Stories by Alex Wawro

Free Tools to Wipe Your Drives Securely

Your PC's hard drive is packed with your personal data. So when you want to get rid of your system or drive, you should permanently erase your storage device drives before you get rid of them. If your drives are encrypted and you trust the encryption protocol (full disk encryption is pretty safe), all you have to do is delete your encryption keys. If you want to safeguard your privacy further--and prevent data theft down the road--here are a few cheap and simple tools designed to wipe your hard drive, solid-state drive, or USB flash drive thoroughly before you dispose of it.

How to boost your smartphone battery life

Do you know where your smartphone is? Unless you're using it to read PCWorld.com, your phone is probably plugged into an outlet somewhere to charge, because the battery stinks.

How to lock down your wireless network

If you operate a wireless network for your home or business, it's important to ward it against opportunistic hackers seeking to steal your data or hijack your Wi-Fi for their own nefarious purposes. We spoke to Steven Andrés, CTO of security consulting firm Special Ops Security, to learn about the best ways to lock down your Wi-Fi. To get started, you'll need to log in to your router's administrative console by typing the router's IP address into your Web browser's address bar. Most routers use a common address like 192.168.1.1, though alternatives like 192.168.0.1 and 192.168.2.1 are also common. Check the manual that came with your router to determine the correct IP address; if you've lost your manual, you can usually find the appropriate IP address on the manufacturer's website.

Better run your business from a tablet

Getting work done with just a tablet is hard. Many of us carry Android or iOS tablets to stay connected while we’re away from our PC, but without a proper keyboard or mouse it’s difficult to do much more than answer a few emails or play Angry Birds.

How to build better passwords without losing your mind

Your e-mail password is your last line of defense when it comes to online privacy and security; if a hacker cracks that, they could potentially reset the passwords of and gain access to your social networks, your bank account and even your identity by taking advantage of the ubiquitous "I Forgot My Password" button.

Diaspora: An antidote for your Facebook privacy problems

Our social networks say a lot about us. When you register with a Website like Facebook, you voluntarily give up personal information like your name, photo, and phone number in exchange for the privilege of access to a network that makes it easy to keep in touch with friends and family. Facebook then makes money aggregating that information for sale to advertisers looking to target groups of potential customers with specific ages and interests. It’s an information economy, and to be clear, Facebook cleaves to a privacy policy that only permits the sharing of “non-personally identifiable attributes” with advertisers.

Steps to secure your smartphone against data theft

You may already know the basics of Internet security and keeping your personal data private while browsing the Web: Use a firewall, don't open attachments you aren't expecting, and never follow links from strangers. But what about your smartphone? The ease with which security researcher Georgia Weidman was able to infect Android phones with her custom botnet during the 2011 ShmooCon security conference suggests that anyone concerned about the privacy of the personal data stored on their smartphone should think twice before downloading dubious or otherwise untrustworthy apps.

Five ways Cloud printers will make your small business soar

A new wave of Web-connected printers from the likes of HP and Lexmark are changing the way we dole out documents. Instead of dumb single-purpose devices, a modern multifunction cloud printer can print any document from nearly any device, anywhere you have an Internet connection. It’s a quantum leap forward in terms of flexibility, and every successful business owner knows you need to stay flexible and adapt to the needs of your customers.

MacBook Air performs poorly in laptop comparison tests

Recently, after testing two MacBook Air models running Windows 7, we published results that showed the thin and light Apple laptops outperformed most Windows-based netbooks and ultraportable notebooks. Hundreds of readers commented on the article, with many of the comments going something like this: "The MacBook Air costs far more than many of the laptops you've compared it against. How does it do against similarly priced notebooks?"

First Look: Facebook Single Sign-on

Facebook is getting serious about on-the-go social networking with a suite of new features announced during the Facebook Mobile event on Wednesday.

Lab notes: Kingston vs. VelociRaptor storage smackdown

It's time for a storage upgrade, but your budget won't bear the burden of both a blazing new VelociRaptor hard drive and an extra injection of Kingston RAM. Decision time: if you're looking to improve general performance on the cheap, do you shell out for more RAM or a high-performance hard disk?

Videogame employment actually up in 2009

An independent 2009 games sector census reveals marginal growth in U.S. games industry since 2008, while Canada explodes with new development studios and job opportunities.

Rock Band bringing country back

Harmonix knows when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em as they liven up a quiet week with the release of their second country music downloadable track pack, including some previous disc exclusives.

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