Ask Leo! #347 – Purchase and set up your own domain, blocking unwanted email, using recovery discs, Answercast #10 and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** New Articles

How do I use recovery discs on an empty hard drive?

I was recently given an old (2004) Dell Inspiron laptop, which used to have Win XP Pro as the operating system. I say "used to have" because the previous owner did a complete format of the hard drive before giving the machine to me, and it now appears to be blank. When I placed the Dell Recovery Disk in the CD drive and tried to boot the computer so the OS could be re-installed factory fresh, the only message that appeared on the monitor screen was "Boot mgr is missing." Is there some way to use another computer to install the boot manager file on the HD? When I placed the HD in an external USB housing and looked at the drive on my Win 7 computer, it appeared to be totally blank.


"Boot mgr is missing" isn't surprising given an empty hard disk. And I'll be up front and tell you that even if you could put a boot manager on that hard disk, it wouldn't help. The boot manager would simply continue to look for other things on the hard disk.

Things like the operating system.

Which isn't there.

No, the first thing we need to do is to boot from the Recovery CD.

Unfortunately, even that has only about a 50/50 chance of working.

Continue reading: How do I use recovery discs on an empty hard drive?

* * *

How do I block unwanted emails in Thunderbird?

I have used Thunderbird, but my one complaint is that it takes a technician like yourself to block unwanted emails. With Outlook Express, it's very simple. Can you advise me how to do this easily with Thunderbird?


It depends on what you mean by "blocking unwanted emails."

If you mean spam, Thunderbird has a built-in spam filter, just like Outlook Express had. While no spam filter is perfect, marking something as spam is pretty easy.

If you mean that you want to block specific email addresses from showing up in your inbox, that too is very similar to Outlook Express's approach. Just be aware that blocking senders by email address is not an effective way to stop spam, no matter what email program you use.

Continue reading: How do I block unwanted emails in Thunderbird?

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Webinar #11 - Mastering your own domain

This recent Ask Leo! webinar covered a topic that I'm asked about frequently. Building on a live presentation I did a couple of months earlier, I walk through the process of:

  • Coming up with an available domain name
  • Registering a domain name
  • Signing up for shared hosting
  • Connecting the registered domain to the hosting server
  • Setting up WordPress
  • Setting up email accounts and forwards
  • Answering attendee questions

Continue reading: Webinar #11 - Mastering your own domain

* * *

Answercast #10 - Mysterious crashing epidemic, breaking laptop screens, canceling all of Google, firewalls, routers and more...

Continue reading: Answercast #10 - Mysterious crashing epidemic, breaking laptop screens, canceling all of Google, firewalls, routers and more...

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Comments

What's an inexpensive way to set up a backup system?

Ken B writes:


You appear to be equating the cost of the drive with the value of the data stored on it. (Complaining that the cost of recovering the data was more than the cost of the drive.) Nothing could be further from the truth. Ask any business owner who has lost their (un-backed-up) computer, only to find out that while their insurance will replace the hardware, the cost of recovering the data could put them out of business.

We had a colleague call us recently because a client of his had done something to corrupt their data. Of course, they had no backups. We managed to recover 99+% of their data from the mangled remains, and they were happy to pay us over $600 for the service. (Actually, as I recall, our colleague paid us that much, and his client was happy to pay him even more than that.)

I'm also curious about your comment about "the potential hazards of external back-ups". There's really no such thing as an "internal backup". (As Leo has stated numerous times, "if your data is in only one place, then it's not backed up".) There are, of course, off-site backups, which have their own set of "potential hazards". (Are you putting you data in the care of someone else? What guarantees of restorability do you have? What happens if they're suddenly shut down by the government because some clients were backing up pirated software on their systems? Etc., etc., etc.)


Can USB ports go bad?

Bob D writes:

My Windows XP Home SP3 decided not to recognize mass storage on any USB port. My USB printer worked fine. Power cycling had no effect. I looked inside the machine -- no glop, dust piles, rodents, etc. I got it working by disconnecting everything, including the power cord, and driving the machine to the computer store, where their tech guy eyeballed the machine. It then passed their tests, and I drove it back home. Worked fine ever since. Sometimes the machines like to meet new people.

I refer to this as the "proximity effect". The closer you get the problem to the person who can fix it, the less likely the problem is to occur. I've seen it many, many times. :-)



Why have libraries stopped offering ebooks for Kindle?

Dan writes:

Never thought I would read ebooks, but got a windows phone, loaded kindle on it, and now I have something to do when standing in line, or in a situation where I need to chill. Instead of always having one paperback in my back pocket, I have 10 or so waiting on my phone. And when I get to my laptop, it knows where I left off on my phone, and allows me to continue there. I am hurting the book publishing world because there are enough free books out there to keep me reading for a lifetime before I ever have to buy one. I was the kind of guy that went to the library book sales where you could fill your bags with books for 3 to 5 bucks. If a book does catch my fancy and I want to read it right away - I would purchase -- thinking of doing that with the hunger games series - but if I can check them out of a library - that would be even better! Have only been in the ebook world for a couple weeks - should have thought of libraries earlier!

*** Thoughts and Comments

As mentioned last week, the updated Introduction to Process Explorer is available in Amazon's Kindle store (remember you don't need a Kindle) right now.

In fact, it should be FREE today, tomorrow and Sunday. (If you're an Amazon Prime member you can always borrow it for free - but keep an eye on the purchase price - that should also be $0.00 this weekend only.)

It's such a useful tool, I'm hopeful that this book will help you make better use of it when diagnosing common problems on your PC.

I did something a little different this issue: one of the articles featured in today's newsletter is actually the full-length video and transcript for the Webinar that took place last Sunday.

The process of finding, purchasing and setting up your own internet domain is something that confuses many people, and the webinar - Mastering your own domain - covers the process step-by-step. Based on a live presentation I made a couple of months ago, I actually come up with a domain name, purchase it, purchase hosting, hook things up and then even go on to set up Wordpress and email on the newly registered domain.

And it's all done in less than an hour.

If that seems like it might feel too rushed - not to worry: you can always pause the video and read along in the provided transcript at your own pace.

Hopefully it'll at least help clear up some of the mystery that is domain registration and hosting.

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom
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