Ask Leo! #469 – Yes, different passwords are that important. Windows Defender versus Microsoft Security Essentials and more…

*** Featured

Why is it so important to use a different password on every site?

I keep hearing that I'm supposed to use a different password on every internet site where I have an account. What a pain! I can't remember all of those passwords. Yeah, I know. You want me to use a password manager thing, but that seems like putting a bunch of really important things into a single basket. What if that basket gets hacked? I use a strong password, why isn't that enough?

The hacks of several online services have brought this issue to light once again.

I'm sorry, but a single strong password just isn't enough anymore. You must use different strong passwords on every site where you have an account – at least, every important site.

And yes, then you must devise a way to manage them all.

Let me run down an example scenario that's causing all of this emphasis on multiple different passwords.

Continue Reading: Why is it so important to use a different password on every site?

What's the difference between Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender

I use Windows Defender Offline on a flash drive both at home and at work. On the computers themselves, however, sometimes the screen says Microsoft Security Essentials and other times, it says Windows Defender. I forgot to check if the Windows Defender has Microsoft Security Essentials installed. Does it really matter which one shows up?

Microsoft's product naming frustrates me to no end. They seem to have an incredible knack for picking the most confusing names possible.

While the names Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender seem innocuous enough, what they mean – exactly – has changed over time. And therein lies the confusing problem.

Continue Reading: What's the difference between Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender

*** Answercast

Answercast #132 - Sync deletions, VPN security, AppData folders, default emails and more...

Do you wonder what might happen to your Dropbox backups when you delete a file or how much security a VPN gives you? Troubles restoring files from a backup or want Yahoo to be the default mail program? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

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

If I use a cloud sync program to backup, won't accidental deletions delete the backup?
Backing up to auto-syncing cloud services is very convenient. But what happens when it syncs your mistake?

Continue reading: If I use a cloud sync program to backup, won't accidental deletions delete the backup?

How do I get my new email to be the default email in Windows?
Figuring out what is what with emails and email accounts can be quite confusing. But when all is said and done, you only need to change a simple configuration.

Continue reading: How do I get my new email to be the default email in Windows?

Does a VPN give me complete security?
A VPN service can offer a certain amount of security, but it 's dangerous to think it's doing things for which it is not designed.

Continue reading: Does a VPN give me complete security?

Why can't I set Yahoo! as my default mail program?
Web-based email services (such as Yahoo) were never designed to be a default Mail-to program, but there are a few ways to get around that.

Continue reading: Why can't I set Yahoo! as my default mail program?

How does a site identify me when I am using a VPN?
There are lots of modules and widgets available online that help websites appear to identify who you are. Your VPN isn't involved at all.

Continue reading: How does a site identify me when I am using a VPN?

Why can't I restore my AppData folder from a backup?
Trying to restore Windows Live Mail through the AppData folder is not going to be clean or pretty. But with that image backup, there is an easier way...

Continue reading: Why can't I restore my AppData folder from a backup?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


A nybble is half a byte.

No, I'm not making this up. A nybble (sometimes spelled nyble or, surprisingly, nibble) refers to group of four bits, or exactly one half of one byte.

And you thought geeks had no sense of humor.

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

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

Paul Hoskins writes:

As a computer tech...I see LOTS of malware, spyware, and virus infections! I also have said that the infection shouldn't reach the backup drive...but I was proven wrong just this week! Had a customer with a "Cyberware/FBI/Ransom" ware which I disinfected and cleaned. She took the system and then discovered that she couldn't open ANY Word documents! She brought it back into the shop and brought her external drive that she was backing up her Documents and Settings folder. It also has what we originally thought was corrupted files on it. I thought that maybe she had done a backup over the top the files on the external drive and that was where the corrupted files came from. It seemed however that she'd NOT done a backup but during the original infection the drive WAS connected! So now ALL of her Microsoft Office files(Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) are corrupt. Of course, with the system clean...any new docs etc. that she creates are fine...but there is nothing that I've been able to find to repair or decrypt the other files! RansomWare 2.0!!

Leo writes:

There's an important distinction here - if that backup was simply copying files to her external drive - in other words the external drive was also full of .doc, .xls, and .ppt files - they they are indeed at risk. HOWEVER if backup imaging software had been used and the external drive had ".mrimg" files (Macrium backup images for example) then those files would, today, not have been impacted. The backup images could be used to restore whatever it was they contained.

Cathy writes:

If you'd lost everything in a house fire like our family did, I think you might reconsider not worrying about keeping backups off site. Thank God we had an online backup service, or we'd have lost everything. We backed up all our computers to each other, and several had online backups.

After the fire, some of the hard drives I pulled and got info off them (although they were backed up also), but some computers were barely recognizable as computers. One is just ... gone. There are a couple wires that *might* be what's left of it. My daughter got another computer and restored from the online backup, and it was almost as if the computer had survived the fire.

By all means, make a backup, but I suggest getting a backup service that will back up not only your computers but also connected devices like an external drive. The cost of the service isn't that much when you realize what you'd give to get back your family pictures, your work, your *life*, really.

Leo writes:

Indeed, offsite backups can be a lifesaver, and should be part of a comprehensive backup solution.

*** Thoughts and Comments

The New Book is Out

My new book is officially out. The Ask Leo! Guide to Routine Maintenance is available now.

As with every book I publish of late, regardless of which format you purchase, once you register the book you'll get immediate access to all digital formats: .pdf, .mobi (that you can send to your Kindle) and .epub (commonly used by other e-readers).

There are three ways to purchase:

  • A PDF download, directly from me.
  • A Kindle book, directly from Amazon.
  • And coming (hopefully very) soon, a paper book, directly from Amazon.

Links for all three, as well as a FREE download of the first 10% of the book (including the table of contents) are all available here The Ask Leo! Guide to Routine Maintenance.

Important note for newsletter subscribers. In the emailed copy of the newsletter, down below, is a discount code you can use to get 20% off of purchases in my store. Unfortunately I have no way to give you a discount when purchasing from Amazon, so the discount applies only to your purchase of the PDF download. Once you register your purchase using the link in the book you can then access the other digital formats as well.

Till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom
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