Ask Leo! #487 – What I don’t know, Drowning in SPAM, The state of anti-malware tools and more…

*** Featured

I'm drowning in spam. What can I do?

I receive about 300 emails daily. I have no one to help me and I would like to be able to block all this crap. I am not very smart about PCs and need the simple instructions that I can follow. If I continue to receive certain pornographic or offensive emails, how do I ban them? If I open it up to get their email address to try to block them, what happens then? I need all the help that I can get because this is too much to take care of daily. I do delete my history daily, but I don't think that helps in blocking them. I use Yahoo as my mail provider and am on Windows 7.

Assuming you mean you get 300 spam emails a day, I'll agree that's a fair amount. Between my various email accounts, I suspect that I get probably around half that.

The question is not how to stop spam. Ultimately, there's no way for you and me to do that.

The questions are really how to deal with it when you get it so that it's merely a minor annoyance rather than an overwhelming chore, and how to avoid it, or at least minimize it, in the first place.

Continue Reading: I'm drowning in spam. What can I do?

Why don't anti-malware tools work better?

I've been an independent computer repair tech for over 12 years now. The question I get the most (and have the hardest time answering) is this: how come my antivirus program didn't stop me from getting this virus? When you're installing AVG, the program says that only 3% of today's security problems are caused by traditional viruses. Is this true? Is it true for the other antivirus programs as well? And why is it that, when we do get one of these non-traditional security issues (i.e. malware), we then must rely on free software downloaded from the internet? Why don't the ˜traditional' antivirus suppliers include a malware remover module with their software? If traditional antivirus programs are going to be satisfied with being the canary in the coal mine (we know we're infected when our antivirus program dies), why not just download a free product, use our common sense on the internet and hope for the best?

In other words, why don't anti-malware tools work better than they seem to? :-)

I have to fault AVG for the phrase "traditional viruses". I think that puts an unrealistic spin on your expectations. Malware is malware, and that includes viruses, spyware, rootkits, zombies, and gosh knows what else.

What's "traditional"? Ya got me. I also have no idea where that 3% figure comes from.

But there's a kernel of truth in AVG's statement. No matter what program you run, there's still a chance your computer will get infected.

Continue Reading: Why don't anti-malware tools work better?

*** Answercast

Answercast #148 - Deleting Facebook, safe downloads, odd folders, defragging TrueCrypt and more...

Have you ever wondered about defragging a TrueCrypt volume or where oddly named folders come from? Thinking, maybe, of deleting Facebook or using a download site for software? Are some friends not getting your emails? Find 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.)

Would deleting Facebook help clear up a malware infection?
Deleting Facebook won't help, so I'll look at more general approaches to removing Potentially Unwanted Programs that are, effectively, malware.

Continue reading: Would deleting Facebook help clear up a malware infection?

Is it safe to download from download sites?
Download sites are just too risky these days - unless there is no way to avoid them. Even then, be very careful in your selections.

Continue reading: Is it safe to download from download sites?

Why does Windows file explorer right click take so long?
The menu that drops down on a right click is called a Context Menu. To fix it we need to first delve into why and how it works.

Continue reading: Why does Windows file explorer right click take so long?

Why aren't my friends getting my email?
If your email service is on a blacklist it's going to be pretty hard to get it removed. Let's try a work-around and see if that helps.

Continue reading: Why aren't my friends getting my email?

Where did these oddly named folders come from, and how do I get rid of them?
Windows programs often make these oddly named files as part of their setup process. You'll have to make sure they are not being used to delete them.

Continue reading: Where did these oddly named folders come from, and how do I get rid of them?

Should I defrag TrueCrypt?
TrueCrypt creates a virtual disk drive within a file. As a result, defragging it makes some sense.

Continue reading: Should I defrag TrueCrypt?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Featured Reader Comments

What's the difference between memory and hard disk space?

Ben writes:

I like the office analogy.

The hard drive is your filing cabinet and bookshelves; it keeps all the stuff that you might work on at some point. The bigger it is, the more stuff you can keep.

The RAM/Memory is your desk. The bigger it is, the more tasks you can work on at the same time. If it's too small for all the tasks you're working on at once, it gets cluttered and slows you down.

The CPU/Processor is the guy sitting at the desk. The more powerful it is, the more quickly it can work.

Don't call yourself stupid

Old Man writes:

Although it does not actually agree with the dictionary definition, I like the distinction I heard long ago - probably before many of your readers were born. It goes like this:

Ignorance is not having information available.

Stupidity is having information available, but not using it.

There is no shame in being ignorant, but there's no excuse for being stupid.

Being nearly three-quarters of a century old, I get really upset when I hear "too old" for anything. Usually when a person says they're too old for something, it really means they don't want to put forth the effort to try it. "Old" is an attitude not related to age.

Caesar3 writes:

I have a friend who just celebrated her eighty-sixth birthday. She has two PCs, two printer/scanners, a Kindle reader, and an iPhone. I've been her "tech support" guy for a few years, and I can report that nothing keeps this lady from trying new stuff. It's all a matter of attitude.

How do I change my Hotmail or password?

Mary writes:

I have not forgotten my password, it just suddenly showed up as "wrong password" when I tried to log in. However it showed the correct number of dots, I.e. I confirmed that my password was correct. I take it that hotmail has changed to outlook. However they have frozen my account and have stolen access to my correspondence. How do I set it back please, and how do I sue them for theft.? Anyone?

Leo writes:

The number of dots is often NOT a representation of how many characters are in a password - so don't make that assumption. More likely your account has been hacked. You can try the options outlined in this article: - I'm not a lawyer but I don't think you have any legal leg to stand on - part of the terms of service that you agreed to when you created your account prevents Microsoft from being held liable for pretty much anything. This is why it's so critical to backup your online accounts. If this is the only place you have copies of important information then you are not backed up and you risk losing it all - forever.

*** Leo's Blog

I Know Less than You Think I Do

I recently answered a question from a reader and they responded to the answer by saying, "So easy when you know how." Now, I don't know if they were making an honest observation or a snarky comment (I suspect the former), but I started thinking about what I'll call my deep dark secret.

I didn't know how. In fact, it's very often that I don't.

Continue Reading: I Know Less than You Think I Do

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