Leo’s Answers #308 – November 8, 2011

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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

How do I safely backup an infected drive?

My hard disk got infected with virus. I am planning to format it. So is there a way to backup all of the data without carrying the virus?

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The short answer is no, there's no practical way to backup the entire hard disk without also including the infection in the backup.

Knowing that, however, I can make some strong recommendations on how to proceed.

Continue reading: How do I safely backup an infected drive?
http://ask-leo.com/C4975

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Should I turn off my wireless access point if I don't use it?

I followed your suggestion and purchased a router (Netgear 3400 N600), even though I only have one computer. See? Some people actually take your advice. My question is, not having any wireless equipment to use with this router, should I deactivate the wireless radio options or just leave it running? Also, is there any other feature that I should shut down that one computer doesn't use? The manual for this unit just makes me realize how ignorant I am about computer science. I will take your word that I am now getting the benefit of a remote firewall for my system.

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Good on you for taking the steps to make your computer more secure. A router as a firewall is usually the first one I list.

That you happened to get a router than included a wireless access point is probably common, and that's what leads to your question. There are actually three ways to proceed ... although to be honest, you've already progressed beyond one alternative.

It's not really a problem, though.

Continue reading: Should I turn off my wireless access point if I don't use it?
http://ask-leo.com/C4974

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How do I get Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) to work - at all?

My Toshiba laptop was bought in January with Windows 7 & IE9 installed, but the IE9 has never worked. I've rolled back to IE8 and that's fine (except now Gmail doesn't support IE8). Windows Updates demands that I install IE9. The problem with IE9 is that the tabs load and show properly across the top, but the screens below are blank. Some windows show a couple of pics from the website in the tab, but then these won't go away even if you change the tab... it's just a frozen blank screen. I can't do searches or view anything. I've tried uninstalling and reinstalling; I've also tried resetting to default settings - no luck.

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It is possible to tell Windows to stop bugging you about the IE9 update.

The problem with that is that it's not really solving anything, just delaying it. It might be a fine interim solution, but sooner or later, you're going to want to update to IE9 or one of its successors.

The symptoms remind me that IE9 added some functionality that - when working properly - would make it faster. Perhaps it's not working properly.

The good news is that we can turn it off.

Continue reading: How do I get Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) to work - at all?
http://ask-leo.com/C4973

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How do I set a custom icon for a desktop URL shortcut?

I recently purchased a new PC - HP with Windows 7. I would like my shortcuts (ex. Google) to show the Google square as red white green, as opposed to the IE world. I ran Windows XP previously, and they had a place to change icons with several from which to pick. It's the same with files; it shows just an open manila folder on the desktop, which I would like to change. Any info on this would be appreciated. I love your newsletter - I read it from top to bottom and could not find this anywhere.

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That functionality's still there, but Windows 7 has thrown a curveball into the mix; this makes one of the most common ways to create desktop shortcuts result in a shortcut that's much harder to customize.

I'll show you what changed.

Then, I'll show you how you can still create a desktop shortcut with an icon that can be customized.

Continue reading: How do I set a custom icon for a desktop URL shortcut?
http://ask-leo.com/C4972

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Why do system cleanup utilities report many errors on a supposedly clean system?

I have a couple of good cleaning programs to protect my computer (which are usually recommended by you!). But occasionally, I get suckered into running a 'free trial' of a program (like a registry cleaner). I may have just run my cleaner and have been given a clean bill of health, but when I run the 'free trial', I invariably get hundreds of errors. Why?

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It really, really, really depends on the utility that you're running.

But, ultimately, this type of behavior is what leads me and many others to not recommend entire classes of registry and system cleaning utilities.

It's not just a few bad apples that spoil the entire bunch; in this class of utility, it's often difficult to find an apple worth biting into at all.

Continue reading: Why do system cleanup utilities report many errors on a supposedly clean system?
http://ask-leo.com/C4971

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

How should I protect my computer from natural disasters?

andy writes:

I personally think that backing up and encrypting one's personal data, then simply putting this on an external drive and storing it off-site (e.g., at a family member's place or locked in the office) is the best and most cost-effective alternative to all the options discussed. I don't trust cloud storage as yet (security, privacy and accountability issues not fully addressed yet, thus unsatisfactory solutions to me). I have company and personal data backed up on 3 laptops AND 4-5 external drives that I keep interchanging. Call me paranoid, but I lost my wife's work folders 3 years ago and haven't heard the end of it since! Lesson learned.

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Why is it so bad to leave the email addresses in an email I forward?

Paul writes:

Excellent explanation Leo. I wish this could be required reading for everyone with an email account. I will do what I can and show it to offending friends & relatives (I also recommend your newsletter to these same people when I get the chance).

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Why would one disk defragmenting program take so much more time than another?

robert price writes:

In my perhaps naive opinion, the key here is "frequently used files". I had no defragged this laptop since purchasing two years ago. I booted clean and tested the performance with a reputable diagnostic program, then defragged, rebooted, and tested again.

Zero difference in performance. I think this is because the defragging would have only helped on files that were often used over and over, but I have very few of those.

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Why would one disk defragmenting program take so much more time than another?

Charlie day writes:

Love the newspaper explanation. I use messed up file cabinet..putting all the associated files together. Also I use idea of two index sheets of files to explain check disk. I worked in radio where we would add and delete files a lot daily. If you do this type of activity, defragging weekly does speed things up greatly.

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Why is it so bad to leave the email addresses in an email I forward?

Jim H writes:

well, a friend who was overly fond of forwarding everything to everybody didn't heed warnings about doing so. this past September he called in a panic because his mother, sister, and some members of a church he belonged to began receiving invitations to pornographic adult sites with his name as the sender and his personal recommendation on the "hotness" of the sites. i began getting so many emails that were forged to appear to come from him i had to block him. these were everything from auto insurance to male enhancement products, Mexican and canadian pharmacies, life insurance, - everything under the sun. i was thankful i had never given him my ISP connected email and only given him my Yahoo address. if there was a good thing it was i got to tell him "i told you so!"

*** Leo Recommends

The Spam Primer - Learn about and deal with spam

Spam - unsolicited email - is a plague on email infrastructure. By some accounts, perhaps as much as 95% of all email traveling around the internet right now is spam.

One resource to battle the frustration is Randy Cassinghams's Spam Primer.

The Spam Primer has both explanations of just what is and is not spam, how it works, and how you might well be part of the problem.

Continue reading: The Spam Primer - Learn about and deal with spam
http://ask-leo.com/C4969

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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

Do you trust everyone that shares your internet connection, and do they also understand internet security? If not, you might be at risk ...

Should you worry about the other people behind your router?

Is it possible for a person to access my previous correspondence via email and MSN via our router? The 4 of us share one router. I delete my email correspondence but I am a little afraid that my old correspondence can or may be accessed by some means via the router. Some of the correspondence is of a personal and business nature and I would not like the info to fall into the hands of a person not screened to view it. If it is possible to draw old correspondence via the shared router, how do I go about preventing such an eventuality?

There are several possible scenarios that your question might be asking about. I'll try and cover the most common.

But the short answer is that, yes, you do need to understand whether the people that share your router can be trusted. If not, you need to take steps.

Continue reading...
Does sharing a router make me vulnerable to those I share with?
http://ask-leo.com/C3560

*** Thoughts and Comments

I'm on Kindle!

Well, to be clear Ask Leo! has been available on Kindle for a long time. You can subscribe there and automatically receive new Ask Leo! articles as they're published.

More newsworthy, perhaps: I have a book on Kindle!

I've made my ebook Internet Safety - Keeping your Computer Safe on the Internet available on Kindle for just 99 cents.

After having loaded it on a few devices (Kindle software on my phone, my tablet, my PC and my laptop ... and, oh yeah, my wife's actual Kindle!) I'm very pleased with how it's turned out.

Grab a copy for yourself and gift a copy to a few of your Kindle-using friends! Let's see if we can get up onto a Kindle best-seller list and find even more people to join us all here at Ask Leo!.

Reminder: Webinar #6 - Tools Sampler Continued will be next Sunday at 1PM US Pacific Standard Time. Hopefully this time I'll remember to make sure I can actually record it! (Videos for last webinar are partly complete, and should show up this week or next.)

'till next week...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom
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