Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
The 10 most popular questions for 2011 as measured by visits to Ask Leo! This year's top issue? Email account theft.
That's a lot of people who've visited Ask Leo! in the last 12 months.
United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India, and Australia make up the top five countries from which people are visiting. (And if you have any doubt that the internet is global - over half the visitors are located outside the U.S.)
40% of visitors were using Internet Explorer, with Firefox and Chrome at 28% and 20% respectively.
And folks visiting using mobile devices such as iPhones (the #1 device for 2011), Android phones, and various tablets showed a very steady increase over the course of the year.
And what questions are they asking?
How do I change my Windows Live Hotmail password? How to change your Hotmail password isn't always obvious, particularly when Windows Live keeps changing. I'll walk through changing your Hotmail password.
How do I close my Windows Live Hotmail account? It's easy to close a Windows Live account, including Hotmail. I'll show you the steps, but then ask: why bother closing the account?
Someone's sending from my email address! How do I stop them?! Email spoofing is rampant. Spammers often send email that looks like it came from you. And there's little that you can do about it.
Where is my Outlook "PST" file located? Outlook's PST or Personal STore is a single file that holds your email, contacts, and more. You can use Outlook itself to find the location of the file.
What are iso files, and how do I open them? Iso files are a common disk image distribution format. We'll look at the best ways to open iso files as well as a couple of ways to create them.
I accidentally deleted my Recycle Bin in Vista - how do I get it back? It turns out to be fairly easy to accidentally delete the desktop Recycle Bin in Vista. Getting the Recycle Bin back is easy, just not obvious.
How do I fix a cyclic redundancy check error when I try to copy a file? CRC errors happen when there's a bad spot on the media of your hard disk. Data recovery and disk repair are often possible with the right tools.
What's the difference between a Hub, a Switch and a Router? Hubs, switches and routers are all computer networking devices with varying capabilities. Unfortunately, the terms are also often misused.
Why is my Task Manager disabled, and how do I fix it? Task manager can be disabled manually, but more commonly, it's disabled by a virus. It's easy to re-enable once you're virus-free.
Can I send text messages between a computer and a cell phone? Well, let's clear one thing up right away: cell phone text messaging, or "SMS" text messaging, is not the same as instant messaging on your computer. They're two very different systems.
The top four articles are all about email, and in my opinion, they are all as high as they are for one very simple reason:
Email accounts are getting compromised at an alarming rate.
Specifically online email accounts where your computer may not be involved at all. Someone guesses or captures your email account password and uses it to start sending spam.
As you can see, Hotmail accounts are highly represented in this year's list, as people search for ways to change their password after a breech or to just shut down the account all together.
If you take away only one lesson from 2011, let it be this: protect your email account.
Much like last year, the rest of the list shows issues that people often face.
What do to with an .iso file hits the list for the second time. This is either a reflection of software being distributed in this disk-image format or rising piracy.
Vista users are still accidentally deleting their Recycle Bin due to some very confusing UI. Fortunately, Windows 7 removed the easy-to-make mistake.
Are CRC errors on the rise? It would appear so. Perhaps as hard disk manufacturers push the envelope on disk density, the error rate that users are seeing is going up. You know my solution, of course: backup.
The hub/switch/router article is one of my oldest, but this is the first time that it's cracked the top 10. I'm never sure how much of this is honest curiosity or the result of assigned homework in computer and IT classes.
Our only directly-malware related item, the disabled task manager, holds its number nine position.
Email-to-text messages and back is a perennial favorite. (This article will see an update in the coming year as new techniques are starting to show up.)
As in previous years, malware doesn't really make a strong showing on the list.
What's clear, however, is that email security remains seriously lax for many users. Email account theft continues to rise and as a result, so does spam and extortion/phishing attempts.
With so many services tied to the same account - as with Google, Windows Live, Yahoo, and others - the number of opportunities for a slip-up in our personal security is surprisingly large.
And the cost is high.
I'll say it again. If you take away only one lesson from 2011, let it be this: protect your email account.
Onward ... let's see what 2012 brings.
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