Ask Leo! #458 – Bye-Bye Ballmer, The Risks of Running XP, Cleaning Automatically and more…

*** Featured

On Steve Ballmer leaving Microsoft

I'm fairly certain that much will be written today about Steve Ballmer's decision to retire from Microsoft within the next year.

I don't normally post about so-called "breaking news," but in this case, I want to throw my two cents in as well.

Continue Reading: On Steve Ballmer leaving Microsoft

How risky will it be to keep running Windows XP?

I've had a few people mention to me a recent blog post by Microsoft, discussing what the company feels are some of the many risks associated with continuing to run Windows XP after the end of support in April of 2014.

I've had more people point me at "press" (I put press in quotation marks because many don't actually deserve to be referred to as legitimate and reputable) reports based on that same post. These run the range from a relatively accurate reporting of what was said to an all-out "Microsoft is introducing zero-day vulnerabilities in XP that they won't fix so you're forced to switch!!!" hyperbole.

As is so often the case, the truth is much more nuanced than that.

And yet, it is important.

Continue Reading: How risky will it be to keep running Windows XP?

Scheduling CCleaner

It's no secret that crap (pardon the language) piles up on our computers over time. Temporary files that don't get cleaned up properly, assorted caches, histories, and backups of files that we might never need all seem to accumulate and can even negatively impact performance.

I use the word "crap" here specifically, because that's what that initial "C" in CCleaner originally represented – "Crap Cleaner."

Regardless of the political correctness of its name, then or now, CCleaner is a useful tool in managing the accumulation of "stuff" on your computer that might be doing nothing more than wasting space.

In the past, we've focused on running CCleaner as needed to clean things up when we think of it or encounter a problem.

The beauty of computers is that they're very good at doing things automatically. That includes not only creating crap, but cleaning it up as well.

Continue Reading: Scheduling CCleaner

*** Answercast

Answercast #121 - Faulty USBs, laptop budgets, XP mode, log files, recovering documents and more...

Worried about pop-up ads or deleting log files? Wonder how much to spend on a new laptop or how to recover a document? Looking for XP mode in Windows 8? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

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

Will I lose all data when my computer crashes?
It's incredibly rare for a software crash to damage any drive connected to a computer. Other things, like a lightning strike, can do serious damage.

Continue reading: Will I lose all data when my computer crashes?

Why do I need to unplug and plug in my USB device to keep it working?
USB ports (or the cables that connect to them) can go bad for many reasons. These steps can get your connected devices running again.

Continue reading: Why do I need to unplug and plug in my USB device to keep it working?

Will buying a new modem/router increase my internet speed?
Many things can interfere with a network speed test on your end. Make sure your speed test gives you the most accurate results by following these guidelines.

Continue reading: Will buying a new modem/router increase my internet speed?

Is it safe to delete log files?
In general, it's safe to delete log files, but is it really a necessary risk? You know what I'll say... be sure to back up first.

Continue reading: Is it safe to delete log files?

Why am I getting double underlined links that display an ad?

This sounds like an advertisement coming from the website. Advertising funds websites that deliver otherwise free information. If you don't want to look at it, you have only a few options.

Continue reading: Why am I getting double underlined links that display an ad?

Is a $1000 enough for a new laptop to last me for many years?
Setting a budget for a new computer is a fine idea, but it's best to dive in a little deeper and determine your processing and memory needs before you go shopping.

Continue reading: Is a $1000 enough for a new laptop to last me for many years?

Does Windows 8 have XP mode?
Older games need a different operating system than the one provided by Windows 7 or 8. With a virtual machine, you can run Windows XP (and your games) on any machine that has enough power.

Continue reading: Does Windows 8 have XP mode?

Why is my partially recovered document still not readable?
Writing over a file is a good way to lose data, but if you are willing to dive into some command line programs, you may be able to recover some of it.

Continue reading: Why is my partially recovered document still not readable?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


UPS is an acronym for uninterruptible power supply.

A UPS typically consists of a large battery which is kept charged by being plugged into a normal power source. Devices such as computers are then plugged into the UPS in lieu of being plugged directly into the normal power source.

While the normal power source is active, the UPS simply keeps its battery charged and passes on the normal power source to the devices connected.

If the normal power source fluctuates or goes away completely, the UPS begins providing power to the connected devices in place of the normal power source. This typically happens fast enough that the connected devices never notice and keep running without interruption (hence, the name).

UPSes typically used lead acid batteries; you might find smaller versions of those in automobiles. As a result, they're often quite heavy.

The amount of time that a UPS can provide replacement power depends on both the size and capacity of the UPS itself as well as the number of devices that are connected to it and how much power they require. It can range from a few minutes to many hours.

In addition to providing a replacement power source, UPSes can also condition so-called dirty power where perhaps the voltage fluctuates out of a normal range, causing what is often termed a brownout.

Many UPSes also come with a means of connecting them to the computer for which they may be providing power – often via a USB cable. This provides a way to notify the computer that the main power source has gone away and that power is being provided by the UPS for a limited amount of time. Software on the computer can then take appropriate action; typically, this means that the software will wait for a certain amount of time for the power to come back, and if it doesn't, the software performs a clean shutdown.

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

Stop spreading manure

Kevin writes:

Leo I have to disagree with you on this one. Google defends their snooping by saying we should have no expectation of privacy when sending and e-mail. Really! They qualify that by saying that the e-mail goes from the sender to them and then to the recipient so that when in their custody they can do with it as they please. That's like saying my mailman can read my mail before he drops it in my mailbox.

I say thank goodness for the uproar on the internet and shame on Google, Microsoft and others for giving the government what should be private and protected communications. As someone who has championed internet privacy and security, I am astounded at your stand on this.

Daniel writes:

Kevin, it's not that simple. My mailman sees my Dad getting multiple catalogs during every week. He gets boxes delivered most days of the week. He can see who sends them-- and can infer what some of those products are. Even letters come with return addresses that are revealing. Some envelopes may have a particular odor. The point is that the mailman can compile quite a bit of data without ever opening up one package/letter. There is no expectation of privacy there. This is a very complex subject. I'm still shuffling through it. I'm not happy with the NSA, FISA courts, etc. But, I'm not sure where the lines need to be drawn

Leo writes:

Unencrypted email is like a postcard. Anyone who handles it can easily read it.

What's the difference between an ad and your recommendation?

Tony Kightley writes:

I was surprised to see an ad from Amazon, towards the end of the article, which showed an item I was looking for on the Amazon site a few days ago. Was that purely a co-incidence or are some ads based on what is found in the brower's history? I suspect the latter, as I am sure it has happened on other occasions. So it is rather scary as to what information in one's computer is safe from 'prying eyes' - very little, I suspect! - and how the information can be manouvered into a relevant ad.

Leo writes:

Actually it has nothing to do with the history kept by your browser, but almost certainly some form of tracking or association is used. I have an article on that: Why do these ads keep following me around the internet?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Congratulations to the additional winners this week Terry H, Billie K. and Travis P. - they've all received an activation code for a copy of Macrium Reflect Pro, as well as a copy of my Windows 7 Backing Up ebook.

There's still time - four more winners in the next four weeks. Visit the 10th Anniversary Drawing to enter.

I'll probably start publicising the drawing a little more over the coming weeks, so you'll want to get your entry in soon for the best chance at winning.

As you probably realize when I read through the comments that folks leave on Ask Leo! articles each week I'll flag a few - somewhere between two and four - to be included in the newsletter as so-called "featured" comments.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Seriously, I could "feature" dozens of compelling comments every week.

I really hope that you're reading the comments on each article that interests you. It's not at all uncommon for there to be additions, alternatives and alternative viewpoints that add some serious value, information and education. If you're just reading what I've written you're missing out on some good stuff. Smile

A big thank you to the folks that share their knowledge and opinions. It really helps everyone.

Leo A. Notenboom
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