Ask Leo! #516 – The Safety of Password Managers, How Programs Use RAM, Using Cloud Storage as Cloud Backup and more…

Featured

Are Password Managers Safe?

Recently I tried to use RoboForm for an account at a large financial institution, but I couldn't get it to work. In response to my inquiry, this institution said they do not permit log in using credentials that are stored on software because the security of the password could become jeopardized if my computer were hacked, invaded, etc. Is this true? Am I safer not to use RoboForm?

There are people who believe that using password managers represents a single point of failure. Technically, they are mostly correct: if someone gains access to your password manager they have access to everything within it.

But not-so-technically I believe – strongly – that they are seriously misguided.

Using a password manager is, in my opinion, significantly safer than the alternatives most people choose.

Continue Reading: Are Password Managers Safe?
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Three reasons programs might use all available memory in your computer

Is it true that the more memory your computer has, the more memory some programs use? I've read several forums where people mention that they have multiple gigabytes of memory and that Firefox, or Quicken, or some other program is using over half of it. They call those programs memory hogs and say their computers slow down. I never see that myself; for example I run FireFox and it never uses that much memory.

No, programs don't typically expand to fill all available memory. They use however much they need, almost regardless of how much you actually have, and therein lies the source of most memory-related slowdowns.

There are lots of reasons one might want multiple gigabytes of memory, but it shouldn't really be for something as simple as FireFox. I'd have to agree that someone's a memory hog in that situation, but it might not be FireFox itself.

Your situation – everything just working with relatively low memory usage – is actually much more common.

Continue Reading: Three reasons programs might use all available memory in your computer
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4 Important Rules to Safely use Cloud Storage as Cloud Backup

I now have 1 TB of Microsoft OneDrive storage. How should that affect my backup strategy? Most of my data files are now on OneDrive; do those need to be backed up? Can I use OneDrive space as my "external hard drive" for backups of my other files? How about for image backups? Can/Should Macrium Reflect put a system image onto OneDrive? Other advice re wise and safe use of cloud storage?

The availability of lots of cloud storage services has greatly expanded our options for keeping our data both safe and accessible.

While it's expanded our ability to establish cloud backup options, it's also greatly expanded our ability to get it wrong. It's now very easy to think you are backed up when you are not, or to inadvertently expose yourself to additional risks.

Let's review some rules about backing up, and about cloud backup specifically.

Continue Reading: 4 Important Rules to Safely use Cloud Storage as Cloud Backup
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Previous Issue

Glossary Term

SATA

SATA is short for "Serial ATA". ATA is short for "AT Attachment". AT, in turn, derives from the original IBM PC/AT, where AT stood for "Advanced Technology".

SATA is a type of physical data transfer interface and is most commonly associated with disk drives. In addition to the electrical characteristics of the interface, SATA also defines the techniques actually used to transfer data as well as the physical characteristics of the connectors used for supported devices.

The SATA interface replaced the earlier ATA or Parallel ATA (PATA) interface, also often known as EIDE.

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

Featured Comments

How do I get the old msn.com homepage back?

Tyler writes:

I agree! I HATE the new look! I wish there was a way we could go back. The "Feedback" is a joke. I think they have to put that there. I doubt they read it. Time to move on to a new news site. :( I really liked MSN.

Amber writes:

Does anyone know a comparable site to msn? I need a new homepage!

Leo writes:

This is such a matter of personal taste it's hard to make recommendations. This page has a list of possibilities: http://alternativeto.net/software/my-msn/

Amazement and Wonder? Really?

B. E. Smith writes:

I really got a kick out of the "programmer's language" anecdote. That could describe much of my technology interaction. I tell folks that technology is a wonderful thing - when it works. But when it doesn't, it can cause much weeping and gnashing of teeth!

Three reasons programs might use all available memory in your computer

Luke Mayson writes:

On the subject of memory leaks and internet browsers, there's one thing I've run into over and over that causes poor performance:

Flash-based browser games.

Many are poorly written, consuming RAM in excess of that consumed by a commercial 3D action game played on the same computer.

So, if your browser is using way too much RAM, consider exactly WHAT you have open as well as how many tabs, etc.

Leo's Blog

Dislike a Service's Recent Change? Remember, You are Not the Customer

I don't know that this will make any of the changes we experience online any more palatable to those who dislike change, but perhaps it will explain a little more exactly why these changes happen. I also don't expect people to like what I have to say; but as I've said before, I believe it's a reflection of the reality to which we all eventually have to adapt.

One of the reactions that I've seen to assorted changes in free online services is the complaint that the service is completely ignoring the customer, meaning the users of that service. If the services really wanted to retain their customers they'd change less, or change in more (presumably) customer-friendly ways.

Well, they probably do make those changes with the customer in mind.

It's just that if you think that you're the customer, you could very well be mistaken. You're closer to something else entirely.

Continue Reading: Dislike a Service's Recent Change? Remember, You are Not the Customer
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