Leo's Answers #212 – January 5, 2010

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).

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*** New Articles

How do I create a disk image using DriveImage XML?

DriveImage XML is a free utility which can be used to create an image of a hard disk - even one that's in use. Once you have an image you can easily browse its contents, or restore that image to a hard disk.

DriveImage XML stores its data in an open XML-based format that could be used by other utilities, should you need, but the basics are handled quite nicely by the utility itself.

In this article, I'll walk you through creating an image of your C: drive.

Continue reading: How do I create a disk image using DriveImage XML?

* * *

I run Anti-Virus software; why do I still sometimes get infected?

I have AVG virus protection always on and windows XP firewall enabled. Why do I still get infected with some Trojan horses? I check for updates every day so I am sure I am up to date.


That's a very good question, particularly since so many people believe that with only an anti-virus program they're totally protected.

Unfortunately, that's simply not true.

The answer is partly the nature of anti-virus software...

... and partly the nature of "the race".

Continue reading: I run Anti-Virus software; why do I still sometimes get infected?

* * *

How do I get rid of toolbars in my browser?

I have 7 different tool bars - I only want to keep Google and Yahoo. How do I get rid of the others? I'm a new user so please tell me the simplest way to do it.


There are two ways to do it, and both are pretty simple.

There's a third way that's perhaps the most appropriate, and also very simple, but most people don't think to do it.

That's never to allow the toolbars to install in the first place.

Continue reading: How do I get rid of toolbars in my browser?

* * *

Does locking my computer keep it safe?

My college says to lock your computer - will that make it safe? For example in Windows, pressing the Windows Key + L locks the computer. It seems to me if you do lock it there are still a few folks know how to unlock it and help themselves. So should I feel safe locking the computer?


Not really.

Of course it depends on the situation, but locking your computer is a very mild form of security. It'll help keep honest people honest, but the rest? Not so much.

I'll show you why and how and what you really need to be doing instead.

Continue reading: Does locking my computer keep it safe?

* * *

2010 - It's About Helping People

As the new year begins, I've taken some time to reflect on what Ask Leo! is about, where it's been and where it's headed. This article has no answers, and perhaps might even get a little "touchy feely" for some, but at the risk of sounding too self-absorbed, I wanted to share my thoughts and aspirations.

I also want to share some of the conclusions I've come to, and a couple of changes that you'll see this year.

Yep, I want to share some of the lint I found as I did some naval gazing in recent days.

Oh, and I'm also going to ask for your help.

Walk away now if any of that's not your cup of tea. Smile

Continue reading: 2010 - It's About Helping People

* * *

Someone's sending email that looks like it's from me to my contacts, what can I do?

Hi,somebody is sending emails to my contacts using my email address to which I haven't sent. How can this be? Have I been hacked into? I do have full internet security avg 9,could you please let me know what action to take if any as I find this quite worrying! I have changed my password so far, but that is all.


You should be worried.

I'm not sure that I'd say you've been "hacked into", but my guess is that your email account has indeed been compromised.

I'll look at what likely happened, why this isn't like other "Someone's sending from my email address!" kind of issues, and what steps you need to take next.

Continue reading: Someone's sending email that looks like it's from me to my contacts, what can I do?

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*** Comments

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

* * *

How long does Hotmail keep email?

Norman Rondeau writes:

Thanks for the Hotmail answers. Once in a while something in an email either teaches me something I was not aware of or makes me relook my security and behaviour. One thing not mentioned here is that hotmail can also mysteriously loose ALL your email folders in the account. When this happens they will never answer you directly. If you are persistent the might let you know they regret what happened but will also accept no responsibility. The regrets will be in a form letter, not a personal response. I lost a message that was of historical importance that can never be recovered. I now save those mails to files on my computer and back those files up!


TrueCrypt - Free Open Source Industrial Strength Encryption

Bert writes:

I hate to be a wet blanket but I had a horrible experience with TrueCrypt. I followed instructions and encrypted a external hard drive. The password worked several times and then suddenly the software didn't recognize the password and my files were lost to me forever.

I think it's important that we hear all sides - even the best software will fail for some people. There's no way to know what went wrong here, but it's a good cautionary tale that emphasizes the need to backup your data, and to do so in a reliable - probably unencrypted - form.



Running Without a Net

Howiem writes:

The only secure computer is at the bottom of the ocean in a location known only to the owner, who is anchored to the computer!!!

You do not need a safety net (except a completely stealthed firewall) if

1. You are completely familiar with every single one of the well over 1,000,000 threats to computers.
2. You know exactly what precautions to take to avoid each of the over one million threats, using the precautions that Leo recommends.
3. You take practical measures to protect your operating system (sandboxes, VM, etc).
4. You are not gullible or greedy, and can recognize offers that are too good to be true.
5. You know and understand the capabilities and limitations of protective measures that anti-virus and other anti-malware programs offer.
6. You understand the trade-offs of protection and performance.

If you are uncertain about any of the above items, then you need the insurance that security software/hardware provide.

Happy New Year Leo, and thanks for all the valuable tips and assistance.

*** Leo Recommends

file archiving utility

Most of you are probably familiar with "ZIP" files, which are compressed archives that pack one or more files into a single file. ZIP files are often a convenient way to distribute large numbers of files and folder structures in a single container.

You're probably also familiar with Windows somewhat cumbersome built-in support for ZIP files, as well as WinZIP, the shareware file compression utility that lets you create and extract files from ZIP formatted archives.

7-zip is a free, open-source utility roughly equivalent to WinZIP, that includes support for multiple file formats as well as a command-line interface.

I highly recommend 7-zip.

Continue reading...

7-zip file archiving utility


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

Sometimes the tools that are meant to protect you also get in the way. In fact just this week I helped a friend with an email problem that turned out to be just that - her security software interfering.

Can software firewalls and security packages cause problems?

I can't access this website...

I'm not seeing pictures in my email...

Emails are disappearing from my inbox...

This program's not working...

Why am I getting all these warnings...

I can't get a video / audio / instant messaging connection...

Those are all extremely common questions I get every day.

And, while it's definitely not the case that a software firewall or security package is always the cause, it turns out to be fairly common.

Continue reading...
Can software firewalls and security packages cause problems?

*** Thoughts and Comments

I'd like to start out the new year by asking for your opinion. If you have a moment, please go to http://go.ask-leo.com/survey2 - there's exactly one question there. This one's as much for you as it is for me - I think we'll all be interested in the most popular answers, so I'll definitely publish something like a "Top 5" list when all the result are in. (With apologies to my pal Chris - the real Mr. Top 5.)

A question I get occasionally is "how can I help?" or "how can I repay you?"

Honestly, one of the best things you can do to help Ask Leo! thrive and grow to help more people is simply to tell more people; tell your friends or link to Ask Leo! from your web site, blog or in online discussions. That kind of word of mouth really does help more people find Ask Leo!, and also lets the search engines know how valuable you find it.

At least ... I hope you find it valuable.

As you can see by at least one of this week's articles I took a bit of time at year-end to reflect on what Ask Leo! is all about. Making it more valuable and helpful is, in fact, one of my goals for 2010.

Thanks for being here,

Leo A. Notenboom

*** Administration

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Newsletter contents Copyright © 2010,
Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.

Posted: January 5, 2010 in: 2010
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4027
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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.