Ask Leo! #468 – Avoiding ransomware, Sending large files, Saving email messages, dealing with being blocked and more…

*** Featured

How do I send someone a large file?

OK, I get that using email to send large files has lots of problems. So how am I supposed to do it? I have a large file that I need to send to someone; if I shouldn't use email, what can I do?

A fair question.

Email certainly has the convenience factor nailed: add an attachment, press Send, and off it goes. The problem is that it might not get wherever you want it to go.

When it comes to large files in particular, we need to look at things just a little differently.

Continue Reading: How do I send someone a large file?

How do I avoid ransomware?

How can we prevent this new risk of criminals encrypting files on your hard drive and then demanding a ransom to unlock the data? Is having a router and software firewall enough? I have Windows 7 Professional; always fully up to date.

Let's look ransomware - software that holds your computer hostage until you pay up – and how best to protect yourself.

Spoiler alert: you already know the answer.

Continue Reading: How do I avoid ransomware?

How do I save individual Outlook messages to a flash drive?

I have about 400 emails in my inbox that I would like to place on a USB flash drive. Can this be done? If so, how?

Sure, it's not hard at all. There are a few approaches, and the one that you take will depend on what you're attempting to accomplish.

Before we begin, let's make sure that we're talking about Outlook, not The two are unrelated.

Continue Reading: How do I save individual Outlook messages to a flash drive?

*** Answercast

Answercast #131 - Dumping the registry, infected backups, daughters with credit cards and more...

Are you sharing some accounts with family members or being blocked by websites? Afraid your backups might get infected or that you have been put on a blacklist? Do you think the registry is just bad? Answers to 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 bypass this web blocking?
Can you get around web blocking software? Here are a few steps to figure it out.

Continue reading: How do I bypass this web blocking?

Is it safe to let my daughter purchase online using my email address?
Sharing an email address may seem like a good idea, as long as you've considered all the ramifications.

Continue reading: Is it safe to let my daughter purchase online using my email address?

I've been blocked because my IP address is on a blacklist. What do I do?
Finding out that you are on a blacklist can be a nightmare. So how do you get off of it?

Continue reading: I've been blocked because my IP address is on a blacklist. What do I do?

Is there an ISP that I can use in two different places?
Staying connected to the internet can be a problem when you move around a lot. Fortunately, solutions are getting easier.

Continue reading: Is there an ISP that I can use in two different places?

Why doesn't Microsoft dump the registry?
The registry is just a database, and needed for the complex issues it solves. It's true that things can go wrong.

Continue reading: Why doesn't Microsoft dump the registry?

Will malware infect the backups on my connected backup drives as well?
In truth, malware can infect anything that it wants to, but there are a lot of reasons why your backup files aren't targeted.

Continue reading: Will malware infect the backups on my connected backup drives as well?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


Tethering most commonly refers to using a mobile phone or other internet-connected mobile device to provide internet connectivity to a laptop or other computer.

Tethering can be physical or wireless. Physical tethering typically uses a USB cable to connect a mobile phone to a laptop. Wireless uses a Bluetooth connection instead.

Depending on the phone, computer and mobile carrier involved tethering may require that software be run on the computer, and/or an app of some sort running on the mobile device to enable the connection. Similarly not all mobile carriers include tethering as an option in all plans, and those that do will most often count the data transferred via a tethered connection against the mobile devices data plan.

Some mobile devices can be configured to be set up as WiFi hotspots. Very technically this isn't really considered tethering, as the device is simply providing a wireless access point to any device that can connect to it. Tethering is more often used to refer to a dedicated computer-to-mobile device connection. However since the functionality provided by using a mobile device such as a WiFi hotspot is so similar, misuse of the term is not uncommon.

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 make a new Hotmail account? Or account?

Austin Adams writes:

I have had a account since the days when you had to be invited in. It's now grown to over 10 Gb -- I pay a nominal $5 per year to allow up to 20 Gb -- a legacy plan, unfortunately, as it's now more expensive to exceed the free allowance. I've never had any problems with it and often search for old items through the excellent search engine. I do keep really important information in the outlook account that I use to access the gmail, and of course I have an offline contact list, although I do use the gmail contact list to sync to and from my phone. The spam filtering is amazingly good. Every now and then I use the web interface to check the spam list and once in a while I do find something there that isn't spam, but very, very seldom. Similarly, only a few times a year does spam get through to my outlook account.

I am thus a very happy gmail user. I hate to be endorsing that huge monopoly, but for this service it's fantastic.

Leo, in all seriousness, how might I come undone? Have you had reported disasters with gmail? I know that you, particularly, have to be measured in making what are perceived to be endorsements but a comment would be appreciated.

Leo writes:

This single biggest issue with ANY free email account is this: what happens when you've been hacked?

Say the hacker goes into your account and deletes all of the email that you had saved. There is no guarantee - none - that Google will help you get your account back, or that if you get your account back that they will help you get your email back.

That's the risk that remains for people that otherwise use their account properly.

I use Gmail for my primary email, routing all of my non email addresses through it, specifically for the filtering. But I a) use my addresses as my email address so that if needed I can change my gmail account in a heartbeat, and b) I back everything up - twice. If I lose my gmail account tomorrow losing my email is actually one of the least of my worries.

PS: I've recommended Gmail for a long time: Google Mail - Free Email that works and leaves you in control

How can I backup my data more-or-less continuously?

Tony M. writes:

Leo mentioned not relying on flash drives, and also suggested making a backup of your file on different media. Those are excellent ideas, of course. However, I have a related technique that has saved me great pain many times before.

When I re-save an important, big document/file that I've been working on for a while, I Save As to a different file name; I usually just add 01, 02, etc., to the end of the file name, and I make one of these saves every 30 to 60 minutes, each time adding the next number in the sequence. What's the benefit?

Well, has your computer ever failed or corrupted your file in the middle of a save? Yes, this happens to everyone sooner or later. By using my technique, assuming my drive is still intact/accessible, I still have the previous version of the file. Also, whenever doing repeated Undo commands isn't sufficient/feasible, then reverting to the previous file can be considered another form of undoing. In this way, I never lose more than an hour's worth of work.

Thus, in conjunction with using Dropbox or backing up your file to other media, using my "version control" technique can save you bunches of heartache.

How do I make a new Hotmail account? Or account?

Christine writes:

I get a lot of e-mail messages, and I had my Hotmail/Outlook e-mail account up over 10,000 unread messages (I do pay for this kind of storage). What really helped me was the new features provided on the interface. It took me about eight hours, but I was able to finally clean up my account. The ability to sort and search multiple ways and the ability to schedule cleanup of promotional e-mail messages has me liking my Hotmail account again. It is far superior to my ISP e-mail interface, which I need to tackle next. So, I recommend if you plan to have a lot of mildly important to not-important-at-all messages coming into your inbox.

*** Thoughts and Comments


That's how I felt on Saturday. The Seattle area suffered a fairly strong windstorm, and as a result tree limbs were falling on to power lines. Power outages were common, and indeed for the first time in quite some time we had a lengthy one; 16 hours without electricity.

The lights had already started flickering before they went out completely, so as a result I'd actually already turned off my primary desktop machine. The laptops and other machines were largely unaffected, until the power dropped completely.

Well, except for one overly sensitive machine. It turned itself off after the first flicker, and I left it that way.

The outage gave me the opportunity to test out some of our disaster preparedness plans. Some time ago we had a transfer panel installed in our home for external power, and this was the first real-world test of the decisions made back then. I fired up the (noisy) generator for several hours Saturday night to let the refrigerator and freezer get back to temperature before shutting it down again for the night. We were also able to, quite comfortably, watch TV. (And, yes, the ham radio was up and working as well. Smile)

One thing that didn't work was internet. Or, rather, the home internet. Verizon Wireless was up the entire time and served as our periodic check-in-with-the-world connection. Due to my recent ISP changes, however, the routers for my home internet weren't on backup power, and not easily connected. So we went without.

We don't get power outages very often. Typically when they do happen they're short-lived. This was the longest we'd dealt with in some years. But it provided a great test of some of the systems we'd put into place for perhaps more serious events (like earthquakes).

What disasters is your area prone to? And are you prepared?

Till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom
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