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Add the Win+X power menu to your toolkit
Beginning with Windows 8.1, Microsoft restored the Start button to the left side of the taskbar. Click it and you go straight to the Start screen, not to a Start menu.
Ah, but right-clickthat Start button and you get a menu that will make a Windows geek's eyes well up with tears of joy. Virtually every common administrative tool is there, including an option to open a Command Prompt or PowerShell window using an administrator's credentials.
This menu is available on a touchscreen as well. Just tap and hold the Start button for a second or two, then release it to display this menu.
Move your OneDrive cache
Windows 8.1 has its own built-in file sync service, OneDrive (previously SkyDrive).
By default, it allows you to sync files from the cloud to a system folder in your user profile. But if you're using a device with relatively limited storage, like a 32 GB tablet, that can be a problem.
The solution is to right-click the OneDrive icon in the navigation bar on the left of File Explorer and choose Properties. On the Location tab, shown here, you can move the OneDrive files to another location, such as a MicroSD card in an expansion slot. Note that this option will fail unless the target drive is formatted with NTFS.
Turn on File History, the auto-backup feature
Over the past decade, Windows has had no fewer than four different backup tools. Which no one ever used.
File History, which is the implementation in Windows 8.x, is the latest incarnation, and it probably comes closer than any of its predecessors to delivering on the promise of being able to undelete files and folders, roll back to previous versions, and even restore or transfer all your data to a new PC.
You need a separate storage device to use this feature: an external hard disk, a USB flash drive (which you should encrypt), or a network share, which you have to set up using the File History settings in the desktop Control Panel. (Although it's possible to point File History to a separate partition on your system drive, I don't recommend that setting, which leaves you completely unprotected in the event of a disk crash.)
Oh, and the Windows 8.1 Update fixes a design flaw in previous versions of File History. Now, those backups also include OneDrive files you've synced to the local PC or device. So if you want to recover that brilliant paragraph from the first draft of the document you've been working on since last week, you can. Even if it's stored inthe cloud.