Leo’s Answers #292 – July 19, 2011

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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

Do all these email bounces mean I have a bot infection?

I'm getting a lot of email bounces to messages I've never sent. Does this mean my computer is infected with one of those “bots”?

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No.

It's extremely unlikely that the bounces are the result of a bot infection on your machine, or anything related to your computer at all for that matter.

However...

Depending on the bounces that you're getting, it could mean that you have a different problem.

Or none at all.

Continue reading: Do all these email bounces mean I have a bot infection?
http://ask-leo.com/C4879

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What are .BAK files?

When I go to empty my Recycle Bin, I notice there are a lot of files in there called “BAK files”. What are they, are they important, where do they come from & is it okay to delete them with everything else that is in there?

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".BAK" files are perhaps one of the oldest file types known to computing.

That's not to say that they're all the same thing, though. Far from it. It's very likely that you have many different kinds of .BAK files.

It all starts with the fact that BAK is short for BAcKup.

I'll describe where they come from.

Continue reading: What are .BAK files?
http://ask-leo.com/C4878

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What are these “no media”, “removable” drives on my system?

I purchased your ebook “Maintaining Windows XP”. I was working in the “The Opportunities” section on page 82. When I opened up my Disk Management, I found that I have several disks two through six, also labeled “Removable E through G”, with “no media” associated with them. I'm wondering what to do with them. I have my main disk C as well as one disk associated with my external hard drive labeled "My Book (M:)" and another disk associated with the program “WD SmartWare (L:)”. The layout on all of three is Partition and the Type is Basic. The SmartWare is a program that came with my external drive.

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I have drives like those on my machine: drive letters set aside and listed as "no media".

But in my case at least, they're there for a reason and the answer on what to do with them is simple:

Nothing.

Continue reading: What are these "no media", "removable" drives on my system?
http://ask-leo.com/C4877

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What's the best way to bank online using a dedicated machine?

I am wary of using online banking and brokerage services, but I would like to use them for the convenience. With basic notebook computers now costing $300 and less, I am thinking of getting one to be used solely for financial transactions. No emailing, browsing, Facebooking, etc. Ideally, I want it to connect only to a short list of financial websites and have no contact in or out with any others. What would be the best way to do this? What other safety measures should I use? After all, it is one thing to have an email account hacked, but my retirement account is something else again.

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There are a number of approaches that you can take - getting a dedicated machine is certainly one.

There are a variety of thoughts on how best to do this. Most add at least a layer of inconvenience and some become downright impractical, at least to me.

Much, of course, depends on your own level of concern and realistic confidence in your own abilities.

Continue reading: What's the best way to bank online using a dedicated machine?
http://ask-leo.com/C4876

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Virtual Machines - What Are They?

Virtual machines are a way to run a computer-within-a-computer. It's a technology that I use frequently and specifically to set up clean machines for use in my webinars.

In this video excerpt from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll talk a little about virtual machines, show you a few things about them, and generally go on about how cool I think they are. Smile

Continue reading: Virtual Machines - What Are They?
http://ask-leo.com/C4875

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

What's the fastest safe way to abort a malware download?

Mike Noonan writes:

Seems obvious, but following your lead, I simply put a shortcut to the Local Area Connection icon on my desktop. Now it's just one right-click and a click away from disabling the connection

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Webinar #1: Is this thing on?

Rick writes:

Like you, I missed the Quick Launch. Using your method, I deleted toolbar name, inserted a MyDocs shortcut, then shortcuts to folders containing my most frequently used programs. I left the MyDocs shortcut exposed, so one click opens MyDocs. Single-clicking on the >> brings up the Shortcut folders, and a hover opens the correct one for a single-click to open my program. So two clicks to get what I need is better than using the Start menu most of the time, the old quick launch bar, and particularly explorer/libraries, which is what I have been doing. (I keep an empty desktop, but even having the links there usually involves more work.) Thanks for the tip.

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How do I send a .exe file if Gmail won't let me?

Glenn P. writes:

Leo, you wrote:

"Actually, it may not. Password protecting the zip doesn't hide the list of files contained in the zip, and if Gmail uses the filename only, then it has what it need to determine that there's a .exe in it - passworded or not."

Indeed. Zipfiles list their contents in a header, which serves as a "table of contents". This isn't necessarily encrypted.

If this proves to be an issue, first unencrypt the zipfile if it was encrypted (as encrypting it didn't hide the filenames) and rezip it unencrypted. (If it wasn't encrypted to begin with, then obviously there's no need to rezip.)

Next, zip the first zipfile inside a second, encrypted zipfile. This second zipfile should encrypt everything within it, this time including the filenames within the first zipfile, which aren't a "table of contents" anymore, but are now simply file data.

A lot of trouble, I know -- but it should work...!

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If I have all the recommended security in place, is my computer safe and un-hackable?

Mike writes:

Nothing is completely safe. Period. Ever. Do you still look both ways before crossing the street? All clear? Until you step out and some car comes careening 50mph around the corner. Okay, sure, that's rare, but it does happen. Mostly you're safe, but not "completely". You put locks on your home. But they can break the window. You install a burglar alarm, but they might defeat it. You get a watchdog, but some burglars have a way with dogs. Each step improves your security and reduces the risk. Most people sleep pretty well at night and their security is good. But break-ins still happen. Nobody is "completely safe."

You do what you can, and that's usually pretty good. And that's the key; DOING something. Not just hoping. There are no guarantees, only assurances that your risk is substantially reduced.

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Securing Your Router

jhosil writes:

Very interesting...except that there is no information as to where I can locate the router software. In short, where do I start?

With the manual for your router. This differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. Mine was an example - the software exists on the router and you access it using your web browser as demonstrated in the video. Your specifics will vary based on what router you have, so the place to start is with that router's documentation.

-Leo

*** Leo Recommends

7-zip file archiving utility

Most of you are probably familiar with "ZIP" files, which are compressed archives that pack one or more files into a single file. ZIP files are often a convenient way to distribute large numbers of files and folder structures in a single container.

You're probably also familiar with Windows somewhat cumbersome built-in support for ZIP files, as well as WinZIP, the shareware file compression utility that lets you create and extract files from ZIP formatted archives.

7-zip is a free, open-source utility roughly equivalent to WinZIP, that includes support for multiple file formats as well as a command-line interface.

I highly recommend 7-zip.

Continue reading: 7-zip file archiving utility
http://ask-leo.com/C2856

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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

In the years since this article was written, the answer appears to be 'no' more often than it is 'yes'.

Can I move my system drive to another computer and have it work?

I would like your take on installing a C: hard drive from one computer into another computer. Would that computer boot up normally with the C: hard drive from another machine?

This is a classic case of "maybe".

Ultimately, it might work and it might not. Or something in between.

It depends on how similar the two machines are.

Continue reading...
Can I move my system drive to another computer and have it work?
http://ask-leo.com/C3448

*** Thoughts and Comments

I'm asked the occasional Mac question or asked if I even take Mac or Apple-related questions.

Kinda, sorta.

I do have a MacBook, but it sits unused most of the time. While many of the questions and answers here on Ask Leo! are not platform specific and apply equally well to all personal computers, there's clearly a bias towards Windows and Windows-related problems simply because that's where my greatest expertise lies.

However, I do have friends. (Honest!)

I've recommended MacMost before. Gary Rosenzweig runs what he bills as a site dedicated to "Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod and Apple TV Help and Tutorials". The most obvious thing that you'll find when you arrive is his video podcast, but dig a little deeper and you'll find the MacMost forum, a great place to find and ask Mac-specific questions and answers.

Another resource that I've mentioned here before is run by another friend of mine, Steve Loyola, called Mac Help for Mom. It started just like it sounds: his mom got a Mac and occasionally asked Steve for help. Steve started recording videos of his answers and now posts them on this site. It's great if you feel like you're in the less than computer-savvy crowd. Naturally, he's taking questions from more than just his mom these days and has added a weekly newsletter (what a great idea! Smile) as well. Hop on over to Mac Help for Mom and let Steve's mom (she's real - it's no gimmick) tell you more.

'till next week...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom
Twitter - Facebook

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