Leo's Answers #163 – January 27, 2009

Leo's Answers
A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
Leo Notenboom


Why couldn't Microsoft explain it that way ...?
-John

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*** Contents

*** This Week's New Articles on Ask Leo!

Can a MAC address be traced?

I know that all computers have a unique MAC address. But how traceable are they? If my laptop gets stolen, and I know my MAC address, can I get back to it if the person stole it gets connected to internet, even after formatting the machine and thinking that it's safe to connect? Seems like this could stop laptop burglaries if that MAC address thing is traceable.

You're correct ... it could put a big dent in laptop burglaries if MAC addresses were traceable. Or it would at least increase the odds of stolen equipment being recovered.

But they're not. At least, not in any way that could help.

Let's look at why.

Continue reading: "Can a MAC address be traced?"

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How do I get System Restore to take up less space?

Is there anyway to make System Restore use less space if we would like to have the benefit of a restore, but not use up all our space? I just saved half my hard drive by taking System Restore off.

Yes, we can adjust the amount of disk space that System Restore will use.

But that adjustment comes at a price.

Continue reading: "How do I get System Restore to take up less space?"

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How do I correct my Windows Live Hotmail time zone?

The time on my outgoing mail is wrong, and I can't find the time zone setting after the latest round of Windows Live Hotmail changes. Where do I change it.

The location of the time zone setting has moved, along with a few other things.

I'll walk you through resetting it.

Continue reading: "How do I correct my Windows Live Hotmail time zone?"

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How do I close my Windows Live Hotmail account?

Leo you told us how to close the Hotmail account, yet the Help panel doesn't have the close account anymore? I did everything you asked but Close Account is not there. not even as a question on the help panel!

Yep, Hotmail changed the location. The good news is that they actually made closing your account much easier.

Let me walk you through the steps.

Continue reading: "How do I close my Windows Live Hotmail account?"

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How should I protect my network and computers from my guests?

I noted in a previous article you mentioned that you set up a private network for a machine suspected of infection. Then later I saw that you mentioned you had enabled a separate private network for your guests, and had enabled wireless security on your own network.

Can you explain what you did, and why you didn't have wireless security on the whole time? I thought it was important?

Wireless security is important. But if you know what you're doing, it's not always necessary. You can choose to run without it, if you're fortunate enough to have other means of security in it's place.

My "other means of security"? A really long driveway.

Let me show you what changes I made, and explain why.

Continue reading: "How should I protect my network and computers from my guests?"

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*** Featured Comments

A sampling of some of the comments that have been posted recently on Ask Leo!

* * *

Are there any legitimate uses for peer-to-peer file sharing programs?

O.A. Orcan writes:

One has to be careful when using bittorrents. Every search includes infected files, usually with different names, but similar sizes. After some experience a careful user can tell which ones are suspicious. My antivirus and firewall software have very good P2P shields and so far haven't let one infected file pass through. P2P programs have to be configured to access only a dedicated folder otherwise private information can also be accessed by others. Copyrighted contents should also be avoided to be included. Legal action has been taken in some P2P sharing instances. Bandwidth U/D load limits, number of simultaneous uploaders permitted, chat options, search permits for other sharers should all be configured. Some of the P2P software programs can be still active even after exiting. Ctrl+Alt+Del window will usually indicate such a process in the process window, if not, in the network window. I have tried almost all of the bittorrent software and observed malicious behavior in one or two. If a user selects a good P2P software and configures it wisely, with P2P shields included, P2P file sharing is safe and sometimes invaluable.

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Is it safe to delete duplicate files?

Charley writes:

Wish I had read this like 3 days ago. Downloaded a duplicate file finder, one highly rated by all review sites and consumer reviews. I did some duplicate file removing for a couple of days without a hitch. As confidence grew I decided to give it a real workout and check Windows and all it's subfolders for duplicates. As you can imagine there were over a thousand duplicates listed, some with five duplicates of the same file, or so I thought. Diligently began checking file against file, tried to get an answer as to which would be safest to delete, ie oldest, newest, longest, shortest, but found no information. Remembered that a program from Toni Arts suggested keeping oldest files, but I have been messing with this computer for so long it didn't help much. I told program to keep all hard links from being scanned and thought now I could go to it. Well here I sit 3 days and a gazillion hours later and am just now able to use the computer again. The questioner asking about couldn't I see operating system and stuff was being taken, of course not. I wasn't even deleting the files just sending them to recycle bin temporarily keeping location information with each file. Guess what, started the process and about three minutes into it the screen went black, computer tried to reboot and repeatedly tried to reboot until I stopped it. Could not run any of the boot options like safe boot or last good startup, nothing. Just kept saying starting Windows than shutdown and restart. Had to use Windows CD to try and start computer, but it couldn't repair my Windows installed on computer and had to load a new copy of Windows to the computer. Three days later I am happy to say everything is back to where it was prior to my trying to get rid of some stupid duplicate files. Guess Stupid is really what Stupid does, eh? Word to the wise, unless you are single, jobless, and bored; live with the duplicates and buy an external hard drive if you want quick extra disk space. Worth the money, but more importantly worth not having to go through the frustration and time of all the above.

*** This Week's Most Popular

The ten most popular articles in the last 7 days on Ask Leo!

  1. How do I change my MSN Hotmail password?
  2. How do I delete history items from my Google tool bar?
  3. How do I make a new MSN Hotmail account?
  4. I accidentally deleted my Recycle Bin in Vista - how do I get it back?
  5. How do I delete my Hotmail account?
  6. My desktop Recycle Bin has disappeared - why, and how do I get it back?
  7. Can I send text messages between a computer and a cell phone?
  8. Why is my Task Manager disabled, and how do I fix it?
  9. What are the POP3 and SMTP settings for Hotmail?
  10. How do I put a picture into the caption of a picture on myspace.com?

*** Leo Recommends

ForwardedFunnies.com - Sooner or later, the jokes stop here.

This is a "just for fun" recommendation, because we all need a break from time to time. Smile

And I'll also be honest: Forwarded Funnies is one of my sites.

Like I'm sure you do, I get a lot of email forwarded to me. There's a lot of stuff that shouldn't be forwarded at all, but of course there's also humor. Jokes and stories and pictures and other things that people forward and forward and forward.

Several years ago, I started collecting those that made me laugh and that I found entertaining. I created Forwarded Funnies as a repository for all that humor, and have been posting a new item from my backlog roughly every day.

At this writing, Forwarded Funnies has over 1700 items.

Continue reading: "ForwardedFunnies.com - Sooner or later, the jokes stop here."

Each week I recommend a specific product or resource that I've found valuable and that I think you may as well. What does my recommendation mean?

*** Popular Articles from the Archives

Ever wonder?

Why is there so much spam?

In between bouts of frustration with my inbox, I've been reading your various articles on spam. I think I'm slowly getting a handle on it all, but it sure seems crazy. And it really got me to wondering... why is there so much spam in the first place?

I feel your pain.

I recently did some research for another project of mine, Taming Email, and looked at all my email for last year. Not only do I get a lot of email, but my calculations show that 87% of it was junk. Wow.

Why is there so much spam?

It's very simple, really.

Spam works.

Continue reading...
Why is there so much spam?
http://ask-leo.com/why_is_there_so_much_spam.html

*** Thoughts and Comments

The "Downadup", "Conficker" and other worms or malware have been in the news lately, as they're apparently causing a lot of problems for a lot of people. My experience a couple of weeks ago cleaning my friends machine may well have been the direct result of one of these viruses, or variants thereof.

One of the points of vulnerability are removable drives, such as USB thumb drives, and specifically the auto-run feature of Windows. These particular pieces of malware are apparently smart enough to infect any and all removable media found on your system. That way when you take the removable media to a different computer and auto-run kicks in that system becomes infected.

Naturally the smart thing to do is to turn off auto-run. The inconvenience of having to take action when you insert a thumbdrive, camera or CD is minor compared to the inconvenience of a malware infestation.

As it turns out, the auto-run feature is actually more complex, and harder to protect yourself from than most people think. Blogger Michael Horowitz has a post over at ComputerWorld: Test your defenses against malicious USB flash drives that starts to describe the depth of the problem. I strongly recommend you read it and discover just how vulnerable you are.

And yes, I was surprised to find that I'm vulnerable too.

That's why I chose my words carefully above: you do need to protect yourself against this Windows "feature".

'till next time...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

* * *

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