Alexander: The good and bad of storing passwords

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 3, 2012 - 4:52 PM

QAs a paid member of AOL, I can use a service called AOL OnePoint that stores all your online user names and passwords so you don't have to remember them. You then log into your accounts with a single personal identification number. This seems like a great idea, but is it a safe way to keep this information?

JEAN MCCREADY, MIAMI

AThere's good and bad about the AOL OnePoint service.

The good is that it's a local program that runs on your computer, which means that your user names and passwords stay on your PC rather than being entrusted to some website that might one day lose your information to hackers.

The other good news is that OnePoint encrypts, or codes, your information so that no one else can read it without the PIN (personal identification number) that you create. So even if your PC were stolen, your user names and passwords would be safe.

The bad news is that the software can cause problems. You may need to reconfigure your firewall security software to download and install the AOL software (see tinyurl.com/78vyydy.)

If you forget your PIN number, the OnePoint software won't let you access your encrypted user names and passwords.

AOL OnePoint doesn't work with all websites. For example, there have been interference issues between it and the security software used by Bank of America customers. The solution is to uninstall the bank security software.

QIs it hard on your computer to let stored music play constantly for hours? It seems as if the hard drive would be constantly hammered.

WAYNE AYDT, Minneapolis

APlaying music doesn't cause excessive wear on a disk drive; it uses the disk less than starting up Windows would. Disk drives typically last about five years under normal use. That includes playing music, editing photos, watching movies and using programs that frequently save data to the hard drive.

QWhile cleaning up my hard-drive, I found a lot of blue-colored Windows file folders with names such as "$NTUNINSTALLB73333$." Can I safely remove them?

WILHELM Leuchtenmueller,

Miami

AYes. Folders with names beginning "$NTUNINSTALL" originated with Windows software updates from Microsoft. They enable you to uninstall those updates if you wish.

If your PC has been operating properly, there's no reason to uninstall the updates and thus no need to keep those file folders.

E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com or write to Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.

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