Ask Leo! #594 – Getting Old is Getting Old, Different Passwords, Backing Up Multiple Disks, and more…

The Death of "Subscribe to Comments"

Well, that didn't last long.

I've been forced to disable the "subscribe to comments" feature that I added a couple of weeks ago.

Either of two things was happening, probably both:

  • Some folks subscribed to comments, asking for the email notifications to be send to them ... only to start marking them as spam when they were received.
  • Spammers were somehow using the facility to actually send spam, though I've not seen any hard evidence of this.

As a result more than one email service started blacklisting my server, and it was prevented from sending email to recipients on those domains for any reason.

Needless to say, that couldn't stand.

It was a nice experiment, but ultimately a failure. If you want to see if someone has responded to your comment you'll simply have to return to the page and check, manually.

Leo's Blog

On Aging and Being "Too Old"

I often hear from people who claim that they're "too old" to do whatever it is they see technology as requiring. Needless to say, I have a different opinion.

Continue Reading: On Aging and Being "Too Old"


Why Is It So Important to Use a Different Password on Every Site?

I keep hearing that I'm supposed to use a different password on every internet site where I have an account. What a pain! I can't remember all of those passwords. Yeah, I know. You want me to use a password manager thing, but that seems like putting a bunch of really important things into a single basket. What if that basket gets hacked? I use a strong password, why isn't that enough?

The hacks of several online services have brought this issue to light once again.

I'm sorry, but a single strong password just isn't enough anymore. You must use different strong passwords on every site where you have an account – at least, every important site.

And yes, you must devise a way to manage them all.

Let me run down an example scenario that's causing all of this emphasis on multiple different passwords.

Continue Reading: Why Is It So Important to Use a Different Password on Every Site?

How Should I Back Up My Hard Drive with Several Partitions to an External Drive?

I am a relatively new PC user and want to start backing up my hard drive. I have an external drive, and my PC has two internal drives configured in a raid set up. The PC drive has four partitions on it.

Must I create the same four partitions on the external and back up the contents of each partition in the PC to the relevant new partition on the external?

First let me say good on you for setting up a backup. Sadly, you're in a minority. Most people still don't think about backups until it's too late.

The answer to your question depends in part on the capabilities of the backup software you use. But I do have some ideas and recommendations.

Continue Reading: How Should I Back Up My Hard Drive with Several Partitions to an External Drive?


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Glossary Term


Spam refers to unsolicited email you don't want. The most obvious examples of spam are unsolicited commercial emails, such as ads for porn, drugs, or body enhancement products.

There are two significant qualifications to spam:

  • You didn't ask for it. An email that offers college degrees or cheaper mortgages from a person or a business that you've never communicated with would probably qualify as spam.
  • You don't want it. When you receive it, you're likely to delete it unread based on the subject line.

Spam is tricky. Some email programs and services automatically filter spam based on common key words, the number of people the message is being sent to, or the sender's reputation. Some also allow you to flag messages as spam.

Unfortunately, any email that people don't want runs the risk of being marked as spam. If an email newsletter that you signed up for changes its focus into something you don't want, it might legitimately be considered spam.

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

Featured Comments

On Aging and Being "Too Old"

Ron writes:

I enjoyed your video on age.

I'm learning every day. Maybe I'm not learning as quickly as I used to but nevertheless, I'm still learning. My body is slowing down and so is my processing of information but I do "get there". I don't take everything at "face value". That is something learned and that takes time to develop a critical way of looking at things and you only get that by living.

Touch screens are not for me. Whatever it is in my "chemistry" the icons sometimes just don't work for me neither do other touch devices like lamps. I also like a pristine screen. A screen filled with finger prints just doesn't cut it. That isn't a product of age for sure. I've always been that way.

I'm 69 and still kicking.

George writes:

Great article! I spend a lot of time assisting seniors with their computer problems. Quite often more time is spent convincing them "they can - and often already know how to do it," rather than on the problem itself. I'm too old is often said but doesn't apply.

Bill K. writes:

I'm definitely not hiding behind my 84 years. I am, technically speaking, an experimenter. I love to try new things and programs. At the present I have 5 computers set up in my computer room, with different OS on them because I still build and repair computers for others, sometimes long distance. I have helped others in 4 continents repair their ailing computers.

I volunteer in a rehab facility three days a week, sing in my church choir, sing solos, and teach a bible class. You are only as old as you feel, and I tell everyone that I still feel with both hands.

Why Is It So Important to Use a Different Password on Every Site?

Ray Smith writes:

"There is something that one should be aware of concerning cloudy password managers like LastPass." - Non-cloudy password managers are not necessarily immune from attack either:

Passwords mainly get compromised in one of three ways:

1. Credential database theft;

2. Phishing.

3. Guessed or otherwise discovered by a dishonest friend/family member/co-worker.

A strong password provides absolutely zero protection against #1 or #2, but does, to a point, provide protection against #3 - however, so would a basic style passphrase like xkcd's CorrectHorseBatteryStaple (see link above), so long as it's random enough not to be guessed by that dishonest friend/family member/co-worker.

Given the current threat landscape, strong passwords really aren't as important as many people believe them to be. That said, the threat landscape can change markedly and suddenly - a practice that may not be particularly risky today, could be exceptionally risky tomorrow - and, consequently, it does make sense to use a unique strong/complex password to protect each important account.

Should you use a password manager to remember those strong passwords? I don't think it's a clear yes or no answer. While the most secure option is to rely on your memory rather than a password manager, it's also much less convenient. In fact, if it weren't for the convenience that password managers provide, there would probably be even more people who use "password" as their password.

My strategy is to use a standard passphrase that I customize slightly on a per-site basis - CorrectHorseBatteryStapleBank or CorrectHorseBatteryStapleCreditCard, say - for each of my half dozen or so important accounts, and these are stored only in memory (my memory, that is - not my computer's!). Passwords for other accounts are stored in a password manager and are also strong and unique - not because they need to be strong and unique, but simply because the password manager makes it easy to do.

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