When you encrypt a file or a hard drive, is it really secure?

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Porcupins asked the Antivirus & Security Software forum if encryption standards like AES really make your data secure.

There's no such thing as perfect security. Someone with sufficient time and money, and a strong enough motive, can crack anything.

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Should you leave a hard drive running when it's not in use?

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Mike Bell asked if he should shut down his hard drive when he doesn't need it. "Will that constant powering up [and down] add wear and tear…?"

From what I can tell, regularly turning a hard drive on and off can wear it down. But so can running it around the clock. For that matter, you can kill a drive by leaving it off and untouched for too long (I've actually done that).

In other words, these things are fragile, and there's little agreement on how best to treat them. I checked with two experts on hard drive technology, and got two very different answers to the leave on/turn off controversy.

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Backing up your entire drive: Cloning vs. imaging

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Felix Luke needs to back up his entire hard drive. He asked me to explain the differences between cloning and imaging.

Both cloning and imaging create an exact record of your drive or partition. I'm not just talking about the files, but the master boot record, allocation table, and everything else needed to boot and run your operating system.

This isn't necessary for protecting your data--a simple file backup will handle that job just fine. But should your hard drive crash or Windows become hopelessly corrupt, a clone or image backup can quickly get you back to work.

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Replace your laptop screen without spending a fortune

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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When Carlene Primus' laptop fell and cracked its screen, someone wanted to charge her $1,200 for the repair. She asked about cheaper alternatives.

Unless it was a new laptop and the fall destroyed pretty much everything, you can consider that price a rip-off. Replacing a laptop screen, including parts and labor, shouldn't cost you more than $300. In fact, it will probably come in closer to $200.

 [Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com or post them on the PCW Answer Line forum.]

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The secret to buying a good HDMI cable: They're all good

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Sean asked me what he should know before buying HDMI cables.

There's nothing complicated about buying the right HDMI cable. If it's long enough and not damaged, it should work.

But the people selling the cables may not want you to know that. The more worried you are about buying the right cable, the more likely you'll spend more money.

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Why you shouldn't back up to an internal hard drive

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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In a previous article, I briefly explained why you shouldn't back up to a second internal drive. Mike Bell wanted a more detailed explanation.

That earlier article, My PC doesn't see the new, second hard drive, wasn't actually about backup. I devoted two sentences to the subject in hopes of steering readers away from a dangerous practice. Mike wasn't the only person whom I left wondering. My apologies.

Here's a more complete answer:

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Answer Line: How to print from Android

Lincoln Spector Contributing Editor, PCWorld

When he isn't bicycling, prowling used bookstores, or watching movies, PC World Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema.
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Ninthchamber asked the Printers forum about printing from an Android device.

One usually doesn't associate printing with phones or tablets, in large part because once you have a portable device, you have less need for paper. But it still occasionally comes in handy.

You can print directly from an Android device with the right Wi-Fi or Bluetooth printer. However, as I don't like to give advice that involves spending large sums of money, I'm going to tell you how to do it with whatever printer you already own. The only expenses will be paper and ink.

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