Ask Leo! #352 – Removing personal information from a machine, where user accounts come from and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** New Articles

How do I remove my personal information from a machine before giving it away?

Selling Desktop 2007 Vista: How do I clean up the computer so that nothing personal is left? Can I do this by myself or do I need a professional?


When disposing of a machine - regardless whether it's a sale, a donation, a recycle, or a discard - it's critical to remove all of your personal information from the storage included in that machine.

In this audio segment from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll discuss one approach to doing so, that - unfortunately - also requires that you erase Windows itself as well.

Continue reading: How do I remove my personal information from a machine before giving it away?

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Why are there so many user accounts on my machine?

Why are there SO MANY (9!) user accounts on my PC? I'm the only one who uses it or has access to it. I recently did a re-install of Windows XP and SP2 & SP3 (because of a virus). Many of these user accounts have duplicate folders, all full of files. Is this using disk space? How do I delete unnecessary, redundant user accounts without adversely affecting the PC? I have Googled both your website, your partners' websites, and the web in general and have not found the answer. What are the minimum number of user accounts?


As with so many things, the answer is: it depends.

To begin with, Windows has a slightly different idea of what it means to be a "user" than you and I do.

Add to that the various and sundry software packages that you might have installed and the number of user accounts can get ... interesting.

Continue reading: Why are there so many user accounts on my machine?

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AnswerCast #15 - Protect yourself from your IT department, emails, disk space, 32-bit games, passwords and more...

Continue reading: AnswerCast #15 - Protect yourself from your IT department, emails, disk space, 32 bit games, passwords and more...

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*** Word o' the Week


Focus is the concept that in a multi-window operating system such as Microsoft Windows or Mac OS user input can be directed to only one application's window at a time.

An application which is that receiving input, typically keyboard and mouse input, is said to "have focus", implying that it is this application which is focused on receiving user input. This application is usually, though not always, in the foreground; it's window displayed on top of or in front of any other application windows.

The concept can apply within an application as well. A dialog box - perhaps a File, Open file selection box - may take the focus away from the main application window until the dialog is dismissed.

An application that takes focus from another application unexpectedly or without interaction from the user is sometimes said to "steal focus". An example might be typing in one program and suddenly seeing that some or all of the input is being entered into some other application that at some point stole focus.

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

DBAN - Darik's Boot And Nuke

I get questions surrounding data recovery fairly often. People are often concerned that files they've deleted might be recoverable after the fact, and it's good and security conscious of them to be concerned.

At the other end of the spectrum are people who give no thought at all to the potential recoverability of their data, and discard old computers and hard drives without giving it a second thought. We often hear about people who've picked up an old computer at a recycler or yard sale, only to find that the hard disk is full of the previous owner's sensitive data.

Identity theft often follows.

DBAN, short for Darik's Boot And Nuke, is a free utility dedicated to doing one thing, and one thing well...

Erasing hard drives.

Continue reading: DBAN - Darik's Boot And Nuke

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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