British company wants to kill off your graphics workstation

British company wants to kill off your graphics workstation

Think you need a powerful workstation to do your heavyweight graphics work? In actual fact, all you need is an internet connection – providing you have ebb3's High Performance Virtual Computer (HPVC) on the other end of it.

Of course, virtualisation is nothing new, but as British startup ebb3 notes, its freshly launched HPVC is powerful enough to drive heavyweight apps for the likes of CAD or CGI work, delivering 3D graphics to 4K displays with no worries about lag or stuttering.

The cloud platform allows creative professionals to collaborate wherever they happen to be in the world, and using any device. Andy Bowker, executive founder of ebb3, commented: "With the HPVC, product designers can show prospective clients 3D wireframe models on an iPad instead of a printout, or collaborate on a project while one partner is in London and one is at a conference overseas, without lag or performance issues. This is a game changer for the industry."

Further benefits

The HPVC doesn't just offer convenient access to plentiful power, as ebb3 is also pushing the cost benefits as well. According to the company, using their system will save an average of 40% in maintenance costs compared to running traditional physical workstations.

And of course the other obvious boon is that only one person can work on one workstation computer, whereas the HPVC grants access to up to 50 users simultaneously (from any location, of course).

The HPVC is backed by a number of big-name partner firms including NEC, Cisco, Nvidia, NetApp, APC, Microsoft and Citrix.

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Own an Android smartphone or tablet? Then look out for this security flaw

Own an Android smartphone or tablet? Then look out for this security flaw

Another worrying hole in Android's security has been brought to light, and apparently this one affects almost 80% of all pieces of hardware running Google's mobile OS – which amounts to some 1.4 billion devices.

As security firm Lookout notes, this particular vulnerability is in the TCP protocol and affects Linux computers, but it also pertains to versions of Android running the Linux Kernel 3.6 – meaning devices running Android 4.4 (KitKat) and newer.

The flaw allows for a malicious party to spy on unencrypted traffic – i.e. your communications from the device – without having to breach the network to implement a traditional 'man-in-the-middle' attack to achieve this surveillance.

While that sounds bad, the truth is that the attack is still far from trivial to execute, and as Lookout observed, in terms of how difficult an exploit it is to pull off, it's been rated as 'hard'.

Lookout stated: "While a man-in-the-middle attack is not required here, the attacker still needs to know a source and destination IP address to successfully execute the attack."

Targeted attacks

Of course, it's still very concerning to see yet another vulnerability which affects a massive amount of Android devices, and there's a definite risk of malicious parties carrying out targeted attacks – something businesses should be particularly aware of (corporate data being highly prized by cybercriminals, naturally).

While a patch for the Linux kernel was concocted last month to combat this exploit, it still isn't in the latest preview version of Android Nougat.

Hopefully, though, we'll see the fix being rolled out soon enough, although as ever with Android and all its many different versions, when your device will be patched depends on a number of factors – Google implementing it into the OS being only the first step.

In the meantime, one counter-measure you can take is to ensure your internet traffic is encrypted, so the apps you use and sites you visit should employ HTTPS – or you could go further still and use a VPN (and if that's something you're considering, check out our guide to the best VPN services).

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New Nexus phones could continue the 6P’s metal streak

New Nexus phones could continue the 6P's metal streak

The next "budget" Google Nexus phone won't feel budget at all. According to a new report, both upcoming Nexus 2016 devices will be made entirely out of metal and glass. This is great news for people who weren't enamored with the plastic build of the Nexus 5X.

To quickly recap, there will be two Nexus phones launching this year; one model with a 5" display and a model with a slightly larger 5.5" display. Both phones will be built by HTC, a company that has a great track record of producing high-quality phones like the all-metal HTC 10.

According to a new report from Android Police, both upcoming Google Nexus phones will share the same industrial design and materials. The two phones will look identical in every way except for size.

Google Nexus Sailfish leaked image

From the leaked image, we can see that the phone is indeed made entirely of metal, with the exception of the glass section that makes up the top third of the phone which houses the rear-mounted fingerprint reader. There's also a single antenna line at the bottom of the phone.

Choose your size

Android Police says it's 100% confident that the leaked images they received are of the Nexus "Sailfish," which is the 5.5" model. Still, this is a leak so take this report with a grain of salt.

The only design element we expect to be added is the addition of "G" logo, ditching the iconic "Nexus" branding of previous phones. Here's what the phone will look like in the wild, according to a leaked image from Twitter user usbfl.

Google Nexus 2016 leak

The report continues, saying both devices will share identical specifications, aside from screen size, resolution and battery capacity. This is big news for Nexus fans, as there has always been a "budget" Nexus phone with slightly lower specs. It seems that this year, Nexus buyers will only have to decide between the screen size they want.

If the leaked benchmarks are to believed, we expect to see a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 12MP rear camera and an 8MP front camera. Both phones will launch with Android Nougat installed, which split-screen multitasking, better notifications, and much more.

A sweet upgrade

We've been testing out the Android Nougat beta and found some neat tips and tricks to look forward to. Nougat should be arriving on Nexus phones by "late-summer," but non-Nexus handsets will likely have to wait much longer for the update.

If you've been patiently waiting to see what the new Nexus devices have to offer, you won't have to wait much longer. The devices are expected to release some time in September or October, falling in line with last year's release of the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P.

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Microsoft looks to thaw Windows 10 Anniversary Update freezing issues

Microsoft looks to thaw Windows 10 Anniversary Update freezing issues

Microsoft has acknowledged that there's an issue with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update causing some PCs to freeze up in one respect or another, and the company has offered some details on the problem, with a patch incoming hopefully fairly soon.

If you missed this one, some of those who installed the major update for Windows 10 have found their system freezing up – either the whole thing locking up, or some elements such as the taskbar or task manager.

In a thread on Microsoft's Answers forum, the company explained that this problem is affecting those with the operating system installed on an SSD, with apps and data stored on a separate drive.

That's not surprising, seeing as last week when this issue first popped up, some users noted they had some success by using the workaround of changing the app install location (which is in Settings, System, Storage, then look under Save locations) back to the system drive (i.e. the drive with the OS installed).

And while the company works on a proper fix, Microsoft is making a similar suggestion, with the company stating: "In the meantime, you can work around this issue by signing into Windows 10 using Safe Mode [the freezing issue doesn't occur in Safe Mode] to move your apps and data to the same drive as your operating system."

Roll it back...

Or, if this doesn't work, Redmond further advises that you should rollback to uninstall the Anniversary Update. There are two methods of doing that, one of which is to use the Recovery Console (restart your machine – then when you get to the sign-in screen, hold down the shift key while selecting Power > Restart, then after rebooting to the 'choose an option' screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Go back to the previous build).

Those who can't see the option to revert to the previous build should use the Settings app in Safe Mode to roll back, a slightly lengthier process – check out the instructions Microsoft details here.

Meanwhile, some Windows 10 users posting on the forum have complained that they're still affected by this freezing issue even though they don't have an SSD, or indeed they don't have their apps installed on a different drive to the OS.

So this may be a thornier problem than Redmond seems to believe. At any rate, as we already mentioned, with any luck a patch will be along soon enough, and it'll work for all and sundry – here's hoping, anyway…

Via: PC World

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Microsoft extends security lifeline for pre-Windows 10 users and here’s why

Microsoft extends security lifeline for pre-Windows 10 users and here's why

Microsoft has decided, once again, that it will give more breathing room to users and businesses with Skylake processors who haven't yet upgraded to Windows 10.

It was back in January that Redmond first announced that systems running Skylake CPUs (and newer processor generations going forward) with Windows 7/8.1 wouldn't be supported beyond delivering critical security patches – only Windows 10 would get full support on these PCs, with an initial deadline of July 2017 being set which panicked many due to its closeness.

That deadline was subsequently extended to July 2018 when March rolled around, and now Microsoft has decided to push it further out – doubtless due to complaints and worries from many.

In fact, as the Inquirer spotted, Skylake will be supported through to the end-of-life dates of these operating systems – so that's January 2020 in the case of Windows 7, and January 2023 for Windows 8.1.

Interesting timing

Which is what most folks would have hoped for in the first place, anyway. Of course, it's interesting to note the timing of this latest shift, which comes just after the free upgrade to Windows 10 offer has just expired (at the close of last month).

Shad Larsen, Director of Windows Business Planning, commented: "Enterprise customers are moving to Windows 10 faster than any version of Windows. At the same time, we recognise that, in some instances, customers have a few systems that require longer deployment timeframes."

He added: "We listened to this feedback [and have] extended the support period from July 17, 2018 to the end of support dates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1; and we will provide all applicable security updates."

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Updated: The best VPN services in October 2016

Updated: The best VPN services in October 2016

Best VPN services: The top providers

Choose the best VPN service

VPN (Virtual Private Network) works by creating an encrypted connection between your computer and a VPN server from a service provider (there are dozens of them to choose, from all over the world).

Anything you do online - sites you're visiting, emails you send or receive, files you download, web forms you complete - passes through that secure tunnel and can't be intercepted by anyone else (unless one of these servers - or your own computer - is compromised, but that's another story).

Below are the top 10 VPN services that we've picked out for you. This list is regularly updated so is subject to change.

VPN

1. Hotspot Shield

The best VPN tool for browsing online privately

Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 20 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5

Low price
Great download speeds
Few server locations
Limited configuration options

If you want the absolute best VPN service, check out AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield Elite. It is, in our view, the one that manages to provide all the necessary features at an attractive price with the option of getting a lifetime license. It supports private browsing, virtual locations, allows "access all content", and supports up to 5 devices.

Performance results in our tests were excellent, with latency showing only a marginal increase, and both upload and download speeds were a little faster once connected. We'd like more configurability and a wider range of locations, but Hotspot Shield Elite's high speeds and low price have a lot of appeal, and the 7-day trial makes it easy to test the service for yourself.

Read the full review: Hotspot Shield

VPN

2. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited

The best VPN for multiple devices

Number of servers: 300 | Server locations: 61 | IP addresses: 1500 | Maximum devices supported: 5

Competitively priced
Intuitive interface
Can only delete one device per week
Torrents not supported by all servers

Some companies take a one-size-fits-all approach to VPNs, offering the bare minimum of products, but KeepSolid's VPN Unlimited is different. Very, very different. Forget the usual two or three plans: VPN Unlimited offers six, plus there's a 7-day free trial to get you started (and also a 7-day money-back guarantee for a little extra security).

VPN Unlimited's PC client opens with a clear overview of the service state. Your real and virtual IPs are displayed as addresses and plotted on a map, and the number of days left on your current plan is visible at a glance. Its choice of servers is less than some but for a more general purpose VPN, the service does very well.

Read the full review: KeepSolid VPN Unlimited

VPN

3. NordVPN

The best VPN for those looking for an ultra-secure service

Number of servers: 685 | Server locations: 52 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6

Optional VPN over Tor
Up to 6 devices
Can't connect multiple devices to same server with same protocol
Nothing much else to moan about!

Despite being based in a country located in Central America - hardly a tech hub - NordVPN's current products match or beat the competition in just about every area. 685 servers in 52 countries, 2048-bit encryption, 6-device support as standard, strong DNS leak protection, automatic Kill Switch, handy security extras, optional dedicated IP addresses, and payment options including Bitcoin, PayPal and credit cards.

Performance was good, too, with download speeds around 95% of our typical rate. Latency and upload speeds weren't as impressive at 197% and 40% of the regular rates, but overall our system still felt relatively snappy and responsive.

Read the full review: NordVPN

VPN

4. PureVPN

The best VPN for those looking for maximum speed

Number of servers: 500 | Server locations: 180 | IP addresses: 95000 | Maximum devices supported: 5

Huge choice of servers
Two-year plan
No free trial
Failed DNS leak check

PureVPN's PC client stands out immediately for the sheer volume of connection options and tools it makes available. Its policy on logging is unusually clear: the company records the time you connect to a server and the total bandwidth used, but otherwise there are no logs of the websites you visit, the files you download or anything else.

PureVPN did well on our performance tests, where amazingly it managed to improve most of our download speeds. Latency was a mere 5% higher than normal, upload speeds actually increased by 4%, while downloads were a very surprising 80% up on our normal speeds.

Read the full review: PureVPN


VPN

5. IPVanish

The best VPN for torrenting and other P2P traffic

Number of servers: 552 | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: 40000+ | Maximum devices supported: 2

No traffic logs
Excellent download speeds
A tad more expensive than others
No free trial

While many VPN providers try to stand out with their free plans and cheap commercial products, IPVanish talks more about service quality. It's "the world's fastest VPN" says the website, boasting 40,000+ shared IPs, 500+ VPN servers in 60+ countries, unlimited P2P traffic, five simultaneous connections and more.

The price is still going to be an issue for some – it is more expensive than the average VPN, but IPVanish's high speeds, choice of locations and excellent client are hard to beat. If you're after quality, take the plunge with this VPN, and if somehow you end up unhappy with the service there's a 7-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full review: IPVanish

The next 5 to be considered are:

Why free is not always best and more!

Why free VPN is not always best

VPNs used to be a premium product, but you don't have to spend big money on them anymore. Some companies now offer a basic service that won't cost you anything at all.

As you'd expect, there are catches, and they typically start with a data cap. Avira Phantom VPN's free plan limits you to 500MB a month, PrivateTunnel offers 2GB, whereas ZPN has a generous 10GB allowance - not bad at all.

Free products also typically have usage restrictions. Most companies don't want you to soak up all their bandwidth on torrents, so ZPN is typical in blocking P2P.

Hide.me's 2GB free plan also has some common limits. There's "best effort" bandwidth, which means paying customers have speed priority and you get what's left. And the choice of locations is limited to three: Canada, Netherlands and Singapore.

Hola's free-for-personal-use plan doesn't have the same kind of restrictions, but even here there's a catch. The service routes traffic through its free users rather than dedicated servers, so signing up allows others to (securely) share a small part of your bandwidth and resources.

Then there's the adverts and the session limits (CyberGhost) and the general lack of service level agreement: free means that it doesn't come with any implicit warranties.

Free plans are fine for simple needs, then - maybe protecting your laptop's wireless hotspot traffic on the occasional trip - but if you're looking for anything more advanced, a commercial product is best.

The immediate benefit is that you know your personal data remains safe, even if you're on a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Local snoopers might be able to see the connection, but there's no way to find out what it is or where it's going.

VPNs also give you a new digital identity in the shape of an IP address from another country. This makes it harder for websites or anyone else to track you, allows some people to bypass government censorship, and helps the rest of us avoid those "not available in your country" messages on YouTube or other streaming sites.

Best of all, despite the low-level network technology involved, you don't need to be any kind of expert to make VPNs work. For the most part, all you have to do is choose the country where you'd like an IP address, click Connect to start, Disconnect when you're done - and that's it.

VPN

How to choose a VPN: Here are 6 tips

There are several factors to consider when you're choosing a paid VPN.

1. Does the plan have servers in every country and region you need? Having more than one server in a country can help spread the load, but doesn't guarantee improved performance, so don't assume a plan with 500 servers will automatically beat another with 100.

2. Check the number of simultaneous connections supported. Typically, this is 3-5, which allows you to have a PC, mobile and tablet connected at the same time. But beware, many companies say this is for a single user only, and they all have fair usage policies to prevent people hogging resources. If you let the entire family download and stream videos separately then you'll run into trouble.

3. Some providers list the connection protocols they use. OpenVPN and IKeV2 are good choices, fast and secure. You might see SSTP and the older PPTP, as well as protocol options (TCP or UDP for OpenVPN). You don't need to understand the low-level details, but having the extra choice can help the service make faster and/or more reliable connections.

4. All VPN companies say they don't log whatever you're doing online, but inevitably they collect a little data. Some services record the day your account logged on, the amount of data you used, and delete anything else when the session closes. Others add items like your incoming IP address and the server you used, and keep the data for months, even years. If you're concerned, check the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service to find out more.

5. It's important to consider the client, the software which handles your connections. These all have a list of servers and a Connect/ Disconnect button, but could you use more? Some clients display server load and ping time in the interface, helping you choose the right server. Regular users might appreciate a "Favourites" system to save and recall specific servers. If you know what you're doing, having access to low-level network settings will help you tune the whole system.

6. Finally, there's the price. Beware of apparently cheap deals: these may have restricted features, exclude taxes, be discounted for the first billing period only, and renew automatically, so that apparent one-off £3.99 might become almost £10 next month. Look for a 'Pricing' link, read the small print, and if possible use something like PayPal where it's easy to check and cancel a subscription yourself.

Once you've found what looks like a good VPN candidate, be sure to take it for a trial before you spend any big money. But a short trial can only tell you so much, so once that's expired, pay for a month, run as many tests as you can, then upgrade to a better value plan (usually yearly) if you're still happy.

VPN

How to test a VPN

Our comparisons started by looking at each provider's range of plans. We were looking for features, value, and clear and honest pricing. Free ways to learn more about a service - free plans, trial periods, refund periods - were important, and we also looked for companies which maintained your privacy when you signed up (no email address required, trials available without credit cards, Bitcoin available as a payment option).

The official product pages never tell you everything you need to know, so head off to the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions pages to find the real details. Does the company log more data than you'd expect, or keep it for a long time? When might it share information with others? Are there any restrictions on who can sign up? (Some providers say you must be 18 or over, or that the service is for personal, non-commercial use only.) Any other catches?

VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables, but we used multiple techniques to try and get a feel for each service's abilities. We first used speedtest.net to measure the latency, upload and download speeds for a distant connection (typically UK to California), repeated the test immediately with the VPN turned off, and looked at any changes.

We followed this up with a much shorter connection (typically UK to Netherlands) to see a more typical peak performance, ran a second benchmark to confirm our results, and ran some general browsing tests - including streaming HD video - to look for other problems.

VPNs will always give you a new IP address, but some services may have DNS or other leaks which give clues about your identity. We visited IPLeak.net and other privacy sites to look for problems.

In terms of the client and interface, we were looking for good server selection tools (by country, region, server, speed, with filters, a Favourites system, perhaps with server load or ping time displayed), with plenty of configuration options, but also a client which stays out of the way until it's needed.

Finally, we weighed up these individual factors, came up with an overall score, and narrowed these down to the 10 best VPNs around. All the software in the top five scored at least 70 points out of 100.

You might also be interested in:

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Updated: 10 best office apps for Android

Updated: 10 best office apps for Android

Introduction

Android office apps

Note: Our best office apps for Android round-up has been fully updated. This feature was first published in May 2011.

iOS might be considered to be a more business-savvy platform than Android by some folks, but that couldn't be further from the truth. With many businesses moving towards Google's ecosystem to provide services like email and office software, and with Apple and Google's relationship growing ever frostier, Android could be the clear top choice.

There's a lot more freedom, too – you'll find certain apps on Google's Play Store that Apple won't allow in the App Store. Sideloading – that is, installing apps without using an App Store – is another choice not available to iOS users, meaning custom internal apps are a viable option.

There's one slight negative to that freedom, which is that there's a lot of rubbish out there. So we've waded through the swamp of dross to bring you ten of the absolute best Android business apps, helping you with everything from office functions to keeping your data safe.

Google Drive

Google Drive

Price: Free

An obvious first pick, perhaps, but Android's strong ties to parent company Google make Drive – and associated apps like Docs, Sheets, Slides and more – a must-have for any phone or tablet. The usability isn't quite on the same level as it is on the desktop unless you're carrying around an external keyboard, but full access to Google's collaborative apps suite on your Android device means you'll always be able to tweak a document when you need to.

Drive is more than just its apps, of course: there's 15GB free storage as standard, which can be inexpensively bumped up if you need more. You can (and should) lock down your Google account with two-factor authentication, meaning it'll be extra secure if you're dealing with sensitive files. Plus, even a locked down account can set read and write permissions and share files with external clients with a couple of taps.

AndrOpen Office

AndrOpen Office

Price: Free

Working on the move means being ready for anything. Are you ready for that oddly formatted doc? Are you ready to colour up a custom table, or make a spectacular chart of some dubious figures? You should be. And with AndrOpen Office you will be: it's a straight, direct port of Apache OpenOffice with all its attendant features on board.

We don't see you relying on this as a day-to-day tool – the directness of the port means AndrOpen Office doesn't have the sharpest mobile interface, and it's certainly better suited to larger-screened tablets than it is to phones. But for document compatibility and sheer range of functionality it can't be beat. Everything from the OpenOffice suite is here, all the way from the Writer word processor to the database app. If you need it and your device is running Android 4.4 or above there's also support for DropBox and Google Drive.

Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote

Price: Free

OneNote really comes to life on mobile devices. Microsoft's note-taking tool works best when you can fill it with sketches and on-the-fly thoughts, and when you can pull it up on your ever-present pocket computer, that means you'll be more inclined to do so. Forget easily lost napkins or sticky notes – when you make a note in OneNote on your phone or tablet, it'll follow you (provided you're signed up to Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage) to all of your other devices.

If your handwriting is legible enough, OneNote will even scan in your scribbles and convert them into searchable text. You can clip content from web pages, set up checklists to make sure all your tasks get done, and organise everything in a useful digital analogue of the classic three-ring binder. OneNote even supports logging in with more than one account, so your shopping list won't get mixed up with the minutes of your last meeting.

Skype for Business

Skype for Business

Price: Free (Charges apply)

While Google Hangouts is a fine communication tool for most, we're not sold on the Google Voice VoIP calling side of things, particularly as we're writing this from the UK and it's very US-centric. Better, if you're looking for a seamless way to be contacted wherever you are, to rely on Skype – you can rent a number in your choice of international locales for seamless phone communications.

Skype is also great on Android at the things which have made it such a ubiquitous desktop tool. It's a neat instant messenger, you can use it (with subtle charges) to call international numbers, you can make super-clear Skype-to-Skype calls for free, and for an impromptu video conference it can't really be beat. The only real caveat is data – you'll need good connectivity for the calling and video features, and it'll eat through your mobile data allowance quite quickly.

Genius Scan+

Genius Scan+

Price: Free/£4.99 ($6.99)

Google Docs has a document scanning function, but it's not a patch on Genius Scan. Snap a shot of a piece of paper, align a frame around it using a simple interface (or let Genius Scan guess for you – it usually does a bang-on job) and save it.

You're left with a perfectly adjusted image of the original document, which you can then sort into collections – useful for packaging up multiple pages – or export as JPG or PDF files.

This is the perfect app for going into business battle without reams of clumsy paperwork, for keeping copies of important documents on the move, or even for returning signed contracts without the hassle of the postal service or a full-on scanner. Printing, PDF protection and certain sharing functions are hidden behind a £4.99 ($6.99) in-app purchase, and we'd say Genius Scan is well worth that small investment.

Chrome Remote Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop

Price: Free

Sometimes your phone won't have the tools you need in a pinch. While we've recommended plenty of apps here that can replicate the things your desktop computer is capable of, there are occasions when only your PC will do – and that's where Google's Chrome Remote Desktop comes in.

Install the Chrome extension on your Windows, Linux or OS X main machine, grant it permission for internet connectivity, and you'll be able to jump on with your Android device and control that machine wherever you are in the world.

There are slight drawbacks, of course – you'll need to leave your PC switched on while you're away from it, and actually controlling a mouse-and-keyboard machine with a small screen can take a bit of getting used to. Nonetheless, Chrome Remote Desktop is something everyone should consider for emergencies – forgotten files will be a thing of the past.

Solid Explorer

Solid Explorer

Price: £1.49 ($2)

Staying organised is not just about taking copious notes and maintaining a flawless diary. Your files need just as much care and attention, and on a phone it's not always that easy. At least Android gives you that chance – file management on iOS is completely out of your hands.

Solid Explorer is our current pick for the best file manager on Android. It's not alone in the market – search the Play Store and you'll find a huge number of competing apps – but it's clean and user-friendly boasting a minimalist material design interface.

Using Solid Explorer properly is going to require at least slim knowledge of the Android file system, however. If you're new to manually managing your Android files, bear in mind that it's not as intuitive as a Mac or Windows computer in terms of where things are kept.

Unclouded

Unclouded

Price: Free (with in-app purchases)

Most of us have now embraced cloud storage, and indeed it's becoming an essential business tool for sharing and accessing files without location issues. But the temptation is there to abuse cloud drives, leaving them crammed to the brim with large files, and scattering your documents between multiple services.

Unclouded is the perfect solution to all this, giving you a single point of reference to check the state of all of your cloud storage at once. You can use it as a file browser for Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, and MEGA. This even works offline, sort of, if you download your file list while you're still connected.

Unclouded's most critical function, though, is in aiding you with the trimming down process – it'll help you find large files and do away with duplicates, leaving your cloud storage shiny, clean, and with a few gigabytes more to work with.

CircleBack

CircleBack

Price: Free

Having the right people on hand is critical, and keeping your contacts up to date is the perfect way to make that happen. But if you're using a stack of services to manage them, or if you're a little lackadaisical when it comes to recording that vital info, you may well struggle. CircleBack attempts to make up for your contact management inefficiencies.

It'll keep an eye on social networks and other services to see if your contacts have changed job or number and update you appropriately, pull in contact information automatically from your associates' email signatures, and even scan business cards, filing the data it finds appropriately and making it searchable.

We present it here with a slight caveat – it could get a bit heavy-handed in reorganising your existing data. So before you let it loose, make sure you take a full backup of your contacts.

Helium Backup

Helium Backup

Price: Free/£3.17 ($4.99)

There's nothing worse than losing your phone. Well, perhaps dropping your handset in the toilet is worse. Or running over it with your car. Whatever the case: your phone is super-important, particularly if it contains vital business data. But the handset itself becomes less important if you use cloud services and, critically, take regular backups.

Helium Backup is a two-part operation. Install the app on your phone or tablet, install its companion app on your PC, and the two will work in tandem to grab a full archive of the contents of your device without the need for a rooted operating system. If you're using a device in a business context, the lack of root requirement is probably quite a vital consideration.

Invest in the paid-for pro version and you can schedule automatic backups and automatically upload your backups to the cloud for an extra layer of protection.

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Round up: The best free download manager 2016

Round up: The best free download manager 2016

The best download manager

The best free download manager

Older internet users will remember the pain of early downloads: you'd spend a few days trying to download a GIF of a cat chasing a laser pointer, only for the connection to drop when someone else picked up the phone. Download managers were essential, because they enabled you to resume broken downloads and make the darn things download faster too.

Dedicated managers and accelerators are still relevant today, especially if you're prone to downloading enormous operating system ISOs or trying to get your videos via unreliable Wi-Fi. These are our favorite apps for taming traffic, boosting BitTorrent and managing media downloads.

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Ninja Internet Download Manager

1. Ninja Download Manager

A superb free download manager for saving and converting media files

Top download - Ninja Download ManagerNinja Download Manger is a relative newcomer to the downloading party, and it looks considerably more contemporary than its, er, contemporaries.

The interface is simple and modern, and the download accelerator is capable of grabbing files 10 times faster. It does this by splitting each file into chunks, then downloading each one using a different server connection, making downloads not only faster, but also more reliable.

If you're into music and movies you'll be delighted by its sequential setting, which lets you begin playing a file while it's still downloading. There's also a built-in video downloader with support for YouTube and Vimeo, and a video converter that changes the file format automatically once it's finished downloading.

Download Ninja Download Manager freeThere are lots of fantastic download managers around, but if you love music, films and TV then Ninja Download Manager is perfect.

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Free Download Manager

2. Free Download Manager

An open source download manager that's packed with bonus media tools

Free Download Manager aims to be all things to all people. It's a download accelerator, a BitTorrent client, an audio and video previewer and a traffic management tool, and because it's open source, it's completely free and receives regular updates from its community of developers.

Download Free Download ManagerThere's a portable version that you can run directly from a USB stick, plus powerful scheduling features and a very handy remote control that means you can leave your downloads running and check on their progress from any internet-connected device.

It can spider sites to download specific kinds of files, and you can choose to download only the bits of a ZIP file you actually want. It's an exceptional program, and it was tough to choose between this and Ninja Internet Download Manager for the top spot.

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Download Accelerator Plus

3. Download Accelerator Plus

A stripped-down version of a premium manager that's superb in its own right

The free version of Download Accelerator Plus is a pared-back version of DAP Premium, but it's much more than just a demo and contains all the essential features you need for quick, reliable downloads.

Download Accelerator PlusThe free version lacks the DAP Premium's privacy protection, but it does include a link checker, video previewing, file conversion, safe downloading and multiple connections to boost the speed of your downloads.

Download Accelerator Plus is clearly designed for media fans, and can help you avoid irritations such as slow servers and internet congestion.

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JDownloader 2

4. JDownloader 2

An advanced download manager that's optimized for power users

JDownloader 2 is a free, open source download manager with a massive developer community, and it's available for Windows, Linux and Mac. It's really one for power users, with support for over 300 decryption plug-ins, automatic RAR extraction, password list searching and OCR to automatically complete some of the CAPTCHA 'I'm not a robot' checks you encounter on download sites.

Download JDownloader 2You'll need the Java Runtime Environment to run it, and you'll need to be careful when installing it: the installer contains adware, which will be bundled in with the download manager if you don't specifically deselect it.

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Free YouTube Downloader

5. Free YouTube Downloader

Grab multiple videos in moments and save them in resolutions up to 8K

Its installer is a little too keen on adding bundled software, but deselect the extras you don't want and you'll discover that Free YouTube Downloader is an excellent download manager. Unlike some of the more powerful options it's designed as a downloader first and foremost, so you get a good multi-stream download manager for grabbing several clips simultaneously, but few file conversion options.

Free YouTube DownloaderFree YouTube Downloader can download files of up to 8K resolution (in MKV) and convert to AVI and MP4 format for playback in your media player of choice. Remember that you should only download videos from YouTube if you have the copyright owner's permission.

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Download DownThemAll free

6. DownThemAll

A free Firefox add-on that grabs all the links and media from a page at once

If Firefox is your preferred browser, try DownThemAll - a well-crafted extension that lets you download all the links or images in a webpage at once. Downloads can be paused and resumed, and the integrated accelerator lets you grab files files four times faster through cunning use of multiple server connections.

Download DownThemAll freeIt's a superb addition to an already excellent browser, and unlike some free download managers there are no catches - there's no unwanted advertising and all its features are yours to enjoy completely free of charge.

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Download iGetter free

7. iGetter

Find and grab the files you need, whether you're using a Mac or PC

Most download managers are for Windows, but iGetter also comes in a Mac OS X version. You can schedule downloads for specific times - handy if the servers you want to use get hammered during peak hours - and find server mirrors. As with most download managers worth their salt, you can resume broken downloads and benefit from accelerated downloading.

Download iGetter freeiGetter also includes a site explorer that you can use to find content on web and FTP sites. It integrates with Safari, iCab and Firefox on Mac and Firefox and Internet Explorer on Windows.

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Download Website Ripper Copier free

8. Website Ripper Copier

Going offline? Download an entire website to view when you're disconnected

Sometimes you don't just want to download a few files; you want to download the entire website. And to do that you need two things: permission from the copyright owner, and a website ripper such as Website Ripper Copier.

Download Website Ripper Copier freeThere's a free trial you can use to check it out before spending US$39 (about £30, AU$50) on the full version, and you can set very complex criteria to ensure that the app only downloads the content that you actually want. There's also a clever retrieval history, so the app won't try to re-download an online resource it already has.

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Download Internet Download Manager free

9. Internet Download Manager

Ignore its ugly interface and you'll find a very capable download manager

Internet Download Manager promises to be the fastest download manager around, which hopefully makes up for the unappealing user interface. The free version is a trial, but the paid-for version is hardly pricey at US$11.95 (about £9, AU$16) for a year of speedy, hassle-free downloading or US$24.95 (about £19, AU$32) for a lifetime license.

Download Internet Download Manager freeInternet Download Manager integrates with almost every browser imaginable, grabs videos, automatically checks downloads for viruses, accelerates download speeds, resumes interrupted downloads and supports download scheduling. You can also set it to grab all files of a particular type from websites.

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GetRight download manager

10. GetRight

A classic tool that's kept up with the needs of today's downloaders

We have fond memories of GetRight: it's been kicking around for 14 years, helping people fight the curse of ancient enemies like dial-up internet and more modern horrors such as flaky Wi-Fi. The free edition is a trial and the full version is US$19.95 (about £15, AU$26).

Download GetRight freeThe download manager integrates with Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera, and supports torrents as well as the more common http/https and ftp/ftps formats. It accelerates downloads by creating multiple simultaneous connections, and resumes broken downloads where they left off. In short, it's an excellent little download manager and there's a reason over 12 million people have installed it.

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Here’s how Facebook will make your News Feed more ‘informative’

Here's how Facebook will make your News Feed more 'informative'

Facebook is changing its News Feed yet again, and this time it's looking to make it more informative.

The social network is adding a new "ranking signal" that will help surface the most informative stories that would've already appeared on your News Feed.

Here's how the the algorithm will work: Members of the company's Feed Quality Program rank stories on a scale of one to five, one being "really not informative" and five being "really informative." Participants who rank a story highly are also asked to explain why they enjoyed seeing particular stories.

This data is then used to create a ranking signal, which is just one of the many signals used by Facebook to determine how relevant something is to you, based on your interests and habits.

The results are, hopefully, posts that you find personally informative. This will likely change over time, Facebook notes in a blog post, and means you'll see content in your News Feed that won't necessarily show up in the Feeds of people of you know.

Human touch

The Feed Quality Program is particularly intriguing for those who've never heard of it before. It basically consists of "tens of thousands" of surveys crowd-sourced daily as well as more involved participants who are paid for their efforts.

Together, they'll determine what makes a story informative, though Facebook will rely on things like your own interests, relation to the poster and what content you typically engage with to ultimately surface stories you see.

The new ranking signal comes just a week after Facebook tweaked its News Feed to bury clickbait articles. Facebook updates its News Feed algorithm often, so this won't be the last time you hear about changes coming to what you see.

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