Save Disk Space by using Disk Cleanup Part 2

Many newer computers and devices have only a little bit of hard drive space.  While the cloud helps with this you can also save disk space by using Disk Cleanup.  This is part 2 I highly suggest Compressing your Hard Drive first then using Disk Cleanup.

Just a reminder to back up your data if you have not already or not done it in a long time.  No one wants to lose anything.

Before you begin you will want to update Windows as Disk Cleanup deletes backed up system files from Windows updates and from performing a Windows upgrade (like from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1).

While Disk Cleanup has been part of Windows forever it will be most effective in updated versions of Windows 7 and later including Windows RT.  This will free up space in Windows XP and Windows Vista but is not able to remove the backed up Windows update files.

If you completed the steps in part 1 then bring up the Hard Drive Properties window again and click on Disk Cleanup.  If not then just click on Start and in the search box type in Cleanmgr.exe (Start and then Run in Windows XP or in Windows 8 and 8.1 Start and then just start typing as it will search automatically).  You can also try looking in Start, All Programs, Accessories, and then System Tools in the Start Menu.

If you have multiple hard drives you will want to select the one that Windows is installed on usually C: and then click OK, this will not come up if you open Disk Cleanup from the hard drive properties window.  Once you open Disk Cleanup it will take some time looking for temporary files to delete, just wait a bit till the main window pops up from there we will configure some settings.  Once the Disk Cleanup window has opened click on Clean Up System Files.  It will again scan for temporary files to delete but this time it will also look for other system temporary files and Windows update backups.

Disk Cleanup System Files

Disk Cleanup System Files

Once the Disk Cleanup window comes back up again you will want to click on a new tab called More Options.

Disk Cleanup More Options

Disk Cleanup More Options

Now from here click on Clean Up… under System Restore and Shadow Copies.  This will delete all but the most recent System Restore point.  Wait a second or two and then click on the Disk Cleanup tab again.  If nothing happens the system is still deleting old System Restore information wait a while longer and then try again.

Disk Cleanup System Restore and Shadow Copies Clean Up

Disk Cleanup System Restore and Shadow Copies Clean Up

Once you are back on the Disk Cleanup tab make sure all the check boxes are checked and then click on OK.  A dialogue box will come up and then click Delete Files.  It will take some time but these files will be deleted.  In part 3 we will tame System Restore permanently.

Save Disk Space by Compressing Your Hard Drive Part 1

Many newer computers and tablets that came out this holiday season have limited storage, sometimes as low as 16 GB hard drives.  Thankfully there are some tricks in Windows that will maximize your disk space and over the next few posts I will help show you how to put that disk on a diet.  First lets look at how to save disk space by compressing your hard drive.  This should work for just about all versions of Windows going way back (Windows 95 or 98 I believe) it is an old trick but it works. This also works in Windows RT.

Before you do any of these tricks I suggest you back up your data, I have had great success with these tricks but I would hate to see someone lose something that is important for any reason.

First start by opening up File Explorer (Windows Explorer) and click on This PC (My Computer) and then right-click on your hard drive (you may have more than one, Do this on the one that Windows is installed on).  Then click on Properties.


Hard Drive Properties

Hard Drive Properties

Once the Hard Drive Properties window opens you will want to check the box next to Compress This Drive To Save Disk Space and then click Apply. A Dialogue box will open asking you to confirm, make sure Apply Changes to drive Subfolders and Files is selected and then click OK.  You may have an error pop up just click on Ignore All.  Then sit back and wait as this will take some time to complete.  If your device runs on a battery plug it in as this can drain a battery fast.  It will take a while but it will free up a lot of space.

Compress Drive to Save Disk Space

Compress Drive to Save Disk Space

Once done I always suggest restarting your computer or device.  After that if you bring up the Hard Drive Properties window again you can click on Disk Cleanup for Part 2.

30 Days with Windows RT on a Surface RT, 90 Days Later

So after I started my 30 days with Windows RT on a Surface RT challenge I had a few issues with the site and was distracted, however I continued the challenge and have been for a while.  Now some 90 days later I have to give you my conclusions.

For those of you not familiar with it, Windows RT is an ARM based version of Microsoft Windows 8.X that powers the Microsoft Surface RT, Surface 2 and other tablets.  Unlike the X86 and X64 based traditional Windows versions you can not use any desktop software other than what is already on the tablet.

So after using the Surface RT for over 90 days as my main computing device I have made a conclusion I never thought I would…I do not need my laptop anymore!  Yeah I was shocked.  There are a few reasons why that I think set Windows RT apart from Windows Phone (which I also use)

So why was I so able to get comfortable with Windows RT, simple, because it really is Windows.  As much as some people say it is not, it is Windows and is very feature complete.  A lot of tricks work as they would on any version of Windows.  That being said even thought there are a lot of great apps in the Windows Store you do find yourself wanting to be able to do or use something that there is no app for and on Windows RT this is not really a problem as almost every website out there works just as well on Windows RT as it does in Windows.  This is fine on a tablet where you have a full size screen and is just as familiar as a laptop because of the software it runs, but on Windows Phone I have not found the web to be much of a help simply because most mobile sites are terrible and full desktop sites can be hard to use on such a small screen.

There is another strong point that helps Windows RT.  Full Remote Desktop support from both a Windows Store app and mstsc.exe just like in any Windows version.  I have often used Remote Desktop to connect to my desktop computer to use software on there that I can not on in Windows RT.

At this point I have no intention of using my laptop again and I would say that a Surface RT or other tablet running Windows RT will work better than any other tablet on the market the only exception being ones that actually run traditional Windows.  I will also say that Windows RT tablets will work perfect for most computer users out there today because lets face it, we check out Facebook, email, and play flash games online till we get tired of bored and start watching Netflix.  You do not need a computer to do this, and maybe you can’t do it all on an iPad or Android tablet (flash support is not always there) but in Windows RT, you have flash support, you can install printers and print with your tablet, connect thousands of accessories through USB, and the Surface RT and Surface 2 both have micro HDMI out so you can connect to a TV or projector.

So if you are willing to learn and figure it out you will find a Windows RT device to be a great mobile computing solution and may find that like me you do not need a laptop anymore especially if you have a desktop computer at home or work.  I will be posting some articles with tips and tricks for Windows RT in the coming weeks that will help people out and the best thing, they all work on any Windows 8.X machine out there.  I really do love using this device.

Microsoft Windows RT – The Change That a Year Makes

As I am going through my 30 days with Windows RT on a Microsoft Surface RT I had to stop and realize something.  Windows RT 8.1 is a lot different then the shipping version of Windows RT over a year ago.

First is obvious the update to Windows RT 8.1 itself has a lot of improvements and I feel make Windows RT a little easier to use.  However there has also been a years worth of new apps or updates to apps in the Microsoft App Store that helps to make the Surface RT feel a little more mature than when it was first released a year ago.

I really feel it has been this passage of time that helps to make the Microsoft Surface RT a more practical computing device.  I have turned to the Microsoft App Store many times in the past few days and have found many options to help get work done.

Lets see how the rest of the month goes.  Wish me luck.

30 Days With Windows RT on a Microsoft Surface RT

This past Black Friday there were many great deals out there including some on the Microsoft Surface RT.  Both Best Buy and Microsoft had the 32Gb Surface RT on sale for around $200. No to mention I also saw it being sold with a touch cover for around $230 to $250 at other stores.  Well I had to jump on the chance to get one of these devices for many reasons if not for the fact that they are kind of a unique computing device.  So I picked one up from a Best Buy in Las Vegas and got a Type 2 Cover with it.  I know, I spent more than half of the total cost of the Surface RT on that Type 2 Cover but I think it was worth it.

After using this for a few days though I have to admit, I think this could replace my laptop almost full time.  Windows RT is just that good enough.  Of course it is also a year later so much has changed from a year ago and it does not hurt that Windows RT looks and works almost exactly like Windows 8, which I have used for over a year so I know a thing or two about it.  When I installed Windows 8 on my laptop it took me all of 10 minuets to know I could use that Windows operating system full-time, but without support for any desktop applications on windows RT can I really use the Surface RT like I use Windows 8 on my desktop and laptop?

So for the next 30 days I will only use the Microsoft Surface RT for my computing needs.  I will write many articles to help some of you out there that also picked up one of these devices and I will write about my usage every so often.  I think this will be an interesting month.

So for my first note about the Surface RT, I wrote this whole article on it using only the default touch on-screen keyboard.  Yeah its going to be an interesting month.  So make sure to subscribe to the blog, or follow Useful Windows on Facebook or Twitter and see how I do this month.

Microsoft Releases Windows RT Recovery Image For Surface RT

With some of the issues that people are having updating their Surface RT devices to Windows 8.1 RT, Microsoft has released an image of Windows RT (8.0) to restore non-functioning devices back to factory settings.  Microsoft has also taken the Windows 8.1 RT update offline till they can figure out the issue.  If you want to grab the image you can download the Surface RT recovery image from the Microsoft Download Center.  You will need to have a USB flash drive with about 4 GB of space.  I suggest if you own a Surface RT to grab a copy of the recovery image in case anything happens in the future. This Windows RT recovery image should prove helpful in the future.

The Future of Computing is Touch!

I firmly believe the future of computing is touch, but will that include the PC?  I know a few people who think touch computing is just a fad like 3D TV and will be gone soon.  I however think touch computing is here to stay but I think it will happen one of two ways.

The PC will adapt to touch computing and continue being dominant.  This is what I hope will happen.  I hope that computers like what we use today like laptops and even desktops will embrace touch interfaces and we will have powerful machines that we can interact with touch.  Now the mouse and keyboard will not go away as the mouse is more precise especially when using video and audio or even image editing programs and you need a keyboard for programing but lets face it most people use their computers to check email and Facebook, or to play flash-based games.  I think this gives the all in one device we are looking for instead of having to have multiple devices to take with us when we travel.

The second way is similar to what we see today.  Basic tablets like the iPad, or Android tablets will replace most computers in the home because they meet the needs of people who just check email and Facebook.  Lets get real here, most people do not really need all the power in their computer all the time and could make by with just a basic tablet.  I mean these tablets are just big smartphones and people use smartphones all day long for similar functions.

Now Microsoft is trying to position itself to be ready no matter which scenario works out.  If normal PC’s go the route of touch than I expect to see Windows RT go by the way side but if these less powerful media tablets start winning the battle (like the iPad and Android tablets) then I expect to see Windows RT further developed into something to compete with these devices and probably no longer contain a Desktop.  While Windows 8.X (Or whatever version we are on to by this time) will keep the desktop and rely less on the modern environment.  We could then see Windows booting straight to Desktop and maybe not containing the Start Screen at some point.  Again this is all speculation and just what I see as I look in from the outside.

Either way touch screen devices are here to stay in the home, now seeing them in business uses we will have to wait and see.  I see either way working out long-term for the future of computing what I do not see is computers staying in their traditional configuration (non-touch) and being as dominant as they once were, not in the home.  Again this will be different in businesses but for the home market computing is changing and its future is touch.

Microsoft Reveals the New Xbox One Console, All In One Entertainment

Today Microsoft revealed the new replacement for the Xbox 360 and its third video game console the Xbox One.  The Xbox One really seems to be the console that Microsoft has wanted to have in the living room for years and then some.  They are marketing this as the All In One console for your entertainment needs.  The Xbox One has an eight core 64-bit processor with 8 GB of RAM, a 500 Gb hard drive, Blu-Ray optical drive, built-in Wireless N support, and Ethernet port, three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI in and out ports, optical audio out, and what looks like an IR out for controlling set-top boxes.  The Kinect sensor has been redesigned with a 1080P camera, and there is a new controller.

New Xbox One Console

New Xbox One Console

New hardware is not the only thing that is new there is new software that drives new experiences on the console.  Microsoft said during the reveal on Tuesday that the Xbox One has three operating systems.  I really think it is more a combination of three operating systems.  These three systems are the Xbox OS which game makers can use to take advantage of the Xbox One’s power, There is another system that is based on the Windows kernel which should make porting Windows 8/RT and Windows Phone apps very easy, and finally a third that allows switching between these systems seamless.  You can also snap another app along side what ever you are doing like watching TV or playing a game.  There are also a love of voice commands and hand gestures to control the Xbox One without the use of a controller and since the console is powered down in a more connected standby state you can just say “Xbox On” to turn the Xbox One on.  Also Microsoft has integrated Skype into the Xbox software so you can video chat right from your living room and do so will still watching your favorite TV show or playing you favorite game with the Skype app snapped to the side of the screen.  This really changes things like we have not seen since the Nintendo Wii was revealed.

New Xbox One Dashboard

New Xbox One Dashboard

If you look at the above screen shot you will see that they were watching Live TV, and if you noted earlier I said that there was a HDMI input.  the Xbox One can pass through the HDMI signal from your Set Top Box and overlay additional content.  Also the IR out allows the Xbox One to control the Set Top Box to change the channel.  This allows the Xbox One to make TV much more interactive and allows apps to be snapped next to what you are watching on TV.  The Xbox One also has Xbox Guide which is like in interactive TV guide allowing you to find the shows you want to watch and go right to them.  In addition Microsoft announced that there will be a live action Halo TV show directed by Steven Spielberg.

Xbox Live is also getting additional features allowing for your content to be synced to the cloud and they are ramping up the amount of servers from 15,000 to 300,000.  I think Microsoft is expecting increased traffic on their servers.

So what about gaming, well I can say what I have seen looks great and games are going to look fantastic on this system.  EA announced they had new titles coming to the Xbox One and their will be a new Call Of Duty game coming out soon.  All downloadable content for Call of Duty will come out exclusively on the Xbox One first.  Microsoft’s own Game Studios will be releasing 15 new games only on Xbox within the first year.  Eight of those games will be new franchises.  The only thing Microsoft did not talk about was backward compatibility of Xbox and Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One.  We will have to wait till E3 to hear more about the system.

I am excited about the new system and can’t wait for it to come out which should be later this year.  It looks great and the new features and not only compelling they are just down right cool.


Amazon Releases Cloud Player for PC, an iTunes, and Xbox Music Alternative

Amazon has released the Cloud Player for PC which it really starting to set them up as a good alternative to iTunes and Xbox Music / Zune.  The software is very simple to use and does not have a lot of features but I imagine that more is coming in future versions.  In this version you can listen to music on your computer which Amazon Cloud Player for PC will auto scan you computer for or listen to music in the cloud that is stored in Amazon Cloud Player, this includes any AutoRip or mp3’s you have purchased with Amazon.  You can also export those song to iTunes or Windows Media Player.  There are also links that take you to the Amazon MP3 Store but at this time it is not integrated into the software like iTunes or Zune PC software.  There are also no options to Sync to a device unless you export the music to Windows Media Player or iTunes.  Of course you could also use Winamp to sync music to your device of choice once you have exported it to either option.  The interface looks like other Amazon software and services out there.

Amazon Cloud Player For PC in Windows 8

Amazon Cloud Player For PC in Windows 8

One great feature I have found about the Amazon Cloud Player for PC is that is supports Windows XP Professional X64 Edition.  I know that there are still a few fans of the 64 Bit version of Windows XP and both the Zune PC software and iTunes do not install or work on that platform but this does.

I am glad Amazon made Cloud Player available for the PC and I hope to see a Windows 8/RT and a Windows Phone app soon as well.  Going forward for me I will be purchasing my music through Amazon or Xbox Music à la the Zune PC software.  If you want would like give the Amazon Cloud Player for PC a chance and see how you like it.

Slow Windows 8 Sales, is Microsoft to blame…I think not

Many people out there including the computer manufactures are blaming Microsoft for slow Windows 8 computer sales.  When I look at everything I can not believe Microsoft is to blame and if anything it is the manufactures that are at fault.

There have been many speculating that tablets were going to kill the PC industry or at least make it very small.  So far this has not happened because people need to get real work done and most tablet today are not that great at getting real work done but awesome if you just want to check email, read a book, or watch a movie.  Nevertheless people are wanting more tablets and pressure was put on Microsoft to respond.  Well they did, with Windows 8 and Windows RT.  So where are the Windows based tablets?

Go to your local Best Buy or other computer electronics store (if your lucky to have anything other than Best Buy) or heck go to Wal-Mart and see how many Windows based tablets there are.  At Best Buy when I went recently I could only find two, a Surface RT and a Surface Pro, and when I inquired about them I was told that they were selling the Surface Pro pretty well, of course this was not too long after the Surface Pro came out.  Granted there were plenty of Andriod and iPads there.

I also looked at other Windows 8 machines there and I noticed something that concerned me.  First I did not see keyboards optimized for Windows 8 with specific buttons for the charms bar.  Microsoft has done this to many of its keyboards which I think is a nice touch and their lead should be copied.  Second I noticed just how many computers are still not touch screen.  Let me make something extremely clear, I have wanted to touch the screen on my computer for over 12 years now, and I still have issues when buying a computer to get this option.  I know I am not alone and I think more people would rather have a touch screen so what is the issue and hold up?

Clearly if anyone is to blame it is the computer manufactures and the retailers for slow Windows 8 sales.  If you are seeing commercials about Windows 8 and you get all excited about using a touch screen only to go to your local computer outlet to find non touch screen computers, well I would be disappointed.  What are computer manufactures doing to make Windows 8 computers different from the ones that had Windows 7 on them?  The reason tablets sell well is because they are new and cool, so if we did something new and different with computers don’t you think they would sell better?  If everyone at a coffee shop is touching their laptop screen, or folding it into a tablet, I think even some Mac users are going to have envy.  The retailers need to get what is different and new (like Lenovo’s lineup) out in stores and get rid of the junk they sell currently.  I know that cheap laptops sell but I am sure there are some manufactures making cheaper touchscreen devices, give them a chance instead of the main manufactures.

So far I am disappointed with the industry’s response to Windows 8, it is a great OS and has potential to do amazing, but until we get better hardware I am going to keep my current desktop and laptop because they run Windows 8 extremely well and I can not justify buying a machine that does exactly what my current machine does now.  Granted there are a few machines out there that are embracing the future but I want choice, that is why I am not a Mac user.