Ask Leo! #543 – My Not-So-Secret Secret, Storing Files Online, VM settings, SPAM, and more….

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The deep, dark secret behind Ask Leo!

I was exchanging email with someone the other day, and he asked about my business and what it was I did.

What I came up with on the spur of the moment so perfectly captured one aspect of Ask Leo! that I took myself aback. :-)

You'd think that after nearly a dozen years of doing this, I'd have a pretty clear picture and "elevator pitch". Indeed, I do have a pretty good "why" that I captured earlier this year. But that's different than a "what".

The answer I shared crystallized something important about how I do what I do.

My ulterior motive, if you will.

Continue Reading: The deep, dark secret behind Ask Leo!


How should I configure my virtual memory settings?

I have a Windows machine to which I just added a second hard drive. The new, larger, drive is now the primary. What do you recommend for a swap file? The "3X RAM" rule of thumb doesn't make much sense to me. It should be bigger with less RAM, not more. It's currently set to the same as my RAM size as its minimum and twice as much as a maximum size on the C: drive. What size should I set it to, should it be on a different partition, and should I give it its own partition? I will be doing a lot of scanning and Photoshop, if that affects the answer. It's my understanding that a fixed size reduces fragmentation (or at least makes defragmentation easier). I've also seen suggestions for making the swap file an entire partition. (I have Partition Magic.) Would putting it onto the second drive improve read/write speeds? The second drive will be for backing up data files and not in constant use.

You're asking a lot of good questions and providing a lot of the right kind of data from which to make some recommendations.

I've written about Virtual Memory a time or two already, and it does seem like so much voodoo to many people. The same is true for figuring out what to do with it.

But if you're trying to eke out a little more performance from your machine, then it's possible that a couple of settings might help.

Continue Reading: How should I configure my virtual memory settings?

Why is my email marked as spam?

Each time I send emails to the US, China or here in the UK there are some recipients that eventually find my emails in their junk folders. We have tried to remedy this but even their IT departments are flummoxed. I (and they) just want to know why my emails do this despite their best endeavours to remedy it.

There are so many possibilities, it's difficult to know where to begin.

I will tell you that there is no simple solution to guaranteeing your email is never flagged as spam. Why? Because if there were an easy solution, spammers would use it, rendering all spam filters ineffective.

Let's look at some of the factors that may contribute to your email being flagged as spam.

Continue Reading: Why is my email marked as spam?

Why I'm (slowly) Switching to OneDrive

I've been using Google Drive and Google Docs for several years. With the addition of functional (albeit somewhat crippled) versions of the applications on my Android mobile devices, it's a quick and easy way to have documents with me wherever I might be. Add to that the ability to share documents with my assistants, and it's become a valuable resources in how I handle my data.

I recently started playing around with Microsoft's offering. They, too, now offer somewhat crippled versions of actual Microsoft Office programs for free on both the web and mobile, including my Android phone, integrated with their online "cloud" storage offering, Microsoft OneDrive.

But there's something fundamentally different about Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online, something that has me now in the process of slowly switching to OneDrive, and potentially even shifting some of my other files from DropBox while I'm at it.

It's all about backups.

Continue Reading: Why I'm (slowly) Switching to OneDrive


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Glossary Term


The Cloud is nothing more than a reference to services and technologies provided online over the internet.

Using the term "cloud", besides being a marketing buzz-word, conceptualizes the internet itself as a cloud so as to avoid having to detail the reality of its massively complex interconnections. Even before the term "cloud" was popular in general use, network diagrams often used the image of a cloud to represent large networks.

Cloud computing is nothing more than using internet-connected computers to perform computational tasks.

Cloud storage is nothing more than data storage provided by online services.

Cloud services are nothing more than services provided by online service providers.

Naturally all of the above can be intermixed.

"The cloud" is nothing really new: email has been essentially a cloud service since its inception. What has changed, however, is the ubiquity of internet connectivity, the increased speeds at which people are connected to the internet, and the fact that using online services is becoming more and more practical for more and more people than ever before.

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

Featured Comments

Can I tell if someone has copied my files?

Alex Dow writes:

And the technician may copy them to another disk, to safeguard your property, should it turn out that your PC is unrepairable - ie he may be doing you a favour, particularly if you don't do back-ups yourself.

Again it is trust.


Say it was an HDD problem.

Simply (attempting to) boot it, may be the "last straw" - hence, if possible, copying all the appropriate user files to another disk before any real work is started, may be the only way of preserving all of your (many) years of work, research etc.

If you consider their contents to be worthy of encrypting particularly, then you should be backing them up "in the first place" - BUT to at least two separate places, outside of that PC, long before any problems involving repairs etc arise.

I do this, using redundant HDDs from other PCs etc.

Also with very specific data such as Family History (started 1989), I occasionally write to CDs etc, for sending to "remote" relatives around the globe, partly as an informal (very) remote archiving and partly to give them access to my work should they wish to pursue their particular branches.

Leo writes:

I'll echo this sentiment: when I work on friends computers (yeah, I do that too :-) ), when there's an issue the first thing I do is an image backup. That shouldn't surprise anyone, I suspect. However I do keep it in reserve for "a while" for two reasons: after returning the computer to use, to be able to answer the inevitable "What happened to my file", and to be able to further investigate any remaining issues if needed without necessarily needing direct access to the actual machine again. Naturally I trust myself, and apparently my friends do too. But to the point: there are often legitimate reasons a trustworthy technician might take a snapshot and keep it for "a while" - so simply doing that is not necessarily a sign of evil intent.

What Backup Program do You Use?

Mort writes:

Hi Leo,

I've been a loyal subscriber to your newsletter for quite some time and I've come to respect (and usually follow) your suggestions.

I offered a comment back on March 31st, stating why I love my Macrium 5 Standard backup program.

Since it does everything I need, efficiently and automatically, why would I want to upgrade to version 6? Other than, perhaps, a faster backup process, I am unaware what is to be gained by upgrading to 6, especially at the price they charge for the upgrade.

Macrium is a wonderful program, but what will Macrium 6 do for me what Macrium 5 does not?

Leo writes:

I haven't gone deep into 6 yet, but right now - if 5 is working for you I'm not aware of a reason that would compel an upgrade, other than perhaps support. (They're phasing out support of 5.)

Am I Sending Spam?

Peter Edwards writes:

Hi Leo

I have a slightly different issue - and one which I see no way of resolving.

I am newsletter editor for a local association and send out around 100 e-mails at a time to our members. Although my ISP is BT (British Telecom) who only allow 20 e-mails at a time, I use an e-mail address with (who host our association) website to actually send the e-mails ( allow 250 I think - more than enough for my needs).

All has gone very well until a few weeks ago when I started to get messages back saying:

This is the mail system at host




I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message has not yet

been delivered to one or more recipients. It's attached below.


421 Too many messages (

I then realised that of the perhaps 100 e-mails that I send (I b.c.c. to the members), only those to the 14 members with addresses are being 'delayed' (although a number never get delivered at all!).

So BT's problem seems to be with receiving 14 e-mails from in a single batch.

I have raised a complaint with BT, but their help desk is in India and I was quite clear that the person who rang me back did not have a clue what I was talking about!

Leo writes:

I would not expect them to change their policy. As I outline in the article this is one of the signs of a spammer - even if you're not one. If you're sending to many I strongly suggest using some of the alternative approaches outlined in the article.

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