Articles tagged: The Best of Ask Leo!

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.

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.

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

Terminology around email can be confusing, and lead to incorrect answers to misstated questions. I’ll review some common and important terms.

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.