After discovering how easy it is to recover data from a hard drive removed from one PC and attached to another, Melker asked the Hard Drives, NAS Drives, Storage forum if password protecting Windows actually protects your data.
Your Windows logon password--the one you type every time you boot--does not protect your files in any meaningful way. (There's an exception, which I'll discuss below.)
The logon password isn't intended to protect your files. It's intended to keep others from logging onto your computer as you.
Arcticsid asked the Answer Line forum if his ISP can "sit back…watch a screen, and see everything you are doing at any given time?"
Not quite, but it's frightening close. Your Internet service provider tracks what IP addresses you contact, which effectively means they know the web sites you're visiting. They can also read anything you send over the Internet that isn't encrypted. Whether they actually do that is an open question.
According to Dan Auerbach, a Staff Technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, what they mostly collect is metadata--things like IP addresses and port numbers. With a little bit of work, this information can tell them who you're communicating with and help them make an educated guess about whether you visited a Web page or sent e-mail. As Auerbach told me in a phone conversation, they're tracking "who you're sending mail to but not the content."
Joyce V's computer is having trouble with security programs--a strong indication that her computer may be infected with malware.
Malware, once it has infected your PC, has a way of protecting itself. It may not want you to install a new antivirus program--or update your current one. So you need to scan your hard drive in a way that gets around the malware. The simplest way to do that is to do the scan outside of Windows.
Luckily, there are several bootable malware scanners. You put one of these on a CD or a flash drive, boot from that, and scan your hard drive. If they find something, they'll remove it.
Two programs dominate the field--Microsoft's Photo Gallery (formerly known as Windows Live Photo Gallery, and before that, as Windows Photo Gallery) and Google's Picasa. Both are excellent, and free.
They also share many features. For instance, both can use the tags (sometimes referred to as generic or descriptive tags) built into the .jpg file format. If you use the camera in your smartphone, either program can identify where the picture was taken. They both use face recognition algorithms to help you identify friends and family. They both allow you to touch up your picture, not only cropping it but also fine-tuning exposure. And when you want to share your pictures, both will upload them to appropriate sites.
Wirewire couldn't open Excel spreadsheets by double-clicking them, and turned to the Answer Line forum for help. My answer isn't specific to Excel.
Windows uses a file's extension (.xls, .docx, .mp3, and so on) to know what program should open it. But if the extension isn't associated with a particular application, Windows has no idea what to do with it.
Here's how to make that association in Windows 7, XP, and Vista: