Will an external drive left plugged in be damaged if there’s a power surge?

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My main worry about leaving an external drive on all the time is that in my experience, a major cause of damage to hard drives is a power cut or surge. If both internal/external drives are switched on, both might be destroyed. What do you think?

You’re right. Surges happen and they can destroy drives. But personally, I leave my external drives plugged in all the time.

There are a few things to be aware of before doing that.

Read moreWill an external drive left plugged in be damaged if there’s a power surge?

Will adding an “s” to http make my connection secure?

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I’m using a website to confirm a rental and they require some personal information. I’m pretty confident in the company. I noticed the page for this added info was only an http site – no “s.” To see what would happen, I typed an “s” after the http, pressed Enter, and the page flickered like it was reloading, but there it was – same page but now with an https. Did this work? Could it really be that easy to get a secure page? Or did my browser just fool me? I tried an F5 refresh and the https remained. What do you think? Am I safe and secure now?

Adding an s to the http to make it secure is interesting. It’s tempting to see what will happen when you try it. But even when it works, I have some concerns.

Read moreWill adding an “s” to http make my connection secure?

Why are applications and operating systems hiding so much these days?

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What’s with hiding things in today’s world? Chrome, now Firefox, IE, and almost all of Windows 8! Talk about wanting to see everything – we’re going backwards. It took me a long time to figure out how to do a simple restart in Windows 8 and I consider myself at an advanced level of computer knowledge.

Windows 8 really brought this home for many people, but it’s true for most applications, web services, and other operating systems as well.

I won’t say that they always get it right, but I understand why they’re doing it.

Read moreWhy are applications and operating systems hiding so much these days?

Why don’t all USB chargers work on all USB devices?

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I guess I don’t really get USB charging especially with our Apple devices. My little mind says that five volts is five volts; apparently, some five volts are different than other five volts. We have more Apple devices in our house than an Apple store. OK, maybe not quite, but for convenience, I’ve bought a number of third-party USB charging devices, including those little cube shaped USB chargers. What blows my mind is that some devices work on some chargers, but others won’t work on the same chargers. “Charging is not supported with this accessory” is a frequent message. There seems to be no logical pattern to this. Initially, I thought it was related to the change in charging that Apple did a few years ago when they dropped support for 12-volt stuff. I think that was around 2007, but all of our devices are newer than that except my trusted iPod video 5G; that charges on almost all of the USB chargers that I’ve bought. Why is five volts not five volts?

To begin, five volts is five volts. That’s an absolute measurement.

But there is more to it than that, as you might imagine.

Let’s look at it in more detail.

Read moreWhy don’t all USB chargers work on all USB devices?

Can I use backup software to move programs?

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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?

Why Do I Keep Getting Certificate Errors from My School’s Website?

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I’m getting “Internet Explorer blocked this website from displaying content with security certificate errors.” I get this on all of my community college web pages. It pops up every time I go to do something different for school: check my school mail, upload my homework, etc. It’s driving me nuts. I’ve tried changing the date and time and I lowered my security settings to an unhealthy level and nothing is working. Every time I log into the school website, that blasted thing pops up and it doesn’t have any options; just a button that shows content you can click or the “X” button. This happens on every PC in my house: 4 laptops; 2 desktops, all different brands but they all have Windows 8. I’ve clicked the “show content” thinking it would be the end of it, but within a few minutes, it’s back up there again. I’ve tried clicking the “x” button just to close it and then a few minutes, it’s back. I never get the message when I’m at school working on the school computers.

To begin with, there should be a link or an option on that error page that would give you more information about what the error with the security certificate is. Without that, it’s actually very difficult for me to take a guess at exactly what’s happening.

Read moreWhy Do I Keep Getting Certificate Errors from My School’s Website?

Would it be worthwhile to upgrade my RAM?

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Hi Leo. I know that in the past you said that increasing the RAM on your machine is probably the first thing that you would do to increase performance. But I’m wondering: These days, when machines come with generous amounts of RAM already installed, if that would still be your advice? I have an HP computer that came with 8 GB of RAM, but it will take 16 if I sacrifice the two 4 GB wafers. Do you think this would be worthwhile? I’ve already optimized the machine by fitting a Solid State Drive and this has made a big difference in performance. A RAM upgrade seems the other obvious thing to do.

Machines are definitely coming with more RAM these days. Prices dropped, so increasing RAM became very feasible for manufacturers to do.

So, let’s talk about RAM.

Read moreWould it be worthwhile to upgrade my RAM?