As with so many things … it depends.
I’ll review what’s necessary to run Windows 10, and then we’ll examine a couple of alternatives.
As with so many things … it depends.
I’ll review what’s necessary to run Windows 10, and then we’ll examine a couple of alternatives.
External hard drives are a ubiquitous, simple way to provide additional storage or portability (or both) to an existing desktop or laptop computer.
These are the steps I take to ensure my external hard drives remain as useful as possible as long as possible. They break down into three categories: hardware, software, and something so important that it deserves a category of its own.
You can probably guess what that last one is.
The process of printing webpages is more often than not completely broken.
When you try to print a page, you get a confusing jumble of parts of the page, advertisements that overlap the text that is there, text that is way too large or too small, and pages and pages (and pages and pages) of output for a single, simple page.
And many of my Ask Leo! sites are just as guilty as the rest of the web.
The good news, for me at least, is that some are not, and I’m slowly switching to technology that should make things better.
The bad news, for you, however, is that many sites remain broken when it comes to printing. And email remains its own special mess.
There are several different ways to do this.
You can purchase flash drives that have built-in password or PIN protection. They tend to be pricey, but they’re almost perfect for this kind of situation.
Frankly, I don’t recommend them. There are other solutions that are more flexible and less costly.
Microsoft recently made an announcement that as of Windows 10 version 1809, the default for the “Quick removal” setting would be changed.
The pragmatic result is that you should see or need to use “Safely Remove Hardware” less often.
Let’s look at why that is.
Yes. Yes you can.
I do it myself.
But first we have to make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to defining what a NAS is.
I’m assuming by “built-in tracking device” you mean that someone has actually added a hardware device of some sort to your laptop.
Such a device would share all the capabilities of malware — or perhaps even more.
This is a pretty common scenario. Depending on what caused the computer’s demise, there’s a relatively good chance you can retrieve the information off that hard drive.
Of course, if it’s the drive itself that caused the failure, things get a little more interesting.
There are several approaches to this problem. I’ll start with my favorite: not needing to do it at all.
If you have an old (as in pre-digital) television, the answer is that you probably can’t, and if you can, you probably shouldn’t. The results will be … well, I’ll just say less than ideal. Older TVs just weren’t made for the kind of display that our computers expect.
However, if your TV is relatively new — almost any “flat” TV will do — and your computer is also relatively current, you’ll probably be able to do exactly what you have in mind, just like the shows you’re watching on TV.
That’s actually a composite of questions that I get very, very often. Sometimes it applies to only specific applications; other times it applies to the entire machine.
The problem is, it’s a single silent symptom that can come from several sources.
So, let’s run down a bit of a checklist.
My new laptop was capable of holding 32GB (gigabytes) of RAM, but for reasons I didn’t bother to pursue, I could find it only available with 16GB pre-installed.
I didn’t worry about it too much, knowing I could easily upgrade the RAM myself should I find it necessary.
I found it necessary.
16GB worked fine, but it was clear that running virtual machines put a little too much stress on the machine, and RAM was the limiting factor.
While there are alternatives, you’re doing it right; Defraggler is a fine program to use.
The more important question is that, even with “92%” fragmentation, should you even be bothering?
It’s here, I backed up, and I updated, updated, and updated some more.
Well, now it’s time to put my new machine into service. Let’s review some of the software I’ve installed and use every day, as well as what’s been working well. There’s also one thing that falls into the “not so well” category.
As I described in a previous article of this little series, the first thing I do with any brand-new machine is make an image backup. Whether I go to the extreme to back it up prior to Windows Setup running or take an image immediately after Windows setup completes, I want an image as early in the process as I can get it.
Then it’s time to play, knowing that in the worst case, I can restore to that image.
Though I suppose not everyone will call the next steps “play”.
My new laptop is here, and I’m ready to start playing with it.
The first thing I’ll do probably won’t surprise you, but how I do it almost certainly will.
So far, I’ve discussed the equipment I have and what I do with it.
That sets us up for today’s article: distilling that information into requirements, and making decisions of exactly what I should buy. And then, of course, placing the order for my new machine.
As before, my specific situation — what I consider important and what I decide on — will only apply to me, but hopefully, seeing the process I use will be helpful when it’s time to replace your own computer.
It’s one of the most important questions to ask yourself when considering a new computer: what are you going to use it for?
In the previous article, “The Journey to My New Computer: Taking Stock”, I reviewed the computers I use each day and talked about why I’m about to replace three of them. Today, we’ll cover a more important topic: just how I use, and what I do on, those computers.
As I said before, while the specifics will likely not apply to you, the process of evaluating how I use my technology is something you might want to go through yourself someday.
I’ve decided it’s time for a new computer.
My laptop has become unreliable and needs replacing. On top of that, I find myself juggling computers — a desktop, a laptop, and another laptop — more than I suspect I should.
While my decisions are not likely to apply to your situation, I think that my replacement process may be interesting and informative enough to share in a series of articles. Specifically, I’ll take stock of where I am (this article), what I use my technology for, and the questions I ask myself as I decide what to get.
Let’s start with what I have.
Chkdsk is an important and little-understood command-line utility that comes with every version of Microsoft Windows. Its purpose, as its mangled name implies, is to “check” your “disk”.
In order to do its work, Chkdsk needs complete and exclusive access to the disk it’s about to check. If it doesn’t have that, “Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process” is the result.
I’ll look at why, what to do, and what it looks like as it happens.
First, don’t format the drive.
Formatting will erase whatever’s on the hard drive, or at minimum, make it extremely difficult to recover your data.
I do have some suggestions of next steps to take instead.
Drive letters are not assigned at format time, and yes, they can be changed. In fact, it’s quite easy to change them, and I do it all the time.
For every drive except “C:”, that is. “C:” is special.
First, let’s look at the how.
In a word, intelligence.
Hubs, switches, and routers are all devices that let you connect one or more computers to other computers, networked devices, or even other networks. Each has two or more connectors called ports, into which you plug the cables to make the connection.
Varying degrees of magic happen inside the device — and therein lies the difference.
It’s an interesting question. Even more interesting is that the answer may be changing.
We stress how important it is to keep your system software up to date with the latest updates and patches and the like. Even applications frequently self-check and notify you automatically when updates are available.
But what about your BIOS?
Some time ago, when attempting to back up a new Windows 10 laptop, I inserted one of my external USB drives and … nothing. Since then, I’ve heard similar reports from others. If anything, it seems to be getting a little worse in recent months.
Now, to be clear, I don’t have an answer as to why things don’t appear.
But I can tell you what seems to work to make it show up.
Yes — with a couple of caveats, of course.
If it’s not made specifically for your particular computer, getting the right power supply is important, and involves matching voltage, amperage, and polarity.
Each have different constraints.
In most cases, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, I’ve done it myself.
However, there are a few caveats to be aware of.
I frequently recommend you purchase an external hard drive for your backups. Backing up to an external drive is probably the most important first step in getting an overall backup strategy in place.
The inevitable question is, “What external drive should I buy?”
The problem, of course, is that the answer keeps changing. Technology evolves, and as a result, so does my recommendation.
Let me give you a few guidelines, and then a few current (as of this writing) examples.
It’s quite all right, and if things were working well before, you probably won’t notice a difference.
Let’s look at why, and just what that “W” means. I get questions on this topic frequently.
Congratulations! You got a new computer!
Of course you want to jump right in and start using it right now, but if you can hold on a bit, there are a few tasks you might want to do first. When all heck breaks loose later and the machine dies, the software crashes, or you get a massive malware infection, the steps you take now can save you lots of time and grief later.
Every day, people lose data, precious memories, and valuable time because they didn’t take a few simple steps to prepare.
And by far the best time to prepare is at the very beginning.
This is one of those “rules of thumb” that have come into existence in recent years that, in my opinion, is totally overblown.
Sadly, webcam manufacturers are feeding the paranoia by providing easy-to-use lens covers with their products. There’s nothing wrong with that, other than it does increase the apparent need for the practice (and perhaps the price).
Cover the webcam if you must, but you can probably guess what I’m about to say.
ISO files are disk images often used to distribute software. In years past, we burned them to CDs. As the ISOs themselves became larger, we’d burn them to DVDs instead. In either case, we would then boot from the CD or DVD to run whatever the software provided. A good example might be operating system installation DVDs.
More and more machines are coming without optical drives — that is, they don’t have the ability to read a CD or DVD, much less boot from it.
Fortunately, there are tools we can use to take an ISO that contains a bootable image and place it on a USB thumb drive from which you can boot.
A cyclic redundancy check, or “CRC” error, indicates a bad spot on your hard drive. The fact that you see it when trying to copy a file indicates the bad spot may be within the file itself.
We need to verify that, try to recover your file, and repair your hard drive.
Then we need to learn from this.
The issue isn’t as simple as you might think; there’s no single answer to this perennial question.
My answer, naturally, is “It depends.”
There are two issues at play here: the power used by a computer left running 24 hours a day, and the stress on hardware components being repeatedly turned off and on.
Malware known as VPNFilter is infecting routers world-wide. Depending on what you read, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of routers are impacted.
Not all routers are affected, and what steps to take will vary depending on what router you have. The good news appears to be that if you’ve already followed best router safety practices and changed the admin password, your router may well be immune.
The problem? There’s no way to confirm that your router is or is not impacted. What you need to do, if anything, varies depending on the router you have.
Shutting down Windows properly before turning off the power to your computer is important.
Not doing so can result in data loss and corruption as files are left only partially written to disk. But just turning off the switch is unlikely to actually harm your hardware.
Surprisingly, a household or other area-wide power outage turns out to be a completely different, riskier issue.
No, it’s not.
And it’s a common enough point of confusion that I want to clarify exactly what each is and why the difference might matter.
The “Over Temperature” is definitely a clue, and the fan is a definite possibility.
But first we should talk about … dust bunnies.
As we’ve discussed in other articles, machines with Windows 10 installed frequently have multiple partitions. One or more of those partitions is typically labelled as a “recovery partition”.
While in the past you may have seen such partitions assigned a drive letter like D:, there’s no requirement that it always be that letter. In fact, there’s no requirement that it be assigned a drive letter at all.
Recovery partitions not having a drive letter is actually a good thing.
Turning off the device is essentially the same as unplugging it, so the short answer is no, it’s not a safe alternative.
Sometimes, a USB device appears to be in use for no apparent reason and cannot be stopped. I’ll walk through some of the approaches you can take to removing the device while minimizing the risk of data loss.
Spoiler: pulling the plug or turning off the power aren’t on the list.
The short answer is yes, but no.
Yes, you can delete partitions, but no, I would not advise it. As you say, you don’t know what the partitions are, so you don’t know whether or not they’re needed. It’d be a shame to delete one and find out later that this was a serious mistake.
However, if you feel the need, I do have one approach to doing it more or less safely.
I have an older Dell that has been upgraded to Windows 10.
The other night I ran a maintenance tool and turned the computer off and on. When it came back on, the keyboard and mouse were not working. They connect by USB ports. When unplugged and replugged the computer acknowledges they are there. But I am unable to use the cursor or get any response from the keyboard in order to correct any problem.
The mouse works fine when connected to a different computer.
In your infinite wisdom…would you possibly have any ideas for me?
I have a guess as to what happened, and a couple of ideas on what I might do next, were I in your shoes.
This happens too often, and you’d think Windows would have figured out how to handle it by now.
When you print a document, it’s not sent directly to your printer. Instead, it gets placed in a queue. Once in the queue, Windows comes along and notices something needs to be printed, and sends it to the printer.
The problem is that sometimes the queue gets “stuck”, for lack of a better word.
It can be really, really frustrating. It’s also easy to fix.
I’m sorry to say it’s very possible that you are S.O.L.: Severely Out of Luck.
I’ll run down what I suspect is happening, what I would do in your situation, and additional options you might have.
And, of course, I’ll review how you could have prevented this in the first place.
Honestly, that’s a tough situation unless you plan ahead for it.
The good news is that if you can plan ahead, there are several reasonable approaches to getting that machine shut down cleanly.
The article(s) in question predict the USB port’s demise on two things: cloud storage replacing local, physical storage, and smaller mobile devices that leverage the cloud with no ability to connect to external storage devices.
The problem is, they’re absolutely right: much of the technology we take for granted and rely on today will be replaced by something.
The question isn’t whether it will happen; the question is: when?
It’s always frustrating when making things “bigger” makes them smaller instead. As newer displays have much higher resolution than we’ve seen in the past, yours is a very common reaction when people get new machines.
Fortunately, Windows 10 has made this easier to deal with than in previous versions.
When we’re done, icons and text will indeed be bigger, and everything — especially photos — will be crisper and clearer than ever before.
You may damage your computer.
By pulling the plug or forcing a power-off by holding down the power button, you risk corrupting data on your hard drive and damaging hardware.
I’m not sure what kinds of problems you’re having with the power button, but even that needs to be used correctly, or you could end up with the very problems you’re seeing.
What features should I look for on a long lasting hard drive? I know it will fail at some point, and that I should have multiple backups. I grew up in a time when the technology was much more expensive, so I’m not really used to being able to have access to multiple backups. What I’m looking for is how I can determine the expected lifespan of a hard drive.
My friend and I both lost backup drives in the last week, both were 3 years old. Mine was used constantly as a network storage device, hers was used sparingly as a backup drive. We have both given up hope in recovering the data. I do have mine on a few other drives, but not as well consolidated at it was on the drive that died, there is little hope for her photo collection.
I would suppose warranty length and MTBF would be two factors I could determine the lifespan. Also, I know a couple of sites that keep the statistics. I was also wondering if recovery ‘insurance’ would be useful.
I have to start by pointing out that if data was lost when a “backup” drive failed, then it wasn’t really a backup drive; it must have held the one-and-only copy of the files that were lost. As I so often say, if it’s in only one place, it’s not backed up.
I’ve been watching hard drives and hard drive technology for a couple of decades now, and it’s been both amazing and frustrating: amazing in the speed and capacity we now take for granted, and frustrating in that there are certain things we can still never count on.
Like the drives themselves.
The short answer is: yes, it’ll handle it. Mine are typically on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The longer answer, however, is more complex. There are trade-offs to be made when deciding to leave your laptop running all the time.
I wanted to address this for one simple reason: a dead machine that has the only copy of important files is so common.
I’ll look at the two most popular ways to recover your files — a software and a hardware option — but more importantly, I need to make sure everyone learns an important lesson from this situation.