Ask Leo! #506 – Reinstalling Periodically, Multiple Anti-malware programs, Bouncing Email, Windows 8 Backup and more…


Why Do You Regularly Reinstall Your System?

I read that you regularly install your system completely from scratch, if I understood correctly. Why is that? Is that against potential malware that didn't get detected? Do you do this monthly, or twice a year? Regularly reinstalling all the software anew should take you some hours, even if you're fast. Or did I misunderstand something.

You understood me correctly.

While I don't do it as often as I once did, it's absolutely something that I need to do from time to time.

Why do I do it? In part it's the nature of software, and in part it's the nature of what I do.

The good news is that it has nothing to do with malware.

Continue Reading: Why Do You Regularly Reinstall Your System?

Can I run more than one anti-malware program or firewall? Should I?

With regards to firewalls, anti-virus programs and anti-spyware programs; can I have more than one of each of these programs installed in my computer? For example, I run ZoneAlarm; does that mean I should I turn off Windows firewall?

In recent years this question has become more complex than ever.

There are certain types of protection you need, and getting all that protection may involve running more than one program.

On the other hand, running more than one program of the wrong type can, indeed, cause problems.

Let's see if I can't sort this out for you.

Continue Reading: Can I run more than one anti-malware program or firewall? Should I?

Why was my email bounced for sending too much spam?

I have just received the message that my response to an e-mail from a friend could not get delivered because there is too much SPAM coming from that IP; the IP given is {removed} but that is NOT MY IP. (Mine is totally different, according to what I saw on the link you posted sometime ago). What is going on? How can I be "punished" for something I did not do? I have NEVER sent SPAM to anyone.

You are exactly right: you are being punished for the actions of others.

To understand who those "others" are, we need to look at how email makes it off of your computer to its destination.

Continue Reading: Why was my email bounced for sending too much spam?


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Companion videos and digital formats included.
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Glossary Term


Spam refers to unsolicited email that you don't want. The most obvious examples of spam are unsolicited commercial emails, such as ads for porn, drugs, or body enhancement products.

There are two significant qualifications to spam:

  • You didn't ask for it. An email that offers college degrees or cheaper mortgages from a person or a business that you've never communicated with would probably qualify as spam.

  • You don't want it. When you receive it, you're likely to delete it unread based on the subject line.

Spam is tricky. Some email programs and services will automatically filter spam based on common key words, the number of people the message is being sent to, or the sender's reputation. Some also allow you to flag messages as spam.

Unfortunately, any email that people don't want runs the risk of being marked as spam. If an email newsletter that you signed up for that changes its focus into something you don't want, it might legitimately be considered spam.

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

Featured Comments

Why Don't Companies Answer My Email?

James B writes:

One of the reasons we sometimes don't get a response is, "People regularly type their own email address wrong in the feedback form." And that I understand.

What I don't understand is why they even use contact/feedback forms. I find it frustrating when I click the "Contact Us" link and are presented with a form, instead of an email address. I find that irritating because I like to keep a copy of my correspondence with the company in my emailbox. I don't have that opportunity with a contact form.

The company gets frustrated because they spent the time to respond but it bounced because the email address was incorrect. Well if they had just provided an email address, the return email address would have more than likely been correct and their spending time responding would not be in vain.

I get that they probably get more spam if they provide an email address and less with a contact form, but if they are running their email through a good spam filter (and there are good ones out there these days), I would think that would minimize the spam they get.

Leo writes:

I use a contact form, and I can tell you why: I control the entire path from the form to my eyeballs. That's simply not true for email.

Email can get lost. People mistype the email address that might be posted, mailto: links don't always work, and various servers and spam filters can indeed lose the email. The other reason is that the information goes directly into a database which allows me to control how the requests are handled by multiple people. When people send email it's much more difficult to reliably parse that email and stuff its contents into a database, and simply handling it "as email" makes it more difficult to have the messages handled by a team rather than an individual.

Also forms can be designed to require specific information. Sometimes that's a hassle, but sometimes it's also something that people just fail to provide that can further increase the chances of a response. Seriously. I've been considering a "What operating system does this question apply to?" drop down, since so many people fail to give me even that most basic information.

And I can assure you it has nothing to do with trying to cut down how much spam I get. "Web spam" is exactly that - spam that is submitted in web forms in the hopes that it'll be published somehow - spammers can't tell comment forms from other forms so they just spam every form that they can find. We get a TON of spam on the question form. Fortunately we have a spam filter in place there as well. And for those items not caught, it's one of the things my assistants take care of for me as well.

Bottom line: it increases the chances that your question will be seen and answered. (And in my case, my automated response to you includes a copy of the question for your records.)

Windows 8 Backup: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Terry Hollett writes:

I use both Macrium Reflect and the Windows backup program for my Win 7 Acer desktop. You might want to mention there is a free version of Macrium Reflect available. Otherwise it's burning of files on CD/DVD's. Yes I still do that. The only thing I don't trust for backups are thumb/flash drives. I've had to many go bad in a short period of time.

Who do I contact for legal help?

Steve Burgess writes:

My experience is that In general law enforcement will take on a case that involves endangerment of children, loss of more than about $500 in property (this changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and can include intellectual property), a believable threat to Homeland Security, or a clear threat to the safety of your person - like a death threat, for instance. May I offer some additional tips from an article of mine?

Leo writes:

All good points - in the US. Ask Leo! gets a very high volume of visitors from outside the country, though. Unfortunately depending on the country the laws are typically different, and legal recourse may be even more difficult to come by if it's available at all.

Leo's Blog

Windows 8 Backup: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I'm in the process of finishing up my Windows 8.1 backup book, Saved! Backing Up With Windows 8 Backup. It's in editing as I type this, and I'll soon be putting the finishing touches on the companion videos. I hope to have it available within a couple of weeks.

It's an important book because I know that many people don't want to shell out more money for my standard recommendation for backing up, Macrium Reflect. If there's backup software already in Windows they'd prefer to just use that … for free.

The problem is I learned quite a bit about Windows 8.1′s backup as I researched and wrote the book.

And not all of it was good.

Continue Reading: Windows 8 Backup: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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