Articles tagged: The Best of Ask Leo!

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.

How Do I Test Backups? 3 Practical Steps to Make Sure the Safety Net Will Work

It’s a good idea to test backups before disaster strikes. Unfortunately, a complete test can be risky. I’ll look at some alternatives.

How Do You Delete Things from the Internet? – Why the Internet is Forever, Except When It’s Not

Realistically, it’s impossible to delete things from the internet. Yet in an apparent contradiction in terms, if you happen to delete something in your control, you also can’t get it back.

Could Someone Reopen My Closed Email Account?

After an online account is deleted, the ID or email address is eventually made available for re-use. It’s the same name but a different owner, and that can confuse people.

Are You Ready for Your Computer to be Stolen?

You might lose your hardware and any un-backed-up data on it, and possibly give a thief access to it all! I’ll cover a few of the basics. A stolen computer or lost computer can open the doors to all sorts of havoc if you’re not prepared.

Using Disk Cleanup in Windows 10 – Including What to Clean Up

Disk Cleanup in Windows 10 is a handy tool for freeing up space on your hard drive. I’ll show you how it’s done, and what to clean up. It’s one of the first places I recommend people turn to when they’re running low on disk space.

Where Do I Get Driver Updates? Where to Find Them AND Places to Avoid

Device-driver updates can come from several places. I’ll review the best sources for driver updates and where else you might need to look.

What’s the Best Registry Cleaner? What to Use, and Not

The best registry cleaner is none at all. There may be cases where you want to use one, though, and I’ll review which I’d use and how to use them safely.

How Can I Securely Delete Everything Except the Operating System? Five Steps to Get as Close as You Can

Before giving away a machine or returning a loaner, it’s important to remove personal information from it. That may be both harder and easier than you think.

Why Can’t I Talk To a Real Person? What You Need To Consider When Using Free Services

There are many reasons you’re more likely to be directed to online and self-help resources than talk to a real person.

How Do I Gain Administrative Access to a Second-hand Computer?

It’s important to understand the risk of buying a used computer.

What are the Internet’s Rules about Free Speech?

Often, when people find their posts or comments removed or altered from websites they visit, they’re quick to claim their right to free speech has been violated. That’s rarely the case.

Why I Don’t Like System Restore

System Restore doesn’t restore your system and has proven itself too unreliable to count on.

The Most Important Skill

The most important life skill, for everything from getting your computer fixed to becoming a highly-paid professional, may not be what you think it is.

Are HTTPS Connections Really Safe?

Https is an important part of keeping your data safe, but it’s only a part. It’s important to understand what it does and doesn’t mean.

How Does a VPN Protect Me?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a fully encrypted, private internet connection via a VPN provider. I’ll look at what protection it offers.

I Deleted a File by Mistake. Can I Get It Back?

Sometimes, it is possible to recover a file deleted by accident. Stop using the disk, check your Recycle Bin, and perhaps pull out an undelete utility.

“From” Spoofing: How Spammers Send Email that Looks Like It Came from You

“From” spoofing is how spammers send email that looks like it comes from you that you had nothing at all to do with. I’ll look at how it’s done.

How Do I Choose a Good Password?

With occasional security breaches at service providers and rampant email account theft, password security has never been more important. Make sure you choose and use secure passwords.

Why Is There So Much Spam?

Even though most of us might never fall for it, the reason there’s so much spam is simple: spam works.

How to Create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive

A Windows 10 Recovery Drive can be used to restore Windows backups to your machine and more. I’ll show you how to create one.

It Pays to Be Skeptical

If we would all be a little more skeptical, we’d be safer and the internet would be a more trustworthy place.

Creating a Backup Image Using Windows’ Built-in Backup

I don’t think much of the Windows backup utility–but any backup is better than no backup. Let’s take a look at how to use it.

How Do I Fix Windows Update?

Windows Update can get confused or stuck. I’ll review ways to fix Windows Update, including what I refer to as the “nuclear option”.

How Do I Know a Web Address is Safe?

Domain names are simple in concept, yet can be constructed in ways that might fool you. I’ll look at some examples, and discuss what’s important.

My Computer Doesn’t Work — What Do I Do?

Folks often ask what might be broken if their computer does nothing, but provide few clues. It’s a long list, and I’ll look at some possibilities.

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

Being over quota means you’ve received or kept too much email. To deal with it, you need to understand where that email is being kept.

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.

Will Using an On-Screen Keyboard Stop Keyloggers?

Using an on-screen keyboard instead of a real keyboard might stop some keyloggers, but there’s no guarantee that other techniques aren’t also being used.

What Are My Hotmail and Outlook.com Account Recovery Options?

Outlook.com, Hotmail, and Microsoft account compromise and loss happens. How to get your account back varies based on just what was stolen. I’ll review different scenarios.

How Do I Remove Myself from a Machine?

Although there’s no way to remove all traces of yourself from a machine, there certainly are ways to remove as much as you can.

Can I Count on Mail to a Bad Address Bouncing Back?

If you send email to an invalid address or a closed account, usually you’ll get a bounce back. Usually. But you cannot count on bounces.

Why Do Search Results Not Have Dates?

Google’s search tools can help you find websites that have been tagged with particular dates. But be cautious; dates may not mean what you think.

Should I Switch to Linux from Windows?

Linux is a viable alternative to extend the life of older machines. We’ll look at some of the issues involved if you switch to Linux.

One Reason Why You Don’t Need a New Computer

Buying a new machine is a common knee-jerk reaction to a bad malware infestation. And it’s wrong. Not just a little wrong — it’s very wrong and completely unnecessary.

Embracing the Most Important Attitude

There is one approach to life — one setting in your psyche — that affects your experience with technology much more than any lack of skill or knowledge.

Why Doesn’t My New, Empty Hard Drive Show All the Advertised Space?

Terms used to measure disk space can be ambiguous. As a result, a megabyte to you might not be the same as a megabyte to your computer.

How the Internet Is Breaking Journalism (and What It Means to You)

When it comes to journalism and other information you read online, there’s a very strong argument that things are seriously broken. We all need to be more vigilant than ever to separate truth from falsehood and recognize what’s important over what’s popular.

This Doesn’t Need to Happen

Another day, another story of data loss. The frustrating thing is that it doesn’t have to happen.

How Do I Find Who Hacked My Email Account?

It’s natural to want to find out who hacked your email and why. Begin by recovering and securing your account. I’ll review what steps you can take after that, and their chances of success.

Am I Wasting My Time Reporting Scam and Spam Emails?

Reporting spam in your email program with the spam button is critical. Reporting it by forwarding it somewhere isn’t going to do any good.

Should I Partition My Hard Disk?

Partitioning, or splitting a single physical hard drive into multiple drives, has pros and cons. I’ll look at those and make a recommendation.

Why Is It Important to Have Different Passwords on Different Accounts?

Using a different password for every login is an important part of overall security — and it doesn’t have to be difficult.