Ask Leo! #510 – Backing Up, Changing a Gmail Password, Defragging Files, Reading What’s in Front of You and more…


How do I backup my computer?

How do I "back up" my computer? I am sure my question is ridiculous to you, but I honestly have no clue what I should be doing.

Your question's not ridiculous at all. In fact, I'm certain that this is why so many people don't back up: they simply don't know how.

For something that's as important as backing up is, that's a little scary.

Let's look first at what it means to back up a computer and what your options are. Then, I'll tell you what I recommend for average users.

Continue Reading: How do I backup my computer?

How do I change my Gmail password?

I can't figure out how to change my password on Google for my Gmail account.

I'll show you.

However, I do have to point out that in order to change your password, you must be able to log in. I mean, if you can't log in then you can't prove that you're the rightful owner of the account. If Google did allow you to change your password without logging in first, then anyone could change it, whether or not they were actually authorized to do so.

So, step 1: login to your Gmail account.

Continue Reading: How do I change my Gmail password?

Why won't some files defrag?

My wife's computer shows several fragmented files remaining after a defrag. She has tried uninstalling some programs but some will not uninstall. What can I do to help rid her of this problem or is there a program that will help with this?

Actually, this is not necessarily a problem. It's not at all uncommon to have some files that refuse to defrag, and that's quite alright. Chances are it won't impact performance in any noticeable way, and that's really what defragging is all about: improving performance.

Let's look at some of the reasons, and some of the ways to force the issue if you still feel you need to.

Continue Reading: Why won't some files defrag?


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Glossary Term


A core is technically a single CPU.

A CPU, or "Central Processing Unit", is the circuitry that actually performs calculations and executes the instructions of computer programs.

Most desktop computers originally used a single processor chip containing a single core or CPU. A computer may now also have a single processor chip with multiple cores, multiple processors with single cores, or multiple processors with multiple cores. Regardless of the configuration multiple cores allow a computer to quite literally do two two or more things at the same time.

The term "CPU" is often also used to refer to the entire processor chip and all the cores it may contain.

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

Featured Comments

How should I store scans of old photographs?

Alice Perrault writes:

When I take a trip I may take 300-500 pictures. I change memory cards for each major location of the trip if traveling to several places . When editing the pictures, I create a different file for each location. The final step is to print only the best of the best pictures. I try to print no more than 30-50 highlights of the trip. The highlights are the pictures I show to friends and family. I do have a few friends who will ask to see all the pictures. I open my computer file and let those friends view the pictures as slowly or quickly as they choose while I make dinner.

You have convinced me to buy an extra external drive for all my pictures. My backup in the past has been, first, older trips--CDs and DVDs. In more recent years I used flash drives. Time to put it all together, using one medium. Thanks for the good advice!!

Barry Zander writes:

My 2TB external hard drive went cold on me two years ago with less than 700 gigs of space remaining. Cost of retrieving the information was $500, but with no guarantee that it would be successful. We were traveling in our RV throughout North America with no permanent residence at the time. However, I had a second external backup on two 1 TB external, which I kept in the back of our truck; and I had another external backup, this on hidden in the travel trailer. I updated all 3 drives at the beginning of each month, plus I kept important photos on a flash drive. When the 2TB went out, I bought a new one and began the arduous process of transferring from one of the externals and realized that in the disorganization of traveling, some of the files weren't backed up on that drive. That's when the second external came to the rescue. I saved myself $500. With all the photos I take and retain in RAW and .jpeg, it's expensive to send them to an online storage site.

Larry writes:

When did this become a social issue? The article is about HOW to store photos on a long term basis...not WHY. To those that feel that future generations will not be interested in our photos I ask you this...Why are genealogy websites so popular? I for one have thousands of family photos going back almost 100 years that I am forever thankful for. Photography is the only true time machine there is. Therefore perhaps it is in a way an extension of life...Just a thought...

What happens when applications die?

Peter writes:

My neighbour who is clinging to an old version of Microsoft Money had the problem that this version does not run on any OS newer than Windows98. Yes, there is a newer version around, but he will not switch to that. Old habits, etc. So, to get him to change to a newer OS (Win7 at the time) I fixed this problem by creating a virtual Win98 machine with Money on it, - and nothing else - so now he is happy again. This approach can be used for any program that is not supported on new OS-es.

Leo's Blog

Get Better, Faster Answers by Reading What's in Front of You

One of the things that frustrates me occasionally in the questions that I'm asked is something I'm also guilty of myself: not reading what's right in front of my face.

Rather than only venting about it, I want to talk a little bit about why it's so important to read and follow instructions.

Because it's obvious that so many people do not. (And, yeah, like I said, sometimes that includes me.)

Continue Reading: Get Better, Faster Answers by Reading What's in Front of You

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The Ask Leo! Guide to Routine Maintenance Backing Up 101 Maintaining Windows XP - A Practical Guide


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