Leo's Answers #206 – November 24, 2009

A Weekly Newsletter From
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Leo Notenboom


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*** New Articles

What backup program should I use?

Doing backups is kind of like eating healthier; everyone agrees we should and yet very few of us actually do. Much like the heart attack victim who no longer visits McDonald’s the most religious users of backup procedures are those who’ve been bitten hard by a failure in their past.

Asking what backup program to use is very much like asking “what’s the best exercise program?” The best program for exercise or backup is whatever one you’ll actually do.

So let me ask you this: do you know how you’d recover your data should everything on your computer suddenly disappear?

Continue reading: What backup program should I use?

* * *

What is Windows 7’s “Windows XP Mode”? (And can I use it to get Outlook Express back?)

I’m hearing a lot of backlash against Windows 7 for a completely unexpected reason; not for incompatibilities or instabilities but for the removal of Outlook Express.

Outlook Express was actually removed in Windows Vista, being replaced by Windows Mail. That, in turn, was removed from Windows 7, and replaced with … nothing. The official approach is to download Windows Live Mail, which is very Outlook Express-like.

But it’s not Outlook Express.

It turns out that, yes, Windows XP Mode might be a solution.

It’s not terribly simple, but it can work.

In fact, it can work for many programs that for one reason or another simply will not work in Windows 7, but used to work in Windows XP.

Continue reading: What is Windows 7’s “Windows XP Mode”? (And can I use it to get Outlook Express back?)

* * *

Why does IE7 still seem to be around after installing IE8?

I recently reformatted my HD and reinstalled Windows XP Pro. My install disk included SP2 so after the XP install completed I installed SP3 and then IE7 in that order. Then I installed all necessary updates, patches, etc. I later decided to install IE8 and I’ve kept that updated as well.

Today I needed some system info so I ran a free utility called System Information for Windows. According to the printout, my machine has IE7 and IE8 installed. This surprised me because only IE8 is listed in the control panel add/remove applet.

I opened my C:Windows folder and sure enough, it shows that I have a folder for IE7, IE8, and update folders for both.

Question 1: Does each new IE build upon previous versions during installation? I thought each IE is a stand alone product.

Question 2: Since IE8 is a Windows “product” I’m guessing it used the Microsoft Windows Installer to…. well…. install it. Shouldn’t the installer have uninstalled IE7 as part if the installation process? Does the fact that it didn’t mean the IE7 files have to remain?

Question 3: If I had installed IE8 over IE6 and bypassed IE7 entirely, would the IE6 files have remained instead?

Question 4: If IE8 is a separate installation and not dependent on previous versions to run properly, would it be safe to remove all IE7 folders just to add some more free space on my HD?


An interesting scenario that had me firing up my Windows XP / IE8 testbed to see what had happened there. I’d actually gone through the XP “original”, SP2, SP3 path … and ended up with the same results.

I’ll answer those questions, and speculate a little on the how and why of the situation.

Continue reading: Why does IE7 still seem to be around after installing IE8?

* * *

My flash drive suddenly stopped working, how do I recover the data on it?

I have a flash disk which has been working well for quite some time. Just yesterday it refused to work. It was recognized by the computer but when I tried opening it I got the message that the disk needs formatting. I tried using it on another computer but the same message appeared. I also tried autoplay but nothing happened. When I opened the properties of the disk the file system was indicated as RAW. The data in it is very important and I need to recover it. Please advise.


I really have no answer for you. I honestly believe that your data is gone.

However, before you leave and potentially repeat the mistakes of the past, I’d encourage you to keep reading.

For anyone who uses a USB flash drive, there are two extremely important lessons to learn here.

One of which actually applies to everyone – flash drive user or not.

Continue reading: My flash drive suddenly stopped working, how do I recover the data on it?

* * *

Why do file timestamps compare differently every time change?

Every time change (now daylight to standard), the timestamps on all files on my 3 hard disks (1 local, 2 networked) show the new time (i.e., 1 hour less in the Fall) BUT those same files on my removable disk (Cruzer 8GB thumb drive) still have the “old” time (i.e., 1 hour more in the Fall). This causes the entire set of files to miscompare when compared based on time (and I have to recopy all files (GBs) to the removable disk. Been happening for years and have never seen an explanation.


Years ago, one of the ways I took work home was to use an external disk and a file copying tool that copied only files that had changed, using the time stamps to determine which files should be copied.

Once a year everything changed and all files were copied, and once a year a bunch of files would be copied in wrong direction.

And, like you, it happened every time we left and entered daylight saving time.

Continue reading: Why do file timestamps compare differently every time change?

* * *

How do I get the old msn.com homepage back?

The msn.com page has changed and there seems to be no way to revert back to the original of before Nov.13th. You can use the customization and make the selection my.msn.com and then rearrange the page to suit you – but this is still not the same as the original. Why does Microsoft impose this on people without giving a choice? Everyone I know just HATES the new version of msn.com. Is there a way to revert to the page as it was before Nov. 13th?


I’ll show folks what’s up, since not everyone is seeing this today, and I’ll also make some guesses as to why the changes were made, and what your options are.

The answer to the last one might well be “not many”.

Continue reading: How do I get the old msn.com homepage back?

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*** Comments

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

* * *

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

Charles Tilley writes:

I agree with Kenneth Black. Why fix what isn’t broken? I’ll ride XP Pro until the wheels fall off.

And to be totally clear: that’s a perfectly reasonable approach. There’s no requirement to upgrade.



What do I do if my machine didn’t include installation or driver disks?

MmeMoxie writes:

I am so thankful, that I build my own computers!!! Having the CD or DVD disks available, is NOT a problem. Plus, with me building my own computer, I have the disks or access to all the drivers of my components, that I chose, not someone else. When I fire up my ‘new’ computer, I don’t have a lot of ‘crapware’, either, since I chose what I installed.

Now, having said all of that, I do recommend for those who don’t know what to do with their computers, when they run into problems/troubles, to purchase a good computer from a reputable company, DELL or HP. Why those 2? I have found that I can access either website and find information on their products, when you are repairing or fixing issues/problems, even download all the drivers necessary.

Of course, first and foremost, you need to have the means to do a ‘fresh’, clean, full install, in case you have replace or re-format the hard drive. Don’t have a Operating System disk? Buy one. I know that they are expensive, but, let’s say you only paid $399, plus tax for a whole ‘brand new’ computer system, OK? Just looking at the price of Windows 7 CD/DVD disk, it is highly doubtful that you will get any kind of ‘installation disk’. Otherwise, the cost of your ‘brand new’ computer would be more like $499 to $599.

Buying a computer brand is no different than buy a car. Check out ALL your options, before signing the ‘dotted’ line. You can chose all the ‘high end’ options or simply go for the basic essentials. Plus, a computer will give you just as good mileage, as a car can, when properly taken care of.


Where can I download Windows XP?

Someone claiming to be Microsoft writes:

XP can be downloaded freely, each CD image or Physical CD is identical, what Microsoft ask of you to pay is the License Key. In downloading the software you are doing nothing illegal, if however you are using another key (i.e sharing) it is. Though this is quite tricky, unless you wish not to ever use the internet on it, from my understanding. This however could change as hackers beat Microsoft. The above comment is very true.

P.S. Leo please correct your false information on downloading is illegal!!!!!!!!!!

I stand by it. The contents of the media are copyright by Microsoft and I do believe illegal to copy / download. Yes, you’re right in that it’s kinda pointless without product keys, which are most certainly illegal to copy, crack or give out. But that doesn’t somehow legalize the download of the media itself. Personally I think it would be in Microsoft’s best interest for formally support, allow and provide downloads of the product, but it’s their choice not to.


*** Leo Recommends

Seagate FreeAgent Go
Portable USB External Harddrive

I currently own five of these.

If that isn’t a recommendation I don’t know what is.

One of the problems with recommending a specific disk drive is that drives change, capacities increase and what I might tell you about today may not even be available next year. The external drive I recommended some years ago is no longer even being made.

With that having been said, today the FreeAgent Go is an incredibly handy and valuable device.

The version I use has a capacity of 500 Gigabytes, all in a package that’s smaller than a paperback book.

Continue reading: Seagate FreeAgent Go – Portable USB External Harddrive


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 not uncommon to want to keep data on your computer secure. Unfortunately the most obvious approach in Windows has some serious drawbacks and risks.

Can I password-protect a folder?

Can I put a password on a folder so that only I can see its contents?

Yes and no.

You can do something similar to password protecting it using Windows security features. It depends, though, on using the computer the “right” way. On top of that, I actually don’t really recommend it. If you have something that you want to password protect and keep secure, I recommend a slightly different approach.

Continue reading…
Can I password-protect a folder?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Well. Microsoft seems poised to do it again.

They’re apparently testing and/or rolling out a new look to the MSN home page, msn.com. Many already have it their default, and as I’ve written this week, if you don’t I’m certain you will in the coming days.

If you don’t have it you can see it at preview.msn.com, or “take a tour” at tourmsn.com.

I’m often surprised at how change-resistant many people are. When it comes to computers and technology accepting and even embracing change is perhaps the single most important attitude you can hold to make your computing experience more enjoyable – and more useful – over time. Change happens, whether we want it to or not.

So naturally the msn.com update has generated quite the flurry of reaction, not unlike the similar switch Microsoft made to Hotmail some months ago.

Personally I like the new look better, but that just goes to show – it’s really a matter of taste. There are no absolutes, or perfect answers for everyone.


And, speaking of change, you’ll note that year five of the newsletter starts with a little change. That blue column that used to be to the right has disappeared.

In an effort to make the newsletter more of what you want, and less of the same old information and links each week, I’ve moved all that administrative stuff to it’s own page on the site: newsletter administration. There’s really no sense in sending out that same information in the newsletter week after week – that’s what web pages are for.

It should make the newsletter smaller, easier to read, more focussed for you, and hopefully more “deliverable” to the email systems that get it from me to you.

’till next time…

Leo A. Notenboom

*** Administration

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Posted: November 24, 2009 in: 2009
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3934
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