Q: I got a new Asus laptop for Christmas. It has a 256GB solid-state hard drive (SSD), which is about 74% full. I am told that Windows starts to slow down when the drive reaches 80% capacity, and I’ve made some small attempts to remove some files to free up space, though I don’t think my recycle bin has started deleting items yet. This machine runs great, except for one small but annoying problem.

Another problem I’m having is that I frequently need to access two files in a subfolder of downloads, then merge those two into a ZOOM recording, which is stored in the ZOOM folder of documents. Usually this works fine if Audacity is the first program I’ve run after powering up the machine. However, if I were to perform this operation after I hit send on this message, Audacity hangs at the point where I click on the other system folder. What could be the problem, and how do I fix it?

Bob Cavanaugh, Vancouver

A: A quick internet search shows that you are not alone in having troubles using Audacity with Windows Explorer. First, I’d check to make sure you’re running the latest version of Audacity. If you do have the latest version and are still experiencing the problem there’s one fix you can try.

Go the following hidden folder: Users\\<username>\\AppData\\Roaming\\audacity\\ and then delete the following files: audacity.cfg, pluginregistry.cfg, and pluginsettings.cfg.

To do this, of course, you’ll have to have Windows Explorer configured to show hidden folders. In Windows Explorer, click on the three dots in the upper-right corner and then select Options/View and scroll down until you find “Hidden Files and Folders.” Finally, click the radio button next to “Show hidden files, folders and drives.”

If the problem persists, I’d think about using a different audio-editing program.

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And by the way, yes, Windows can slow down if you don’t have enough free space on your drive. That’s because when Windows runs out of random access memory it will swap data to the hard drive. The hard drive is, in short, used as “virtual memory.” If that happens a lot it will also shorten the usable life of your SSD.

Also, be aware that you can manually delete files in your recycle bin. To do so, right-click on the Recycle Bin and then select “Empty Recycle Bin.”

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Q: I’ve been having trouble with missing and nonworking Windows icons. Recently, I went into my den and found our son playing on my computer. He was doing what he called art. His art amounted to changing the colors, fonts, icons, etc. of what he put on the screen. I asked him if he did this art often and he said sometimes he did it when he found the computer on.  

I wonder if he has made permanent changes to Windows 11 that are causing my trouble. If so, is there a way to go back to the default appearance settings?

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Stephen Danielson

A: Yes, you can reset Windows 11 to its default settings. Click on the Window icon in the lower-left corner and then select Settings. Click on System in the left-hand panel and then scroll down and select Recovery. Then click on “Reset PC.” Next, follow the on-screen prompts, including selecting to retain your data files.

And you may want to consider requiring a login to get back into Windows after it’s been idle. If your computer has a video cam, you can use Windows Hello to simplify the process. It will log you in simply by recognizing your face.

But Windows Hello is not the only way you can log in. If you go to System/Accounts you’ll see a list of available ways to log in: face recognition, fingerprint recognition, PIN, security key, password, or picture password.