Leo's Answers #202 – October 27, 2009

A Weekly Newsletter From
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Leo Notenboom


Do you have a question for me? Don’t hit reply! Head instead for the Ask Leo! home page and search the site first – seriously, around half the questions people ask are already answered there. You can also browse the archives, past newsletters and more. If you still can’t find the answer you’re looking for then by all means ask your question here (it’s the fastest way).

*** New Articles

How should I protect myself when other people use my computer?

I have a computer in my place of business where I allowed many people to access and use my computer to send and receive emails, allowing some of them to apply for their own emails with Yahoo.

One day about nine months ago, I was visited by the two FBI Agents. When they came in my business one of them asked me if I was the owner; I replied yes, I owned the business. Then he asked if I had a computer, I said yes at the back of the building.

I know that what I am about to tell you, I had been wrong for letting others use my computer, however being new to computers, I had no idea of the dangers of that.


There’s much more to this question … or rather this story.

I’m presenting it as a cautionary tale.

Continue reading: How should I protect myself when other people use my computer?

* * *

How do I transfer my data if I do a clean install of Windows 7?

If I install Windows 7 on my old XP as a clean installation, is there a way to transfer my data without messing up the new installation?


Yes, there is. In fact, it’s the only officially supported way to install Windows 7 on a machine that’s running Windows XP.

It simply requires some preparation.

Continue reading: How do I transfer my data if I do a clean install of Windows 7?

* * *

Spyware: How do I remove and avoid spyware?

Spyware is a modern scourge. It’s certainly on the top 5 list of topics I deal with on a regular basis. Some forms actually live up to the name – “spy” ware – software that actually spy’s on you, monitoring and recording what you do. Others are worse: acting almost like viruses, hijacking your web browser, popping up ads, or just generally wreaking havoc.

It isn’t going to go away any time soon, and the reality is that it requires vigilance on your part to avoid spyware.

Besides taking normal precautions, you must regularly scan for spyware.

Continue reading: Spyware: How do I remove and avoid spyware?

* * *

How do I uninstall Windows 7?

I use XP Pro and I installed the free Windows 7 on a separate partition. After a couple of days use, I didn’t like Win 7 and wanted to get rid of it but there is no uninstall program. How does one gt rid of this program?


Well, that was fast.

Windows 7 has been out less than a few days, and we already have people who don’t like it. Not surprising, actually, since this is clearly a matter of taste and personal preference, particularly for those who are coming from Windows XP.

I’m a little concerned about this “free” version you mention, since there really isn’t one. I’ll assume you’re talking about the release candidate, a test version that will expire next year sometime.

But you’re quite correct: there is no uninstall. Instead, you’ll need to replace.

Continue reading: How do I uninstall Windows 7?

* * *

How do I move installed applications from Windows XP to Windows 7 when I don’t have installation media?

At present I am using XP which I have backed up fully with Acronis. If I upgrade to Windows 7 or buy a new PC with Windows 7 will I be able to reinstall programs such as Office 2007 and Adobe PhotoShop CS3 from the Acronis back up as I no longer have the original discs.



A backup is not a replacement for installation media.

And given the approach that Microsoft is taking to the Windows XP to Windows 7 migration path, that may put you in a difficult position.

Continue reading: How do I move installed applications from Windows XP to Windows 7 when I don’t have installation media?

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*** Comments

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

* * *

What do I do with incremental backups when restoring?

Michael Horowitz writes:

@Shirley: Image backups are taken to protect against both hardware and software failures. If you are only concerned abut hardware failures then you only need the most recent few backups – how many is a matter of opinion.

However, if you are concerned with software problems too, then you want to have some backups that are very old because you never know when a software problem first occurred. They can easily go without being noticed for a long time, especially malicious software that is out to steal information from you.


How do I fix a cyclic redundancy check error when I try to copy a file?

Chuck Simpson writes:

Just wondering Leo, don’t you think it is more advisable to just replace the drive, is total failure not eminant.? when it starts to spit out crc errors. My neighbor brought me a laptop that would not boot, I installed a new operating system on it and it was fine unstill I started installing programs and got crc errors. Check disk revealed a bad block chkdsk /r found dozens of orphaned files,is this not the pretence of doom for this drive? And lastly what article at the top of this page are you referring to that I should read or this post will be ignored, I clicked on “Read the article at the top of this Page” but fail to see the relevance, with all due respect. I gave them a two year old drive from one of my machines and in 3 weeks it failed on them. They must have dropped it or the dog knocked it off the table, so why not tell people that it could be the end of the line for their drive and casper it to a new drive and remain worry free for a few years.


The article at the top of the page is the article you’re commenting on. People regularly post comments when it’s clear that they haven’t even bothered to read the article, hence my admonition that they do so.

As for advising them to discard a drive – it’s a tough call. The fact is that a “rash of CRC errors” need not mean that the drive is about to fail completely. It could, of course, but it’s also not guaranteed. Very often running a tool like SpinRite will both recover the data (something giving up will not do), and refresh the media such that the bad areas are either repaired (magnetic errors) or avoided (physical errors). Data recovery is, after all, an important consideration. With drives being as cheap as they are these days, it’s hard not to argue for replacement if recovery isn’t an issue, but even then it’s not always a simple call.


*** Leo Recommends

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TrueCrypt comes up frequently in Ask Leo! answers. Many people are concerned about things like privacy, identity and data theft, particularly on computers or on portable devices where they might not always have total physical control of the media.

Someone might gain access to sensitive data stored on your computer.

Encrypting your data renders that access useless, even when your computer or your thumbdrive falls into the wrong hands.

And TrueCrypt makes it not only easy, but nearly un-crackable.

Continue reading…
TrueCrypt – Free Open Source Industrial Strength Encryption


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

It’s oh-so-tempting to just share a friend’s internet connection without much thought. The problem is that unless you take precautions, you’re trusting them completely, and that’s not always wise.

How should I protect myself from other computers sharing my internet connection?

I share a house with a friend who has a broadband connection. I recently decided that I need my own internet access so added a wireless card to my laptop. I purchased good anti-virus protection, and the sort of thing I use the internet for is to look at academic sites, iTunes, a bit of shopping, that sort of thing. My concern is that my friend sometimes uses his connection to download pornography and surf some of the less reputable sites on the net. As a result has had some serious virus problems in the past which often accompany that kind of site. His virus protection is minimal and I’m worried about the possibility of my computer being infected through the wireless connection. So in a nut-shell can my computer be infected/be more likely to be infected through a wireless connection? If so, is there anything you can suggest given that I can’t persuade my friend to beef up his anti-virus protection?

The short answer is that yes, you are at risk.

The bad news is that your friend is a part of the problem – he’s one of the bad players on the internet.

The good news is that we know how to deal with that, because in reality, we deal with that every day.

Continue reading…
How should I protect myself from other computers sharing my internet connection?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Some of you may be old enough to remember the old Ketchup commercial that featured the song “Anticipation”.

That’s how I feel.

My new Dell XPS Studio laptop arrived on Friday.

Windows 7 did not.

So I’ve been looking at my new machine, eager to do things with it, but unable to – I want to do a completely clean install of Windows 7.

Oh, I’ve played a little. I installed Acronis and took an image of the 64 bit Windows Vista system that came preinstalled. I then also wiped it and installed 64 bit Ubuntu, just for grins.

But it’s not the same.

Hopefully as I write this (on Monday) Windows 7 will arrive today. (Oh … wait; shipment tracking says Wednesday! Sigh.)

And so, I wait.

“… Anticipation …”

I’ll keep you posted.

’till next time…

Leo A. Notenboom

Thanks for your oh so simple solution!
– Frank

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Posted: October 27, 2009 in: 2009
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3907
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I'm Leo Notenboom and I've been playing with computers since I took a required programming class in 1976. I spent over 18 years as a software engineer at Microsoft, and after "retiring" in 2001 I started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place to help you find answers and become more confident using this amazing technology at our fingertips. More about Leo.