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Logbook for January 2010

Welcome to the latest logbook. You are receiving it collection of useful tips as a valued customer.

This month we are looking at:

What to do if you delete something accidentally

We all press the wrong button sometimes. so what to do?

First thing is don't panic. It's not really been deleted, just the index entry removed. Just as if a library book has its catalogue card removed, it is still there but no-one can find it.

Next, stop using your computer. As the index entry has gone, the disc space becomes free. We don't want to overwrite it with something else.

If the file is on your main hard drive, then check the recycle bin to see if it is still there. Yes? Great!

If not, or it was on a peripheral (usb stick, camera card, external drive), we'll have to look for the deleted index entry. For this we will need tools.

If you know how, take an image of the device so that you have preserved it.

Try googling "file recovery tool freeware" or "file undelete tool freeware" and see what turns up. There is quite a lot of genuinely free stuff out there, but be careful of ones that search for free but then want money to undelete. If you need to download the tool, download it to a different device/drive to the one with the file you are trying to recover.

Next run the tool and see what it finds.

Conversely, if you are getting rid of a computer or the peripheral, deleting files andf even reformatting doesn't get rid of data irretrievably. You need a disc or file wiping tool. Spybot comes with a file shredder or google "disc wiping freeware". These will make your data fully deleted.

Shut down modes in XP, Vista and Windows 7

Two of the biggest frustrations with Windows are  the time that it takes to start and to shutdown, even though it is supposed to kept as short as possible.

Well there are a number of ways of closing down that can make this even shorter.

In XP,you can choose standby mode or hibernate mode. Standby doesn't actually turn the computer off, just puts it into a low power mode and will restart within a few seconds. However, it is still drawing power and the computer will crash if you turn the power off or the battery runs down on a laptop. Hibernate mode copies the contents of RAM to the hard disc and then turns the computer off. When you restart the computer, the saved memory is copied back to RAM and you carry on where you left off. If you don't see a 'hibernate' option when you go to 'turn off', then press the left shift key at the standby/turn off/ restart screen

Neither method starts Windows from scratch and so are significantly quicker. However, I still recommend a full shutdown every two weeks.

With the development of Vista things got a pit more complicated. Sleep is still there and so is Hibernate if you can find it but there is now a Hybrid Sleep' option that stores RAM to disc like hibernate in case there was a power loss. Windows 7 continues this approach. It is more robust than XP but remember that standby still draws power

My computer tells me that it is infected

Most computer users will find that when they are on the internet that pop-up windows will appear warning you that your computer is infected with hundreds of viruses and other problems. It will have a button saying something like 'click here to fix problems'. Another good give-away is that there is usually a big red flashing banner.

These are just scams and will try to take money off you. A genuine problem would be in a window with some program name you recognize. Getting rid of these scams takes a while and even closing the warning window is hard. Clicking the 'No' button just takes you to another warning. So I recommend using the Red X at the top right of the window to close it or task manager if even that won't work.

Then scan your system with a good spyware cleaner like spybot or malbytes.

Of course, this all assumes that you have a decent security set in place, such as AVG anti-virus, Zonealarm firewall and a spyware detector.

Trying to avoid spam

'Trying' is the operative word. It's impossible to avoid all spam unless you don't have an email address. It is estimated that over 70% of all emails are spam, so you are going to get a few. However, we can try to avoid getting onto spam lists and also try to filter the spam out.

Spam filters are built into some email clients, such as Thunderbird, or can be bolted on to Outlook, for example. Some learn what you regard as spam, whilst others use lists of bad names. Still more act as a complete block until you reply to an email to confirm the first. The idea is to avoid automated senders, but it can annoy potential clients and see below about replying to spam.

Personally I use a learning filter (often called 'Bayesian'), but whatever you do it's worth having something. Some ISps also have spam filters so catch the emails even before they are sent to you. Problem is that some are overenthusiastic and throw out valid emails. Actually, some email client filters do this, so it's worth a periodic check of the spam folder, especially if someone asks why you don't reply to their emails.

The other thing is to try to prevent your email address being 'harvested'. Most important rule is never open or reply to spam, even if it has a 'unsubscribe' link. Just look at it in the preview window. Lots of spam is just sent to random addresses in the hope that some sticks. If you open it, then the sender knows that the email address is is use - you've just opened the floodgates.

That's why I never set up an out-of-office message or auto-reply. That just sends a message back to the spammer that your email address is in use.

Finally, a great place for spammers to get email addresses is from websites. If you have one, ask your designer about hiding your email address from robots trying to find it.

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