We're busy people, and even the most savvy of us sometimes just don't have the time to learn about every odd and end in the tech world. Here are some of our favorite tech explainers on things you probably hear a lot about, but never really knew.
10. Net Neutrality
It's a subject that only crops up from time to time—usually when new legislation is being pushed through or a tech company has done something really stupid—but it's an important thing to know about in today's age of ubiquitous internet. If you still aren't sure what net neutrality is—or even if you have a rough idea but aren't an expert—check out our introduction to net neutrality and what it means for you.
9. The Windows Registry
Many Windows users know of the fabled registry, though fear it because of its cryptic (and powerful) nature. However, for those that understand how it works, it can be an invaluable tool. Check out our explainer and mythbuster on the Windows registry, and then be sure to check out our top 10 favorite registry tweaks to really make it work for you.
8. Android Task Killers
Android task killers were useful tools back in the very early days of Android, but nowadays they actually do more harm than good—yet cellphone manufacturers still recommend them to new users all the time. Read up on what Android task killers actually do, and why you shouldn't use them on your phone. You might be surprised at what you find. Android isn't perfect, but traditional Task Killers aren't the answer (though we list some alternative tools that will help you in that explainer).
7. SSL Encryption (Also Known as HTTPS)
You've probably noticed that some sites use
https:// instead of
http:// in their web addresses, but maybe you don't know what that actually means. Maybe you know that it encrypts your data for better security, but you don't really know what it's protecting your from. Either way, read up on what HTTPS is and why you should care about it on sites like Facebook, and once you do, be sure to check out browser extensions like HTTPS everywhere to get it enabled on as many sites as possible.
6. What "4G" Really Means
This new "4G" phenomenon that's sweeping the nation is full of hype, but not very much real info. No one really says what 4G is or how fast it actually is—they just tell you it's something you want. We've talked about everything you need to know about 4G, including whether it's worth upgrading your phone for. Even if you thought you understood the basics behind 4G, you might be surprised at what you find.
5. The Difference Between Lossless and Lossy Music
You may or may not think a lot about the "bitrate" of your music, but the argument of whether bitrate actually matters has raged for quite a while. We break down exactly what bitrate means, how lossless music compares to "lossy" music, and whether it's something you should worry about. If you decide lossless music might be for you, you might also want to check out our guide to managing multiple music libraries, which can be a great help to those with both high- and low-bitrate files.
4. 64-Bit vs. 32-Bit Operating Systems
If you've reinstalled Windows or Linux anytime recently, you were likely given the option to choose between 64-bit and 32-bit versions. In a nutshell, if you have 4GB of RAM or more, you'll want to go 64-bit—but if you want to know why this is the case, check out our guide to 64-bit vs. 32-bit operating systems. And, if you aren't sure whether you even need more than 4GB of RAM, we've got you covered with an answer there too.
3. Proper Windows Maintenance
Windows maintenance myths have been around since what seems like the beginning of time, which can leave you very confused as to what you actually need to do to your computer to keep it running in tip top shape. We've mentioned a few of the most important maintenance tasks you should perform, as well as some of the myths that might seem good, but can actually slow you down. Peruse our Hive Five on the best all-in-one Windows tools, while you're at it. When you're done reading, you should know enough that you'll never have to reinstall Windows from scratch ever again.
2. Viruses, Trojans, Worms, and Other Malware
Windows malware: it's a burden many Windows users have to shoulder, yet something most of them know nothing at all about. If that sounds like you (or someone you know), we recommend learning the difference between viruses, trojans, worms, and other malware to get a better idea of what you're up against. You'll also want to check out these nine common myths and misconceptions about viruses, and then get yourself some good antivirus protection (which you shouldn't need to pay for since Microsoft's tools are good enough).
1. Wi-Fi and Networking
With the internet as ubiquitous as it is today, networking is an essential part of any computer user's setup, yet so many of us are completely lost when we actually have to configure the networks in our home. We've gone through everything you need to know about routers, Wi-Fi performance, and making the most our of your network in our "Know Your Network" night school, so you'll never be puzzled by that router configuration page ever again. While you're at it, you might want to check out the many things that can lead to bad Wi-Fi coverage and how to fix them—you'll be glad you did.
There are a lot of complicated tech subjects out there, but these are some of our favorites from over the years that we think more people should know about. You probably have your own opinions, so if you can think of a good explainer we didn't mention above, share it with us in the comments.
You can contact Whitson Gordon, the author of this post, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.