Answer Line: Recover Photos and Files Deleted From Flash RAM

I downloaded photos to my hard drive, and then erased them off the camera's memory card. Shortly thereafter, my hard drive crashed. Can I restore the images from the memory card?

Scott Barnes, St. George, Utah

Probably, but don't write anything to that card until you've either retrieved the images or given up trying to restore them. It's not deleting a file that destroys it, but writing new data over it.

You'll need a flash RAM file-retrieval program designed especially for retrieving JPEG images. I recommend Software Shelf's $40 File-Rescue Plus. Click here to download the trial version. This program retrieves deleted files from memory cards and drives (see FIGURE 1

FIGURE 1: View lost photographs in memory cards and drives before you recover them, with File-Rescue Plus.
). I have used it to restore photographs from a SmartMedia card in a card reader, from a Memory Stick inside a camera, and from a SanDisk flash drive.

In Video: How to Recover Photos Deleted From Your Camera

If software can't restore your files, mail the memory card to a file-recovery service that offers free evaluations, so you can find out whether your data is retrievable before you pay for anything but postage. Two such services are MediaRecover and Ontrack Data Recovery.

Are Autoresponses Wise?

Will my e-mail's "Out of the Office" autoreply, which I turn on when I'm away, attract spam?

Lucian Micu, East Brunswick, New Jersey

As anyone who has ever written to answer@pcworld.com knows, I'm a big believer in e-mail autoresponses. These messages (aka vacation responses) go out automatically to everyone who sends you an e-mail message, usually saying that you'll be out of the office until a specified date. Check your ISP's Web site to see whether it offers an autoreply service.

Some people believe that autoresponses encourage spam. The theory is that spammers will see the response to their junk mail, know that there's a real human being at the other end of the message, and put the e-mail address on a higher-value list.

It doesn't work that way, however. Virtually all spam these days goes out with a fake return address, so the real culprits won't get your autoresponse. And even if they did, the address would be hidden among thousands of bounced messages.

Many autoresponses also bounce back, a side effect of fake return addresses. But these are easy to identify and delete when you return.

Make A New New Menu

Can I change the New menu items that appear when I right-click the desktop or Windows Explorer?

David Arthur, Lodi, New Jersey

Adding file types to your right-click ("context-sensitive") menu involves editing the Registry, so back it up first (click here for instructions).

After backing up the Registry, select Start, Run, type regedit, and press Enter. In the Registry Editor's left pane, navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. Locate and select the file extension you want to add or remove under this entry. Subkeys for file extensions all begin with a period (.).

To remove a file type from the menu, expand the key for the extension so that you can see its subkeys (note that not all file types have a subkey). Right-click the ShellNew subkey and select Delete, Yes. To add a file type, right-click the extension subkey, select New, Key, and enter the name ShellNew. Right-click the new ShellNew key, select New, String Value, and name the new value NullFile. Then exit the Registry Editor and reboot Windows.

Default to Explorer

Reader Jim Puglisi of Fair Oaks Ranch, California, asks how to make My Documents, My Computer, and other common folders open in Explorer mode--with the folder bar visible on the left. In Windows Explorer (with or without the folder bar visible), select Tools, Folder Options (View, Folder Options in Windows 98). Click the File types tab. Select the file type Folder (be sure not to confuse it with the file type 'File Folder'). Now click Advanced (Edit in Windows 98). Select explore, Set Default. To finish the folder-view change, click OK twice (in Windows 2000 and XP), Close twice (in 98), or OK, Close (in Me).

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