Ask Leo! #349 – Drivers that install over and over, monitoring changes to the registry, noobs and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

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How do I remove my D: restore partition?

My hard disk has a partition 'D' for restoring, but it is six years old and I keep my own image copies. How can I free up D for my own general use? I've got an HP with Vista.


Many computer manufacturers create an additional partition on your hard disk that contains everything needed to restore the computer to its original state, called a restore partition. Sometimes, it's a hidden partition, sometimes it's drive D:. In either case, you can use Windows built-in partition management utility to remove it, assuming you've backed up properly.

In this video segment from an Ask Leo! webinar I review removing the restore partition.

Continue reading: How do I remove my D: restore partition?

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How do I monitor what changes in my registry?

All I want to do is: make a copy of the registry, install a program, make another copy of the registry, and compare to see the changes.


Monitoring what happens in the registry can sometimes be a very useful thing.

I think that in general, you'll be very surprised at how much activity happens in the registry, particularly for an install.

There are a couple of ways to do what you're suggesting: comparing before and after snapshots of the registry and monitoring the changes as they happen.

I'll discuss both.

Continue reading: How do I monitor what changes in my registry?

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Answercast #12 - SMART and Noobs, Removing and installing programs, recovering boot sectors, locating Run and more...

Continue reading: Answercast #12 - SMART and Noobs, Removing and installing programs, recovering boot sectors, locating Run and more...

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How do I stop Windows from re-installing drivers just because I used a different USB port?

How can I stop Windows Me/2000/XP from reinstalling the same drivers for the same and only one USB device that's been inserted into different USB ports on the same PC? In other words, I have this same device which I've inserted into different USB ports on just one PC and Windows just keeps installing drivers for it, when it's just that one device but inserted into a different USB port. Can't Windows just use the same driver installed the first time it detected such a device? My particular example is a webcam. A driver is installed whenever I move it to a different USB port.


I don't believe you can.

However, I also believe that Windows is actually lying to you. Unintentionally perhaps, but it's not being completely truthful about what it's doing.

It may say that it's installing drivers every time.

But it's my strong belief that after the first time ... it's not.

Continue reading: How do I stop Windows from re-installing drivers just because I used a different USB port?

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*** Comments


How do I make a small photo larger?

Billy Bob writes:

Gosh Leo, but those guys on CSI do it all the time and it looks great!

Yep. And if you listen closely you may be able to hear me yelling at the TV as they do so... all they're really doing is giving everyone unrealistic expectations. Sigh.



My computer lights up and turns on but nothing happens, why?

CJ Mac writes:

I found that the most common failure is the power supply in a pc that has fans running but no beep. These supplies even test good (I don't have a load tester) but when replaced, the system comes right up. In fact about 9 out of 10 systems I see with bad power supplies have this problem rather than just being completely dead.

I repair computers for a school district and see this 3 or 4 times a week. (We have quite a few computers that are more than 3 years old).


How do I clear up these lingering problems after a malware infection?

James writes:

Sadly, Leo is correct as I have recently learned.

A charity that I am a part of has an infection of Conficker/Downadup. The computer it's on is old and the harddrive is small and there is no room for an antivirus. But with little contact with the outside world, thought the risk was minimal.

Was first alerted when I used a USB stick to copy a file to my home computer. AVG on my computer identified it upon inserting the USB stick into the computer. I brought my laptop and via a shared c: drive over the network, I scanned the harddrive with AVG running on my laptop. AVG found the infection but had troubles eliminating it.

I found tools on both F-Secure's website and Symantec's website. I tried both tools. Both tools reported that they cleaned the infection. Yet seemingly a few days later, the same infection would pop-up on several different USB sticks used to test the machine. Repeated cleaning to the point where the tool said nothing was found, didn't seem to work either because a day or too later it would reinfect the USB stick.

I recently found an uninstalled Windows update that blocks the autoplay. After running that update, it has stopped infecting USB sticks. But I no longer can trust that the machine is clean, just that the risk of infecting another computer is minimal, provided the AV product on the other networked computers continues to run.

Sadly, I think the only way to solve this one is to reformat the harddrive and start over.

(We're a charity. If we had the funds to replace the computer, we would. It really needs more RAM and larger harddrive. I don't really like running with no AV, even though exposure to the outside world is minimal).

*** Thoughts and Comments

This week seems to have all been about on-line storage and synchronization utilities.

First Dropbox announced a feature that allows you to link to any file in your Dropbox.

Then Windows Live SkyDrive announced that they're decreasing the amount of space you get by default from 25 gigabytes to 7 (though apparently for a limited time if you'd already uploaded something to your SkyDrive you could login and claim your 25 gigabytes - which I did.)

And of course the "big" news was Google's release of it's long rumored "Google Drive" - which apparently also absorbed Google Docs.

And there are more:, SpiderOak, and SugarSync to mention just a few.

With all of them offering significant amounts of storage for free there's really no good excuse to at least have your important files and documents backed up using these services, and possibly on multiple computers of your own. Yes, you should be backing up more, but these free services are easy enough to use - and did I mention FREE? - that you owe it to yourself to look into one or even more of them to at least protect your most valuable files if you're not backed up some other way.

I'm a fan of Dropbox and use it extensively, but honestly - any of them will do. I'd probably put Google's Drive in the number two spot, and SkyDrive at number three.

Don't let the sensationalistic news reports that claim "Google owns the documents you place in Google Drive!" stop you from using the service. Those reports are wrong and based on reading only a small part of Drive's terms of service out of context. Google's terms are pretty similar to that of the other services - they have access to your documents only so that they can provide the service that you're using and/or in response to properly vetted requests from the authorities.

Speaking of which, of the alternatives SpiderOak is the only one that I'm aware of that encrypts your documents in such a way that only you can access them. Even if served with a court order SpiderOak cannot decrypt the files stored on their servers. One side effect: if you lose your SpiderOak password your data is lost forever; there is no password recovery.

Any online service or account that can reset or recover your password can, by definition, be accessed by rogue employees or - with the appropriate legalities - the authorities. Something to keep in mind for your entire online world.

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom
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