Leo's Answers #238 – July 6, 2010

[raw]
A Weekly Newsletter From
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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

How do I copy a copy protected web page?

How do I copy/paste from sites that don’t permit it? There is info I’d like to send to a friend without a computer but has a machine that only sends/receives plain text. I want to send her stuff from this site as an example but they don’t permit copying/pasting. Is there anyway around that?

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As you might expect, the website in question is trying to protect its content from theft. They have valuable information and I’m sure that people try to steal and republish their content frequently. That is, of course, quite illegal and a violation of international copyright law.

So I’ll assume that’s NOT what you have in mind. (Though technically even what you have in mind – while morally acceptable in my opinion – may still be in violation of that law.)

Copy protection on websites – be it just for pictures or for entire pages of content – is in my opinion pretty close to useless. It keeps honest people honest and that’s about as far as it goes.

Web pages, emails, whatever: if it can be seen, it can be copied.

Continue reading: How do I copy a copy protected web page?
http://ask-leo.com/C4360

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What is pagefile.sys and can I move it?

There’s a large hidden file on my disk that’s taking up a bunch of space called pagefile.sys. What is pagefile.sys? Assuming it’s something I need, can I move it to another drive?

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Pagefile.sys is your Windows virtual memory swap file. When the applications you’re running on your computer end up needing more RAM than you actually have, Windows will start shuffling things around and use your hard disk as “virtual” memory. At the sometimes high cost of speed (your hard disk, and thus virtual memory, is much slower than actual RAM) you avoid getting an out of memory error.

Pagefile.sys is the area that Windows sets aside for that.

And yes, you can move it. In fact, if you have more than one drive installed on your machine and your system uses virtual memory often, moving it can result in a performance boost.

Continue reading: What is pagefile.sys and can I move it?
http://ask-leo.com/C4359

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Does restoring a backup also reformat the hard drive?

I read elsewhere where someone wanted to know if an infected computer could be restored to an uninfected condition by using a system image made prior to the infection. (They’d used a 3rd party software and not the Win7 backup and recovery utility.) The response was that as long as the image itself isn’t infected restoring that image was just as good as reformatting and installing Windows from scratch.

But they still suggested reformatting first, just to be safe.

I’ve used the Win7 utility to restore my computer to a previous system image. I boot my machine using the system repair disk and follow the prompts to restore to a previous system image. I get a warning dialog box that performing this action will erase everything from the hard drive and do I really want to proceed (or something to that effect.) Is that not the reformatting process? Don’t all imaging software like Acronis, etc require a reformat before installing the image to make sure the hard drive is free of malware?

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Reformatting isn’t always reformatting, and erasing doesn’t always mean erasing depending on what type of erasing you’re talking about.

Confused yet? You probably should be. Smile

Yes, restoring an uninfected backup image of your system should be just as effective as a reformat/reinstall. I wouldn’t bother with the reformat first.

But if that’s the case, why all the waffling about reformatting and erasing?

Continue reading: Does restoring a backup also reformat the hard drive?
http://ask-leo.com/C4358

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What are these partitions on my hard drive?

I looked at the information for my computer in Disk Management. It shows my hard disk has three partitions (I’ve included a screen shot.) The first is unnamed and is 39 MB Healthy (OEM); the second is Recovery with 14.65 GB; and the third is OS (C:) at 283.40 GB.

  • What is the 39 MB partition?
  • Does it contain some kind of read information about the hard drive itself? Seems too small to serve any kind of operational function.
  • What keeps a virus or other malware from “jumping” from one partition to another?
  • Is it a valid concern that the recovery partition might itself become infected? If the bad guys are so adept at creating malware what’s to prevent them from installing something that corrupts everything, leading the unsuspecting user to reinstall the malware via the recovery partition or the system image?

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What you’re seeing is common for machines from many of the major manufacturers – as hard disks have grown in size they’ve begun setting aside portions of the drive for recovery purposes.

Exactly what each partition contains is up to the specific manufacturer – there’s no standard. In your case, I’ll take a guess to what Dell is up to. I’ll also explain why I ignore these partitions, and then remove them should I ever reformat a machine containing them.

And while I’ve addressed the malware and partitions question before, it’s an important one worth revisiting as it actually relates somewhat to why I typically remove the partition.

Continue reading: What are these partitions on my hard drive?
http://ask-leo.com/C4357

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How can I tell what kind of WiFi encryption I’m using?

How can I tell what kind of encryption I have on my WiFi? (wep, wpa, wpa2) How can I change this to a more secure type if necessary?

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Considering the importance of having the right security, it’s actually somewhat surprising that this isn’t more visible when you’re using a wireless connection. Nonetheless it’s fairly easy to find.

I’ll show you how, as well as what you want and where you’d need to change it.

Continue reading: How can I tell what kind of WiFi encryption I’m using?
http://ask-leo.com/C4356

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*** Comments

Why won’t my files open even after they’ve been transferred to my new PC?

GuitarRebel writes:

I learned 20 years ago to not only always keep installation media, but also programs downloaded from the Net. Keeping them on a couple of external HDs has saved my butt a dozen or more times. Who wants to purchase programs you already bought?

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Why won’t my files open even after they’ve been transferred to my new PC?

Ron Legro writes:

With later versions of Windows, Vista forward, moving your files to a new PC may result in the loss of so-called Windows “permissions.” For example, a member of my family received an error message from her laptop OS that she should back up hard drive files immediately. We did so, using an included utility from the PC’s maker, H-P. We were forced to reinstall the Vista OS, reformatting the hard drive on the machine, but we had that backup of my family member’s files. I restored them all on her laptop after a getting the OS back up. Word processing files and other personal files opened up as normal, but almost all of her digital photos would not. I eventually figured out that under Vista, the photos were for some reason perceived as belonging to another user (the one, no doubt that we had destroyed when we reformatted the hard drive and reinstalled the OS). I also found that I could adjust the permissions of each of these JPG files by going to file properties and wading through three or four popup windows, making some non-intuitive choices which after trial and error changed the file to a readable/editable state. Ah, but this process took a couple minutes per file, my family member had hundreds of image files. Then I went looking for batch routines and utilities that could operate on the whole lot of them at once. I found several such help programs but none succeeded in batch-altering the images. We’re still going through them, one by one, and adjusting their permissions, as we have time. Ridiculous!

I suspect that unless the new PC or repaired PC has an exact one to one match of owners (as defined under Windows), permissions will be a problem. Why in our case this only affected image files and not other user documents and files I am still trying to figure out.

I’ve actually got an article on file permissions in situations like this: How do I gain access to files that Windows says I don’t have permission to access?

-Leo

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Does restoring a backup also reformat the hard drive?

Ronny writes:

Does a root kit survive a restore from an image?

If the image is infected with a virus, malware or rootkit, then it comes back as part of restoring that image. If it is not in the image, but on the machine being restored to, then no: malware including rootkits do not survive when the disk is overwritten.

-Leo

*** Leo Recommends

NoScript – A Firefox addin that makes browsing safer.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I run FireFox most of the time instead of Internet Explorer. One of the reasons I run Firefox is the wealth of addins that are available for it.

If, like me, you run FireFox, I strongly recommend that you consider the NoScript plugin.

Continue reading…
NoScript – A Firefox addin that makes browsing safer.
http://ask-leo.com/C3718

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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

FAT32 or NTFS? One of life’s persistent questions…

Should I convert my FAT32 drives to NTFS?

I have Windows XP Pro on my computer, but both of my drives’ file systems are FAT32. Should I change them to NTFS so that I can take advantage of certain features, like Windows-based encryption (instead of third party applications)?

I tend to prefer NTFS over FAT32, though that even represents a change for me in recent years. There are a couple of reasons I’ve come to prefer NTFS, but I can tell you one thing:

Windows native encryption is not one of them.

Continue reading…
Should I convert my FAT32 drives to NTFS?
http://ask-leo.com/C3075

*** Thoughts and Comments

As you can tell by today’s ad, I changed my mind about what to do first in the process of creating the Windows XP maintenance and tuning book. In short: I wanted something I could give you that would be valuable no matter what. So I created the “Introduction to Process Explorer” ebook. It’s about 30 pages and highlights the most valuable things that a casual computer user can do with it. It only scratches the surface of Process Explorer’s potential, but I think it’s a useful place to start.

Anyway, I hope I’ve piqued your interest and that you’ll visit http://go.ask-leo.com/mxp1 to learn more.

Getting that ready pretty much consumed the last couple of days for me, so this newsletter is being prepared perhaps the latest it’s ever been – Monday evening. Normally I assemble the newsletter on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.

Fun stuff, and all, but I think it’s time for a beer. Smile

’till next week…

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

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