Leo’s Answers #285 – May 31, 2011

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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

Viruses: How do I keep myself safe from viruses?

Computer viruses are a fact of modern, internet-connected life. At best, they're annoying, performance-sucking beasts; at worst ... kiss all of your data, along with your bank account or identity, goodbye.

We all need to take steps to make sure that our computers are safe or we risk infection. Complacency is simply not an option.

And yet, even after all the news, all the horror stories, all the warnings, and all this time...

complacency remains all too common.

Continue reading: Viruses: How do I keep myself safe from viruses?

* * *

Why does Task Manager suddenly have no menu or tabs?

Why does Task Manager suddenly have no menu or tabs?


Windows Task Manager has a mode that maximizes the data display by hiding the menu and title bar.

It's easy to accidentally get Task Manager into that mode.

It's just as easy to get it out.

Continue reading: Why does Task Manager suddenly have no menu or tabs?

* * *

Where'd the menus go in IE9?

I installed Internet Explorer 9 and I lost my taskbar that contained the EDIT, VIEW, and FILE commands. I don't know how to reinstall or even find them; can you help me? I like to use the Cut and Paste feature and can't because I can't find the Edit anywhere.


The lack of the default menus in IE9 has many people confused.

I'll show you how to find them quickly and how to put them back as needed or permanently. I'll also include a couple of alternate approaches to getting things done.

Continue reading: Where'd the menus go in IE9?

* * *

Is it safe to run as administrator now that Windows 7 has UAC?

What are your recommendations regarding User Account Control and operating a PC as an administrator in Windows 7? I've read many times that one shouldn't routinely operate a computer while logged in as an administrator, but when you set up Windows on a new computer, the first user that you create is automatically an administrator on that PC. That makes it easy to get through User Access Control prompts by just clicking Yes. Is that risky? If you create a non-administrator user and log in as that user, UAC quite often prompts you for the user name and password of an administrator. Is there a benefit to that?


You'll get a variety of opinions on this one.

I tend to fall on the side of pragmatism. What that means is that it depends on just how much you trust the user of your computer.

And it's probably not the type of "trust" that you think.

Continue reading: Is it safe to run as administrator now that Windows 7 has UAC?

* * *

What is a "top-level folder"?

In some instructions, you indicated that I need to "create a top-level folder called backups " for my backups; where and how do I do this? Are the folders created in My Computer? Does the external hard drive have to be connected? Or are they created on the external hard drive?


This is another case where the terminology makes some assumptions about your familiarity with computers.

Assumptions that, naturally, aren't always valid.

So I'll give a quick refresher on just what drives and folders are and how they're organized. Then, I'll describe how Windows organizes things, which may seem very confusing at first glance.

Continue reading: What is a "top-level folder"?

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

How strong does my Windows password need to be?

Mark J writes:

Another word of warning. This password should be unique and not used for other access such as emails or banking. If someone boots your computer from an OPH crack disk, they'll be able to get your actual password, and if that password is used for anything other than logging on to windows they'll have access to anything else you use that password for in under 20 minutes.


Can I switch back to Windows XP from Windows 7?

Dan L writes:

We waited a year to upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows XP, largely because Windows 7 does not allow a pan and scan virtual desktop to be set up (they changed the default graphics subsystem beginning with VISTA). I set up the computers with a dual boot with Windows XP as a safety valve. But after a day or two of using Windows 7, none of us have looked back and we've eliminated the Windows XP partitions. And the low cost utility Gimme Space Desktop Extender has proven to be an adequate substitute for the pan and scan virtual desktop.

I must say that Windows 7 is easier to use than Windows XP, especially for those who are not terribly computer literate. I'm at a loss to imagine in what ways the initial inquirer finds Windows 7 to be more complicated to use than XP. It would really help if that person could give some examples of what is more difficult in Windows 7 -- my guess is that the folks here could tell him or her how to do what he's trying to do without great complications.


Who should I believe?

JTH writes:

These principles apply to other area of life also.

Wikipedia is great because you can read the discussion of how the article was created and make your decision from there rather than trust some unseen editor. The discussion tab on most Wikipedia articles will expose biases and show more detailed information about disputed information. I consider the discussion on an article just as important as the main article and qualifies the articles authority. Critics of Wikipedia don't understand this concept and think everyone should trust the unseen editor.

I hope this is not too far off topic.


What are my Lost Hotmail Account and Password Recovery Options?

Ed Couch writes:

Have done all the hoops possible. Our company has 6 years of information stored on this account. (HOTMAIL) I filled our all the recovery information until it got to asking for a 25 digit number and my credit card information. ??? Maybe they want me to pay to unlock my hotmail, at this point I would gladly pay, however who do I pay, I cannot go forward unless I provide a 25 digit number??? I called windows live, real bad experience, rude and not at all helpful. Can't believe no phone support for hotmail or at least live help on line. I've gotten 6 codes none of which helped. My business depends on this account totally. I'm lost need help.

I know of no other help than what I have listed in the article. This is an example of why free email accounts are such a horrific idea for businesses.


*** Leo Recommends

CutePDF Writer - Create PDFs from any application that can print.

Some time ago I decided to go as paperless as I could. My recommendation of the ScanSnap document scanner was a big part of that and allowed me to completely empty three drawers of my four-drawer file cabinet, saving documents digitally instead.

Once you're in the habit of creating PDFs from paper documents, the ease with which PDFs can be used, saved, searched and perhaps most importantly - backed up - becomes readily apparent.

As a result I've also cut down on the amount of actual printing I do by changing my default printer to the free Cute PDF Writer virtual printer.

It's not at all uncommon to want to save something, say a sales receipt from an on-line purchase, by printing it. But it's rare that you actually need to save it on paper. Instead, I print to the Cute PDF Writer printer which creates a PDF of the printed output that I save on my computer. If I need to actually print it to paper, either now or sometime in the future, I can simply load up that PDF in a viewer such as Acrobat or Foxit, and print to my real printer from there.

Continue reading: CutePDF Writer - Create PDFs from any application that can print.


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

We often avoid this, but it's the unfortunate truth: once infected you can't really trust your computer until you take drastic measures.

How do i totally delete a virus on my computer?

How do i totally delete a virus on my computer? I have scanned and cleaned my computer when I got a trojan not long ago, but I still think it's just lurking in my computer.

It kind of depends on why you think it's still lurking. If subsequent scans still show that you're infected, that's pretty obvious, but if it's just that you're uncomfortable and don't know ... well, I'm not sure how to make you feel better.

Well, I shouldn't say that. There is, in fact, one way to make sure that you're no longer infected. In fact, to be completely honest, it's the only sure way.

But you're not going to like it.

Continue reading...
How do i totally delete a virus on my computer?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Secure Your Account! Windows Live Hotmail edition - An Ask Leo! Checklist is available on CD now, in addition to the digital download. I hope to have the print version available later this week, after I see my proof copy.


My next (ok, my first) regularly scheduled monthly webinar is June 12th. I'd like to hear from you what topics you think would be useful for me to cover. DON'T REPLY TO THIS EMAIL (your comments will be lost in the weekly flood of out-of-office replies). Instead, head on over to my survey page and shoot me your comments there. Those I'll get, and I'll read every one :-).

My plan is to post a rough agenda here next week.

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom
Twitter - Facebook

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Posted: May 31, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4832
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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.