Frequently Asked Questions

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Every day Pamela receives numerous questions from troubled computer and iPad/iPhone users, by email and at various seminars and workshops. Her answers provide advice on a variety of subjects related to computer hardware and software and Apple iPad and iPhones. Listed below are the questions that Pamela feels will be helpful to most users, from beginners to the more advanced.

If you cannot find the answer to your question listed below, ask Pamela your questions here or click on the ‘Ask Pamela’ link on the sidebar menu below the category list. You can also leave Pamela a Message by clicking on the Blue Button at the bottom of the right hand sidebar. Pamela always answers promptly.

Internet Security

How do I disable AutoComplete Password Storage?

The AutoComplete feature for passwords, URLs (web addresses) or usernames seems like a fine idea to make your browsing faster but it is also a huge security risk. If someone uses your computer they will be able to access your personal data with ease if you do not make sure that your ID’s do not pop up automatically.

  1. In an Internet Explorer browser window, click on Tools.
  2. Click on Internet Options.
  3. On the Internet Options configuration console, click the Content tab.
  4. In the AutoComplete section, click on the Settings button

You can select or de-select different types of information to store in AutoComplete:

  • Address Bar stores Browsing History, Favourites, Feeds and Windows Search. If any of these options are checked they will automatically try to complete the next time you begin to type.
  • Forms stores data such as your address, phone number, credit card information and populate form fields so you don’t have to re-type the same information every time you fill a form, if these options are checked.
  • User names and passwords on forms stores the usernames and passwords for sites you visit and automatically enters them when you visit the site again, if this options is checked.
  • Ask me before saving passwords is a sub-option so that Internet Explorer will prompt you each time rather than automatically saving passwords. You can use this if you want to use the feature, but not save passwords for more sensitive sites such as your bank account.

You can turn off AutoComplete entirely by de-selecting each box.

Note: Even if you turn off AutoComplete, or just the option to save user names and passwords in AutoComplete, the passwords that have already been stored will remain. In order to clear the Browsing History that has gone before:

  • Click on the General tab
  • Click the Delete button in the Browser History section to get rid of stored passwords.
  • You could also check Delete browsing history on exit if you want this to be done automatically. This option deletes tempory files, history, cookies, saved passwords and web form information each time you close your browser.


Why am I receiving emails that seem to come from my friends but my friends did not send them? When I clicked on the link in the email it shut down my computer and it would not restart. Why is this happening and how can I prevent it?

One of the reasons that you have received this ‘bogus’ email is that you did not secure your account with a strong password and a ‘dictionary attack’ allowed the hackers to fast access.  A ‘dictionary attack’ is a method of breaking into a password-protected computer or server by systematically entering every word in a dictionary as a password. Dictionary attacks work because many computer users and businesses insist on using ordinary words as passwords.

The best password you can use is the first letter of words in a short sentence, include a number, symbol, upper and lower case letter.  For example ‘ My Flower garden Is 4 years Old.”  = MFgI4yO$$  This is a very strong password and will be almost impossible to decipher. It is also wise to change your password from time to time.

Another reason that a hacker infiltrated your computer is that you are on a list of emails that circulate the internet via emails that contain a long list of email addresses in the ‘To” or “CC” lines of an email and get forwarded numerous times.

Always use the ‘BCC’ line when sending to more than one recipient and delete all the email addresses that appear on an email before forwarding. This preserves your recipient’s privacy and prevents ‘web crawlers’ from picking up the list of addresses including yours.

Forwarded emails are sometimes infected with viruses which get into your computer when received.

You need a good AntiVirus program that will protect your computer from dubious emails and malware attacks. I recommend Norton 360 good for 3 computers, available via a safe download here.  I have also supplied a FREE tutorial that you can print and follow to run the software regularly.

Weekly Computer Maintenance is also a must: Run “Disk Cleanup” – “Error Checking” –  “Defragmentation.”  This 3 part process keeps your computer free of Tempory Files, Cookies and unecessary files that are downloaded automatically from the internet causing your computer to slow down and sometimes malfunction.

How can I make sure that my identity does not get stolen online?

There is always a possibility that a ‘hacker’ or ‘spammer’ may send emails that request your personal information so you need to be very careful about opening suspicious email. Take the extra prcautions listed below which will help protect your identity.

  1. Never click on any links in an email that ask for your personal information.
  2. Never give your Social Security Number to anyone, especially in an email or online.
  3. Never give your password or username in a reply to an email.
  4. Always check the email address of the sender. In many cases you will find a mistake in the email address if it is trying to imitate PayPal, eBay or a financial institution.
  5. If you receive an email from a bank that you do not do business with it is usually spam so do not click on any links that ask for your personal information. Delete the email as soon as possible and empty your ‘trash’ folder.
  6. Never click on a ‘pop-up’ that tells you that you have a number of ‘viruses’ in your computer. This is probably a ‘rogue’ program which may shut down your computer or cause it to malfunction. If you have a good Antivirus program installed in your computer it will never ‘pop-up’ and tell you that you have viruses unless you run the software and it finds a problem.
    To make sure that you have a reliable Antivirus program I encourage you to install Norton 360 which is available HERE with a secure download. It is good for three computers which makes the cost very reasonable. I also have a Free Tutorial on how to run Norton 360 on the same page. Print this out and follow each time you scan your computer.

PAYPAL: If you receive an email from PayPal asking for your personal information or telling you that your account has been suspended, forward the email to and they will verify if it is genuine or spam.EBAY:  If you receive an email from eBay asking for your personal information or telling you that your account has been suspended, forward the email to and they will verify if it is genuine or spam.

NOTE: PayPal, eBay or your Bank will never ask you to click on links in an email and add your personal information.

How do I make a secure password?

In order to make a secure password you need to make sure that it cannot be deciphered by online hackers or anyone that has access to your computer. It’s crucial to pick strong passwords that are different for each of your important accounts and it is a good idea to update your passwords regularly. Follow these tips to create strong passwords and keep them secure.

  • Use a unique password for each of your important accounts like email and online banking.
  • Choose a sentence that you will remember and use the first letter of each word, making sure that you include at least one number, a symbol and upper and lowercase letters.
  • Don’t use family names, birthdays, phone numbers, street addresses because cyber criminals or other family members may be able to decifer them.
  • Keep your passwords in a safe place, out of sight and in a place that you will remember or just memorize your sentence.
  • Don’t share any of your passwords with other computer or iPad users.

Use a phrase to create a secure password that you can customize for each website you visit.


Example for your online banking: My four children are very loveable.
Your Password is: M4cRvL$$


Placing the double dollar symbols at the end of your password will remind you that this password is for entering your online banking. Using upper and lowercase letters, a number and symbols makes your password more secure.


Use a sentence to create a secure password that you can customize for each website you visit i.e. for Amazon. Then add symbols or letters that identify the site to make it easier for you to remember without writing it down. Adding #AMz to the end or the beginning of the password makes it much more secure and more difficult for others to guess.


Remember to keep all your passwords a secret.


How do I Clean Up and Speed Up my Computer?

In order to keep your computer running smoothly, without slowing down or crashing, it helps to run “Computer Maintenance” weekly. These three tools will help to keep your computer trouble-free.

FIRST: DISK CLEANUP – Cleans up all the unwanted files.

SECOND: ERROR CHECKING – Searches the hard drive for problems, and fixes them.

THIRD: DEFRAGMENTATION – Allows Windows to access your files faster.Close all open programs before you begin

Cleans up all the unwanted files.

  • To run Disk Cleanup: Click Start then click on ‘Computer’
  • Right click the hard drive (C Drive)
  • On this screen, click on ‘Properties’
 Disk Cleanup Properties  
  • When ‘Properties’ opens:
  • Click on ‘Disk Cleanup.’Disk Cleanup Properties Box

Then the system will begin to calculate which files are available for deletion.

Disk Cleanup Properties Calculating


When the system has Calculated all the files, it will ask you to select which files you wish to delete. Put a check mark next to the files you wish to delete.Then Click OK.Computer TipI suggest keeping your ‘Office SetUp’ files and ‘System SetUp’ files.All the others can be checked for deletion.The system will then proceed to delete the selected files.Disk Cleanup Properties CalculatedDisk Cleanup Deleting Files  
SECOND: ERROR CHECKING – Searches the hard drive for problems and fixes them.To run Error Checking:

  • Click ‘Start’ then click ‘Computer’
  • Right Click the hard drive (C drive)
  • Click  ‘Properties’
  • Select the ’Tools’ tab
  • Click  ‘Check Now’

Properties Tools - Error Checking

  • PUT A CHECK MARK BOTH BOXES the FIRST time you run this feature.
  • Then check just the FIRST box the next few times you run ‘Error Checking’
  • I advise checking BOTH boxes at least every few months to keep the system clear.

Check Disk


Schedule Disk Check

Click – ‘Start’ then click “Schedule disk check.”  Close all open windows and reboot (restart) your computer to make this feature run.

  • When your computer restarts, you will see a pale blue or black screen with white text.  
  • Do not touch any keys, your mouse or use the computer until this process is complete. Just let it run its course. It could take a few hours the first time you run it.

When it has finished cleaning and fixing the problems, Windows will resume and your Desktop will appear as usual.

THIRD: DEFRAGMENTATION – Allows Windows to access your files faster.NOTE: If you have a ‘Screen Saver’ running, It is advisable to turn it OFF before you Defragment your system.To run Defragmentation:

  • Click ‘Start’ then click ‘Computer’
  • Right click the hard drive (C drive)
  • Click ‘Properties’
  • Select the ‘Tools’ tab.
  • Click ’Defragment Now’ even if you have a schedule in place or it advises you that you do not need to do it now.


Let the ‘Defragmenter’ run until finished. This procedure could take some time the first time you run it.

Perform the above three procedures at least twice a month to keep your computer running smoothly.




What do you suggest that I back up on an external drive and what type of medium should I use?

I think that the most important files to back up are your “Documents” and “Pictures.” If you have stored them in the above folders they will be easy to transfer to your external medium.

The new WD (Western Digital) external drives have installed software that will allow you to back up just the files you want and they will also perform incremental back ups when you create new files. You can add a password to protect your data should you lose your external drive. The drive will only “unlock” if the correct password is entered so make sure that you use upper and lower case letters and numbers or symbols to make the password more secure.

The WD Passport Portable External drives are small in physical size and convenient to carry; they also come in several colours. The recent units have 500GB – 750GB and 1TB of storage space. Some are sold with a matching case.

Keeping a back up of your important files will be a safeguard if your computer malfunctions and it is also handy for transporting your files when you travel or wish to move them to another computer.

If I cannot close my computer using the Start Button or my computer freezes, is it OK to pull the plug?

No, it is not advisable to “pull the plug” if your computer freezes. The “shock” of pulling the plug on a working computer could cause the hard drive to crash or malfunction.

The safe way to close down the computer is to hold down the CTRL, ALT and DELETE keys simultaneously, which will bring up the Windows Task Manager. This “tool” allows you to close the troublesome program or programs and then continue working on your computer without closing down your system. It also has an option to ‘Disconnect’ or ‘Logoff’ under the ‘Users’ tab.