Ask Leo! #446 – Backing Up, IP Addresses, AppData, DHCP and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

How do I backup my computer?

How do I “back up” my computer? I am sure my question is ridiculous to you, but I honestly have no clue what I should be doing.

Your question’s not ridiculous at all. In fact, I’m certain that this is why so many people don’t back up: they simply don’t know how.

For something that’s as important as backing up is, that’s a little scary.

Let’s look first at what it means to back up a computer and what your options are. Then, I’ll tell you what I recommend for average users.

Continue Reading: How do I backup my computer?

Why doesn't my machine's IP address match what I'm told on the internet?

Using tools on my machine, I can see that my IP address is one thing (in my case, But when I go to an internet site that shows me my IP, it shows my something completely different. Which is right?

They both are.

Your machine really has only one IP address, but it isn’t necessarily the IP address that’s used to connect to the internet.

The IP address that appears really depends on who’s looking and from where.

Let me explain the who and where that I’m talking about.

Continue Reading: Why doesn't my machine's IP address match what I'm told on the internet?

*** Answercast

AnswerCast 109 - Swap files, restoring registry, noisy fans, Appdata and more

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

Why do new windows open underneath others?
Usually a new window will open on top of previous windows. There are several things that may cause a window to "pop under" the window you're looking at.

Continue reading: Why do new windows open underneath others?

Do I need a new motherboard for a new version of DirectX?
Direct X is a software package that interfaces with the graphics hardware in your machine. You probably won't need a new motherboard, but...

Continue reading: Do I need a new motherboard for a new version of DirectX?

Why is my fan running at high speed?
A fan running at high speed means one thing: heat! The question is how do you determine the cause and cool down your machine. It might be easier than you think.

Continue reading: Why is my fan running at high speed?

How do I remove ransomware?
Ransomware is often not easy to remove because it blocks you from your system. Restoring from a backup is the easiest recovery option, but I'll look at a few more as well.

Continue reading: How do I remove ransomware?

What's the "Appdata roaming" folder?
Appdata roaming doesn't mean your computer has been roaming. It's nothing more than a folder designation on your machine. Why data may be put there, however, is a bit more complex.

Continue reading: What's the "Appdata roaming" folder?

How to I stop my homepage from changing?
If your Home page keeps changing after you have set it then I start to suspect malware. Time for a thorough malware scan and cleaning.

Continue reading: How to I stop my homepage from changing?

How much of the swap file actually gets used?
How much a swap file gets used depends on how much RAM your computer has, and what's running on it at any given time. Knowing that will also help you decide where to place the file.

Continue reading: How much of the swap file actually gets used?

How do I restore a registry backup if I can't boot?
For a full, catastrophic failure where you cannot reboot into Windows, it may not be possible to restore a registry backup. You may need to have previously done a full system backup that you could then restore to get your machine working once again.

Continue reading: How do I restore a registry backup if I can't boot?

Can I backup files to save space?
If you have only one copy - it's not backed up. If you delete files to save space on your hard drive make sure that doesn't leave you without a backup.

Continue reading: Can I backup files to save space?

Can I email myself a full length movie?
Emailing a movie file sounds like it is going to be easy, but you are certain to run across limitations set by your ISP - and it's going to be slow! I'll look at a couple of other ways to do it.

Continue reading: Can I email myself a full length movie?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


CRC is an acronym for Cyclic Redundancy Check. A CRC is additional information that is included with some types of data to detect, and sometimes even correct, errors in that data.

CRC’s are mathematically calculated from the data being checked. The actual algorithms are often quite complex to reduce the probability that some types of errors would go undetected, or that multiple errors would cancel each other out.

As an extremely over-simplified example, using something similar to a CRC called a “checksum”, consider the following sequence of numbers:

47, 42, 101, 1995, 2, 2013

The sum of those numbers is 4200. (Hence the term “check sum”.)

When written to some media that might suffer damage or degradation, the checksum would be included:

47, 42, 101, 1995, 2, 2013 (4200)

If something happens to the data such that it’s damaged and the numbers are inadvertently changed, then the checksum calculated would not match the checksum that was included, and thus the data would be known to be unreliable.

A CRC differs from a checksum most notably in complexity. A simple sum, for example, would not detect if the numbers were presented out of order as they would still add up to the same value. A CRC would detect that and more.

CRCs are most notably used on computer hard drives. Each sector of information written to the disk includes a CRC so that if there is a problem reading the data it can be detected and presented as a CRC error to the application or user. Checksums and CRCs are used in many more venues, however, including even credit card numbers where the last digit is actually calculated from the preceding digits to ensure correctness.

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

Should I use Windows File Compression?

Dave writes:

Be VERY, VERY careful with Windows file compression - if you compress the C drive (or wherever your boot log lives), you have lost Windows !!!

My friend did this in Vista. and the only way I found to get it back was to re-install from a repair/recovery disc. I tried taking the hard drive out and plugging into my pc with a disk caddy, but still no joy. Happens so frequently that Dell have a thread on their help forums solely for this problem !

Is my data safe in an online backup program?

Errol writes:

All very interesting, but the reality is that once you put your files on the Net, you've lost control of them. Others may not be able to access them, but what 100% iron clad guarantee have you that you'll have access?

Furtehrmore, there's no guarantee they'll be there tomorrow and, if you delete them, is your Net back up actually deleted???

Leo writes:

Absolutely files can disappear - that's why you back up. If you backup to the cloud then they are technically redundant with what you have on your machine. Yes, there's a risk they could both have problems simultaneously, and if that's a concern you should backup differently, or add another level of backup. In practice, though, systems have generally been reliable.

What good are image backups if I can't restore an old backup to my new machine?

Ken in San Jose writes:

I do a Windows 7 image backup about once a month and a backup of my documents weekly. Recently, I did the monthly Windows updates and renewed my Norton AntiVirus program, with an upgrade to the new version. I had a problem with Norton AntiVirus scheduled scans and contacted Symantec support. A couple of days later when I did my regular Windows 7 image backup it took 3.5 hours instead of the normal 1.5 hours. I re-installed my computer from my last image backup, did all the updates again and did a new Windows 7 image backup, which went correctly. I don't know whether the original Norton upgrade, contacting Symantec support, or the first Windows updates caused the problem. But I am glad I had a image backup to fall back on.

*** Thoughts and Comments

The new look is coming. If you've peeked at the Ask Leo! Glossary any time in the past few days you may notice that things look different. Very different, in fact.

We've started rolling out the new "look and feel" of Ask Leo!, starting with the glossary. It's a simple site, and thus a good choice for the first round of updates. Over the course of the next few days and weeks you'll see that same look begin to appear on all Ask Leo! websites.

Besides looking more professional, one of my goals was to keep a clean and easy to read look to the site, with an emphasis on that "easy to read" part.

A reader noted that I'm "recycling" some articles.

Indeed, particularly while I've been busy with the redesign of the site I've taken a bit of a shortcut by updating some of the older articles on Ask Leo!. When I do that I make sure that these are articles that still apply, and are still the target of questions I get regularly. "Recycling" doesn't really do it justice, though, since the articles are often significantly rewritten, often brought up to date, and always run through an edit pass that simply didn't exist in years past.

And since the subject matter is still quite topical, it's just as important today as it was when originally written.

When I do that you'll find the original publication date at the bottom of the article. That's also why you might find years-old comments on an article that was just published. (I'm still working out what to do about that.)

Leo A. Notenboom
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Posted: June 4, 2013 in: 2013
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I'm Leo Notenboom and I've been playing with computers since I took a required programming class in 1976. I spent over 18 years as a software engineer at Microsoft, and after "retiring" in 2001 I started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place to help you find answers and become more confident using this amazing technology at our fingertips. More about Leo.