Leo's Answers #208 – December 8, 2009

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A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
Leo Notenboom

Hello!

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).

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*** New Articles

How do I make sure that Windows is up-to-date?

How do I make sure that Windows is up-to-date?

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It seems like every week there’s news about some newly discovered vulnerability or bug fix in Windows. And of course the stories tell us that we should all rush out and install the fixes immediately or the world will come to and end.

Or something like that.

In fact, Microsoft does announce updates weekly. With that rapid a rate, how should you stay on top of things and make sure that your system is up to date?

There are several options.

Continue reading: How do I make sure that Windows is up-to-date?
http://ask-leo.com/C2024

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What does it mean to register a domain?

What is the concept of domains and domain registering?

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Domain registration is something many people take for granted. Yes, it means ownership, of a sort, but it’s also not really enough to just register a domain if you actually want to use it for something – you’ll need to do more.

As I write this, I own something like 69 domains, so I know a little bit about what this is all about.

Let me walk you through the concepts.

Continue reading: What does it mean to register a domain?
http://ask-leo.com/C3943

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Why is there an email block against my IP address?

Three of my friends have Hotmail accounts. I am not a spammer nor do I send unsolicited info to these friends. I recently received a note that “The following message was undeliverable”. “A block has been placed against your IP address because we have received complaints concerning mail coming from that IP address”. I have talked to my friends and they have no explanation for what has transpired. What can I do to resolve this matter? I would be glad to provide the e-mail addresses of these friends if that would be helpful. We are all confused by this turn of events.

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Blocks against IP addresses are actually fairly rare when it comes to normal consumer internet connections, but they do happen.

One of the reasons that they’re rare is that they’re also somewhat error prone, as you’ve seen.

We’ll look at what Hotmail (or any ISP that does this) might be thinking, and what your alternatives are.

Continue reading: Why is there an email block against my IP address?
http://ask-leo.com/C3942

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How do I delete cookies?

My computer saves my email password. How can I make it to forget the password. i.e. How can I delete the cookies?

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Most saved passwords are saved as cookies; it’s by far the most common approach. Web sites do this to avoid forcing you to re-login for every page you visit, or longer as a convenience if you tell it to “save password”.

How you delete cookies depends on your browser. I’ll walk you through both Firefox and Internet Explorer 8.

Continue reading: How do I delete cookies?
http://ask-leo.com/C3941

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If I move a hard disk from my old machine to my new one, can I just run my old applications from it?

If I buy a new PC with Windows 7 can I then install my old hard drive as a slave and access and run programs installed on it such as PhotoShop CS3 and Microsoft Office 2007?

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Yes, no, maybe and most likely not.

I’m sorry to be that vague, but the answer isn’t always clear (though it is for the two programs you mention).

It’s a common desire, and a common question. I’ll look at the scenarios where it works, and where and why it does not.

Continue reading: If I move a hard disk from my old machine to my new one, can I just run my old applications from it?
http://ask-leo.com/C3940

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*** Comments

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

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How do I backup my computer?

Anthony writes:

At the moment I have most of my files copied on both my work and home computer, as well as a Flash Drive. Originally that was for easy access at any time but how does that measure up in relation to your idea of backing up?

It’s not so much how it measures up to me, but to you. Take anyone one of those three. Now imagine that it disappeared completely. As far as your data is concerned, is that a disaster, a pain, or simply an annoyance? If it’s a disaster, then you’re not backing up enough. If it’s a pain, then a more complete backup strategy may help ease that pain should it ever occur. If it’s just an annoyance, then you’re probably just fine.

-Leo

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

Gwyn writes:

Re “flash drives wear out”. Does this mean that the future of computers with solid state hard drives is bleak?

As I mentioned in the article, there’s a wide variety in terms of cost and quality. Solid state drives tend to be expensive in part because they use a higher quality technology that lasts longer. The media will still wear out if used long enough, but as long as the media outlasts your need for it (i.e. it lasts longer than you keep the computer, for example), then all should be well. The issue is that many people don’t realize how quickly inexpensive flash drives can fail if used improperly.

-Leo

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Can I, or should I, use TrueCrypt for my backups?

Peter Mackin writes:

One thing to remember about TrueCrypt and backups is that TrueCrypt does not update the date modified or date accessed information in Windows. Therefore, if you add files to your TrueCrypt volume today, your incremental backup for today that runs tonight will not back up the TrueCrypt volume because the system does not think the file containing the volume has changed. The only way around this is to force these files to be copied to a backup every time your incremental backups run. (This might have to be a separate backup job.) Full backups are OK because these backups will get all of your files including the TrueCrypt volumes.

TrueCrypt has an option for this. Specifically uncheck “Preserve timestamps of file containers”. Then the container’s timestamp will be updated and the file will be backed up or copied as you might expect.
The reason this option defaults to on is that if the container’s timestamp is five years old (or whatever) it provide no indication that the data within it was updated yesterday, securing any traces of usage.
And yes, I learned this the hard way when my TrueCrypt volume didn’t back up as expected some years ago.

-Leo

*** Leo Recommends

Recuva
A free, easy to use undelete and file recover tool

As you might expect, I have a small collection of useful tools that I keep available for assorted system maintenance and troubleshooting tasks. However, for the longest time I haven’t really carried a file un-delete utility with me. Not because there aren’t some good ones out there, but more because I never really got comfortable with any of the ones I had tried. I certainly was not comfortable enough to recommend any.

I recently discovered Recuva, which I just added to my toolkit. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it’s from the same people that bring you CCleaner, which gives added credibility.

When you delete a file, the contents of that file are not necessarily immediately overwritten or removed. Instead, the space used by that file is marked as “available” so that it can be used the next time data is written to the disk. As long as that doesn’t happen and the old data is not overwritten by something new, there’s a chance you can recover the file.

This is where utilities like Recuva come in. They scan the available space and the control information on the hard disk to identify files that might be recoverable.

Continue reading: Recuva – A free, easy to use undelete and file recover tool
http://ask-leo.com/C3605

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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

Pictures in email – in the body? as attachments? And why do they sometimes display automatically and sometimes not?

Why do pictures in email sometimes show up in-line, and sometimes as attachments?

I often get pictures sent to me by some people. Sometimes when I open the mail, I see the pictures automatically, other times instead of the picture all I see is something like pic123.jpg, and I have to click on each attachment separately to see them. This thing kind of comes and goes on its own. Can you please solve the mystery?

Yes, I think I can. And it is a bit of a mystery, involving a complex mix of email formats, email programs, and email security settings.

It may look like it comes and goes, but there’s actually method behind the apparent madness. Complex method, but method nonetheless.

Continue reading…
Why do pictures in email sometimes show up in-line, and sometimes as attachments?
http://ask-leo.com/C2861

*** Thoughts and Comments

Thanks to everyone from “down under” who replied to me about potential meet-ups in Sydney and Auckland when I’m there in a couple of months. Keep an eye on this space, and on TravelsWithLeo.com for specifics once I figure out both where, and exactly when.

And to those wondering, Sydney and Auckland are not our only stops – they’re just the ones where I figure I can set aside a little time to meet with the most people. Our actual itinerary includes Port Douglas, Sydney, Queenstown, Christchurch, Rotorua and then Auckland. It’s a lot to pack into just three weeks!

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The switch has been made.

My wife’s computer is now running Windows 7. It had been showing signs of software rot for some time, and I’d been holding off cleaning up until I could install Windows 7.

I’ll be writing up the process I used later this week, but it pretty much follows the recommendation I’ve been making all along: backup, reformat, reinstall. What’s encouraging is that hers is an older Dell D610 laptop, so it’s not today’s cutting edge machine at all. A couple of minor issues (drivers, of course), but it’s running like a champ.

As you can imagine, my level of confidence in Windows 7 had to be fairly high to take that plunge, and so far I’ve not been disappointed.

’till next time…

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

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