Ask Leo! #502 – CHKDSK, Multiple Passwords, Remembering Multiple Passwords, A Peek Behind the Curtain and more…


CHKDSK: What is it and how do I run it?

I have disk problems and you said I should run CHKDSK. Great. What is that?

Fair enough. It's easy for us computer geeks to take things for granted that we simply shouldn't.

CHKDSK is a command line tool that checks disks.

I'll talk about what I mean by command line and even what it means to check a disk.

I'll also show you how to run CHKDSK step by step.

Continue Reading: CHKDSK: What is it and how do I run it?

Why is it important to have different passwords on different accounts?

Is it safe to have the same password for all of my email accounts? If one has an account in Yahoo! mail, Gmail, rediff mail, etc., and sets the same password for all of them, will it be easier for a hacker or phisher to find out about it?

Using different passwords is much safer than using one password everywhere.


Because hackers know that most people don't take the trouble to set that up.

And they know that we typically have more than one account.

Continue Reading: Why is it important to have different passwords on different accounts?

How safe is it to let my browser save my passwords?

I've got a quick question concerning saved username/passwords in browsers. Whenever you visit a website and need to login, you'll be asked (depending on your browser settings) if you'd like to "save" the username/password information to make future logins easier. If you choose to do so, is this username/password information made visible to anyone who has compromised your computer when you access the website in the future? Since the fields are already filled in for you, you don't actually need to type in anything.

The short answer is yes – if you're not careful, anyone who walks up to your computer can access those websites as you, or perhaps even walk away with a copy of all your usernames and passwords.

There are actually several important issues around letting your browser – or any utility for that matter – save your passwords. Particularly when we advocate using multiple complex and different passwords for different sites, it's not only important to use these types of features to keep it all straight, but to use them properly so as not to expose yourself to security issues should your machine ever be compromised.

I'll review how these features work, and how to use them safely.

Continue Reading: How safe is it to let my browser save my passwords?


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Glossary Term


File system (also "filesystem", one word) is the term used to refer to the specific technique that files are laid out and located on a hard disk or other random access storage device.

At its most basic a file system is nothing more than the specific format of the overhead information used to keep track of what data is stored where on a hard disk, and the rules used to place and locate that data. Since most hard disks and similar devices store data as files, then this is the "system" by which those "files" are placed on the media.

In addition to defining exactly what gets stored where, file systems also define what capabilities are present such as encryption, compression, the length of filenames, the maximum size of files and even whether or not file names can include both upper and lower case characters. File systems may also include information relating to security and permissions, allowing the operating system to control who may or may not perform operations on the files themselves.

There are dozens if not hundreds of different file systems, but the two most common in Windows-based computers are the FAT (File Allocation Table) file system, and NTFS (New Technology File System). The FAT file system predates Windows but is still commonly used on Windows-compatible memory cards used on mobile and small devices due to its comparative simplicity. NTFS is the more common file system for hard disks due to its generally better performance, capacity and the ability to support important aspects of data security.

Glossary Terms are featured selections from The Ask Leo! Glossary.
Have a term you'd like defined? Submit it here.

Featured Comments

You Speak, I Listen

Tom writes:

As Alex commented, thank you Leo for being there when needed.

A couple of small points:

You refer to "Common Sense" - in my years as a Business System Consultant I learned very quickly that it should be termed "Good Sense" , because it ain't that common!

That leads nicely to you remarks on Security. I have stressed to my brother, the need to back-up (daily). He doesn't do it and, when he has a problem that needs a recent restore point, oh dear, nada, nix, nothing but I still get the complaint "I don't spend my life sitting in front of a computer." No matter what you do with your life, if you use a computer, if you have data you'd rather not lose, if you get pi**ed of with spurious toolbars you neither want nor use - then back up daily - or twice daily if you use it that much. It saves the later heart-ache and I know - I have a book (15+ Mbs) and a composite family tree going back to 530 AD (50+ Mbs) and I would be distraught to lose them. They're backed up on two external hard drives and to MediaFire in the cloud.

Keep up the good work and prosletysing for back-ups.

Do we really need to "get used" to things?

Reverend Jim writes:

I hope you can tolerate one more comment about "change". We have all grown accustomed to products touted as "new and improved". In many cases the change is to one small component that does not noticibly affect the final product. Perhaps a box of Sugar Frosted Flakes has changed the sugar content by 0.01%. In some cases the change is merely to the packaging. Essentially the product is unchanged and the only reason for the change is to entice us to try the change. The fast food and snack industries are continuously coming up with supposedly new ideas to sell us what is essentially different combinations of sugar, salt and fat. We have become so used to constant change as a marketing ploy that we are no longer content to use the same old products, even when those products have proven their worth. Is the new iphone so much superior to the old iphone that people are willing to spend their diminishing dollars to avoid being "left behind"? I cannot judge whether the structural, under-the-hood changes resulting in Windows 8.x warrant the time, money and inconvenience of upgrading. I do, however, strongly suspect that the interface changes are the marketing hook whose only purpose is to convince us that "Windows 7 is so yesterday".

Leo writes:

For the record it's my opinion that if you're happy with Windows 7 you can and should stay with it. I know of no compelling reason to upgrade unless you have something that specifically takes advantage of new features in 8 - like a touch screen. Most of my comments on change are directed at folks who have Windows 8 for some other reason - such as having purchased a new machine. I do believe that getting used to 8 and/or augmenting it with Classic Shell and moving forward in those cases is most prudent. Just as there's no compelling reason to upgrade from 7 to 8, neither do I see a need to downgrade from 8 to 7.

Can a USB thumbdrive "wear out"?

Mark Jacobs writes:

If you haven't had a problem with a flash drive, you can assume you eventually will. The solution is to be proactive and keep one or more backup copies of all of your data, for both your mechanical and flash media.Recovering the data from a defective drive can be prohibitively expensive and in many cases the data may be unrecoverable.

Leo's Blog

What's the Technology Behind Ask Leo!?

I was just curious about your site and news letter. What type of hosting do you use? Did you "hand craft" your site or use a CMS like WordPress or SquareSpace? How do you create your news letter, such as what application do you use?

Can you give us some background information on "What goes on in Leo-ville?"

Keep up the good work. Always look forward to the Friday Facebooks and news letters.

Well, we have to start with being careful when you say "Leo-ville". "" is actually the website of the "other" Leo, Leo Laporte of and other netcasting fame. We're both in tech, we both try to help people with technology and we're both named Leo, but we're definitely not the same person.

With that out of the way, sure, let me give you a peek behind the curtains of Ask Leo! world headquarters.

Continue Reading: What's the Technology Behind Ask Leo!?

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Saved! - Backing Up with Macrium Reflect Saved! - Backing Up with Windows 7 Backup The Ask Leo! Guide to Routine Maintenance Backing Up 101 Maintaining Windows XP - A Practical Guide


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