Leo’s Answers #268 – February 1, 2011

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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

Why don't anti-malware tools work better?

I've been independent computer repair tech for over 12 years now. The question I get the most (and have the hardest time answering) is: How come my antivirus program didn't stop me from getting this virus? AVG says (when you're installing the program) only 3% of today's security problems are caused by traditional viruses. Is this true? Is it true for the other A/V programs as well? And why is it that when we do get one of these non-traditional security issues (ie, malware) we then must rely on free software down loaded from the internet. Why don't the "traditional" A/V suppliers included a malware remover module with their software? If traditional A/V program are going to be satisfied with role of the canary in the coal mine (we know we're infected when our A/V program dies), why not just use a free product, use our common sense on the internet and hope for the best?

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In other words, why don't anti-malware tools work better than they seem to? Smile

I have to fault AVG for the phrase "traditional viruses" because I think that put an unrealistic spin on your expectations.

Malware is malware, and that includes viruses, spyware, rootkits, zombies, and gosh knows what else.

What's "traditional"? Ya got me. I've also no idea where that 3% figure comes from.

But the kernel of truth is there: no matter what you run there's still a chance to get infected.

Continue reading: Why don't anti-malware tools work better?
http://ask-leo.com/C4728

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What's the difference between memory and hard disk space?

I get a surprising number of questions that show a misunderstanding between these most basic of computer terms.

Most commonly people believe that they are the same.

Of course they are not, though I can see how it could be easy to confuse them at a conceptual level.

So ... let me explain three terms: memory, hard disk, and RAM.

Continue reading: What's the difference between memory and hard disk space?
http://ask-leo.com/C4727

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How do I resize a partition in Windows XP?

I've had a laptop for many years running with Windows XP Home edition and an 80GB hard disk. I wanted to upgrade the hard disk capacity and had bought a new 120GB hard disk. My backup and restore program moved all the data properly, but the result was ... an 80GB partition, and the rest of the drive unavailable. Can I resize that partition to take all the space? How?

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Yes you can.

It's a pity you're not running Windows 7, where the disk management tool will allow you to resize partitions.

For XP you're going to need an additional tool. The tool I'm going to have you use is free, albeit just a little more work to use than some of the alternatives.

I have an ulterior motive.

Continue reading: How do I resize a partition in Windows XP?
http://ask-leo.com/C4726

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How do I turn on "https" in Facebook?

I've heard that Facebook has https now? Where? How do I turn it on?

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This is important. You should do this right away.

Recent news has highlighted an application called "FireSheep" that make it super easy to capture the usernames and logins from people who might be logging into services like Facebook while at a coffee shop or other location with an open WiFi connection.

Https is one answer, and Facebook seems to have taken action.

Continue reading: How do I turn on "https" in Facebook?
http://ask-leo.com/C4724

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Does bounced email mean all the recipients didn't get my message?

I sent 4 recipients an e-mail. As it turns out, I got a notice from MAILER-DAEMON that the address not deliverable. I know it is because they changed their address, which I wasn't aware of. Should the other 3 recipients have received the e-mail? This situation occurs once in awhile, because people don't always tell quickly enough when they change addresses. So, my question in essence, like with tree lights, if one fails, do the others stay lit?

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In your case it's fairly clear: the message probably was delivered to other three recipients.

In the general case, of course, things are never quite that simple.

On top of that things get more complicated because these days you're not even guaranteed to get a bounce back if something goes wrong.

I'll examine the possibilities.

Continue reading: Does bounced email mean all the recipients didn't get my message?
http://ask-leo.com/C4723

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*** Comments

Will BitTorrent harm my computer?

alex writes:

for those who a interested--

try using virtual machine for your downloads. thats what i do. then if you get a virus, you can just delet the virtual machine and start again. viruses in virtual machine cant harm your computer.

Before assuming that a VM is that safe, I think you'll want to read this: Does using a virtual machine keep me safer? - it can help, but there are still real risks.

-Leo

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How can I automatically reply to spammers telling them to stop and that I'm not reading their junk?

Jim writes:

As Leo notes, flag what is junk as junk, unsubscribe from things you actually -asked- for, and "just throw out the rest".

What Leo didn't say was that email junk (aka spam) is like receiving flyers in the mailbox where you live. You -could- track down the sources of physical junk mail as well, but the results won't be worth the effort required to get them. Just throw the junk out and move on....

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Why I (still) don't like challenge/response spam blockers

Ken B writes:

You forgot another "hidden cost" of C/R... What happens to all those challenges that go to the forged "from" addresses of the spam they're trying to block? Yes, you are "pushing the cost of protecting your inbox onto all the people who want to send you legitimate email", but you are also pushing it to all those innocent bystanders.

You'd be amazed (okay, not "you" Leo, but many of your readers) how many times I get a "challenge" to a spam I never sent. And, when my e-mail is used as the "from" for a large spam run, I can get dozens at a time. On more than a few occasions, I've taken the time to respond to some of them, letting the original "victim" receive the e-mail. Who am I to say you didn't want it? :-) (Though, admittedly, they usually just go to the big bit bucket in the sky.)

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Why shouldn't I use the "Report Spam" or "Junk" button?

Mark writes:

Another issue that arises is that some seemingly legitimate publishers state that they will take x number of days to remove remove your email address from their list following an unsubscribe request, often an inordinate amount of time--up to 60 days in some cases. While there really is no technical barrier to implementing immediate removal from lists, publishers often (1) use the float time to continue spamming or (2) fail to do the necessary programming to effectuate and confirm immediate removal. Though the CAN-SPAM Act gives a publisher up to 10 days to remove an email address from their lists, my personal rule is this: I mark any future emails as spam following an unsubscribe request from that publisher.

I actually agree, and have griped about this before - there's no longer a technical reason that unsubscribes should take more than a day at most. Most should be instant.

-Leo

*** Leo Recommends

Webopedia - Internet and Technology dictionary and search engine

Ever come across an internet or computer related term or acronym that made absolutely NO sense? And yet the writer, perhaps even me, uses it as if everyone on the planet should know what it means?

Webopedia is the site for you. "The only online dictionary and search engine you need for computer and Internet technology definitions."

Continue reading...

Webopedia - Internet and Technology dictionary and search engine
http://ask-leo.com/C2572

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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

Why I think online backup services are both impractical, and yet useful.

Can I do my backups over the internet?

I look after an office with 20 PCs and a server, and we run weekly full backups and daily incrementals. Backups are to a USB-attached hard disk, which is taken off-site overnight. What I'd ideally like to do is carry out the backup process over the internet, to a remote PC with the backup drive permanently attached to it, to avoid physically transporting the drive. Full backup is around 120GB of data, incremental is 5 - 10GB. What would you recommend as the best method to achieve this? (using an internet hosted, paid-for backup service is not an option - too expensive!!)

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On-line or internet hosted backup services (the ones you're avoiding for the cost in your situation) are becoming very popular. They definitely have their place, but they also make me uncomfortable.

And they make me uncomfortable for the same reasons and issues that you're going to run into with what you're attempting to do.

Continue reading...
Can I do my backups over the internet?
http://ask-leo.com/C3275

*** Thoughts and Comments

Happy February! Wait ... wasn't it just Christmas? Where'd January go?

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There's been a little behind-the-scenes reorganization here at Ask Leo! world headquarters, and as a result I'm coming to realize that I still can't do everything I want to by myself.

As a result, I'm slowly starting to look for some help.

I've posted my first job description and application for a part time Technical Assistant. Have a peek, maybe it's you or someone you know.

Keep an eye on Work for Leo for new job postings in the coming weeks. I'll mention them here, but they'll show up there first, and then on either or both of Twitter and Facebook.

Maybe, just maybe, with some help I can get out from under this backlog. Smile

'till next week...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

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