Q: I have an old iPhone 3GS that I use only for playing music obtained from a variety of sources. But the songs aren’t backed up anywhere (when my new iPhone was synced with the PC, the PC’s songs were accidentally erased). Now I’m worried that the 3GS battery is wearing out; it won’t hold a full charge. Is there a safe way to move the songs from the phone to my PC?

Ellen Fay, Atlantic Beach, Fla.


A: The iPhone 3GS was introduced in 2009, so it’s not surprising that its internal battery is wearing out. If it were a newer phone you could buy a new battery from Apple, but company support for the 3GS model ended in 2013. As a result, you need to get your music off the old iPhone before its battery goes dead.

To do that, make sure the phone is upgraded to the most recent version of the iPhone operating system it can use, which is iOS 6.1.6. You can obtain the update by connecting the phone to the PC and using iTunes to get the update (see “update using iTunes” at tinyurl.com/nhdy9pm). Note: Make sure the iTunes automatic sync feature is off (see tinyurl.com/y9f7bvn3).

Then download a free data transfer program such as AiseeSoft FoneTrans (see tinyurl.com/y77qgrnp) or Syncios Manager (see tinyurl.com/gvusdof) that can move the songs from the 3GS to the PC without the risk of accidental deletion.

Why not use iTunes? After software changes, the iTunes sync feature has problems that go beyond the accidental deletion of songs (see tinyurl.com/yc27j3db and tinyurl.com/y9whozzd). It’s better to use a specialty syncing program like those above.


Q: I’ve switched to Gmail from Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail program. But when I try to use the e-mail function in Microsoft Word, it doesn’t work. Instead, I have to open Gmail to attach the Word document to an e-mail. What’s wrong?

Craig Maumus, Metairie, La.


A: You can’t e-mail a Word document via Gmail using Word’s e-mail command. That command only works if you are using a PC-based e-mail program such as Outlook. Because Gmail is “webmail,” it only exists online rather than on your PC. If you don’t want to use the Gmail attach command, select a Word file in Windows Explorer, then “drag” it to a new Gmail message.


Q: I have too many passwords to memorize, so I store them in a Word document on my PC. My spouse thinks that’s dangerous. What are the risks of storing passwords on my PC, in the cloud or on paper?

Dean Karau, Burnsville


A: Keeping your passwords readily available is practical but a bit risky. For instance, you could:

• Write your passwords down on paper and carry the paper in your wallet.

• Continue to keep the passwords in a Word file (just don’t call the file “passwords”).

• Store your passwords in your web browser or in “password management software” (see tinyurl.com/y7oxcgtb and tinyurl.com/yaeea2uv).

• Store your passwords in an obscure place, such an old e-mail message or an online storage service (again, don’t call the file “passwords”).

But with these methods you still run a modest risk of theft, a disk drive crash or being hacked. Risk is the price we pay for convenience.


E-mail your tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com. Include name, city and telephone number.