Ask Leo! #466 – Journalism is broken, speakers may not be, finding the PST and more…

*** Featured

Why don't my speakers work?

After a recent round of updates I noticed that I had no volume on my computer…including ITunes. I checked everything I could think of and didn't come up with any problems on my system. I then used System Restore and the volume came back. The next day Winows installed the updates again and again the same thing happened, and after using System Restore all was well, except that the updates had been deleted.

How do I get my sound and my updates?

Updates are one of several ways that speakers can suddenly stop working and your computer appears unable to make a sound.

I'm not saying this will solve every case, but it's one of those things that a lot of people aren't aware of, and can resolve the problem quickly with just a couple of clicks.

Continue Reading: Why don't my speakers work?

How the internet is breaking journalism (and what it means to you)

Last week's revelations, investigations, and clarifications regarding Microsoft Security Essentials really made me realize something very critical about how the internet works today and how broken it is.

The assumptions that readers are making about the information that they find online – even at relatively "reputable" sites – are wrong. The internet is breaking what "journalism" means. As a result, it's become even more critical for online information consumers (that's you and me, by the way) to take on a burden that we have not been trained to even concern ourselves with until now.

The burden of confirmation.

I've written about it before, but the sad fact is that you just can't believe everything you read on the internet. And it is now your practical responsibility to do the legwork to confirm whether something is, or is not, true.

And yes, I agree, that's totally broken.

And it's partly our fault.

Continue Reading: How the internet is breaking journalism (and what it means to you)

Where is my Outlook "PST" file located?

I need to backup or make a copy of my mail folders in Outlook, which as you know are stored in something called a "PST" file. I've looked everywhere and can't find it. Where does Outlook hide my email? Where does Outlook keep my PST file?

PST stands for "Personal STore" – as in your personal mail storage. PST files are actually fairly complex databases that contain your mail, your calendar, your contacts, and even more when you use Microsoft Office's Outlook mail program. (Not to be confused with, the online mail service from Microsoft, which is completely unrelated.)

The default location has changed a time or two over the years. Of course, there's always a chance that your PST is stored in some other, non-default location.

Rather than telling you where the default location is, let's use Outlook itself to tell you the exact path of your PST file and then use Windows itself to do the same.

Continue Reading: Where is my Outlook "PST" file located?

*** Answercast

Answercast #129 - fuzzy sound, problems uninstalling, missing drives, elderly users and more...

Are you helping an elderly user with their computer or having problems uninstalling programs? Is something wrong with your computer's sound or has an external drive disappeared? Do you want to backup over your network? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

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

How can I prevent someone from installing random stuff?
Protecting a computer from its user can be difficult, verging on near-to-impossible. But there are a few ways to minimize the damage.

Continue reading: How can I prevent someone from installing random stuff?

Why does my sound quality degrade over time?
The system degrading over time sounds like a software problem. So how do we find out what's using the CPU?

Continue reading: Why does my sound quality degrade over time?

Why might an uninstalled program still be listed?

Obviously, something has been left behind by the uninstall process. But do we even need to worry about it?

Continue reading: Why might an uninstalled program still be listed?

My external drive is no longer visible. How can I get its contents?
If you're backed up, this isn't going to be a problem. Otherwise, there are only a few steps we can take to help us retrieve your data.

Continue reading: My external drive is no longer visible. How can I get its contents?

Can I backup one computer to another?
Your computers are probably already attached over your home network. You just need to "share" them.

Continue reading: Can I backup one computer to another?

What is InstallShield and do I need its update service?
InstallShield is a component to help keep your computer up to date. We'll walk through how it ended up on your computer and how you can manage it.

Continue reading: What is InstallShield and do I need its update service?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


PST is an acronym for Personal STore, and is the file format used by the Microsoft Office Outlook email and personal information management program.

In addition to email, PST files contain calendar, contacts, notes, journal and other information that is used and manipulated by Outlook.

The advantage of the PST is that it is a single file – all information can be copied to another machine or backed up simply by operating on that single file.

The disadvantage of the PST is that it is a proprietary file format readable only by Outlook. It's also a relatively complex format – almost a complete filesystem – and as a result can occasionally suffer from corruption and accompanying data loss. Microsoft provides the utility "scanpst" to scan and repair PST files suspected to have issues.

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

Do I Need to Stop Using Microsoft Security Essentials?

Nikki Hayes writes:

I've been using MSE for several years, it was a real godsend on my old slow PC before I replaced it 3 years ago. I don't often get attacked by malware as I'm reasonably careful in my surfing habits, but MSE has caught it on several occasions and, following a scan with Malwarebytes, nothing else was found. The one exception was a pretty bad infestation (40+ items found) that was my own fault for trying to find a streaming link that would work in my country on dubious websites (and downloading their software, yes I should have known better). MSE removed some of it and Malwarebytes took care of the rest. MSE is light on resources and as competent at detecting malware as any other AV software I've tried over the years (better than some), glad to hear they will be continuing to develop the software for the user rather than to pass malware "tests". The main thing I am interested in is that MSE alerts me to the presence of malware, my trusty Malwarebytes takes care of the rest. I also use Secunia PSI to keep my major software updated and reduce the chance of infection in the first place ;o)

Vanderlei writes:

I am sorry, but it is very hard to understand why someone would use (and recommend) MSE as it has consistently failed AV-TEST.ORG tests, even more so when other free software (AVAST, AVG) pass this , as well as other tests, consistently . No, there is no perfect antivirus, but some are better than others and in this case, a lot better. In today's world, you need to use every possible tool to be safe on the Internet - but the most important ones are common sense and, still, your antivirus, in my humble opinion.

Danny Smith writes:

About a year ago I got a Trojan through email/Facebook (which I no longer use) and spent days finding and cleaning it out. After that I was obsessed with the idea my computer was infested for weeks after and spent many hours using various utilities to hunt down and destroy these non existent entities! It took me a while to realize I'm not finding anything because nothing is there! If it "ain't broke, don't fix it" by loading a bunch of junk in your pc.

Today I use MSE, CCleaner (when I feel the need) and Spywareblaster. I am happy with all three and my machine, with Win XP Pro SP3 runs fine! When support for XP runs out I will move on to something else and continue to march, until then I'm happy with it.

I have learned that traipsing around on "the internet" is like running through a minefield but with extreme caution and forethought many problems can be avoided. I think my biggest problem was I EXPECTED to find malware simply because I had the anti malware utility loaded on my computer. Paranoia big time!

This site is a virtual treasure trove of info to help keep computers clean and running efficiently.

Thanks Leo, and also to all the contributors in this forum.

What are your thoughts on utilities like SyncToy for backing up?

Reverend Jim writes:

Synctoy has various options that are set by selecting from English language phrases. For example, you can select the condition

when the file exists in the destination folder but not in the source, Synctoy should

a) copy the file to the source folder

b) delete the file in the destination folder


so the answer is that Synctoy will do what you tell it to do. If you want an exact copy then Synctoy will delete orphaned files. If you want to sync both source and destination so that each contains the most recent copy for the files in both then you can tell it to do that as well.

*** Thoughts and Comments

Heads up!

I've made the difficult decision to raise the prices on my ebooks currently available at the Ask Leo! Store.

It'll happen around the end of the month.

I'm mentioning it here so that as a loyal reader you get a chance to pick up copies before the price increase.

(And if you're a newsletter subscriber - actually reading this in email that was sent to you - look below for the special discount code that gets you 20% off of everything.)

The good news is that my next book is (finally) in editing as you read this.

Yes, I went off on a little bit of a rant on journalism this week. It was, in part, because of the Microsoft Security Essentials thing, but honestly that was really only the trigger. Between pop culture and current politics and getting three-year-old hoaxes forwarded yet again on Facebook I just had to vent a little.

It's important - critical even - that you be skeptical of everything you read online.

Yep, even the stuff I read.

Even if you end up thinking I'm full of it, I can't stress enough the importance of thinking about what you read before you blindly believe it.

As long as you think, then I've done, in part at least, my job.

Till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom
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