AskBob's Best of 2021 - Part One

Category: Reference

I want express my sincere THANKS to YOU and the 129,688 others who have subscribed to the AskBob newsletter since 2005. I celebrated the 16th anniversary of this newsletter, and there are over 3000 articles here now. Many of you are regular readers and contribute comments, which I love. And since I love numbers almost as much as words, I asked my robot to scan the server logs to find the most popular articles of the year. Here are ten of the top articles for you to review. I hope you'll check out each one, leave your own comments, forward this to a friend, and tell them to sign up for more...

Your Favorite AskBob Stories of 2021

As always, there were some key concepts that dominated the year in tech. Windows... Security... Privacy... Wifi... and Smartphones. Those phrases also popped up often in the most popular items published here during 2021. Whether you're a long-time reader, or a recent subscriber, I'm sure you'll enjoy reviewing the first installment of my "Top Ten" list below. Part Two will be arriving tomorrow...

1. Here's How to Get Free Satellite TV

By an overwhelming margin, the most popular reader question this year was 'Can I get satellite TV for free?' Have you heard about free satellite TV channels one can receive with a free-to-air satellite receiver and dish, and wondered if this is true? And if so, what satellite channels can you get, what equipment do you need, and is it legal? The short answer is YES, you can. Read on to learn about free satellite TV options...

2. Review: PC Matic Gets a Zero!

I’ve been a happy user of PC Matic since September 2018, after having finally given in to the many reader suggestions that I try it and post a review for AskBobRankin readers. Long story short, I was pleasantly surprised -- enough so to ditch the antivirus program I was then using, and give my enthusiastic recommendation to PC Matic. Find out why I gave PC Matic a ZERO, and why that's actually a GOOD thing! See also my review of PC Matic 4.0...

AskBob - The top stories of 2021

3. TEN Easy Ways to Destroy Your Smartphone

All too often, smartphones make you feel dumb. Even the most imperturbable Zen Masters among us have felt the perfectly understandable urge to wreak utter destruction upon that pocket-sized device that makes us feel so clumsy and stupid. But in most cases, a phone’s demise is deemed “accidental.” Here are ten easy ways to destroy a smartphone, and how to avoid those inconvenient mishaps…

4. How to Detect and ZAP WiFi Leeches

Is your home WiFi connection sometimes mysteriously slow? It's possible that your Internet connection is being 'borrowed' by a stranger. So how can you tell if a neighbor (or a malicious hacker) has tapped into your wifi? There are many possible reasons why your wireless Internet connection might suddenly slow to a crawl. Read on to learn how you can bust bandwidth bandits, and give digital leeches the boot...

Speaking of privacy, DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn't compile data dossiers about their users and sell that information to advertisers. See Is DuckDuckGo Better Than Google? to find out if DuckDuckGo can be your primary search engine, and if this fast-growing, privacy-focused option is likely to knock Google off its perch as the top search engine...

5. Here’s How to Boost Your WiFi Signal

Wireless devices are everywhere now... from laptops to smartphones, tablets, portable speakers, and ebook readers. Printers, hard drives, even light blubs and refrigerators can be connected to a wifi network. So it's important to maximize the wifi signal where it's needed in your home. Check out my recommended tweaks, tricks and gadgets to boost wireless signal strength and distance?

6. Should You Build Your Own PC?

It's true that personal computers are complex machines. But under the hood, they basically consist of modules that plug together. You can build your own computer without a soldering iron or a degree in electrical engineering. You will learn a lot about the inner workings of a PC, and end up with exactly the system that you want, not some vendor's idea of what you should buy. So, you want to build your own PC? Grab your screwdriver, and read on for my advice...

7. Where is Your Antivirus Made?

I was checking out a new free antivirus program that scored well on Virus Bulletin’s detection tests. I was about to download it for a thorough review when I discovered it’s made in China. That got me thinking: does it really matter where antivirus software is made? Are the good guys who defend us against bad guys all completely good? Can we trust them implicitly just because they make antivirus software and get it tested by independent labs? Well, it seems we do. But should we? Read on...

8. [SOLVED] The Out of Memory Error

Are you seeing Out of Memory or Low Memory errors? Should you delete some files, get a new hard drive or is it something else? A number of different things can cause "out of memory" error messages. Lack of hard disk space is one of them, in some circumstances. But when your computer complains about not having enough memory, it's (almost always) referring to RAM -- the working memory that's installed on your computer's motherboard, not your hard drive. Here's the solution to this common problem...

Are you limping along with limited RAM memory? See my related article Do You Need More Memory? for help with the task of selecting and installing additional RAM memory in your desktop or laptop computer.

9. Is PeekYou Good or Evil?

Some people are concerned that searching for their name on PeekYou reveals details they assumed were private. This includes their address, and in some cases a map which pinpoints their home address. You might be shocked at the personal information they have compiled about you. How does PeekYou find this information, and is it evil to make it accessible to anyone with a computer and a mouse? Let's dig into PeekYou and render a verdict...

My article Can You Remove Yourself From The Internet? explores whether it is possible to wipe all traces of yourself from the Internet. It's not easy, but there are some things you can try.

10. [RECOMMENDED] Seven Free Software Downloads

To keep your computer running smoothly, I always recommend removing all the non-essential programs that came preloaded. Next, you should load the best freeware for everday computing. There are thousands of free programs available online. But there are only a handful that I consider essential, and I download them to every new computer. From security to web browsing, to graphics, productivity, and troubleshooting, here are seven of the most popular and useful free downloads.

On a related note, see my article How to Clean Up Your Hard Drive, for some tips on cleaning out computer clogging "crapware" and reclaiming that space on your hard drive.

I hope you enjoy reading (or re-discovering) each of these, and of course, leave your own comments! If you're not a subscriber, you can sign up for AskBob Updates, or forward this to a friend who would enjoy it. Tomorrow I'll publish Part Two of AskBob's Best of 2021, so stay tuned!

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Most recent comments on "AskBob's Best of 2021 - Part One"

Posted by:

30 Dec 2021

It has been several years since I discovered Bob'S site and now I wouldn't be without it.
is suggestions, insight and knowledge have helped to keep everything running better than the manufacturer ever dreamed of.

As a senior on a fixed income his hints, as well as, the links he provides have not only saved us money but his everyday descriptions aren't laced with technical jargon making everything easy to understand.

Thank you Bob. Happy New Year and I look to what 2022 may hold when we Ask Bob.

Posted by:

R Henry
30 Dec 2021

Another educational year; thanks Bob!
Yours is my go-to site, along with AskLeo and AskWoody.
All the best to you in 2022!

Posted by:

Bill C
30 Dec 2021

Bob, thanks for what you do and have a happy and prosperous new year.

Posted by:

30 Dec 2021

As always Bob, thank you and have a Happy New Year.

Posted by:

John L.
31 Dec 2021

I have been a subscriber for a few years now and I have learned so much from you in that time. So thanks Bob for another great year and may there be many more.

Posted by:

31 Dec 2021

I always look forward to your posts and am disappointed, living in the UK, when your subject matter is US-specific and I will have to wait a few more days before the next chance to learn something that may be useful to me!

But most are more widely applicable, and many of these have added to my computer knowledge or enjoyment of life online.

Many thanks, Happy New Year 2022, Bob!

Posted by:

Bert L.
31 Dec 2021

Danke Bob, für wieder ein Jahr mit Deinen informativen Artikeln! Beste Wünsche für ein Gutes und Gesundes Neues Jahr 2022!

Posted by:

31 Dec 2021

Thank you, Bob, for your interesting and helpful articles. Happy New Year!

And to Bert L., I was able to understand your comment, proving once again that English is basically a Germanic language, with additions. (

Posted by:

31 Dec 2021

Thank you, Bob, for all the helpful information this past year. Wishing you and all your readers a Happy New Year!!

Posted by:

Ryan James
02 Jan 2022

Uh Bob, "YES... spelling, punctuation, grammar..."
"I want express my sincere"

EDITOR'S NOTE: To be fair, that's not a spelling, punctuation, or grammar mistake. That falls in the category of sloppy proof-reading. Good catch! :-)

Posted by:

02 Jan 2022

Thanks for "Ask Bob Rankin". As an elder with minimal tech knowledge, I really appreciate your sharing of the info and knowledge you possess in an understandable way. A tech friend of mine, years ago, subscribed to your letter for me on my PC and I read it every time you post.

Again, many THANKS. Happy New Year.

Posted by:

George Valkinov
03 Jan 2022

Hi Bob,
Happy New Year!
Thanks for the intelligently presented useful information.
All the best!

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- AskBob's Best of 2021 - Part One (Posted: 30 Dec 2021)
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