TIME Wireless

Can Wi-Fi Replace Your Cell Phone Plan?

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Cablevision is building a cell phone service that relies entirely on Wi-Fi

The wireless industry has seen its fair share of changes over the last two years, many sparked by T-Mobile’s disruptive “uncarrier” policies that have been since co-opted by its rivals. But there could be even bigger shakeups coming in the year ahead.

New York-based cable and Internet operator Cablevision is preparing to launch a new cell phone service that relies exclusively on Wi-Fi, the New York Times reports. That would differentiate it from traditional mobile carriers, which use networks of cell towers to let users make calls, send text messages and surf the web. Google is also reportedly prepping a wireless service that may make extensive use of Wi-Fi.

A switch from cellular to Wi-Fi networks could have a huge impact on both the cost and quality of wireless service in the future. Here’s a quick look at what Wi-Fi-based carriers could mean for your cell phone plan:

How is a Wi-Fi plan different from a regular cellular plan?

Historically, cell phones have delivered phone calls, text messages and Internet data using cell towers owned and operated by wireless carriers like Verizon or AT&T. This system has created extremely widespread networks that let people make calls and access the web from almost anywhere in the U.S. But it also means the networks are extremely expensive to operate, so carriers charge customers high monthly fees to maintain them.

An increasing amount of activity on mobile phones is now being done using Wi-Fi networks instead of cellular networks. People can easily set up Wi-Fi in their own homes, while many businesses and municipalities are starting to offer Wi-Fi access for free. Cablevision has also been building its own network of Wi-Fi hotspots for use by its home Internet subscribers when they’re on the go.

Cablevision is now betting that its Wi-Fi hotspots are so widespread that it can build an entire mobile network around them. That means you’d use Wi-Fi not only to surf the Web at home, but also to send texts and make phone calls while out and about.

What are the advantages of a Wi-Fi cell phone plan?

The biggest differentiator would be price. Cablevision’s new Wi-Fi service, dubbed Freewheel, will cost $29.95 per month for new individual customers or $9.95 per month for customers who already subscribe to the company’s Optimum Online Internet service. A recent survey by research firm Cowen and Company found the average monthly cell phone bill on Sprint, Verizon or AT&T is about $140, though that factors in both individual and family plans.

Cablevision’s service also won’t require an annual contract, and it will provide unlimited data. Traditional cell phone carriers often require two-year contracts and punish customers with expensive overage fees if they exceed their data caps.

What are the disadvantages?

At launch, the only phone compatible with Cablevision’s new network is Motorola’s Moto G, which will cost $99.99. The service also won’t be able to match the wide coverage of mobile networks like Verizon’s or AT&T’s — Cablevision’s 1.1 million Wi-Fi hotspots are found only in the New York metro area.

For now, Optimum’s service doesn’t seem to be geared toward typical mainstream consumers. Cablevision Chief Operating Officer Kristin Dolan told the Wall Street Journal that Freewheel could be appropriate for college students, children or people with a fixed income.

What does this mean for the future of wireless?

People aren’t going to abandon reliable wireless carriers and their cellular networks anytime soon. But there will be growing pressure on carriers to make more effective use of Wi-Fi connectivity in urban areas. Google’s rumored wireless service may end up mixing Wi-Fi and traditional cellular networks, helping users automatically find and connect to the fastest or cheapest network while on the go, according to the Journal.

In the future, cellular networks could be viewed as a back-up connectivity option when Wi-Fi isn’t available. Such a model would lower cell phone bills as customers opted for cheaper data plans.

Should I subscribe to Cablevision’s Wi-Fi Network?

If you already subscribe to Optimum Internet (so you qualify for the cheaper subscription rate) and you live near New York and you don’t travel much, then maybe. Otherwise, it’s best to wait and see how the arrival of Freewheel impacts the offerings of the major carriers — and keep an eye out for Google’s upcoming service, which the Journal speculates could arrive in the first half of the year.

TIME How-To

Here’s How to Build a Homemade Sled in 10 Minutes

Sledding
Sledding Scott Suriano—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Get out there and enjoy the snow this week

Snow will pelt the Northeast on Monday and Tuesday, with snowfall in the New York City metropolitan area potentially hitting record levels. Is it massively inconvenient? Yes. Dangerous? Possibly. Most fun you’ve had sledding since the blizzard of 2006? That’s up to you!

Once the snow stops falling, sledding is one of the best ways to get out there and enjoy all that fresh powder. But not everyone still has their childhood sled lying around, so instructables has a nifty guide for building your own out of a large garbage bag, a thick cardboard box, and duct tape.

The basic idea is to use the cardboard box to make a solid base, and then wrap it with a black garbage bag. Voila: you’ve got a seat, and insulation to reduce friction. Read the step-by-step guide here.

You could still pick up one of these beautiful, old-school wooden sleds. But it’s snowing right now! Make that homemade sled and get out there — and stay safe!

MORE: Here’s Who Decides if Your Flight Takes Off This Week

 

TIME Video Games

Here’s Why This PlayStation 4 Just Sold For $129,000

Bidders went bonkers for this retro-style Sony PlayStation 4

How much would you pay for a PlayStation 4?

In Japan, the usual answer is 40,000 yen, or $340. But someone just spent $129,000 for one.

For the 20th anniversary of its console last year, Sony sold 12,300 retro-themed Playstation 4 units in a classic gray color scheme matching that of the original PlayStation. (The new generation is all in black and white.) The retro gray models were only a tad more expensive than the regular machines, but the No. 00001 unit had a special cachet.

In an auction last weekend, that unit closed with a final bid of 15.14 million yen, or $129,000.

“We appreciate all who participated in the auction and are surprised at the highest bid price, which was higher than our expectations,” a Sony representative told the Wall Street Journal.

The PlayStation 4 has sold more than 18.5 million units since it was introduced in November 2013, and has historically beaten competitors in sales, including Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft Xbox One. However, reduced prices for Microsoft’s console helped it trump Sony’s offering around last year’s holiday season.

(Read next: These will be the hottest PlayStation 4 games of 2015)

 

TIME the big picture

Why Sapphire Glass Isn’t the Future of Smartphones

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the new iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Sapphire just costs too much and doesn't make for good screens

Apple’s long-awaited announcement of its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus last fall came with an unexpected twist: Contrary to rumors, the company opted not to use an ultra-strong glass called sapphire for the devices’ screens. That was startling because Apple was involved in a major deal with sapphire company GT Advanced, ostensibly to provide the material for Apple’s newest phones.

After Apple announced its sans-sapphire iPhones, it was revealed that GT Advanced couldn’t deliver the amount of the material Apple required on time because of production issues. In a column I wrote last fall, I said Apple never planned to put sapphire screens in the iPhone 6 regardless of GT Advanced’s problems. However, it turns out that Apple did in fact enter into the GT Advanced deal wanting to use sapphire screens in its new iPhones, but by late 2013, the company realized that issues at GT Advanced meant that just wasn’t going to happen. Apple changed direction at the beginning of 2014, when it began working with Corning to deliver its newest version of Gorilla Glass for use on the iPhone 6.

Not long after the iPhone 6 was announced, the relationship between Apple and GT Advanced imploded, with the latter filing for bankruptcy. As of today, there’s no indication Apple is still seeking sapphire screens for any new iPhones — but its patent filings mean it’s impossible to rule out this possibility.

But there are other reasons sapphire won’t see the light of day in smartphones. First, it’s incredibly difficult to make sapphire screens in serious quantities at a cost that would make them feasible for even top-of-the-line smartphones. Also, the smartphone market’s trend toward bigger screens is making sapphire even more expensive to produce and buy.

I recently recorded a podcast with two professors of material sciences that helped me gain a better understanding about the costs and difficulty involved with creating sapphire screens in volume. Joining me in this discussion were Richard Lehman, a professor and chair of Rutgers University’s Advanced Polymer Center, and Dr. Helen Chan, chair of Lehigh University’s Department of Materials Science.

You can listen above, but here are some of the key points we discussed:

  • Glass is used in almost all smartphone screens, and is a great solution. Lehman pointed out that sapphire is used in watches and products that have a long life. But because smartphones have a lifespan of 18 to 24 months, the extra cost involved may not be worth it for most consumers.
  • Lehman said glass costs about a nickel per square inch to manufacture, while sapphire costs several dollars per square inch to make. He also pointed out that manufacturing glass is highly scalable, while Dr. Chan explained that it takes a 2,000-degree furnace to melt sapphire, which has a serious impact on the environment.
  • While both professors are not experts in manufacturing, they brought up key points on the virtue of sapphire as a potential material for screens, but questioned anyone’s ability to make these screens in large volumes. In addition to the melting process, sapphire must be cut razor-thin and subjected to extra polishing, according to Chan. It takes at least four different steps or procedures to produce each sapphire screen.
  • The issue of transparency came up, too. Lehman pointed out that with sapphire, “there is a high reflective index involved that cuts down on the transmission through the screen and it also could give glare.”
  • Lehman said Corning’s new Gorilla Glass 4 is twice as tough as Gorilla Glass 3, providing 80% more protection in standard tests on survivability.
  • The professors also pointed out that hardness (a key attribute of sapphire) might not be the best way to go with next-generation smartphones. Here’s a video from that illustrates this point well and explains the breaking point of glass compared to that of sapphire:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVQbu_BsZ9o

Although the podcast and the video explore the possibility of using sapphire as a screen material for smartphones, they reinforce the idea that the long-term prospects of sapphire screens on smartphones just aren’t viable. Given the additional costs to make a sapphire screen and the increasing strength of more traditional glass, anyone pursuing sapphire for use on smartphone screens would be up against some pretty formidable challenges. For sapphire to be the future, we’d need to see a major breakthrough in its manufacturing process — and from what I can tell, that just won’t happen in the near future.

TIME advice

Here’s How to Enable Offline Maps in the Google Maps App

Google Maps shown on an iPad on June 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.
Google Maps shown on an iPad on June 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Thomas Imo—Photothek via Getty Images

The feature can be a huge help when traveling internationally—or just navigating from the subway

Guess what! Google Maps has a hidden offline feature that can be used anywhere.

It may be 2015 but Zuckerberg’s mission to get the whole world on the Internet has yet to be fulfilled. Thankfully, Google Maps has a dark horse ready to ride us out of the Internetless-danger zones — OK Maps. This rarely talked about feature allows smartphone users to access Google Maps even when there is no Wi-Fi or data services available, for both the Android and iOS version of Google Maps. The only catch? You have to save the map ahead of time.

I wanted to give the tool a try to see how well it would serve as a guide when the Internet has betrayed me. To my surprise, OK Maps is remarkably easy to use. The only major downside I found was that saved maps are well, just maps: raw, downright simple maps. It does not allow users to route directions or search places offline and only provides a visual of the place you save. It’s basically an old school paper map but with a flashier screen.

Some point before an excursion, you’ll need to find a location where you have either Internet data or Wi-Fi available. To start, open the Google Maps app and sign into your Google account. Next, type in the location you want an offline map for. Living out my dream trip to Ireland, I use Dublin as an example.

Zoom in or out to focus in on the area that you know you will need for offline access. Google Maps allows users to zoom in and out from saved maps and gives closer details of streets and buildings offline. So it’s generally more useful to zoom out when creating a new map: there’s more data to look at later since it saves more minute details than you think it would.

The OK Maps feature can only download areas as large as 50 km (31.7 miles) x 50 km (31.7 miles). If the area you are trying to save is too large, the app will alert you to zoom in to save. If you really need an entire area, my suggestion would be to create two maps (ex. Dublin East and Dublin West) and use those interchangeably if necessary.

Next, tap the search bar again, this time, typing in the magic phrase “OK Maps” or, according to Lifehacker, “Okay maps.” Google Maps will ask you if you want to save the map. If the area looks good, tap “save.” The app will then ask users to name the map for reference later. All done.

Once the map is saved, it can be accessed again offline by opening the app and clicking on the menu button in the search bar. Depending on the type of mobile device you have, this may look like an icon in the shape of a person or three horizontal lines like in my example. This will take you to your Google Maps account where you can select “My Places.” Scroll down and voilà, your offline map is there for viewing.

Last July, Google announced they had created a new feature to make offline maps even more accessible for users. The feature functions the same way as OK Maps—i.e. you can’t get directions offline but you can look at previously saved maps—however there is a more direct way of saving maps that doesn’t require typing in the elusive “OK Maps” passcode.

To use the alternative method, open up Google Maps and again search for your place. Here, I choose San Francisco. Next, pull up the information about the location you just searched. This can be done by clicking on the name of the location at the bottom of the map. The screen will then change to the information brief. On this window, touch the menu sign (looks like three circles stacked on top of each other) in the top right corner.

When the menu comes up, an option to “Save offline map” will appear. You will want to choose this and then zoom in to your select location. Just as with using OK Maps, these maps can be accessed from within “My Places” on the Google Maps app.

Keep in mind that Google Maps only saves offline maps for up to 30 days. After that, they are wiped off your app. If you need the maps for a longer period of time, you can update the map by going into “My Places,” then selecting “View all and manage.” Find the map you want to renew and click its corresponding menu sign (three stacked circles on the right). Now it is good for the next 30 days.

Although it may not provide the same directive advice Google Maps has taught me to rely on, the offline maps feature can definitely be a useful tool to help get around an unfamiliar location. Even if the excitement of feeling like the Sherlock Holmes of Google Maps wears off, I’m sure saving money by not purchasing an international data plan will still win me over.

This article originally appeared on Map Happy.

More from Map Happy:

Read next: The Travel Hacks You Should Know (But Probably Don’t)

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TIME Security

Hackers Hit Malaysia Airlines Website

The airline says no customer data at risk

Malaysia Airlines said Monday that its website had been “compromised,” though it denied reports that hackers had actually infiltrated the site itself and said no customer information was at risk.

Beginning late Sunday night, users going on the airline’s website were directed to a page touting messages from a group claiming to be aligned with Islamist extremism. The browser window, reading “ISIS WILL PREVAIL,” stood over a page displaying the image of an aircraft along with the message “404- Plane Not Found.” Malaysia Airlines is still suffering from the fallout of two downed planes in the last year, one of which was shot down over Ukraine and the other that has yet to be recovered.

Others were shown similar messaging over the image of a reptile donning a monocle and top hat.

A hacker group called Lizard Squad, also going by Cyber Caliphate, has taken credit and boasted about the alleged hack on Twitter.

Malaysia Airlines released a public statement on its Facebook page assuring customers that although its site “has been compromised where users are re-directed to a hacker website… Malaysia Airlines assures customers and clients that its website was not hacked and this temporary glitch does not affect their bookings and that user data remains secured.”

Although Malaysiaairlines.com was down Monday morning, the company had created a separate site where customers could check into their flights.

Lizard Squad still claimed that data has been compromised.

 

TIME White House

Drone Lands Inside White House Grounds

A member of the US Secret Service stands guard in front of the White House in Washington on Oct. 23, 2014.
A member of the US Secret Service stands guard in front of the White House in Washington on Oct. 23, 2014. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

The device prompted an increased security presence around the White House

NEW DELHI, India — A drone landed inside the White House grounds early Monday, a federal law enforcement official told NBC News.

The official gave no further details about the unmanned aerial vehicle, other than to say it landed in a tree at 3 a.m. ET. The Secret Service responded and determined the drone did not pose a threat, the official said.

Earlier, President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest told a briefing on Obama’s trip to India that a “device” was found within the White House grounds. Earnest gave no further details.

The device prompted an increased security presence around the White House early Monday…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME electronics

This Is the Best $500 Television You Can Buy

A Vizio E-Series flat panel television.
A Vizio E-Series flat panel television. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission—ASSOCIATED PRESS

It's the Vizio E500i-B1

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com.

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If I were looking for a good, inexpensive, 50-inch TV, I’d get the Vizio E500i-B1. It has above-average picture quality—better than many more expensive models—with impressively dark blacks (a rarity in this price range of LCD), bright whites, decent motion resolution, and reasonably accurate colors. It also consistently gets top marks from the best TV reviewers on the web.

If the Vizio is sold out, or otherwise unavailable, the Panasonic 50AS530U offers almost as good picture quality but costs a bit more money ($600 as of this writing). Its contrast ratio isn’t quite as good as the Vizio, but the motion resolution is decent.

Who should get this TV?

If your TV is dying, has died, or you’re looking for something larger, this TV offers pretty good performance for a low price.

In terms of picture quality, this TV is generally better than most LCDs in this price range. Upgrading to more expensive models will result in better motion resolution, better contrast ratios, and more accurate colors. (In other words, these qualities makes a more lifelike, realistic picture.)

Keep in mind, though, that for around $500, when it comes to a 50-inch TV, there is no clear winner in terms of picture quality. All have strengths and weaknesses. And stepping down slightly in size doesn’t get you enough of an increase in picture quality to offset the loss in size. So even a great-looking 40-inch TV doesn’t look enough better than the Vizio to make up for how much smaller it is.

If the best picture quality possible is your goal, check out our Best TV guide.

How we picked

$500 can get you pretty great picture quality. According to our research, spending a bit more for this size doesn’t yield much (if any) improvement in picture quality.

I also eliminated most smaller screen sizes in the same price range: 48 inches was okay, 47 was pushing it, and 46 would have to be pretty amazing to make up for its smaller size.

Off-brand TVs aren’t going to offer better picture quality than one of the major brands. Unlike many categories we cover at the Wirecutter, good TVs don’t just “happen.” There isn’t going to be a surprise no-name brand that looks better than the big names. Not this year, anyway. Maybe someday.

After making this shortlist, I queried the opinions of TV reviewers I trust. The E-series was consistently among the most positively reviewed, but only by a small amount. To be honest, the TVs in this range are “good,” but none are “great.” That’s just the nature of this part of the market.

Our Pick

The Vizio E-series wins out for having impressively dark black levels (again, a rarity in this price range of LCD), but still having a bright image. The motion resolution is OK, as is the color accuracy. Neither of the last two are standouts, but neither are “bad.” Overall the image is “very good,” which, when you consider the price, is excellent.

Input lag, important to gamers, is excellent: under 30 ms. Average for TVs is around 55 ms.

Though it seems an odd aspect to praise, no reviewer seemed to dislike the E-series. For an inexpensive LCD, that’s actually pretty impressive.

CNET liked the E-series the best, giving it a 4/5 stars and an 8/10 for performance. They concluded, “With picture quality that outdoes that of numerous more-expensive TVs, Vizio’s E series likely represents the best value of 2014.”

Digital Trends liked the E-series, as did Sound & Vision and Rtings.com.

Consumer Reports liked the E-series the least of the major review sites (paywall), giving the 50-inch a 57/100. Their highest rating in this size is 69/100, our runner up. They felt it had “Very Good” image quality overall, praising the detail and black levels, but found the color accuracy and viewing angle to be below average (more on the latter in the Flaws section.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Like all LCDs, the E-series has some picture quality drawbacks, most notably, motion blur and off-axis viewing. Motion blur is when the image blurs when something on screen moves (or the entire image movies, like a camera pan). The E-series uses a method to reduce motion blur called black frame insertion. CNET said this reduced blur “slightly,” but they “ended up turning off MBR because it tended to introduce flicker in some areas, particularly white fields.”

To get better motion resolution and otherwise decent picture quality, you’ll have to spend a lot more.

The other issue is off-axis viewing. The color saturation and overall picture quality decreases the further away you are from dead center. If you have a big couch, or tend to have people (you like) that sit off to the sides of a TV, consider the similarly priced 49-inch Vizio M-series. This TV doesn’t look as good straight on, but will look better than the E-series off to the side.

Lastly: sound. No TV in this range has good sound quality. In fact, with very few exceptions, no TV has good sound quality. We highly recommend checking out an inexpensive soundbar, which will sound radically better than any TV. OK, almost any TV.

Reported issues

There are reports on the E-series TVs shutting down randomly. It’s hard (if not impossible) to judge how many units are truly affected by this issue. We go into depth about this in the full guide but the short version is, from what we can tell from Amazon reviews, approximately 4 percent of people have this problem. According to Consumer Reports, LCD TVs in general have a 3-5 percent problem rate, so this is in that range.

The Vizio’s satisfaction ratio is a bit lower than the top competition, which isn’t ideal, but all are fairly close. 76 percent (4 and 5 stars) are happy with their E-series. No TV is perfect.

If you run into these issues, Amazon has a 30-day return policy. Costco gives 90 days to members. Best Buy’s policy is 15 days. Vizio’s warranty is 1 year on parts and labor.

For now the E-series remains the pick, but if these potential issues concern you, check out our runner-up pick.

Runner-up

The Panasonic 50AS530U was liked by some reviewers more than Vizio’s E-series and by other reviewers less so. The difference was so close that it wasn’t quite enough to offset the $50 (9%) difference in price. The contrast ratio isn’t quite as good; the color accuracy is similar, as is the motion resolution. The off-axis performance is a little better.

Competition

For a full list of the TVs we considered, but didn’t pick, check out the full article.

Is now the best time to buy?

A bevy of new TVs were announced at the yearly Consumer Electronics Show in early January. It’s too soon to tell which might be our pick for 2015, but we know they’re coming. We expect to start seeing reviews and tests of the new models this summer. Will the new models be better than the Vizio? We honestly don’t know. Most new models are better than the ones they replace, but not always. For now, the E-series is a great TV.

Wrapping it up

The Vizio E500i-B1 is a great $500(ish) 50-inch TV. It has above-average picture quality, with dark black levels and a bright image. Its color accuracy and motion resolution are only okay, but that’s not too different from other TVs in this price range. In short, it’s a decent, inexpensive 50-inch TV.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Wirecutter.com.

TIME How-To

Here’s What to Do When Your Computer Runs Out of Space

TIME.com stock photos Computer Mouse
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Photos, videos, and apps aren’t the only thing clogging up your hard drive

You’re cruising along the Internet, mouse in one hand, coffee in the other, and then — wham — like Wile E. Coyote hitting a brick wall, your computer has stopped you in your tracks. “Low Disk Space” reads the flag on your PC’s system tray. Or, if you’re on a Mac, you get the alarming alert window that says, “Your startup disk is almost full.”

“Because computers are so flexible now — from music and videos to pictures they’ve downloaded from their phone — there’s just a lot of sources of data that end up on your PC,” says Jamie McGuffie, president of Plymouth, Mich.-based EdgeRunner, which produces SpaceMonger, a great Windows-based tool for seeing how much space your files are taking up.

But before you need a program like his, there are several other steps you should take to put your hard drive on a diet.

Step 1: Empty Your Trash

This will seem like a no-brainer to most of the people reading this article, and that’s why it’s the first step. So, if you’ve forgotten to dump that overflowing bin in the corner of your screen, do so now. While it’s possible that you’ll can free up enough space to solve the problem, it’s unlikely to be the case. You got here out of years and gigabytes of neglect, and it’s going to take more than one click to fix the problem.

Step 2: Dump Your Download Folder

Whether you’re on a Mac or a PC, download folders are like their own special little episode of Hoarders. Remember that AOL Instant Messenger download, your resume from that job you applied for in 2007, and the photos your friend took from that concert you went to three summers ago? They are all in here, having a party that’s raging so hard that it’s wrecking your computer.

It’s time to kick some of these files to the curb. If you’re on a Mac, you’ll find your Download folder next to the Trash Bin in the Dock. If you’re on a PC, you can find it by navigating to c://users/username/appdata/local/temp. Sift through the files in there and toss the ones you no longer need into the trash. If you’re a frequent Internet user, you’ll be surprised at not only how many files are in there, but also by how much space you free up.

Step 3: Eliminate One-Time Files

McGuffie points to one-time files as a serious disk space offender for people looking to recover some real estate on their hard drive. “Files are bigger in general because people are using their PCs as multi-purpose tools, with graphics, video, and music files,” he says. “You can just leave things out there and forget about them, but there are some significant amounts of storage tied up there over time.”

While the Download folder is the chief offender in providing refuge for most of these files, you’ll find them all over your hard drive — especially in your media libraries. Videos you’ve taken with your phone but never looked at since, your salivating collection of dessert photos, and the music albums that are so last year — all these files are squatting in your hard drive, and it’s time to evict them.

But the worst of the worst are movie files, downloads of cinematic films that you bought (you did buy them, right?) online. Those can take up anywhere from one to five gigabytes each. And if you did actually buy those movies, there’s little reason to keep them on your computer, because all the major online media stores let you re-download your files after the initial purchase.

Step 4: Clean Up Your Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a great tool for people to access their data no matter where they go. But if left unchecked, it can gobble up space in your computer’s hard drive like a cancer. “People forget that automatic backups are very big,” says McGuffie. “Things that are backed up by mobile devices and synced from the cloud take up a lot of space.”

But thinning out your backups and cloud storage can be a challenge. Start by going into the cloud storage and eliminating files you don’t need anymore — those files are also on your computer, and when you delete them from the web, the service will sync and remove them from your hard drive. It’s also a good idea to look for entirely duplicate cloud libraries on your computer. Sometimes, when services upgrade how they work, they leave behind libraries from versions past.

In addition—especially if you’re using an iPhone or iPad, go into iTunes, select Preferences, and look at the Devices tab. There you will find a listing of all the backups for your iDevice. Delete all but the most recent one. “It seems like every device is cross-syncing to every other device and that’s where you’re getting a lot of storage being consumed,” says McGuffie.

Step 5: Audit Your Entire Computer

This is where programs like SpaceMonger come in. This PC app, and its competitors WinDirStat and TreeSize, scan hard drives and allow users to look at their storage allocations in several different ways. Using a Treemap visual, users can quickly see what directories are taking up the most space on the drive, and drill down into those folders to even discover the individual files that are the culprits. These programs are great for finding far-flung files that are mucking up your machine, like the horde of email attachments from when you bought a home back in 2004.

On Macs, DaisyDisk also breaks down storage into an easy-to-browse, pie-chart like interface.

Step 6: Archive onto An External Drive

Once you’ve combed through the previous steps — and all your files — you’ll have a great idea of what’s hogging all the blankets on your computer. Though items like your photo and music libraries default to being stored on your computer’s internal hard drive, you can actually move these to external drives (at least on a Mac), giving the rest of your system the elbow room it needs to zip around like the Road Runner, not his unfortunate adversary.

TIME How-To

How To Get Your In-Ear Headphones to Fit Better

headphones
Getty Images

Try looping the cable that connects them behind your head and around the top of each ear

If your earphones are too loose or aren’t seated well in your ear, even the best in-ear headphones, or earphones, can sound awful. And if they’re too tight, they can quickly become uncomfortable. To get the most out of your earphones, follow these tips to getting the proper fit.

Size and material matter

The key to a proper earphone fit is using the right size ear tip. So try the various sizes of foam and silicon tips that come with your earphones. Foam tips are more forgiving for size differences, so they’re a good option for hard-to-fit ears.

For comfort and better fit, you can also buy specialized tips. Comply also makes a 3-pair foam variety pack that includes a pair of sound isolation tips, sport tips (without SweatGuard) and comfort tips in your choice of S, M or L for $14.95 on Comply.com. And Monster makes a 6-pair variety packs with extra-soft gel tips and foam tips in S, M and L for $17.71 on Amazon.com.

Also, one of your ears may be slightly larger than the other, so you may need to use a different size tip for each ear.

Seat the eartip firmly

To get the best sound, you need to seal your ear canal with the eartip. So simply pushing an eartip into your ear often isn’t enough to create a proper seal. Try gently pulling on the outer rim of your ear to ease the tip into a comfortable position. You should notice a drop in ambient noise when the tip is seated correctly. And when you’re listening to music, you’ll notice more range, especially bass.

Secure the tip for sports

Getting headphones for working out to fit well is particularly tricky. The constant pulling on the eartip as you move can loosen even well-inserted eartips.

Try looping the cable that connects them behind your head and around the top of each ear. For eartips that are angled to fit in the ear canal, place the side marked “L” in your right ear and the side marked “R” in your left ear. Some headphones, like those made by Shure, are designed to be worn this way, so check before swapping sides.

Make sure to use any stabilizers that may have come packed with the earphones. These plastic pieces basically wedge the eartip into place to keep it from wiggling as you move. You can also try a generic stabilizer, like the BudLocks Earphone Sport Grips ($14.95 on Amazon). And for Apple Earpods, there are Earbudi Clips ear hooks ($9.99 on Amazon) you can attach to help them stay in place.

If your earphones come with eartips that have double or triple flanges, you may find they stay put better than the regular tips. And check to see if your earphones are compatible with Comply’s new Sport Plus tips ($12.95 on Comply.com) with SweatGuard that prevent slipping when you exercise and moisture from getting in your earphones.

You can also try anchoring the headphone cable to your shirt with a clothing clip so it doesn’t flop around as much. I like Bud Button, a magnetic cord holder ($11.99 on Amazon) that anchors your earphone cord to your shirt, or Sport Guppy ($12.99 at Amazon.com), a magnetic clip that also attaches to your shirt and holds excess cord.

Need a new pair of headphones? Check out our picks for great sports headphones under $50 and the best Bluetooth headphones.

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

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