How do I keep my browser from being hijacked?

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Hi, Leo. I was leading our computer club’s “Internet & More” special interest group last night. One of our attendees wanted to share how to record audio to the hard drive from YouTube content. He used Audacity’s free program in the past and proceeded to show us how to find and download it. We were using Windows 7 and Firefox. We downloaded the program and started to try out some of the sound editing features. We wanted to search for a YouTube example and open up a new tab to Google. Google wasn’t there.  Trovi.com search engine was there and we couldn’t get back to Google.

We tried IE10 on the same computer – no luck. When we downloaded the Audacity free program, there was no option to do a custom install and unselect the extras. The only reason we had any idea what Trovi was that another of our attendees recounted his recent experience of this happening after he installed an Adobe update. He had to take his laptop to the Microsoft store. They finally got it off his computer but it took them a couple of hours.

Many people in our club are older and likely would have to ask for assistance in getting rid of this monster. I prefer to educate them on prevention. They all have real-time anti-virus software and have learned to do malwarebytes scans. We teach our users to do image backups (thank you for hounding me until I did my first one). Other than restoring my computer to an earlier time, how can we protect ourselves?

What you’ve experienced is something that’s happening more and more these days. It’s actually kind of frightening, and it’s frustrating because a large part of it comes from what I would call otherwise reputable companies just trying to make an extra buck or two.

Read moreHow do I keep my browser from being hijacked?

Is it worth upgrading to get Windows XP Mode?

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Since XP support has ended is it still worthwhile my buying Microsoft’s XP mode to upgrade my Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium in order to return back to my favorite Outlook Express? I foolishly paid nearly $200 extra for a PC package containing Outlook having been told it was like Outlook Express but better. I don’t like it and thus my desire to return to Outlook Express.

The short answer is no, you don’t want to do this.

For one thing, you may not need to spend any money to do what you’re asking. More importantly, it’s not something that I recommend you do, at all.

Read moreIs it worth upgrading to get Windows XP Mode?

I’m Using Someone Else’s Internet Connection – Am I at Risk?

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If I use a wired internet connection provided by my colleague is there any way for him or anyone connected to that same modem to watch the files in my laptop or if they can see my laptop while I’m using the internet like Skype or Gmail?

The short answer is: absolutely yes.

You are very right to be concerned. This is a topic I touch on from time to time, and it’s worth discussing a little bit more, since the risks are very easy to overlook.

Read moreI’m Using Someone Else’s Internet Connection – Am I at Risk?

Will Backing Up My Computer Back Up My Email?

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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?

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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?

How do I learn more about computers?

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Perhaps this is an odd question or this isn’t the right place to ask it but I have to start somewhere and you might be the best beginning. I’m an old lady but a computer user/lover who knows more than most of the people in my category and what I don’t know, I enjoy researching. Eventually, but not always, I find what I need. I constantly find menus and setting and clicking choices and such that I don’t understand and the regular available manuals just don’t explain. There are probably manuals that do but they would undoubtedly be beyond my capabilities to understand or just TMI.

My question is , how can I find a way to learn more and more without being a professional? I want to learn not the mechanics of the computer – not how to build one for example but how to understand and interpret some of what I see and proceed to use it to my advantage. I don’t know what kind of course, what kind of study would give me that. There must be something.

First of all, I absolutely love your attitude. I truly, truly wish more people were like you.

Unfortunately, while there must be something, there are so many “somethings” that it’s really difficult to know where to send you.

Read moreHow do I learn more about computers?