Ask Leo! #532 – Download Destinations, Continuous Backup, Trusting the Repairman, Please Share Links and more…


Where do downloads go?

When I download files like ebooks off the internet, I can never find them. Where do they go on my computer?

It depends on how you download. Typically they go into your "Downloads" or "My Documents" folder, so we'll look at how best to check that.

But it's also possible that they went into the same folder as the last download. We'll look at why, and how to fix it as well.

There's another place that downloads often end up that's kind of dangerous, as it gets "cleaned up" every so often – meaning you could eventually lose your download. We'll learn how to avoid that.

And we'll look at how to find your file, regardless of where it landed.

Continue Reading: Where do downloads go?

Using Dropbox for Nearly Continuous Document Backup

One of the problems with daily backups is that they happen only once a day. Don't get me wrong: backing up is a good thing, and doing those daily backups is incredibly important.

But what happens when you work on a document all day long, only to have it disappear before that daily backup happens?

That's where tools like Dropbox come in.

Continue Reading: Using Dropbox for Nearly Continuous Document Backup

How do I secure a hard drive before sending it in for repair?

How does one secure a hard drive while sending the computer to a repair facility? I have personal financial information on my hard drive and will just a password provide sufficient protection while the computer is in the shop? After the fact, is there maybe a way to find out if someone has copied the files?

What you've presented is actually quite a dilemma.

To answer the second part first: no. There's simply no way to determine if your files have been copied – at least not in any way that absolutely says they were copied with malicious intent.

The problem is, there's really no fool-proof solution to your scenario. In fact, I've heard of companies occasionally electing not to repair a hard drive, because it meant that sensitive data might be visible to repair technicians.

Your options to secure a hard drive are limited, but if you can plan ahead, there's a chance.

Continue Reading: How do I secure a hard drive before sending it in for repair?


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Glossary Term


UEFI is an acronym for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. It is occasionally, albeit technically incorrectly, referred to as "UEFI BIOS".

The UEFI, like the BIOS it is designed to replace, is software that's built into PCs and performs functions such as:

  • Power On Self Test (POST)
  • Loading of the operating system from bootable media, such as the installed hard drive, an inserted bootable CD or DVD, or a bootable USB device
  • Acting as a standard interface layer between operating systems and the installed hardware

A UEFI typically has a user interface of some sort that is accessible (only) at power-on before any operating system is loaded. This UI, which is typically more extensive than previous BIOS UIs, allows many of the configuration options for the computer to be selected before any operating system is loaded, as well as diagnostics and other manufacturer-specific functionality to be accessed.

One of the more notable, and occasionally frustrating, features of UEFI is "secure boot". Secure boot allows the boot process to be "locked down" according to PC manufacturer's specifications to prevent unauthorized operating systems or boot sources from loading.

Like the BIOS, the UEFI is typically stored in re-programmable ROM, allowing it to be updated using special reprogramming software. Unlike the BIOS additional portions of the UEFI may be stored on reserved areas of a computer's hard disk.

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

Featured Comments

What External Drive Should I Get?

Robert Moore writes:

An important consideration is the backup software. And a 2nd consideration is a networked device. And the 3rd is wireless.

But first - as Leo has mentioned before, having two PCs networked together - one can be backup to the other. That's a very inexpensive way to go.

I set up an office for PCs. A Western Digital MyBookLive that connects directy to the router serves as backup. It is easier than carrying a backup from PC to PC to laptop or having separate drives for each. As well, it can be stored in a separate room. Juuuust run that wire a bit longer!

Now, I thought that Norton (Security Suite, included with Comcast subscriptions) would work for backups, but the included version of Norton for business accounts is Norton Internet Security, which does not include backup software. Then, the version of Windows 7 - Home Premium - will not backup onto a networked device; Thanks, Microsoft! Well, WD includes backup software, as do virtually all the external drives on the market today (Jan 2015).

Now, some external drives are coming with wireless capabilities. I still prefer the wired or networked route. Wireless will compromise speed and I would worry a bit that large GB files might not copy cleanly or easily. But there is no convenience these days greater for electronics than wireless.

But I cannot echo Leo any greater: JUST BACK UP!

Using Dropbox for Nearly Continuous Document Backup

Mark Jacobs writes:

Great article. For years, I've been using DropBox for my work in progress files and any files I wanted easy access to at work or traveling. Last weekend I turned My Documents into a OneDrive folder so now I have every user file on my computer backed up and synchronized. If one service is too small, using a combination of cloud backup services, you can back up all of your user files.

How do I secure a hard drive before sending it in for repair?

James writes:

I know techs who say they never pay any attention to what's on a hard drive and I know techs who say they always look at what files are on them. Some of the latter say they just look to see what the person has in their music and picture folders. One guy was honest enough to tell me that he goes through the files of every hard drive that comes through his shop, looking to see what (if any) porn pics the person has on there.

So the basic rule is, never have anything saved on your hard drive that you'd be embarrassed to have a computer tech see if he snoops through your stuff.

Leo's Blog

May I Share a Link to Your Post?

I get this question surprisingly often: so often that I think there's a fundamental misunderstanding of just how the World Wide Web works.

So to be clear:

  • You don't need to ask.

And that's not just for Ask Leo!. That's for any link to any page you find on the internet. Really. You may link to anything without asking.

Let me explain why that is.

Continue Reading: May I Share a Link to Your Post?

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