These questions have been selected by the community as high-quality posts with generalized answers to questions which come up frequently on Super User. They are more canonical answers which can apply to many different variations on a topic.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

343
votes
18answers
265k views

How can I remove malicious spyware, malware, adware, viruses, trojans or rootkits from my PC?

What should I do if my Windows computer seems to be infected with a virus or malware? What are the symptoms of an infection? What should I do after noticing an infection? What can I do to get rid of ...
99
votes
1answer
13k views

Windows 7 and Vista Activation FAQ: How do language, version, 64-bit or 32-bit, and source affect ability to install and transfer Windows licenses?

We get a lot of questions on Super User about Windows activation and licensing. This question is an attempt to answer the most common questions in one place with a canonical answer. When ...
230
votes
19answers
115k views

How can I visualize the file system usage on Windows?

How can I visualize which folders and files are taking up all of the space on my hard drive? I'm getting some conflicting reports on the size of hard drive contents. Namely what is and isn't there ...
163
votes
4answers
267k views

Where can I download Windows 7 (legally from Microsoft)?

I just bought a serial for Windows 7 on-line from the Microsoft store (the most painful shopping experience EVER!). I selected that I wanted to download my version of Windows 7 after purchase. After ...
224
votes
4answers
302k views

What are PATH and other environment variables, and how can I set or use them?

Questions about setting environment variables the PATH are very common here, and in most cases the answers are very similar to each other. In the future it would be nice to have a good Q/A for ...
121
votes
13answers
257k views

What can I do if I forgot my Windows password?

I got a brand new Windows 7 machine, installed the operating system, created one account and forgot its password. What can I do? There is no external CD, the operating system is loaded from somewhere ...
24
votes
3answers
5k views

How do I recover lost/inacessible data from my storage device?

What steps can I take to try to recover lost or inaccessible data from any storage device? Answers: This applies to any main storage devices; eg. internal/external hard drive, USB stick, Flash ...
76
votes
8answers
26k views

Why does Windows only show about 3.5 GB of my 4 GB of RAM?

I recently upgraded my computer's RAM to 4 GB. My 32-bit Windows installation shows only 3574 MB of the memory. How can I make Windows use the full amount of RAM?
62
votes
7answers
79k views

Install Windows 7 from USB flash drive

I have an ISO image of the Windows 7 installation DVD, but I can't burn it to CD or DVD. I have an empty flash drive with plenty of space. Is there any way I can put the ISO image on it and install ...
11
votes
4answers
40k views

USB flash drive not working or is appearing as an empty disk drive, Disk Management reports “No Media” with 0 bytes size

I have a USB flash drive which is no longer recognized by my computer. Windows Disk Management and DiskPart report No Media with no storage space (0 bytes) on the drive and I cannot partition or ...
124
votes
1answer
225k views

What is port forwarding and what is it used for?

There are a lot of questions on 'port forwarding' but there doesn't seem to be one that clearly states what it is and what it's used for. So: What is Port Forwarding? What is it used for, and why ...
7
votes
2answers
13k views

My keyboard is typing by itself, could there be a ghost in it?

The keyboard on my laptop seems to be typing by itself: It sometimes types characters like 134, whether by itself or when I hit certain keys. Repeating characters may appear unexpectedly. The system ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does my computer beep when I turn it on? What are these beep codes?

Due to the amount of beep codes a PC can give, there are many questions on Super User about beep codes! I'm hoping this post will help to provide a community answer about all (dare I say all?) beep ...
48
votes
3answers
14k views

How do I diagnose not being able to reach a specific website as an end user?

If I can generally reach web pages on the Internet but can't reach a specific one, how do I troubleshoot what the cause is as an end user? This question was a Super User Question of the Week. ...
26
votes
4answers
10k views

Is there a product key finder for a PC?

How can I find the product keys for my Windows operating system and software installed, like Office, Adobe Creative Suite, and other software which requires an activation key?
25
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are newer generations of processors faster at the same clock speed?

Why, for example, would a 2.66 GHz dual-core Core i5 be faster than a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo, which is also dual-core? Is this because of newer instructions that can process information in fewer clock ...
23
votes
8answers
1k views

What are some good practices for making sure my laptop battery serves its full life?

Basically, I'm looking for some do's and don'ts. Is it bad to keep my laptop plugged in when I'm not using it (majority of the time)? Is it bad to plug it in once I've finished using it (with it ...
27
votes
2answers
954 views

How do I identify hardware I am unfamiliar with on my computer?

How would I go about identifying a port, card or connector on my system which I am unfamiliar with? Where would I find information on what these parts are? What would be the steps I would take in ...
20
votes
5answers
51k views

Where should I find drivers for my laptop if it didn't come with a driver disk?

I had to reformat my machine because I had a virus. My machine did not come with a driver disk. How can I install drivers after having reinstalled windows?
28
votes
4answers
104k views

How to choose a UPS / calculate power for a new PC

Seven years ago a friend gave me a Liebert PowerSure 250 UPS and it has done well for whatever (home) PC and monitor I've plugged into it over the years. I've just ordered a new PC with the Intel core ...
19
votes
3answers
26k views

How do I troubleshoot hardware issues related to a computer freeze/crash?

What are some common guidelines and issues related to hardware being the issue of a computer crash? What should I look for and how do I troubleshoot these problems? What are some tools that are ...
68
votes
5answers
10k views

What do I need to consider when buying hardware to meet my needs?

I'm looking to build a new computer from the ground up. I'm not sure what to look out for and need guidance and help on how to pick the hardware needed to construct my new rig. How do I know what to ...
39
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I troubleshoot when I have no clue where to start?

I am looking for hints, tips and answers on how to get started on troubleshooting when: The problem is intermittent The problem could lie literally anywhere - operating system; free source software; ...
54
votes
8answers
94k views

HDMI vs Component vs VGA vs DVI vs DisplayPort

What are the pros and cons of each of these different display adapters and cables? From what I can understand, HDMI offers the ability to send audio along the same cable as well as the ability to do ...
22
votes
1answer
17k views

How to Diagnose a Pre-Operating System Load or Hardware Issue

How can I find out if my problem is hardware based? If it is, how can I figure out what component is to blame How can I fix other pre-operating system issues? As an aside, what are all of these ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

How do I recover or “undelete” files that I accidentally deleted?

I've accidentally deleted some really important files on my machine, and I'm looking to find out how to recover them. Using the Trash bins "restore" isn't an option, as the files aren't there (mostly ...
51
votes
5answers
8k views

What is the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT?

I was reading the specs about MS Surface and saw that there are two Models offered. One with Windows RT and one with Windows 8 Pro. I'm wondering what's the difference between those two OS?
16
votes
4answers
6k views

What should a person know before assembling their first computer?

For people who are setting out to build a computer for the first time, there's a lot of information on this site about how to choose an appropriate set of components. But after searching for a while, ...
5
votes
3answers
5k views

I don't have a touchscreen. How can I do gestures on my Windows 8 laptop's touchpad?

I just got a new Windows 8 laptop, but it doesn't have a touchscreen, and it seems like a lot of the gestures are designed for touchscreens, and not current mice & touchpads. Is there a way to use ...
41
votes
9answers
141k views

How do I determine which graphics card I'm using?

I recently read this answer on Gaming.SE, which made me realize that I actually have no idea how to tell which graphics card I have in my PC. Where can I find this information?
6
votes
1answer
433 views

How can I tell which versions of Windows 8 a program will work on?

I've heard that there are two versions of Windows 8, and that some programs will only work on certain versions. What are the different versions of Windows 8, and how can I tell whether a particular ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

How do computers boot?

How does a computer boot and how does this differ for Windows, Linux and other OSes?