Ask Leo! #541 – Hotmail Support, Compromised Credit Cards, Moving the Task Bar, Backup Programs and more…

Leo's Blog

What Backup Program do You Use?

This is somewhat backwards from my usual approach.

Normally I'm pleading with you to back up, and throwing out recommendations for programs and techniques to help make it easier and more likely that you'll do so.

My most recent book is yet another attempt to make backing up simpler: Just Do This: Back Up!

But I'm currently faced with a dilemma. If you are backing up, the tables have turned.

I need your advice.

Continue Reading: What Backup Program do You Use?


I searched and found a Hotmail support number, but is it legit?

I Googled Hotmail telephone contact US, and one of the sites that came up was {redacted}, the Phone number on the site is: {redacted}. I called the number on this site and was put by the first caller to someone he described as his supervisor who with my permission could access my computer to resolve the problem.

I followed the instructions from the guy and allowed him to access my computer, then he asked me to open one of my hotmail accounts, which I did. He then showed me on my computer a number of files which he informed me were persons trying to gain access to my hotmail account, and said that this and other things needed be cleaned out so the laptop could function effectively again.

He indicated that they provide a technical service to Hotmail for its customers.

Is the site a safe one to go to?
Is there a telephone number to contact Hotmail?
Should I allow him to access my computer?
Should I allow him to clean out what he says needs cleaning out?
If not, now that he had access to my computer have I opened myself to any risk and is there something I could do to prevent him from accessing my computer again?

That's actually an excerpt of a lengthier question I recently received from someone experiencing difficulty logging into their Hotmail / account while travelling overseas, a very common and often unsolveable problem.

His approach seems sound on the surface: search for a Hotmail support number, and see if the person at the other end can help.

Unfortunately, this path typically leads to even worse problems.

Continue Reading: I searched and found a Hotmail support number, but is it legit?

I've had my credit card compromised three times; how do I prevent this from happening again?

In the last six months, I've had to cancel my credit card three times due to fraudulent activities. I frequently shop online. I have Windows 7; I use a firewall, etc. I use reliable (I thought) sources. I don't let them save credit card info. I always check for https, etc. I seldom use my credit card at stores and when I do, I watch it carefully. My credit card company suggested either a computer virus or a malware or possibly leaks with online merchants. I have McAfee online. Could they be missing a virus or malware? How can I determine where the leak is and how on earth can I shop safely online? It angers me that I'm held hostage by these hackers every time I've had my credit card compromised. Can't we get smarter than them?

Sometimes it certainly seems like we can't, doesn't it?

It also seems that for every barrier we put in place to protect our credit card use, hackers find new ways to run off with our card information.

Let's look at some of the ways credit cards can be compromised and ways you can protect yourself.

Continue Reading: I've had my credit card compromised three times; how do I prevent this from happening again?

How Do I Move the Taskbar Back to the Bottom?

My taskbar's on the right side of my screen. How do I move the taskbar back to the bottom where it belongs?

The taskbar can actually be placed on any edge of your screen. In fact, if you have multiple monitors, it can be be placed on any edge of any display.

Occasionally — usually through a misclick or accidental mouse action — the taskbar can get moved to somewhere other than where we want it.

So, let's move the taskbar back.

Continue Reading: How Do I Move the Taskbar Back to the Bottom?


Just Do This: Back Up!
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Previous Issue

Glossary Term


A patch is a software update that affects only the component, or potentially that portion of a component, that needs to be updated to resolve an issue.

Rather than updating a complete and potentially very large product for a small number of fixes, patching only updates the components affected, resulting in a much smaller download or installation.

Patching typically happens either of two ways:

  • Only individual files directly affected by the fix are updated. Files not impacted and needing no changes are not re-delivered or reinstalled.
  • Instructions on how to modify the file are downloaded, and the patch process then actually modifies the contents of the file to apply the fix. A simple fix might involved instructions that say "change the byte at location 1523 in the file from a 0x74 to 0x75″. This information is often much smaller to transmit and faster to apply than downloading an entire replacement file.

Technically only the second technique might be called patching, since it's applying a repair to an existing file without replacing it. The term is, however, typically extended to include patching an product installation by replacing individual files without reinstalling a new version of the application.

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

Featured Comments

How Can It Be Safe to Give My Information To Anyone?

Melvin Billik writes:

There is one situation which does concern me. I use QUICKEN. Now, I have accounts at quite a few mutual fund companies, brokerage accounts, etc. I enter transactions manually on Quicken. That is not the most efficient way to use it. Quicken Forum members have given me a hard time about this. I guess most users provide all the user codes and passwords to Quicken so it can get on my accounts and correctly download all my transactions. I just won't do that because giving ALL my information to Quicken can subject me to MAJOR issues should a data breach occur. It would be far more than one credit card or one checking account. A thief would have access to my entire financial situation. AM I BEING OVERLY PARANOID ABOUT THIS. I would welcome some opinions/feedback here.


Leo writes:

All I can say is that when I elect to trust an agency - like Quicken - I typically go all in. And companies like Intuit (the makers of Quicken and Quickbooks) have an incredible responsibility to keep things secure. Whether or not you're overly paranoid, you're at least an outlier - more people are using the online service than not, meaning more people are trusting Intuit with this information than are downloading things manually. If anything ever did happen I'd expect Intuit to deal with it, and related institutions to deal with it as well, in a way that would minimize the impact to affected users. Ultimately I'd probably trust Intuit to do it right. I don't choose who to trust lightly so that when I trust I can feel comfortable trusting more-or-less completely.

Richard Lawrence writes:

Re: Sharing passwords with wife or family. The probem then is that if there's a breach you don't know if it was you or your wife that caused the breach. I want to be sure that it was me or the thief, not to suspect family, so no sharing my passwords.

Leo writes:

You'd also be surprised at the number of questions I get from "ex's" who are sorry that they shared.

Ted Dickens writes:

While I generally agree with your conclusion, I disagree with your argument.

A story need not be unusual to get coverage. Routine things -- like sports scores, business results, and weather -- get daily coverage. It's not logical to conclude that an event is rare because it merited coverage. Moreover, there is some evidence that many data breaches are not disclosed because entities don't want to air their dirty linen in public.

A symphony is more than the echo of a single musician. If multiple legitimate news outlets cover the same event, it is more than the same information being passed around. At the very least, it means multiple editors judged the information to be worth relating.

"I pick and choose what companies and services I do business with, based on reputation...." How does a company get a reputation, other than through news coverage? So on one hand you are saying to dismiss news reports as overblown, while on the other hand you are saying to pay attention to reputation -- which is in large part established by news reports.

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Leo's Books

Backing Up 101 Saved! - Backing Up with Macrium Reflect Saved! - Backing Up with Windows 7 Backup Saved! - Backing Up with Windows 8 Backup
Just Do This: Back Up! The Ask Leo! Guide to Internet Safety The Ask Leo! Guide to Routine Maintenance Maintaining Windows XP - A Practical Guide


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