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Save time on 22 crucial PC tasks

What you have to do, done quickly

There never seems to be enough hours in the day. And there's nothing more frustrating than the time it takes to do boring tech chores, such as backing up data, removing viruses, or calibrating your HDTV screen.

However, fear not. We've got 22 tech time-saving tips that will ensure you can clear space on your hard drive, email huge files and even re-install Windows quicker than normal, leaving you plenty of time to go out and have fun.

The quickest way to tackle many tasks is to use applications that probably already exist on your PC.

However, for occasions when Windows' built-in tools simply aren't enough, we've listed some great, free programs that are just a download away.

Enough of this dilly-dallying, already. Let's get on with the tips!

Move your media files to an external drive

Hard drive filling up? Nothing frees space faster than moving your music library to an external or second internal drive. First, close any music-playing software.

In Windows XP, open My Documents and drag the My Music folder to the external drive. Windows will figure out that you're moving a special folder and will change its own settings accordingly. (If you don't use the My Music folder, just drag the folder you use to the drive. Windows doesn't have to treat it as a special folder because, well, it isn't.)

In Windows Vista, click Start, right-click Music, and then select Properties. Click the Location tab. Change the path to a folder on your new hard drive and click ok. If Windows asks whether you want to create a new folder, click Yes. When Windows inquires whether you want to move all of the files, click Yes again.

If you use Windows Media Player, open it after the move and press F3. Select the new Music folder and let the application search for files.

Back up your data

For fast backups, invest in an external hard drive, which has a capacity slightly larger than your internal hard drive's. If your PC has an eSATA port, buy an eSATA drive to take advantage of its fast data-transfer speeds. Otherwise, USB or FireWire will do.

For a quick, one-time data backup, plug in the external drive. When it's up and Windows recognises it, hold down Windows and R, then type '%userprofile%', and press Enter. Drag the Documents (or My Documents) folder to the external drive.

If you have Vista, you should also drag the Music, Pictures, Saved Games, and Videos folders (XP users don't have to worry about those because they're inside Documents). If you don't store your data within the Microsoft-sanctioned folders, you'll need to drag any other folders you use to the external drive as well.

Want automation? Select an external drive that comes with a backup program (most do), and use that.

NEXT PAGE: Speed up the process of re-installing Windows

  1. We show you how to save time
  2. Speed up the process of re-installing Windows
  3. Build a website in minutes
  4. Keep up-to-date with current affairs
  5. Changing your monitor's resolution and copying your calendar to your mobile phone
  6. Working out the mileage of your jogging route and creating a podcast, the easy way
  7. Burning a playlist to CD
  8. Share digital photos with friends and family fast
  9. Identifying hoax emails and adjusting your HDTV
  10. Try Linux without committing to using the OS

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