DIY-IT: Top 10 how-to articles of 2016

We publish a lot of how-to articles here on ZDNet, especially in the DIY-IT column hosted by David Gewirtz. To wrap up our year, David takes you through ten of the most popular how-tos from 2016. Happy New Year, folks!
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

Timur Arbaev, Getty Images/iStockphoto

I write a lot of articles each year for the DIY-IT column here on ZDNet. While many of my project articles are popular, it's the how-to articles that readers seem need the most.

In this quick column, I'll point you to the most popular how-tos from 2016. If you're about to do, here's how.

#1 - How to back up your Office 365 email database to your local computer

First on our hit list is what we call an "evergreen" article, an article that's always relevant, even years after it was written. This article was first published in 2014, but it's still useful today.

One reader asked how to back up an Office 365 document locally. It's pretty simple. Read this guide for the step-by-step process (which works with other Exchange servers, too).

#2 - So you have an app idea and want to make a bajillion bucks

This article has spawned more email than any other article I think I've ever written. A lot of people want to get started building an app. Unfortunately, I'm not Harry Potter, so I can't wave a magic wand and make you an app bajillionaire. But I can point you to a bunch of useful tips to get you started.

This is just part of my extensive Software Business Crash Course series, so if you're serious about being in the software business, you should give that series a complete read.

#3 - A dozen helpful Amazon Echo how-to tips and tricks

Without a doubt, our Alexas are probably our most beloved tech purchases of the last few years, and yet the least absolutely necessary. They're good prototypes of the idea of an intelligent assistant. Like assistants, they assist, but like assistants, you can pretty much do everything they do, but are too lazy to do yourself.

#4 - Linux survival guide: These 21 applications let you move easily between Linux and Windows

If you need to navigate regularly between Linux and the Windows world, there are many applications that can make your job easier. We spotlight 21 quality applications that will pave the way.

#5 - How to build an SMS text auto-responder using Google Voice and Gmail

There's no need to spend on an expensive solution to automatically respond to incoming text messages. This simple step-by-step guide will show you how to build it yourself in about 10 minutes.

#6 - Google Voice: A step-by-step primer on ditching your landline while keeping your number

Google doesn't normally allow you to port a landline phone number to Google Voice. This step-by-step primer shows you how you can do it. This article has been updated a bunch of times since its original debut in 2011.

Readers have reported to me as recently as last month that the general process still works, although you might want to find a different cheap transfer phone instead of the AT&T Go, which is apparently difficult to come by.

#7 - Which programming languages are most popular (and what does that even mean)?

While this isn't strictly a "how-to" in that it doesn't include a bunch of step-by-step steps, it does tell you how to choose a programming language if you want to get into programming.

#8 - The ultimate guide to Gmail backup

While relying on Google to maintain your email database is a reasonable approach, there's always the possibility that something could go wrong. If you want to make sure you have a local or backup copy of all that mission-critical business and personal history in your Gmail archives, I walk you through an array of options.

#9 - How to break into the mobile app business with little cash and no programming skill

This is another article from my Software Business Crash Course series and is the one that probably has the most tangible "do this, then that" set of steps. Nothing about succeeding in software is easy, but it's certainly not impossible. In this article, I'll show you how to get started doing it for real.

#10 - How to migrate from Windows XP to Windows 10 in 8 reboots or less

Windows XP, nostalgic as we might be for it, is s security nightmare. After the bad dream that was Windows 8, it's almost surprising how nice an OS Windows 10 has turned out to be.

If you're still running a Windows XP machine, here's a guide for upgrading to Windows 10 without tears. It's worth the upgrade.

On deck for 2017

I don't want to spoil the surprise with lots of specifics, but I've got a lot of projects in progress for their big reveals in 2017. I also have some very cool hardware in place that you're bound to find interesting. Stay tuned.

From my wife and I and our little pup, and from all of us here at ZDNet and CBS Interactive, stay safe, have a great holiday and a very Happy New Year. See you in 2017!

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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