How Do I Password-protect a Flash Drive?

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I want to put all of my websites and passwords in a text file and store them on a flash drive for safekeeping. How do I password protect it?

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.

Read moreHow Do I Password-protect a Flash Drive?

How Do I Move the Taskbar Back to the Bottom?

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My taskbar’s on the right side of my screen. How do I move the taskbar back to the bottom where it belongs?

A lot of people don’t realize it, but the taskbar can be placed on any edge of your screen: left, right, top or bottom. In fact, if you have multiple monitors, it can be placed on any edge of any display.

Occasionally — usually through a mis-click or accidental mouse action — the taskbar can get moved to somewhere other than where we want it.

So, let’s move the taskbar back.

Read moreHow Do I Move the Taskbar Back to the Bottom?

A Drive with All My Data is Showing as Unformatted — What Do I Do?

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I recently replaced my system hard drive and have taken my old internal hard drive out and installed it into a external enclosure. When I plug it in, it shows up on my computer, but without a file system label, only a letter designation (G). Disk management says it is unformatted. It was NTFS as an internal drive. I’m concerned that if I format it, I will lose all of my data now stored on the drive. What steps do I take to format this external drive without losing my files? Or am I missing a step in accessing the information on the drive?

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.

Read moreA Drive with All My Data is Showing as Unformatted — What Do I Do?

What’s a Screen Shot and How Do I Make One?

A screen shot, screenshot, or screen capture is a way to “take a picture” of your computer screen (or a portion thereof).

Why would you want to do that?

Well, let’s say you’re trying to explain a computer problem to a technical friend of yours, and you’re trying to describe what you see on the screen — the dialogs, buttons, messages, whatever. You’re not sure of the terms to use, and your friend is having a difficult time understanding your description.

And of course, your friend insists that the exact wording of everything you see is incredibly important (for the record, he’s right.)

You know what they say: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And it can go a long way to eliminating miscommunication.

Let’s take a picture of your screen you can email to your friend.

Read moreWhat’s a Screen Shot and How Do I Make One?

Are Free Email Services Worth It?

This is a major update to what I consider one of my most important articles, dating all the way back to 2004 (with intermediate updates in 2010 and 2013).

My answer has changed from “mostly no” to “mostly yes”, with the following important caveats:

  • You must understand the costs.
  • You must understand the risks.
  • You must prepare for disaster.
  • You must take responsibility.

I’ll dive into each of these in detail, but before I do, I’ll share one concrete datapoint: all of my email is currently being processed via free email accounts. Clearly, I believe it can be done safely.

Read moreAre Free Email Services Worth It?

What’s an “Internal Server Error” and How Do I Fix It?

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I’m trying to download software from a specific site. No matter what I try to download, I get this error message:

Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. Please contact the server administrator webmaster@******.com and inform them of the time the error occurred and anything you might have done that may have caused the error. More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
Additionally, a 500 Internal Server Error error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

How is this resolved?

I’m very familiar with this error. I see it all the time when setting up or making changes to websites.

The good news? It’s not your fault.

The bad news? There’s probably nothing you can do.

Read moreWhat’s an “Internal Server Error” and How Do I Fix It?

BoxCryptor: Secure Your Data in the Cloud

One of the hidden issues in online storage is privacy. Almost all online storage providers have the ability to examine your data or hand it over to law enforcement even if the provider has encrypted your data.

Hopefully, most of us will never have to deal with the law-enforcement scenario, but even the realization that a rogue employee at an online data storage provider could peek into what we keep online can cause concern. For some, it’s enough concern to avoid using cloud storage at all.

The solution is simple: encrypt the data yourself.

Unfortunately, implementing that “simple” solution isn’t always that simple or transparent, and can add a layer of complexity to online storage some find intimidating.

BoxCryptor is a nicely unobtrusive encryption solution that is free for personal use.

Read moreBoxCryptor: Secure Your Data in the Cloud

Can I Use a Charger that Provides the Same Voltage but a Different Amperage?

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I’d like to know if it is okay to use a different power charger for my netbook. Originally, the charger specs are 19v and 1.58A. This charger is not available anymore and I can only find a 19v and 2.15A. Can I use this as a replacement?

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.

Read moreCan I Use a Charger that Provides the Same Voltage but a Different Amperage?

Why Is There so Much Spam?

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Between bouts of frustration with my inbox, I’ve been reading your various articles on spam. I think I’m slowly getting a handle on it all, but it sure seems crazy. And it really got me to wondering… why is there so much spam in the first place?

I feel your pain.

Some time ago, I did some research and looked at all my email for an entire year. Not only do I get a lot of email, but my calculations show that 87% of it was junk. Wow.

Why is there so much spam?

It’s very simple, really.

Spam works.

Read moreWhy Is There so Much Spam?

How Do I Get Rid of All this Spam?!?!

Spam is ubiquitous. Everyone gets spam. Those who aren’t will, and those who’re only getting a little will eventually get more.

I get many hundreds of spam messages a day. That’s probably nearer the high end of the average range, but it’s certainly not an uncommon amount.

While one source shows that spam has dropped to just under half of all email traffic for the first time in years, it certainly doesn’t seem that way in our mail folders, does it?

What’s a poor user to do?

Read moreHow Do I Get Rid of All this Spam?!?!

The First Eight Things to Do with Your New Computer

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.

Read moreThe First Eight Things to Do with Your New Computer

Why Doesn’t Blocking Email Senders Work?

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How can I block addresses that come repeatedly to my junk email box? It says I am blocking email but it does not work.

Blocking email by the “From:” address is seriously overrated; it’s effectively useless.

It promises to prevent email from a specific sender from reaching you, but if the sender determined, the block is easily bypassed. And spammers are determined … boy, are they determined! Blocking senders is useless in the war against spam.

I’ll explain why, and what I do instead.

Read moreWhy Doesn’t Blocking Email Senders Work?

How Do I Find Out What Program Is Using All My CPU?

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My machine is slower than molasses in the winter time. I suspect that one or more programs are simply using up all of the available CPU time. How do I tell which ones they might be so that I can turn them off, or whatever?

Yep, that sounds slow.

It happens to me from time to time as well. A program decides it has something very, very important to do and uses all the computer’s processing power to do it.

The good news is it’s pretty easy to find out which program that might be.

Read moreHow Do I Find Out What Program Is Using All My CPU?

How Do I Remove a Document Stuck in My Printer’s Queue?

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I’m trying to delete a document in the queue of my printer, but I can’t. It writes “deleting”, but it never finishes. I’ve tried to cancel the same document from the field of my printer but it doesn’t disappear. Restarting my computer, restarting the document, turning off the printer, unplugging the cables, still I can’t. What else can I do? It doesn’t allow other documents to print!

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.

Read moreHow Do I Remove a Document Stuck in My Printer’s Queue?

What is POP? Or POP3? And what about IMAP and SMTP?

The computer world is full of confusing acronyms, and email is one source of many.

It’s useful to understand a few common acronyms, at least at a high level, to make using and configuring email programs a little less confusing.

POP3 and IMAP are half of the email puzzle; SMTP is the other. POP3 and IMAP are protocols (or “languages”) used to get your email, while SMTP is the protocol used to send it.

But why POP? Or POP3? And what are you supposed to enter if you’re asked to configure your email account in your email client?

Read moreWhat is POP? Or POP3? And what about IMAP and SMTP?

Why Does My Machine Take Forever to Shut Down?

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Why does my machine take forever to shut down?

Click Start. Click Shut down.

Wait. Wait. And wait some more.

It’s not uncommon to complain about start-up time, or the speed of your computer while booting. As it turns out, the amount of time it takes to shut down is another source of occasional frustration. I mean, how long should it take to turn something off? Why can’t it just shut down now without pulling the plug?

As always, there are many possible reasons. I’ll review the most common.

Read moreWhy Does My Machine Take Forever to Shut Down?

Am I Wasting My Time Reporting Scam and Spam Emails?

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You once said that when it comes to email scams, we should just mark it as a scam or spam and move on. But I’ve found websites to report them to, and some email addresses to forward them to, and I’d like to think I’m doing some good. Are you saying that I’m wasting my time reporting email scams directly to these agencies?

Yes.

I just don’t believe reporting spam to these sites and services is worth the time and effort. I don’t see any harm in doing it; I just don’t think it helps.

I do want to be very clear, however, that a different type of “reporting spam” is very important, and we should all be doing that.

Read moreAm I Wasting My Time Reporting Scam and Spam Emails?

What Do I Do if I’m Being Harassed, Bullied, or Stalked Online?

Normally, this is where I’d quote the original question.

This topic appears in so many different guises and in so many different ways that quoting a single question would represent only a very small slice of a much larger issue.

Call it what you will, cyber-bullying, or online harassment, is a frighteningly common occurrence. Those most at risk appear to be children and individuals who’ve been in abusive domestic relationships.

The questions I get most often are:

  • Isn’t it illegal?
  • How do I find out who’s responsible?
  • How do I make them stop?
  • How can I get back at them?

I’ll tackle each one of those and a couple more.

Read moreWhat Do I Do if I’m Being Harassed, Bullied, or Stalked Online?

Why Don’t Anti-malware Tools Work Better?

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I’ve been an independent computer repair tech for over 12 years now. The question I get the most (and have the hardest time answering) is this: how come my antivirus program didn’t stop me from getting this virus? When you’re installing AVG, the program says that only 3% of today’s security problems are caused by traditional viruses. Is this true? Is it true for the other antivirus programs as well?

In other words, why don’t anti-malware tools work better than we want or even expect them to? 🙂

I have to fault AVG for the phrase “traditional viruses”. I think that puts an unrealistic spin on your expectations. Malware is malware, and that includes viruses, spyware, ransomware, rootkits, zombies, and gosh knows what else.

What do they mean by “traditional”? I have no idea. I also have no idea where that 3% figure comes from.

But there’s a kernel of truth in AVG’s statement. No matter what program you run, there’s still a chance your computer will get infected.

Read moreWhy Don’t Anti-malware Tools Work Better?

Can I Really Get Malware by Just Looking at Email?

New malware appears every day, and it seems like hackers constantly get smarter and craftier.

In the past, asking if your machine could become infected with malware by just reading your email would get laughs from the geeks in the crowd. “Of course not!” they would giggle.

Then came Outlook. Not only could opening an email infect your machine, but for a while, you didn’t even have to be around to have it happen.

And the geeks stopped giggling.

For a while.

Fortunately, today things are different.

Read moreCan I Really Get Malware by Just Looking at Email?

Are Automatic Updates a Good Thing?

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What are your thoughts on automatic updates? Windows updates, but also automatic updates for my spyware and antivirus programs. I have several and I have automatic updates turned on on all. Could this lead to problems by leaving my computer open to the net?

This one’s easy: I love automatic updates.

Let me explain why, and how to make sure your automatic updates are safe and doing what you think they are.

I’ll also explore one area where things have gotten worse instead of better over the years.

Read moreAre Automatic Updates a Good Thing?

How Do Outlook and Outlook.com Relate?

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I use Outlook.com. Does that mean I don’t need Outlook? Are those just other names for the same thing? If not, how do they relate to each other?

The short answer is, they don’t. Not at all. They have only two things in common: they’re both related to email, and have the word “Outlook” in their names.

That’s pretty much where the similarity ends. It’s frustrating, because people often refer to “Outlook” when they mean “Outlook.com” … which is not actually related to “Outlook”.

Let’s define ’em, shall we?

Read moreHow Do Outlook and Outlook.com Relate?

Online Shopping – Just How Safe Is It?

As you might expect, I get many questions from computer users concerned about their security. With regular news of identity theft, credit card fraud, and database hacking, many people are understandably concerned about the security of their own information online, particularly when it comes to online shopping …

… so much so, that some actively avoid online shopping for fear of having their payment information stolen.

In my opinion, they should be more concerned about the security of their information off-line.

Read moreOnline Shopping – Just How Safe Is It?

How Do I Avoid Ransomware?

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How can I prevent this new risk of criminals encrypting files on my hard drive and then demanding a ransom to unlock the data? Is having a router and software firewall enough?

In other words, how do you avoid ransomware?

Let’s look at ransomware – software that holds your computer hostage until you pay up – and how best to protect yourself.

Spoiler alert: you already know the answer.

Read moreHow Do I Avoid Ransomware?

Internet Safety: 7 Steps to Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet

The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE EditionSubscribe to The Ask Leo! Newsletter and get the 88-page Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE Edition digital download as a gift. Based in part on this article, the Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE Edition will help you identify the most important steps you can take to keep your computer and yourself safe as you navigate today’s digital landscape.

Viruses and spyware and worms … oh my!

The very concept of “internet safety” is almost an oxymoron these days.

It seems not a day goes by that we don’t hear some new kind of threat aimed at wreaking havoc across machines connected to the internet.

Here are some things you can (and should) do to stay safe.

Read moreInternet Safety: 7 Steps to Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet

Are Password Managers Safe?

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Recently I tried to use RoboForm for an account at a large financial institution, but I couldn’t get it to work. In response to my inquiry, this institution said they do not permit log in using credentials that are stored on software because the security of the password could become jeopardized if my computer were hacked, invaded, etc. Is this true? Am I safer not to use tools like RoboForm?

Some believe using password managers represents a single point of failure. Very technically, they are correct: if someone gains access to your password manager, they have access to everything in it.

Not-so-technically, I strongly believe they are seriously misguided.

Using a password manager is significantly safer than the alternatives.

Read moreAre Password Managers Safe?

Can Hotel Internet Traffic Be Sniffed?

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My friend’s husband has been getting into her email even though she’s not given him her password. He has confronted his sister about an email and when asked how he got into the email he says that where he works (a large hotel chain), they have a program that searches emails for keywords and brings info up. Could that be true? Can they snoop on hotel internet traffic?

Yes.

Hotel internet security is one of the most overlooked risks travelers face. I’m not just talking wireless – I’m talking any internet connection provided by your hotel.

In fact, I’m actually writing this in a hotel room, and yes, I have taken a few precautions.

Read moreCan Hotel Internet Traffic Be Sniffed?

How Do I Become a Computer Programmer?

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My son wants to become a video-game programmer or designer. What advice do you have?

This is a very common question – particularly with video games. Kids really enjoy playing them and are often drawn to the potential of creating them as well.

I’ve hired a lot of programmers in my career. I’ve also not hired even more. So I definitely have thoughts and advice.

Read moreHow Do I Become a Computer Programmer?

How Do I Remove a Virus If It Prevents Me from Downloading or Installing Anything?

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I am trying to fix a computer that has malware preventing me from getting into regedit and task manager. It will not let me boot into safe mode. It will not let me install any anti-spyware or anti-virus software. I’m not sure where to go from here. It has stopped me from doing much of anything to get the malware off the computer. Any suggestions?

Sadly, this is all too common. Malware can be pretty sophisticated, and it can work hard to prevent you from removing it. That means you may be blocked from downloading or running anti-malware software, or be prevented from running tools already on your machine that might help.

I’ll save the “prevention is so much easier than the cure” missive for a moment. We just want this fixed.

There are things that we can try, but unfortunately, there are no guarantees.

Read moreHow Do I Remove a Virus If It Prevents Me from Downloading or Installing Anything?

Why Wouldn’t an Exploit be Caught by My Anti-malware Tools?

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Why would an exploit not be caught or detected by my antivirus program (Avast) or Malwarebytes (running in the background)? If not detectable, how much “damage” can the exploit actually do if users follow prudent operating precautions? Would System Restore be usable if infected? I have also followed your advice and routinely image my Dell laptop.

We need to clear up a little terminology, but your question is a very good one: how can malware get past anti-malware programs to infect the software installed on your machine?

And more importantly, what can you do to protect yourself?

Let’s define some terms with what I’m thinking is my silliest metaphor ever, and then talk about how to stay safe.

Read moreWhy Wouldn’t an Exploit be Caught by My Anti-malware Tools?

Can’t I Just Copy Everything Instead of Using a Backup Program?

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For security in case of a crash, can I just copy my whole hard drive to an external drive as a backup rather than using a backup program? At the present time I am just copying My Documents to a flash drive, but am concerned that to recover I would have to rebuild all the files and updates if I had a crash.

The short answer is that you can, and it certainly provides a level of protection.

But your safety net has a hole in it.

There are definitely things you’re missing that a managed backup would catch and back up for you … things you’ll really care about should the worst happen.

Read moreCan’t I Just Copy Everything Instead of Using a Backup Program?

Stop Spreading Manure

It’s an example of yet another brouhaha: a report a few years ago that Google blatantly admitted you should have no expectation of privacy whatsoever when using their services. The internet went crazy. Many sources proclaimed, “How outrageous! We told you so! Google is evil!” Mainstream news outlets picked up stories from smaller publishers, and they all confirmed the entire sordid mess.

Except the internet was wrong. Manure, to use a polite term, was being spread far, wide, and fast.

That’s where things get complicated.

Read moreStop Spreading Manure

Why Is It So Important to Use a Different Password on Every Site?

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I keep hearing that I’m supposed to use a different password on every internet site where I have an account. What a pain! I can’t remember all of those passwords. Yeah, I know. You want me to use a password manager thing, but that seems like putting a bunch of really important things into a single basket. What if that basket gets hacked? I use a strong password, why isn’t that enough?

The hacks of several online services have brought this issue to light once again.

I’m sorry, but a single strong password just isn’t enough anymore. You must use different strong passwords on every site where you have an account – at least, every important site.

And yes, you must devise a way to manage them all.

Let me run down an example scenario that’s causing all of this emphasis on multiple different passwords.

Read moreWhy Is It So Important to Use a Different Password on Every Site?

What Is An Email Quota and What Does “Over Quota” Mean?

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After I did a recovery on my computer, my email program has not worked properly as far as the inbox is concerned. I used to be able to get 700-800 or more emails in my inbox (if I went on vacation or didn’t check for a while) and after the recovery, once I reached about 80 emails it started bouncing my messages saying I was OVER QUOTA!!! How can that be? It is getting worse now. I can have only 40 messages in my inbox and it will start bouncing my messages, still saying I am OVER QUOTA! Soon, I won’t get ANY messages!

Believe it or not, being over quota has nothing to do with the inbox on your PC, or even what email program you’re using.

But it might have everything to do with how your email program is configured.

Read moreWhat Is An Email Quota and What Does “Over Quota” Mean?

Why Am I Getting a “Delivery Status Notification (Delay)” on an Email I Sent?

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I am trying to send an e-mail to a co-worker and I keep getting the following message:

Delivery Status Notification (Delay)
 This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.
 THIS IS A WARNING MESSAGE ONLY.
 YOU DO NOT NEED TO RESEND YOUR MESSAGE.
 Delivery to the following recipients has been delayed.

The strange thing is that it is only happening with that specific email address. What does it mean, and why it is happening?

It means exactly what it says: the email you sent hasn’t been delivered yet; it’s been delayed.

The mail system will continue to attempt to deliver the email. Eventually, it’ll either be delivered, or you’ll get a fatal-error message.

Why? Because.

Seriously, there are many, many reasons that email could be delayed.

And if that’s a problem for you, then you may be thinking about email the wrong way.

Read moreWhy Am I Getting a “Delivery Status Notification (Delay)” on an Email I Sent?

What’s the Difference Between a MAC Address and an IP Address?

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What is the difference between a MAC Address and an IP Address? Are both traceable back to your computer? And can you hide them? If by hiding them is your computer safer from hackers. Also, are the free versions as good as the ones you buy?

Well, the last one is easy to answer: there’s no concept of free versus paid IP or MAC addresses. As you’ll see in a moment, IP addresses are assigned as part of connecting to a network, and MAC addresses are assigned at the time hardware is manufactured.

Even hiding a MAC or IP address is a concept that doesn’t quite apply, but we’ll get in to that too.

And whether MAC or IP addresses are hidden or not, they are not the kind of things you should be spending your time worrying about to stay safe from hackers.

Read moreWhat’s the Difference Between a MAC Address and an IP Address?

Is MAC Address Filtering a Viable Wireless Security Option?

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I’ve read your posts on network/router security and using WPA to secure your network. I use MAC address filtering and don’t use WPA. I realize that means I must physically enter the MAC address of each pc/printer/tv/etc. that wants to connect to my network, but I believe that MAC address filtering is also a viable security solution (with or without WPA or WEP), though using all is probably the most secure. I haven’t seen any comments from you on using MAC address filtering, could you comment on this as a security configuration, please?

I do hear about MAC address filtering from time to time. At first, it sounded kind of intriguing, but ultimately it turns out to be kind of like a cheap padlock: it only keeps honest people honest.

It’ll certainly keep the casual or accidental connection from happening, which is fine as far as that goes; but for true security, it’s actually pretty close to not having any at all.

I’ll explain why.

Read moreIs MAC Address Filtering a Viable Wireless Security Option?

I got a blue screen error, what should I do?

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I was surfing the net with Google Chrome. No other applications open (Norton was running in the background). All of a sudden I got a blue screen with a frowny face and the message: “Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart. We’re just collecting some error info, and then we’ll restart for you. If you’d like to know more, you can search online later for this error: MEMORY_MANAGEMENT.”

The computer shut down and then restarted and I re logged in and everything seems to be fine. I’m not sure how to interpret the error message and am not sure where the “collected data” went. Would like your advice on what to do next – do I pursue the MEMORY_MANAGEMENT topic or ignore the event or something else?

In short: back up regularly (you’re doing that already, right? 🙂 ), and carry on like nothing happened.

Until, or unless, it starts happening more often. Then things get complicated.

Read moreI got a blue screen error, what should I do?

Can I restore an image backup of one computer onto another and have it work?

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If I want to restore an image backup from a previous computer, complete with its operating system, onto another computer with a different operating system, will the operating system on the backup be allowed to install and override the operating system on the other computer? If so, how do I get around this?

It’s not a question of “allowing”.

By definition, restoring a full image backup will completely overwrite everything that exists on the hard disk, replacing whatever was there before, no matter what it was.

So, sure, the previous operating system, along with everything else on the hard disk, will be overwritten and replaced with the contents of the image backup.

The real question is: will what you’ve just restored then work?

Most of time, the answer is a very short “no”.

I’ll explain why that is.

Read moreCan I restore an image backup of one computer onto another and have it work?

Why testing your backups is critical

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I wrote to suggest, …, that you write an article IN CAPITAL LETTERS if necessary that verifying a back-up is exigent. Exigent.

As you might expect, after doing this for over a decade, there are individuals that I hear from fairly regularly, and whose names and/or email addresses become quite familiar to me. Over time, they start to feel like extended family.

This comment came from one of my long-time readers – a member of that family – after she detailed a story of … well, it really all boils down to this heartbreaking statement:

I had FIVE YEARS’ worth of files backed up in multiple places […]. Leo, I am astonished–just mind-blowingly astonished: while both [external drives had] backed up random, helter-skelter, files–sometimes redundant to the point of absurdity–BOTH did not make a backup.

She experienced a failed Windows 10 upgrade, and restored to Windows 7 only to find that massive amounts of data had been lost in the process.

A member of the family requests that we all learn from her painful experience.

Read moreWhy testing your backups is critical

What Is Peer-to-Peer File Sharing, and Is It Legit?

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My son installed BitTorrent on the house computer. This of course, without asking first, as is the rule. This program slowed my computer down so much that I could not get online. I found out that as it was downloading, it was also uploading with unlimited bandwidth. I could not find any information on what it was uploading. I dislike P2P because of past experience with them, virus, spyware and the feeling I am stealing from the programmer. This program was promptly uninstalled. Is there any legitimate use for P2P programs?

This is a sad case of some very amazing technology getting smeared with a bad reputation because of how some people choose to use it.

Absolutely: there are many legitimate uses for peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) programs like BitTorrent.

In fact, I wish it were used more.

In order to understand why peer-to-peer file sharing is interesting, we first need to understand just a little about how traditional file sharing and downloads work.

Read moreWhat Is Peer-to-Peer File Sharing, and Is It Legit?

Should I get a dual core or a quad core processor?

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For a home user with no special programs and no gaming, am I better off with a single core processor or a dual core processor? I play no games. I simply have a few usual things (word processor, registry cleaners, anti-spy and security stuff, etc.) but I need a new PC. This one is over 10 years old. It is SLOW even after cleaning the registry, defragging, optimizing, and everything else. Would I be better off with a dual core or a single core processor?

Normally, I stay away from specific processor recommendations because things change so much, and so often, and I’m just not one of those people that wants to do a detailed comparison between processor A and processor B. There are plenty of other passionate people who’ll happily do that all day long.

In this, however, I do have an opinion: more cores may be better, but too many may not be worth it.

Read moreShould I get a dual core or a quad core processor?

What’s the difference between i3, i5, and i7 processors?

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I was looking at some ads for various computers and noticed some confusing CPU info. For example:

  • Acer desktop with i5-650 @ 3.2GHz
  • SYX Gamer desktop with i7-950 @ 3.06GHz
  • Sony Vaio laptop with i7-740QM @ 1.73GHz

I always thought an i7 was better than an i5, which was better than an i3. Based on the above, is the Acer CPU better (as in more powerful, efficient, and faster) than either of the i7s? And why would one i7 (the SYX) be about 75% faster and more powerful than the Sony i7?

To call it confusing only scratches the surface of the processor nomenclature and configuration. In my opinion, it’s more complex than mere mortals can comprehend.

Sadly, I am but a mere mortal.

However, I will share my priorities, which the average consumer may share when selecting a computer. In so doing, I’m sure I’ll annoy some of the geekier members of my audience. Smile

I’ll also look at a few more things about the processor configuration mix, and compare the three processors you list.

Read moreWhat’s the difference between i3, i5, and i7 processors?