Saturday, September 26, 2009

Are Those Deleted Files Really Gone?

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001
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Vol. 9, #89 - Sep 22, 2009 - Issue #397



 Are Those Deleted Files Really Gone?



  1. Editor's Corner
    • Are Those Deleted Files Really Gone?
    • Follow-up: AutoComplete Oopsies
    • Quotes of the Week


  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Microsoft launches Office Web Apps technical preview
    • XP on your Phone: now it's a reality
    • Microsoft sues malicious advertisers


  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to change the Control Panel category for an application


  5. XP Security News
    • End of support for XP SP2 is less than a year away


  6. XP Question Corner
    • Startup problem: "can't find logon.exe"


  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Keep RAS connections active after logging off
    • Screensaver timeout value is not restored after you use RDC


  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff


  9. Product of the Week
    • New DownloadStudio 5.1. - More Features, More Downloads, More Speed.







Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

We asked users of antivirus products what they didn't like about their AV software. They told us they are resource hogs and slowed their computer down. They told us that scan times took way too long, and that the AV software nagged them. In short, old-style AV software takes too much Memory and CPU. Time to switch to VIPRE! It gives you malware protection that combines antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit and other technologies into a seamless, tightly-integrated product. Even if you run "free" antivirus software, it hijacks 20% of your PC, so it's really not free at all! Get VIPRE now and see how fast your PC can really be:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-VIPRE





 Editor's Corner


Are Those Deleted Files Really Gone?

Electronic data is a funny thing. Seems as if it's always disappearing when you don't want it to, and when you do want to get rid of it for good, it may just hang around to haunt you. Which is worse: losing a 25 page document you spent the week perfecting, or having someone find incriminating "evidence" on your computer that you thought you'd deleted? I guess it depends on who you are and just how incriminating that evidence is. Either way, you're probably not going to be a happy camper.

Fixing the first problem is relatively easy and can be summed up in three little words: "Back it up." Save often, and if it's really important, save to different locations. When I'm working on a document or slide deck that's very complex, has a tight deadline for completion and/or is a high dollar project, I take multiple precautions. In addition to frequently saving copies on both the server and my local computer, after every couple of hours of work I'll email a copy to my Hotmail or Gmail account and/or upload it to my SkyDrive, to ensure that even if a tornado swoops down and destroys every computer in my house, there will still be a backup of my work "out there" somewhere.

Some people just can't get into the habit of hitting CTRL+S, and for them, the Autosave function can be a lifesaver. By default, Word 2007 saves information every 10 minutes but you can set it to an even shorter interval if you like (Word Options, Save). I love the autorecovery feature in modern versions of Office. I still remember when a computer crash could result in losing everything you'd typed since the last time you manually saved the document. We've come a long way, baby.

You can also automate the backup of your files to another location. There are a number of programs that will create a copy of designated files to an external hard drive or another computer on the network, running in the background and needing no interaction with the user. Businesses use full fledged disaster recovery programs such as Sunbelt's Double-Take to back up entire systems and applications, as well as data. Home users on a budget can get less expensive tools to clone systems or just back up data. If you're running XP Pro, you can use the built-in backup utility to copy your documents and settings (which includes your email and address books). Although the backup tool wasn't installed by default on XP Home computers, you can manually install it from the installation CD. There are numerous commercial programs that will create a system image.

The second issue is more complicated. Some people might think that when you hit "Delete," that document, email message or photo is "erased," but that's not usually the case. The first place it might still be is in the Recycle Bin. Microsoft introduced this feature in Windows 95 and most (but not all) files that you delete via Windows Explorer to this "file purgatory." Files that you delete using the command line or other applications won't necessarily go into the Recycle Bin. Even though you see a single Recycle Bin icon on your desktop, Windows creates a Recycle Bin folder for each drive. Files that are stored on removable drives, such as USB drives, may or may not go to the Bin when deleted; it depends on whether Windows recognizes the drive as a permanent one (as it does with many large USB drives) or as a removable drive (as it does with most small USB flash drives). Technically, how Windows see a drive depends on whether the Removable Media bit is set in the drive's device descriptor.

In addition, if a file is too large, it won't go into the Recycle Bin. In XP, the default size for the Recycle Bin folder is 10% of the total drive space. This is also the maximum. You can change the size to make it smaller or even set it to zero so files on that drive can't go to the Recycle Bin at all. To change the settings, right click the Bin icon and select Properties. You can use the Global setting to change the size of the Bin on all drives at once, or you can change settings for each drive separately.

Obviously, the Recycle Bin can be security risk. However, you might be relieved to know that if your drives are formatted with NTFS, other users won't be able to see the files in your user account's Recycle Bin (unless, of course, they're logged on with your account). If you've accidentally deleted a file and it's in the Bin, you can easily restore it to its original location.

Just because a file isn't in the Bin, that doesn't mean it's gone. First, you should check the application you used to delete it. For example, when you delete an email message in Outlook, it goes into the "Deleted Items" folder. It's still there until you empty that folder. You might have Outlook set up to empty it when you close the program, but if not, it will stay there until you manually empty it (or click the item in the Deleted Items folder and "delete" it again). Deleted Outlook messages don't go into the Recycle Bin.

You might think, then, that if you delete an Outlook message from the Deleted Items folder, or if you empty the Recycle Bin, those files are finally gone forever. Not so fast! All that happens is that the space that file is using on the disk is marked as "free" so other data can be written to it. But until it's overwritten, the data itself is still there. However, it's a bit more difficult to recover at this point; it requires special file recovery software such as Undelete Plus, File Scavenger, or one of dozens of other programs that are available for this purpose.

Even after the data has been overwritten, it may still be possible to recover some or all of it. Expensive commercial data forensics services can use very sophisticated programs to reconstruct the underlying data in some cases. At the physical level, if drive heads are not in perfect alignment, for example, the subsequent write operation may not completely cover the original data. Additionally, the operating system may have made copies of the data that remain in the page file (swap file), temporary files, or even remapped bad disk blocks.

Overwriting the data numerous times has a better chance of obliterating it. There are a number of programs available that do just that. Simple disk-wiping programs just write zeros over all the data on a single pass. Medium security programs overwrite the data two or three times, first using a 1 or 0, then using the opposite character, and finally using a random character. The so-called Guttman method overwrites the data thirty-five times!

It can take a long time to overwrite data this way. A faster method for wiping a drive is to use a magnetic device that's designed for that purpose (called a degausser). They create a magnetic field that erases the magnetic bits on the media. The devices are relatively expensive and are usually used when a company has many drives they need to erase quickly. They also destroy the drive's formatting information and thus render the drives usable, so they're only used when you want to dispose of the drive.

Of course, if you have only a few drives that need to be disposed of, you can save money by simply physically destroying them. A sledge hammer works well; be sure to break all the platters. According to some sources, the NSA grinds old drives into powder, and the military has powerful magnets that can destroy a drive in five seconds:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Destroy-a-Hard-Drive

If you really want to get extreme, other methods - which we don't recommend trying at home) include immersing the drive in muriatic acid or burning it with thermite:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Destroy-Hard-Drive

Tell us about the experiences you've had with files that get deleted when you still want them, or those that didn't go away when you thought they had. What programs have worked best for you to recover accidentally deleted data? What extra precautions do you take when you have sensitive data and need to ensure that it's really been deleted? We invite you to join in the discussion on the forum at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Forum-Discussion


Follow-up: AutoComplete Oopsies

Last week, I wrote about the AutoComplete and AutoCorrect features in software that can save you time - or cause you great embarrassment. Quite a few of our readers note that they turn off AutoCorrect in their word processing programs. Others pointed out that you can use AutoCorrect as a shortcut by creating your own entries; that is, if you use a certain long word or phrase a lot, you can create an association with a short letter combination. For example, let's say you need to write an article about the hill named Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu in New Zealand and don't want to have to type its name every time. You can create an AutoCorrect entry so that whenever you type "tahu," it will insert the full 85-character name.

I wanted to respond to this comment from DavidW: "The only thing I leave AutoComplete turned on is my cell/mobile phone for texting/text messaging (anything to make that faster and easier is welcomed). When on the computer, I find it easier to just type in words than take my hand off the keyboard, move it to the mouse, and then back again." I, too, dislike having to move my hand from the keyboard to the mouse, but there's no need to do that with most AutoComplete implementations. When the list of suggested completions pops up, just scroll through them with the arrow keys and then hit "Enter" when you get to the one you want.

Jbinbi wrote that, "The best feature MS had in Outlook 2000, they took away in future versions. This was the ability to add an email address to your address book automatically. There was a check book to enable this feature that all REPLY TOs would automatically get added to the address book. This meant that you did not have to manually add them." I hated to lose that feature, too. The good news is that the functionality can be added to later versions of Outlook with a third party application called Add Contacts, from Office-Addins.com. It will automatically add the addresses when you reply to a message or send a new message, and it checks your Contacts first to avoid creating duplicates. It costs $15 but you can try it out for 30 days at no cost.

When you install the program, it adds a tab to the Options dialog box (under Tools) where you can configure how you want it to work, the Contacts folder location where you want it to store added contacts, and whether to try to find the contact's name in the body of the message if it doesn't appear as part of the address, as well as whether to assign a category. You can even process messages that you've previously sent to add those addresses to your Contacts list. Find out more about it here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Add-Contacts

Dr. Ryan J. asked how to save the custom dictionaries in Word so he can use it in a new installation. In Word 2007, the dictionary is saved with the .dic extension. Search for *.dic to find these files and then copy them to a backup location if you just want to save the dictionaries. Gskarbek notes that if you've created a customized AutoCorrect list, you can copy it to a new computer, too. In this case, look for the .acl files. And as DavidW pointed out, you can also use the "Save My Settings" wizard in Microsoft Office tools to export your settings from Office programs and import them to a fresh installation.

And several of you picked up on an example of something that AutoCorrect doesn't correct: words that are spelled correctly but misspelled in context (in the "How To" section, two letters were transposed so that what should have been "Use" was turned into "Sue"). Great catch! And Coffeeturtle (love that nickname) had a good tip: use Office Sounds so you get an audible cue when words are changed automatically.

Finally, for those who of you who don't read the forums, Bruce B. shared this useful little article on the heartbreak of relying on the AutoComplete list instead of properly populating your Contacts folder. Read it here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Auto-Complete

Thanks to all of you who participated in the discussion on this topic.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor
feedback@wxpnews.com

Follow Deb on Twitter

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called Win7News? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Win7News

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-WServerNews

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Quotes of the Week

There are some that only employ words for the purpose of disguising their thoughts. - Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

If the people who make the decisions are the people who will also bear the consequences of those decisions, perhaps better decisions will result. - John Abrams

A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation. - Saki/Hector Hugh Munro (1870 - 1916)






Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-SPF





 Cool Tools


Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

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 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks


Microsoft launches Office Web Apps technical preview

GoogleApps, look out. Microsoft is coming at you with Office Web Apps, which is a web-based version of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for those who prefer the familiar Microsoft Office interface and functionality. Office Web Apps was just released in a private technical preview (OneNote will also be part of the suite but is not included in this release), and will be made available in public beta within the next few months and then as a free Windows Live service next year. It will be integrated with Office 2010. Find out more here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Office-Web-Apps


XP on your Phone: now it's a reality

When you think about cell phones running Windows, you usually think about Windows Mobile. It's a good OS for the little devices, but it's a far cry from a full fledged computer operating system. Now it appears you're going to be able to get a phone that comes with a real desktop OS - Windows XP - installed on a real hard disk. Great idea, but it really looks more like a UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) than the typical phone. It weighs just a little less than a pound, which is light for a computer but heavy for a phone. Still, it's interesting. Take a look:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-XP-Cellphone


Microsoft sues malicious advertisers

"Malvertising" - online ads that spread malicious code - is a growing threat to the computer using public and Microsoft has filed lawsuits against five entities that have been behind it, as well as the associated individuals. The company filed suit because the advertisers are using its AdManager service to launch their attacks. This is nothing new; in the past Microsoft has filed suit against spammers, spimmers (who distribute spam through instant messaging), and others who engage in similar activities. Read more here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Malicious-Advertising





 How To: Using XP Features


How to change the Control Panel category for an application

Many of us prefer the Classic view for Control Panel, but others like XP's Categories view. Some readers have asked me, though, if they can move items from one category to another - this especially applies to programs that put their own applets in the Control Panel, sometimes not in the category where you'd expect it to be. Turns out you can do that, if you're comfortable with editing the registry. Here's how:

  1. First back up the registry, just in case.
  2. Open the registry editor and navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Control Panel \ Extended Properties \ {305CA226-D286-468e-B848-2B2E8E697B74} 2
  3. In the right pane, each DWORD value is named after the full path to its Control Panel file. Find the one you want to move and double click it.
  4. In the Value Data field, enter the value associated with the Category where you want to place it, from the list below.
  Accessibility Options  0x00000007 Add or Remove Programs  0x00000008 Appearance and Themes  0x00000001 Date, Time & Language  0x00000006 Network & Internet  0x00000003 Other Control Panel Options 0x00000000 Performance & Maintenance 0x00000005 Printers & Other Hardware 0x00000002 Security Center   0x00000010 Sounds, Speech & Audio  0x00000004 User Accounts   0x00000009 




 XP Security News


End of support for XP SP2 is less than a year away

If you're still running Windows XP with Service Pack 2, here's a heads-up: Microsoft will end support for that configuration in July 2010, so you'd best start thinking about installing SP3. It may seem as if that date is a long way off, but time does fly when you're having fun, so mark your calendars or just bite the bullet and go ahead and update now. XP SP3 will be supported until April 2014.
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Product-Lifecycle





 XP Question Corner


Startup problem: "can't find logon.exe"

QUESTION:
Okay, here's a puzzler. I have an old Windows XP computer that I hadn't used in a while. It's just been sitting in the guest room for several months, since I got a new computer. My daughter came to visit and I was going to let her use it. Fired it up and got a message saying "Windows cannot find logon.exe." That sounds like a pretty important thing to get lost, and I don't have a clue how it got lost. The computer still booted but it's acting a little weird, like copy and paste not working right. Is this something I can copy from another computer or download somewhere or ...? Thanks for your help. - Jack E.

ANSWER:
Sometimes you can fix this problem with a simple registry edit. As always, be sure to back up the registry first. Then perform these steps:

  1. Open your registry editor and navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows NT \ Winlogon
  2. In the right pane, double click Shell.
  3. In the values box, if you see "Explorer.exe" and then "Logon.exe," delete the "Logon.exe" part only.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Close the registry editor.
  6. Reboot the computer.
You can see screenshots of the steps here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Logon-Error





 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting


Keep RAS connections active after logging off

By default, when you log off your XP computer that's acting as a Remote Access Services (RAS) client, your connections will be automatically disconnected. However, if you don't want that to happen, you can stay connected after logging off by enabling the KeepRasConnections key in the registry. Yes, it requires a registry edit. For step by step instructions on how to do it, see KB article 158909 at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-RAS-Connections


Screensaver timeout value is not restored after you use RDC

If you have a screensaver timeout value configured on your Windows XP Pro computer, and then you log onto it via a Remote Desktop Connection with a different user account, when you log back on locally you might find that the screensaver timeout reverts to the value in the default profile rather than using the one in your profile. To find out how to fix this, see KB article 811329 at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-Screensaver-Time-Out





 Fav Links


This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.





 Product of the Week


New DownloadStudio 5.1. - More Features, More Downloads, More Speed.

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http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/090922-DownloadStudio




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