Articles tagged: The Best of Ask Leo!

“Chkdsk Cannot Run Because the Volume Is in Use by Another Process”

Chkdsk checks your disk for errors at a low level, requiring exclusive access to the disk to do so. “Chkdsk cannot run…” means it doesn’t have the exclusive access it needs.

Should I Use RAID for Backup?

RAID is a valuable technology for improving disk speed and fault tolerance, but it is in no way a replacement for backing up.

Restoring an Image Backup from One Computer to Another

The concept seems simple: take a system image of one machine, restore it to another, and avoid lengthy setup time. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Why Shouldn’t I Use the “Report Spam” or “Junk” Button?

The “Report Spam” and “Junk” buttons serve an important function in the war against spam. However, used improperly they can do more harm than good.

Phishing: How to Know It When You See It

Phishing is a way scammers trick you into providing personal and financial details. Phishing opens the door to identity theft and more.

How Do I Permanently Close My Account?

I often hear from people wanting to close an email account for one reason or another. The problem is that closing an email account is often the wrong solution to their real problem.

How Do I Protect Myself from Other Computers on My Local Network?

Many households have computers used for sensitive things sharing a network with less trustworthy users. Here’s how to increase your security.

Never Attribute to Malice . . .

Malicious intent is commonly understood to be the cause of technological trials and tribulations. It’s usually the wrong assumption to make.

What’s the Difference Between an Email Account, an Email Address, an Email Program, and an Email Service?

Terminology around email can be confusing. I’ll review some common and important terms.

How Should I Back Up an Encrypted Disk?

Backing up an encrypted hard drive shouldn’t be difficult, but it’s important to understand what you’ll get.

How Do I Update Drivers on My Computer?

Drivers are critically important components of your computer, but knowing how and when to update drivers isn’t as easy or as obvious as we might like.

5 Reasons Your Closed Email Account Sends Spam

Closing an email account is many people’s first reaction to seeing spam sent from their account. It rarely helps, if it’s even possible. I’ll explain.

My External HDD Shows Not Formatted — But It Has All My Data!

Occasionally, when moving a drive to another machine it’ll show up as unformatted. I’ll look at some possible causes and actions to take.

How Pixels, DPI, Resolution, Picture Size, and File Size All Relate

Photographic images have a number of characteristics that we often don’t consider or understand. I’ll review how digital pictures are constructed and stored, and what you need to keep in mind when sharing or publishing.

Is it Safe to Delete This File?

When running out of disk space, considering what you can delete makes sense. I’ll look at the steps to determine whether a file, such as a .dat file, may be important.

9 Ways Your Account Can Be Compromised, Even with a Super-strong Password

Strong passwords are important, but they don’t protect you from everything. I’ll look at other ways your account can be compromised.

Why Does Word Tell Me a Document Changed When It Hasn’t?

It’s sometimes hard to tell why Word thinks a document changed even though you haven’t done anything to it. I’ll look at a few clues.

Testing Your Backups Is Critical

Testing your backups is an easy step to overlook, but an important one to take. Make sure your backups will be there when you need them.

If It’s All Digital, Won’t You Lose It Anyway?

A single original of anything is not backed up, and backing up is significantly easier, and of higher quality, in digital media.

Is It Safe to Let Your Browser Remember Passwords?

Letting your browser remember passwords is a convenient feature. With that convenience comes risk — often significant risk. Most folks are much better served by using a password vault. I’ll explain why.

Should You Use the Free Backup Software that Comes with Some External Drives?

Many external drives include free backup software that I never use. I’ll explain why, and what I do instead.

How to Get File Explorer to Display Details by Default

Windows File Explorer defaults to a simple view of files on your machine that isn’t secure. Changes these settings as soon as you can.

The Biggest Risk to Your Privacy Revealed

We worry a lot about privacy, but our concerns are often misplaced. Fortunately, the biggest risk to our personal privacy is right under our nose.

Dealing With Video Starts and Stops While Watching: Two Common Causes and Three Possible Solutions

There are common causes, and sometimes simple solutions, for a video that starts and stops as you watch it.

How Two-Factor Authentication Works

Two-factor authentication is a great way to keep your accounts secure from hackers — even those who manage to get your password.

How Do I Change the Browser Home Page in Windows 10? Take Control with Quick Instructions for Edge, Firefox, and Chrome

Sometimes installers change your browser home page “for you”. Other times, homepage content changes. I’ll show you how to be more productive and set your homepage to what you want.

Can I Stop Others from Forwarding Messages?

It’s not only impossible to prevent email from being forwarded; you can’t even prevent that forward from being altered, forged or defaced.

Why Are There So Many Internet Jerks?

The internet, and social media specifically, seems like a breeding ground for jerks. Did it actually create them, or just expose those already among us?

Can I Tell If Someone Blocked My Texts and Email?

Email and texting usually works, but when it doesn’t, there’s just no way to tell if someone has blocked you.

What Backup Program Should I Use?

Backing up your computer’s data is critical. What backup program should you use? There are many, but pragmatically, the best is whatever you’ll actually use.

What Good Is an Image If I Can’t Restore an Old Backup to a New Computer?

Image backups are excellent protection against data loss, but restoring an old backup to new computer isn’t why you do them.

How Do I Copy Text from a Copy Protected Website?

Assuming your intent is legal or at least moral, it’s not hard to copy content from a webpage that attempts to prevent it.

How Do I Hack Someone’s Account? How Do I Hack My Own?

These are oversimplifications of many variations on the same basic question. People want to hack into other people’s accounts, or even their own, for a variety of reasons. Some sound perfectly legitimate. Others, not so much. And others are just blatant attempts at theft, harassment, or revenge. What’s really scary is that I get these requests … Read more

Is a Periodic Password Change a Good Thing?

Changing passwords periodically is conventional wisdom. I disagree, and then discuss whether periodic password change can even happen reliably.

How Do I Use an Open Wi-Fi Hotspot Safely?

Open Wi-Fi hotspots at coffee shops and other public places are opportunities for hackers. I’ll review how to stay safe.

Reboot or Power Down: Why Do So Many Tech Support Solutions Start with That?

The first thing a diagnostic technician may ask you to do is reboot your computer. Why?

How Do I Remove Malware from Windows 10 in 2021?

Trying to remove malware? I’ll walk you through the steps and options, from simple to hard, including the only approach that’s guaranteed to work.

Online Shopping: Just How Safe Is It?

Online shopping is ubiquitous, and yet some avoid it completely. Why are some people afraid to shop online when it’s arguably safer than offline?

How to Remove PUPs and Other Unexpected Things From Your Computer

Casually installing one download may result in several other things being installed. I’ll review the steps to remove these pesky, problematic, painful, Potentially Unwanted Programs, or PUPs.

What Can I Disable in Task Manager’s Startup List?

Task Manager shows many of the items that run automatically when you start your machine. What you need and what you don’t depends on many factors.

What Security Software Do You Recommend? Basic Protection in Four Steps

My recommendations for specific security software and techniques to keep your computer, and yourself, safe.

Resist Those Dancing Bunnies

Malware authors often make fantastic promises to get people to bypass their security software. It’s important to remain skeptical, vigilant, and attentive.

How Long Should a Password Be?

For years, the standard practice has been to assume that eight-character passwords made up of sufficiently random characters was enough. Not any more. Not even close.

How Do I Find Someone’s Email Address?

It can be extremely difficult to find the email address of someone you want to contact. To begin with, they must want to be found.

Do I Need All These Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributables?

Assorted redistributables and shared libraries are installed on your PC by programs that need them. Removing them, while tempting, is fairly risky.

How to Avoid Ransomware — the 3 Things You’re Hopefully Already Doing

Avoid ransomware the same way you avoid any malware. A full backup will save you not only from ransomware, but from a host of other problems as well.

How Do Outlook and Outlook.com Relate?

Microsoft continues to confuse us with product names. I’ll clarify the difference between Outlook and Outlook.com, and help you understand which you want.

Why Do I Get Spam Not Addressed to Me? How Spammers Do It, and What Steps You Can Take

Spammers use many techniques to slide their garbage into your inbox. BCCing you on messages is a common way.

What Can People Tell from My IP Address?

People can tell very little from your IP address. For example, they cannot tell who or where you are. How much they can tell varies a great deal.

Why Am I Not Getting the Email Newsletter I Signed Up For? Three Steps to Improve the Situation

Over-aggressive spam filtering can cause email newsletters and other messages to fail to appear in your inbox. I’ll look at why that is, and three steps you can take to improve the situation.