Are backup image files more fragile than just having copies of all the individual files?


I’ve been suffering from some minor disk corruption over the past couple of years. I ran every test I could think of. Eventually it turned out all four sticks of RAM, when used together, caused data corruption, but any two worked fine. I still can’t figure that out, but anyway, it’s replaced now and works fine.

However I now have some corrupt files, including some Macrium reflect disk images. Fortunately even if the backup is corrupt you can still browse it to get individual files out, but you can’t restore the whole backup.

So my concern is that if you have one huge backup image (which for me could be 2TB+) or even one logical backup file split into say 1GB chunks it’s relatively easily to corrupt that single file/backup set. If each file (or folder, or some subset) is backed up individually corruption is likely to take out a small subset of your backups, not the whole backup.

Interested to hear your thoughts on this, and if you know any programs that can do something along these lines.

Actually I have several thoughts, but I’ll answer your last question first: no, I’m not aware of a backup program that works as you’ve outlined.

Your line of reasoning isn’t at all new; I get comments similar to this relatively often. Nor is the concept limited to just backups, believe it or not.

There are reasons individual file backups can be useful.  However, while I could be wrong, I don’t think the solution you’re proposing actually solves the problem you think it does.

Read moreAre backup image files more fragile than just having copies of all the individual files?

Do You Back Up?

This past month I’ve focused a little more specifically on backups. Not that every month isn’t “backup month” here at Ask Leo!, but at the risk of over-saturating you with backup-related information, I elected to try and run with a little bit of a theme.

Today, I want to explain why.

I’ve been running a little survey, and the results are not encouraging.

Read moreDo You Back Up?

What’s an Incremental Backup?

I have a mental ‘block’ on backing up which unnerves my approach to it. I have managed one full backup (32gb) on an external hard drive. I have just read your article on maintenance but do not understand what is meant by “incremental backup”. Does it simply ‘update’ or overwrite the existing backup or does it create something else that only contains whatever is new since the previous backup? I think the latter is what I would prefer.

What you prefer is, indeed, what it is.

There are actually typically three different types of backups: full, incremental, and differential. Understanding which is which, and how they should be used is pretty important to making sure you’re appropriately backed up, while not simultaneously eating up disk space at an exorbitant rate.

Read moreWhat’s an Incremental Backup?

How Do I Create a New Machine Image?

I have a new machine, but I wasn’t able to get true installation media, only recovery disks. I’ve heard you say that instead, I should make a backup image of my new machine as soon as I possibly can, so that I always have that to fall back on if I need to start over. Great. But, how do I create a new machine image?

Installation media – true installation media – appears to be a thing of the past.

It used to be that you would get an actual CD or DVD of the operating system with each new machine. Then it became an extra-cost option. Then it became an on-request-only option.

Now it appears to no longer be an option at all – at least not when you purchase your machine.

The alternative, then, is to create a new machine image as soon as you get your machine.

I’ll show you how.

Read moreHow Do I Create a New Machine Image?

How do I make an Outlook PST file smaller?

My Outlook PST file is huge! It takes forever to back up, and is just generally incredibly unwieldy. How can I make it smaller?

Outlook PST files are Outlook’s repositories for email, contacts, calendar information, and much more. (Not to be confused with or Outlook Express – those are completely different and unrelated products.)

Outlook PST files can become very, very large if you’re not paying attention, and practical considerations like speed and backups often make us want to control the size well before reaching that stage.

Read moreHow do I make an Outlook PST file smaller?

Should I back up to DVDs?

I get variations of this question all the time. I also get questions about backing up in general where folks are backing up to DVDs.

This is also one of those questions where the answer has changed over time. What was once a reasonable and common practice is now something that at best is impractical, and at worst a disaster waiting to happen.

The short answer: heck no! You should not back up to DVDs.

The longer answer has several reasons behind it.

Read moreShould I back up to DVDs?

Four Important Rules to Safely Use Cloud Storage as Cloud Backup

I now have 1 TB of Microsoft OneDrive storage. How should that affect my backup strategy? Most of my data files are now on OneDrive; do those need to be backed up? Can I use OneDrive space as my “external hard drive” for backups of my other files? How about for image backups? Can/Should Macrium Reflect put a system image onto OneDrive? Other advice re wise and safe use of cloud storage?

The availability of lots of cloud storage services has greatly expanded our options for keeping our data both safe and accessible.

While it’s expanded our ability to establish cloud backup options, it’s also greatly expanded our ability to get it wrong. It’s now very easy to think you are backed up when you are not, or to inadvertently expose yourself to additional risks.

Let’s review some rules about backing up, and about cloud backup specifically.

Read moreFour Important Rules to Safely Use Cloud Storage as Cloud Backup

Is Excel 2003 a Security Threat?


If I am using appropriate anti-malware software how can using Excel 2003 be a threat? I have heard that opening that program can allow threats to come into the computer if you are connected to the internet since support is over for MS Office 2003. Yet, it would seem to me that good anti-malware tools would catch and remove any threats ….. if indeed there are any.

Why do I ask? It is because I love Excel 2003. There are things I love about Excel 2003 and especially when building initial spreadsheets, I would prefer to use that version.

Just wondering if the threats are real and wondering if it really hurts to have MS Office 2003 installed on the computer and if it really hurts anything to use Excel 2003.

There are two very important issues raised by your question:

  1. Is Microsoft Excel 2003, or any Office 2003 application, a security risk simply because support for it has ended?
  2. Wouldn’t anti-malware tools catch anything anyway?

The answers might surprise you.

Read moreIs Excel 2003 a Security Threat?

How can I manage a lot of scanned documents?

Managing scanned documents. I’ve been using Visionere scanners and Paperport since version 1, and ever since Nuance took over the software, well, it’s been a disaster. Version 11 crashes multiple times for no apparent reason. The worst part is that I can’t find any comparable program to replace it that can do everything it can do. I end up living with it but it’s really frustrating. What do you do?

My document management approach has changed over the years. I used to, very carefully and manually, scan documents, name files, put them in organized folders and so on. I don’t do anything like that anymore.

Read moreHow can I manage a lot of scanned documents?

What Repair Discs Do I Need?

Another computer advice newsletter I subscribe to just had a big piece on emergency repair discs and it got me wondering whether I need a Windows 7 repair disc and a Macrium emergency disc. Do they do the same things or are they different?

This gets really confusing very quickly. The problem is that there are several different types of discs that do several types of things, and yet they can all be called emergency repair discs or rescue discs.

Let’s see how many I can think of.

Read moreWhat Repair Discs Do I Need?

Will Backing Up My Computer Back Up My Email?


I’m currently preparing to back up my computer for the first time and I’m unsure of the answer to the following question. If I do either a system image or a regular backup of my Windows 7 computer, will my Outlook emails also be included in the backup or do I have to first back up the emails to a PST file; do the backup and then import the emails back if I ever need to restore the system? In checking the Microsoft site and two other searches, the only answers I find are “…..will backup all files, programs, etc….” and no mention about emails. I hate to assume that the emails will be backed up only to find that they aren’t after spending the time to do it.

This is an awesome question and the answer’s actually somewhat frustrating.

Your email may or may not be backed up! It really depends on exactly where your email lives. Once we know that, then we can make some more helpful statements.

Read moreWill Backing Up My Computer Back Up My Email?

How do I protect the files on a portable hard drive?


Leo, I’m running Windows 7 with Microsoft Security Essentials. Five months ago I bought a Samsung portable external hard drive. It’s come to my notice that these removable media drives can become very vulnerable to virus and bugs affecting them. I’m extremely worried about this. My portable drive is about 1/3 full of video movies and flv and mp4 file types. I have hundreds of movies stored. I want to guarantee that they will remain safe and preserved for hopefully many decades to come. If a virus attacks these portable hard drives then they can shut down. I think one starts getting messages like this drive is not formatted. I want to be ahead of such problems and do all that I can to be sure that no harm comes to my files in the long-term. What can be done to insure longevity and safety to the drive and its contents?

I have some very specific ideas for you, but I also want to clear up a couple of very important misconceptions.

Read moreHow do I protect the files on a portable hard drive?

Why do you prefer Macrium Reflect over Windows 7’s backup program?

Is Macrium Reflect superior to the disk imaging utility included with a 32-bit version of Windows 7? And if so, in what regard?

To begin with, I wouldn’t call Windows 7’s backup program a disk imaging program exactly. Yes, it can create what we would call an image backup. But the term “disk imaging utility” really implies, to me, a lot more functionality than the Windows 7 backup program actually has.

While the Windows 7 backup program is perhaps the first utility built into Windows that meets what I consider the bare minimum necessary for a backup program, I definitely prefer solutions like Reflect.

Read moreWhy do you prefer Macrium Reflect over Windows 7’s backup program?

Is OpenOffice a Viable Alternative to Microsoft Office?

I was thinking about purchasing Microsoft Word, which I had on my last computer. I need it occasionally to make lists, etc. I think it costs around $100 or perhaps even less. I don’t need Office, etc., just Word. I happened to read this article on freebies and it mentioned something called Open Office. So, I need your suggestion. Is this something I should download or am I better off purchasing Word? I assume that Open Office works the same as Word.

Open Office, now more formally Apache Open Office, and the very similar Libre Office, can be an effective alternative to Microsoft Word and even some other Microsoft Office applications.

Whether or not it’s a solution that works for you depends on which applications you use, how you use them, and most importantly, with whom you might share your documents.

Read moreIs OpenOffice a Viable Alternative to Microsoft Office?

Is an external hard drive better for backing up than DVDs?

Hi, Leo. A little less than two years ago I bought a new Acer Aspire laptop with Windows 7 Home Premium with a 320 GB hard drive. I currently backup weekly to a DVD and it shows currently 1120 files are backed up. When I bought this laptop, they included a Mukii TIP-230SU-BK external hard drive that plugs into a USB port. The info on the box says it’s compatible with any 2.5 inch SATA hard drive. Would this unit, assuming it works correctly, be better for an external backup than the DVDs I’m now using?

My short answer is yes. I now always recommend using an external drive over backing up to DVD for an assortment of reasons.

But first, we really need to figure out just exactly what it is you have.

Read moreIs an external hard drive better for backing up than DVDs?

Can I just keep making incremental backups after I’ve made a full image backup?

Leo, I’m using a shareware backup utility called AISL backup, which seems similar to Macrium Reflect that you recommend. Here’s the question. I made a disk image backup and every day I add an incremental backup. I’ve been doing this for about a year and so now have 300 plus files in the backup. Can I keep doing this? Or is it bad practice? I notice that somewhere you can recommended a full image backup once a week and an incremental in-between.

Nope, it’s not practical and to be blunt, it’s downright dangerous.

Let me explain why that is and what I recommend you do instead.

Read moreCan I just keep making incremental backups after I’ve made a full image backup?

Can my image backup of Windows XP be used on my Windows 8 computer?

Leo, I followed your advice and have been doing system backups with Macrium Reflect in Windows XP. My current 8-year-old Dell Desktop computer is showing signs of failing and I will probably have to replace it soon. Maybe concurrently with the April loss of support of Windows XP. Can the XP backup be used on the Windows 8 computer?

First of all, good on you for backing up. Like I’ve told many people, that puts you ahead of something like 90% of the people out there, so that’s fantastic. I love to see people using backup tools and backing up regularly.

Now to the question of whether you can use your Windows XP backup on Windows 8.

Kind of. Maybe. It depends on how you expect to use it.

Read moreCan my image backup of Windows XP be used on my Windows 8 computer?

Is application-provided encryption secure?


Hi, Leo. I searched your site and several other websites but could not find the exact explanation that I’m looking for. I’ve been keeping all of my personal financial information and website passwords in an Open Office spreadsheet that is saved with a long, complex password. From what I’ve been reading from your site and others, that spreadsheet is maybe not a secure as I think it is.

My question is – can anyone using sophisticated hacking software see the data in my file without breaking the password? In other words, if I have a relatively complicated password, shouldn’t I trust that as being secure? I find it very convenient to copy and paste login information from my spreadsheet. However, if I someday lose my portable backup drive or it’s stolen or if someone breaks into my home when I’m away, then could someone easily see the data in my password protected spreadsheet file? I assume, of course, part of this equation is how sophisticated the potential thief is and how much of a target I am perceived to be?

There’s a part of me that really wants to say that you’re safe.

In general, I’m not a big fan of using spreadsheets for passwords, but I know a lot of people do for saving that kind of information. And with a complex and lengthy password like you’ve said you’re using, in general, it should be safe to use a password-protected spreadsheet in a utility like Open Office, Microsoft Office, or any of a number of other applications that provide password protection for their documents.

want to say that is safe.

Unfortunately, history does not really bear that out too well.

Read moreIs application-provided encryption secure?

If External Hard Drives Can Fail, Should I Bother with One?

I’ve been told that an external hard drive can still be corrupted after you transfer files, pictures, whatever. Should I still purchase an external hard drive or get a subscription to a good online service?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Everything can fail, including the online service. Backing up isn’t as much about which backup technology you choose as it is about having multiple copies.

Read moreIf External Hard Drives Can Fail, Should I Bother with One?

What’s in your toolkit?

I was recently asked where one gets a toolkit. That was about as clear and complete as the question was. I suspect that it was actually a student in some computer technician certification class who was asking.

My response: a toolkit isn’t something that you just find or purchase. It’s something that most computer geeks collect and assemble themselves, often over time, consisting of an assortment of tools and utilities that they’ve found helpful in the past.

As I’m about to go visit a friend with computer troubles, let me show you mine.

Read moreWhat’s in your toolkit?

How do I restore my backup to a new machine?


My wife’s PC, which was running Vista, died. Fortunately, we have a backup hard drive. We’re replacing our old computer with a new machine running Windows 7. Can we do a complete restore using the new machine? Or will that overwrite Windows 7 as the operating system? How do we restore all of her content including the applications that were on the old machine? Do we just copy folders? Sorry, but I’m a Mac guy and I know very little about PCs.

There are several approaches to restoring what you have from a backup. Unfortunately, when you’re restoring to a new machine,  things aren’t nearly as clean as you might want them to be.

Read moreHow do I restore my backup to a new machine?

Do I need all these Office 2007 updates if I also have Office 2010?


I’m running Windows 7 Home, 64-bit, SP1 on an HP laptop. Originally, I had Office 2007 Professional installed. I subsequently bought and installed a standalone copy of Outlook 2010. Later, I bought and installed a copy of Office Home and Student 2010. I did not uninstall Office 2007 because I wanted to retain the ability to use Publisher 2007. Now, when I run Windows Update, it wants me to install all of the updates for both 2007 and Office 2010. Why would I want to install updates to Word or Excel or PowerPoint or Outlook 2007 or install 2007’s huge SP3? Should I?

Yes, you want to take that update. If you have parts of Office 2007 on your machine and you have Office 2010 on your machine, then you want all of the updates for all of the software that’s installed on your machine. It’s more than just minor improvements and whatnot; it really is all about security.

Read moreDo I need all these Office 2007 updates if I also have Office 2010?

Why can’t I restore my AppData folder from a backup?

Fortunately, I have heeded your advice, Leo, and have backed up my C drive on to an external drive. Shortly thereafter, I developed serious problems and decided that the best way out was to format my C drive and reinstall Vista. I’ve tried to make sense of the restored files and folders. I tried restoring the AppData folder requesting that it be restored to the original location, but all of my old emails do not appear in my new email folders as expected. Any advice you can give me would be very much appreciated.

Well, I hate to say it, but the approach that you’re taking is not really how this is designed to work.

Read moreWhy can’t I restore my AppData folder from a backup?

If I Use a Cloud Sync Program to Back Up, Won’t Accidental Deletions Delete the Backup?

You recommended backing up with online programs including Skydrive, Google Drive, etc. but these sync all the computers on the system. Can you not then lose files that get accidentally deleted? I used to back up my copy to another networked computer, but fear that now I may lose info on all of them if something does me in on one. I didn’t notice any discussion of this in Backing Up: 101. I’ve been following your newsletter for years and appreciate it. I only wish I had time to read more.

You are correct. With the way that your backup is set up, you could lose files, but there are a couple of safety nets and at least one clarification.

To begin with, when you use a file syncing or cloud-based file-sharing service like Google Drive, Dropbox, or SkyDrive, you need to remember that they should be part of an overall backup strategy.

Read moreIf I Use a Cloud Sync Program to Back Up, Won’t Accidental Deletions Delete the Backup?

Will Malware Infect the Backups on My Connected Backup Drives as Well?

You stated elsewhere that typically backup images are not compromised by malware. Is this because the malware works by searching for specific file types and the backup file types aren’t in the list? As I understand it from your articles on encryption, a complete disk could be encrypted rather than only some of the content. Could an external drive being used for backup storage be so encrypted by malware?

Typically, backup images and drives are not affected by malware. I have to say “typically” because things can happen, but it’s just not very common.

Read moreWill Malware Infect the Backups on My Connected Backup Drives as Well?

How Can I Back Up My Data More or Less Continuously?

How can I backup my work on a running basis throughout the day so that I don’t lose hours of work through hardware failure or accidental deletion? A friend lost his presentation yesterday while amending it an hour before delivery because of a thumb drive failure. I sometimes accidentally delete parts of my work during the day and have to do them again. My solution is to intermittently save to a file name with “PROTECT” added as the name and on a different drive; but this is clunky, takes time, and is unreliable because it depends on me remembering to do it. Are there automatic options to achieve this purpose?

I feel your friend’s pain. Anybody that has used a computer for any length of time, particularly in business or when giving presentations, has been in his shoes.

Let’s talk about some ways to avoid a repeat.

Read moreHow Can I Back Up My Data More or Less Continuously?

Where is my Outlook “PST” file located?

I need to backup or make a copy of my mail folders in Outlook, which as you know are stored in something called a “PST” file. I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find it. Where does Outlook hide my email? Where does Outlook keep my PST file? 

PST stands for “Personal STore” – as in your personal mail storage. PST files are actually fairly complex databases that contain your mail, your calendar, your contacts, and even more when you use Microsoft Office’s Outlook mail program. (Not to be confused with, the online mail service from Microsoft, which is completely unrelated.)

The default location has changed a time or two over the years. Of course, there’s always a chance that your PST is stored in some other, non-default location.

Rather than telling you where the default location is, let’s use Outlook itself to tell you the exact path of your PST file and then use Windows itself to do the same.

Read moreWhere is my Outlook “PST” file located?

Can I backup one computer to another?

I checked your information on backing up, but I didn’t see anything with regards to how you physically connect one machine to another. Do you use a cable or is it done over a network? I tried using a cable for one desktop to my laptop, but I couldn’t see the other machine’s drives on my laptop. Both machines use Windows 7. I have EaseUs ToDo for the software that I’m using. I’m willing to try whatever you suggest.

There are a couple of ways to do what you’re suggesting. I’ll recommend something to you that I do, but for most folks, I suggest something else first.

Read moreCan I backup one computer to another?

Can I use backup software to move programs?

Hi. I’m thinking of buying some backup software. Can you give me some advice please? I use a PC tune-up from AVG and it wiped everything from my computer. Fortunately, it has an option to reinstall deleted files, so I was okay. That’s why I started to research the subject, so it wouldn’t happen again. That’s also how I came across your site. I’m using Windows 7 Premium and I have many programs that I use daily to manage my website (apart from other things). I have an external disk drive, but I don’t use it. I’m thinking of buying a new computer in the near future, which will have Windows 8 installed. I want to be able to move programs from one computer to another without losing the data within them. Can I do this or not using imaging software?

When it comes to imaging or backup software, I recommend Macrium Reflect. Ideally, you should be using this (or any kind of backup software) already, if for no other reason than to back up your files.

In regards to your question, however, you need to remember that backing up and moving programs are two different things. I’ll explain why that’s important.

Read moreCan I use backup software to move programs?

Will backups run if my PC asks for a password?

Leo, I’m a bit confused. If I schedule a backup for say 1:00 am, must I leave my machine on? When I leave my machine on and unattended, then after about 15 minutes, the machine comes to a place where it needs my password to resume in Windows 7. Will this not prevent Macrium from performing a backup? Also if I backup to DVDs, I will need to be up at 1:00 am to swap out discs. Do you know where I go in Windows to disengage the password for my machine?

Some of the things that you ask about will definitely affect your ability to run your backups in the middle of the night – and some of them won’t.

Read moreWill backups run if my PC asks for a password?

Why does my computer crash when I try to back up?

My husband keeps telling me that I need to backup my computer so that we don’t lose our photos or files from my home business. A couple of years ago, we spent $100 to buy an external hard drive. We used it, but it would freeze my computer. It would literally take a day or two before we could get the machine to work again. We contacted the company and they sent out a different software download. We tried for a year to get that blasted external hard drive to work. My computer would shut down within five minutes of plugging it in.

We bought a new computer and tried the same external hard drive with the same results. We then purchased a program from my husband’s college called Crash Plan. The same result as the hard drive happened. We uninstalled the program. Last week, my husband again pleaded to me to have me backup my files. We purchased a plan for $50 through iDrive. It actually started to backup files – good progress! 50 hours later, we were only at 25%. My computer was hot to the touch and the fan was running so loud that you could hear it upstairs. We paused the program just to let the computer rest. We let it rest for two days. I turned it on this morning and it froze three times within the hour. Even Ctrl + Alt + Delete wouldn’t work. Why will my computer not back up files? There honestly has to be a better way.

Backing up shouldn’t be this hard. All of the things that you’ve tried should work.

Your computer shouldn’t crash after you plug in an external hard drive or run a backup. Technically, a computer should never crash. The only thing that has me puzzled here is that the crash happened on two different computers.

So, let’s talk about what could be going on here.

Read moreWhy does my computer crash when I try to back up?

If it’s All Digital, Won’t You Lose it Anyway?

I had a thought about everything being digital: is there a chance that important information can be lost? From important and historical information to irreplaceable pictures, etc. I was holding a picture of me from 1980 (yes, genuine film). Had there been digital scanners and fast enough computers back then, the 5¼-inch disk would be unreadable by today’s drives. The disk would probably have errors, if you could find a used hard drive to even read it for your precious memories. Never mind historians, scholars, and the young storing all of their Facebook information in the Cloud only. I use external media and more than one type. I don’t know anyone who backs up a single thing, no matter how many speeches I give them.

Yes, it’s true. In fact, I hear about it pretty much every day: digital information can be lost quite easily.

But that’s not an indictment of digital technology at all. In fact, digital data opens up more possibilities for data retention than it closes.

Read moreIf it’s All Digital, Won’t You Lose it Anyway?

Archiving – What it is and why you need to start

As we use digital technology, we’re continually accumulating digital “stuff”: we take pictures, write documents, record videos, purchase music, acquire software, and much much more.

All of this digital data is either accumulating on our systems, or worse: getting lost.

In the past, we’ve had a very clear concept of how we could store the physical counterparts to today’s data. They were visible and we could move them about as our needs dictated: place them on a shelf next to the TV or store them in a box in the attic.

Digital data requires that we think a little differently about storage.

I want to introduce you to archiving.

To begin with, it’s important to realize that archiving is not the same as backing up. Not at all.

Read moreArchiving – What it is and why you need to start

How Do I Recover My Data from a Crashed Computer?

My screen displays a blue screen error message and won’t allow Windows to start. How do I retrieve my files and save them before I reinstall Windows?

Reinstalling Windows is going to overwrite everything that’s already on that hard drive and you would lose it all. There are some alternatives.

Before I begin, I first have to wag my finger at you. Regular readers of Ask Leo! probably already know what I’m going to say.

Read moreHow Do I Recover My Data from a Crashed Computer?

Is cloning to a second internal drive a viable backup strategy?

Leo, I’ve reformatted my PC several times in the past which is a real pain. Since then, I’ve done things a little different. Now, I just use another internal hard drive hooked up via USB adapter to clone my present hard drive. It takes less than an hour to do so and I do this every six months using flash drives in-between to save anything new. It seems to work well for me. Can you think of problems that may occur from doing this sort of backup?

Backing up puts you ahead of the game. You’re doing more than probably half of the people out there today.

Cloning your hard drive is a reasonable solution, but personally, I’m not comfortable with it because you can run into a few “gotchas” every now and then.

Read moreIs cloning to a second internal drive a viable backup strategy?

Does Restoring Windows 7 from a Backup also Restore XP Mode?

I run Windows XP mode, which is Windows virtual PC on my Windows 7 Pro PC. Now I also use Macrium Reflect to backup Windows 7. Does restoring the Macrium image also restore the Windows XP mode? Or do I have to use an image program in XP mode to create an image and then restore that image in XP?

First, let me congratulate you for backing up. Understand that having a backup, doing it regularly, and even being able to ask this question puts you miles ahead of all the other people who run into problems when they fail to backup their computer.

As for your question, the short answer is you don’t need to do anything extra.

Read moreDoes Restoring Windows 7 from a Backup also Restore XP Mode?

Why is Java telling me it’s not installed when it is?

I listened to the hoopla that if you had Java, you were inviting trouble and to uninstall it until they fixed the cracks. So I did. I had Revo Uninstaller and I used it and then I uninstalled Java setup and afterwards, I did a search and nothing was found. I waited a week or so and then I heard that they fixed it so I installed it right from Opera. Everything went as expected. I had to uninstall it about six months ago and installed it the same way. Afterwards, a window came up and said that it was installed and I should see a test object. I saw it and was told that Java was installed. I went to one of my games and it failed to boot. I was told that Java wasn’t installed. I checked programs and saw the icon. I rechecked my game and it told me that Java wasn’t installed. I checked many of my games and was told the same thing by all of them. So I reinstalled it. Everything installed the same and at the end, I was told that Java was installed. I tried a game and was told again that Java was not installed. So here I am stuck. How can I install Java so that it works on my computer?

For a while, Java had some security issues. As you noted, they were fixed… but not really. In fact, I still recommend avoiding Java, if possible. Uninstalling Java is the safest situation to be in; I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

But, I agree. Java can be a tad confusing because there are several parts to it.

Read moreWhy is Java telling me it’s not installed when it is?

Is it better to use incremental or differential backups?

Hi Leo. In January, I made a full image backup of my computer using Macrium Standard and scheduled a nightly differential backup. I chose differential over incremental as it’s easier to restore using the full image plus the most recent differential rather than restoring the full image and every subsequent incremental. To make sure I retain enough disk space for backups on my external drive,  I delete all the differentials every 10 days except for the last two. Based on this scenario: 1) Would there be any advantage to making monthly full image backups as you suggest rather than just sticking with my January image? 2) Would there be any advantage in using incrementals instead of differentials? 3) It’s now June and I am a happy camper! Is there any reason I shouldn’t be?

Well, first let me start with the last question first. Nope, you’re in great shape!

I’m thrilled that you’re backing up. You’ve clearly put some thought into this, and I don’t have any serious issues with the approach that you’re taking. If you’re comfortable with what you’re doing, I probably wouldn’t have you change anything.

But if there were something that I’d recommend that you change, it’d be taking a new full backup probably once a month or so. Why? That gets a little harder for me to explain.

Read moreIs it better to use incremental or differential backups?

Should I back up if my machine is infected?

I try to be careful about opening my email, but there’s a hacker out there who has the names in my address book. He or she sends out emails that look like they come from people I know. Their email address doesn’t show up, so I can see the address is not correct, but some made up address. The title is something like “Look here” and the message is “Hello, excellent website!” with a name of the website. I opened it thinking that the email was from my son. I got two of these kinds of emails and one after the other before I got suspicious and realized that I’d been hacked. So far, nothing bad has happened. Now I’m afraid to do a backup because it might mean the importation of the virus into my external backup drive. Is my thinking about this correct?

It is and it isn’t.

When people think their machine is infected, I typically tell people to backup that machine. Yes, you are backing up a possible infection, but that’s actually okay. You’re never going to actually restore that infection simply because you know that it’s there.

So why backup?

Let’s walk through the scenario.

Read moreShould I back up if my machine is infected?

How do I backup multiple partitions?

I’m backing up a multi-partitioned hard drive. When making the image backup, can I make one of all of the partitions in one image or do I need to make multiple images? To restore the backup on a new drive, do I use the image disk to boot up my computer and copy everything to a new blank unpartitioned hard drive? Is it that simple? Or do I need to install other significant things like Windows or drivers and so forth? I really don’t know. I’ve been told that if I clone my hard drive with Windows XP and if I need to replace my machine, the cloned drive will not work. If I clone with Windows 7 and on a cloned hard drive, it will work on a new machine. Is this true?

We’ve got several really good fundamental and common questions about backup.

Let’s look at each.

Read moreHow do I backup multiple partitions?

Uninstalling Software You Don’t Need

It’s not at all uncommon for a computer to accumulate quite a collection of software over time. Applications, utilities, Windows features, and who knows what else all accumulate over time to take up space and resources from our machines.

It’s also not uncommon for much of the software installed on our machine to go unused and unneeded. Perhaps we stopped using a specific application. Perhaps a trial version of some software remains. Perhaps some software was installed as part of some other installation.

The bottom line is that there are things we can uninstall.

There are two places we need to look.

Read moreUninstalling Software You Don’t Need

How do I extract and identify the music in a Powerpoint presentation?

I’ve received a PowerPoint presentation with music attached. I’d like to 1) rip the music and be able to save it to a different name and 2) I’d like to be able to identify the artist. My operating system is Windows 7 and this is PowerPoint 2010.

You may not be able to grab the audio out of the PowerPoint file, but I can show you one way to try.

As for identifying the music, there’s an app for that.

Read moreHow do I extract and identify the music in a Powerpoint presentation?

Can I Just Run Macrium and Do a Restore?

I have one technical question before I try running a backup using Macrium, the free version. Would it be possible to just open this program and go to restore and then run a previous image backup into the PC? Would this restore action, without first reformatting the C: drive, overwrite everything on the hard drive and practically set up the PC the way it was on that backup? The reason for this maneuver is to preserve all kinds of programs obtained (mostly free) and without the possibility of installing them individually again and having them activated again?

To start with, I’m a little concerned about your question. I suspect that some of your assumptions about creating and using an image backup may not be entirely correct.

Let’s start with something that might sound obvious, but I have to be super clear about it.

To restore a back up, you must already have made a backup of your machine. In your case, I assume that you already downloaded Macrium’s free version, installed it, and took a full image backup of your machine.

Now, if that’s the case, what you want to do is possible, if you restore in a certain way.

Read moreCan I Just Run Macrium and Do a Restore?