Leo's Answers #258 – November 23, 2010

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*** New Articles

Password Recovery Questions; how do they work and can I make up my own?

What does it mean when a job application requests a "Password Recovery Question" as well as "Password Recovery Answer"? (in addition to the other password)?


Password recovery questions, also called security questions or secret questions and answers, are a security measure that is used to verify you are the legitimate owner of an online account of some sort.

Apparently in filling out your job application you're setting up some kind of online account. More commonly we see recovery questions associated with email accounts, banking accounts and even social media accounts like Facebook.

I'll look at how they work, when they're needed, how they fail, when you can make up your own and what to do if you can't.

Continue reading: Password Recovery Questions; how do they work and can I make up my own?

* * *

How do I start using my second hard drive?

I have a laptop with 32 GB in drive C and 32 GB in drive D. My drive C is full and I do not know how to start using drive D.


A full C: and an empty D: is an opportunity. There are several approaches to take to start taking advantage of that second hard drive.

From system configuration settings to where you place your data we'll look at several options to make use of that second drive.

A couple might even make your computer slightly faster.

Continue reading: How do I start using my second hard drive?

* * *

How do i completely restore my computer?

How can I bring my computer back to how it was when I first got it? It runs very slow. My computer is Dell XP operating system. I was told that I would lose everything that I have on it but I just want my computer back running right.


What you want is very common, and the approach you're suggesting is a very common solution.

Depending on what you already have in place, and what you were given with the computer this can be a very easy job, or a very difficult one.

You may lose various customizations that you've made along the way, but there's absolutely no reason to lose data. In fact, making sure that you don't is the first step.

Continue reading: How do i completely restore my computer?

* * *

Why do my Windows 7 restore points keep disappearing?

I am having problems with my system restore points. No matter how many I make or what I do they will disappear after a while. There is no consistency as to when they go, they just go. I have been reading on internet and did a bit of checking and found error 'event 8224, VSS' which I think is associated with this problem, some kind of timeout. I am using Windows 7 Pro with lots of hard disk space. Any ideas or pointers ?.


Event 8224, VSS is a red herring; it's a normal event that indicates that the Volume Shadow Service, a service that System Restore uses, simply has nothing to do right now, and is shutting down until needed.

I can't say what may or may not be going wrong. However, it's also very possible that nothing's going wrong at all, and that System Restore is working completely as expected.

And that, my friend, is one of the single largest reasons that my advice in general is not to rely on System Restore.

Continue reading: Why do my Windows 7 restore points keep disappearing?

* * *

How do I manage Windows Vista sidebar gadgets and turn the sidebar back on?

How do I restore Windows Sidebar to my computer? I use Vista.


Windows Vista sidebar gadgets appeared as a separate application only in Windows Vista. It annoyed many people (myself included), and was often turned off almost immediately.

What if you want it back?

Not a problem. It's actually quite easy to do. I'll look at that and how to manage the gadgets in it as well.

Continue reading: How do I manage Windows Vista sidebar gadgets and turn the sidebar back on?

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*** Comments

Audio CDs - what format should I use to burn my Audio CDs?

dave writes:

You didn't answer the question. You just plugged Roxio's software and ipods, what format does the software output the data in?

On the contrary: the article clearly states that audio CDs are not the same as data CDs. "File format" doesn't apply, since on audio CDs there are no "files". It's raw data: uncompressed 16 bit stereo at 44khz sampling rate. That's not a file format. In order to read or write that raw data to or from a properly formatted audio CD, you need software that knows how do that.



My Windows Live Hotmail contact list has been hacked, how do I recover?

Diana writes:

My email account has just been hacked and some friends have been sent spam emails from "me." I've followed all your advice above, but I'm worried that the hacker will now have access to all my online memberships to things like online shopping sites and supermarket accounts etc because I've used the same password for everything. Do I need to change my password for all my other accounts as well (like facebook, amazon etc)?


I would strongly recommend that you do so. This is one reason why having the same password for everything is such a bad idea.



How do I determine my IP address in Windows Vista?

Bob writes:

I am assuming that, sinse you posted that person's IP address, public knowledge of it poses no security threat (i.e. scamming, spoofing, etc.)

Look again. The IP address shown is your IP address - meaning the IP address of whoever's reading the page. (But no, there's not much people can do with an IP address, and they're pretty easy to get.)



I got burned by Windows Update, should I just avoid it?

Alex writes:

Leo, why are people so reluctant to simply reformat and reinstall? I keep my data backed up somewhere off the computer, and when it gets too crazy, I roll out the Windows Install disk, and get to work.

I have done this since Windows 95, and rarely have trouble with updates. I have on occasion gotten viruses and other malware, and I worry that an image of my disk will carry the same virus I had when I made the backup.

When I reformat and reinstall, I start with a clean installation, and do all the updates as soon as I can get online. Though a chore, I know I have a clean and healthy installation. Anything I have backed up, I check for viruses before placing back on my machine.

I have seen technicians talking about "software rot", and suggesting that a clean install should be done periodically to combat this. Some of the people writing in to you seem to be saying that their XP machines that they got in 2001 still have the original installation on them! YIKES. In the 6 years I had my computer with XP on it, I must have formatted and reinstalled a dozen times!

I'm with you - I expect a reformat/reinstall every year or two as a matter of course. I've actually written about software rot as well.

People avoid reinstalls for several reasons. Many people don't have the installation media with which to even do it, which is pretty scary if you ask me. Many people find it too daunting and time consuming, even though the time spend after an infection, failure or derailing with an instability will often quickly exceed the effort it would take to reformat and reinstall. And many people just want their computer to work like a toaster, not an automobile: a toaster just works until it fails at which point you replace it. A computer is more like an automobile, requiring periodic maintenance. That reformat/reinstall is kind of the 30,000 mile scheduled maintenance of the computer world.


*** Leo Recommends

SpinRite - Repair hard disk failures and recover your data

I have a file in my docs that I cannot delete. The error message that comes up says "cannot read from source file or disk". Problem is that backup is not able to get beyond the folder where this file sits. What can I do?

"Cannot read from source file or disk" is often an indication that your hard disk has a bad sector and is quite literally unable to read some, or all of the file. Another error that you might encounter is the dreaded "CRC Error" which means effectively the same thing: a problem with the data on your hard drive.

Hard disks are fairly cheap these days and replacement is often a practical solution.

However, if the data that you can't get to is important, or the time and hassle of replacing the hard disk is too daunting, SpinRite could well be the answer.

Continue reading: SpinRite - Repair hard disk failures and recover your data


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

I frequently have people tell me that they're still getting spam even though they've unsubscribed. My response? Uh oh.

Should I unsubscribe from things I've signed up for to avoid spam?

In order to try to cut down on spam I usually opt out at the end of the offer. Is this a good idea or am I just confirming my email address is a good working one which invites even more spam?

It's hard to say without knowing what you mean by "at the end of the offer".

But you're quite right: sometimes the unsubscribe link isn't an unsubscribe at all. In fact, sometimes it's the moral equivalent of a "send me more spam" link.

The problem is that you really do need to know when it's legitimate and should be used.

I can offer some guidelines as to when you should and when you should not click on something that claims to be an unsubscribe link.

Continue reading...
Should I unsubscribe from things I've signed up for to avoid spam?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Lots of Thanksgiving Holiday (U.S.) preparations underway here, so not a lot to say other than...

Thank You!

Again, to all for the well wishes on last week's 5th anniversary of the newsletter.

And on we go into year 6...

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom

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Posted: November 23, 2010 in: 2010
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4629
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