Leo's Answers #203 – November 3, 2009

A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
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

My Windows Live Hotmail account won’t close, what do I do?

I am trying to close this account that I have, but I can’t, I don’t know why? it says always that I have to close my Windows Live account before I can close Hotmail, and how do I do that? I never joined!


Actually, you did.

There’s a common misconception around Hotmail and Windows Live that can lead to this scenario. I’ll try to clear that up.

But I have to add: there’s something about this all that I really don’t understand.

Continue reading: My Windows Live Hotmail account won’t close, what do I do?

* * *

How do I tell if I have 32 bit or 64?

How do you tell if an operating system is a 64-bit or 32-bit?


I’m going to expand that to include both hardware and software.

In other words, how to tell if you have a 32 bit or 64 bit capable system, and then whether or not you have a 32 bit or 64 bit operating system running.

Continue reading: How do I tell if I have 32 bit or 64?

* * *

How do I get rid of boot choices in Windows 7?

I have downloaded the retail version of Windows 7 on my “C” drive, but I am unable to remove the boot choice which previously allowed me to either open the RC Windows 7 on another internal HD, or open the Windows Vista OS on my “C” drive. I did format the other HD, which I now use for backups only. The “Startup and Recovery” pop-up window referred to in your last newsletter, which I looked up, does not provide an option to carry out the “edit”. Apart from the other details as per your illustration the “edit” option is simply not shown. Please enlighten me how to otherwise remove this 2nd boot choice.


Yep, things changed (back in Vista, I believe).

The good news is that it’s still pretty easy to modify your boot choices.

You just need to drop to the Windows Command prompt – as administrator, of course.

Continue reading: How do I get rid of boot choices in Windows 7?

* * *

Where is Windows Mail, or Outlook Express, in Windows 7?

I did not realize Windows Mail is not included in Windows 7 Professional. Is there a way to add Windows mail?


It’s true – Outlook Express was replaced by Windows Mail in Windows Vista, but with the release of Windows 7 even that has disappeared, along with Windows Messenger and a few other items.

To be honest, that’s good news for those of us who never used these tools.

But for those who did, it means an extra step or three.

Continue reading: Where is Windows Mail, or Outlook Express, in Windows 7?

* * *

Does running Windows in a virtual machine protect me from viruses?

I have gotten to like Ubuntu even though I realize the learning curve is going to be rather long. One of the things I do is help poor people acquire computers and Ubuntu is perfect if all they need is an office program, internet browsing and email .

I have started to learn wine but I think a VM might be a good idea as well. I am limited to 4 gigs but I don’t game so speed is not that important.

My question is if I run XP PRO on a VM inside of my Linux box will I still retain the advantage of virus resistance? And will I be able to save data on the drive when using the VM. Also would using Win98 be just as well as some of the older people I help have games that they are convinced will only run on 98 even when I show them the compatibility mode.


Yes and no.

Virtual machines, or VMs for short, are one of the coolest technologies I’ve seen come along for some time. They’re still pretty geeky, but as you can tell – I’m impressed.

Before relying on VMs for security purposes, though, we need to understand exactly what they are, and of course, what they are not.

Continue reading: Does running Windows in a virtual machine protect me from viruses?

* * *

If I replace my hard drive will I lose my ability to restore to original settings?

I have a Dell Dimension 8400 running Media Center 2005 (XP Pro.) There is a process that I can initiate during system boot that allows me to take the computer back to its original factory settings/state. If I remove the original hard drive and install a new larger drive on this machine then install Windows 7 on the new drive, will I still be able to use this factory settings option if I switch back to the old hard drive or will the BIOS be changed in a way that will make this impossible? I have a USB hard drive case I have used in the past for this drive and would like to use it for back up files but would also like to be able to switch back to XP with it if I don’t like 7.


If you replace the hard drive, you will lose that factory reset ability, yes.

But, in all honesty, from what you describe it’s not that horrible a thing.

Let’s review how the factory settings reset works, why it’ll go away, and what you should be doing instead anyway so that you’d never to rely on it anyway.

Continue reading: If I replace my hard drive will I lose my ability to restore to original settings?

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*** Comments

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

* * *

Last week’s article How should I protect myself when other people use my computer? detailing a shop owner’s plight after allowing random people including neighborhood kids to use his computer, only to have the FBI come calling to find child pornography elicited a number of great comments. This comment came via the ask a question form, and I wanted to share it here, as it seemed particularly relevant.

A comment, Leo, to you and to your readers regarding the shop owner who allowed outsiders to use his computer, only to have the FBI come calling.

I spent 35 years in federal law enforcement, retiring recently from the Department of Justice as a federal prosecutor. Never, Never, allow the use of your computers by someone you don’t completely and implicitly trust.

Example: John Doe uses your computer and, unknown to you, accesses a child pornography website based in a foreign country. Ten months later, authorities in that foreign country raid the website, seizing with proper court authority the servers. They then trace every single access to that illegal website, and follow the traces back through server after server, and user after user, until finally they trace a connection to your computer’s IP address (again all with proper court authority). That’s when the FBI (or ICE or Secret Service) knock on your door.

You’re asked about your computer and access, and you’re asked to voluntarily consent to a search of your computer. Since you have never used the computer for any illegal purpose and have no real suspicion that anyone else has, you agree. They take a look, find the illegal kiddie porn in some hidden file or slack space, and take the computer as contraband (which it now is).

Here’s part of the rub: you’re not going to see that computer again, or if you do it will be long after a complete criminal investigation and trial has concluded – and by then it will be hopelessly outdated. Here’s the worst part: you’re going to spend a lot of sleepless nights wondering what your exposure is, if any.

I’ve directed many of these investigations over the years, and it’s not difficult to separate the guilty from the innocent in situations such as these – but that doesn’t ease the worry of your shopkeeper reader. All this could be avoided by simply saying “No” when asked for access to your computer – and physically protecting the computer from any outside access.

It’s a scary world out there, and you should no more allow access to your computer than hand someone your credit card.

– Bernie Van Wormer

Thank you for some great insight.


*** Leo Recommends

A Free, Open Source, and Powerful Email Client

Mozilla’s Thunderbird is my choice for email. I use it all day every day, and I can heartily recommend it as an often more powerful and capable replacement for mail programs like Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail and many other desktop email applications.

The feature list is long, but I want to call out some of my favorite features and some of the things that personally draw me to Thunderbird and cause me to make it my recommendation for almost anyone using a desktop email program.

Continue reading…
Thunderbird – A Free, Open Source, and Powerful Email Client


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 frustrating when people blame the technology, when what’s at fault is not the technology at all, but how it’s being used.

Will BitTorrent harm my computer?

Will using BitTorrent harm my computer, and if so and under what conditions will it?

BitTorrent itself is highly unlikely to harm your computer.

However what you download using BitTorrent – well, that’s a different story. Some caution is called for.

And I know some of you are asking … “what’s a BitTorrent?”

Continue reading…
Will BitTorrent harm my computer?

*** Thoughts and Comments

My laptop has been running Windows 7 for about 5 days now, and I do have to say I’m fairly impressed. Not necessarily with the features, bells and whistles, but rather the “it works” factor.

Following my own advice I did a clean install. I’m running 64-bit Windows 7 Pro, and so far I’ve not had a single incompatibility. As is my approach, after I got the basics installed (Thunderbird, GVIM text editor, TopStyle HTML editor, FireFox,…) I’ve continued to add software as I’ve encountered a need and so far everything I’ve cared about has worked pretty much as expected.

Last night my internet connection dropped for a few minutes while I was working. I let the network troubleshooter work for a while, and sure enough – it indicated exactly what was wrong, and even though I wasn’t expecting it (typically it’s my access point that causes problems), it was right on the money. I was fairly impressed.

About the only place I ran into trouble? Windows 7 couldn’t find a driver for my printer. Printers do seem to continue to be the Achilles heel. I haven’t taken the time to track it down yet, since PDFCreator works just great, but I’m hoping there’s a simple solution out there.

And of course, if you’re switching from XP there are definitely things you’ll need to get used to, just as the Vista switch would have required, but so far I have to say that it’s been a smooth transition.

’till next time…

Leo A. Notenboom

It took me all of 20 seconds to remedy the problem in the manner that you suggest.
– Marvin

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Posted: November 3, 2009 in: 2009
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3919
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