Leo’s Answers #310 – November 22, 2011

A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
Leo Notenboom

Please do not reply to this email.

If you have a tech question Ask it here. Newsletter subscribers using that link go to the head of the line.

Questions about the newsletter? Check the newsletter administration page. You can also unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of this email. The latest newsletter is always available on-line at http://ask-leo.com/currentnewsletter.html, where you'll also find links to complete archives.

*** New Articles

How do I print a .prn file?

To save time, I printed canceled check images (from BofA online) "to file". However, I have been unable to open and print the images from these files *.prn. None of the listed programs (Menu of to Open With list) to open these files work. Word show a bunch of pages of "text gibberish". What program will open these files? I am running Windows Vista 64 Home and Office 2007. My printer is a Canon iP 1600.


Don't use print to file.

I'll be honest and say that saving as .prn was probably a bad idea. I'll explain why in a moment.

If you have the same printer as you did when you printed to .prn there's a possibility you can print them. I'll show you what to try.

Then I'll also show you what I strongly suggest you do instead.

Continue reading: How do I print a .prn file?

* * *

How do I disable Internet Explorer add-ons?

I had asked you about a problem that I was having with Internet Explorer. Your response was to “disable add-ons.”

Huh? I have no idea what that means. Please explain.


Fair enough. It's another one of those things that I take somewhat for granted.

Ultimately, many problems with Internet Explorer aren't caused by IE at all. They're caused by software that's added to IE to extend its functionality.

Not surprisingly, those are called add-ons.

They sometimes show up without warning, but they're easily dealt with in later versions of IE.

Continue reading: How do I disable Internet Explorer add-ons?

* * *

Why, when I'm doing nothing at all, will my hard disk suddenly start thrashing?

Why, when I'm doing nothing at all, will my hard disk suddenly start thrashing?


It could be for many reasons. The most common are antivirus tools or the system indexing service, if it's enabled.

To find out what's happening on your system, we'll use fairly powerful system monitoring tool called Procmon.

Continue reading: Why, when I'm doing nothing at all, will my hard disk suddenly start thrashing?

* * *

How do I share files on my Windows 7 machine with my Windows XP machine?

I have just purchased a laptop that has Windows 7 (Home Premium) installed and I want to share files with my desktop computer that has XP installed. My question is, how do I set up a 'sharing' folder on my laptop so that I can transfer files and folder to it, from my desktop PC.


For the record, networking sucks.

Sorry to put it that bluntly, but when it comes to making things easy, safe, and secure ... it's just not easy and often not secure.

It's one of the reasons why I actually don't deal with networking issues here on Ask Leo! very often.

However, this comes up often enough that I'll show you exactly what I do, discuss why it's not really secure, and throw out at least one alternative approach that is both easy and secure.

Continue reading: How do I share files on my Windows 7 machine with my Windows XP machine?

* * *

Can everything I do online be monitored at my router?

A few days ago around the dinner table, my family was talking about how police can monitor everything that you do on the web and can track you. Because he is registered as the owner of the router, my father says that he can view everything that I do as it passes through the router. Is this true? And if so, how can I bypass this?


Yes, it's true.

But before you focus on that too much, there are two things to keep in mind:

First, it's not really that easy for the average consumer.

Second, there are easier alternatives to monitoring your router.

Let me explain what I mean and what you can do to protect yourself - if, indeed, you can protect yourself at all.

Continue reading: Can everything I do online be monitored at my router?

*** Our Sponsor

Windows XP Is Not Dead!

Learn how to clean it up, speed it up, and tune it up.
Keep your Windows XP machine running longer.

Maintaining Windows XP - A Practical Guide
Downloadable PDF or CD-ROM. Also available in paperback.
- An Ask Leo! book.

Advertisement. Ask Leo about advertising here.

*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

Why is it so easy and quick to accidentally move a file when copying takes so much longer?

Ed Vance writes:

I normally don't use Drag & Drop in Windows Explorer (WE) in Windows XP. BUT I have accidentally misplaced File(s)/Folder(s) while moving them some place else with my mouse in WE because my finger slipped off the button.

I used to use the Right-Click method to Copy or Move file(s) in WE that Fred W. described in the Comments section. And I liked the pop up box asking me what I wanted to do with the selected file(s).

Now I (usually) will Left-Click on a file I want to Copy or Move, and if I want additional files (or folders) transferred during the operation I will hold down either the CTRL key or the Shift key to select other file(s) while still using the Left Mouse Button to click on them.

After all the files are highlighted that I want to Transfer, I Left-Click on the Edit button on the Menu Bar that's just under the Title Bar.

A drop down box has Options for --- Copy to Folder... Move to Folder... in it, so I Left-Click on the one that I want to do.

A window opens up and I can select the Folder (Directory) where I want the things that I highlighted to go into, and click the Copy button (Move button) to get the job done.

That way I KNOW where the transfer went to.

There are two additional benefits to doing it this way.

1. At the bottom of the window there is a Cancel button if You decide NOT to do it.

2. You can Create a new Folder on the drive if You want (need) to, by Left-Clicking a button to do that.


How do I run an anti-virus scan if I can't boot?

Jarvis Edwards writes:

Another good solution to running antivirus without using a rescue disk is to remove the hard drive, and place it into a USB enclosure. Then, attach it to an uninfected computer, and scan the drive with several programs (separately).

That's a viable solution, however there is a risk that if the virus setup autoplay/autorun on that hard disk - even though it was your system disk - and the target computer has autoplay/autorun enabled then simply attaching that infected drive to another Windows computer could cause that computer to become infected. Personally I find the reboot from CD approach to be much preferable.



How do I recover from a bad virus infection?

Ken B writes:

I have to disagree with your suggestion to turn off "System Restore". I don't think I've ever seen an infected system where System Restore caused any problems. I have, however, seen numerous systems where removing the infections corrupts the registry in some manner, leaving the system unbootable. (Most likely, the registry is still pointing to the now-removed infection.) On those systems with System Restore, it's about 10-15 minutes to get the system back to a running state, whereas those without it require the backup/wipe/reinstall approach at that point.

And, on a few very-rare occasions, I've seen a driver update leave the system in a "boot to BSOD" state, which is quickly remedied by a System Restore. (The system won't boot, so you can't get to the "rollback driver" option.)


How do I protect my email address book?

Gabe Lawrence writes:

I'm thinking like a hacker here....why wouldn't I get your email/password and go to all major websites and say "I forgot my password". Most use their email address as the username and probably the same password. If you have an account there, it will email a "reset password" link to your email account that I have access to! I can now get into your OTHER accounts. Not to mention, if I search your email archives (gmail especially as they promote NOT deleting anything) then I can get a feel for where you do your banking and other online activities.


*** Leo Recommends

Fujitsu ScanSnap - A Fast, Sheet-fed Document Scanner.

This might appeal to only a small portion of my audience, but I've fallen in love with this device, and wanted to share it with those who'd find it as useful as I do.

I'm all about computers; I think you get that. But that also means that I'm all about using them - particularly when it comes to documents and document management. I find digital documents easier to store, backup and search than their paper counterparts. In general, I'd much prefer someone send me an email or give me an electronic copy of whatever document they're wanting to share - no need to waste paper for me.

On the other hand, between home ownership, running a couple of businesses and more, people are sending me paper every day. Paper that, in all honesty, I should keep - at least for a while. And yet, I'd really rather not.

You might guess that my ideal would be to scan all those documents into digital form, and then discard or shred the physical paper in favor of storing and backing up the documents on my computer. The problem is that traditional flatbed scanners are slow and cumbersome for any volume of scanning. And slow. Did I mention slow? And cumbersome?

The Fujitsu ScanSnap solves those issues.

Continue reading: Fujitsu ScanSnap - A Fast, Sheet-fed Document Scanner.


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

Regular maintenance is important, but software rot may still be setting in ...

What kind of maintenance should I do to avoid software rot?

I have an older laptop (about 3 yrs old) running XP Pro w/SP3 and IE7. I was a complete newbie when I first started receiving your newsletter and my learning process has had me installing / uninstalling many programs, applications, etc. Rather than clutter up my hard drive with something I might use only once as a learning tool, or just once in a while, I'll uninstall the program. Then I'll use disk cleanup; search the hard drive for any remaining files or folders; use regedit to delete any registry entries; maybe run CCleaner; defrag; and once every couple of months run a check disk. Knock on wood and lighting a candle to my little shrine of Redmond, my computer is humming right along.

So my question is this: Is my preventive maintenance routine enough, too much, or would you recommend something entirely different? I still enjoy playing with different software but I'm also trying to forestall my laptop's demise.

"Software rot" is what happens to your machine slowly over time as you install and uninstall, and in some cases simply use, software. Settings get left behind, files don't get properly uninstalled, and things just get slightly messy. Eventually it can lead to some amount of instability.

The question is, can it be avoided or delayed, and if so, how?

Continue reading...
What kind of maintenance should I do to avoid software rot?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Survey Results

You may remember that last week I'd asked you to fill out a quick survey specifically looking at how technology is changing reading habits and preferences.

When asked "How do you read books", over 90% responded with paper, while using a computer (34%) surprisingly edged out e-readers (22%). (Participants were asked to select all that apply, hence this isn't an adds-up-to-100% question Smile).

Assuming equal costs, 64% preferred paper, 14% an e-reader, and 11% using a computer. 6% chose "costs are never equal" and opted for the cheapest, regardless of format.

26% of respondents own a Kindle, 7% a Nook and 3% a Sony reader. 28% use e-reading software on their desktop or laptop, and 9% using software on a tablet or netbook. 24% selected "other", most of which indicated that they were reading on their smartphone, an option I failed to account for.

A selection of some of the many comments included:

"To my surprise I read faster on the Kindle. My retention is the same disappointing amount.", "The Kindle allows me to build a second "library" that uses space very efficiently!", "An avid book lover, I thought I'd never enjoy an e-reader. Boy was I wrong. I LOVE my Kindle. Only problem is, I can't stop ordering books faster than I can read them!", "Although i prefer printed books and magazines, ebook readers can't be beat for travel, or reading in bed w/out disturbing your partner.", "My eyes are going bad. Curiously I am more comfortable reading on the small screen on my iPhone than I am reading on a dead tree."

"Money is tight and buying a Kindle or Nook, while appealing, is not in my budget right now.", "I do NOT like to read books on a screen ... I believe it puts too much strain on the eyes.", "You can just grab a book and go. If you drop it, you just pick it up again. You don't have to wonder if it's "damaged". If you lose it, you're only out the cost of a book. And nobody is going to try to steal your book.", "I read a great deal and like to be very comfortable doing so. And I take notes in the margins and make my own topical index on the title page."

And finally, "As a 70+ pensioner I'm constantly amazed & intrigued by this technological world we live in."

You and me both, my friend, you and me both. It's why I love my job. Smile

Thanks to all who participated.

This week is Thanksgiving week here in the United States, and I'm expecting a house-full of guests.

I'm also declaring this week "Backup Week".

Put those two together, and I have queued up a long awaited series of videos and articles detailing how to backup using Macrium Reflect. Starting this afternoon and continuing all week long while I'm eating Thanksgiving dinner (among other things), my server will be automatically publishing a new article every day. The seven article series walks you through installing, backing up and restoring using Macrium Reflect.

That also means that the next newsletter will be completely backup themed.

I'll have more to say about it all next week, but if you're at all interested, of if you've been meaning to get around to it, you might want to use this as motivation to get your own regular backups started.

Trust me. Someday you'll be thankful you did.

Have good week everyone,

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom
Twitter - Facebook - Google+ - YouTube

*** Administration

Help Ask Leo! Just forward this message, in its entirety (but without your unsubscribe link below) to your friends. Or, just point them at http://newsletter.ask-leo.com for their own FREE subscription!

Newsletter Subscriber Benefits (only mentioned here)

  • Visit http://ask-leo.com/subscriber to submit your comments and questions and get to the top of the question queue.
  • Coupon code NEWS20 gets you 20% off everything in the Puget Sound Software Store, where you'll find my ebooks and other Ask Leo! related merchandise. That coupon code changes from time to time, so be sure to check here each week.

Need more help with or have questions about the newsletter? Check out the newsletter administration page.

Newsletter contents Copyright © 2011,
Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.
Ask Leo! is a registered trademark ® of Puget Sound Software, LLC

Posted: November 22, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4995
« Previous post:
Next post: »

New Here?

Let me suggest my collection of best and most important articles to get you started.

Of course I strongly recommend you search the site -- there's a ton of information just waiting for you.

Finally, if you just can't find what you're looking for, ask me!

Confident Computing

Confident Computing is the weekly newsletter from Ask Leo!. Each week I give you tools, tips, tricks, answers, and solutions to help you navigate today’s complex world of technology and do so in a way that protects your privacy, your time, and your money, and even help you better connect with the people around you.

The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE Edition

Subscribe for FREE today and claim your copy of The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE Edition. Culled from the articles published on Ask Leo! this FREE downloadable PDF will help you identify the most important steps you can take to keep your computer, and yourself, safe as you navigate today’s digital landscape.

My Privacy Pledge

Leo Who?

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.