Computer file

What Is the Maximum Size a Windows Page File Can Be?

Whether it is just a matter of curiosity or a genuine need to know before adjusting the size of the file on your own computer, just how large can a Windows page file actually be? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a curious reader’s question.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Marina Dunst wants to know the maximum size that a Windows Page File can be:

I know that the recommended size for a Windows page file (C:\Pagefile.sys) is around 1.5 to 2 times the amount of RAM. Out of curiosity, what is the maximum size that a Windows Page File can be?

The Answer

MP3 Isn’t Dead

The reports of the MP3 file format’s death have been greatly exaggerated. This past week, news sites around the internet ran stories claiming that the MP3 is dead. This seems to come from a misunderstanding of a press release, and then others trying to play copycat for clicks. So what’s the deal with MP3, and why do people think it died?

A Brief History of the MP3

There are lots of algorithms and techniques to compress and decompress data, which can be confusing for consumers. The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), made up of scientists and engineers from around the world, work together to develop video and audio compression standards for device manufacturers to meet. By ensuring everything uses the same standard, normal people know that their DVD will work in any player (at least in their geographic region).

The first standard released by the group, MPEG-1 (creative!) was used for Video CD and early digital satellite television. It was replaced by MPEG-2, most notably the encoding standard for DVDs. MPEG-3 was never adopted, and MPEG-4 released later and dominated internet video until recently. It is also used on Blu-Rays. Video files encoded to MPEG-4 specifications typically use the .mp4 extension.

While MPEG-1 video is uncommon today, the standard did include something that lives on. MPEG’s standards are divided into parts and layers. MPEG-1 Layer 3 (or MP3) specified a lossy method of compressing and playing back audio. This technique came from work by the Fraunhofer Society, a multidisciplinary research organization based in Germany.

When it was new, MP3 did a much better job of reducing music file size than other compression algorithms. In those days of small hard drives, being able to fit many more songs into less space was a game changer. On top of that, MP3 can scale reasonably well. Users can specify a bitrate for the audio, allowing them to control the tradeoff between size and quality. While low bitrate, 64-128 kbps MP3 files can sound tinny and distorted, high bitrate…

How to Check if Your HP Laptop Has the Conexant Keylogger

Many HP laptops released in 2015 and 2016 have a major problem. The audio driver provided by Conexant has debugging code enabled, and it either logs all your keystrokes to a file or prints them to the system debug log, where malware could snoop on them without looking too suspicious. Here’s how to check if your PC is affected.

Why Is My HP Laptop Logging My Keystrokes?

HP says it has no access to this data, and the keylogger in question does not appear to be malicious. There’s no evidence that the keylogger actually does anything with the keystrokes it captures beyond saving them to your PC. However, this could be dangerous, as that sensitive log of keystrokes would be available to malware and may be stored in backups. In other words, it’s not malice—just incompetence.

This appears to be debugging code in the Conexant audio driver, code which should have been removed by Conexant before the driver shipped on PCs. The part of the driver which listens for media shortcut keys automatically logs the keys it sees you press. It was discovered by researchers from Modzero.

How to Check if the Keylogger Is Active

There appears to be different behavior on different HP laptops, depending on the version of the audio driver they include. On many laptops, the keylogger writes keystrokes to the C:\Users\Public\MicTray.log file. This file is wiped at each boot, but it may be captured and stored in system backups.

Navigate to C:\Users\Public\ and see if you have a MicTray.log file. Double-click it to view the contents. If you see information about your keystrokes, you have the problem driver installed.

If you do see data in this file, you’ll want to delete the MicTray.log file from any system backups it may be a part of to ensure the records of your keystrokes are erased. You should also delete the MicTray.log file from here to erase the record of your keystrokes.

Even if you don’t see…

How to Manually Back Up Your Steam Game Files

Steam has a built-in system for making a backup of its game files, so you don’t have to re-download a full game every time you uninstall it and want to play again later. But like a lot of Steam’s features, it hasn’t been updated in quite a while, and frankly it often manages to break the game restoration process anyway. On top of that, it’s slow, it’s clunky, and you can do better on your own.

Manually copying the files out of Steam’s game folder, then copying them back when you’re ready to play again, is much faster and more reliable. Steam’s caching system means that doing it yourself has no disadvantage versus the program’s integrated tool. If you’d like to back up your game files separately, especially to an external drive for archiving a large, 100GB+ collection or saving space on your primary system backup, here’s how to do it the easy way.

Step One: Find the Game Files

Find your standard Steam game installation folder. By default in Windows, this is located in:

C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam/steamapps/common

In macOS, open the Finder and choose Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar, entering this path:

~Library/Application Support/Steam/SteamApps/common

And in Linux-based operating systems, it’s in the following your local user directory:

~/.local/share/Steam/steamapps/common

This folder is divided into sub-folders, one for each game installed under Steam’s master game list. Most of them share the same name as their respective game, but some use alternate titles or abbreviations—for example, Age of Empires II HD Edition is shortened to “Age2HD.”

Remember, if you’ve set a custom game folder in Steam, your games will be installed elsewhere.

Step Two: Back Up the Games

To back up the games in the Steam common folder, just copy and paste them into another folder.

That’s it. Really, it’s that simple. Ideally, you want…

The Best Video Player for iPhone

A long time ago, Apple made it difficult for third-party developers to make a good media player for the iPhone. Thankfully, over the years they’ve loosened their restrictions, and now you can get a really solid video player with PlayerXtreme.

Platform: iPhone and iPad
Price: Free ($4.99 for Pro features)
Download Page

Features

  • Supports plenty of video and audio formats: 3gp, asf, avi, divx, dv, dat, flv, gxf, m2p, m2ts, m2v, m4v, mkv, moov, mov, mp4, mpeg, mpeg1, mpeg2, mpeg4, mpg, mpv, mt2s, mts, mxf, ogm, ogv, ps, qt, rm, rmvb, ts, vob, webm, wm, wmv
  • Simple, familiar folder-based interface that feels a lot like Finder, which also includes multiple ways to view and sort your library
  • Various ways to search through your files
  • Supports streaming over SMB, UPNP, and Wi-Fi
  • Download files to the app over your local network
  • Open files from directly from email attachments
  • Great control over the look of subtitles
  • Supports HD playback
  • Change playback speed
  • Hide folders that guest users of the app can’t see but you can
  • Support Chromecast and AirPlay (Pro version only)
  • Boost the volume of soft audio (Pro version only)
  • Passcode protection to lock away files (Pro version only)

Where It Excels

PlayerXtreme can handle just about any file format you throw at it, which means that it can easily become your main video player without much effort. It does just about everything you need a video player to do: you can create playlists, add your own subtitle files, play audio in the background, play files from a variety of sources, and customize playback in tons of ways. If you buy the Pro version of the app for $5, you can stream videos to your Apple TV or Chromecast.

Beyond being just a solid media player, PlayerXtreme also makes it easy to transfer files from your computer to your iOS device using a ton of different methods. PlayerXtreme will automatically search your local network for shared folders, where it can then download or stream any video files it finds. You can…

What Is hiberfil.sys and How Do I Delete It?

You’re likely reading this because you noticed a gigantic hiberfil.sys file sitting on your system drive and you’re wondering if you can get rid of it to free up some space. Here’s what that file is and how you can delete it if you want to.

What Is the hiberfil.sys File?

Depending on the version of Windows you’re using, you have several options for conserving power when you’re not using your PC. Obviously, you can just shut it down. But, you can also send it into a sleep or hibernate mode, where it uses dramatically less power but is still available quickly when you need it. Sleep uses just enough power to maintain the information in your PC’s memory. Hibernate conserves even more power by writing the information in memory out to the hard drive and essentially shutting down—the benefit being that bringing your PC back up is much quicker than bringing it up from a fully off state. That’s where the hiberfil.sys file comes in—Windows writes the information in memory to that file.

While we recommend using sleep or hibernation instead of shutting down your PC in most cases, we understand that many people simply prefer shutting down. In that case, disabling hibernate mode on your PC will allow you…

How to Free Up Disk Space in Parallels

Virtual machines can use a large amount of disk space. If you want to regain some of that disk space, just deleting files inside the virtual machine won’t help. You’ll need to reclaim that disk space, shrinking the virtual hard disk and making it use less space on your Mac.

Parallels includes a helpful wizard that will walk you through this. To open it, launch Parallels, select the virtual machine you want to free up space on, and click File > Free Up Disk Space.

If you have multiple virtual machines you want to free up space from, you’ll need to repeat the below process for each virtual machine.

You’ll see the Free Up Disk Space wizard for that virtual machine. The wizard has four options:

  • Snapshots: If you’ve taken snapshots to save the state of the virtual machine, those snapshots will use space. Click the “Snapshot Manager” button and you can choose to delete some snapshots to free up space.
  • Resume & Shutdown: If you put the virtual machine to sleep instead of shutting it…

Five Things You Should Do Before Selling Your Android Phone

Selling your old phone should be a simple, straightforward process. And really, for the most part, it is—if you know all the proper steps. If you don’t, fret not—we’ve got you covered.

You may already know that you’ll need to factory reset the phone, but that’s actually the last thing you should do before selling. There are a handful of things that you’ll need to do first, most of which can’t be done after the fact, so it’s important to get them done before the reset. Let’s dig in.

Step One: Back Up, Back Up, Back Up

First, you’re going to want to back up all of your important data. That means pictures and videos, documents and downloads, even call logs and texts if that stuff is important to you. Fortunately, there are fairly easy ways to do all of this.

If you’re looking to back up all of your photos and videos, you should most definitely be using Google Photos, which automatically backs up everything to your Google account. You can then access all of this stuff on the web. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t back everything up in its original resolution unless you pay for a premium plan—it uses a sort of “smart” compression algorithm to keep the backed up files looking as good as possible (and it does an excellent job). The only exception to this rule is the Google Pixel, which gets unlimited backups at original resolution for free.

We already have an excellent primer on getting up and running with Google Photos, so I recommend checking that out. The only other thing worth mentioning here is that very large videos may have a hard time uploading to photos, so you may want to pull those manually using a USB cable.

The same goes for documents and downloads—if you have important files saved to your phone, you can plug your phone up to the computer and pull the files over USB to store them on your computer. Alternatively, you can also upload these files to Google Drive, Dropbox, or any other cloud storage platform you use. This way, you have access to all these files regardless of what platform you’re on.

Lastly, let’s talk about call logs and text messages. Some users want to keep this stuff for future reference, which is fine. There are actually a number of options…

What Is a .DOCX File, and How Is It Different from a .DOC File in Microsoft Word?

For most of its long history, Microsoft Word has used a proprietary format for its saved files, DOC. Starting in 2007 with the updated version of Word (and Microsoft Office), the default save format was changed to DOCX. This wasn’t simply a belated 1990s “extreme” version of the format—that extra X stands for the Office Open XML standard. What’s the difference, and which one should you use?

DOC is a document format used by Microsoft Word, while DOCX is its successor. Both are relatively open, but DOCX is more efficient and creates smaller, less corruptable files . If given the choice, use DOCX. DOC is only necessary if the file will be used by pre-2007 versions of Word.

A Brief History of the DOC Format

Microsoft Word started using the DOC format and file extension over 30 years ago in the very first release of Word for MS-DOS. As an extension explicitly for Microsoft’s proprietary document processor, the format was also proprietary: Word was the only program that officially supported DOC files until Microsoft opened the specification in 2006, after which it was reverse-engineered.

Microsoft Word has used the DOC file format for over 30 years.

In the 90s and early 2000s, various competing products could work with DOC files, though some of Word’s more exotic formatting and options weren’t fully supported in other word processors. Since Office and Word were the de facto standards for office productivity suites and word processors, respectively, the closed nature of the file format undoubtedly helped Microsoft retain its domination over products like Corel’s WordPerfect. Since 2008, Microsoft has released and updated the DOC format specification several times for use in other programs, though not all of Word’s advanced functions are supported by the open documentation.

WPS Converter
Free Document Converter Software. Convert between wps doc docx & more Go to nchsoftware.com/converter

After 2008, the DOC format was integrated into…

The Complete Guide to Speeding Up Your Virtual Machines

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Virtual machines are demanding beasts, providing virtual hardware and running multiple operating systems on your computer at once. As a result, they can sometimes be a little slow. Here are some tips to help you squeeze every last drop of performance out of your virtual machine, whether you’re using VirtualBox, VMware, Parallels, or something else.

Create Fixed-Size Disks Instead of Dynamically Allocated Ones

When creating your virtual machine, you can create two different types of virtual disks. By default, virtual machine programs will generally use dynamically allocated disks that grow as you use them.

For example, if you create a new virtual machine with a dynamically allocated disk with a maximum size of 30 GB, it won’t take up 30 GB of space on your hard disk immediately. After installing your operating system and programs, it may only take up 10 GB. As you add more files to the virtual disk, it will expand up to its maximum size of 30 GB.

This can be convenient, as each virtual machine won’t take up an unnecessarily large amount of space on your hard drive. However, it’s slower than creating a fixed-size disk (also known as a preallocated disk). When you create a fixed-size disk, all 30 GB of that space would be allocated immediately.

There’s a trade-off here: a fixed-size disk uses more space on your hard disk, but adding new files to the virtual machine’s hard disk is faster. You also won’t see as much file fragmentation. The space will be assigned in a large block instead of being added in smaller pieces.

Install Your Virtual Machine Software’s Tools

After installing a guest operating system inside a virtual machine, the first thing you should do is install your virtual machine software’s drive package—Guest Additions for VirtualBox, VMware Tools for VMware, or Parallels Tools for Parallels. These packages include special drivers that help your guest operating system run faster on your virtual machine’s hardware.

Installing the package is simple. In VirtualBox, boot your guest operating system and click Devices > Insert Guest Additions CD Image. You can then launch the installer from the virtual disc drive in your virtual machine. On VMware, select the Install VMware Tools option in the virtual machine’s menu instead. In Parallels, click Actions > Install Parallels Tools.

Follow the instructions on your screen to complete the installation. If you’re using a Windows guest operating system, it’ll be just like installing any other Windows application.

Ensure you keep these updated with your virtual machine program. If you see a notification that an update is available for Guest Additions or VMware Tools, you should install it.

Exclude Virtual Machine Directories In Your Antivirus

Your computer’s antivirus program may be scanning your virtual machine files whenever they’re accessed, reducing performance. The antivirus can’t see inside the virtual machine to detect viruses running on your guest operating systems, so this scanning isn’t helpful.

To speed things up, you can add your virtual machine directory to your antivirus’s exclusions list. Once it’s on the list, your antivirus will ignore all files in this directory.

Ensure Intel VT-x or AMD-V Is Enabled

Intel VT-x and AMD-V are special processor extensions that improve virtualization. Newer Intel and AMD processors generally include these features. However, some computers don’t automatically enable them. You may have to go into your computer’s BIOS and enable this setting yourself, even if your computer…