Ask Leo! #523 – A Tale of Woe, What to Look For in a New Computer, and more…

What kind of computer should I get?

It's nearly new computer time at the old bunkhouse. What to do? What to do? Laptop? Desktop? Mac? PC? Dell? HP? How many gigabytes? CD? DVD? It's been eight years for me.

This is an extremely common question. In fact, I'll bet anyone who's the tech in the family or neighborhood gets asked this same question more often than they would perhaps want.

The problem, of course, is that there's no single answer.

It depends on your needs and your budget. And as technology is ever-changing, it even matters when you ask the question.

I typically ask myself this question about every few years as one computer or another needs replacing or simply comes to the end of its usable lifespan.

So rather than give you a definitive answer that doesn't exist, let me instead walk you through some of the things you should consider when it's time to get a new computer.

In this multi-post series, we'll start with the most basic of questions…

Continue Reading: What kind of computer should I get?

What brand of computer should I get?

Next to understanding the type of computer you need, which I discussed in a previous article, perhaps the next most important decision (and common question) is what manufacturer or brand with which to invest your money, and within that, the which specific model to purchase.

This is one of those questions that also keeps changing over time. I'll review some of the alternatives, starting with one of the most fundamental questions of all.

Continue Reading: What brand of computer should I get?

What should I get with a new computer?

So far in this series I've discussed what kind of computer you should consider, who to get it from, and talked a little about screen size and weight for laptop/portable computers.

Next I want to look at some of the many options around what goes in just about any computer you might get.

Continue Reading: What should I get with a new computer?


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Glossary Term


CPU is an acronym for Central Processing Unit, which is the chip that is often referred to as the "brain" of a computer.

"CPU" is often used to *incorrectly* refer to the entire computer itself or the desktop box. In reality, the term CPU specifically refers to an integrated circuit or "chip" that resides on or is connected to the computer's motherboard inside.

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

Featured Comments

What Security Software do you recommend?

David R writes:

Reading this horror story about family pictures lost forever, I wonder, does a virus (e.g. Cryptowall as that is the subject here) actually delete things or overwrite them - in which case, are they retrievable through some Undelete program? - (People who make viruses should have their heads banged together or something more unmentionable.)

Leo writes:

Sometimes file recovery software can be used, but it REALLY depends on the specific virus. Some go so far as to wipe free space, delete file history, shadow copies and the like. So the answer is both yes and no, depending on the malware variant you're looking at.

How do Gmail labels relate to folders?

Lester writes:

Outlook search folders act somewhat like Gmail's labels. I have a search folder that shows me all my follow-up flagged email. I have a search folder that shows me only emails from and to my supervisor. I have other search folders that show me only email from other people or with other criteria. Of course, I use folders too, and the search folders will pull from various folders if you want. So I can have emails from my supervisor in three or four different folders but find them all in my supervisor search folder. The emails themselves stay where I have stored them, but like the Gmail labels, I can gather together email from one person or one subject and view them together. Along with this, you can setup and use Outlook categories, which are a lot like Gmail labels as well. So I have a half dozen search folder and a half dozen categories. This allows me to mix and match pretty well any kind of scenario you can imagine. For instance, I use my followup folder to store important task or people related emails, then I sort them by category within that folder. All the while, the email stays in my inbox.

butch / Texas writes:

I only use G-Mail. The problem I had/have is when I forward or reply to a message. One is I can't figure out how to change the subject line. The other problem is when I do forward/reply the message would just go away and no longer be in my inbox. After months I finally found them in All mail. If I want to keep in inbox I have to send it back and sometimes that does not work. I miss Yahoo mail but after they went to adds everywhere mode I finally just gave up. Another example of ruining a good thing over greed. Take care

Leo writes:

To change the subject line click the funny looking arrow thing to the left of the TO: address. One of the options there will be "Edit Subject".

Leo's Blog

Another story of data loss, and what could have been

Last week I posted this on Facebook:

Just had to break the news to a friend that the photos on the hard drive that failed – the contents of which we WERE able to recover thanks to some hard disk utilities – turned out to be encrypted by ransomware (CryptoWall), and we had no way to decrypt them. And no, they didn't have a recent backup. (And yes, there were some VERY important photos on there. I'm hoping that they'll recover some at least from friends and family with whom they shared ‘em.)

This is why, folks. This is why I harp and harp and harp on backing up. Seriously. Sh*t happens. Sometimes its benign, and sometimes its downright heartbreaking. PLEASE back up.

I want to go into that in just a little more detail, and expand on how this could have all been very close to a non-event.

Continue Reading: Another story of data loss, and what could have been

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