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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: Finding a lost game on a phone or online

Q: My son has spent three years playing a game called CSR Racing on a Google Android phone, and has spent $500 in Google Play…

Alexander: How to watch YouTube, Facebook videos when not online

Q: I’d like to be able to watch my friends’ videos from YouTube or Facebook when I’m not connected to the Internet. Is there a…

Alexander: What to do when your portable gadget thinks you are not where you actually are

Q: I bought my HP laptop in Arizona and purchased my iPhone 6s Plus in Oklahoma. But when I do Internet searches, the PC and…

Alexander: Chip credit cards don't need special holders to shield them

Q: There are many protective holders being sold for RFID (radio-frequency identification) credit cards. Is there some way to tell which of these wallets and…

Alexander: How to fix Windows 10 to go back in time

Although Windows 10 was supposed to automatically create "restore points"), it didn't. And when I tried to manually create a restore point I got an error. What should I do?

Alexander: Windows 10 flaw tries to charge for free apps

Q: After upgrading my PC to Windows 10, I got a message saying that the “free trial” on my calculator app was over, and that…

Alexander: How dangerous is ransomware? Damages are growing

Q: As a businessperson, I’d like to better understand CryptoWall, the malicious program you wrote about (tinyurl.com/z43tzdw) that encrypts files on a PC and holds…

Alexander: Recovering files after your PC is attacked

Can normal PC operations be restored by reloading the original files from a previous backup of my entire PC hard drive?

Alexander: Fighting the CryptoWall hacking scam

Q: I received a screen message that said all my files had been encrypted (locked so they can’t be opened) by CryptoWall, and that if…

Alexander: How to update while avoiding Windows 10

Q: I recently read in your column (tinyurl.com/jh3mvoy) that I should change the way my Windows 8 PC receives updates if I want to avoid…

Alexander: Turning off a tablet frequently is just fine

Q: I was recently told that it will harm my tablet computer if I power it down after every use. Is that true, and, if…

What to do after a PC appears to have been hijacked

Q: I recently renewed my Norton security software, but declined a $10 PC security scan they offered. A while later, a message appeared on my…

Alexander: Windows 10 upgrade will get pushier

Q: I have Windows 7 Professional on several PCs, and they constantly get a Microsoft pop-up message asking me to update the PCs to Windows…

Alexander: What to do if a PC file just vanishes

Q: I recently added information to a Microsoft Word file in Microsoft Office 2000, then saved my changes and closed the file. But now the…

Alexander: Some help for the rural Internet blues

I recently suggested that consumers avoid using Verizon Wireless MiFi devices for Internet access because the unit’s unexpectedly high data usage caused people to overrun…

Alexander: Saving the photos on an older phone

Q: I have an old clamshell AT&T phone that contains photos I’d like to get printed. I’ve been told that, because of the age of…

Alexander: Another way to manage with carriers' data download limits

Ken Lapre, who lives near Fredericksburg, Va., has a problem that’s common on the outskirts of cities: little choice for Internet service. I quoted him…

Hot-spot unit downloads too much data

Q: I read your November column (see tinyurl.com/za3ftm4) about a Minnesota man who was having a huge data usage problem with his Verizon MiFi device…

Alexander: Moving Apple screen images to your TV

Q: I read your column about how to transfer a Windows 10 screen image to a Samsung Smart TV (see tinyurl.com/jto844d.) How could I do…

Alexander: A better way to fine-tune your computer

Q: My PC seems to be running slow, so I’ve been looking for unnecessary programs that might be running in the background of the computer’s…

Alexander: Viewing our new PC screen on a smart TV

Q: I’m trying to show photo slides from my Windows 10 desktop PC on my Samsung Smart TV. But the TV’s software apparently isn’t compatible…

Alexander: Making sure Windows 10 is safe and useful

Q: I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Does the Windows 10 built-in security software, Windows Defender, provide enough protection against computer viruses, spyware…

Alexander: How to recover a contact list that vanished from Microsoft Outlook

Q: I’ve lost my contact list from Microsoft’s Outlook.com online e-mail service, and I can’t re-enter it manually. But I still have a copy of…

Unexplained wireless use drains a data plan

Q: When I'm at home, my cellphone and laptop access the Internet through a Verizon Wireless MiFi unit (a cellular device that broadcasts a Wi-Fi…

Alexander: How to avoid downloading junk software

Q: My work PC has some malware that produces unwanted messages, and sometimes I have to quit a program to get rid of them. I’ve…

Alexander: What to do when documents, other data aren't downloading properly

Q: My Windows 7 desktop PC can’t download Adobe PDF document files from the Internet. I thought the problem might be malware on my PC,…

Alexander: Downgrade after installing Windows 10 can be hazardous

Q: I installed the Windows 10 upgrade on my laptop. But I didn’t like Windows 10, so two weeks later I reversed the upgrade and…

Alexander: Don't assume Web apps store data in cloud

Q: I’m under the impression that the Google Chrome browser and the Google services Gmail, Drive and Picasa store all my data in the Google…

Alexander: How to save e-mail on a computer hard drive

Several readers were confused about last week’s column dealing with backing up e-mail to avoid losing it (tinyurl.com/qg7hc4n). They wondered how to copy an e-mail…

Alexander: E-mail isn't the place to store important documents

After reading in last week’s column that a woman lost irreplaceable data stored in an e-mail account, a computer expert says consumers shouldn’t treat e-mail…

Alexander: How data gets lost despite backups

Q: Some irreplaceable information (photos, genealogy data and tax information) was deleted from my CenturyLink e-mail by a technical problem. The company says that all…

Alexander: What to do when a PC won't recognize a flash drive

Q: My Dell XPS 8300 PC with Windows 7 doesn’t “recognize” flash drives. It says the software drivers are not installed properly. What can I…

Alexander: Windows 10's new Edge browser is blocking Norton Security

Q: I used the Norton Security software before upgrading my PC to Windows 10. Now I get the following message from Norton: “Edge is your…

Alexander: Pushing the limits of a PC's memory has its own limits

Q: In your column two weeks ago, you said Windows ReadyBoost allowed a PC to supplement its RAM (random access memory) with as much as…

Alexander: Tackling some early issues from the Windows 10 upgrade

Some consumers who upgraded PCs to Windows 10 are reporting unforeseen software compatibility problems.   Christopher Restemayer of Menahga, Minn., pointed out that many…

Alexander: How to get extra high-speed memory for PC video editing

Q: I have a relatively new Toshiba Qosmio laptop that’s designed for high-performance computer gaming and has a video accelerator card to improve graphics. But…

Alexander: Not all iPhone data is backed up in the cloud

Q: My iPhone 5s is set to automatically back up to Apple’s iCloud service. But when I check my account, the only “contacts” being saved…

Alexander: Windows 10 upgrade can be reversed easily

Q: Because there are features of Windows 7 that will be eliminated by upgrading a PC to Windows 10 (such as DVD software and some…

Alexander: With Windows 10, over-the-air TV for PC may be over

Q: My wife and I “cut the cable” over a year ago and have been pretty satisfied using Windows Media Center, (which allows a user…

Alexander: How to keep mobile devices secure and their data backed up

Q: My Google Android tablet computer is getting pop-up ads that urge me to download free apps from Google Play (an online app store for…

Alexander: Do those new chip-based credit and debit cards need protection?

Q: Do the new EMV chip credit cards (named after the developers, Europay, MasterCard and Visa) require a protective cover so that they can't be…
Alexander: What to do to get your PC ready for Windows 10

Alexander: What to do to get your PC ready for Windows 10

Q: My four-year-old Windows 7 PC isn’t able to update Windows automatically, and I understand that I can’t upgrade to Windows 10 unless Windows 7…

Alexander: How to free an iPad that's been taken for ransom

Q: In a column you wrote last August, you said that there was a fix available for ransomware attacks, in which a hacker on the…

Alexander: How can your cellphone number just disappear?

These days your phone number is part of your identity, just like your street address or Social Security number. What if somebody took it from…

Alexander: How to get rid of a repair service's software on your PC

Q: When I was having iPad and PC problems, I sought help from iYogi, which I thought was an Apple-sanctioned online repair service. After I…

Alexander: Data not insured when iPhone fails

Q: My son’s iPhone 5 had trouble charging its battery using two different power cords. After it wouldn’t fully charge several times, he took it…

Alexander: A puzzle in iTunes causes users to lose connections

Q: Since February, Apple’s iTunes music store has been giving me a strange message: I can’t download anything because I have no Internet connection. The…

Getting a Wi-Fi signal from the house to the garage

Q: I have a work space in my new garage, but I can’t get access to my house Wi-Fi network from there. This is happening…

How to fix a slow video from the Internet

Q: During basketball season I was trying to stream a game, but the action was jerky, as if something were slowing it down. I’ve been…

What to do about the hassle when e-mails convert PDF attachments

Q: I’m part of a group of 80 people who every week receive an e-mail with an Adobe PDF file attachment. But when I receive…

Alexander: Sporadic Internet connection? Here's how to fix it

Q: Our five-year-old HP desktop PC frequently loses its Comcast Internet connection, and we get the error message "You are not connected to a network."…

Alexander: How Windows protects files from accidental deletion

Q: To streamline my PC's storage of programs and data, I wanted to erase 100 gigabytes of what I considered junk files, some of them…

Alexander: How to conceal your contact list when sending a group e-mail

Q: I'm switching e-mail addresses from ATT.net to Gmail.com, and I'd like to tell all my contacts with one e-mail. Is there a way to…

Alexander: How a single small component can ruin a PC

Q: When we lost our Internet connection, we took our 2006 Dell Dimension E510 PC to two repair shops. Both said the PC’s main circuit…

Alexander: How cable cord-cutters can use DVRs

Q: We're ready to cut the cable TV cord and rely on over-the-air broadcast TV along with online video streaming services. But what kind of…

Alexander: How to take your contacts along when switching e-mail

Q: I can't send e-mail messages from my Microsoft Windows Live Mail program anymore, and my computer support people can't figure out how to fix…

Alexander: How spam e-mailers hide their identities

Q: Lately I’ve been receiving spam (unwanted junk) e-mails that come from invalid e-mail addresses. As a result, my security software won’t let me add…

Alexander: How small organizations can make big backups

Q: I coordinate the St. Paul Classic, a large bike tour, and we are deciding how to back up our mailing list of 42,000 names…

Alexander: A photo can be damaged, but not its thumbnail

Q: I have photos that are perfect that I’ve stored on my computer, an external drive and flash drives. But when I view the photos,…

Alexander: Listeners don't always get stereo on the Internet

Q: I listen to Internet radio at night with my Toshiba PC, using Auvio earphones. I recently noticed that I'm not getting stereo anymore on…

Alexander: Reader feedback on testing your hard drive and making backups

It's been a good week for reader feedback. Here's what some had to say about last week's column on PC disk drives.Readers Don Kleven of…

Alexander: Solutions for a hard drive using more storage space than it should

Q: The hard drive on my Windows 7 PC is inexplicably using more storage space than before, even though I haven't added any new programs.…

Alexander: Recovering data from a Windows 98 PC

Q: I’m trying to retrieve and print documents from an old Windows 98 PC, but I’m not sure how to do it. The PC has…

Alexander: Fixing a PC upgrade that went wrong

Q: After reading your columns about problems with Windows 8 PCs that automatically upgraded to Windows 8.1 (see tinyurl.com/lvnfcp7CQ and tinyurl.com/ozmsgsu), I checked the Dell…

Alexander: What to do when an iPod conks out

Q: When my iMac quit working (the hard disk was beyond recovery), I tried to copy the music from my older 8-gigabyte iPod to my…

Alexander: Full drive warning is false alarm

Q: I’m worried that my Dell PC’s 320-gigabyte hard drive is running out of storage space. I keep getting warnings that nearly all of “backup/recovery…

Alexander: Connecting an external hard drive to your home network

Q: I've been using a "Western Digital My Book Live" external hard drive in my home network. But after buying a new wireless router, I…

Alexander: Surprise from Windows dims laptop screen

Q: A few weeks ago, my Windows 8 laptop unexpectedly started loading Windows 8.1, and there was no way I could stop it. Since then,…

Alexander: Beware of pop-up messages that offer software

Q: I downloaded a new software driver that a pop-up message said I needed. Because the message contained the Microsoft logo (it was from a…

Alexander: Fixing a PC zapped during a power failure

Q: My daughter's Windows 7 PC was left on during a power outage, and since then we haven't been able to start it up properly.…

Alexander: Nexus 7 tablet choked on Google's Lollipop

Q: I recently upgraded my two-year-old Asus Nexus 7 tablet computer to version 5 of the Android operating system. About the same time, I bought…

Alexander: Silencing Web ads that play automatically

Q: What can I do about random audio advertisements that I've been receiving on my computer for several months? At first, I just pressed the…

Alexander: 'Snipping' a still photo from a video

Q: I have a homemade movie on DVD. Is there a way I can pause the video on my PC and save the image to…

Alexander: Transferring music files to a new PC

Q: I have ripped (copied) more than 400 music CDs to my Windows Vista PC using Windows Media Player. From the PC, I could transfer…

Alexander: Using old software on Windows 8.1

Q: For years, I used a mu­tu­al fund data­base program called Value Line Mu­tu­al Funds Survey for Windows. When I re­placed my Windows XP PC…
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