Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Where Did That File Go?

How To Find Your Misplaced Downloads and Files

Recent conversations have me believing that some of you are still occasionally “losing” documents, and wondering where that download you just downloaded went to. You are sure you “Saved” your work.. but now that work is “gone”.
I won’t comment on that (it is almost 2012) … but the following can help you “find” your stuff.

Downloads/”Online”: First thing to know is that your computer, when dealing with “online” material (like webpages and email) by default puts the various elements into several “temp” folders¹ (as it doesn’t know if you are just visiting, or trying to copy).

  • If you – chose “Open” (or, Run) at the download prompt, the file remains in that “temp” folder¹.
  • If you – chose “Save“, by default the file will go to your Downloads folder – which in XP is in your My Documents folder; and in Vista/Win7, is in your User folder.

So start by looking in those places¹.

Where your browser saves downloads to is a Setting you can adjust (if you should like someplace other than the Downloads folder). Go to the Tools menu and click Options (or Internet Options).

I have set my browser (Firefox) to always put my downloads on my Desktop. There I can easily find them, and then “drag ‘n drop” them to where I want them to permanently reside. You can “browse” to a folder of your own choosing; or set it to always ask you where the download should go. (Click OK to make your changes ‘stick’.)

¹ Yes. But which “temp” folder? Read on..

Files on your hard drive: It is a little different when you know the file you are looking for has been Save-ed to your computer, but now – when you need it again – you find it is not where you expected it to be.
perhaps you weren’t paying careful attention.. or just clicked Save, instead of Save as.. or, a lot of time has passed.. or..

The tool for locating files on your computer is a “Search tool” (sometimes called a “desktop search”) — which comes built-in with Windows. Or you can download and install a more powerful “desktop search”.. but start with what you have.

If you remember the name, or part of the name of the file, enter it in the Search pane, and press Enter. This should produce a list of all the files on your hard drive that contain the same letters as what you entered, and hopefully locate your ‘missing’ file. If not, you will need to apply some ‘more advanced’ Search tricks (um, er, I mean, techniques). My How To for that is here: Where Did My File Go?

Bonus: If you are unsure of the difference between Save and Save as please read this.image

Today’s reco: WOW! Free Software for Video Editing, Audio Converting, eBook Converting, Burning Discs, Archiving and to Keep You From Getting Pregnant

“What do you get when you take a hamster and mix it with FREE software?  You get HAMSTERsoft : ) ” Read more..

Today’s quote:Failure seems to be regarded as the one unpardonable crime, success as the all-redeeming virtue, the acquisition of wealth as the single worthy aim of life. The hair-raising revelations of skullduggery and grand-scale thievery merely incite others to surpass by yet bolder outrages and more corrupt combinations.” ~ Charles Francis Adams

(Love that word.. “skulduggery“.)

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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October 27, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Media Center Recordings Filled Disk

Someone called my biz asking for my help with a very slow computer that was also “acting odd”. Nothing unusual there, a lot of my calls start that way. What was unusual was that my investigations revealed that all the usual suspects were not at fault, and I really couldn’t detect anything “wrong” with the machine. That was unusual.

volume_props So I looked further and I found a possible culprit — their rather large hard drive was totally, absolutely, and completely full. Oops. Not good. I won’t bore you with the geek, but I will tell you that Windows needs “free space” in order to function properly.
My caller had none. Zip. Zero. Nada.

My questioning, and looking at the file system, revealed that the caller had set their computer to record their favorite television programs – much like a TiVo or DVR does – and had not really been too good about actually watching the recordings, or deleting them when finished with them. And Windows Media Center had just kept recording and recording…

Tip of the day: Limit the amount of space Windows Media Center can use for recordings, and prevent hard drive fill-up syndrome.

1) Open WMC and scroll the menu down to Tasks, and then left to Settings, as shown below.
WMC1

2) Scroll down to Recorder and then over to Recorder Storage.

3) Use the (minus) sign to reduce the Maximum TV limit number to a reasonable fraction of your available space. And then click Save.

To finish my caller’s story.. I deleted nearly 100 Gigabytes of recordings (some the caller couldn’t even remember setting the schedule for..) which gave Windows the free space it needed, and the machine started behaving like normal again. I then did the above steps so that it would not happen to them again.

Related links: Your hard drive, and the “file system” it contains, needs some routine maintenance to keep performing in tip-top form (often called “optimization”) and your computer comes with the tools (called “utilities”) you need to perform those maintenance tasks. I demonstrate those in this article: Revitalize Your PC With Windows’ Utilities*

Today’s free download: The tool I used to quickly analyze my client’s file system was WinDirStat (Windows Directory Statistics) which provides a graphical image of what size your files and folders are.. so you can quickly find the ginormous ones.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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November 24, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, tech, troubleshooting, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Four Vital Tools You Already Have…

But Might Not Know About

Revitalize and Protect Your PC With Windows’ Utilities

Computers get slower with age. And as we add programs and updates, sometimes little ‘quirks’ develop. The older our machines get and the more we use them, the worse these things become.

Largely, this is simply due to how our machines read and write the 1’s and 0’s to our hard drives, and various “clutter” that builds up. (But some of it is our fault. We humans are curious creatures and we like to install new programs and try them out, and then we just leave them there, unused…)

Windows gives us four tools – called “utilities” – to help us keep our hard drives clean, happy, and running smoothly (sometimes called “optimized”) which you might be unaware of, (or use often enough) as you have to right-click to find them. (Out of sight, out of mind, right?)

These are:
● Disk Cleanup Tool
● Error Checker
● Tool Defragmenter
● Backup

To get started, click on Start >Computer (or, “My Computer” in XP/older).
Comptr
Now right-click on the drive you want to “optimize” (usually, that will be “Local Disk (C:)”, but each drive [“volume”] will have this. C: is your main one), and a context menu will open — click on “Properties”.

gen tab

A new window will open to display the drive properties, and by default it will open to the “General” tab.

On this tab, we’re interested in the Disk Cleanup button. Disk Cleanup is a safe way to “take out the trash” and remove clutter from your disk.

My super-ultra-deluxe article on the in’s-and-out’s of this tool is here, More than you wanted to know about the Disk Cleanup Tool, but the short version is: click the buttons, answer “yes” and let it do its job. I recommend doing this once a week.

Now we dig down one layer, and this is hard work, so you might want to put on your gardening gloves, click on the next tab over.. the “Tools” tab.

———————————————————————

disk propts

Here you find the other three utilities buttons.

The top button is the Error Checking tool. Running this tool is a good way to eliminate those odd ‘glitches’. What it does is, it examines the physical surface of your hard drive looking for “potholes” and marks those areas as “bad” so that the computer won’t try to put your files there.

It also examines your file allocation table (FAT) and makes sure that all your internal roadsigns are pointing at the right streets. Um.. maybe a card-catalog-at-the-library analogy might work better — it makes sure all the index cards are in the proper order and all the Dewey Decimals are correct.
This tool is for use as a repair, and not a maintenance, so use it as needed and not on a schedule.

Next up is the defragmenter. I remind my readers to run this once a month, and to set an automation schedule for it (Vista and Win 7 already have that) in articles like, When was the last time you “defragged”?
Keeping your disk “defragged” is the best way to keep it running like when it was new. (Be sure to run Disk Cleanup tool before the defrag.)

The last — Backup — isn’t an optimizer or age-fighter, but it is probably the most important feature in Windows. I have written probably 30 different articles on just how important making backup copies of your files, photos, records, etc., is, and why you really, really, really want to do it. See How To Use Windows Backup Tool.

I don’t really know why — for all these years — Microsoft has not put these utilities right under our noses and in plain sight as separate entries under Start >Programs… But now that you know where they are, you can use them and get that PC of yours into a more “like new” performance state. Aka, “optimized”!

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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May 16, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, PC, performance | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How To Hide Your Files*

Sometimes a little privacy is nice. Today I’m going to show you how to hide a folder so that other people who use your machine won’t be able to see it, or its contents.

Tip of the day: Create a hidden folder for your private files. The first thing to consider is where to place the folder. You want it to be someplace you’ll remember easily, and someplace sort of out of the way. Some folks will put it right on their desktop, and there is a certain elegance to the “hide in plain sight” approach, but I’m going to bury it a little… inside my My Video folder (inside My Documents).

Navigate to the place you want to place your hidden folder (in my example, My Documents >My Video) and open it. Now create a new folder. Right-click on any part of the blank area and select “New” from the list of choices, and a new list of choices appear — select “folder”. myvid.jpg Now you will see a folder ready for a new name. I chose to name mine “stuff”, as it is fairly uninteresting and innocuous. If you want to make sure nobody is tempted to look in there, you could name it “efficiency reports 2005”, but you want to avoid an intriguing name, like “private”, “confidential”, “good stuff”, or “collection”.

Now we’re going to make the folder hidden: right-click on your new folder (“stuff” in my example) and select “Properties”. Down towards the bottom is a checkbox labeled “Hidden”. Check it, and click on the “Apply” button.

sethidden.jpg
Now when you navigate back to the My Video folder you will not see your folder. If you do, it should be faded, or “dim”. This means you have your Folder Options set to “show hidden files and folders”. This is normally off, by default; but to undo this setting, look (up) to the Tools menu and click it, and select “Folder Options” (the bottom choice) and then the View tab. foldopts.jpg
Make sure the radio button “Do not show hidden files and folders” is selected, and then click on the “Apply to All Folders” button, or the “Apply” button if you only want to affect the My Video folder. Now the folder is invisible. To make it visible again, for when you want to use it, reverse the steps above to “Show hidden…”

Let us say you want to put a password “lock” on the folder to make it even more difficult for other users to look inside (should they locate it somehow). Right-click on the folder and select “Properties” again and click on the Sharing tab.
mkprv.jpg
Place a check in the “Make this folder private” checkbox and click “Apply”. Now the folder is protected with your User Account’s logon password. If you have not implemented a User Account password, you missed the second Tech–for Everyone article ever written — to see it, click here. You will now be warned that there’s no User Account password. setpass.jpg answer “Yes”, and you’ll be taken to the User Accounts control panel.
user.jpg
Since you will have to enter this each time you log onto the PC, I suggest you follow the rules of a strong password (complex), as discussed in the article above (the link) and write it down someplace as well. Now you have a secure — and private — place to keep your personal files. But wait, there’s more!

Today’s free link: Because of the fact that hidden files and folders can be found by someone with a little savvy (like you, now that you know the “Show hidden files” command) and the password protection will only apply to network shares and when the other user have their own User Accounts… if you are sharing your UA (User Account), you need a 3rd-party tool to hide and encrypt the folder(s) you want to keep private. True Crypt is the free solution I recommend.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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January 9, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, passwords, PC, privacy, security, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment