It’s that time of the year again: the time for lists!
As I do each year, I’ll look back on the most popular articles based on both the number of times the article was viewed and the number of comments posted by viewers.
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10: Why Are Pictures Not Showing in Email? – There are many reasons you might find pictures not showing in email. I’ll review the complex world that is email, and some of the things that can go wrong. (A perennial problem, down from #8 last year.)
9: Does Getting Porn Spam Mean You’ve Been Surfing Porn Sites? – Porn spam doesn’t mean anyone did anything illicit. Everyone gets spam, and some of it is porn spam. Lack of spam doesn’t imply you’ve been good, either. (New to the Top Ten list this year, and I’m not sure what that means. :-) )
8: What’s a Browser Cache? How Do I Clear It? Why Would I Want To? – “Clear your browser cache” is the first response tech people often give when you encounter webpage problems. We’ll look at why that is and how to clear the cache. (Down from #7 last year, this is something that comes up in my answers frequently.)
7: How Do I Recover My Facebook Login Password? – If you’ve lost your Facebook login password, there are a couple of ways to recover access to your account. (Way down from #2 last year. Hopefully that’s a good sign and people are doing a better job of password management.)
6: Finding the Owner of an IP Address – While you cannot find the specific owner of an IP address, I’ll look at a few tools to see what IP-related information you can get. (A return to the list this year, this has been a popular topic for over a decade.)
5: CHKDSK: What Is It and How Do I Run It? – CHKDSK, short for Check Disk, is a utility that checks the integrity of the files and file structure of your hard disk. I’ll walk you through it. (A return to the list, this is another commonly-included article in response to a variety of disk-related questions.)
4: How Do I Move the Taskbar Back to the Bottom? – Occasionally, the Windows taskbar can end up on either side (or even the top of) your screen. I’ll show you how to move the taskbar bar back to the bottom. (Taskbar issues almost always make an appearance on this annual list; this article replaces a similar one from last year’s list.)
3: Can I Use a Charger that Provides the Same Voltage but a Different Amperage? – Chargers and power supplies come in a wide variety of configurations. Choosing the right one is important. I’ll look at a few of the parameters. (Up from #4 last year. Chargers, volts, and amps are as confusing as ever.)
2: What’s the Difference between a Hub, a Switch, and a Router? – Hubs, switches, and routers are all computer networking devices with varying capabilities. Unfortunately, the terms are also often misused. (This is the first time in years that this article hasn’t been #1.)
1: Can Everything I Do Online Be Monitored at My Router? – While it’s not typically easy, your internet traffic can be monitored at or near your router. I’ll look at how this might be done. (This is a very hot topic, as this article only appeared in May and even so tops the most-viewed list for the entire year.)
First: the most popular topics remain, by and large, the same. While some articles bubble to the top and others fall down the list, the general topics — networking, taskbars, images, IP addresses and the like — tend to be the same from year to year.
My second observation is the meteoric rise of this year’s #1 article. Clearly people have deep concern about privacy and the ability of others to watch what they’re up to.
10: CCleaner, a Windows Cleaning Tool – CCleaner is a highly-regarded tool for cleaning files, history, cookies, and much more from your computer. It’s particularly helpful in Windows 10. (This year saw questions relating to duplicate files, registry cleaning, and the very short-term hack of the CCleaner download.)
9: What the Equifax Breach Means to You – One of the largest data breaches in history has left many wondering what to do next. (It was one of the biggest news items this year, so it’s no surprise you had a lot of questions and advice about it.)
8: What’s Your Take on Firefox Quantum? – Firefox Quantum is the latest revision of the Firefox web browser. It claims to be faster and less memory-hungry. I tried it. (This late-in-the-year-entry got a lot of comments, mostly from frustrated users whose experience didn’t match mine.)
7: How do I get into my Hotmail/Outlook.com account if I don’t have the recovery phone or email any more? – If you don’t have access to your account recovery phone number or alternate email address, there is a process you can go through to regain access to your account — maybe. (I’m actually close to closing comments on this article, because it’s a good example of people either just venting or not reading the article on which they’re commenting.)
6: Yes, You Should Give Google Your Mobile Number – Google will use your mobile phone number for verification if you lose access to your account. Some people don’t want to provide that information to Google. (Account loss is common, and a mobile number can often get you back in. Many people don’t trust Google and aren’t afraid to say so.)
5: Is There Really A Reason to Hide From Your ISP using a VPN? – I discuss the recent decision by the U.S. Congress to roll back rules relating to privacy and internet service providers, and whether a VPN is really the right solution for most people. (Even more timely with the demise of net neutrality; privacy concerns are a hot topic for many, many people.)
4: Why Do Ads Follow Me Around the Internet? – Advertising networks are quite sophisticated at watching what you’re interested in. It might be a little creepy, but it’s not malware. (Privacy concerns again, this time with the seemingly creepy practice of “remarketing” that has many people concerned.)
3: Is It Time to Start Using an Adblocker? – Advertising on the internet is broken. It might be time to think about adblockers, and supporting your favorite websites in other ways. (Advertising is a controversial topic, and many people took the time to express opinions.)
2: Is a Microsoft Office Subscription Worth It? – Before you dismiss it because it’s a subscription product, take a look and do the math — Microsoft Office 365 might be surprisingly affordable. (The topic of subscriptions is almost as controversial as advertising, even when it might save you money.)
1: To Video? Or Not to Video? – How much value do you receive from Ask Leo! video blogs? You can tell me. (More on this one below.)
If you review the comments across the articles listed above, there’s one thing that’s fairly consistent: a lack of consistency. :-) By that I mean there are many different opinions expressed, and not everyone is in agreement. I see this as a good thing, actually, and hope that the forum for constructive disagreement helps educate commenters and lurkers alike.
Second, it’s hard not to notice the rise of privacy-related issues in the most actively-commented articles. Clearly this is something people not only prioritize, but feel to be under attack more and more.
Finally, and to be completely honest, I’d forgotten about all the great feedback I received on the #1 most commented article. That it tops the list is really no surprise, as I asked for your feedback; you gave that post three times as many comments as #2. The timing is perfect for me as I review and revisit my strategy for the coming year.