Monday, October 19, 2009

Breaking up is Hard to Do - Especially When You Share a Computer

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001

Vol. 9, #93 - Oct 20, 2009 - Issue #401

 Breaking up is Hard to Do - Especially When You Share a Computer

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Breaking up is Hard to Do - Especially When You Share a Computer
    • Follow-up: Not so fast on upgrading from XP to Win7
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Microsoft still battling over XP "spyware"
    • Acer offers dual boot netbook
    • How to access your XP external hard drive from a different computer
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to copy your user data from a corrupted profile
  5. XP Security News
    • Beware Firefox plug-in
  6. XP Question Corner
    • Where's the Hibernate button in XP SP2?
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • How to remove file or folder encryption in XP Pro
    • Use the BitLocker to Go Reader on XP
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • New Version 7.1 Capture, Print And Save Anything Your Screen

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:

VIPRE now has a fan page on Facebook! Check it out:

 Editor's Corner

Breaking up is Hard to Do - Especially When You Share a Computer

Last week I got an interesting message from a newsletter reader who's also a Facebook friend, recounting some of the computer-related issues that came up during the recent breakup of his marriage. I confess it's a subject I hadn't given a lot of thought to. I'm lucky enough to have a pretty solid marriage, and even if I didn't, Tom and I have our own, separate computers. I guess we might fight over custody of the kitchen computer and/or the Media Center PC, but neither of those contains personal files.

In many families, though, everyone uses a single shared PC. And in many cases, spouses haven't made much effort to keep their data separated. In most community property states, the law says that if you "co-mingle" your funds by putting your money into a joint account, it becomes jointly owned property. As far as I know, there are no specific laws addressing the ownership of digital data, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a court case arise out of that very issue (if one hasn't already).

At the very least, if you haven't created digital boundaries, getting all your stuff (or all your spouse's stuff) off the computer may be a time consuming and tedious process. If you have things on that shared computer that would be "incriminating" in a breakup, or even just work data that's confidential, you have an even bigger problem. Copies of files hide everywhere - in the paging file, on the drive after deletion, in cache files and temp files. Sure, you could just nuke the whole drive - but then you destroy your spouse's data, too, which isn't likely to make him/her very happy.

Just as few people see the need for a prenuptial agreement when they get married because they can't imagine that they'll ever divorce, few people are thinking about how they would divide their electronic property at the time they set up a computer together. But it makes it much easier if you start out by keeping things at least a little separated. The first step is to set up two different user accounts and only log on with your own account. Sure, it seems like an unnecessary bother to have to log on just to look up something on the web or send a quick message, but it's a good habit to get into. And believe it or not, in a divorce, even your web browsing history can become an issue. With separate accounts, your web history files will be separate, as will your documents, pictures and music folders. They'll all be part of your user profile and can easily be copied or removed without interfering with your spouse's files.

Using the Fast User Switching feature that was introduced in XP makes using separate accounts less of a chore. However, it can also slow down your computer if it has very limited resources and it's not compatible with some third party programs.

Next, if you can afford it, buy separate external hard drives for storing your data. They're relatively inexpensive (you can easily find a 500 GB USB drive for well under $100) and simple to attach/detach. Whenever you save a document, spreadsheet, graphics file, etc., put it on your external hard drive. Change the default save location for the programs you use to automatically save your files there. Even if your marriage never breaks up, this will make it far easier when you get a new PC (or two). And if you don't have anything to hide from each other, this setup also provides an easy way to back up your data so that there's a copy of each person's data in a special folder on the other person's drive, in case one of the drives fails.

Of course, sometimes that shared PC itself is the catalyst for the breakup. Some folks share a computer, but encrypt their files to keep curious family members out of them. Technologically, that works. Psychologically, not so much. An encrypted file is like a red flag, waving and screaming "Here is something I don't want you to see." If you really want to make your husband or wife suspicious, start encrypting all your files. Of course, it's even worse if you don't encrypt your files, and use the computer for things that you shouldn't be doing. Evidence of affairs (whether virtual or physical), visits to "adult" web sites, gambling habits that you're trying to hide from your spouse, etc. will come back to haunt you sooner or later. I tend to think anyone who keeps such information on a computer is subconsciously hoping to get caught.

But even if you aren't doing anything wrong, there are myriad reasons for each spouse to have his/her own computer if you can possibly afford it. And with decent systems going for under $500 today, that solution is not just for the "well off" anymore. Some people - the young and/or romantic - might protest that wanting separate computers implies that something illicit is going on, and/or that you don't trust the other person not to snoop. That's a little like saying that because your spouse wants to have his/her own car, he/she doesn't love you.

Marriage, when it's a good one, is a wonderful thing. It's the closest you can ever be to another person. But no matter how much you love each other, you still are two different people. You have your own preferences and ways of doing things. My husband likes to eat in the car; I don't like my car to smell of food. I'm shorter; I like to get into my car and not have to readjust the seat and mirrors. I like something sporty and low to the ground. He favors a big truck that puts him up high above the traffic. Having our own vehicles in no way reduces our intimacy - in fact, it contributes to our getting along better.

And so does having our own separate computers. I like my desktop configured one way, with a vertical taskbar and a few select icons on the desktop. He keeps his taskbar in the traditional horizontal position, and has so many icons it makes me dizzy. He has programs installed that I have no use for at all. I like my monitors arranged differently, and so on.

Shared computer problems aren't confined to marital or romantic situations. Sometimes we have no choice about sharing, as when we have to share a computer with others at work. Once again, at the very least each user should have a separate user account. This is important in a business setting even if you're not worried about privacy, because it enables accountability so that one person doesn't get blamed for another person's actions.

There's one circumstance, though, in which computer sharing may be a good idea. That's when you have young children using the computer. Having them use a shared "family" computer can help deter undesirable or dangerous online behavior and help you, as a parent, keep closer tabs on what they're doing. However, the ideal situation is to have the child use a computer that's shared with the parents, while the parents still have their own computer(s) that the child can't access. Do you really want the computer you depend on to get work done loaded up with games and exposed to viruses because your child clicked the wrong link?

Tell us what you think. Do you share a computer within your family or at work? Does sharing cause any problems? If your spouse walked out on you tomorrow and took the family computer, would you be worried about what you might have left on it? Do you have a backup of the data you would need? If you do share a computer, do you keep user accounts separate and store data separately (preferably on a separate physical drive but at least in a separate partition or folder)? Do your kids have their own computers or do they use a shared machine? At what age do you think they should be trusted with their own machines in their own rooms? We invite you to discuss this topic in our forum at

Follow-up: Not so fast on upgrading from XP to Win7

In last week's editorial, I addressed the question that seems to be on the minds of many XP users: to upgrade to Windows 7 or not to upgrade?

It appears that some of our long-time XP holdouts have decided to take the plunge with Windows 7. I noticed a reason that was mentioned was the ability to record TV and, indeed, Windows Media Center was one of the best reasons (in my opinion) to move from XP to Vista. Media Center in Windows 7 is even better. You can read some of my comments about it here:

Another very good point that was brought up: although Microsoft does not provide upgrade paths for certain scenarios (XP to Win7, 32 bit Vista to 64 bit Win7, etc.), there are third party programs such as PCmover from Laplink that purport to allow you to do these as in-place upgrades (without having to reinstall your applications). Here are some articles and reviews from the Laplink site:

I would only caution folks using those programs that Microsoft does not support these upgrades, so if you have problems with the OS afterward, you're on your own. And although the Laplink site says "no need to copy files to external media," I would urge you to always back up your important data to an external or network drive or a separate physical drive before doing an operating system upgrade, including a supported thing. Even if it only goes wrong .001 percent of the time, that's not much comfort if you're the one in a million who loses your data.

Tim G. commented that "Most of the naysayers that I have talked to that swear they are not going to switch from XP (and some even from Vista) have not even seen Windows 7 in action much less use it at all." One thing I did notice in the forum posts was that most of the people who are dead set against Windows 7 don't mention ever having used it. My advice to those who are on the fence is to wait until Windows 7 is released and then go to an electronics store, or borrow a computer on which it's installed from a friend, and just play with it for a while. Find out whether the performance and usability improvements are things that make it worth the upgrade for you. For some, XP will suffice for a long time to come. Others will be impressed enough by the new stability and the ability to navigate the file system more quickly (once you embrace the new navigation features) that they'll want to upgrade sooner rather than later. There is no "one size fits all" answer to the question. It depends on your preferences, how you work, what you do with your computer, your budget and other individual factors.

As always, a big "thank you" to all those who participated in this discussion.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

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Quotes of the Week

An undefined problem has an infinite number of solutions. - Robert A. Humphrey

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is wise to remember that you are one of those who can be fooled some of the time. - Lawrence J. Peter

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!

 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


Search for a driver and you get a ton of Driver Software offers instead. But how do you know which one is good? Try Driver Genius 9.0. Free scan.

Replace the horrendous Word 2007 ribbon with familiar Office 2003 functionality. Try Classic Menu For Word 2007.

Backups? Why back up when you can sync? Simply replicate every piece of data to another drive in real-time. Set it and forget it.

Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!

PC Tune-Up: 4 Easy Steps That Eliminate Frustrating Slow Computer Problems:

Registry First Aid 7.0 - New Release Is Faster, Safer and Even More Effective

Improve your English writing skills with WhiteSmoke a smarter solution for high quality writing. Download the free trial version here.

Rip DVDs for your iPod/iPhone or Apple TV. Bundle includes video converter too! Try it free!

Unclog Vista! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:

 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Microsoft still battling over XP "spyware"

The court battle goes on, over whether Microsoft improperly distributed the Windows Genuine Advantage software through Windows Update. The plaintiffs liken it to spyware, although the U.S. District Court previously ruled that the WGA distribution didn't violate the End User License Agreement (EULA) that users agree to by installing and using the operating system. You can read more about the case here:

Acer offers dual boot netbook

Speaking of sharing computers, what if you and your partner occasionally need a super compact computer to take to a meeting or on a trip, but rarely at the same time? It might make sense to buy one netbook and share it - but what if your other half likes a simple *NIX based operating system and you prefer Windows? Never fear: Acer's new Aspire One comes already preconfigured as a dual boot system, with Google Android sharing the drive space with Windows XP. Or maybe you'd like to try out Android but you don't want to give up your Windows applications. At just $349, this "two for the price of one" deal seems like a good one for a number of different scenarios. Read more here:

How to access your XP external hard drive from a different computer

If you have an external USB hard drive that you use with your XP machine, and then said machine's hardware fails, you can plug the drive into another computer and access the data - or can you? A common problem with this scenario is the dreaded "access denied" message that indicates your user account on the new computer doesn't have the correct permissions to get into the files on the external drive. The solution is to log on with an administrative account and then take ownership of the files and folders on the external drive. This article explains how to do it when the new machine is running Vista; the procedure is similar with a Windows 7 computer.

 How To: Using XP Features

How to copy your user data from a corrupted profile

Occasionally user profiles become corrupt. You can copy data from your old profile to a new one, to preserve your settings, preferences and documents. Here's how:
  1. First create a new profile by logging on with administrative credentials and clicking Start | Control Panel | User Accounts
  2. Under "Pick a Task," click "Create a new account," enter a name, and click Next.
  3. Select the account type and click "Create account."
  4. Now log on with an account that is not the one you're copying the files from or to.
  5. Right click Start, select Windows Explorer, and click Folder Options.
  6. On the View tab, check "Show hidden files and folders," uncheck "Hide Protected Operating System files," and click OK.
  7. Navigate to
  8. Press and hold the CTRL key to click every subfolder and file in this folder except: Ntuser.dat, Ntuser.dat.log, and Ntuser.ini.
  9. Click Edit | Copy or press CTRL+C or right click and select Copy.
  10. Navigate to the :\Documents and Settings folder again and find the folder with the user name of the new profile. Open that folder.
  11. Click Edit | Paste or press CTRL+V or right click and select Paste.
  12. Log off and then log on with the new user account. This will transfer your preferences (wallpaper, desktop icons), settings and documents from the My Documents folder. This will not import your email messages to the new profile.

 XP Security News

Beware Firefox plug-in

A Microsoft add-in makes Firefox vulnerable to attack, according to recent reports. Thus one of the thirteen security bulletins released this month applies to Firefox as well as IE. This is due to a .NET component (called the .NET Framework Assistant) that was distributed as an update last February.

 XP Question Corner

Where's the Hibernate button in XP SP2?

I have a computer that has Windows XP SP3 installed and there is no Hibernate option when I click to turn off the computer on the Start menu. I have an older machine with XP, SP1 and it has the Hibernate button so I assume SP2 or SP3 removed it, but is there a way to get it back? Thanks. - Lil K.

The Hibernate option does not appear in the "Turn off the Computer" menu on XP computers with SP2 or above, even if you have hibernation enabled on the computer. Getting that option is an easy matter, though: just press the SHIFT key when you click "Turn off Computer." This should change the Standby button to Hibernate. There is also a hotfix that you can apply to make Hibernate always appear as one of the options without pressing the SHIFT key. You'll have to edit the registry after applying the hotfix. To find out how to get it, see

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

How to remove file or folder encryption in XP Pro

If you use Windows XP Professional, you can use the Encrypting File System (EFS) to protect sensitive data. Sometimes, however, you may decide to remove the encryption from a file so it can be read by others. Only authorized users (the original user who encrypted the file, a recovery agent or a user who has been granted access) can decrypt a file or remove encryption. To find out how, see KB article 308993 at

Use the BitLocker to Go Reader on XP

Windows 7 includes a new feature called BitLocker to Go, that lets you encrypt removable drives such as USB thumb drives. Even though Windows XP doesn't support BitLocker, you can still read the encrypted data on a USB drive by using the BitLocker to Go Reader on Vista or XP. To find out how, see

 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 Version 7.1 Capture, Print And Save Anything Your Screen

Print Screen Deluxe is the original and still the best screen capture utility. It provides a fast and easy way to capture, print and save your screen. One keystroke does it all! With one keystroke you can capture and print the entire screen, the current window, a selected region, and more. You can capture your screen instantly, or after a time delay.7.1 Now includes a thumbnail viewer so you can see all of the images you have Auto-Saved. Live Update will make sure that you always have the latest version. rename, convert and more... all with a right click. WXPNews readers get $15.00 off with coupon. Download the trial version here and see all the features.

 About WXPnews

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Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.