Leo's Answers #220 – March 2, 2010

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. (The "ask a question" form is temporarily disabled while I'm on vacation. More on that below.)

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*** New Articles

How do I remove Windows Media Player from being the default media player?

How do you delete a program as default? I wish to take Windows Media Player off as default. It does not handle half the extensions as some other players.

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By "default" I'm going to assume that you mean the default for playing a media file when you double click on it.

It is possible to remove the associations, but honestly, I don't think that's what you really want. Removing the association leaves you with no program to be the default.

Instead, you want to replace the default program with the one of your choosing. Doing that by hand can be difficult, but many programs have a shortcut that makes it pretty easy.

Continue reading: How do I remove Windows Media Player from being the default media player?
http://ask-leo.com/C4191

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Does my ISP really connect to the internet through only a single router?

Last week my ISP had a state wide outage. Is it really true that ALL of this ISP's internet in my state goes through ONE and only one router. Shouldn't there be redundant routers in case one fails?

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Naturally, the actual question mentioned a specific ISP, but I reworded to protect the innocent.

And yes, innocent, I do believe they were. It's certainly possible, I'd truly be shocked if any major ISP - and even a few not-so-major ISPs - were silly enough to put that large a customer base behind a single point of failure. Heck, I'd be shocked if there were a router powerful enough to single-handedly handle all the ISPs traffic for a single U.S. state.

However, there are other single points of failure that are much more common, even though they shouldn't be, and much more vulnerable than you might think.

I'll put it this way: never underestimate the power of a backhoe.

Continue reading: Does my ISP really connect to the internet through only a single router?
http://ask-leo.com/C4190

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Is it worth upgrading to Windows 7?

Is it worth up grading from Vista to windows 7? If so what cost and can I do it without causing problems? how do I do it?

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My recommendation for how to do it is simple - reformat and reinstall - and I'll explain why I always recommend that.

Whether you should upgrade isn't quite so simple, and falls into the "it depends" bucket.

Overall I'm pretty happy with Windows 7, and based on the rate of questions and problems I'm hearing about, it's doing fairly well for other people as well.

Continue reading: Is it worth upgrading to Windows 7?
http://ask-leo.com/C4189

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Can just opening an email download both viruses and spyware?

I have read various articles that state that viruses can be downloaded just by opening an email, without having to click on an attachment. I'm wondering if spyware is the same. Does it require me to physically click on an attachment for the spyware program to run or can the spyware be activated simply by opening an email to view it? And can the spyware be launched a second time on a different computer if I click on it again?

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This whole "can I get a virus just by reading email" question has been around a very long time. These days it's not really much of a risk at all, but once upon a time there was a very real danger.

And, of course, you can still face that risk with a misconfigured email program.

Part of the question being asked here also is would spyware be any different?

Continue reading: Can just opening an email download both viruses and spyware?
http://ask-leo.com/C4188

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What good is an image backup if I just want to backup and restore my data?

Having read your answer about what backup to use, I still don't get one thing - if I am backing up a hard drive using a drive image backup program, but then switch computers (and upgrade to windows 7), and THEN want to restore my data to the new computer, an image won't work, correct? What program works on backing up just my data, so I can have it available on my new computer?

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Not necessarily correct.

An image created by most backup programs will work just fine for the scenario you outline. In fact, I often rely on it myself.

Let me explain how that works.

Continue reading: What good is an image backup if I just want to backup and restore my data?
http://ask-leo.com/C4182

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*** Comments

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

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Where does Outlook Express put my mail folders?

Mitts writes:

Leo, now that you have told us where to find the messages stored by Outlook Express, my question is, obviously there is a lot of old "stuff" stored in that folder. Can these be cleaned right out? For simplicity's sake, like emptying out the Recycle Bin?

This technically challenged senior would like to know.

Thanks

In all honesty - I wouldn't. My experience with the questions I get is that Outlook Express's database is very fragile. Cleaning attempts often result in lost email and corrupt databases. Unless you have a specific problem you're trying to solve, I'd leave well enough alone.

-Leo

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How do I contact Windows Live Hotmail customer service?

Robin Gartee writes:

I keep getting emails from Windows Microsoft Center asking for my ID, password, date of birth, country, occupation and alternate email. Says if I don't provide this info I will lose my account permanently. I know this is not windows live hotmail sending this but I know of no way to turn them in which could save some people a lot of problems should they provide this info.

They already know about it and are doing what they can (which is very little). Simply ignore the emails.

-Leo

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How do I contact Windows Live Hotmail customer service?

Anthony Dempsey writes:

Hi, I received an email lately supposedly from a friend entitled Hi so I opened it and it was an advertising email telling me that my friend had purchased a phone and that I should do the same. The email to my recollection came with no attachment but a link to this product which I did not click. I deleted the email and the next day I started receiving emails from friends of mine who had received the same email from me. This thing had hacked my address book and then deleted all my contacts. Is there any way I can get them back. My account was not stolen I have no problem logging in, I have changed my password, is my account now ok? Thanks.

Quite possibly not - read this article: Is changing my password enough?

-Leo

*** 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
http://ask-leo.com/C3834

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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

BCC - Blind Carbon Copy - is one of those topics that keeps coming up again and again and again. While many people want to see who else was BCC'd on an email they've received (you cannot), it's often useful to be able to see who you BCC'd on an email you sent. That might work.

How do I find the list of BCC'd recipients in outgoing email?

How do we find out who we listed in the "BCC" section in our outgoing email? In other words, how do we display the BCC addresses after having sent the message to the recipients? I know it is virtually impossible to do this for incoming emails with Outlook 2003. With the Mac Environment it is extremely simple since all one has to do is view the raw source and code information for the outgoing message(s).

This isn't as much about the environment (Mac or PC) as it is about the email program that you're using. Some make it easy, some make hard, and others make it impossible.

Continue reading...
How do I find the list of BCC'ed recipients in outgoing email?
http://ask-leo.com/C2948

*** Thoughts and Comments

I'm still accepting ideas for "swag" out on the Facebook fan page - click here to go directly to the discussion. I'll be giving away at least one of those Seagate FreeAgent drives (this week's recommendation, above) to the best idea.

And a reminder that you'll find updates, some occasional additional commentary and notes - as well as an open discussion group - out on that Facebook fan page. Come join the fun.Smile

Only the fan page last week: How do you select the articles you write about?

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

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