How to Open and Create tar Files on Windows

Although .zip is the primary archive format you’ll find on Windows, you may occasionally run into a .tar, .tar.gz, or other similar file that you need to open. These tar files (frequently referred to as “tarballs”) are much more common on Linux operating systems, but you can open and create them on Windows as well.

Tar files are just files that hold more files, akin to the .zip files you’ve probably seen and used before. Tar files with the .tar extension aren’t compressed, but files with a .tar.gz extension are using gzip compression and will results in a smaller file size. Some other tar formats you may see are .tar.bz2 and .tar.xz. All are using a different type of compression method, but they can all be opened on Windows if you follow our guide.

Related: How to Open and Create tar Files on Linux (with Commands and GUI)

Recommended software: 7-Zip

Windows doesn’t (yet) have a native way to open or create tar files, so you’ll need an extra program to do that. 7-Zip is a handy program that can pack and unpack tar files and a slew of other formats. It’s lightweight, free, and open-source. You can head over to their download page to start installing it.

Installation is quick and simple. This is the only prompt you’ll interact with when you open the installer:

How to open tar files on Windows with 7-Zip

Once it’s done installing, you’ll be able to right-click on tar files and see the ‘7-Zip’ options in the right-click context menu. There are a few options in this menu, including opening the archive to browse the files inside, or extract the files to a specific location. If you’d just like to extract the files, you can extract them to a single folder in your current directory (the one where the tar file resides) by clicking ‘Extract to name-of-tar-file.’ Here’s what it looks like when we extract the contents of a file named MyFiles.tar:

If you are opening a compressed tar file (one with a .gz or .bz2 or other extension), you’ll need to do one extra step. You have to decompress the tar file before being able to open it. So, in our MyFiles.tar.gz archive, you can see that 7-Zip first gives us the option to extract it into a base tar file: MyFiles.tar.

Once the base tar file has been decompressed, you can extract its contents as shown above.

How to create tar files on Windows with 7-Zip

To create a tar file, you can highlight the files you’d like to archive, right-click, and go to 7-Zip > Add to archive.

In the ‘Add to Archive’ menu, just select ‘tar’ as your archive format and click OK.

You’ll notice that the compression level is automatically set to ‘store’ and can’t be changed. This means that it will archive your selected files as a .tar but will not compress them. If you’d like compression (appending a .gz, .bz2, or .xz file extension), you can right-click your tar file and click ‘Add to archive.’

Now, you’ll notice some new options under the ‘archive format’ selection, which weren’t there when creating your base .tar file.

You’ll probably want to select gzip, which will create a .tar.gz file. It seems to be the most common type of tar archive, although bzip2 and xz compression are also popular choices for tar files. Even the 7z option, which will create a .tar.7z file, is becoming more widespread. If in doubt, just select gzip.

How to Open and Create tar Files on Linux (with Commands and GUI)

A tar file is an archive that contains one or more files. If you’re familiar with zip files, tar files (or “tarballs” as they’re frequently called) work the exact same way. On Linux, tar files are very common. Throughout your time using the operating system, you’re bound to run into a few of them, so let’s take a look at how to open and create these files.

Related: How to Open and Create tar Files on Windows

Note: We’ll be using Ubuntu for the screenshots and examples in this guide, but we’ve generalized everything as much as possible. You should be able to follow these instructions no matter what distribution you happen to be using.

File compression and their corresponding extensions

The base .tar format doesn’t compress files. It’s basically just a file that holds more files. If the tar file is compressed, it will have another extension beyond just .tar. There are many different compression methods, resulting in an equal amount of different extensions. A few of the more popular ones that you’re likely to see include:

  • .tar.gz / .tgz (uses gzip compression)
  • .tar.bz2 / .tar.bz, / .tbz (uses bzip2 compression)
  • .tar.xz (uses xz compression)
  • .tar.7z (uses 7-Zip compression)

There are others, too, but… you get the idea.

How to archive files/folders with tar on Linux command line

You have a lot of options when creating tar files. If you’re interested in the minutiae of tar switches, you can always check out the man pages with the ‘man tar’ command. Here are a few of the essential commands:

Create a .tar archive file (no compression)

tar -cvf name-of-tar-file.tar /path/to/directory-or-file

What those switches do:

  • -c: Create a new tar file.
  • -v: Verbose mode. Not strictly necessary, but it will display progress in the terminal.
  • -f: Specify the folder(s) and/or file(s) to archive.

Right after the switches, specify the name of your tar file. After the name of your tar file, list the paths to each of the files and/or directories that you’d like to archive in the tar file.

You can specify as many files or directories as you’d like by just separating them with a space. In the screenshot above, we archived file1.txt and file2.txt into MyFiles.tar.

Create a .tar.gz archive file (gzip compression)

To create a compressed archive, the process is the same but with an additional switch and a different file extension:

tar -czvf name-of-tar-file.tar.gz /path/to/directory-or-file

Keep in mind that the order of the switches does matter. Make sure you put the z switch right after c. The switch we added:

  • -z: Compress the tar file with gzip.

Create a .tar.bz2 archive file (bzip2 compression)

Another popular compression method is bzip2. To create a .tar.bz2 file, we add the -j switch (instead of the -z in the gzip command) to our base tar command from above. Don’t forget to also name your file extension correctly:

tar -cjvf name-of-tar-file.tar.bz2 /path/to/directory-or-file

Gzip is the most popular method for compressing tarballs, but you’re likely to also run into bzip2. It compresses better than gzip, but also takes a little longer.

How to open tar files on Linux command line

The command for extracting the contents of tar files is almost the same as it was for creating them; you just need to replace the -c switch with the -x (extract) switch instead.

Extract a .tar file

Note: As long as your Linux installation has an updated version of GNU tar, you can just specify the following command to extract any tar archive. Tar will recognize the type of archive without any extra input from the user. We’ve also included the other switches in case you’re using a different version of tar.

tar -xvf name-of-tar-file.tar

Extract a .tar.gz file

tar -xzvf name-of-tar-file.tar.gz

Extract a .tar.bz2 file

tar -xjvf name-of-tar-file.tar.bz2

Extract a .tar.xz file

tar -xJvf name-of-tar-file.tar.xz

Extract to a different location

You can also specify a different location to extract the files to, instead of your present working directory, with the -C switch. Just make sure that the -C is uppercase.

tar -xzvf name-of-tar-file.tar.gz -C /path/to/directory

How to archive files/folders with tar on Linux GUI

If you’re more comfortable with the graphical user interface of Linux than the command line, don’t fret. Tar archives are rather easy to create this way.

Highlight the files you wish to archive, right-click, and click on ‘Compress’.

On the next menu, you’ll be able to select between .zip, .tar.xz, or .7z:

You’ll notice that the gzip and bzip2 options are missing in this screenshot, as Ubuntu recently removed them from this window. You can still find those options and a plethora of others in Ubuntu’s Archive Manager.

How to open tar files on Linux GUI

To extract the contents of a tar file, compressed or not, you just need to right-click it and either select ‘Extract Here’ or ‘Extract to…’

How to Keep a Folder in Sync on Two Devices with Resilio Sync (BitTorrent Sync)

Resilio Sync (formerly known as BitTorrent Sync) is a great way to keep files synchronized across multiple computers and/or other devices while avoiding the cloud and forking over money.

It works on just about any device you could possibly have, with apps available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, BSD, Amazon Kindle Fire, and lots of NAS manufacturers. Best of all: it’s free. There are some premium versions available that have access to a few more features you probably won’t need, and there’s a business subscription if you plan to use it at work, but we’ll be looking at the free model which is plenty sufficient for basic file sharing.

How does Resilio Sync differ from cloud services?

Resilio won’t store your data in the cloud. It’s peer-to-peer, so all of your data remains on your devices (and the devices of those with access to the folder you’re sharing). Resilio Sync uses the BitTorrent protocol to transfer file changes across the devices connected to the shared folder.

Resilio Sync features

We’ll do a quick run-through of what we like most about Resilio Sync, in case you’re contemplating whether or not this is the correct solution for your needs.

  • It’s free! It also won’t push upgrades on you or be annoying.
  • Compatibility with every major computer and mobile OS.
  • No limit of how much data can be stored or transferred.
  • Share and sync your folder with as many users and devices as you want.
  • Protection against accidental/regretful file deletions.
  • Grant either read access or read & write access to users.
  • No speed cap (many cloud providers will sync your data slowly at times).
  • Encrypted folder option is available.

Those features are what drew me to Resilio Sync. I’ve been using it for a long time in order to keep a folder on my PC shared and synced with a few family members, and it’s really worked well for this purpose.

How to setup a shared folder (on Windows 10)

If you’re ready to give it a try, head over to Resilio Sync’s site and download the installer. You can install with the default settings and complete the installation by choosing a name.

To create a folder that you can share out with other people (or connect to other devices of yours), click the plus sign and standard folder.

Now you’ll need to select where the folder is located. If you haven’t already made one, now would be a good time. Keep in mind that if you pick a folder with a lot of files already in it, those files will begin transferring to any device that you connect to this folder.

You’ll allow other users/devices to access this folder by either giving them a link, key, or QR code that Resilio Sync generates for you.

Before generating the link through the Email or Copy button, be sure to configure the permission and security settings you’d like. “Read Only” means that the user/device can access the files but not edit them or add their own. “Read & Write” grants that user/device full access to add, edit, or delete files.

Now that your folder is setup, other devices can access it with the link (or key or code) you generated.

They can just click the link or scan the QR code, or enter it manually under ‘Enter a key or link.’

You’ll be asked to select a sync folder on the new device as well. Resilio Sync will then make sure that those two folders are kept in sync.

You can now begin to share or collaborate in the synchronized folder. You’ll know that Resilio Sync is busying syncing changes if you see it animating in the taskbar.

Detailed stats are displayed at the bottom of Resilio Sync’s main screen:

Recovering deleted files

Another feature we’ve found useful is that if someone in your group deletes a file, you can still access it on your device in the hidden ‘.sync’ folder. The deleted files are kept in .sync\Archive in case you still need them or wish to restore them.

How to Play Stronghold Crusader Online Multiplayer

There are a few different ways to take this classic game online to build and fight with other players. As with most older games, it’s a bit tricky to get multiplayer working on Stronghold Crusader, so we’ve laid out the process in this guide.

The easiest methods for playing online

You may be thinking that you can just click that big ‘Multiplayer’ button on the main menu and get cracking, but that’s actually the most complicated way to get a multiplayer session going. Stronghold Crusader uses some ancient methods (DirectX 8’s DirectPlay) for connecting players across the internet, and the newer hardware and software of today doesn’t work very well with it.

Instead, it’s pretty easy to just use GameRanger or a VPN to play Stonghold Crusader online, and we’ve written a guide on how to do that. But, if that shiny Multiplayer button still has your attention, and you don’t mind forwarding some ports in your router and adding firewall exceptions on your PC, then the next part of this guide is for you.

Internet TCP/IP Connection for DirectPlay

You can host a game by navigating to ‘Multiplayer’ and then clicking ‘Host.’ Your friends can join your game from their Multiplayer page by entering your IP address.

But before this will work, you (the host) and your friends that are connecting will need to forward some ports on their routers (unless the router has UPnP enabled). The ports that need forwarded are:

2300-2400 TCP & UDP
47624 TCP only

Everyone playing will not only need to forward those ports, but also add some exceptions in Windows Firewall (you must manually add them, since it will never prompt to ask you if you’d like to add the exceptions).

Open Windows Defender Firewall by typing ‘firewall’ into the Start menu.

Next, click on ‘Allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall.’

Then, click on ‘Change settings’ followed by ‘Allow another app.’

Click browse to locate your Stronghold Crusader executable.

When you finish adding an exception for Stronghold Crusader.exe, you’ll also need to add one for the DirectPlay Server program, located here:

C:\Windows\System32\dpnsvr.exe

With forwarded ports and firewall exceptions configured on each player’s router and PC, joining from the multiplayer menu within Stronghold Crusader should finally work. If you are still having trouble, we’d highly recommend using GameRanger or a VPN.

If you’re determined to make this method work but aren’t having any luck, make sure that any extra firewall and anti-virus that you’re using is disabled (or has the same aforementioned exceptions programmed into them).

Happy playing!

How to Play Old PC Games Online (Multiplayer)

Classic games are still a blast to play but it can prove tricky to get a multiplayer session going because of the ancient methods those games used in order to connect players across the internet. We’ll give you a few options you can use to play these oldies but goodies online like old times.

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When you open a game to play online with other gamers, your PC has no idea how to find other gamers or game servers to connect to. Your game will connect to a matchmaking server instead, and the matchmaking server keeps track of every server and player that’s looking to play.

The problem is that after 15+ years, there’s a good chance that the company providing the matchmaking server is no longer interested in keeping it active, or maybe they’ve gone out of business altogether. Without a matchmaking server, gamers must use a different method for finding and connecting to servers and players.

Gamers from the late ’90s and early ’00s may recognize the old GameSpy logo (pictured right). GameSpy was a matchmaking provider for a lot of popular games “back in the day.”

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A lot of older games relied on matchmaking services such as GameSpy, MSN Gaming Zone, or a slew of others that have all gone defunct or at least dropped support for retail PC games a long time ago.

Method #1: GameRanger

GameRanger is something of a godsend for breathing life into old games and making them easy to play with your friends or random people. It’s a matchmaking program available for Windows and Mac with an impressive list of over 700 supported titles.

Once you download it and make an account, you can add friends to chat with and invite them to private games. You can also make public games or browse the server list to join any other open games that someone else is hosting.

To get started, head over to GameRanger’s download page. Installation is very straightforward, and you’ll be able to create an account from inside the installation prompts. You’re ready to play once GameRanger finishes installing.

If you plan to play with friends, you can access the friend menu in Window > Friends. To host a new game, click on File > Host Game. You can choose to make the game private (friends only) or public, and invite other users once you’re in lobby.

Method #2: Connecting directly

Since all a matchmaking server does is tell your game where to find a server or player, you could just circumvent the matchmaking process if you knew that information yourself. That is, you’ll need the IP address of the server (or player, if the player is hosting the match) in order to connect directly to it.

The disadvantage of this method is that the host may need to do some port forwarding and configure (or disable) their firewall and anti-virus in order for other players to connect. If you’d like to proceed with this method, you can use the IP address of the host to connect directly.

Method #3: Use a VPN

These old games are pretty easy to play with others when the players are connected to the same LAN (Local Area Network – or everyone being connected to your home router), which is essentially what VPN software will emulate for you. There are a lot of VPN programs you can use, but we recommend and are covering Hamachi in this guide.

Download Hamachi to get started. After you install and open Hamachi, click the power button.

In the next menu, you’ll have to create an account before proceeding. Once you’ve done that, you can either create a new network or join an existing one. If you are going to be hosting the game, click on ‘Create a new network.’

Now you’ll be asked to create a network ID and password – this is the information your friends will need to enter when they click ‘Join an existing network’ to access the game you’re hosting.

Click ‘Create’ to finish creating the network, and then give that information to your friends. As mentioned, they’ll connect by clicking ‘Join an existing network’ and then entering the network ID and password you made.

You’ll be able to see when others are connected because they’ll be listed just below your network ID:

You’re ready to fire up your game now, and everyone should be able to play together as if you were on the same local network. Have your guests take note of your Hamachi IP address (seen below), since they made need to enter it in order to connect once in-game.

What is UPnP and How Do I Enable/Disable It?

Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is a setting available in most routers that allows you to skip the manual configuration of port forwarding (hence the name plug and play).

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UPnP can detect services running on your PC and instruct your router to accept incoming connections on the appropriate port. This means that if you are hosting a service which you’d like to make accessible over the internet (such as a gaming server), you don’t need to do any extra configuration in your router to accept the incoming connections.

Keep in mind that sometimes UPnP is enabled by default, so you may not even need to do anything to start accepting incoming connections over the internet.

Is UPnP a security concern?

The short answer is: yes, it can be. There’s a reason that routers used to drop all incoming connections by default before UPnP become standard and ubiquitous across all brands of routers. Securing your PC from malicious attacks is the job of your firewall (Windows Defender in most cases), but it’s also the job of your router. Routers without UPnP enabled will drop incoming connections, and that’s good.

At the same time, it also means that hosting a gaming server or other service that needs to be accessible from the internet is a little more challenging without UPnP. UPnP is just for convenience and makes it so a user can host a service without having to worry about figuring out how to set a static IP address and configure port forwarding.

There have been a lot of reports of hackers exploiting UPnP to launch malicious attacks. But don’t hit the panic button: as long as you have your firewall enabled and you keep your software up to date, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be affected by this kind of exploit.

In conclusion, it’s a good idea to keep UPnP disabled and just manually configure port forwarding when needed. If you find that UPnP has really made things more convenient for you, then enable it but be cognizant that there is a small risk associated with doing so.

How to enable or disable UPnP

There are a lot of router makes and models out there, so the instructions for enabling or disabling UPnP is going to vary widely. We’ll show you the step-by-step using a Linksys router. If you have a different brand, you’ll have to improvise on some steps but you should find that the process is very similar.

Start by getting the IP address of your router. Open a command prompt by going to Start and typing ‘cmd.’

In the command prompt, type ‘ipconfig’ and press enter. Your router’s IP address will be listed under ‘Default gateway.’

You can see in this example that our router’s IP address is 192.168.1.1. Type that into the address bar of your web browser to bring up your router’s configuration page.

The default password for a Linksys router is ‘admin.’ That may be true for your router as well, or you may need to look for a label on your router to find the correct password.

Once you’re logged in, click on Connectivity (if your settings look different, you’ll have to poke around in the settings to find UPnP, or consult the manual/Google for where to find it), and then Administration.

Here you’ll find the setting to enable or disable UPnP. After making your changes, click OK to save them.

How to Forward Ports on Your Router

When you’re hosting a service from your PC and you need to accept incoming connections, you’ll need to configure your router to allow those connections by forwarding a port or enabling UPnP.

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If you are hosting a service from your PC, such a gaming server, you can allow others to connect to your server by giving them your IP address. Unless your router has been properly configured, it will either block their incoming connection automatically because of security settings, or it will not know which device on your network to send the request to and resort to refusing the connection.

You basically have two options, then. You can manually forward the appropriate port(s) and allocate a static IP address for your PC, or you can enable UPnP on your router. See our guide on enabling UPnP if you’d like to try that route, or continue reading to learn how to forward ports on your router.

What is port forwarding?

By configuring your router to forward a port to your PC, you are telling it to accept that incoming connection and also giving it information about where to send it. Port forwarding is a manual process that must be done in the router’s settings.

Keep in mind that in order for your forwarding settings to remain in place between reboots (of either the PC or the router), you should configure a static IP address for your PC in the router’s settings because the local IP address of your PC (the one that the router uses to communicate with it), likely changes every once in a while, which means your forwarding settings would need changed too.

To prevent that, we can add a setting to your router that tells it to always hand out the same IP address to your PC. We’ll go over how to set that up while also making the necessary configurations for port forwarding.

How to forward a port on your router

Linksys is a popular consumer brand of routers, and we’ll be using one in this guide to show the steps to forward a port and allocate a static IP. If you have a different brand of router, the instructions should be pretty similar, you’ll just have to improvise where applicable.

Accessing your router’s settings page can be done from your PC (or phone, or any device that has a browser and is connected to your network). The first thing we need to do is figure out the local IP address of the router. It’s normally in the 192.168.x.x range, but it can vary by manufacturer.

Start by opening a command prompt by typing ‘cmd’ in the Start menu.

In the command prompt, type ‘ipconfig’ and press enter. What we’re looking for in this output is the IP address of the ‘default gateway’ (a fancy term for your router).

As you can see in the screenshot above, the IP address of my router is 192.168.1.1. Type that address into the URL bar of your browser in order to access your router’s configuration page.

You’ll be asked to enter a password on this page. For Linksys and a lot of other popular manufacturers, it’s ‘admin’ by default. Your password may be on a label on the router itself, so check there if you’re not sure.

We’ll start by configuring a static IP address for our PC. In the Linksys menu, those settings can be found under ‘Connectivity.’ You’ll have to poke around if you’re using a different brand. You’ll know you’re in the right menu when you see something called ‘DHCP reservations.’

On this router, the setting for DHCP reservations was under Connectivity > Local Network.

In the DHCP reservation menu, you can select your PC (the one running the service you’re hosting), click on ‘Add DHCP Reservation,’ and click OK to save the setting.

If your menu doesn’t have your devices listed, you may have to enter the IP address of your PC manually to create the reservation. Refer back to the command prompt to figure out what your PC’s IP address is.

Either way, take note of your IP address (either by seeing it in the DHCP list or the command prompt) because you may need it when filling out the port forwarding settings.

Port forwarding is found under Security > Apps and Gaming in our Linksys router. From here, we can choose to forward a single port or a range of ports. Select whichever is applicable for you, then fill out the ports and your IP address, and click OK.

Your service should now be accessible from the internet. You can use this port forwarding tester website to make sure that it’s working correctly.

Share your public IP address with whomever you’d like to give access to. Keep in mind that you may also have to configure your firewall settings and/or disable your anti-virus, since both of those are also known to block incoming connections.

How to Install Linux on Windows with Windows Subsystem for Linux

Windows 10 allows you to run a Linux bash shell through the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) software. If you’d like to run Linux scripts and programs from within Windows, this may be a perfect option for you.

What is Windows Subsystem for Linux?

Microsoft has worked with Linux companies and devised a way to bring various distributions of Linux straight to Windows. It’s not quite the same as hosting your own instance of Linux in a virtual machine; however, it proves very convenient when all you need to do is run an occasional script or program.

WSL isn’t exactly the Linux you’re used to. It doesn’t actually have its own kernel (at least not yet), so there are some limitations. You can’t expect to use hard drive encryption with WSL, for example. But with that said, it’s impressive what you can do with WSL and we’ve found it to be very useful.

Before installing WSL

Before you can use WSL at all, you have to enable the component through the Windows Features window. You can open it by typing ‘windows features’ in the Start menu.

In the Windows Features menu, scroll down to find ‘Windows Subsystem for Linux’ and put a check mark in the box next to it, then click OK.

A prompt will appear, saying that Windows needs to restart in order to complete the changes. Click ‘restart now’ and rejoin us afterwards to start installing WSL.

How to install WSL

After your PC reboots, you can install WSL straight from the Microsoft Store. Open the store from the Start menu to begin.

In the Microsoft Store, click on search and type ‘linux.’ On the results page, click on ‘Get the apps’ to bring up the different Linux distributions available for download.

If you’re not sure which one to download, Ubuntu is always a safe bet. It’s the most used Linux distribution and has an excellent track record, but there are a few others available for download if you’d prefer them.

Click on the one you’d like and then hit ‘Get’ to start the download.

Once the download completes, you can access your Linux install from the start menu:

It may take a few minutes to add the finishing touches this first time around, but in the future you’ll have instant access to the terminal.

Once it’s done, the first thing it will ask you to do is create a default user and a password. It’s totally separate from your Windows login and doesn’t need to match.

And that’s it! You now have access to a Linux terminal right from Windows. We’ve also written an article on how to mount and access your hard drives in WSL in case you are wondering how to access some files you already have on your system.

How to Disable Automatic Updates in Windows 10

Microsoft has made it all but impossible to disable Windows updates in Windows 10. Fortunately, there are still a couple methods you can use to disable them, whether you are running Windows 10 Home, Pro, or another edition.

What edition of Windows am I running?

Determining which edition of Windows you have will decide what method works best for you to disable the automatic updates. You can figure this out by searching for ‘this pc’ in the Start menu, right-clicking on This PC, and opening the Properties menu.

You’ll see your edition of Windows near the top of this page:

If you have the Home edition, you should disable Windows updates by setting a metered connection. Pro, Education, and Enterprise editions can disable updates using Group Policy Editor. We’ll go over both methods below.

Setting a metered connection

Microsoft has taken into consideration that some people have data caps, especially for mobile connections. There’s a setting you can configure that will basically tell Windows not to download updates automatically because it may result in additional charges for you.

We can exploit this feature by setting your internet connection as a metered connection. Even if you have unlimited data, Windows won’t know the difference.

To configure your connection, open the Start menu and click on Settings.

In the Settings page, click on Network & Internet

The menu for your current network connection will appear, and from here you can click on ‘Change connection properties’

Scroll down until you find the metered connection setting, and flip it on.

That should be all you need to do, but keep in mind that this setting will only apply to your current connection. If you connect to a different network in the future (such as a different Wi-Fi network), then you will need to apply this setting again.

It’s also worth noting that Windows still seems to download high priority updates, such as Flash security patches (despite having a metered connection), but won’t download cumulative updates.

Group Policy Editor

Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions have an easier time disabling Windows updates because those editions have access to the Group Policy Editor.

To get started, open Group Policy Editor by typing ‘group policy’ into the Start menu.

In the Group Policy Editor, navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update, and then find ‘Configure Automatic Updates’ in the right pane.

Double-click on that setting to open it. In this window, you have a few options. You can click on ‘Enabled’ and then select a more granular setting just below that:

Or, to prevent Windows from notifying you about updates in any way ever, you can click on ‘Disabled’ and save your settings by clicking OK.

Use this setting at your own discretion, as it will effectively cause Windows to function under the belief that updates don’t even exist. The only time you will interact with Windows Update at all is if you purposely open it and click ‘check for updates’.

How to Disable the Touchpad/trackpad on a Laptop

The touchpad on your laptop tends to just get in the way once you have a mouse plugged in. If you keep hitting it accidentally while using your keyboard, there is a way to counter the annoyance by disabling the trackpad.

Every laptop is different, so we’ve compiled several ways that you can disable your touchpad – at least one of them should work for any laptop.

Physically switching trackpad on or off

There’s a good chance that a physical switch on your laptop allows you turn the touchpad on or off. Sometimes you can use an Fn key combination to do this. On the laptop in this example, pressing Fn + F9 can be used.

Disabling via touchpad software

Another option is to disable it via the touchpad software that the manufacturer put on the laptop. This option isn’t always available (but it usually is), and the icon may look different on your system, but usually you’ll see an icon like this in the taskbar:


If you don’t see that icon, check the others in the taskbar as your icon may be different.

Double-click that icon to open the software, and look for an option to disable the touchpad. Manufacturer software can vary widely, so we can’t give you precise instructions, but be sure to peruse around in the different tabs. You should see something like this:

Click on “Disable when external USB mouse is plugged in,” hit OK, and you’ll be good to go whenever Windows detects that a mouse has been plugged in.

Disabling via device manager

If you’ve tried all of the above to no avail, you can use Window’s Device Manager to disable the trackpad. Click on Start and type ‘device manager’ to open it.

With Device Manager open, expand the ‘Mice and other pointing devices’ section and right-click on the trackpad to disable it.

Labelled as ‘Smart-Pad’ here, but still obvious what it is.