Ask Leo! #371 – How Windows 7 Libraries Work (and confuse), reporting spam, clearing your hard drive and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

Just what are Windows 7's 'Libraries' and how do they work?

Ever since Windows 7 came out, I've received a slow but steady stream of questions regarding the new "Libraries" item that shows up in Windows Explorer.

And I've avoided dealing with it.

Why? Because in my opinion, the Libraries feature does little more than add confusion to an already confusing situation.

I avoid them like the plague.

It's time to dive into Libraries and begin to understand exactly what they are and are not. From there, you can decide whether they're an incredibly useful feature or nothing more then a confusing distraction.

For example – and I'll probably say this repeatedly – Libraries are not folders.

Told you it'd be confusing.

Continue reading: Just what are Windows 7's 'Libraries' and how do they work?
http://ask-leo.com/C5571

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*** Answercast

Answercast #34 - Falsifying IP's, blocking everything, secure passwords, wiping disks, reporting viruses and more...

Ever wonder about the steps necessary to hide your IP address, how to get wireless in remote areas, or completely clear your hard drive? Want to create strong passwords, report malware ,or troubleshoot a machine that keeps crashing? All that an more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

Listen

Continue reading: Answercast #34 - Falsifying IP's, blocking everything, secure passwords, wiping disks, reporting viruses and more...
http://ask-leo.com/C5568

How do I make a secure password if I can't use special characters?
Research has shown that the most important technique in creating a secure password might not be what you think! Here's a hint... it's not special characters!
Continue reading: How do I make a secure password if I can't use special characters?
http://ask-leo.com/C5569

My machine crashes randomly and it's not overheating, what else should I look at?
Overheating is the most common cause of random crashes in an old machine. If that's not the case, there are a few more things to look at.
Continue reading: My machine crashes randomly and it's not overheating, what else should I look at?
http://ask-leo.com/C5570

Can I restore my system simply by saving and restoring the entire registry?
Restoring the registry is similar to the way System Restore works. The results as a backup strategy may be unreliable.
Continue reading: Can I restore my system simply by saving and restoring the entire registry?
http://ask-leo.com/C5572

Should I report this malware that I just encountered, and to whom?
Clicking on an email with a Trojan can be dangerous. I explore some immediate steps to take to check your system and mark it as spam.
Continue reading: Should I report this malware that I just encountered, and to whom?
http://ask-leo.com/C5573

What's the best way to clear my hard drive of everything but the operating system?
It's impractical to try and erase everything on a hard drive except the operating system. Fortunately, there is an better solution.
Continue reading: What's the best way to clear my hard drive of everything but the operating system?
http://ask-leo.com/C5574

Do I need to run anti-malware software on my smartphone?
Sophisticated viruses for smartphones are certainly predicted for the future. Do you need to worry about it yet?
Continue reading: Do I need to run anti-malware software on my smartphone?
http://ask-leo.com/C5575

I can't login when I set my blocking on high, what do I do?
Cookies and spam blockers are unrelated settings on a computer. This leaves me guessing what you may be talking about.
Continue reading: I can't login when I set my blocking on high, what do I do?
http://ask-leo.com/C5576

Can I reinstall Windows XP after installing this non-genuine copy of Windows 7?
You can't remove a Windows operating system, but it is possible (and good practice) to reformat a hard drive and reinstall from scratch.
Continue reading: Can I reinstall Windows XP after installing this non-genuine copy of Windows 7?
http://ask-leo.com/C5577

What do I need to get a wireless internet connection in my remote location?
A good internet connection is often difficult to find in a remote area. Your cell phone company might have a solution for you.
Continue reading: What do I need to get a wireless internet connection in my remote location?
http://ask-leo.com/C5578

How can I falsify my IP address?
There are several types of services available that can help hide an IP address while you are on the internet and also several potential problems involved.
Continue reading: How can I falsify my IP address?
http://ask-leo.com/C5579

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Comments

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Am I too old to start learning an IT career?

Thomas Mitchell writes:

I am 53 and just got my first full time IT job last December. I was laid off in 2008, enrolled in a Network Administration course in a local community college. Completed the course 3 semesters later, worked at 2 part time IT jobs then was hired full time as the technology coordinator at an elementary school. this is the best job of my life. My advice is if you are into computers, networking and It stuff, go for it.

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How do I reconstruct the original source code from a .exe file?

Ken B writes:

Or, as we like to say, "you can't turn a hamburger back into a cow".

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

bob writes:

Note: CCleaner only cleans up the currently logged in user; usually that's enough. Question: Suppose one of the anti-malware tools turned up malware. Would you have used the tool to clean the PC, restarted, rescanned, used a few more tools to confirm it was cleaned, and then celebrated? Or would you have formatted the drive and either restored from a known good backup, or re-installed Windows, or taken the opportunity to upgrade Windows? "That depends."?

Was wondering if someone would ask that. :-)

It boils down to a judgement call. In an absolute sense, as I've said before, once infected a machine can't really be trusted even after you think you've removed the malware. In a more practical sense the fix for that is rather extreme (reformat/reinstall). Had I found malware my next steps would have been dictated by the malware found and its visible impact on the system, and the results of my attempts to remove it. Low impact, quick removal and I would probably have moved forward. Had the removal been problematic, or had the machine still seemed unstable after a removal I probably would have reformatted and reinstalled. That's why, by the way, I started with a full backup - so that I could reformat/reinstall if I needed to, knowing that everything previously on the machine was saved somewhere.

-Leo

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

John Ellis writes:

How in the world, as a somewhat responsible and serious IT-Professional, could you EVER recommend using a P-o-S program such as "Windows Defender"??? It is an absolutely WORTHLESS P-o-S Program! And on the same line, your recommendation for MS Security Essentials is definitely NOT what I would call THE hit! This program has a lot of short-comings! I myself am an IT-Professional, with my own company (the rest is irrelevant), which is why I question some of your "calls", especially when you "promote" certain programs; ie: for making a back-up? Where is the/your neutrality? BR!

In my opinion Windows Defender Offline and Microsoft Security Essentials are valid and useful tools. I know that I'm also not alone in this opinion. I'm not sure what you're referring to with respect to backup programs. I'm most decidedly NOT neutral: I recommend in favor of programs that I believe are good and useful, and don't mention (or occasionally recommend against) programs that I think are bad or harmful - regardless of who makes them or where they come from in either case. I have opinions and I share them here - you're quite welcome to disregard them (and me) if you feel that they're inappropriate or incorrect.

-Leo

*** Leo Recommends

Thunderbird - A Free, Open Source, and Powerful Email Client

Mozilla's Thunderbird is my choice for email. I use it all day every day, and I can heartily recommend it as an often more powerful and capable replacement for mail programs like Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail and many other desktop email applications.

The feature list is long, but I want to call out some of my favorite features and some of the things that personally draw me to Thunderbird and cause me to make it my recommendation for almost anyone using a desktop email program.

Continue reading: Thunderbird - A Free, Open Source, and Powerful Email Client
http://ask-leo.com/C3451

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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Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.
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