Ask Leo! #517 – Backing Up Gmail and LastPass, Two-Factor Authentication, and Common Sense…


How do I back up Lastpass?

For a long time, I've recommended password managers like Roboform and Lastpass to help readers keep track of the passwords for all of their online accounts. Besides offering an incredible level of convenience, these tools also give you a greater level of security because they make it practical to use truly long and complex passwords and generate different ones on every site.

But, as with all things relating to security, there are risks.

For example, what happens if you forget your LastPass master password? Master passwords cannot be recovered. While there are a couple of options to hopefully regain access to your password vault, the worst-case scenario is that you lose the vault and everything in it, forever.

Not to keep beating the same old drum, but the best solution is very simple.

Back up.

Continue Reading: How do I back up Lastpass?

Two-Factor Authentication: Keeps the Hackers Out

(This is a chapter from my forthcoming book tentatively titled "The Ask Leo! Guide to Internet Safety".)

With the increased reliance on passwords to protect our online world, and the simultaneously increasing abilities of hackers to defeat them, security folks devised something called "two-factor", or "multi-factor" authentication.

It's something I strongly suggest you consider.

Two factor authentication relies on two different types of information, both of which must be correct, in order to confirm your identity.

Continue Reading: Two-Factor Authentication: Keeps the Hackers Out

The Best Ways to Back Up Gmail

You've mentioned that you back up Gmail somewhere on your own computer; how do you do that?

Of all the current free email services, Gmail is my favorite. I know I've railed against free email services as your only email service, but they definitely have their place. And Gmail is the service I recommend.

In part, I recommend it because I can answer this question. Gmail is very easy to back up.

Continue Reading: The Best Ways to Back Up Gmail


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Glossary Term


A backup is nothing more than an additional copy of data kept in a different location than the original.

If there's only one copy of something – say a photograph on a mobile phone – then it's not backed up. If that device were to fail or be lost, then the photograph would be lost forever as well.

Computers are excellent at making copies of digital data, and backups are one important use of that functionality.

It's generally recommended that important data be backed up in at least one, ideally more, separate devices or media, such as an external hard disk. In addition it's recommended that critical data also be backed up in another physical location, such as a different building or by backing it up online.

More than anything the important concept is that there never be a single copy of important data. That's not backed up.

See also: back up

Glossary Terms are featured selections from The Ask Leo! Glossary.
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Featured Comments

Are Password Managers Safe?

FBTOOL writes:

I have been using "Last Pass" for a few months. I haven't allowed it to re-generate all of my old passwords yet though. I am concerned if in the future, should decide to stop using it or they go out of business how would I gain access to all the sites that it auto generated passwords for????

Mark Jacobs writes:

Even if the LastPass site goes down, you'd still have the passwords stored on your hard drive which would still work with the LastPass plugins. To be sure you should back up your LastPass passwords.

Daniel Ullman writes:

A way to add security to a password manager is to store only partial passwords. For example, say you have a password of 25 random characters and the word rough. Have the password manager save the 25 random characters and add the word rough to the end once the password manager has filled out the password field. The last characters are easy to remember and you will not have recorded your entire password anywhere.

Reid writes:

I'd just like to stress Leo's point "I have LastPass automatically log out after some amount of time..." I highly suggest all LastPass user's configure that setting (Preferences, General, Security). I use LastPass at work, as well as home. I don't want some sysadmin remote connecting to my PC when I'm not around and finding LastPass wide open. I have it log off after 30 minutes of non-use.

Here is a good page listing several LastPass security measures you may want to consider, including those mentioned by Leo above:

Change Your Hotmail or Email Address With An Alias

Tony2 writes:

This "alias" concept is also available in Yahoo. I've had that sort of set up with them for a number of years now.

Leo's Blog

My Flood of Auto-Responses

Last week I made an innocuous change to The Ask Leo! Newsletter, and as a result I received a flood of auto-responses delivered to my inbox.

While annoying, it was actually fairly interesting to see no less than three unexpected patterns arise.

It's important to realize that the various types of auto-responses may not do what you think. In fact, they may be doing something else entirely.

And don't get me started on those challenge-response spam blockers. (OK, too late…)

Continue Reading: My Flood of Auto-Responses

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Leo's Books

Saved! - Backing Up with Macrium Reflect Saved! - Backing Up with Windows 7 Backup Saved! - Backing Up with Windows 8 Backup
The Ask Leo! Guide to Routine Maintenance Backing Up 101 Maintaining Windows XP - A Practical Guide


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