Ask Leo! #443 – The Best Registry Cleaner? How to remove malware, blocking suspicious downloads and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

What's the best registry cleaner?

What would be the best software to buy to fix and clean the Windows registry?

There is no “best” registry cleaner.

There are a wide variety of opinions on registry cleaners and PC cleaning tools. Many people believe that they’re valuable and important tools to keep your system running smoothly.

My opinion’s a little … contrary.

Continue Reading: What's the best registry cleaner?

Changing Windows Explorer Settings

Windows Explorer is a ubiquitous, yet under-appreciated component of Windows.

For many people, Windows Explorer is their primary interface to Windows itself. It’s where they locate and open documents, music, and other files. It’s where they perform copy and sometimes even backup operations.

And it’s one of the primary tools often used when maintaining their system.

Unfortunately, Windows Explorer comes with default settings that are intended to make the system less confusing and more friendly, but often make it less than informative and sometimes even downright dangerous.

Let’s look at changing a few settings and setting a few defaults. I’ll throw in a speed tip as well.

Continue Reading: Changing Windows Explorer Settings

How do I remove malware?

One question that shows up almost every day in the Ask Leo! inbox is how to remove malware.

Every day.

The scenarios may be different, but the problem is the same: a machine has been infected with spyware, a virus, or some other form of malware and that machine’s owner is having a tough time getting rid of it.

And it often happens with anti-malware software installed that “should” have taken care of it before it got to this stage.

Hopefully, that’ll never be you. If it is, let’s review the steps that I recommend for removing malware and reducing the chances that it’ll happen again.

Continue Reading: How do I remove malware?

Can I move my old computer's hard drive to my new computer?

My sister has a computer with Windows 98se. However, it is crashing on her. She got a new computer with the latest Windows. My question is, can she install her old hard drive with 98se onto her new PC so she can transfer her files over to her new hard drive? She is very illiterate when it comes to computers.

The good news is that a working hard disk that was formatted for use by any prior versions of Windows can certainly be read by Windows versions that come later. Your Win 98 disk can be read by Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

The not-so-bad news is that you’ll have to open the box, extract the drive, and do something with it.

I’ll admit it – that’s not for everyone.

Continue Reading: Can I move my old computer's hard drive to my new computer?

*** Answercast

AnswerCast #106 - Making a secure website, asking for phone numbers, changing usernames and more...

Do you ever wonder if listing a recovery phone number is a good idea or if you should change all your user names? Want to make your website secure or password protect a USB drive? Do you need Windows Live Essentials or a file transfer cable? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

Listen Now!
(Includes the raw transcript on which the articles below were based.)

How do I change a website to be an https secure site?
Setting up an https secure website is both simple, and complex. The HTML doesn't really change but you'll need different hosting for the secure layer as well as a certificate to provide the security of https.

Continue reading: How do I change a website to be an https secure site?

I canceled a suspicious download. Am I safe?
Cancelling a suspicious download in progress typically prevents any part of the download from impacting your machine. Unfortunately there are still a few problems we should look out for.

Continue reading: I canceled a suspicious download. Am I safe?

Do Gmail preview images pose a security risk?
Gmail occasionally includes preview images of attachments that are included with an email. Rather than being an additional risk, when present, these preview images can help keep you safer.

Continue reading: Do Gmail preview images pose a security risk?

Why do services like Google and Microsoft ask for a phone number?
Many online services request that you provide additional information such as your phone number. I'll look at how that's typically used and why it's a good thing.

Continue reading: Why do services like Google and Microsoft ask for a phone number?

Do I need Windows Live Essentials?
Windows 7 often comes with several pre-installed components that were part of the Windows Live Essentials package. They're not required to run Windows, and can be uninstalled or replaced with more recent components.

Continue reading: Do I need Windows Live Essentials?

How do I open an .isc file in
Outlook and are two different and unrelated programs. But once we get past a possible typo, they can both handle ics, not isc, files.

Continue reading: How do I open an .isc file in

Where do attachments live once they're sent?
Once an email is sent it, and the attachments it might include, are copied to a sequence of servers until they reach the destination inbox. Most importantly, once it leaves your machine, it leaves your control

Continue reading: Where do attachments live once they're sent?

Do you recommend a transfer cable for transferring files from my old computer to my new one?
Transferring information from an old computer to a new one is a problem we all face every so often. I'll touch on a couple of approaches, and then describe what I do, and recommend.

Continue reading: Do you recommend a transfer cable for transferring files from my old computer to my new one?

Would changing user names result in additional security?
Common wisdom is that you should change passwords periodically; so should you change user names too? My take: common wisdom is wrong from the start.

Continue reading: Would changing user names result in additional security?

How do I password protect a flash drive?
Password protecting a flash drive isn't easy. Aside from purchasing a flashdrive with encryption built in, I'll look at a couple of approaches using free software.

Continue reading: How do I password protect a flash drive?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


Shovelware is a derogatory term applied to the additional unasked-for and unwanted software that often comes with new machines, or in other unexpected situations.

The term derives from the metaphor of using a shovel to transfer or add large quantities of something, as in “shoveling in even more software”.

See also: foistware, crapware, craplet.

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.

*** Featured Reader Comments

There's Just No Need to Hate Windows 8

Eddie writes:

Windows 8 does not run faster than Windows 7. When Windows 8's power option "Fast Startup" is enabled (which the installer enables by default), Windows does not shut down normally when you go through the shutdown routine. It hibernates. This fools the user into thinking it really boots fast, but in fact when you hit the startup button, you're not really starting the computer up, you're just awakening it from hibernation.

Here is an important caveat to users who "hot swap" boot drives or have a dual boot setup: Disable Fast Startup. Immediately. If you don't, you seriously run the risk of corruption of one or more of your operating systems.

Think about what's happening with your computer when you make changes to a computer that you think has had its memory cache cleared, but it really hasn't. It's not a mystery how or why corruption is almost guaranteed.

In my opinion, Fast Startup is a bug. Anyone with older versions of Windows who wants the fast-startup experience can do the same thing by hibernating the computer instead of shutting it down.

I learned this from the very best instructor - experience. Do yourself a favor and do not allow yourself to have the same bitter experience I did.


There's Just No Need to Hate Windows 8

Terry Trayton writes:

I had reservations about Windows 8 when it first became available for beta testing. However, since it was launched in all its full glory I have found it more appealing. True there are certain irritations about it ... I miss the games such as Mahjong and Freecell for instance but there are ways around this. And as Leo points out, you can easily get back to the traditional Start menu with Classic Shell if you prefer that approach. In earlier years I was a confirmed XP addict and vowed I would never go beyond that version but, as with most advances in technology, if you don't keep up with it you get left behind. Yes, I could still be trundling along in my old 1930's Hillman Minx but boy, I really enjoy what technology has done for the modern motor car ... and likewise with Windows 8, it grows on you!


Replacing An Old Hard Disk With a Solid State Drive (SSD)

Robert A. writes:

Do you normally have the computer you are replacing the Hard Disk in, on a carpeted floor? I hope not. It will be sucking in dust etc from your carpet It is amazing how much dust will accumulate in it, especially on fan blades and heatsinks reducing the abitity of your computer to keep itself cool. Get it up off the carpet, and floor Leo!

With three Corgis shedding in my home there's really no safe place. :-) That being said I've been actually quite surprised at how little build-up there's been every time I open the machine.


*** Thoughts and Comments

Just a reminder that the look-and-feel of Ask Leo! right now is only temporary. It's based on a Wordpress template (the "News" child theme using the Genesis framework, for those that care). The reason it's temporary is that the new design is still under construction, but I wanted to make the technology change (and learn many lessons) before the new design was finalized and implemented.

I've received a few comments and suggestions, which I appreciate, but they might not apply once the new design rolls out - hopefully in the next month or two.

But I will admit that even the temporary design is an improvement over the old. Smile

I had several reports last week of links in the newsletter not working. Specifically something about "" being blocked or inaccessible would result instead.

I've tracked down at least one culprit: an over-agressive hosts file replacement. There's not much I can do at this end, I'm afraid. I've written more about here: What is ""?.

And, since some of you might not be able to click on that, it's at which you can copy/paste into your browser's address bar.

And remember, the latest newsletter is always available on the web at - in fact all newsletters since the very first are archived there.

See you next week,

Leo A. Notenboom
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