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10 Useful Tips for When Your VPN Speed Is Slow

Using a subscription VPN service to enhance your inline privacy is a smart idea. However, while they’re great for avoiding region blocking, censorship, and might even save you money, VPNs can cause problems.

The main one: a slow internet speed while the VPN is running. But what can you do about this?

If your VPN seems slow, here’s why, and a few suggestions on how to fix it.

1. Pick the Right Server Location

Fix issues with slow VPNs by choosing the right server

This is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind, and it has to do with how VPNs work.

Let’s say you’re using VPN to get around certain routing-related issues that are reducing latency in online games. Connecting to a VPN changes how your data is routed across the internet, thus bypassing problems like intermediary network outages.

Suppose you’re in New York and you’re playing a game whose server is also located in New York. Normally your data travels to the server using the fastest path, then returns to you on the fastest path. Latency is maybe 20 milliseconds (ms).

But now suppose you’re connected to a VPN server in France. Your data first travel to France, to the server in New York, back to France, then back to your device.

You can see the problem—that extra distance might mean your latency is now 250 milliseconds.

For speed, always pick the VPN location that’s closest to the destination if you can. This is particularly smart if you’re using a VPN to browse an overseas Netflix library. For online gaming, view the server list before starting the game, so you’re connected to a nearby VPN server.

Note that this doesn’t really matter for things that aren’t latency-dependent (like browsing the web).

2. Update Your VPN Client

One of the key reasons your VPN might be slower than you expect could be client. The software you install on your computer, phone, tablet, or TV box manages your connection to the VPN server. It also oversees the encryption of your internet connection.

From time to time, bugs and other issues can lead to problems including slow internet. When these are identified and fixed, the VPN provider rolls out an update. Your client should inform you when an update is available—be sure to download and install it straight away.

3. Forget Wi-Fi—Use Ethernet to Improve VPN Speed

Use Ethernet to improve VPN speeds over your wireless network

Almost all domestic internet issues can be traced (at least in part) to wireless networking speeds.

The solution is simple: use Ethernet.

Of course, this isn’t going to be possible in many cases. Laptop computers often don’t even have an Ethernet port. Mobile devices don’t have Ethernet.

However, PCs, games consoles, TV boxes, and Smart TVs often all have Ethernet ports. Hooking these devices directly to your router with a good quality Ethernet cable will improve speed considerably.

If your computer isn’t close enough to your router, consider powerline adaptors to route data through your home’s electric wiring.

4. Reduce the Encryption Level to Fix a Slow VPN

VPNs can use different security protocols for encrypting the data that passes through. Not all VPN services support all protocols, but many of the standard ones are supported widely.

The thing about encryption is that it can be computationally expensive. Every single bit of data that leaves your device must be encrypted; every single bit of data received must be decrypted. The stronger the encryption, the more computational power you’ll need.

A slow CPU can cause slow VPN performance on your computer. Even if your internet can handle 100Mbps, that won’t matter if your encryption is too strong for the CPU. It might only process data at a rate of 10Mbps, becoming a bottleneck in how quickly data is processed.

Theoretically, the speed hierarchy from fastest to slowest is PPTP > L2TP/IPSec > OpenVPN > SSTP > IKEv2/IPSec. Step down one at a time if your device doesn’t have enough computational power. Change these in your VPN client’s settings, referring to the provider’s support pages for assistance.

Note that this is only advisable if you don’t need maximum security for whatever activities you’re doing through VPN. If you’re using a VPN to access region-locked content, for example, then this is fine.

5. Don’t Set Up a VPN on Your Router

Setting up a VPN on your router can slow things down

As a VPN user, you have two choices for setting up a VPN.

  1. Set up the VPN on your router or
  2. set up VPN on each individual device that you’re using (e.g. computer, smartphone, tablet, etc).

Always go with the latter option.

One reason why routers are so affordable is that they don’t need next-gen CPUs to be effective. Unfortunately, this means that even last year’s smartphone is faster than today’s router. and this will bottleneck your data speeds for the encryption-related reasons above.

A standard router will have difficulty handling a VPN while serving multiple devices.

If you really want to set up a VPN on your router, buy a dedicated VPN router.

6. Try Both TCP and UDP Protocols

UDP is much faster than TCP.

TCP needs to establish a connection between two endpoints (e.g. you and a website) and confirm all data was successfully received at the destination. UDP just sends data across the internet without any checks.

This extra bit of TCP overhead is slower because multiple acknowledgments occur between you and the destination when sending data. The result: essentially the VPN is slowing down your internet. As such, using VPN over UDP can be much faster.

Check your VPN settings to see if manual switching is supported. The process may differ from service to service.

Also note that your ISP might detect and throttle TCP traffic over VPN. This is more common than you might think because a lot of people use VPNs for media streaming and torrenting. Both typically use TCP. Switching to UDP might help with speed but could result in a more unstable connection. Experiment and see for yourself.

7. VPN Slowing Your internet? Try Split Tunneling

Use split tunneling to prioritise private connections over other activities

When you use a VPN client on your PC, it encrypts every bit of data that leaves your system. Sometimes, this isn’t necessary. For example, if you’re circumventing geoblocking or censorship while simultaneously accessing a network drive, you’ll find access isn’t possible.

Split tunneling is the solution. This ensures a specified app connects through the VPN while other data travels to and from its destination without encryption. Reducing the encryption load on your processor can improve speeds.

Various VPN services support split tunneling. Check your provider’s feature list or settings page to enable the option.

8. Upgrade Your ISP or VPN Plans

Under current technology, a VPN will never be able to increase your internet speed beyond what your ISP provides. If your VPN speed is slow because your base internet speed is slow, then you have no choice but to upgrade your internet plan to a faster tier.

Switching from Wi-Fi to wired might help with speeds in some cases.

Note that certain VPN providers might throttle your speed as well, especially if you’re using a free VPN service. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for new VPN technologies.

9. Maybe Your VPN Is Slow—Switch!

Don't suffer with a slow VPN - change providers

Often a slow internet connection can be the cause of a slow VPN. But sometimes it’s not the ISP that is at fault—it’s the actual VPN service.

It doesn’t matter which server you connect to, or other tweaks you’ve tried above, the result is always the same. A good, fast VPN should be something like 2Mbps slower than your unencrypted connection.

Less than this over a prolonged period suggests the VPN is at fault. Confirm this by comparing the speed on your mobile VPN client with the results on your desktop computer. If it’s slow across the board, switch.

Looking for a new VPN provider? Here are the best VPNs recommended by Reddit users and here’s a list of exclusive VPN deals.

10. Don’t Use a Free VPN

The idea of a VPN service that you don’t have to pay for is great. But in the world of free VPNs, you’re not a customer, you’re the commodity.

Free VPN providers have shown themselves to be unscrupulous, unprincipled, and disdainful of their users. Not only is your personal data and activity up for grabs to the highest bidder (defeating the point of using a VPN) your traffic is low priority.

A free VPN will almost certainly slow your internet. After all, they want to tempt you with their free service to encourage you to subscribe. In almost all cases you should avoid this. Free VPN providers are the used car salesmen of online privacy. Instead, opt for a fast, paid VPN solution—MakeUseOf readers can save 49% on our recommended VPN, ExpressVPN.

Here are more reasons why you should avoid free VPNs.

Now You Know Why Your VPN Is Slow

As we’ve seen, internet access over a VPN will probably never be the exact same speed as your ISP’s baseline. But you have several options to ensure that the VPN isn’t too slow:

  1. Pick the right server
  2. Keep your VPN client up to date
  3. Use Ethernet rather than Wi-Fi
  4. Reduce the encryption level where suitable
  5. Don’t set up a VPN on your router
  6. Try TCP and UDP protocols
  7. Use split tunneling
  8. Upgrade your ISP plan
  9. Switch to a new VPN
  10. Avoid free VPNs

So long as your internet provider is fast, your VPN should be fast and fit for purpose.

Looking for a VPN? Check our list of the best VPN services to find a fast, reliable, and private VPN.

Read the full article: 10 Useful Tips for When Your VPN Speed Is Slow

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The Top 10 Highest-Rated Reddit Posts of All Time

Hundreds of posts make it onto the front page of Reddit every day, but few will ever rise high enough to sit amongst Reddit’s all-time highest-rated posts. Only the very best earn that honor.

So, in this article we list some of the highest-rated Reddit posts of all time. Naturally, some subreddits are more popular than others, so we’re limiting this list to one post per subreddit.

10. Brave Soldier Buried Amongst His Devoted Troops (/r/todayilearned)

Robert Gould Shaw
Image Credit: Whipple Studio/Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia is a source for the weird and wonderful. This Reddit post was submitted to /r/todayilearned, a subreddit all about sharing new information with others, and links to a Wikipedia article about Robert Gould Shaw.

This man led black troops in battle. When he died, Confederates buried him in a mass grave as an intended insult. Troops tried to recover his body, but his father sent them a letter to say: “We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers.”

9. Deangelo Juggles Balls for Real (/r/DunderMifflin)

Deangelo juggling

The Office was best when Steve Carell was the star, but the popular American sitcom still had its moments afterwards. One of those highlights was a scene with Will Ferrell, as the character Deangelo Vickers, when he pretends to juggle.

This Reddit post has 160,000 upvotes and was suitably posted in The Office’s subreddit, named after the fictional company featured in the show. The post is of that juggling scene, but edited so that he actually is chucking balls—complete with over-the-top music.

8. Battle for Net Neutrality (/r/books)

Net Neutrality

The fight for net neutrality was one that was popular in many subreddits, but this post in /r/books received 179,000 upvotes. Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers must treat everyone and everything equally and not impose charges or blocks.

Unfortunately, this is at risk in the United States, and so this Reddit post was encouraging people to contact their local government to try to stop any bills passing.

7. Barack Obama’s AMA (/r/IAmA)

Reddit has a liberal leaning in general, so it makes sense that an interview (or in Reddit terms, an Ask Me Anything) with the then-President of the United States would gain 216,000 upvotes.

Thousands of users threw their questions into the mix and the President did quite well answering as many of them as he could. And while many expected the President to do nothing but dodge questions and self-promote, it was surprising to see him actually engage with some harder topics.

6. A Pooping Pun for the New Year (/r/AskReddit)

Toilet sign
Image Credit: Hafidz Alifuddin/Pexels

The /r/AskReddit subreddit describes itself as “the place to ask and answer thought-provoking questions.” This post with 221,000 upvotes might disagree with that.

It’s simply a joke that involves a bodily function and the switch to the new year of 2019. Of course, you can simply change the year and the joke will be timeless. We won’t ruin the punchline, so go to the post to enjoy the joke for yourself. As you might expect, none of the comments in response are serious.

It’s perhaps a contender for one of the most unbelievably popular Reddit posts.

5. A VPN Provider Calls Out Senators (/r/pics)

VPN provider calls out the Senate
Image Credit: pdmcmahon/Reddit

The users of Reddit obviously care about the neutrality of the internet and the right to remain relatively anonymous when online. That’s why this post received 258,000 upvotes.

This post is a photo of an advert by Private Internet Access, a VPN provider, in The New York Times. The company took out the advert to highlight the 50 US senators who voted to monitor citizen’s internet activity for financial gain.

4. Showing a Game You Mastered to Someone You Care About (/r/gaming)

Mastered game comic
Image Credit: SrGrafo/Reddit

It’s a wonderful thing to be able to share your passions with family and friends. When it comes to video games, that can be tricky if you’ve been playing the game for years, have mastered everything about it, and thus have a different perspective.

This comic, upvoted 268,000 times, represents that charmingly. The experienced player is shielding the younger one from enemy fire while they learn the controls.

If you’ve ever taught someone the ropes on games like World of Warcraft or Fortnite, you should relate to this comic.

3. All News Anchors Say the Same Thing (/r/videos)

“This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.”

Those words are repeated ad nauseam in this video that shows what happens when one company owns lots of local news stations. You might think it’s ironic that all of these Fox stations are worried about biased reporting when they’re all saying the same thing.

Indeed, over 280,000 Reddit users agreed when they upvoted this post, with one commenter noting how Orwellian the situation was.

2. NYC Taxi Drivers Calendar (/r/funny)

NYC Taxi Drivers calendar
Image Credit: the_Diva/Reddit

You might not expect this post to have 307,000 upvotes based on the picture alone, but this is a classic example of Reddit running with something silly.

The person who posted this was in a cab when the driver excitedly showed them that they were on the front of the New York City Taxi Drivers calendar for 2018.

In the comments, the original poster reveals that this taxi driver also had the honor of being Mr. December.

1. The Senate (/r/movies)

 Chancellor Palpatine

The highest rated post in Reddit history is this meme which gained a whopping 350,000 upvotes. It instructs users to upvote the post so that the image of Chancellor Palpatine from Star Wars appears whenever anyone searches Google for “The Senate.”

Surprisingly, the post is on /r/movies, rather than the more suitable /r/PrequelMemes (where people post memes about the Star Wars prequels.)

As any Star Wars fan will know, Chancellor Palpatine didn’t have the best intentions, so this post is poking fun at the United States Senate. Sadly, the image doesn’t actually appear when you search Google. So the ruse failed.

The Most Downvoted Reddit Comments

This has been a round-up of the most-popular Reddit posts of all time. Of course, it’s an ever-changing list, so this is merely a snapshot in time.

However, that’s enough positivity for one day, so here are the most-downvoted Reddit comments of all time.

Image Credit: Podium/Shutterstock

Read the full article: The Top 10 Highest-Rated Reddit Posts of All Time

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The 10 Best Video Editors for Chromebooks

Chromebooks are more than glorified web browsers; they can perform many of the same tasks as Windows and macOS. Including video editing.

But what’s the best video editor for Chromebooks? In this article, we list the best video editing software for your Chromebook…

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1. WeVideo

The popular web-based video editor WeVideo has an official app in the Chrome Web Store. It is arguably our favorite video editor for Chromebook.

The app earns plaudits for its ease-of-use. Video editing can be complicated for beginners, but WeVideo’s accessible interface means even total novices can create respectable footage. Another feature that makes the app shine is the presence of a vast library of sound effects, transitions, and video effects. They are all free to use.

You can use WeVideo to edit photos on your device’s hard drive or in real-time from your device’s camera. Custom text, transitions, voiceover recording, and slow-motion are all supported.

The only downside of the free version of the app is the presence of a watermark on your video. If you plan on using the video in a professional setting, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the four paid plans.

Because WeVideo is web-based, you will need an internet connection to use the service.

Download: WeVideo (Free, premium version available)

2. PowerDirector

All new Chromebooks—as well as some older ones—can install the Google Play Store and run Android apps. As such, users have far more video editing options available to them than they did when Google first launched Chrome OS.

If your Chromebook supports Android apps, you need to check out PowerDirector. It’s one of the best video editors for Android. Admittedly, the Android version of PowerDirector isn’t as full-featured as the desktop edition of the app, but it still has more than enough functionality for the vast majority of users.

The app deploys a timeline editor that lets you easily add effects, create slow-motion sequences, and insert sound and voiceovers. PowerDirector also supports other common video editing tools like fading, transparencies, and blue/green screen.

PowerDirector is free to use, but you’ll need to pay to unlock all the features.

Download: PowerDirector (Free, in-app purchases available)

3. Google Photos

google photos web video editor

Not everyone needs a feature-laden editing suite. If you just want to do some simple video editing on a Chromebook, the Google Photos movie editor may meet your needs. The app offers video stabilization and cutting. You can also flip the saved version of the video between landscape and portrait.

Since late 2019, Google Photos’ movie editing features are available on the web version of the app, meaning you no longer need to run the Android version if you want to edit your footage. Unfortunately, the rollout has been slow; at the time of writing, the feature is still not available worldwide.

Download: Google Photos (Free)

4. OpenShot

openshot video editor

If you’re a Linux user, you will have heard of OpenShot. It’s one of the best video editors for Linux. It’s also one of the best video editors for Chromebook.

The editor itself boasts an impressively long feature list. You can resize, scale, trim, snap, rotate, and cut your videos, use image overlays and watermarks, create transition lumas and masks, and add scrolling motion picture credits.

OpenShot also supports many video and audio codecs, including WebM (VP9), AVCHD (libx264), HEVC (libx265), LAME, and AAC.

The app is free to use.

Download: OpenShot (Free)

5. Magisto

Magisto is well-established as one of the best video editing apps on Android; it’s been featured as a Google Play “Editor’s Choice” app many times. Therefore, if you own a Chromebook that supports Android apps, you should give it a try.

The app is squarely aimed at social media users who want to post their exploits to the various networks and who aren’t skilled video editors in the traditional sense. Using a smart AI, Magisto can create professional-looking videos from the videos, pictures, and music on your device. You can also add your own text and effects.

Because it’s predominantly designed for social networks, Magisto lets you easily share your creations from directly within the app. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Vimeo are all supported.

Download: Magisto (Free, in-app purchases available)

6. KineMaster

Another app that brings the best of Android to Chrome OS is KineMaster. It’s a professional video editing suite.

The app support multi-layer videos and offers frame-by-frame trimming, hue, brightness and saturation controls, audio filters, royalty-free music, color LUT filters, and 3D transitions.

The free version of Kinemaster is available to everyone, but like WeVideo, it will place a watermark in the corner of your creations. You can upgrade to the pro version from within the app. It removes the watermark and adds access to the KineMaster Asset Store. It’s a vast repository of visual effects, overlays, music, and more.

Download: Kinemaster (Free, in-app purchases available)

7. VivaVideo

VivaVideo used to be available in the Chrome Web Store, but like many of the best video editing apps for Chromebook, it decided to limit itself to the Google Play Store after Chromebooks started supporting Android apps.

The app manages to walk a fine line between fun and professional. For example, you can add stickers, GIFs, funny sound effects, and other social media-friendly gimmicks, but can simultaneously trim, edit, and enhance your video using VivaVideo’s wide range of tools. It also supports edits such as transitions, adding text, merging and splitting videos, changing the speed, and reverse playback.

Download: VivaVideo (Free, in-app purchases available)

8. YouTube Studio

youtube studio trimming

Users often overlook YouTube’s video editing tool. It’s part of YouTube Studio and lets you edit videos on your Chromebook without needing to worry about installing extensions or running Android apps.

The app is fairly basic. You can use it to trim your videos, cut your videos, and blur out faces, names, and other identifiable information. In the past, YouTube Studio offered more advanced tools, including filters, text, music, lighting, and transitions, but Google has discontinued them.

To use YouTube Studio, you will need a Google account.

9. Hippo Video

Hippo Video is one of the few video editors for Chromebook that still has a listing in the Chrome Web Store.

It’s a two-in-one tool; you can use it for video marketing and for video editing.

There is a free version and a paid version. The free version lets you trim, crop, add text, and tweak other basic parameters. If you need more power from your video editing app, you need to upgrade to the paid version.

Download: Hippo Video (Free, premium version available)

10. Kapwing

kapwing video editor

Kapwing is a surprisingly full-featured Chromebook video editor. It is accessible via any web browser, including Google Chrome.

You can use the tool to add text, combine videos, add subtitles, add audio, resize your video, remove backgrounds, and trim your video. The app also lets you either upload a video to edit directly from your hard drive or paste the URL of an online video (for example, from YouTube) and edit it directly in the app.

You can even customize your video’s output ratio. 1:1, 9:16, 16:9, 4:5, and 5:4 are available. As such, the app is perfect for anyone who needs to create social media content.

What’s the Best Video Editor for Chromebook?

These video editors for Chromebook target a diverse spectrum of users. If you’re a novice video editor, perhaps it’s time you picked up some video editing skills. While apps like Magisto are fun, your creations will be infinitely more impressive if you can use one of the more professional apps recommended above.

If you’d like to learn more about editing videos, whether on your Chromebook or not, be sure to read our article explaining how to edit videos like a pro.

Read the full article: The 10 Best Video Editors for Chromebooks

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Running Linux From a USB Drive: Are You Doing It Right?

You’ve probably heard about previewing and installing Linux from USB drives, but did you know that you can also save your data between uses or even run a full permanent Linux installation on a USB stick? This can have massive benefits for your productivity, especially if you’re a remote worker, or cannot afford your own PC.

In short, we’re talking about turning Linux into the ultimate ultra-portable platform: running Linux from a USB flash device. Here are your three options for carrying Linux in your pocket. Find out which method is best for you.

Choose the Right USB Stick

Before you get started, it’s worth considering buying a new USB stick. Older USB sticks have already had their lifespan reduced considerably, and as flash has a finite number of read/write cycles, a fresh stick of flash makes sense. Something affordable with a handy amount of storage space would be the best flash drive for a bootable version of Linux.

SanDisk Ultra 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive SanDisk Ultra 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Buy Now On Amazon $8.99

Also, you should consider the hardware you’ll be connecting the USB flash drive to. Does it support USB 3.0? If so, you’ll enjoy considerable speed (and other) advantages over old-fashioned USB 2.0.

To check if the destination computer has USB 3.0, look at its USB ports. If they have blue plastic in them rather than black, that’s a good visual clue. Not all USB 3.0 ports use this shorthand, however, so look up the specs of the PC. On Windows, you can check the Device Manager.

Write a Live ISO to USB

balenaEtcher tool for flashing ISO to a flash drive

It has become really easy to take an ISO image of your favorite Linux distribution and write it to any appropriately sized USB drive. From there, you can boot up a Linux system on any computer that supports booting from USB media. There are plenty of tools that can burn an ISO for you, and this method is compatible with virtually every Linux distribution out there.

One option is balenaEtcher, a free and open source tool available for Linux, macOS, and Windows. While burning an ISO isn’t as complicated as it sounds, Etcher is about as simple as it gets.

However, the downside to this approach is that you’ll lose all of your data as soon as you shut down or restart the computer you’re working on. As a Live environment, all data is kept in RAM and none of it is written to the USB drive; therefore, none of it is saved when the system turns off.

If you’d like to keep a customized Linux environment in your pocket, this isn’t what you want. However, if you’re wanting to use the drive as a way to perform secure communications (think banking, or any activities that require the use of TOR) and ensure that no sensitive information is stored anywhere, this is definitely the way to go.

Download: balenaEtcher

Enable Persistent Data

mkusb tool to create boot drives from ISO files

Depending on your distro, you may have the option to enable persistent data on your USB drive. This is great: it lets you write a relatively compact ISO file to boot from, and you can actually keep your extra installed applications and saved documents.

To make this work, you will need a compatible program to perform the installation. One option is Rufus, a Windows app that supports creating live Linux USB sticks with persistent storage. If you’re already on Linux, you might try mkusb instead. The tool will run on Ubuntu and Debian-based distros, plus some others.

Having persistent data is ideal if you use a large variety of systems with the USB drive, as the live environment will detect what hardware is available every time it boots. So the advantage in this scenario is that you can save your stuff, use up less drive space, and have maximum support for whatever hardware you plug into.

The downsides: you automatically boot into the live user account, which isn’t password protected. Also, you have to be careful with software updates, as newer kernels could break the bootloader.

Download: Rufus for Windows

Download: mkusb for Linux

Do A Full Install to USB

Ubuntu installer

Lastly, you can choose to do a full install onto the USB drive. You’ll have to use a disc or another USB drive for the installation media, but this method literally lets you have a full Linux system in your pocket—one that is as flexible as any other traditional installation.

The advantages are pretty obvious: you get your own system setup just the way you like it, right in your pocket. But there are still a few downsides.

First, you’ll need a larger USB drive for this type of installation. Granted, that’s not as much of an issue as it used to be. If your only option is an old drive lying around, 8GB is feasible. But with 128GB and 256GB drives having drastically dropped in price, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to run Linux on a flash drive comparable in size to an SSD.

Second, as the system thinks it’s installed normally, it will tend to make changes that are ideal for the hardware you’re currently working with, but not necessarily hardware you’ll encounter in the future.

This primarily concerns the use of proprietary drivers. For maximum compatibility, don’t use them. The open drivers are plenty good for most uses.

Linux Loves USB

Surprised? You shouldn’t be! Linux has always been very flexible, so that it can meet all sorts of needs. And the fact that there are no licenses involved means that running Linux on a USB stick is rather simple to do, unlike Windows and macOS.

Now that you know what your options are, it should be very easy to decide which solution is best for your needs. Or, now that you’re aware of your options, maybe it’s not so easy.

To help you with your choice of distro, we have rounded up the best Linux distros to install on a USB stick. By the way, you can also run Chrome OS from a USB drive!

Read the full article: Running Linux From a USB Drive: Are You Doing It Right?

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The 10 Best Reverse Image Search Apps for iPhone and Android

Search engines make it easy to find information or buy products, but what if you want to identify a picture you have? In these cases, reverse image search comes to the rescue.

This powerful feature allows you to upload an image to search instead of entering text. Let’s take a look at the best reverse image search tools available on your iPhone or Android device.

1. CamFind

CamFind is a basic yet functional reverse image search tool. The next time you want to search for an image, just open up CamFind and take a picture. Once the picture uploads, the app matches it against others on the internet and identifies the object.

After this, have a look at the available results. You can look for related images, shop for the item, watch related videos, search on the web, or go through related posts. Even better, you can set a visual reminder and share your finds with others.

Download: CamFind for iOS | Android (Free)

2. Google Lens

Google Lens initially arrived as a Pixel exclusive; the company later integrated the feature into Google Photos. Now both iOS and Android users can use Google Lens to reverse search images.

On Android, Google Lens is available as a standalone app. iOS users can access Lens within the Google Photos app. Open an image that you’ve taken and tap the Lens icon (second from the right, next to the trash icon).

Google’s visual search engine will analyze the image; the results include a link to the Google image search page.

Download: Google Photos for iOS (Free)
Download: Google Lens for Android (Free)

3. Veracity

Veracity is an intuitive visual search engine app. It lets you choose images from your Camera Roll or Photo Library, plus it can link to your Dropbox account. Veracity offers a basic image editor, but you have to pay to unlock it.

Another downside is that Veracity doesn’t come with an option to share results with others.

Download: Veracity for iOS (Free, premium version available)

4. Reverse Image Search App

Reverse Image Search App provides another minimalist reverse search engine experience. Take images from your Camera Roll or Photo Library to reverse image search via Google Image Search, Yandex Image Search, and Bing Image Search.

You can also crop, rotate images, and save them to your device for free. However, removing ads from Reverse Image Search App requires a small fee.

While this app isn’t available on Android, check out the similar Reverse Image Search for a close experience.

Download: Reverse Image Search App for iOS (Free, premium version available)
Download: Reverse Image Search for Android (Free)

5. Direct Image Search on Google

You can use Google’s direct image search in Safari or Chrome, but it’s a bit complicated. You have to request the desktop site to proceed with the search.

Follow these steps to use Google’s reverse image search function on mobile devices:

  1. Open the Google Images site in your browser.
  2. For Safari on iOS, tap on the aA button at the top-left. Choose Request Desktop Website from the menu.
    1. If you’re using Chrome on iOS, tap the Share icon at the top-right of the screen and scroll down to Request Desktop Site in the list.
  3. For Chrome on Android, tap the three-dot Menu button at the top-right and check the Desktop site box.
  4. Tap the camera icon that appears on the page.
  5. Now you can choose to either upload an image or paste a URL, just like you would on your desktop.

Check out these nifty Google Image Search tricks to master the tool.

Visit: Google Images

6. Photo Sherlock

Photo Sherlock comes with a simplified user interface. The app allows you to reverse search an image directly using your camera. If you prefer, you can also use your Camera Roll to upload pictures.

Once uploaded, you can choose to crop the image to focus on the main element. The app then fetches an image search result from Google.

Download: Photo Sherlock for iOS | Android (Free)

7. TinEye Reverse Image Search

If you don’t want to download a dedicated app, many online tools offer a reverse image search in a mobile-friendly format. TinEye is one such service that lets you search an image by URL or by sharing a file. Once uploaded, the tool crawls the web and adds images to its index.

TinEye lets you sort the results by Best Match, Most Changed, Biggest Image, Newest, and Oldest. Further, you can filter the result across top domains and collections.

Visit: TinEye

8. Reverse Photos Image Search

Reverse Photos Search is another reverse image search web tool. Like others, this one is basic and allows you to upload images from your camera, Photo Library, or other folders.

Once uploaded, the tool will hand your image off to Google Images, where it tries to find a match. This is a simple tool if you don’t want to bother with requesting the desktop Google Images site on your mobile device, but the intrusive ads are unsightly.

Visit: Reverse Photos Search

9. Baidu Image Search

As you may know, Google services are not available in China. Thus, Chinese search engine Baidu takes up the mantle in that region.

If you are in China or want to search for an image that is relevant to China, Baidu’s image search is one of the best options. As you’d expect, the website lets you take a photo or upload it from your library. Baidu also allows you to crop the image before searching.

Visit: Baidu Images

10. Yandex

Yandex is a popular search engine in Russia. Like Google, it offers an image search feature. Upload an image by tapping the camera icon on the search bar. You can also use your camera and search for an image without saving the photo to your library.

Your search results will attempt to identify text in your image and show you similar images.

Visit: Yandex Images

The Importance of Reverse Image Search

Reverse image searching is hugely helpful when you need to look up something you’ve seen but don’t know much about.

Apart from shopping and product discovery, reverse image search has many other uses. You can use it to see if photos are authentic and snuff out fake news. For more like this, we’ve also looked at some apps that help you find clothes by a picture.

Read the full article: The 10 Best Reverse Image Search Apps for iPhone and Android

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How to Lock/Unlock an Android Phone With Your Voice Using Google Assistant

Ever wonder if the hands-free capabilities of Google’s voice assistant extend to unlocking your smartphone? Google Assistant can do a whole lot using voice commands—including a smartphone unlock with Voice Match—depending on your version of Android.

We’ll explain this nifty trick, as well as whether your Android device allows it, in this guide on how to unlock and lock your phone with your voice.

How to Get Google Assistant on Android

To use Google’s voice unlock feature, you’ll need to have Google Assistant on your phone.

Newer Android phones (typically with Android 7.0 Nougat and newer) come with Google Assistant already installed. When setting up your new phone, you simply need to enable the feature and grant the Google app the relevant permissions. In case you’re not sure it’s enabled, open your Google app and tap the More button. Choose Settings > Google Assistant to check.

If you have an older version of Android, Google Assistant is delivered through an automatic update. Any phone with Android Lollipop (5.0) or higher can run the app—just download the Google Assistant app from Google Play.

There are a few prerequisites that can hamper or delay the update. If your phone is compatible with Assistant but you haven’t seen a prompt to activate it, you should check a few criteria first.

Firstly, make sure the language you’ve selected for your phone is one of the languages supported by Google Assistant.

If you have the correct language set and you still don’t see Google Assistant, make sure your Google Play Services app is up-to-date. Older, less powerful devices aren’t compatible with Google Assistant; you need at least 1GB (Android 5.0) of memory and a 720p screen resolution.

How to Voice Unlock Your Phone Using Google Assistant

Note: The smartphone voice unlock feature of Google Assistant only works on certain versions of Android: specifically Android 5.0 to Android 7.1.2. Google has removed this feature from Android 8.0 and up.

If you have the right Android version, unlocking your phone with Google Assistant is as easy as saying “OK Google.” To do this, you will first need to set up the following:

  1. Register a trusted voice model with Google Assistant.
  2. Enable voice unlock in Assistant’s settings.

You can do both of these by opening Google Assistant and accessing its settings. To do this, tap the blue Drawer icon in Google Assistant’s interface. Select the three-dot Menu button and choose Settings. Under the Devices heading, tap your phone. Enable both Access with Voice Match and Unlock with Voice Match here.

Once enabled, you’ll be prompted to train a trusted voice model to unlock your phone. This ensures that Google Assistant will only respond to your voice when the phone is locked.

When you enable voice unlocking, the app will prompt you to record a few phrases. If you ever want to retrain the voice model for some reason, you will find the option within the same settings menu under Voice model > Retrain voice model.

You may want to do this if your original recording was at a low volume or in a noisy environment. For security purposes, your phone only stores one trusted voice model at a time. While you can set up multiple voice profiles on Google Home, this doesn’t apply to your smartphone.

Voice Unlock Issues You May Encounter

Unlocking your phone with Google Assistant is not always foolproof, especially if you have other security measures on your lock screen. If your phone requires a fingerprint, pattern, face ID, or PIN, Google Assistant may only be able to wake your phone and turn on the screen, but not get past the security screen. In those cases, you’ll still need to input the security method.

You can get past that hurdle by removing the security screen, but we don’t recommend this. Rather, consider adding a delay timer to prevent your phone from locking immediately after the screen goes to sleep. This means your phone will only lock and require a security method if it is inactive for a certain amount of time.

To change this setting, head to Settings > Security & location. Tap the Gear icon next to the Screen lock entry and choose the delay under Automatically lock.

In the same menu, you can also set up Google Smart Lock. This keeps your phone from locking in trusted locations, when connected to certain Bluetooth devices, and more. You can then wake your device without needing a PIN or other security method in those cases.

With so many brand-specific variations of Android available, voice unlocking is not always consistent across all devices. Some phones that have security locks will automatically unlock for a trusted voice.

The most troublesome issue with some phones is that voice unlocking will not work unless the screen is already on.

How to Voice Lock Your Phone With Google Assistant

lock phone google assistant

Locking your phone with Google Assistant is a much more straightforward affair. However, it requires a bit of setup because the app doesn’t have native functionality to lock your phone.

So how do you get around this? Use a custom command.

In Google Assistant, you can set up custom commands and command chains, called Routines. Setting up custom voice commands with Routines expands the Assistant’s capabilities. Locking your phone is just one of the ways you can use this functionality.

There are a variety of apps that have the sole purpose of locking your phone. You simply need to pair one of these apps with a custom Google command. First, you need to download one.

Two options, both free, include:

Install the apps and grant them the necessary permissions. Whenever you open the app, it will switch off your screen and lock your phone.

Adding a Screen Off Command

To turn this into a hands-free option, you need to get Google Assistant to open the app for you. You can do this by opening Assistant’s Settings menu like earlier, selecting Routines, and adding a new custom command with the Plus button.

Under the header When I say, enter commands such as:

  • Lock my phone
  • Lock screen
  • Go to sleep

Any statement will do, and you can add as many variations as you like. These are personal commands, not ones native to Google Assistant.

Under the header My Assistant should, type in Open [App name]. Include the name of whichever screen lock app you have installed. Make sure to include the whole name of the app as it appears on your phone, else it will just run a Google search. Save the command and you’re good to go.

Now, whenever you say any lock phrase, Assistant will automatically lock your screen.

Using Google Assistant on Your Lock Screen

So what options do you on newer versions of Android to use Google Assistant with your voice while your phone is locked? Voice Match on these devices won’t let you unlock your phone, but you can still use Google Assistant voice commands while your phone is locked.

Like the above method, you must first to train a trusted voice model to do this. Open the Google app and select the More tab. Go to Settings > Voice > Voice Match. Here you can train a voice model so that voice commands work even when your screen is off.

To allow Google Assistant to access more private apps (such as your email and text messages) while your screen is off, you need to go to go back to the Google app. Visit Settings > Google Assistant and switch to the Assistant tab. Scroll down to Assistant devices and select your device.

Enable Personal Results and Lock screen personal results to get Google Assistant to send messages, access your email, and open similar apps when your phone is locked.

Other Voice Commands for Google Assistant

If you didn’t know about unlocking and locking your phone with Google Assistant, you might have missed out on some of the app’s other features. Custom commands and routines open up a whole new world of functionality, if you use the right apps.

Curious about what else Google Assistant can do? Have a look at our guide on how to use Google Assistant to add more convenience to your life. If you use Google Assistant to get past accessibility issues, take a look at these useful Android accessibility apps.

Read the full article: How to Lock/Unlock an Android Phone With Your Voice Using Google Assistant

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Where to Find the Netflix Download Folder on Windows 10

Netflix allows you to download movies and shows to watch offline with the Netflix app for Windows 10. But where is the Netflix download folder?

Finding the location of your Netflix downloads is necessary to solve this puzzle. However, remember that Netflix doesn’t give you the option to change the download location. Also, the company doesn’t allow you to browse to the place where your downloads are saved.

If your drive is filling up fast, you can manually move the downloads to another location. When you want to watch them again, just copy them back to the original location.

Where Are Netflix Downloads Stored?

  1. Open File Explorer from the Taskbar.
  2. The Netflix folder is a hidden folder. To display it, go to the View tab and then click on the Option menu button on the right.
  3. In Folder Options, select the View tab and scroll to the Files and Folders settings. If it’s not checked, then select the Show Hidden files, folders, and drives setting to enable it.
  4. Enable Folder Options in Windows 10 to view Netflix downloaded files

  5. Click OK.
  6. From the File Explorer, you can navigate to the Netflix download folder. The full path is:
    C:Users[USERNAME]AppDataLocalPackages4DF9E0F8.Netflix_mcm4njqhnhss8LocalStateofflineInfodownloads

    Here [USERNAME] is the Windows folder with your current username.

It might sound obvious but you can also copy-paste C:Users and then select the folder with your username. Just append the file path after that to get to the folder without drilling down into the hierarchy.

The Netflix download folder will be empty if you have never downloaded any movies or shows with the Windows 10 Netflix app. However, once you download something you’ll see a bunch of files here. The largest will belong to the actual media file.

Netflix Download Folder

Notice that there are no file names that will help you identify the movie or show. Rename the largest file and Netflix will no longer recognize them. Also, you cannot play them with any media player except the Netflix app.

You can delete the files and reclaim some of the space on your hard drive. But that can be done from within the app as well.

Until Netflix adds a few more file management features, at least the location can help you manage your hard drive space when it starts to run out.

Manage Netflix Downloads on Android Devices

Space becomes a more critical issue on phones. So check out our previous article to find out where Netflix downloads files to on an Android device and then save space by moving Netflix content to an SD card.

Read the full article: Where to Find the Netflix Download Folder on Windows 10

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Netflix and Chill: The 10 Best Date Night Movies for Couples

Are you in the mood to Netflix and chill with someone special? Then you’ve come to the right place. Netflix is a great place for date night movies perfect for couples to watch on the sofa.

In this article, we list the best movies for couples and date night movies for when you want nothing more than to Netflix and chill. Enjoy!

What Does Netflix and Chill Mean?

The original meaning of “Netflix and chill” is to watch Netflix with someone with the hopes of hooking up. However, the meaning changes depending on who you ask—since some people interpret it as literal relaxing. However, it’s commonly understood as a Netflix date night: either with your partner or someone new.

With that in mind, here are the best date night movies or Netflix and chill movies to catch on the streaming service…

1. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was a breakout success when this teen rom-com was released in 2018, followed by its sequel in 2020. The story is based on the novel of the same name, following a high school student who has a penchant for writing letters to her crushes that she never sends.

However, her world turns upside down when her little sister finds her stash of letters and delivers them to each of the crushes she’s had—including her sister’s longtime boyfriend. In order to avoid dealing with this particular crush, she starts pretending to date a schoolmate who wants to make his ex jealous.

While the teen drama is definitely at a peak in this movie, the story has some wonderful, tender moments that come with finding your first love.

Watch To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix

2. Falling Inn Love

Falling Inn Love is a slightly different twist on the city-girl-in-small-town rom-com setup. Christina Milian plays Gabriela, an American who, after losing her job and boyfriend, wins a New Zealand inn through an online competition.

However, the inn turns out to be in a state of disrepair and Gabriela needs to enlist the help of a local contractor. Expect tons of romantic tension and a journey of self-discovery for Gabriela.

Watch Falling Inn Love on Netflix

3. Always Be My Maybe

Always Be My Maybe combines the comedic talent of Ali Wong and Randall Park in a charming tale of childhood best friends reconnecting despite their lives taking very different directions.

Sasha and Marcus (played by Wong and Park respectively) were inseparable until a heated fight after the death of Marcus’s mother pushed them apart. However, the two reconnect when Sasha—now a celebrity chef—returns to open a new restaurant. When Sasha breaks up with her fiance, Marcus sees a chance to pursue the relationship he sabotaged when they were teenagers.

However, things get more complex when Keanu Reeves enters the picture as Sasha’s new boyfriend. The story is filled with tons of laughs, poignant moments, and one of the best Keanu Reeves cameos you’ll ever see.

Watch Always Be My Maybe on Netflix

4. Irreplaceable You

If you’re looking for a different, bittersweet love story, Irreplaceable You is filled with tear-jerking moments and heartfelt reflections on true love. The story follows Abbie and Sam, childhood sweethearts who’ve finally decided to get engaged.

But what Abbie thought were signs of pregnancy turn out to be stage four cancer. The heartbreaking revelation puts their whole life on hold. Abbie decides to cope by searching for a new love for Sam. However, this only pushes Sam away in the little time they have left together.

The film has some hard-hitting lessons on making the best of the time you have—and you’ll be lucky if you make it through with dry eyes.

Watch Irreplaceable You on Netflix

5. About Time

About Time is a romantic movie that blends the fantasy of time travel with lessons about family and savoring life. In the film, protagonist Tim finds out from his father that all the men in his family have the ability to travel back in time.

Tim uses this newfound power to rewrite the regrets in his dating life, eventually meeting and marrying Mary. As life continues, however, traveling back becomes trickier—since his actions in the past could rewrite the future. He has to choose between living in the past and continuing with his unknown but promising future.

Watch About Time on Netflix

6. P.S. I Love You

Starring two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank alongside Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, among many others, P.S. I Love You is another bittersweet romance movie.

In the film, Swank and Butler play a married couple who suffer a significant loss (he dies). Following this, she receives a series of gifts and messages from him (arranged before his death), all ending with the words, “P.S. I Love You”.

Examining how love can transcend death, P.S. I Love You will leave you smiling at the end.

Watch P.S. I Love You on Netflix

7. Isn’t It Romantic

Isn’t It Romantic is a romantic comedy that satirizes all other romantic comedies. However, rather than taking a dark humor approach, it gleefully pokes fun at romantic tropes while offering a feel-good story overall.

After a head injury, architect Natalie (who despises romantic comedies) wakes up to find herself in a world filled with romantic comedy tropes. This includes a handsome billionaire suddenly developing an intense interest in her, a pop-song soundtrack, and a PG-13 swearing filter.

The only way to leave this strangely perfect yet infuriating world involves Natalie finding genuine love.

Watch Isn’t It Romantic on Netflix

8. Alex Strangelove

This highly rated romantic comedy follows high school student Alex Truelove, who is in the middle of a typical high school romance with his best friend. However, as the pair discuss taking things to the next level, Alex’s certainty waivers when he begins feeling a connection with someone new. The catch: this someone new is another guy, Elliot.

This not only makes Alex question his relationship, but also his sexuality. The journey of Alex’s self-discovery is filled with laughs, tenderness, and a fresh take on the typical teen romance movie.

Watch Alex Strangelove on Netflix

9. When We First Met

Three years ago, Adam DeVine’s Noah met Alexandra Daddario’s Avery for the first time. Though Noah felt love at first sight, Avery thought otherwise. In the present day, at Avery’s engagement party with another guy, Noah thinks back to when the two of them met and wonders why they never dated.

A strange glitch with a photo booth transports Noah back in time, to see if different actions could make him and Avery end up together. But things aren’t as straightforward as he’d hoped.

Watch When We First Met on Netflix

10. Her

In this drama by Spike Jonze, Joaquin Phoenix develops a relationship with Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha. The only problem? Samantha is an intelligent computer personified through a female voice. The film also stars Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde.

Part romance, part science-fiction, Her takes you down paths you probably won’t expect. The film is ideally suited for watching on the sofa with your significant other. In the end, it’s a story about how relationships shape our world, for better or worse.

Watch Her on Netflix

Enjoy Your Netflix and Chill Date Night

So there you have it. We’ve provided the Netflix, now all you have to do is chill. There are lots of movies about love and romance on Netflix, with more added each month. The films mentioned above should make you laugh, smile, and, if your night goes according to plan, get lucky.

Are you craving even more movies? We’ve also covered other ways to find great movies. If, on the other hand, you’re spending time alone, you might want to check out these films to watch if you’re single on Valentine’s Day.

Image Credit: AndreyPopov/Depositphotos

Read the full article: Netflix and Chill: The 10 Best Date Night Movies for Couples

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How to Make Netflix Better by Changing a Few Settings

Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services available. There are plenty of others, including Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, plus a bunch of niche streaming services. But Netflix still ranks despite shrinking the size of its catalog by half in recent years.

Whether you are brand new to Netflix or have been using it for several years, there are a few settings you can change to make Netflix even better. And by delving into the Netflix settings you can create the perfect Netflix experience for you and your family.

To access your Netflix settings on the web, just head to Netflix.com and sign in to your account. Then, click the arrow next to your profile at the top and select Account. Et voila, let the customization begin!

Create Multiple Profiles

If more than one person in your household uses the same Netflix account, multiple profiles can come in handy. This is especially helpful if you allow your children to watch content on Netflix.

Scroll down to the My Profile section and click Manage profiles. You can also jump to this area quickly by clicking the arrow next to your profile (as above) and selecting Manage Profiles.

Click Add Profile and enter a name. If you mark the checkbox next to Kid?, only movies and television shows available for children aged 12-and-under will be available. Hit the Continue button when you finish.

netflix add profile web

You will now see the new profile displayed alongside your other options, and can switch between them.

Set Up Parental Controls

To ensure that your child can only access content that you approve of, you should enable the Netflix parental controls. Scroll down to the Settings section and click Parental Controls. Enter your password when prompted and then create a four-digit parental control PIN.

Next, adjust the PIN protection level by choosing the age groups or using the slider. You can also enter titles for specific shows to require a PIN for playback, regardless of maturity rating.

Click Save at the top when you finish.

Netflix Parental Controls PIN

Now, if a user profile tries to access content outside of the level you set up, they will be prompted to enter that PIN.

Adjust Playback Settings

At the top, you can enable or disable autoplay using the checkboxes. These settings let you control whether or not you want the next episode of a series or previews on all your devices to play automatically.

For quality and convenience, you can adjust the data usage-per-screen and autoplay options. Scroll down to the My Profile section and click Playback settings. You can then choose from the default video quality, low quality, medium quality, or high quality. That default setting can be one of the annoying things about using Netflix.

When you finish, click Save.

Netflix Playback Settings

Customize the Subtitles

If you enjoy watching Netflix in another language using subtitles, you can completely customize their appearance. Scroll down to the My Profile section and click Subtitle appearance.

Here, you can choose the font style from seven options including “Casual” and “Block,” and can pick a color as well. You can also select a text size from small, medium, or large.

You can then add a little flair to your subtitles with four different shadow options for the text along with the shadow color. Finally, you can select a background and window color if you like. As you experiment with each of these options, the sample at the top will change automatically for you to review. When you finish, click Save.

netflix subtitle appearance web

Update the Communication Settings

You can stay up to date with the exact types of Netflix news and details you want via email. Scroll down to the My Profile section and click Communication Settings.

You can then mark which emails you would like to receive, such as updates on new features, newly added content, special offers, and helpful surveys.

You can opt to receive text messages by adding your phone number. And you can use that number to access and recover your account if necessary.

When you finish, click Update.

Netflix Communication Settings

Decide Your List Order

If you would prefer to decide the order of shows and movies in your list, you can change this easily. Scroll down to the My Profile section and click Order in My List. Then, mark the Manual Ordering radio button and click Save.

You can then rearrange content in the My List section rather than having Netflix recommendations at the top.

netflix list order web

Now, just click My List in the top navigation. Then, just drag and drop content in the order you want it. You can also click Move to top on any piece of content and that TV show or movie will pop to the top of your list. Or just click the X to remove an item completely.

netflix list order move to top web

Find Hidden Genres

You may not be aware of this, but Netflix has a slew of hidden categories just waiting for you to discover.

For instance, if you choose the “Action” genre when browsing, you can scroll down to see sub-genres such as “Action Thrillers” and “Action Comedies”. However, there is also a hidden category for “Mind Bending Action Sci-Fi and Fantasy”.

Maybe you love the “Horror” genre and often browse the “Cult Horror” sub-genre. However, there is also a hidden “Vampire Horror Movies” category for those looking for a specific creature feature.

Netflix Vampire Horror Movies

A handy website for accessing these hidden categories is Netflix Hidden Codes. You can browse through the list or enter a keyword into the search box. Click on one of the options and you will see options for that sub-genre open directly on Netflix.com.

netflix hidden codes web

Change Your Mobile Netflix Settings

There are a few settings that can be customized on Netflix for Android or iOS. Open the app on your device, tap the More button, and select App Settings. Keep in mind that settings vary depending on your device type.

On iOS, you can then adjust the data usage options. By default, Automatic is enabled, but you can change it for playback on Wi-Fi Only, Save Data, or Maximum Data.

In addition, you can control the video quality between Standard (faster with less storage) or Higher (uses more storage).

On Android, you may notice an additional setting for Allow Notifications. You can enable this option and receive alerts for new content, suggestions, or other types of Netflix notifications.

Download: Netflix for Android | iOS (Free)

How to Make Netflix Work Better for You

These simple adjustments can greatly improve your Netflix experience. Plus, if you share your account with others in your home, everyone can benefit from these changes to the Netflix settings. And if you change your mind, you can easily revert Netflix back to its defaults.

As a bonus, we offer up something you might not have considered, with an article explaining how to learn a language watching Netflix.

Image Credit: REDPIXEL.PL, Ellegant via Shutterstock.com

Read the full article: How to Make Netflix Better by Changing a Few Settings

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How to Install a New Hard Drive to Replace an Old One

Hard drive space isn’t infinite. Today’s massive drives, with capacities exceeding 1TB, can create that illusion. But as drive sizes increase, ways to consume drive capacity also expand. HD video, for example, can eat gigabytes for breakfast.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that learning how to install a new hard drive isn’t difficult, so there is no need to be concerned about a hard drive that is nearly full. Read on to find out how to install a new drive to replace an old one.

Identifying The Proper Replacement Hard Drive

Before you can replace a hard drive in your PC with a new drive, you’ll need to determine the type of drive you need to buy.

HDD or SDD?

Replace Hard Drive - SSD

The most important choice you need to consider is whether you want a mechanical hard drive (called an HDD, or hard disk drive) or a solid state drive (called an SSD). SSDs are smaller in dimensions than HDD. They are also a lot faster. If you want to access programs with less waiting, then an SSD is one of the best upgrades you can make to your PC.

However, an SSD is more expensive than a HDD would be for the same amount of storage. For example, while 1TB HDDs are very affordable, a 1TB SSD is an expensive luxury. So one popular choice is to buy a smaller SSD, say around 256GB, to install your operating system and programs on.

Then you can also buy a large capacity HDD, say around 1TB, to store your media like photos and music or your games library. That way, your operating system will be fast but you’ll also have plenty of storage.

Also, consider the problem of bottlenecking. If you have a newer system with plenty of RAM and a good processor, then you’ll benefit greatly from upgrading to a SSD. Everything will run much faster and your computer will be much better to use.

But if you have a very old computer which is limited by an old processor and not much RAM, then you won’t necessarily see that much benefit from upgrading to an SSD.

In that case, you might as well save your money and stick to an HDD.

HDD Data Connection Types

Today, most hard drives use a data connection known as SATA. However, very old computers might instead support a data connection called IDE. You can easily tell the difference between the two because an IDE connection uses numerous pins, while SATA uses a pin-less L-shaped connector.

The pictures above provide a comparison—the IDE drive is on the left and the SATA drive is on the right. Laptop drives will obviously be smaller, but the connections have the same appearance.

Physical Drive Size

You’ll also need to make sure you buy a drive with the correct physical dimensions. There are two popular hard drive sizes: 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch. The larger is built for desktop systems, while the smaller is generally for laptops and compact desktops. However, solid state hard drives often come in the 2.5-inch size regardless of the type of machine they’re meant to be installed in.

This rule isn’t absolute, however, because some all-in-one computers use 2.5-inch drives.

Transferring Data From The Old To New Drive

The process of installing a new hard drive is one of the least difficult hardware installation procedures around in terms of the physical effort required. However, the hard drive is one of the most critical components in your system because it stores all of your information.

Everything from your operating system to your emails to your favorite songs are stored on your hard drive. Obviously, a straight replacement will leave you without that information.

If you’re using a computer that has more than one hard drive bay you’ll find the process of transferring data from one drive to another to be easy. All you need to do is install the second hard drive in your system and then clone an image of your existing drive using one of the many freeware tools available for this task.

Once the old drive’s image has been cloned and placed on the new drive, you can simply remove the old drive or reformat it and use it as a second drive (make sure the clone was successful before taking this step, however!)

Computers that have only a single drive bay are more difficult to work with because you can’t have the new and old drive installed at the same time. You can, however, still clone your old drive to your new one. This is possible by connecting your new drive to your PC with a USB-to-SATA cable or an external hard drive dock.

Cloning a drive may take some time because of the bandwidth limitations of USB 2.0, but it will complete eventually.

How to Replace a Hard Drive

Desktop computer hard drives are usually placed in the lower front half of a mid-tower enclosure. They are attached using between two and six screws. Once the drive is in place, you just need to plug in the SATA data cable.

This connects to your motherboard. Then you connect the power cables to your power supply unit. The next time you boot up your machine, you should be able to see the new hard drive in your BIOS.

Laptops are different, as some laptops will offer a plastic hard drive bay cover on the bottom of the laptop that is held in with one or two screws. Removing the cover will reveal the drive, which is itself typically attached with a few screws. Installing a replacement drive is simply a matter of taking the existing drive out and putting the new drive in its place.

The power and data connections are built into the mount itself, so you don’t have to worry about tracking down the cables.

Please note that not all laptops are intended to be user serviceable in this way. So please read your laptop’s manual for information about hard drive replacement before proceeding.

Booting & Partitioning

replace hard drive - windows disk management

Once you’ve replaced your old drive you’ll want to boot up your PC. This way you can make sure everything is functioning well. Assuming you did clone your data from your old drive to your new once, this process should be painless. Your PC will barely realize that anything has changed.

You should probably visit the Disk Management utility, which can be found by visiting the Administrative Tools > Computer Management section of the Windows Control Panel, to ensure that Windows is recognizing and using all of your new hard drive’s capacity. If it isn’t, you can extend the current partition to cover the free space or create a new drive partition.

If you didn’t end up cloning your drive, this step will be irrelevant. Because you’ll have to format and partition the new drive during the installation process of your operating system.

Install a New Hard Drive Easily

Replacing a hard drive in your PC can seem like an intimidating task if you don’t know much about hardware. But it’s a fairly simple process and can make your experience using your computer much better.

For more detailed information about a laptop-specific project, see our guide to upgrading your laptop DVD drive to a hard drive.

Read the full article: How to Install a New Hard Drive to Replace an Old One