menu which acts as a bootloader for your particular flavor of Linux.

Linux boot menu

If you have problems, or your USB drive won’t show up, try running the process again, using an alternative method above, running off a different USB stick or port, or consulting your respective distro’s help documentation.

The Best Way to Try Linux on Your Mac

Assuming all went well, you now have Linux running on your Mac and you can test it out or install it outright if you’re tired of macOS. You still have an Apple recovery partition which is accessible by holding Cmd + R while your machine boots. This can help you reinstall macOS (or apply other fixes) if you decide to go back.

Ubuntu running on a MacBook Air

There are other tools that claim to help you do this, but not all of them work, and some cost money. Unetbootin is still a popular choice for Linux and Windows users, but is not as good as Etcher on a Mac (and has some issues on newer versions of macOS).

There’s also our old favorite Mac Linux USB Loader, which is open source and actively maintained. It’ll cost you $5 for a pre-compiled binary, assuming you don’t want to download Xcode and compile it yourself. This low entry fee helps keep the project maintained, but it’s hard to justify paying for something when there are perfectly good free alternatives.

For more, check out how to install macOS from a USB flash drive. And if you’d prefer to install Linux on your internal drive, our guide on how to dual-boot Linux on your Mac is your essential next read.

Read the full article: How to Create and Boot From a Linux USB Drive on Mac

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How to Recover Deleted or Missing WhatsApp Messages

Do you need to recover deleted or missing WhatsApp messages? It’s certainly possible, and in this article we explain how to do it.

Instead of archiving a WhatsApp chat, you might have accidentally deleted it. What’s the difference? Archived chats are easy to recover from within WhatsApp, whereas recovering deleted messages isn’t so easy. But rest assured that you CAN do it.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to recover deleted WhatsApp messages on your iPhone or Android. We’ll then teach you how to set up an advanced WhatsApp backup plan to ensure you never lose any of your WhatsApp messages again.

Understanding WhatsApp Chat Backups

In order to retrieve deleted WhatsApp messages, you need to have enabled Chat Backup in the app’s settings. To reach this, just tap the Settings tab at the bottom on iOS, or open the three-dot menu at the top-right and choose Settings on Android.

From there, head to Chats > Chat backup. Here (under Auto Backup on iOS and Back up to Google Drive on Android), WhatsApp offers several backup frequencies:

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Off

On Android, WhatsApp makes a local backup every night, but this won’t help you if you lose your phone. Which is why cloud backups are vital.

WhatsApp deletes older backup files as you create new ones. The iPhone app only keeps the latest backup file, while the Android version keeps “up to the last seven days’ worth” of backup files. Keep that in mind as you choose the right backup frequency for your needs.

By having daily auto backups, you’ll be able to easily recover messages soon after deleting them. On the other hand, weekly auto backups will allow you to go further back in time to recover deleted WhatsApp messages, at the expense of losing recent chat messages.

For a more advanced backup plan for Android devices, please scroll down to the “Advanced WhatsApp Backup Strategy on Android” section below.

How to Restore Archived WhatsApp Chats

On iPhone, if you archive an old chat, you can reverse the archival by shaking your iPhone and choosing Undo to recover the archived chat.

To unarchive a chat later:

  1. Scroll up in the chat list until Archived Chats appears.
  2. Tap on it, then swipe left on the chat you want to restore.
  3. Hit the Unarchive button that appears.

To unarchive a chat on Android:

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the chat list and tap Archived (X).
  2. Press and hold on the chat you want to recover.
  3. Tap the unarchive icon, which looks like a box with an upward-facing arrow.

How to Retrieve Deleted WhatsApp Messages

Wondering how to get back deleted WhatsApp messages after backing them up? Simply uninstall and reinstall WhatsApp on your device. When you reinstall the app, you will be prompted to restore your message history from the backup file. Tap Restore and you’ll retrieve everything from the latest backup.

This method of recovering deleted WhatsApp messages works on both Android and iOS as long as you have a backup. Keep in mind that it has to be within your selected auto-backup frequency, however. For instance, if you’ve set the app to back up daily, you can recover any deleted chats before the next daily backup occurs.

Recovering Deleted Media on WhatsApp

Hopefully, restoring your backup file allowed you to retrieve any deleted media from your chats. If that didn’t work, however, read our guide to recovering deleted photos from WhatsApp.

On Android, you can simply open a file explorer app and navigate to /WhatsApp/Media. From there, simply sift through the folders until you find the deleted files to want to recover. Check the above guide for additional methods.

How to Recover Older Deleted Chats in WhatsApp

Getting deleted messages back after a new backup has run is slightly more difficult. Your success will depend on your selected auto-backup frequency. Note that this process only works on Android devices, since it lets you access the local backup files.

Before we dive into the process, here’s an overview:

  1. Open a file explorer app on your device.
  2. Navigate to /WhatsApp/Databases.
  3. Rename msgstore.db.crypt12 to msgstore-latest.db.crypt12.
  4. Rename msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt12 to msgstore.db.crypt12.
  5. Uninstall WhatsApp.
  6. If Google Drive backups are enabled, open Google Drive, slide out the left menu, tap Backups, and delete the WhatsApp backup file.
  7. Reinstall WhatsApp.
  8. When prompted, restore from the backup file.

How to Recover Older Deleted WhatsApp Chats on Android

As mentioned before, WhatsApp retains several days of chat backup files. One is, of course, the latest chat backup. The others, depending on your auto-backup frequency, could be one day or many days old. In addition to the Google Drive cloud backup, WhatsApp stores these backups on your device’s local storage.

Open your device’s file explorer app (Files by Google is a good option if you don’t have one installed), and navigate to /WhatsApp/Databases. Depending on your device, the WhatsApp folder may appear under /sdcard/, /storage/, or similar.

Within that folder, you’ll find the various chat backup files. The latest one is named msgstore.db.crypt12, while the others look like msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt12. As you’d expect, YYYY-MM-DD represents the year, month, and date, respectively.

To retrieve WhatsApp messages deleted sometime between two backups, simply do the following:

  • Rename msgstore.db.crypt12 to msgstore-latest.db.crypt12. This changes the latest backup file, since you’re about to give an older backup its name.
  • Next, rename the msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt12 file that you want to restore to msgstore.db.crypt12.

After that, uninstall WhatsApp. If you’ve enabled Google Drive cloud backups, open the Google Drive app, slide out the left menu, and select Backups. You’ll see a WhatsApp backup file with your phone number in it. Tap the three-dot Menu to the right of this and choose Delete backup to erase it.

Doing this prevents WhatsApp from using the backup file from Google Drive instead of the local file you want to restore.

Now, reinstall WhatsApp. During the setup process, you’ll be prompted to restore from the backup file you’ve just edited—it will show as X days old instead of the most recent backup file.

That’s all you have to do in order to retrieve deleted WhatsApp messages from older backups. Once you restore those messages, feel free to start using WhatsApp as normal again.

Export Retrieved Messages and Return to the Latest Backup

If you only walked through the above process to restore a few messages, and don’t want to lose the latest messages, you can export the retrieved chat messages and then restore WhatsApp to the latest backup. You’ll have to run through the entire process again, but it’s not difficult.

To export messages, open the chat containing the messages you want to save. Tap the three-dot Menu button at the top-right, followed by More > Export chat. If the chat has media, you’ll see an option to export Without media or to Include media.

Including media will add all recent images as attachments, which obviously increases the size of the export file. You can export up to 10,000 messages with media, or 40,000 messages without media.

After you make your choice, choose an app on your phone to share the text file (and attachments, if applicable) containing your messages. You can email this to yourself, add it to cloud storage, or similar.

Repeat this for any other chats with messages you want to save. Once that’s done, follow the steps in the above section again. When you come to renaming the backup files, reverse the process:

  • Rename the existing msgstore.db.crypt12 (which contains the messages you retrieved) to msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt12, using today’s date.
  • Then rename msgstore-latest.db.crypt12 (the latest backup created when you started) back to msgstore.db.crypt12.

Uninstall WhatsApp, delete your Google Drive backup if needed, reinstall the app and restore from backup, and your latest chats will reappear.

Advanced WhatsApp Backup Strategy on Android

Because you can easily view and edit WhatsApp chat backup files on Android, it’s easy to manipulate them if you like. Renaming them allows you to keep as many backup files as you want.

All you need to do is rename a backup in the msgstore-YYYY-MM-DD.1.db.crypt12 format to something else, such as oct11.db.crypt12. Because this file doesn’t use WhatsApp’s naming convention, it’s now protected from being overwritten by WhatsApp.

Consider creating your own backup file in this way once every month or so. That way, you won’t lose tons of messages if you have to restore one of them. For even more safety, copy your backup files to cloud storage or your computer so that they’re safe in case your phone stops working.

Recover WhatsApp Messages to Preserve Memories

As you can see, it’s fairly easy to recover deleted WhatsApp messages. However, this is only the case if you’ve backed up your messages ahead of time. This is why the advanced backup strategy is worth setting up if you’re an Android user.

Now that you’ve set up a full backup for WhatsApp and know that you won’t lose any messages, it’s a good idea to learn more about how WhatsApp works. Check out our rundown of the best new WhatsApp features you might have missed.

Read the full article: How to Recover Deleted or Missing WhatsApp Messages

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Memory Sizes Explained: Gigabytes, Terabytes, and Petabytes in Context

It’s easy to understand that 500 gigabytes is more than 100 gigabytes. You probably also know that a terabyte is larger than a megabyte. But if you’re not familiar with computer architecture, these are all abstract terms. While you can visualize an inch or a quart, it’s much tougher to picture a terabyte or a petabyte.

To put these into perspective, let’s look at computer storage sizes to see just how big a gigabyte, a terabyte, and larger are.

Byte Basics Explained

In case you’re not familiar, let’s first review the fundamentals of computer storage.

A bit is the smallest amount of data a computer can store. Since computers use the binary numbering system, each bit can be either a 0 or a 1. To put this in perspective, one bit is enough to store whether a value is true or false. For example, in a video game, a single bit could be 1 if the player had obtained a certain upgrade and 0 if they didn’t have it yet.

Eight bits together are called a byte, which is the building block of storage amounts. A byte can contain 256 possible values. This, for example, stores one character in the ASCII encoding standard.

Kilobytes and Megabytes

Like most measurements, as you increase in size, prefixes are used to denote larger amounts of data.

A kilobyte (KB), the first major grouping, equals 1,000 bytes. You’ll recognize the “kilo” prefix, since it’s used in other measurements of a thousand, like “kilometer” (1,000 meters). To get an idea, a text file containing about 1,000 characters equals roughly one kilobyte.

The last size before we get to larger denominations is a megabyte (MB), which is 1,000 kilobytes (or one million bytes). One megabyte holds roughly one minute of music in MP3 format. As another bit of perspective, a standard CD holds about 700MB. Keep in mind that a megabyte is different than a megabit, however.

Before we move on, we should mention the difference between how computers and humans measure storage. Because of how the binary system works, one kilobyte actually equals 1,024 bytes, not an even 1,000. That variation grows as you move up the size ladder, which is much more noticeable at higher storage amounts. This is why a 250GB hard drive displays only about 232GB available.

Because the correct definition of prefixes like “giga” is an even multiple of 1,000, for simplicity we’ve used powers of 1,000 instead of 1,024 here. Other prefixes, such as “kibi” and “gibi”, correctly denote multiples of 1,024. See our full explanation on computer size formatting discrepancies for more details.

How Big Is a Gigabyte?

Gigabyte memory sizes explained

You’re probably familiar with the term gigabyte (GB) since it’s the most common unit of storage for today’s devices. If you’re wondering how many bytes are in a gigabyte, remember that each level increases at a multiple of 1,000.

We’ve seen that there are 1,000 bytes in a kilobyte and 1,000 kilobytes in a megabyte. Since a gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes, one gigabyte is equal to 1 billion bytes.

In perspective, 1GB holds about 230 standard MP3 tracks. Depending on the video codecs used, approximately three minutes of 4K video at 30FPS would equal 1GB. And a standard DVD holds about 4.7GB.

Most of today’s smartphones come with somewhere between 32GB and 512GB of storage. However, computer storage drives are available in much larger sizes, which brings us to the next unit…

How Much Is a Terabyte?

Terabyte computer memory sizes explained

You can buy internal and external hard drives and SSDs available in terabyte denominations now. But how big is a terabyte in comparison?

Remember that moving to a terabyte (TB) simply ups the value by another power of 1,000. Thus, there are 1,000 gigabytes in a terabyte, and a terabyte is equal to a trillion bytes.

We mentioned earlier that a basic CD holds about 700MB and a DVD holds roughly 4.7GB. You’d thus need nearly 1,430 CDs or 213 DVDs to get one terabyte of storage!

From another angle, the US Library of Congress revealed in 2009 that its collection contained about 74TB of data. This has certainly increased over the years, but we can use other huge datasets for more recent calculations.

For example, common estimates state that the average book requires about 1MB to store (not including illustrations). In late 2019, Google announced that Google Books had scanned over 40 million titles. This means that you’d need about 40TB to store all the books on Google Books.

What Is a Petabyte?

This is the first data size that you might not be familiar with. One petabyte (PB) equals 1,000 terabytes, or one quadrillion bytes. This is a staggering amount of information that’s difficult to comprehend.

To try putting this in perspective, scientists estimate the human brain has space for about 2.5PB of memories. 1PB would be enough to store 24/7 video recording at 1080p for almost 3.5 years. You could take 4,000 digital photos every day for your entire life to fill up one petabyte, as well. And in March 2018, AT&T was transferring 197PB of data through its networks every day.

Put another way, the Milky Way Galaxy is home to approximately 200 billion stars. If every individual star was a single byte, we would need 5,000 Milky Way Galaxies to reach 1PB of data.

Exabytes, Zettabytes, and Yottabytes

Above petabytes, there are still several larger magnitudes of data storage. We’ll look at them briefly so you’re familiar with them, but these sizes are so enormous that you’re unlikely to hear them referenced in normal conversation for years to come.

An exabyte (EB) is 1,000 petabytes, or one quintillion bytes. 2004 was the first time that monthly internet traffic across the world passed 1EB. In 2017, the internet handled some 122EB of data every month. You could fit around 11 million 4K movies in an exabyte of storage.

Next up is a zettabyte (ZB), which is equivalent to 1,000 exabytes or one sextillion bytes. The International Data Corporation calculated that the global datasphere was somewhere around 33 zettabytes in 2018. As another way of looking at it, the continent of Australia is about 2.97 million square miles. If each square mile represented one terabyte, you could fit almost 337 copies of Australia into a zettabyte.

The largest currently defined data size is a yottabyte (YB). This staggering unit is equal to 1,000 zettabytes, or one septillion bytes. Comparisons with today’s data sizes are a bit ridiculous, but it’s estimated that you could fit 257.054 trillion DVDs or 288.230 quadrillion average MP3 songs in a yottabyte.

Gigabytes, Terabytes, Other Sizes: Explained!

It’s amazing to consider how far storage technology has come in just a few decades. We can now store huge collections of video, audio, images, and other data on our computers and phones that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.

It will probably be a while before you can buy a storage drive that’s measured in petabytes or larger, but now you know roughly how much these units hold.

If you’re running out of storage, check out the best free cloud storage providers for some additional space.

Image Credit: Dooder/Shutterstock

Read the full article: Memory Sizes Explained: Gigabytes, Terabytes, and Petabytes in Context

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Don’t Buy Office 2019! Here’s Why You May Not Need It

Microsoft offers two ways to buy Microsoft Office: the Microsoft 365 subscription plan or a one-time purchase. The latest standalone version of Office is Office 2019, which you might be tempted to buy if you want to avoid subscriptions.

However, we strongly recommend against buying Office 2019 (or older versions like Office 2016). Let’s look at why you shouldn’t buy standalone Office 2019 and the best alternatives you could consider instead.

Why Microsoft Office 2019 Isn’t Worth the Cost

The biggest draw for the standalone version of Office 2019 is that it’s a one-time purchase. It makes sense that you’d want to avoid signing up for yet another subscription, especially if you don’t use all the features of Office. If you’re not familiar, have a look at our Office 2019 overview first.

As it turns out, though, buying Office 2019 isn’t the right move for almost everyone. This is because…

1. Microsoft 365 Offers So Much More

When you buy Office 2019, the basic Office apps are all you get. While this might be exactly what you’re looking for, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) comes with some bonuses that make it a much better value.

Most importantly, Microsoft 365 guarantees you’ll get all updates to Office as they become available. Like Windows 10, Microsoft regularly works on Office to add new features. Office 2019 does include security updates, but when the next major version of Office arrives, you’ll have to pay full price for it again.

Additionally, Microsoft 365 Personal comes with 1TB of OneDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype credit each month. Even better, Microsoft 365 Family offers these benefits for up to six users individually. Since OneDrive charges $1.99 per month for 100GB of space, the storage alone is a great value.

You also get access to Microsoft support via chat or phone as a Microsoft 365 subscriber.

2. Office 2019 Isn’t Cheap

Microsoft Office Pricing

Home users have three available versions of Office 2019 to choose from. No matter which one you chose, they are licensed for one Windows PC or Mac only:

Don’t forget that OneNote is free for everyone, so you don’t need Office to get it. Instead of these packages, you can also buy individual apps (such as Word or Excel) for $139.99 each. However, this doesn’t make much sense when you can get Home & Student for just $10 more.

Meanwhile, Microsoft 365 includes all these apps in each plan. Microsoft 365 Personal costs $6.99 per month (or $69.99 per year) and lets one person use Office on all their devices. The Microsoft 365 Family plan costs $9.99 per month (or $99.99 per year) and allows up to six total people in your family to use Office across every platform they use.

When purchased yearly, you could pay for six years of Microsoft 365 Personal before you matched the cost of Office Professional 2019. And the Family plan provides much better value if you have multiple people who need Office. Buying standalone Office just isn’t cost-effective.

3. Office 2019 Has Limited Functionality

In the early days of Microsoft 365, standalone versions of Office, such as Office 2016, were simply snapshots of Office 365 at that time. Thus, you could buy Office every few years to avoid the subscription and keep up with the latest developments.

However, this isn’t the case anymore. Microsoft now prevents Office 2019 users from accessing some of the features found in the Microsoft 365 apps. This includes the Researcher panel in Word, the Designer feature in PowerPoint, and real-time collaboration in Excel.

These limitations extend to the mobile apps. Buying Office 2019 doesn’t unlock full access to the Office apps for Android and iOS/iPadOS.

If you have a tablet with a screen larger than 10.1 inches, the mobile Office app only lets you view files. Smaller devices can edit files in Office apps, but are still missing some features. You need a Microsoft 365 subscription to unlock them all.

While you might not use these functions all the time, getting an inferior product for the price you pay is frustrating.

4. Microsoft Won’t Support Office 2019 for Long

Office 2019 Lifecycle

As we’ve discussed, the biggest advantage of buying Office 2019 is that you can use it as long as you want without additional cost. However, Microsoft has changed its support plan with Office 2019 to reduce this period.

Office 2019 will enjoy five years of mainstream support (ending on October 10, 2023), but only two years of extended support after that (ending on October 14, 2025). This is quite a drop from the five years of extended support that previous Office editions offered.

Microsoft is likely doing this to reduce the amount of old software it has to support. However, it means that your purchase has less value, as you’ll need to upgrade sooner to avoid using an unsupported version of Office.

5. What You Have Is Probably Good Enough

If you have Office 2016, Office 2019 isn’t a must-have upgrade. Unless you’re an Office expert, you won’t use most of the new tools anyway. Whether you have Office 2016 or even another office suite (as we’ll discuss below), you can still do what you need to do: create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

If that’s all you need to do, why spend money for features you’ll probably never use? You’re better off learning more about Office with online tutorials.

6. There’s No Free Trial

Office 2019 doesn’t come with a free trial. This is strange, as earlier versions came with an evaluation period so you could see if you actually needed the new features or not.

On the other hand, you can try Microsoft 365 Family for a month at no charge. Microsoft’s lack of a similar trial for potential customers of Office 2019 isn’t a make-or-break issue, it’s yet another indication of the lack of value in Office 2019.

The Best Free Alternatives to Office 2019

If you decide to skip Office 2019, you still need a software suite that includes word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps. Thankfully, you have some great alternatives that provide these features without costing you anything.

While they might not have every little feature of Office 2019, they’re more than enough for most people.

1. Office Online

Office Online Apps

Did you know that Microsoft offers free online versions of Office apps through the Office Online service? These are stripped-down compared to the desktop offerings, but for drafting a quick paper or spreadsheet, Office Online is plenty good enough.

There’s no offline version, which means it’s not ideal if you often work without an internet connection. However, for casual Office users, it’s a free and simple way to use the service. You just need to sign in with a Microsoft account.

2. Google Docs

Google Docs Explore

Like Office Online, Google Docs is a simplified office suite that’s available in any browser. If you use Google products more than Microsoft’s tools, this option might work better for you. You can use Google Docs offline with a Chrome extension, but it’s more of a last resort feature than something you should rely on.

Want to maximize your productivity with Google Docs? Keep on top of these time-saving Google Docs tips and you’ll make your life much easier.

3. LibreOffice

LibreOffice Toolbar

For a desktop alternative to Microsoft Office, LibreOffice is the best choice. This open source suite comes with tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, diagramming, flowcharts, databases, and advanced math equations.

If you need an offline office suite that’s more powerful than free offline tools, look no further. Once you get used to its interface, you’ll probably never need to use Microsoft Office again.

Office 2019: Not Worth It for Most Cases

Before you buy Office 2019, you should try one of the free alternatives. If they don’t work for you, Office 2019 is only a good choice if you satisfy all of these conditions:

  • You only work on one computer and don’t plan to get another.
  • Nobody else in your family uses Office.
  • You never work on your mobile device.
  • Missing out on features in Office doesn’t bother you.
  • You won’t use OneDrive cloud storage.
  • You’re fine with using Office as it is now until the next major release when you’ll pay for it again.

If you disagree with any of the above, Microsoft 365 represents a better value for you. Otherwise, go ahead and buy Office 2019. If you use it until the end of support, having the upfront price spread out over several years is acceptable.

Next, master using Office with hidden Word features and essential Excel formulas.

Read the full article: Don’t Buy Office 2019! Here’s Why You May Not Need It

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When Skype Isn’t Working: 7 Key Settings You Must Check

Most of the time, Skype just works. But sometimes, you’ll run into a snag and find that Skype can’t connect or otherwise isn’t working properly. These troubleshooting steps will solve most common Skype problems, whether your microphone isn’t working or the other person sounds like a robot.

If you still find that Skype is not working after following these steps, ask the person you’re contacting to run through this list too—the problem could be on their end.

1. Check Skype Heartbeat

Skype Heartbeat Report

Before you do any troubleshooting of your own, you should check if the overall Skype service is having issues. If Skype won’t connect or you can’t use a specific Skype feature, check the Skype Heartbeat page.

You can also access this from the Skype app by clicking the three-dot Menu button at the top-left and opening the Settings menu. Select Help & Feedback from the list on the left, then click Skype Status to open the page in your browser.

The heartbeat page informs you of Skype’s system status. If there are any problems with Skype’s infrastructure, you’ll see them here. The page also lists recent Skype issues at the bottom as a reference. You can’t do anything about these issues—wait for Microsoft to fix them and try connecting later.

2. Review Skype Audio Settings

If your Skype microphone is not working, you can test your microphone (and speakers) in the app. Click the three-dot Menu button and choose Settings, then pick the Audio & Video tab from the list.

To test your microphone, speak into it. You should see the blue dots under Microphone move as you speak.

Skype Test Microphone Settings

If you don’t see the volume bar move, click the name of your mic next to Microphone and select another device. Keep trying different devices until you see the volume slider move when you talk. In a pinch, you can try using your smartphone as a makeshift microphone.

There’s also a chance that you’ve blocked apps from using the microphone altogether in Windows 10’s Settings panel. To check this, open the Settings app and visit the Privacy section. Under App permissions on the left sidebar, choose the Microphone tab.

Here, enable the Allow apps to access your microphone slider, and make sure the Skype app has permission too. If you’re using the classic version of Skype, scroll down to Allow desktop apps to access your microphone and make sure you have the master and Skype sliders enabled there, too.

Windows 10 Change Mic Settings

No sound in Skype? On the same Audio & Video settings page in the app, make sure you have the correct speakers chosen from the dropdown menu. Confirm that you have the volume at an audible level, too.

Click the Test audio button underneath the Speakers section and you should hear the Skype call sound. If you don’t, select a different device from the Speakers dropdown box and try again.

3. Troubleshoot Audio Hardware

If playing with the options on the Audio & Video panel didn’t help, you should examine your hardware. Some microphones and headsets have volume sliders or mute switches on their cords. Thus, you could have accidentally moved the slider or flipped the switch.

Also, check to make sure that your microphone and speakers are plugged into the correct ports. You can plug USB microphones into any USB slot, while analog microphones must connect to the correct sound jack.

In most cases, the microphone port (input) is pink and the headphone jack (output) is green. However, different audio hardware may sometimes use different colors.

PC Audio Ports

If you’re using a desktop computer and the microphone doesn’t work when it’s plugged into the sound jack at the front of the PC, try the sound port at the back of the computer. You may need to further troubleshoot your microphone or fix general Windows 10 sound issues if nothing here works.

4. Edit Skype Video Settings

Assuming you have a webcam, you can check it from the same Audio & Video pane in Skype’s Settings window. Here, you should see a preview feed from your webcam. Like the audio options, click the name of your device at the top-right to switch to another if you have multiple webcams installed.

Skype Webcam Settings

If your webcam is connected and you don’t see it in this window, you may need to install or update Windows drivers for it. You can usually grab drivers from your webcam or computer manufacturer’s website.

Like with the microphone troubleshooting, you should also check Windows 10’s privacy settings for camera access. Visit Settings > Privacy and jump to Camera on the left sidebar, underneath App permissions.

Make sure you have Allow apps to access your camera enabled, as well as confirming Skype has permission. Desktop users of Skype should confirm the same settings under Allow desktop apps to access your camera.

Windows 10 Desktop Apps Camera

Check out our full guide to troubleshooting Skype webcam problems for more information.

5. Make a Skype Test Call

If everything above works properly, try a test call. To do this, go to Settings > Audio & Video in Skype and click the Make a free test call link at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, you can add the Skype user echo123 (named Echo / Sound Test Service) to your contacts list and call it as a test.

Skype Test Call

The call testing service will ask you to speak into your microphone after a beep. It records what you say and, after a few seconds, plays your message back to you. This ensures that everything is working properly—your microphone, speakers, and the network connection.

If the call worked properly, you should be good to go. And if you still can’t hear another person on Skype, it’s probably a problem on their end.

6. Review Bandwidth Usage

If you—or anyone else on your network—are overloading your network bandwidth with intensive tasks like downloading large files or streaming 4K video, you’ll experience poor call quality.

One of the obvious signs of network congestion is robotic-sounding voices. Skype will usually display a red connection icon when this happens.

Close any programs downloading files (both on your computer and on other devices in your home) and try placing the Skype call again. If you’re on a Wi-Fi network, try moving closer to your router to improve your connection. You might also want to run through our network troubleshooting guide if you’re having further network problems.

7. If Skype Is Not Loading at All

If you can’t log into Skype, you may have an issue with your Microsoft account. Visit Microsoft’s account recovery page to recover your password, then try signing in again.

In case your issues still persist, or you have other specific issues like Skype search not working, it’s a good idea to uninstall and reinstall Skype to clear up any underlying problems. You can also try using the Skype web app instead of the desktop version.

Skype Troubleshooting Made Easy

Using this quick checklist, you can eliminate common Skype problems and make your calls sound great. Most of the time, what seems like a huge problem when Skype is not working is a pretty simple fix.

Remember that for Skype group calls, one user experiencing any of these problems could affect the quality for everyone. If you’ve decided that it isn’t worth using the service anymore, try one of the best free alternatives to Skype.

Image Credits: Grublee, Tomas Jasinskis, RossHelen/Shutterstock

Read the full article: When Skype Isn’t Working: 7 Key Settings You Must Check

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Is Popcorn Time Safe? How to Watch Safely

Popcorn Time is a revolution in the world of torrents. An app that presents movies beautifully, just like Netflix, but with one crucial difference: they’re all streamed illegally using torrent technology. Popcorn Time is just a really pretty torrent streaming client.

I’m not here to preach though. It’s obvious that streaming or downloading movies without paying for them is illegal. But since you’re going to do it anyway, I just want you to be safe.

Not sure what torrents are? Read our free guide to torrents

The Truth About Popcorn Time and Its Clones

Popcorn Time set the internet alight when it was first released. It offered a Netflix-like experience, but one key difference: all the movies and TV shows you could possibly want. And it was completely free.

The original project was shut down rather quickly, but with the code being open source numerous clones were developed.

However, some users are completely ignorant of where the content actually comes from. There is, after all, no indication in the app itself that you’re doing anything illegal (though newer clones added warnings). It looks just like a streaming service, with nice DVD covers and a great looking interface.

Even users who were aware that the files were obviously of dubious legal origin weren’t necessarily also aware of the underlying technology, believing it to work like any other streaming internet movie site.

The truth is that the app itself (and all the clones) is based entirely on torrents. When users stream media, the app downloads a torrent file, joins the swarm, and immediately seeds the file back out to everyone else.

From the perspective of anti-p2p organizations and the companies hired to monitor torrents, this is a problem. It’s no different to anyone heading over to the PirateBay and downloading it using a traditional torrent client. Popcorn Time is a just very pretty media index and torrent client in one package.

You are still downloading from a torrent. 

Is Popcorn Time safe?

Don’t be under the illusion that you’re protected simply because you’re using Popcorn Time-based apps to stream content instead of downloading in a traditional torrent client. It is exactly the same thing underneath with a pretty interface on top, so every precaution you should take when downloading a torrent still applies when using these streaming applications.

But before you even get to that point, you’ve got to make sure you download the right Popcorn Time.

Which Popcorn Time Should I Download?

The problem with a project becoming open source is that anyone can then make a copy, tweak the app name, and release it as a brand new application. But guess what: they might also have injected some nasty bonus code in the process.

In fact, they may not even have changed the app name. You might think you’re downloading Popcorn Time, but you’re actually downloading something that’s going to work the same as Popcorn Time, all the while secretly running a crypto mining script on your PC.

It’s easy: Popcorn Time isn’t a virus, but “Popcorn Time” is. That’s because you downloaded Popcorn Time from PopcornTime.xx instead of the official site.

But there is no official site anymore. The official site was shut down. The only thing left is the clones. Thankfully, one project emerged as the preferred client, and their code can be inspected and verified.

Okay—so you’ve downloaded the new official open-source client. So that’s safe to use, right? Not so fast. Remember, this is all still based on torrents. Your ISP can see exactly what you’re doing, and if a torrent monitoring company sees your IP in the swarm, it’ll get your info from your ISP and potentially lead to a lawsuit.

The solution, as with many privacy concerns, is to tunnel your traffic through a Virtual Private Network, or VPN.

Always Use a VPN with Popcorn Time

The very nature of peer-to-peer torrent technology means that everyone who attempts to download a file is given a list of everyone else doing the same: you become both the downloader, and uploader. Even if you’ve set your client to never upload, you’ll still be on the list as a peer.

It should therefore be obvious that anti-p2p organizations could do the same thing to figure out who is downloading a specific file. Companies are paid to monitor specific torrents by the copyright owners, which they do by downloading it themselves, checking the swarm, and keeping a record of every IP address they see.

Your IP address is cross-checked against a known list of ISPs. Your ISP is contacted, and they may be forced to pass on the details of the customer associated with an IP at a specific date and time, or asked to take action themselves. Fines, and possible disconnection await repeat infringers.

Using a VPN is the only safe way of having any contact with torrents, period. Tunnel your connection through a torrent-friendly VPN that won’t keep records of who was using the service and when.

This video from CyberGhost VPN explains the concepts.

Good VPNs cost money. Yes, you can find free VPNs, but they aren’t secure for doing anything. There’s a reason they’re free.

We maintain a list of best VPNs, but not all of them are friendly toward torrents. Private Internet Access is the most commonly recommended for p2p users, but even then, you’re asked to restrict your torrent usage to servers located in specific countries.

Good VPN providers are “logless”, meaning they do not keep logs of who does what. Even if local law enforcement were to subpoena them for information on a specific user, they would have no information to give.

Peerblock/Peerguardian Doesn’t Do Anything

It’s often been recommended that anyone dabbling in torrents should run Peerblock or Peerguardian. These apps work like a firewall, maintaining a list of “bad IPs” that belong to anti-p2p organizations, universities, and law enforcement agencies.

The app then prevents those from connecting to your machine. The theory goes that if they can’t connect to you, you won’t end up on their naughty list.

In reality, they don’t need to actually connect to your machine in order to see you’re in the torrent swarm and actively downloading or uploading a file. Peerblock is utterly useless.

Does Peerblock help you stay safe using Popcorn Time?

In fact, these apps often prevent useful peers from seeding a file to you because their IP is unlucky enough to be in a block owned by a certain company or university. The app provides a false sense of security and will not provide any protection when using torrents.

Use a VPN instead.

Malware Risks of Popcorn Time

It is possible to embed malware inside movie files, but it’s extremely rare, and only works on specific media players.

As long as you play standard video file types like MP4, using an up-to-date version of VLC (or through Popcorn Time) you’re safe. Windows Media Player has been exploited in the past through the Digital Rights Management extensions.

A more common attack vector is to make you think you’re downloading a movie, but actually, it’s an executable file. Never randomly double-click a downloaded file.

Or you attempt to play a movie, and it consists of a single screen that instructs you download a different player or Codec pack in order to watch it, which turns out to be a virus. The malware is almost never in the movie file itself.

Beware fake codec popups when using Popcorn Time

Software and games, on the other hand, are always executable files, and as such can easily contain executable malware code. There is no safe way to run pirated software. Instead, get software and games from legitimate sources.

I don’t condone downloading copyright materials, nor can I make any guarantee you won’t get in trouble even after following all this advice—but if you’re going to anyway, these tips are going to give you the best chance of not getting in trouble.

Just remember that those Popcorn Time videos are all courtesy of the BitTorrent network. If you’re thinking about cutting out the middle man, use these “reputable” BitTorrent websites.

Read the full article: Is Popcorn Time Safe? How to Watch Safely

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How to Get a Windows XP Download Free From Microsoft, Legally

Want a free Windows XP downloaded from Microsoft? It’s possible using a virtual machine. This article explains how.

Windows XP is old, and Microsoft no longer provides official support for the venerable operating system. But despite the lack of support, Windows XP is still running on 5 percent of all computers around the globe. Why are people still using Windows XP? Mostly due to work, research, or entertainment.

Finding a copy of Windows XP isn’t easy. Finding some hardware to run it on is just as difficult. That’s why the best option is to install Windows XP in a virtual machine so you can keep it on hand at all times. Here’s how you do it!

Is Windows XP Really Available for Free?

Microsoft knows that there are good reasons to jump back into Windows XP. That’s why they supply Windows XP Mode, a full version of XP that runs within Windows 7. However, most of us have long since moved on from Windows 7, making this compatibility fix… well, a little unhelpful.

Luckily for you and me, there’s a relatively easy way to take the Windows XP Mode download and load it up in any virtual machine of your choosing. Before we begin, you need a few things:

  1. Download and install the latest version of VirtualBox.
  2. Download and install a file archive tool.
  3. A copy of Windows XP Mode (see below).

Step 1: Download Windows XP Mode Virtual Hard Disk

Head to the Microsoft Windows XP Mode download page. Select Download. On the next page, select WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe, then hit Next. The Windows XP Mode executable will now download.

windows xp mode download

When it completes, don’t install it yet!

Instead, browse to the executable, then right-click and select 7-Zip > Open archive > cab from the context menu.

extract xp mode archive

This immediately opens the executable in 7-Zip for you to have a poke around. There are three files:

xp mode sources

Open Sources to reveal another three files:

xp mode internal folders

Double-click xpm. This is the XP Mode virtual hard drive folder. It should look the same as the image below:

xp mode virtual hard disk

These are the files you need to create the XP Mode virtual hard disk. Unfortunately, they’re Archive files and not executable files, meaning they’re currently Read-only.

You need to extract these files to a new folder.

Select Extract from the toolbar, then press the ellipsis icon next to the address bar. Browse to where you’d like to extract the files—your C: drive is fine—and select Make New Folder. I’ve called my folder “Windows XP Mode,” but the choice is yours. When you’re ready, press OK, then OK again to start the extraction process. This can take a minute or two.

Head to the folder you created when the extraction process completes. You’ll see the same list of files. The difference is that you can now edit these files as you see fit.

Select the file named VirtualXPVHD. Press F2 to rename. Insert a period between the “P” and the “V,” and press Enter. The file should immediately change into a virtual hard disk, and the icon to boot:

xp mode virtual hard disk gif

Step 2: Install Windows XP Mode in a Virtual Machine

Before we completed the XP Mode virtual hard disk extraction, I asked you to download and install VirtualBox. VirtualBox is a free app that allows you to run operating systems in a window.

We’re going to install the Windows XP Mode virtual hard drive in VirtualBox.

  1. Open VirtualBox. Select New. At bottom of the Create Virtual Machine window, select Expert Mode (if your window shows an option for Guided Mode, you’re already using Expert Mode). Now, give your virtual machine a suitable name. If you include “XP” in the virtual machine name, the Version will automatically change to reflect that. Even so, double-check the Version is Windows XP (32-bit).
    virtualbox select operating system
  2. Assign the virtual machine some memory. Memory is a shared resource, meaning both the host (your PC) and the guest (the virtual machine) use it concurrently. Luckily, Windows XP is old and doesn’t require buckets of RAM to run. I would advise assigning a minimum of 512 MB (but you won’t need more than 2048 MB).
    virtualbox select memory
  3. Finally, we need to assign a hard disk—the virtual hard disk we extracted from the Windows XP Mode executable earlier. Under Hard disk, select Use an existing virtual hard disk file. Then, hit the folder with the green arrow. Browse to the folder we extracted our files to, select VirtualXP, then Open.
    virtualbox select hard disk

When you’re done, your new virtual machine setup should look like this:

virtualbox create virtual machine

Okay? Hit Create.

Step 3: Windows XP Mode Disk Settings

Before you boot up your shiny new Windows XP virtual machine, you need to tweak a few settings.

On the VirtualBox toolbar, press Settings. Head to System. Look at the Boot Order. Uncheck Floppy, and move it down the list. Promote Hard Disk to the top of the pile. Just like your host PC, the virtual machine has a specific boot order. You need the virtual hard disk at the top of the list, so it boots first:

xp mode boot settings

Under Display, increase Video Memory to 128 MB:

xp mode video memory

Windows XP Virtual Machine Network Settings

Next, check the Windows XP virtual machine network settings. Older versions of VirtualBox required a more manual approach to network configuration. The software is smarter these days (read: automated) and usually picks up your network settings without prompt.

For instance, my Windows XP Mode virtual machine works using the default configuration: using NAT, the VirtualBox-specific adapter, and ensuring Cable Connected is checked.

xp mode adapter settings

However, if it doesn’t work (and you’ll realize the good or bad news in a moment when you fire up the virtual machine), you can try an alternative configuration.

  1. Set Attached to: Host-only Adapter
  2. Set Name: VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter
  3. Set Promiscuous Mode: Deny
  4. Check Cable connected

Using the Start Menu search bar, type “network,” and select the Network and Sharing Centre. In the left-hand column, select Change adapter settings. Hold CTRL and select both your Ethernet/wireless card and the VirtualBox Host-Only Network. Then, right-click and select Bridge Connection.

bridge network connection

“Combining” the adapters creates a network bridge, allowing the virtual machine to connect to a network even though it doesn’t have direct access to the router (or alternative switch):

network bridge

When you enter the virtual machine, you’ll have to update your network adapter settings:

  1. Head to Control Panel > Network and internet Connections > Network Connections.
  2. Then, right-click the Local Area Connection, and select Properties. Highlight Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), then select Properties.
  3. Select Use the following IP address, and enter an available IP address for your home network. For instance, I will enter 192.168.1.10. Enter your Subnet mask and Default gateway.
  4. Unsure what they are? On your host machine, press Windows Key + R, then type CMD, and hit Enter. Now, type ipconfig /all. You’ll find the information you need listed under your Ethernet or wireless adapter name.
  5. Enter the same DNS server addresses as the host. I use Google DNS, so I’ll enter 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.
  6. Hit OK.

windows xp tcp/ip settings

Step 4: Run the Windows XP Virtual Machine

You extracted the virtual hard disk. You created a virtual machine, fiddled with the settings, and now you’re ready to hit the power switch.

Highlight your Windows XP Mode virtual machine on the main VirtualBox window. Double-click it and wait for Windows XP to burst into life:

windows xp boot virtual machine

Looks like you made it!

There is a strong possibility that your mouse will not immediately work with the Windows XP Mode virtual machine. Navigate the operating system installation pages using the Tab key, arrow keys, Spacebar, and Enter key.

Complete the installation. You’ll arrive at a completely black screen. Don’t worry! Press Right Ctrl + R to restart the virtual machine.

When it reboots, you can Cancel the New Hardware Installation and Microsoft Automatic Update wizards. Instead, head to Devices > Install Guest Additions CD Image. The VirtualBox Guest Additions CD Image adds some handy functionality to VirtualBox, including custom resolutions and mouse options. Use the default installation location and wait for the setup to complete:

xp mode guest additions

You might encounter warnings that you are attempting to install unsupported software and/or drivers. Select Continue Anyway. Once the Guest Additions installation completes, select Reboot now.

xp mode guest addition install

(If it fails to reboot, restart the virtual machine again.)

And there you have it. A working, fully-featured Windows XP installation to call your own.

What About Windows XP Product Keys?

The Windows XP Mode virtual machine has a temporary license that expires after 30 days.

If you have an old Windows XP license, dig it out and enter it to try to keep the virtual machine alive. I say “try” because the Windows XP activation servers are long offline, but you can try a phone activation.

If you are feeling devious, you could try the old Windows activation loop, whereby you reset the trial license back to its original 30-day counter. However, I haven’t tried that using the Windows XP Mode virtual machine, so you will have to conduct a private experiment.

But the easier solution is to create a snapshot of the Windows XP Mode virtual machine straight after installation. Then, when the license expires, you can revert to your fresh snapshot (but you’ll lose all the data on the virtual machine, so bear that in mind).

Without snapshots, you’ll have to keep reinstalling the Windows XP Mode virtual machine.

Windows XP Is Not Secure

Note that just because you have Windows XP working doesn’t mean you should use it! Windows XP is no longer suitable as a primary operating system because of the security risks. If you are still running Windows XP on your home computer or laptop, you should consider upgrading to a modern operating system. Here’s how you upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 10.

Read the full article: How to Get a Windows XP Download Free From Microsoft, Legally