Does deleting things really delete things?

//
When I use the Chrome “tools and settings” for deletion of my browsing history and emptying of the cache, does that permanently delete those items, or can they be retrieved later if desired? With all the notoriety regarding legal discovery and request for production of emails and texts is there a way to permanently delete emails and texts from a PC so that they cannot be recovered or reconstructed by a PC expert?

It’s a well-known fact that deleting things on your computer usually doesn’t really completely destroy them. So there is definitely some risk in the scenarios that you describe.

Let’s look at each of them.

Read moreDoes deleting things really delete things?

How can I get my lost Hotmail emails back?

//
My old emails have disappeared from my Hotmail/Outlook.com account. I’ve logged into the account on a weekly basis so I know that isn’t the issue. I searched old emails and they’re just gone; anything past 2013 emails are gone which I need to have. What can be done? When I found out and panicked I searched links and saw a link without reading carefully about Hotmail help. It turned out that it was not Hotmail but a company called [company redacted]; they took over my computer remotely before I realized they were not directly associated with Microsoft. Are they legit? Do they do further damage?

Keeping anything critically important in only a free email account like Hotmail is unfortunately a recipe for disaster.

I want to go over how you might have been better prepared for this. I’ll touch on what you might do to get your email back (but to be honest, I’m not very hopeful) and I’ll talk about the service that you let access your machine.

Read moreHow can I get my lost Hotmail emails back?

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?

Should I cover my webcam when not in use?

//
Hello, Leo. Tonight on Dutch TV news, there was a warning that hackers can use your webcam although you do not actually use the camera yourself. It’s recommended that the lens should be blinded by means of a sticker or something similar. What’s your opinion on this?

My opinion is that this is another case of everybody getting all excited about one very specific issue.

The problem here is really much, much larger and a lot less newsworthy than getting everyone excited about their webcam. It’s essentially sensationalistic journalism.

You can cover your lens if you want to, but that really, really misses the point.

Read moreShould I cover my webcam when not in use?

Can My Company See My Personal Email?

//
I recently started to work at a small company – about fifteen people with no internal HR or IT department and I was requested to use my personal email account for work because my work email account was not yet ready. Although I’ve only sent work related emails on my personal account thus far (it’s been two days) and I intend to refrain from personal correspondence on my personal account (yep, quite ironic) until I switch to the office mail, I still have some concerns about privacy…

The questioner here goes on to ask some very specific questions that I’ll get to in a moment. These are really good questions, and I’m sorry to say that they’re all completely unanswerable in a very general sense.

But I do want to take them one at a time, and explain a little why you’ll be hearing me say “maybe” a lot.

Read moreCan My Company See My Personal Email?