Three tips

Find that file or photo you’re looking for. Please, please, please back up your stuff. Get Solitaire back in Windows 8 for free.


Find stuff fast

Hard drives now are huge in comparison to years ago. Now we can really load them up with lots of pictures, letters, videos, tunes, and what have you! Finding that one thing you need can be frustrating if your approach to doing that involves just scrolling up and down through dozens or hundreds of files and folders.

Windows includes a powerful search function. Just look at the top of any Explorer window in any modern version of Windows. Type your search term in there and see if Windows can find your file. You can change how Windows Search works to make it even more useful. Here’s how to do it in Windows 7: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/change-advanced-indexing-options.

There are many alternatives to the built in search. Not many of them do what they say they will. Two of the best I’ve found are Everything, available here: http://www.voidtools.com/, and Search My Files, here: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/search_my_files.html. Both tools are free and fast, and both offer a more robust search experience without having to go through all the indexing required by Windows native search. SearchMyFiles is an excellent tool for finding duplicate files.

Both tools work on Windows versions from XP to Windows 8. I have not tested Search My Files on Windows 8.1, but I have had no problems with Everything on 8.1.

Keep stuff safe

People, please. Back up your stuff. It’s easy and it’s inexpensive, and when something bad or scary happens to your computer, you have a fighting chance of not losing your pictures, email, Internet Favorites, address book, letters, meeting minutes, or tax information.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a new customer whose computer won’t start and asked if they have a current backup only to be told “I don’t know how to do that.”

It’s dead easy, you don’t need dozens of DVDs, and once the backup is properly set up, you don’t have to know how to do it. It just does it. Let me repeat the important part of that sentence: …once the backup is properly set up…

Go get an external hard drive. You can get a 1 TB drive for under $100. Bring it home, open the package, connect it to your computer, AND SET UP THE BACKUP. That involves installing and/or configuring the backup program. Just plugging the drive in does not make the backups happen. You have to set it up.

I like the Western Digital “My Passport” external hard drive for backups. (http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=640) It’s small, you only need to connect it to the computer, not to an electrical outlet. The backup software is very straightforward, and the drive itself is reliable. You can back up more than one computer to the drive, and it will keep the information separate. ClickFree (http://www.clickfree.com/product_grouping_matrix/matrix_view/id/C6D) drives are also good, but are a little pricier.

If you are running a business, whether home-based or in an actual office, you need at least two backups, and you should keep one of them off site or at the very least in a fireproof safe.

Get Solitaire back in Windows 8

Microsoft rocked our world with all the changes in Windows 8. I can put up with a lot, but hey, Microsoft --- why didn’t you include Solitaire in Windows 8? Are you kidding me?

Here’s how to get your solitaire back, including Free Cell, for free:

  • Go to your Start Screen
  • Click on Store
  • In the Search box, type in Solitaire
  • This will bring up many, many choices. If you want the free Solitaire from Microsoft, choose “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” and then click on Install.
  • Wait. Eventually you’ll see a notification in the upper right corner of your screen that the installation is complete.
  • Tap the Windows key to return to the Desktop and scroll sideways until you see the app.
  • Open it up and choose the game you want. Good luck!

Minesweeper and Hearts are also available free in the Store. Follow those instructions but search for Minesweeper or Hearts!

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!


Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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