March 2012 Q&A
Q: We have a Dell computer with two accounts. One account uses Firefox and one uses Internet Explorer. The Firefox user exported bookmarks to HTML, but when the file was opened they were the IE bookmarks of the other account holder.
A: Mozbackup is the weapon of choice for all the Mozilla products. I'd try that. I don't know why the backup got IE bookmarks instead of Firefox but suspect a user error of some kind.
Michael Shalkey: Mozbackup is on the CIPCUG flash drive. It's free and backs up all the settings and other material you need to simplify reinstalling or setting up a new computer.
Q: Where does it put the backed up files?
A: Wherever you tell it to. We recommend using a flash drive.
Michael: You can have several profiles, and all of them can be backed up.
Toby: We've never had a problem with it backing up the wrong files or missing needed files.
Backing up partitions
Q: I'm using Acronis 2009 and want to back up a specific partition.
A: Acronis lets you pick the partition you want to back up and the location you want to back it up to. It can image an entire disk, a partition or selected files (such as My Documents).
Bookmarks on flash drive
Q: Can you put your bookmarks on a flash drive and then use that flash drive on a library or other public computer so that there's no trace of what you did on the computer?
A: Yes, if the public computer allows the use of flash drives. Export them to an HTML file, which will show the bookmark name and the full URL. Then just click on the URL.
Related to that, PortableApps, which is also on the CIPCUG flash drive, will let you create and store documents on the flash drive while working at any computer that allows a flash drive to be connected. When you leave, there's no trace of what you did on the computer - assuming you remember to take the flash drive.
Removing Thunderbird profile
Q: I created a profile in Thunderbird (questioner at first said Firefox) but can't figure out how to remove it.
A: From the Thunderbird Help file at http://support.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/kb/using-multiple-profiles?s=profiles&as=s:
Using Multiple Profiles
- As described in the Profiles article, Thunderbird saves personal information such as messages, passwords and user preferences in a set of files called a 'profile,' which is stored in a separate location from the Thunderbird program files.
- When you install Thunderbird it creates a profile called 'default.' This profile is used automatically. However, you can create additional profiles, each with their own set of account configurations, messages, etc. (Note, however, that you can access multiple email accounts within a single profile as well.)
- To create additional profiles, use the Thunderbird Profile Manager.
- Enabling the Profile Manager
- The Profile Manager is used to create and delete profiles, and to select the profile to use for a Thunderbird session. It is not displayed by default. Instead, you must invoke Thunderbird with a 'switch' that makes the Profile Manager appear. After that, the Profile Manager will be displayed every time Thunderbird starts, until you check the Don't ask at startup option.
To enable the Profile Manager:
Select Start | Run... from the Windows Start menu (use the search box on Vista and 7), then enter 'thunderbird.exe -ProfileManager' and click OK."
That brings up a box with the options to create, rename and delete profiles.
Q: Windows 8 is supposed to be coming in October. Do you recommend trying the beta version and is there a significant difference from Windows 7?
A: If you want to test the beta version, I recommend doing it with VMware, which we'll discuss during the program presentation, so let's hold this until then. However, Windows 8 is an early beta and I'd never recommend using a beta on a production machine. It's strictly for testing.
Michael: An early release is expected in March.
Toby: Commentators whose opinions I respect are saying the biggest effect will be on smartphones and tablets, rather than on desktops. Desktop computer sales are way down.
Display turns 90 degrees
Q: Sometimes when I leave my computer on all night, the display has rotated 90 degrees when I take it out of hibernation. Do you know why?
A: The only time I've heard of that is from a worm several years ago.
Michael: Ctrl-Alt-Up will fix it, according to this Web site, but it doesn't say what causes it.
(A different site, http://xperiencexp.blogspot.com/2005/09/display-rotated-90-degrees.html, suggests this cause:
("The Resolution: Open Control Panel>Display>Settings tab>advanced, navigate through the tabs to find a rotate display option. This option has come due to the graphic card you have installed. The option should allow you to rotate the display back to its original orientation.")
Q: I'm getting popup messages that say I've won something. I ignore them, and things seem OK.
A: Run Malwarebytes (http://www.malwarebytes.org). The first thing that malware does is try to disable all your anti-malware programs and then install more and more malware. After a while, what would have been a comparatively simple problem to solve becomes a difficult, expensive one to repair. I compare the problem to one with a car: If your car is banging and making other strange noises, do you keep driving it until it won't run or do you take it to a mechanic.
Q: Do those of using Vista have to worry about upgrading?
A: No. Vista was rushed to the shelves earlier than it should have been because the marketing folks at Microsoft were saying revenues were down and they needed a new version of Windows to boost sales. Since then, the patches have made it a very good operating system. In fact, Windows 7 is really just a minor upgrade of Vista. Vista is now so close to Windows 7 that there's nothing to talk about, except for a few security fixes, but if you have the latest service packs I wouldn't spend the money to upgrade. I'd put the money into RAM or a solid state drive, which improves the responsiveness of your computer so much that you'll wonder why you didn't do it before.
Michael: A solid state drive will spoil you, just as two monitors will, when you use a computer that doesn't have them.
Q: What's involved if you upgrade a solid state drive?
A: If it were my machine, I would do a fresh install of my operating system and programs on the solid state drive. This gets rid of the gunk in the registry, which grows every time you install software and is not always cleaned when the programs are removed. You can install a new drive for data or simply remove the programs from the old C: drive and leave the data on it. If you do this, be sure you know where all the data is because some programs store it in the program files. An 80 Gig solid state drive will run Vista and Windows 7 and your other software with no problems.
Q: How stable are the solid state drives?
A: It's hard to say with any certainty because they're so new, but the manufacturers are giving them 5-year warranties, while cutting the warranties for standard hard drives to one or two years. Solid state drives have no moving parts so should have long lives. They'll also conserve energy and will be especially good for the battery life of laptops, with a 50 percent improvement
Q: Do you need to defrag them?
A: It's not required and you don't want to do it. On standard drives, the head has to skip around the drive to find the bits and pieces of files, taking much longer. The solid state drives have no moving heads, so there's time lost in finding the pieces.
Q: I installed the new Firefox and when I clicked on the icon nothing happened.
A: Try starting it in safe mode. Go to Start > Run and type "firefox -safemode" (without the quotes). This will let you troubleshoot the program.
Another method from the Firefox Help page (http://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/Safe%20Mode):
How to start Firefox in Safe Mode
The page notes that safe mode in Firefox is not related to the overall Windows safe mode. Safe mode in Firefox disables all add-ons.
If you don't find the problem, uninstall the program, download it again in case the download was damaged and reinstall.