Ask Leo! #367 – Cleaning up a slow machine, when viruses attach, I release my new book and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

How do I clean up this slow machine and its misbehaving browser?

This is another of those questions that no one specifically asked (though it does come in frequently, in various forms). Rather, this is a scenario that I experienced myself earlier this week.

A friend who has one of my older laptops on loan came to me and told me that it had become slow and that websites like Hotmail and Facebook had stopped working. Sometimes, it wouldn't even connect to the network.

My first suspicion was malware, for which I had good cause. You see, a couple of weeks earlier, my friend had clicked on one of "those" links – the ones that come to you as a result of someone else's email account having been hacked.

Whoops.

While it hadn't done anything immediately, it was high on the list of suspects.

The machine's working again, so I want to outline the steps that I took to clean it up. They're fairly generic and can be used in many, many situations, but perhaps not all of them are obvious.

Continue reading: How do I clean up this slow machine and its misbehaving browser?
http://ask-leo.com/C5522

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*** Answercast

Answercast #30 - Too old to learn? Restoring backups, replacing batteries, Facebook anomalies and more...

Are you young enough to learn IT? Wonder where Facebook finds friends? Worried about offers in your email, or trying to change a CMOS battery? All that an more in this Ask Leo! Answercast.

Listen

Continue reading: Answercast #30 - Too old to learn? Restoring backups, replacing batteries, Facebook anomalies and more...
http://ask-leo.com/C5518

Who is accessing Facebook from my machine in the middle of the night?
Logs are showing a mysterious use of Facebook pages in the middle of the night. I'll give a few troubleshooting tips to track down the culprit!
Continue reading: Who is accessing Facebook from my machine in the middle of the night?
http://ask-leo.com/C5519

Are viruses attached to my email after I send it?
It's not really true that viruses attach to emails after they leave your computer. One confusing issue is that some email is read on the local computer, and some is accessed online; those two methods have different problems.
Continue reading: Are viruses attached to my email after I send it?
http://ask-leo.com/C5520

How do I uninstall this unwanted browser I got installing something else?
The first defense in unwanted downloads is to prevent them from installing in the first place. If they do download, you may need to take some extra steps to get your system cleaned up.
Continue reading: How do I uninstall this unwanted browser I got installing something else?
http://ask-leo.com/C5521

How does Facebook figure out who my friends should be?
Facebook has very sophisticated methods of matching you up with people you might know. It may seem scary, but they aren't stealing anything from your computer.
Continue reading: How does Facebook figure out who my friends should be?
http://ask-leo.com/C5523

How can I save my BIOS settings before replacing the CMOS battery?
Very often, the system will reset itself properly when you replace the battery, but there is an easy way to grab those screens to make sure you don't lose important settings.
Continue reading: How can I save my BIOS settings before replacing the CMOS battery?
http://ask-leo.com/C5524

Am I too old to start learning an IT career?
Technical careers are for people with passion... If you love it, you will be good at it. I give my recommendations for a career change.
Continue reading: Am I too old to start learning an IT career?
http://ask-leo.com/C5525

Will malware always invalidate my Windows install, and what do I do if it does?
A computer that has suffered from a virus needs a thorough cleaning to be sure that all of the symptoms of the virus are gone. It would have been nice to have an image backup...
Continue reading: Will malware always invalidate my Windows install, and what do I do if it does?
http://ask-leo.com/C5526

How do I restore a backup to a smaller hard drive?
Restoring to a smaller drive is, unfortunately, difficult to do with most backup software. I list the steps necessary to get the job done.
Continue reading: How do I restore a backup to a smaller hard drive?
http://ask-leo.com/C5527

Why am I getting notices for a service I didn't sign up for?
Sometimes, it's spam, and sometimes, it's not, but there is no need to be scared when you receive subscription notices that you didn't sign up for. Follow the general steps for staying safe online, and you'll be fine.
Continue reading: Why am I getting notices for a service I didn't sign up for?
http://ask-leo.com/C5528

How do I reconstruct the original source code from a .exe file?
Reverse engineering software is so time consuming as to be impractical. The source code may have to be written again from scratch.
Continue reading: How do I reconstruct the original source code from a .exe file?
http://ask-leo.com/C5529

*** Our Sponsor

Maintaining Windows 7 - Backing Up
Been meaning to back up your Windows 7 machine? Let me show you how.
Background and step-by-step instructions and explanations
covering both Windows Backup and Macrium Reflect.
Register your purchase to get access to bonus videos & more!

Visit maintaining7.com
- An Ask Leo! Kindle book for all platforms.

Advertisement. Ask Leo about advertising here.

*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Comments

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Email Hacked? 7 Things You Need to do NOW

Karin Friedemann writes:

Good advice but came to late for me... My additional advice would be to emphasize the NEVER trust anyone with your password especially a spouse. You never know what they will do if the marriage goes sour and you should never underestimate what they would do. Not only did he get into my email and change the password but he then used yahoo to find out all my linked emails and then unsubscribed me or started spying on my email lists including domestic abuse support groups, and also used my bank account and credit cards to buy himself stuff. So, never trust anyone with any account information, ever.

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How do I choose a good password?

Mark J writes:

Another weak link to watch out for: Password recovery questions. These should not be easy to guess and to be really safe, should follow the same rules as choosing a password. Ie. 12 or more difficult to guess characters not at all related to the question. Password Recovery Questions; how do they work and can I make up my own?

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Creating Good Passwords

Mario writes:

Would passwords using foreign words be hard to find ?

Depends on if you're certain that a hacker isn't using a foreign dictionary. I wouldn't count on it and simply assume that words are words in any language and act accordingly.

-Leo

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How do I choose a good password?

Glenn P., writes:

I agree with almost everything here, except that:

(1): I suggest a 16, rather than 12, character minimum length for passphrases; and

(2): I STILL suggest --

(a) Continuing to respell/obfuscate words wherever possible (hey, why make things any easier on the "crackers" -- don't call them "hackers!" -- than they have to be???);

(b) Adding capitals, numbers, punctuation, and special symbols (such as &, #, @, +, $, etc., which for the most part aren't ordinary punctuation marks normally used in sentences).

The basic premise that "the longer the passphrase, the better" is true enough; but it does NOT vitiate the concurrent principle that "complexity increases the security of ANY passphrase."

And DO allow me to once again recommend my favorite book on this topic:

"Perfect Passwords: Selection, Protection, Authentication" by Mark Burnett ($20.09), available for sale at Amazon.COM.

*** Thoughts and Comments

Whew!

As my Facebook fans found out yesterday Maintaining Windows 7 - Backing Up is finally released.

Everything takes longer than expected, doesn't it? But I'd set myself a goal (and told several people) that it was going to be released this month, and darned if it wasn't nearly the very end of this month. Smile

You'll probably see it above as this issue's ad, but I want to point out a few things that the ad doesn't have room to really mention:

  • Besides a discussion of backup strategy and my recommended approach, the book actually steps you through everything twice - once using Windows 7's own built-in backup program, and once using my recommended Macrium Reflect. I know not everyone's going to rush out and buy Reflect, but that's no excuse for not backing up.
  • Once you register the book you'll get access to a complete set of videos (including transcripts!) that walk through the instructions presented in the book for both Windows Backup and Macrium Reflect. In fact, most of the screen shots included in the book are simply screen shots taken directly from those bonus videos.
  • There'll be more bonuses - for example right now once you register your purchase you'll also get a free PDF copy of "Introduction to Process Explorer". I'll probably add more over time.
  • You can download a sample of the book, including it's full table of contents, from this site: maintaining7.com - just look for the sidebar a ways down the page.
  • It's a Kindle book, which of course you can read on any platform even if you don't own a Kindle.
  • The book's $7.99 for a limited time.

About that price - I'll be honest, it's not going to last. You can see that I invested heavily in not just the book but the bonus materials and web site that are coming along with it - you're really getting quite the value at that price.

What I'm saying is, it'll go up. I definitely want to make it available at this discounted price for my loyal fans and readers, so grab it soon. I'll probably revisit the price in a couple of weeks (OK, no sooner than 7/15 to be specific), and it'll go up to at least $9.99.

If you purchase the book I'd love to hear your comments - registering your book (instructions on how are in the book, of course) will get you access to a prioritized feedback form as well. If you love it of course I hope you'll rate it up on Amazon.com. If you hate it, I hope you'll take the time to let me know why and how I can improve.

Speaking of feedback, this is the first volume of a series. Next week I'll be asking you which volume of the series I should do next. Keep an eye out.

'till next week...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom
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