20 Jan 2017

How to check Websites & Apps Have Access to Your Google Account

While doing our regular security audit of all the accounts tied to the HTG site, we noticed something interesting: Inside your Google account settings there is a list of any site or app that you’ve given access to, and the list might surprise you. Time for a checkup! There are, of course, plenty of valid reasons why you might need to give apps or web sites access to your account, or at least parts of your account. If you log into any sites via your Google account, you’re going to see that in the list. If you have an Android phone, it will have full access to everything, and any Google app anywhere that saves your credentials is going to need access, which ends up showing in the list.
This article is definitely not meant to scare you. But… you should also be familiar with the things that have access.





  Auditing Access to Your Google Account

If you want the quick and easy way to get to the account permissions page, you can just navigate in your browser to the following URL, which will show you the list of permissions assigned to apps and sites.
To get there the longer way, you can open up any Google site and click on your face or icon, and get to the “Account” link, as shown in the screenshot below.

Once there, click on the Security tab, or if they change the layout in the future, head to the Security section of your settings. Then find the Account Permissions section, which lets you control which apps and web sites have access to your account. Click the View All link to see that list.

If you’re using two-factor authentication you might want to check your App password list also.
The list is very simple — just click on an item to see the details of what permissions it actually has, and click the Revoke access button if you want to remove that app from the list. Pay special attention to any apps that “Have full access to your Google Account”, because most of them should not.

Make sure you aren’t giving full account access to random websites!
If you do use your Google account to log into any sites, as shown above with the Feedly item, just verify that they only have “access to basic account info”, which includes only the very simple information about the fact that you have an account, and doesn’t give them access to any of your data or files.

7 Jan 2017

Top 5 Tips to Boost Performance of Your Android Phone

Android devices are used to perform the range of tasks which affects device speed and performance negatively over time. If you have noticed the performance issues and slow speed on your device due to cluttered and unorganized data, it’s time to clean it up. Your device speed may also affect due to various other reasons like hardware or software issues etc. To deal with it, you can perform a thorough research of your device to find solutions to boost your device performance. Let’s discuss some tips here to help you with this. 

==>1. Disable Bloatware: Bloatware includes all those apps and programs which come pre-installed on your device from the manufacturer. These apps and programs can be manufacturer based or third-party based programs. Most of these apps include those tools which you don’t use or don’t intend to use in future thus they prove to be space-hogging only. These apps affect your device speed and performance negatively as they not only occupy precious storage space but these apps run in the background as well. 

Unfortunately, you need to root your device (which has its own limitations) to get rid of this bloatware on your device. Alternatively, you can “Disable” them so that they can’t update themselves, run in the background or appear in your app drawer. To disable bloatware on your device, go to Settings > Application Manager > All Apps > Select the app you want to disable and click on “Disable” or “Uninstall” button.

==>2. Use technology: Using technology to keep your device intact is another good way to boost speed and performance of your Android device. You can use various apps like Android cleaning apps, duplicate file remover apps, battery saver apps etc. to get better and instant results. These effective tools help you clean your device and improve its performance effortlessly. 

==>3. Clean your App cache: Apps on your device generate cache files regularly and these files accumulate in large numbers over time. These cache files when accumulated in large numbers starts creating problems for your device speed and performance. Thus it’s better to remove all these files to recover some storage space and boost device performance. To do this go to Settings > Storage > cached data and hit OK to delete the cached data. Alternatively, you can delete cache files of individual apps by heading to Settings > Application Manager > All and select the app to clear cache data. 

==>4. Update your device: Android keeps on sending you latest firmware updates on regular intervals. These updates include some important improvements to each new release of the Android operating system. These updates ensure higher performance, better stability of device functions, better speed & connectivity, bug fixes and lot more. Thus you should respond to every system update notification. You can also check available updates by heading to Settings > About device > Software Update > Update.

==>5. Use High-speed memory card: When you add storage space to your device in the form of memory card it helps you improve your device speed and performance. Cluttered and unorganized data on your device affects device speed and performance negatively. Thus having additional storage space to manage data helps you declutter and organize your device storage space. You can add memory according to value it supports which generally varies in between 2GB to 32 GB to support high-speed read and write operations. You can select memory cards of Class 6 or Class 10 for better performance. 

You can follow these simple steps to speed up your device performance significantly. Following these simple steps altogether can show some prominent results and changes in your device. In fact, this way you can save a lot of your time and efforts as well. 

Summary: Android devices starts creating performance related issues due to prolonged used. There are certain steps you can follow to boost your device speed and performance. Let’s discuss some of these steps here.

Author Bio: Yogesh Sharma is working as an SEO personnel and technical content writer for Systweak. He likes to talk about various threats to cybersecurity and cybercrime awareness in his blog http://blogs.systweak.com/

3 Jan 2017

How to View That Forgotten Wireless Network Password in Windows

Did you have someone else set up the wireless network in your house, and can’t for the life of you remember the password? If so read on to see how you may still be able to recover it.
This should work for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

Note: Unfortunately this trick will only work if you are a local administrator on your machine, if you are not you will be prompted by UAC for administrative credentials.

Viewing Your Wireless Password From an Already Connected Machine

To view your wireless network password we need to get to the settings for your network adapter, so press the Win + R keyboard combination and type ncpa.cpl in the run box, then hit the enter key.
You will now see all the network adapters in your machine, right-click on the wireless one and select Status from the context menu.
When the Wi-Fi Status dialog loads up, click on the Wireless Properties button.
Then you will need to switch over to the Security tab.
Finally, check the Show characters checkbox to reveal your password.
That’s all there is to it.

How to Find Out Why Your Windows PC Crashed or Froze

Computers crash and freeze. Your Windows PC may have automatically rebooted itself, too — if so, it probably experienced a blue screen of death when you weren’t looking. The first step in troubleshooting is finding more specific error details.

These will help you identify the problem. For example, the tools here may point the finger at a specific device driver. This could mean that the device driver itself is buggy, or that the underlying hardware is failing. Either way, it will give you a place to start searching.


Check the Reliability Monitor

The Reliability Monitor offers a quick, user-friendly interface that will display recent system and application crashes. It was added in Windows Vista, so it will be present on all modern versions of Windows. To open it, just tap the Windows key once and type “Reliability.” Click or press Enter to launch the “View reliability history” shortcut.
 If Windows crashed or froze, you’ll see a “Windows failure” here. Application crashes will appear under “Application failures.” Other information here may actually be useful — for example, it shows when you installed various pieces of software. If the crashes started occuring after you installed a specific program or hardware driver, that piece of software could be the cause.
You can use the “Check for solutions to problems” link here for some help. However, this feature usually isn’t very helpful and it’s rarely found possible solutions in our experience. In a best case scenario, it might advice you to install updated hardware drivers.

The Reliability Monitor is useful because it shows events from the Event Viewer in a more user-friendly way. If not for the Reliability Monitor, you’d have to get this information from the Windows Event Viewer itself.
To do so, launch the tool with a Start menu search for “Event Viewer,” select “System” under “Windows Logs,” and look for “Error” messages. These are the same error messages you can view in the Reliability Monitor. However, many other messages you don’t need to care about are also displayed here.

View Blue Screen Crash Dump Details

Windows saves crash dumps from blue-screen errors to your system. For a more user-friendly way of examining these, we recommend NirSoft’s free BlueScreenView utility. (We don’t usually like recommending third-party software, but we do trust NirSoft.)
This tool will examine and memory dump files created during blue-screens and display a list of them. In particular, the important information here is the “Bug Check String” — the same message that’s displayed on your screen when the blue screen itself appears. Search for this message online and you’ll find information that can help you identify and solve your actual problem.
The list of drivers at the bottom of the window may also be helpful. For example, the blue-screens may consistently implicate a particular driver file, such as your graphics hardware driver. This may indicate there’s a problem with that specific driver. Or, that specific driver may be crashing because the underlying hardware itself is damaged. Either way, it can help point you in a more specific direction.

If you see a blue-screen while it happens, you can also just read the “Bug Check String” from it. On Windows 10 and Windows 8, Windows now displays a simple blue screen message with only a small note at the bottom of the screen with the message you might want to search. On Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows, the bug check string appears near the top of the blue screen instead of at the bottom.
These blue-screen messages only stick around so long because Windows automatically reboots after a blue-screen. You could disable the auto-reboot feature to have Windows not reboot when it encounters a blue-screen. However, you can also just use the BlueScreenView utility to view the Bug Check String displayed on the blue screen after it happens.

But Why Is it Crashing?

The above tools can help you get more of a handle on the actual problem. With a specific crash message from the blue screen message in hand, you can at least perform a web search to discover what might actually be the problem. It’s a much better starting point than looking for generic information about why a computer crashes or freezes.
If your computer just crashed or froze once, don’t sweat it. Nothing is completely perfect — a bug in Windows or a hardware driver could have caused the crash, and you may never see it again. You should worry when your computer is crashing regularly and consistently. Modern Windows PCs should not be blue-screening regularly at all — this should be an extremely rare occurrence.

If you’re encountering a lot of crashes, you may want to skip most of the troubleshooting process entirely and perform a “PC Reset” on Windows 10 or Windows 8. This will quickly set Windows back to its factory-default state, fixing any system corruption problems and removing any buggy drivers or malware that’s causing problems. You will have to reinstall your installed applications afterwards. On Windows 7, you’ll just have to reinstall Windows. If this doesn’t work, you’re probably experiencing a hardware problem. (But, bear in mind that if you install the same hardware drivers after resetting Windows and experience the problem again, it could be those drivers.)
The Memory Diagnostics tool built into Windows can also help. It will test your memory to ensure everything is working properly. If your memory is damaged, this can cause system instability and blue-screens.

Ultimately, it’s impossible to give advice that will solve every problem. The tools here will help you nail down your issue to a more specific error message or hardware driver and give you a way to start troubleshooting. But not every problem can be fixed with some software troubleshooting — your computer may have a hardware problem and there may be nothing you can do about it beyond replacing or fixing the hardware itself. As Windows becomes more stable, regular system freezes and blue-screens often point to underlying hardware problems.

How to Unlock Your Computer with Your Phone or Watch

Everyone wants to replace the password with something better. Well, we already have smartphones — and some of us even have smartwatches. These tools can log you into your computer with a smartphone or smartwatch.

The best, most polished options are available for Mac users with iPhones. Solutions available for Windows and other platforms are much more limited.
iphone and macbook

Mac and iPhone or Apple Watch

Mac users with iPhones have the most — and most polished — options available:
Knock allows you to use either an iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock your Mac. Walk up to your Mac with your iPhone on you and it will communicate with your Mac using Bluetooth Low Energy. Knock on your phone’s screen — even if it’s just in your pocket, knock on your pocket — and it will unlock your Mac. There’s no need to even pull your phone out of your pocket, much less turn its screen on.
There’s now a Knock Apple Watch app for unlocking your Mac, which provides some good security — if someone puts your watch on, they won’t be able to authenticate and unlock your Mac. If someone grabs your phone and you’ve set up Knock, however, they’ll be able to log into your Mac unless you remotely disable Knock.
Knock costs $3.99 for the iPhone app. You’ll also need the Mac app installed on your Mac — that’s available for free.

Tether works entirely using Bluetooth Low Energy. Walk up to your Mac and your iPhone and Mac will establish a connection. Tether will automatically unlock your Mac when you approach. Walk away from your Mac with your iPhone on you and Tether will notice the iPhone is no longer in close proximity, automatically locking your Mac for you.
There’s now a Tether Apple Watch app, too. One concern with this solution is security — if you’re nearby your Mac in the same area, it will automatically be unlocked. If someone grabs your phone, they can approach your Mac and have it automatically unlock for them. It’s up to you whether this is good enough security for your needs.
The Tether apps for both iPhone and Mac are free. Tether offers in-app purchases for additional functionality, but the standard auto-unlock and auto-lock features are free.

MacID takes a different approach. Rather than automatically unlocking your Mac, it allows you to unlock your Mac from your phone. This means you can use the Touch ID sensor on your iPhone to authenticate and unlock your Mac.
As with Knock and Tether, MacID also offers an Apple Watch app. Unlike with the above options, MacID can’t be used by just anyone who has your iPhone and Mac. It requires a bit more work because you have to actively log into your Mac via your phone, but that may be appealing to you. If your Mac has a long, strong password, using Touch ID on your phone could certainly be faster.
MacID’s iPhone app costs $3.99 on the App Store, and the required Mac app is available for free.

Chromebook and Android Phone

Chromebooks deserve an honorable mention here because Google has integrated a way to unlock your Chromebook with an Android phone. This feature is named Smart Lock, and it requires an Android phone with Android 5.0 or newer.
If you have a modern enough Android phone, you can quickly set up Smart Lock and pair your Chromebook with your phone without any third-party software. This feature doesn’t yet support Android Wear watches for some reason — you need an Android phone.

Windows PC and Android Phone

Similarly polished options for Windows just aren’t available. Previously, the most popular option was BTProximity, which used the proximity of a Bluetooth-enabled device (such as your smartphone) to automatically unlock your Windows PC.  We can’t find any comparably polished solutions to replace it at the moment.
You can still rig up something to do this yourself with various tools on Android. This solution requires EventGhost on your Windows PC to do the unlocking work, AutoRemote for communicating from your phone to your Windows PC, and Tasker for automatically sending a signal to EventGhost via AutoRemote when certain conditions are met.
The Unlock PC from Android discussion over at StackExchange has some detailed information on setting this up.

Mac and Android Phone (or Any Other Bluetooth Device)

If you have a Mac and an Android phone (or any other Bluetooth-enabled device), you could use the free Proximity tool for Bluetooth proximity detection and set up AppleScripts that unlock and lock your Mac depending on the proximity of the device to your Mac. This requires some manual setup, but it should work similarly to Tether when you’re done.
Lifehacker provides AppleScript code that will do this in this post.

Linux and Any Bluetooth Device

On Linux, try the BlueProximity application for locking and unlocking your PC in response to the proximity of a Bluetooth device. It should be available in your Linux distribution’s software repositories, but may require some configuration before it automatically locks and unlocks the PC correctly.

If you’re sick of unlocking your phone constantly, Android 5.0 provides other “smart unlock” features. These can automatically keep your phone unlocked when you’re connected to your home Wi-Fi network, for example.

How to Create Bootable USB Drives and SD Cards For Every Operating System

Creating installation media for your operating system of choice used to be simple. Just download an ISO and burn it to CD or DVD. Now we’re using USB drives, and the process is a little different for each operating system.

You can’t just copy files form an ISO disc image directly onto your USB drive. The USB drive’s data partition needs to be made bootable, for one thing. This process will usually wipe your USB drive or SD card.

Use a USB 3.0 Drive, If You Can

For only $15, it’s a great upgrade
USB 2.0 has been around forever, and everything supports it, but it’s notoriously slow. You’ll be much better off making the upgrade to USB 3.0 since the prices have dropped dramatically, and the speed increases are enormous… you can get 10x the speed.
And speed really matters when you’re making a boot drive.
Editor’s Note: We use this Silicon Power USB 3.0 drive here at How-To Geek, and at $15 for a 32 GB version, it’s well worth the upgrade. You can even get it in sizes up to 128 GB if you want.
Don’t worry about compatibility, these faster drives are fully compatible with an old USB 2.0 system, you just won’t get the speed boosts. And if your desktop computer doesn’t support USB 3.0 you can always upgrade it to add support.

For Windows 7, 8, or 10

Use Microsoft’s own Windows USB/DVD download tool to create a bootable drive you can install Windows from. You’ll need a Windows installer ISO file to run this tool. If you don’t have one, you can download Windows 10, 8, or 7 installation media for free — you’ll need a legitimate product key to use them, though.
Provide the ISO file and a USB flash drive and the tool will create a bootable drive.

Alternatively, if you’re installing Windows 10, you can download an ISO or burn Windows 10 installation media directly using Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool.

From a Linux ISO

There are many tools that can do this job for you, but we recommend a free program called Rufus—it’s faster and more reliable than many of the other tools you’ll see recommended, including UNetbootin.
Download the Linux distribution you want to use in .ISO form. Run the tool, select your desired distribution, browse to your downloaded ISO file, and choose the USB drive you want to use. The tool will do the rest. You can see a full step-by-step guide here.
You can use similar tools on Linux. For example, Ubuntu includes a Startup Disk Creator tool for creating bootable Ubuntu USB drives.

From an IMG File

Some operating system projects provide an IMG file instead of an ISO file. An IMG file is a raw disk image that needs to be written directly to a USB drive.
Use Win32 Disk Imager to write an IMG file to a USB drive or SD card. Provide a downloaded IMG file and the tool will write it directly to your drive, erasing its current contents. You can also use this tool to create IMG files from USB drives and SD cards.
Linux users can use the dd command to directly write an IMG file’s contents to a removable media device. Insert the removable media and run the following command on Ubuntu:
sudo dd if=/home/user/file.img of=/dev/sdX bs=1M
Replace /home/user/file.img with the path to the IMG file on your file system and /dev/sdX with the path to your USB or SD card device. Be very careful to specify the correct disk path here — if you specify the path to your system drive instead, you’ll write the contents of the image to your operating system drive and corrupt it


If you need to boot into DOS to use a low-level firmware upgrade, BIOS update, or system tool that still requires DOS for some reason, you can use the Rufus tool to create a bootable DOS USB drive.
Rufus uses FreeDOS, an open-source implementation of DOS that should run whatever DOS program you need to use.

From Mac OS X Installation Files

You can create a bootable drive with Mac OS X on it by downloading the latest version of OS X from the Mac App Store. Use Apple’s included “createinstallmedia” tool in a terminal or by run the third-party DiskMaker X tool.
The Mac OS X drive can be used to install OS X on other Macs or upgrade them to the latest version without any long downloads.

From a Windows ISO for Mac

If you plan on installing Windows on a Mac via Boot Camp, don’t bother creating a bootable USB drive in the usual way. Use your Mac’s Boot Camp tool to start setting things up and it will walk you through creating a bootable Windows installation drive with Apple’s drivers and Boot Camp utilities integrated.
You can use this drive to install Windows on multiple Macs, but don’t use it to install Windows on non-Apple PCs.

Some of these tools overlap — for example, Rufus can also be used to create bootable drives from Linux ISOs, IMG files, and even Windows ISO Files. We suggested the most popular, widely recommended tools for each task here.

27 Dec 2016

How to Use Android’s Built-In Tethering When Your Carrier Blocks It

Tethering your phone’s internet connection, which allows users to share their phone’s data connection with other devices, is really useful if you’re out and about with no Wi-Fi–but some carriers will block the feature from your phone. If you get an error message when you try to tether (“Account not set up for tethering”), here’s a fix.

I know this is a touchy subject, and there are two arguments here. There’s the “if it’s blocked by the carrier, then you shouldn’t be able to bypass it” crowd, then there’s the “but I pay for this data and want to use it how I see fit!” While I can appreciate both sides of the story, sometimes tethering is necessary, regardless of the situation.


 Some phones will allow you to tether out of the box, even if your carrier technically doesn’t allow it in your plan. But some newer devices–like the Nexus 5X and 6P–will actually prevent you from using this feature if your carrier requests it. When you try to enable the personal hotspot, you’ll get a message saying that you should contact your carrier to enable the feature.

You have a few options for bypassing this. You could use a third-party tethering app like PdaNet+, which–while a little janky–should do the trick on many phones. If you’re rooted, though, you have a much better option: re-enable Android’s built-in hotspot features.
Unfortunately, the solution isn’t a “install this app and you’re done!” kind of thing. You’re going to need to meet a couple of requirements first:
  • Your phone is rooted. If you’re not rooted, you’re automatically out on this one. You must have a rooted handset before this will work. If you’re not sure how to go about rooting, you should be able to Google instructions for your exact model phone.
  • You’re running the Xposed framework. The Xposed framework unlocks a lot of incredibly powerful tools for Android, so it’s basically a must-have for rooted users. And with the launch of the new systemless Xposed framework and Material Design interface, it’s easier than ever to install and use. If you’re already an Xposed user, however, this will work just fine with the “older” system-modifying method as well.
Once you’re rooted and all set up with Xposed, you’re only a few taps away from bypassing tethering verification.

The first thing you need to do is jump into the Xposed Installer app, then go to “Download.” If you’re using the Material Design version of Xposed, open the hamburger menu in the top left to find “Download.” In the “normal” Xposed interface, it’s the third option on the main screen.

In the Download menu, tap the magnifying glass in the upper right corner, then search for “tether.” Scroll down until you see “X tether,” that’s the option you want. Tap it.

You can read the description here if you want, but otherwise just slide over to the “Versions” tab and tap the “Install” button on the newest version (in our test case, it’s 1.4). It should jump straight into the installation menu—if it kicks back an error, make sure you have Unknown Sources enabled in Settings > Security, then try again.
It’s also worth noting here that the application is actually called “Moto Tether” upon installing. Don’t worry about that—it should work just fine on non-Motorola devices, too.

Once it’s finished installing, Xposed will push a notification saying that you need to reboot the device to active the module. Go ahead and tap the “Activate and Reboot” button.

X Tether/Moto Tether doesn’t actually provide a user interface—it just unblocks Android’s built-in tethering features. After the phone is finished rebooting, jump into Settings > More > Tethering & Portable Hotspot to verify that it is indeed working. A quick tap of the “Portable Wi-Fi hotspot” button should be all it takes—the tethering connection should fire right up. Boom.

Just remember: use it, don’t abuse it.

How to Mount a Flash Drive on Your Android Device

Although mobile devices have more storage space than ever before it’s so easy to fill up, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just pop a flash drive right into your device and expand your storage on the fly? Read on as we show you how mount a flash drive on your Android device.

Why Do I Want To Do This

Even if your Android device has a micro SD slot, and not all devices do unfortunately, it’s still inconvenient to remove the SD card to load it up with content or transfer files (especially if you have apps that rely on SD card storage). It’s also inconvenient to tether your device or wirelessly transfer the files, especially for files that you may not need to store inside the phone on the internal storage or SD storage.
If you want to bring a bunch of movies on a trip to watch on the plane or in your hotel, for example, you really don’t need to clutter up your internal storage options with bulky media files. Instead, it’s much easier to just throw files on a cheap and spacious flash drive and then mount the flash drive when you want to watch the movies, unload media you’ve created on the phone to free up space, or otherwise enjoy a multi-gigabyte storage boost.
Rare is the Android device that comes with a full size USB port, however, so you’ll need a little techno-wizardy to make it happen. Let’s look at what you need and how to check if your device supports the required equipment.

What Do I Need?

The magic that makes it possible to mount a regular USB flash drive on your Android device is a a USB specification known as USB On-The-Go (OTG). The specification was added to the USB standard way back in 2001 but don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it. Although the specification is over a decade old now it wasn’t until Android 3.1 Honeycomb (released in 2011) that Android natively supported OTG.
The most important element of the OTG specification is that it gives Android the ability to specify whether it is the master or the slave role when connected to a supported device. In other words even though the general role of your Android device is to be the slave (you attach it to your computer via a data sync cable and your computer acts as the host) the Android device can be the host thanks to OTG and storage devices can be mounted to it instead. That’s the most important element as far as our tutorial is concerned but If you’re curious about the OTG specification in a broader sense you can check out the USB On-The-Go Wikipedia entry here.

A Phone That Supports OTG

Unfortunately, just because the specification is well established and Android has supported it for years doesn’t mean that your device automatically supports it. In addition to the required Android kernel component and/or drivers, there needs to be actual support by the physical hardware in your phone. No physical support for host mode via OTG, no OTG goodness.

Testing to see if your phone supports OTG is really easy, however, so don’t be discouraged. In addition to looking up the specs for your phone via search engine query you can also download a helper application, like USB OTG Checker, to test your device before investing energy into the project.
Note: It is possible to have a device that can support OTG on the hardware-level but that does not have the proper kernel/drivers for software-side OTG support. In such cases it’s possible to root a device and install drivers, flash a new ROM with OTG support, or otherwise remedy the situation, but those courses of action are beyond the scope of this particular guide and we note them simply so readers inclined to engage in such advanced tinkering know it’s a possibility. We recommend searching the excellent XDA-Developers forums for your phone’s model/carrier and the term “OTG” to see what other users are doing.

An OTG Cable

If your device supports OTG then it’s just a simple matter of picking out an OTG cable. OTG cables are dirt cheap, by the way, so don’t worry about breaking the bank. Although you can get OTG cables with all sorts of bells and whistles on them (SD card reader slots, etc.) we wouldn’t bother with the extras as it’s just as easy to plug in the devices you’re already using on your regular computer into a plain old dirt-cheap OTG cable.
In fact, the only real decisions to be made when it comes to OTG cable shopping are: whether you want to wait a month on shipping from Hong Kong to get the cheapest one possible and whether or not you want an OTG with charging capabilities.
If you’re willing to wait on shipping, you can pick up a non-powered OTG cable for, we kid you not, $1.09 with free shipping. You’ll wait a few weeks for it to get sent parcel post from Hong Kong but it’ll cost you less than a truck stop cup of coffee. If you want a non-powered OTG cable right now, you can pick up this model for $4.99 with free Prime shipping.
If you plan on doing some serious media watching on your device using an OTG mounted flash drive, we’d recommend picking up an OTG cable with a power-passthrough so you can use a standard charging cable to pump juice to your device while you’re catching up on your favorite shows.
Again, if you’re in no rush you can pick up a powered OTG cable for $1.81. If you want it right now, you can pick up a similar model for $4.99 with free Prime shipping.

A Flash Drive

The final thing you need is a simple flash drive or other USB media (an external powered portable hard drive, an SD card in an SD card reader, etc. will all work). The only critical thing is that your flash media is formatted in FAT32. For the purposes of this tutorial we’re using the sturdy little Kingston Digital DataTraveler SE9 but any properly formatted and functioning drive will do.

Mounting the Drive

Just like with our How to Connect Your Android Phone to Your TV guide, the hardest part is checking your hardware and buying the right cable. Once you have the right hardware and the right cable, the experience is pure plug and play goodness.
Plug the OTG cable into your Android device (if you have a powered OTG cable, connect the power source at this time too). Plug the storage media into the OTG cable. You’ll see a notification in your notification bar that looks like a little USB symbol. If you pull the notification drawer down you’ll see a notice that there is now an attached USB storage option. You don’t have to do anything at this point as the drive is already mounted and available to Android.
If you do tap on the notification (or navigate to Settings ->Storage) you can take a closer look at the USB storage options.

When you’re done with the flash storage, this is the menu you want to visit in order to use the “Unmount USB storage” option to properly unmount and remove your media.
Otherwise, feel free to jump right into using the removable media. You can browse the file structure in the native Android file browser or your file browser of choice, you can copy files to and from the device, and you can watch any media stored on it.
Here is our flash drive as seen in the drive-selection menu in ES File Explorer, listed as “usbdisk.”

And here’s a screenshot of our file transfer test using the same file explorer.

File transfer is snappy as is media playback. Thanks to OTG we no longer need to crack open the case of our device to get at the micro SD card or play any advanced games balancing the storage load on our internal memory. For the dirt cheap price of an OTG cable and a big flash drive we can instantly expand our storage (and easily swap it out).

26 Dec 2016

How to Fix Crackling or Popping Sound on a Windows PC

Crackling, popping, and other sound problems can occur for a variety of reasons. You may be able to fix the problem by adjusting your audio device settings, updating your sound driver, or pinning down another hardware device that’s interfering. Here are some things to try.

Before you start messing with settings, it’s worth checking your hardware itself. If a cable connection is loose, this could cause some sound problems. Ensure all your audio cables are connected securely. If the problem persists, here are a few potential solutions.

Change Your Audio Format

Changing the audio quality on your output device can solve some problems. To check your audio quality, right-click the speaker icon in the notification area next to your clock and select “Playback Devices”.

Double-click the default playback device, which has a green checkmark on its icon.

Click the “Advanced” tab and use the Default Format box to select your sound quality level. Try setting your audio quality to “16 bit, 44100 Hz (CD Quality)”. Click “OK” afterwards and see if the crackling or other audio problems continue. This change can fix some audio problems.

If it’s set to CD quality and you experience problems, try changing to another audio format level and see what happens.

Disable Audio Enhancements

Some sound drivers use software “enhancements” in an attempt to improve your sound quality. If these aren’t working properly—or if your CPU is being taxed too heavily—these could result in sound problems.
To disable sound enhancements, use the same Properties window. Click the “Enhancements” tab here—if you see one—and check the “Disable All Enhancements” checkbox.  Click “OK” to save your changes and then test to see if the problems continue.

Not all software drivers perform this function, so you won’t always see the “Enhancements” tab on all systems. There may be a similar tab here—like one named “Sound Blaster”—where you’ll find similar effects to disable. There may be no option to disable enhancements at all. It depends on your sound hardware and drivers.

Disable Exclusive Mode

Some sound drivers seem to have issue with the “Exclusive Mode” option that allows applications to take exclusive control of your sound card. This shouldn’t normally be a problem: Blame bad sound drivers if it’s causing issues on your system.
You’ll find this setting on the same window where the “Default Format” option is. Disable the “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device” option under “Exclusive Mode”. Click “OK” and see if this solved your problem.

This option normally isn’t a problem, so you should probably re-enable it if disabling it doesn’t solve the problem.

Update Your Sound Drivers

Some problems may be fixed in newer sound drivers. If you’re using older sound drivers, you may need to update them to fix various bugs. Windows 10 automatically attempts to keep your drivers up to date, but even then it may not always offer the latest sound drivers.
To get newer sound drivers, visit your computer manufacturer’s website, find the driver download page for your model of PC, and download the latest sound drivers available. If you built your own PC, check the driver download page for your motherboard manufacturer—or your sound card manufacturer, if you use a separate sound card instead of your motherboard’s onboard sound.

Check Your DPC Latency

This problem may also be caused by DPC latency. DPC stands for “Deferred Procedure Call”. This is the part of Windows that handles hardware drivers. If a driver takes too long to do something, it can prevent other drivers—like your sound driver—from doing the work they need to do in a timely fashion. This can lead to audio problems like clicks, pops, dropouts, and other issues.

To check your DPC latency, download and run LatencyMon. Click the “Start” button and let it run in the background for a while. It will monitor your system’s hardware drivers and provide recommendations, informing you which hardware driver seems to be the problem. If a particular hardware driver is causing problems, you can try updating the device’s driver, disabling the device, removing it from your system, or replacing it.

Even if you see some latency issues here, they aren’t necessarily a problem on a typical PC where you just need to listen to music, watch videos, and play video games. If the tool warns you about a problem but you can’t hear one, you don’t need to disable any hardware. This is more important for professional use cases where you really do need real-time audio. But, if you do hear a problem, the tool might indicate a hardware driver at fault.