Ask Leo! #445 – DHCP, Printing in, installing software safely and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

How do I print an email in (formerly Hotmail)?

This is another of those “representative” questions that I get a lot; more than I would expect, to be honest.

But when you think about it, with all the changes that Hotmail users have been through in the last few years, it’s understandable that the latest change to would lead to a lot of confusion.

It turns out it’s not hard at all to print an email in You just need to get used to looking in a new place for some additional options.

Let me show you.

Continue Reading: How do I print an email in (formerly Hotmail)?

What is DHCP?

What is DHCP?

DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.

I can hear you thinking, “Thanks a bunch, but … what’s that?”

In a nutshell, DHCP is all about the request that your computer makes and the response that it receives when assigning a “dynamic” IP address.

Let’s look at that a little more closely.

Continue Reading: What is DHCP?

Installing software safely and with minimal impact

I’d wager that the number one cause of system stability issues, disk space loss, unexpected behavior, and even malware is the software that we actually invite onto our machine.

I’m not talking about opening the accidental attachment. That’s bad when it happens, but it’s not as prevalent as what I’m discussing.

No, I’m talking about the stuff that we actually ask to download - the stuff we seek out.

I’m talking about the software that we explicitly and intentionally install on our computers.

Installing software safely is all about taking a few steps to minimize the impact of what we’re about to do to our machines.

Continue Reading: Installing software safely and with minimal impact

*** Answercast

Answercast 108 - Obscure messages, hidden files, huge updates, Google geo-tracking and more...

Is your computer constantly rebooting, or do you have a weird message on your monitor? Did you get a huge update, or wonder how Google can find out where you are? Curious about audio compression or Ubuntu? Find out about all that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

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

What's this obscure message on my monitor and why can't I make it go away?
Computer monitors are smart devices these days but they too can fail. It’s not always your PC showing an error, and that message on your monitor might be from the monitor itself.

Continue reading: What's this obscure message on my monitor and why can't I make it go away?

Why can't I see the files on a CD I created?
When you can't see the files on a data disc you've created the causes can vary from exactly how you created that disc in the first place, to media quality, drive problems and even Windows Explorer settings.

Continue reading: Why can't I see the files on a CD I created?

How risky it is to run Ubuntu from a flash drive?
Having a bootable version of an operating system like Ubuntu on a USB flash drive can be very handy for a variety of reasons. Since flash memory can wear out, however, it's important that you back up.

Continue reading: How risky it is to run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

How do I automatically clean out my accumulation of backups?
Many backup programs allow you to specify that old backups be deleted. It's not always obvious how, so I'll show you in Macrium Reflect.

Continue reading: How do I automatically clean out my accumulation of backups?

Why does my computer continually reboot?
There are many reasons a computer might get stuck continually rebooting. Fortunately there’s no need to lose data. You have several ways to get your data off there and with a little bit of luck you may get you a working system again as well.

Continue reading: Why does my computer continually reboot?

Can an ISP tell me who's reading my email?
It's typically impossible for the average computer user to determine who's reading your email, particularly since tracing through a an IP address is virtually impossible with legal assistance. The best option is securing your account from any prying eyes from the start.

Continue reading: Can an ISP tell me who's reading my email?

Why might an update take a large amount of space?
An update can leave a large amount of temporary files, and even the old copy of the software still on the computer. After understanding what might be left, a cleanup tool might be called for.

Continue reading: Why might an update take a large amount of space?

If an IP address doesn't do it, then how does Google know my location?
Google can find your location through multiple datapoints that you probably don't even realize you're sharing. There's a lively and important debate about how much data entities can and should collect and correlate.

Continue reading: If an IP address doesn't do it, then how does Google know my location?

Are records better than CDs?
Since the dawn of the digital age the argument has raged: which is better - digital or analog? CDs or vinyl? I touch on some of the issues, but the bottom line is that if you can't hear the difference, which is more convenient?

Continue reading: Are records better than CDs?

Can I use more than one browser?
You can install as many browsers as you like. Personally, I usually install at least two if not three. However, there can be only one default.

Continue reading: Can I use more than one browser?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


The tray, or system tray, is an area on right end of the Windows task bar in which applications and system components can place notification and other utility icons.

Windows System Tray

The tray is also sometimes referred to as the “notification area” because many applications that place icons there, including Windows itself, use those primarily for notification purposes.

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

How do I reinstall downloaded programs?

Ken B writes:

Many companies offer you the option of a "download-only" version of the program or a "physical delivery" (ie: they ship you a CD and a box). It used to be the case that I'd usually opt for the "physical delivery" because this included a printed manual. Given that that is almost never the case nowadays (well, except for a "quick start guide" -- sometimes), I rarely take that choice any more. Instead, I do as you advise -- make a backup immediately, and keep a copy of the receipt and license key as well. (There are still the rare exceptions, where there is no extra charge for the "physical delivery" method, and the download is still available for "instant gratification".)

Unfortunately, there are some programs where all you download from the website is a small "web-based" installation program. During the install, bits and pieces of the rest of the program are downloaded off the 'net. I really dislike those installs, as there is nothing you can back up, aside from the "web-based" installation program. I have no idea what happens if you need to re-install. Or, Diety-forbid, the company goes out of business and there is no longer anywhere to install from. Even Microsoft uses such installation methods. Fortunately, they usually provide an "offline" installation version as well.

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

James writes:

I like the feel of a new computer or a fresh Windows install. It's like a clean slate; a chance to get right what was wrong before or improve on what you had. Sure maybe what you had works, but is it really setup the best way for your current needs? Or are you just doing what you've always done. Sure the data has got to come over, but I see no reason to worry about programs and settings.

I recently had to reinstall Windows on one of my computers. I took the time to think about all the software that used to be installed and thought about whether I really needed it. For example, I only use Excel on my laptop so what was the point of installing Excel on my desktop? The result is a sleeker machine that's not bloated with stuff I don't use.

Why do you want to bring the bloat over to your new computer?

Why is Microsoft Security Essentials constantly saying potentially unprotected?

Bob writes:

I used to see this regularly.

I set up MSE to do a weekly scan (at a time that was not intrusive) and still occasionally saw the message - until I changed one of my habits.

Now, when I get the 'windows has updates' dialog, I check the Optional updates - if there is one for MSE I tick it. Since I started doing this, I don't get the orange 'potentially at risk' icon. The other way (if you have permanent internet access, which I don't) is to tick the box that says 'check for up to date definitions before scanning' on your scheduled scan.

*** Thoughts and Comments

Earlier this week I exchanged email with the folks at Paramount Software UK, the folks who make Macrium Reflect, about their lack of an affiliate program. (As long time readers already know I decide my recommendations first and then go looking to see if perchance there's an affiliate program. My full disclosure is here.) Macrium has no such program, but I keep recommending 'em because they're good & reliable and have good support for the paid version. And I use 'em myself.

While they didn't have anything for me, they do have something for you: use coupon code NUK-WLF-58P when you purchase from and you'll get 25% OFF your purchase. If you haven't yet invested in a good backup program this would be a great time. That's only good for the first 200 people to use it, and expires at the end of the month.

Heck, let me jump on the bandwagon: use that same coupon code (NUK-WLF-58P) when you purchase my "Maintaining Windows 7 - Backing Up" ebook from *my* store ( and you'll get 25% OFF of that as well. That's the ebook where I detail using Macrium Reflect, and includes access to online demonstration videos as well as all formats - ePub, mobi, pdf. That, too, is also only valid until the end of the month. (Sorry, I can't offer a discount if you buy via Amazon.)

Those are separate, independent purchases, and you certainly don't NEED to do both, but if you've been waiting to get around to backing up, it's a good combination.

See you next week,

Leo A. Notenboom
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Posted: May 28, 2013 in: 2013
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