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Can Failing to Drain Batteries Completely Before Recharging Them Still Cause Problems?

No. Only nickel cadmium batteries exhibited the notorious "memory effect." In fact, today's lithium ion batteries have the opposite problem: Draining the battery can shorten its life. So avoid letting the charge drop below 10 percent.

Heat affects lithium ion batteries, too. A laptop battery will last longer if you remove it before running the notebook for lengthy periods on AC power.

But anything you do merely delays the inevitable. These batteries start wearing out on the factory floor, and eventually they'll go bad even if they never see an electric current. Remember that before you buy a spare battery as protection against the day your current one dies.

What's the Easiest Way to Back Up Data?

Over the Internet--since that approach gives you both a constant, background backup and physical separation.

The easiest Internet backup service I know of is MozyHome. Once you set it up, it quietly backs up your files in the background as you work. The first, full backup can take days (you didn't ask me for the fastest way to back up data, did you?), but you'll barely notice it after that. Unlimited backup (for one PC) costs just $5 a month.

Should I Scan From a Print or From the Negative?

In theory, you should use the negative. It's the best version of the picture.

In reality, however, not all scanners support transparencies (negatives and slides). And some that do--my Epson 2480, for instance--don't produce a satisfactory image that way.

Also, if you're scanning only a few shots, rather than an entire roll, you'll find it easier to identify the ones you want from prints than from negatives.

If you do scan from negatives, use a resolution of 2000 dots per inch or greater. A negative contains more information than a print does, but packs the information into a much smaller space.

What Is the Best Way to Create Strong Passwords?

No encryption is secure if the password you use is easy to guess, and these days any word in the dictionary falls into that category--as do your kids' names.

So use a long string of seemingly random letters and numbers. Make up an easy-to-remember but impossible-to-figure-out formula using family names, birthdays, and memorable words. For instance, you might use your kids' name spelled backward, with every third letter capitalized, followed by your birthday squared--except that a formula printed in PC World might not be safe either. Come up with your own formula.

For more on the subject, read our forum topic, "How to Create a Strong Password."

You shouldn't depend on a single password everywhere you go. Use different ones for various Web sites and bank accounts. Write the passwords--or better yet, the formulas for coding them--on a business card, and carry it in your wallet in case you forget.

Or download Password Safe, a free, open-source password manage. Then you'll need to remember only the password for Password Safe itself.

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