Computer Users’ Group

November 19, 2008


How to Handle Email: Judging by the email that I receive, very few people properly handle several aspects of emailing.


Replying: It is not necessary in most cases to include the email that you just received in your reply. But it is the default setting in Outlook Express. When I send someone a long email perhaps with pictures or a video attached and the recipient replies with “Thanks” but also includes everything I just sent, I’ve used up a lot of memory unnecessarily. Go to Tools and go down to the bottom of the drop-down menu and click on Options. Look over all of the options and select or delete any that you want to change. Uncheck the box next to Include message in reply. When you feel it is appropriate to include the message that you received in your reply, go here and check that box for the one time that you need it and then uncheck it. In Thunderbird, click on Account settings and then Composition and addressing and make sure that the box in front if Quote original message in reply is not checked. When you reply to a message , after clicking on Reply, you can click on Options and select Quote message in reply. If you want to include the message that one time.


Forwarding: When you forward an email, you should wipe out all of the header information including all of the email addresses of other recipients. People harvest email addresses (they’re worth about $.25 a piece) and leaving them unnecessarily in a email makes it easy if the message goes astray. It also betrays a confidence; the message should be between you and your recipient(s) and not involve the names and email addresses of others. And it’s so easy to do. In either Outlook Express or Thunderbird, click on the message to open it, click Forward at the top of the page and then select the header information at you want to delete and then press Delete. You select the text that you want to delete by positioning the cursor at the beginning of the text and hold the left button down while you move the mouse to highlight everything that you want to delete.


Spam: Internet Explorer does not have a built in spam filter but in some cases your Internet Service Provider may block spam for you. You can block a sender or an entire domain, however. (Domain is what appears after the @).) Highlight the message header and then go to Message and then click on Block sender. That will block any future messages from that sender. I find, however, that there is little repeat spam; it all comes from different places so blocking will not be very effective. In Outlook Express, you can go to Tools, Options and then click on the Read tab. Uncheck the box that says Automatically download messages when viewing in the Preview Pane. In my experience, however, the messages still get downloaded. (I unchecked the box and then sent myself a message and previewed it in the Preview Pane. I then got off of the Internet and the message was in my inbox so it must have been downloaded anyway.) However, in Thunderbird you can select the option to only show the message header and you can then decide whether to download it or not. You can also select how long you want messages to stay on the server before they are deleted so if you don’t download a message it will be removed from the server. Go to Tools, Account Settings and click on Server Settings and then check the box that says Fetch Headers Only. Below that is where you can select how long you want to leave the messages on the server. You may need a reasonable amount of time in case you go away but you can leave it short and increase it if you will be away for a while.

Also in Thunderbird, you can enable an adaptive Junk Filter that will analyze your received email and send Spam to the Junk folder and it will learn as you mark mail that it misses as Spam. Go to Account Settings and then on Junk Settings and then check the appropriate boxes to allow receipt of mail from people in your address book and to use adaptive controls to learn. If you have download headers only checked, you can check on your junk folder often to see if you have mail there that shouldn’t be and if you declare it as Not Junk, the next message from that source will not go into your Junk Folder.


Clearing Out Junk: There are many places in your computer that unnessary files build up over time and it wastes space not to delete them and wastes even more space if you proceed to the next section and back them up with the rest of your data. Data collects in many places and there are free programs that you can download that will help rid you of them. One good one is CCleaner that you can get here: http://www.ccleaner.com/ .


When you run CCleaner, you start in Windows Mode and you are presented with four items in the left pane; Cleaner, Registry, Tools and Options. The program starts in Cleaner mode and lists all of the items that can be cleaned from your system. They are grouped into four categories: Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, System and Advanced. You can select the entire group by clicking on the icon in front of the name or you can select individual items. After you make your selection, you have the option to Analyze or run Cleaner. Note that if you’re not sure what a category includes, select it alone and run Analyze and it will tell you what files are involved. I selected all four groups and ran analyze and found that I had 289 MB and it took only 90 seconds. The first two under Internet Explorer should certainly be checked, Cookies and Temporary Internet Files. Other candidates are Empty Recycle Bin, Old Prefetch Data, Windows Log Files and Hotfix Uninstallers. Many of the others are useful to some people and a nuisance to others. Choose any that you don’t use. Then click on Analyze and the program will list what it found. When you are done analyzing, click on Options in the left pane and select Cookies. Then look down the list and find any that you want to keep and click on the ► to move it into the Cookies to Keep column. Click on Run Cleaner and it will delete the offending files.


After running in Windows Mode, you can click the tab at the top of the page to select applications. Here you’ll be able to clean out junk left by your programs. Run it the same way you did before, selecting what you want and then analyzing before running the Cleaner. Be sure that you have JAVA selected because there is a lot of data stored in Deployment/Prefetch that can be dumped.


Next down the list on the left is Registry. Unless you’re sure of what you’re doing, leave all of the boxes checked and click on Scan for Issues. When you’re done, click on Fix Selected Issues and indicate that you want to back up the registry first. That allows recovery in case an entry was removed that shouldn’t have been.


Data Backup: There’s nothing quite like having your computer die and find you’ve lost everything you’ve done, the pictures that you took, your life story that took you a year to write etc. Most people who make a living with what’s in their computer automatically back it up every night. That’s a bit much for casual use but frequent backups should be done by everyone. You can go to Start, Help and Support and enter Backup in the search box to learn all about system backup.


The first step to backing up is planning ahead. Years ago we were encouraged to create a folder called Data and put all of the data that we create into it and any sub-folders. Now, Windows has a My Documents folder and if you store all of your data there, you have a single entry to backup. Since My Documents resides in the Documents and Settings folder, backing that up will save all of your data and any settings that you had. So make sure that you don’t spread all of your data across multiple main folders but include it all in subfolders under a common parent folder such as My Documents. FamilyTreeMaker automatically saves files and backups in the FamilyTreeMaker folder. To back them up also, you have to either select them when you perform a backup or move them to the My Documents folder. In My Documents, create a folder called FTW Files and then move all of the FTW and FBK files from the FamilyTreeMaker folder into it. Select that location for any new files that you create. Also in FamilyTreeMaker, go to File and select Backup and then click the box for Custom and then select your new location as the place to store FBK files. Programs stored in your Program Files should not require backing up since you should have the installation disks for those but if you downloaded them you might want to backup your Download file.


You need a place to put the backup. If you have a CD or DVD writer, you may be able to use it if you don’t have too much to backup. (A DVD holds 4.7 GB). A better option is a second hard drive. They are available with USB connections so you can use one drive to backup your Desk Top and your Laptop. (They are available for about $90 for a 500 GB drive.) There are many backup programs that you can use. Some are called Image Backups that make an exact copy of everything on your hard drive and can restore it or move it to a new drive. That includes data, programs and the operating system, ie Windows. There’s a free program that you can get from runtime.org: http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htm . There is a backup program that came with Windows. Go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools and see if Backup is there. If not, you’ll have to install it from the Windows Installation disk. If it’s there, click on it and then click on Backup Files and Settings. (You can drag the word Backup onto your desktop so that you can have the backup icon handy.) If you’re backing up to a hard drive you might want to consider the first time that you backup, All of the information on this computer. For subsequent backups, you have a choice and if you want to determine what to backup, select the last option Let me choose what to backup. Select what you want backed up. When asked for a place to back it up, select the destination and choose a name for the file. There are various forms of backup. They include a Normal Backup, Incremental, and Differential. A normal backup backs up all the files that you have selected and marks the files as having been backed up. A differential backup backs up all of the files since the last normal backup. Each backup backs up all changed files even if the last differential backup already backed them up. Thus, to restore your files, you need the last normal backup and only the last differential backup. An incremental backup backs up only changed files since the last normal or incremental backup. To restore files you need the last normal backup file and all of the incremental backups. To get to those options, when you open Backup, click on the Advanced Mode and then select the options. There are options for daily backups and for scheduled backups.


One simple option is to alternate 2 re-writable DVDs and use one for a normal backup one week and the other, the next, then erase the first and start over, always having the last two backups. If I have a lot of photographs in My Pictures folder and/or a lot of videos in My Videos folder, I would exclude them from my backup. Instead, every time I add to either folder, I would also create or add to a DVD so as the have pictures and videos stored in a separate place beside my computer. Depending on how precious any of your data is, you may want to consider storing some off-site at a relative’s or in a safe deposit box.


If you back up to a hard drive, you might start out with a disk image of the entire disk and then continue as above with alternate weekly normal backups. Once a backup is complete, you can delete the previous backups (except the image) from your backup hard drive. You might want to save the next previous one as a precaution if you have enough room. To delete a file, click on it once to highlight it and then press SHIFT-DEL. If you just press DEL the file will go to your Recycle Bin; pressing SHIFT-DEL deletes it immediately. When prompted if you’re sure you want to delete it, click YES.


Help! Help files are provided with most applications (programs) and they usually contain everything you need to know to run the program. To get the most out of Help, you need to try to understand what it is that you’re trying to do in the language that your program uses. Are you trying to delete something or undo something? Copy or paste, save a web page, attach a file or locate what you just downloaded? In many programs you can get to Help by pressing F1. In fact, in some programs pressing F1 will take you a specific subject related to the last thing that you attempted to do. We’ll take a look at the Internet Explorer help file to see what’s involved.


When you run a program for the first time, it can be useful to see if there is a Tour of the program offered and take it to learn the program basics. In some cases you may have to be connected to the Internet and in others, you may need the disk that the program was installed from. If you need help on a specific problem, there are usually two choices; browse or search. While searching may be faster if you know specifically what you are after, browse allows you to see some of the things that the program does. When searching, try to think specifically what it is you are trying to do.


If we open IE and click on Help we find Contents and Index listed first and then the Tour. If we go to Contents and Index we find a listing of all the subjects covered listed in alphabetical order in the left pane and several helpful topics listed in the right pane. In the left pane there are four tabs that you can select and they include Contents, Index, Search and Favorites. The Contents tab opens a list of major subjects and if your need for Help falls in one of those areas, click on it to see what may be helpful. In any event, note the subjects listed so you’ll have a better idea of what the program can do and what help is available. The next tab is Index and it leads to a complete listing of subjects covered by the help file. Again, looking through this list will give you a better appreciation of what help is available. You can scroll down through it or click on the Search tab that will take you down the list to what you entered. If what you seek is not listed, try thinking of similar ways to express your thought. Is it change, modify or convert, or is it seek or find. Note that Spam is not listed in the Index as you might expect but if you type Spam in the search box, you’ll be taken to a page on Whether or not to trust an email message. So be diligent and try all approaches until you get your answer. If Browse doesn’t work, try Search and vice versa.