Ask Leo! #338 – Preparing for a subpoena, backing up Outlook, external drive boot problems and more…

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Why can't my machine boot if my external drive is plugged in?

Why does my desktop stop booting up with an external 1TB USB drive attached and switched on? It boots normally from the normal internal 80GB drive with the external 1TB drive switched off!!


This happens surprisingly often - I've heard many people mention it.

Typically, they'll just leave the external drive powered off until the machine has finished booting; at which point, they turn it on and Windows recognizes it.

Depending on how you use your machine, that might be the most appropriate solution.

On the other hand, it's also possible that it's a very simple fix.

Continue reading: Why can't my machine boot if my external drive is plugged in?

* * *

How much of my data can be subpoenaed?

I've read your current article as well as the referenced articles regarding secure deletion, but I haven't seen anything regarding hidden copies of files. Maybe it's just urban legend, but I've been led to believe that Windows places copies of data in locations other than the ones that you see. That even the so-called secure 'wipe' leaves other copies available to trained cyber forensic specialists.

So you've also now made me question the security of my Carbonite backup. Knowledgeable hacks like yourself and certainly law enforcement professionals can access all of my data either by simply downloading or by especially subpoenaing it. Or is that thinking not really 'real'?


This question raises a number of issues that in some ways, all boil down to "Just how paranoid are you?" And I mean that not in a negative way at all.

The fact is that much of the data that we own can be examined by others, sometimes incidentally, sometimes only as a matter of legal proceedings.

In this audio excerpt from a recent Ask Leo! webinar, I'll discuss some of the things that are worth considering if you're at all concerned about the accessibility of your digital life.

... and even if you're not.

Continue reading: How much of my data can be subpoenaed?

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How do I backup email to an external hard disk using Outlook?

In Outlook, I've created an Archive folder for my mail as part of Sent mail. I want to move all of the messages to an external hard drive, but when I try, it only gives me the option of text only, which I presume is the header of each message. If I select one message, I can save it as Outlook message format which displays the whole message. I have some 2,000 messages that I would like to transfer. Is that possible? I should probably delete the whole lot, but on rare occasions, I have to check an old message in my line of work.


If you're just dragging and dropping email messages from Outlook to your external hard disk as viewed in Windows Explorer, I believe you'll get a separate file for each message that you select. In Outlook 2010, I get a .msg file (which is not a text file) for each.

That's one way to do it, but it isn't particularly manageable.

I prefer a different approach that is actually exceptionally flexible both now while archiving, and later, when you need to access your archive.

Continue reading: How do I backup email to an external hard disk using Outlook?

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*** Word o' the Week


Disc, spelled with a c and not a k, specifically refers to optical media.

CD, DVD, and Blu-ray technologies are all optical storage mechanisms using lasers of one form or another to read from their corresponding media. As a result those media are most properly referred to as discs and not disks.

The term "disk" is then reserved for everything else, most commonly magnetic media such as hard disks.

Word o' the Week features a computer term or acronym taken from the Ask Leo! Glossary. If there's a word you're not sure of and would like to see defined, click here to let me know.

*** Leo Recommends

CutePDF Writer - Create PDFs from any application that can print.

Some time ago, I decided to go as paperless as I could. My recommendation of the ScanSnap document scanner was a big part of that and it allowed me to completely empty three drawers of my four-drawer file cabinet, saving documents digitally instead.

Once you're in the habit of creating PDFs from paper documents, the ease with which PDFs can be used, saved, searched, and, perhaps most importantly, backed up becomes readily apparent.

As a result, I've also cut down on the amount of actual printing that I do by changing my default printer to the free Cute PDF Writer virtual printer.

It's not at all uncommon to want to save something, say a sales receipt from an on-line purchase, by printing it. But it's rare that you actually need to save it on paper. Instead, I print to the Cute PDF Writer printer which creates a PDF of the printed output that I save on my computer. If I need to actually print it to paper, either now or sometime in the future, I can simply load up that PDF in a viewer, such as Acrobat or Foxit, and print to my real printer from there.

Continue reading: CutePDF Writer - Create PDFs from any application that can print.

Each week I recommend a specific product or resource that I've found valuable and that I think you may as well. What does my recommendation mean?

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Posted: March 20, 2012 in: 2012
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