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Steve Alexander

Columnist/Reporter | Technology
Steve Alexander follows consumer and business technology trends, and writes a weekly question and answer column for consumers.
Recent content from Steve Alexander

Alexander: How to become a bit less LinkedIn

LinkedIn made changes to its groups last year in hopes of stimulating more interest in them.

Alexander: Why some Mac software will soon be outdated

Q: My four-year-old MacBook Pro is warning me that eight of my programs "will not work with future versions of MacOS and need to be…

Alexander: What to do when a PC is out of memory

If eliminating browser add-ons doesn't stop the PC from freezing, the problem may be that other new software on your PC is hogging the RAM.

Alexander: Turning off forced Windows 10 updates

Q: For the last year, my three-year-old Dell PC has been automatically forced to update its version of Windows 10. The update takes over my…
Google Chrome and Microsoft Explorer get location data in different ways.

Alexander: Telling your PC where you really are

Microsoft's Edge browser and Google's Chrome browser both keep track of your home location, but they get their location data from different places.
Users learn there's a difference between a deleted Facebook account and a deactivated one.

You thought you deleted your Facebook account, but it's still there. Now what?

These days, Facebook promises to remove all deleted accounts within 90 days and to allow no access to the accounts during that time.

Alexander: Making it easy to log in to websites

Q: My wife and I use the same PC, but have separate accounts for websites such as Fitbit or Gmail. Google’s Chrome browser usually saves…

Alexander: How to stop mysterious ads from appearing

On a Mac, the operating system allows you to receive notifications via apps to which you've given messaging permission.

Alexander: Sometimes computer security can hurt you

Who's at fault? E-commerce security software everywhere that isn't up to the task.

Alexander: Blocked malware download keeps trying

The recurring message means the malware keeps attempting to download to your PC, so it is coming from a website that you visit frequently.

Alexander: Why you aren't told your e-mail is blocked

The deliberate blocking of e-mail traffic is an anti-spam (junk mail) defense, but a fleeting one.

Alexander: Here's what you can do if e-mail bypasses your inbox

The problem might be an "e-mail filter," which is a rule that tells Gmail to handle certain types of mail differently.

Alexander: Here's how to block more junk e-mail

You can improve your filter's performance with a setting change, but you cannot stop spam.

Alexander: How to find photos in MS Word documents

The "invisible photo" problem can be caused by incorrect Word settings or by how you "view" the document in Word.

Alexander: Missing e-mail photo is still there

It probably happens because Outlook is using a corrupted "temporary internet file" that stores Web data.

Alexander: What to do if a flash drive won't copy data

Size and compatibility are concerns.

Alexander: How to make friends a 'known' texter

The problem may be caused by different kinds of texts.

Alexander: How to stream PC music to another device

Making the connection between a PC and a Blu-ray player is easier than it sounds.

Alexander: How to make e-mail better for you

The method you want to use is important.

Alexander: Browser video, Web link issues easily fixed

Where is one browser that works for everything?

Alexander: Security upgrade loses some saved e-mail

Comcast is trying to make its e-mail system more secure for customers with older POP (post office protocol) e-mail accounts.

Alexander: What to do if e-mails suddenly disappear

Q: When I opened my Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail program, I kept getting the message: “Do you want to compact all local and offline folders to…

Alexander: How to clear a hard drive to speed up a PC

Here's a list of things that you should never delete.

Alexander: Don't be misled about 'Security Essentials'

Despite their sound-alike names, Microsoft's Windows Essentials and Security Essentials are two different programs.

Alexander: What to do if you're stuck in a photo viewer bubble

A Microsoft technical change has had an unintended effect.

Alexander: A drastic way to filter out more spam

You can block more unwanted mail with a drastic type of e-mail filtering available in the free Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail program.

Alexander: Fixing non-secure internet connections

Q: We have two phones and two tablet computers using our home Wi-Fi network. Lately all the devices have been getting a "your connection is…

Alexander: Dealing with fancy 'HTML' e-mail

It's a little more complicated to transfer HTML mail content to Word than it is to move ordinary e-mail content.

Alexander: How an online bank knows who you are

Why don't financial institutions rely on IP addresses to identify their customers? Because providers usually change them.

Alexander: How to replace online passwords

To untangle your accounts, pay attention to the order that you do things.

Alexander: Why you should trade in an old e-mail system

IMAP (internet Message Access Protocol) e-mail provides a better solution because no single device is the "boss."

Alexander: How to fix problems with e-mail settings

If you prefer to have a POP mail account, you'll have to set it up manually in Outlook.

Alexander: Telling a PC not to ask for a password

It was set up not to require a PIN or password.

Alexander: What to do when a home Wi-Fi extender falls short

We installed a Netgear Wi-Fi range extender in our two-story home. At first, it worked well with my Windows 10 PC, but on the third day the laptop screen went mostly dark — I could see only the mouse arrow moving. What can I do?

Alexander: How to solve the 'error message' riddle

That one update that regularly fails to install on a Windows 7 PC is an important one.

Alexander: How to make online storage simpler

Q: My Windows 10 PC has two OneDrive online storage accounts that I’d like to combine and access with a single password. The personal account…

Alexander: Some Windows 10 warnings are wrong

The message supposedly signifies that your PC isn't syncing correctly with your online Microsoft account because of a password change, but you can get it without any change.

Alexander: How to get data from one device to another

Q: I copied some photos from my camera’s memory card to a newly created folder on my two-year-old Surface Pro tablet PC, using a USB…

Alexander: Switching cloud providers on a Mac

Q: I’ve used iCloud (Apple’s cloud storage service) on my Mac, but I find it confusing. I’d like to switch to Dropbox for cloud storage.…

Here's how antivirus software works

Because antivirus software is essential for safety, it's important to know how it operates.

Alexander: Windows 10 update creates fake drive

You can get rid of the warnings by eliminating the E drive letter from your PC.

Alexander: How to replace or erase a hard drive

Q: Microsoft told me that I need a new hard drive for my Windows 7 laptop. Should I buy a new hard drive or a…

Alexander: Changing network names and passwords

The answer depends on whether you want to change the modem's access settings (administrator name and password), or its Wi-Fi settings.

Alexander: What to do when the internet keeps cutting out

Q: My Dell Inspiron 5520 laptop with Windows 10 has been losing its internet connection via Wi-Fi. I wondered if it was a Wi-Fi problem;…

Alexander: Here's how you can be safe on public Wi-Fi

You can avoid the hazards of public Wi-Fi networks by using a virtual private network.

Alexander: Streaming TV and the need for speed

Streaming TV uses a lot of internet capacity.

Alexander: A drastic fix for a software conflict

Q: I’m unable to access the iTunes or iCloud programs on my Dell Windows 7 PC. Apple representatives who tried to help me said their…

Alexander: What to do if your PC screen flickers

Q: The screen of my HP laptop has begun flickering during start-up, right at the point when I would log in to Windows 10. This…

Alexander: What iPhone apps to use on a cellular network vs. over Wi-Fi

Q: You recently wrote that iPhone users can control whether an app uses a Wi-Fi network or the cellular network (see tinyurl.com/kfwpjsk). How can…

Alexander: How safe is it to use a tablet on a public Wi-Fi?

Q: When my apartment building added free Wi-Fi, I bought my first wireless device, a Kindle Fire tablet computer (my PC has a wired internet…

Alexander: Sorting out the conflict between Google Chrome and Malwarebytes

I frequently recommend the free Malwarebytes security program to clean PCs infected with viruses or other malicious software. So I was puzzled when two readers…

Alexander: How to cope with a flood of online ads

Q: My Samsung Galaxy S7 phone and Samsung tablet computer are both being inundated with pop-up browser ads. Touching an arrow on the corner of…

Alexander: Setting the right text tone on a phone

A technician at a Verizon Wireless store couldn't figure out what's wrong with my phone. I've done everything I can except perform a factory reset on the phone. Any ideas?

Alexander: Here's how to fix Wi-Fi printing software

Q: For several weeks, my Microsoft Surface Pro tablet computer printed via Wi-Fi to an HP Photosmart 6520 printer. But now, files that have already…

Alexander: A Wi-Fi network with too many gadgets

Q: I occasionally lose the e-mail connections on my two Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphones when they are connected to my home Wi-Fi network. The network…

Alexander: Telling phone apps to use free Wi-Fi

Q: I’m on a low-usage monthly phone plan. As a result, I’d love to be able to set most of my smartphone apps to use…

Alexander: Finding lost e-mail and saving it online

Q: My PC’s hard drive crashed last year, causing me to lose all my data. I bought a new PC and used Microsoft’s Outlook 2007…

Alexander: Fixing Windows 7 and finding lost data

Q: In January, I upgraded my Dell Windows 7 laptop to the “assistive technologies” version of Windows 10, which is designed for people with disabilities.…

Alexander: Giving yourself more access to your PC

Q: When I try to use the Firefox browser on my Windows 8.1 PC, I get the error message “Windows cannot access the specified device,…

Alexander: How a PC virus scam really happens

Q: After reading your column about updating Windows 7 (see tinyurl.com/zzhdlyf), I typed your tinyurl address into my browser and got strange results. A…

Alexander: 'Internet of Things' is vulnerable to hackers

Q: I read about the hacker attack last October that used household electronics, such as security cameras, to bombard a website with messages, causing the…

Alexander: How to choose between a tablet and a laptop

Q: My husband and I share an iPad, and he also has a laptop that belongs to his employer. Once he retires, I'd like for…

Alexander: How cell towers can block satellite radio signals

Q: I have a SiriusXM satellite radio in my car, but the signal consistently cuts out in specific areas around the Twin Cities. For example,…

Alexander: Vista updates aren't the real problem

Q: I read in your column that Windows 7 isn’t updating properly (see tinyurl.com/zzhdlyf). Do you know why I can’t update my PC’s Windows…

Alexander: How to get e-mail from an upgraded Outlook.com

I'm confused about Microsoft e-mails that tell me to reconnect my Outlook 2013 PC program in order to continue getting mail via their Outlook.com website. It said I needed to create a new profile. What is this about?

Alexander: Here's why free Linux won't take over PCs in 2017

Q: I’ve been using the free Linux operating system on my PC for 10 years, and I wonder why more people don’t have it. It’s…

Alexander: How to fix Windows updates gone awry

Q: I have a Windows 7 laptop from Best Buy that frequently shows the message “This computer is not running genuine Windows.” What is causing…

Alexander: Rescuing photos from a PC backup

I updated my Windows 7 PC to Windows 10, but then had trouble with my hard drive. To avoid losing any data, including 20 years of photos, I made a "system image" of my hard drive on seven DVD disks. Then I reformatted the hard drive and reinstalled Windows 10. But now I can't retrieve the photos using Microsoft's Disk Management program. What can I do?

Alexander: Here is what to try when if your Wi-Fi signal fails often

Q: You recently wrote about the periodic loss of a home Wi-Fi signal (see tinyurl.com/zl62sq2), but it was specific to a user of AT&T’s…

Alexander: If you don't know what it is, don't click on it

Q: Occasionally I get a pop-up message on my four-year-old PC that says “To check for new device software, connect your PC to the internet…

Alexander: Samsung PC that updates slowly may be full or flawed

Q: I upgraded my four-year-old Samsung Ultrabook PC to Windows 10 about seven months ago. Windows updates are now taking 10 to 23 hours to…

Alexander: Failing gear, interference can cut off home Wi-Fi

Q: My wife’s PC loses its Wi-Fi internet connection about every other day. I don’t know if it’s caused by AT&T’s U-verse wireless router or…

Alexander: How to read data from a decades-old floppy disk

Q: I’m a doctor who was a medical missionary in Madagascar for 40 years, and the time has come for me to write my memoirs.…

Alexander: Older iPads, iPhones are obsolete but not risky

Q: In a recent column (tinyurl.com/zw24yu4), you mentioned several older Apple products that can't be updated to iOS 10, the newest version of the…

Alexander: iPhone shift from Wi-Fi to cellular data can get pricey

Q: My iPhone 6 Plus is one of six phones on my plan that share 40 gigabytes of cellular data per month. Although the phone…
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