Q: I have a 7-year-old computer that I want to give to someone just starting out. Before I do so, personal data have to be removed. Formatting will be enough...

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Q: I have a 7-year-old computer that I want to give to someone just starting out. Before I do so, personal data have to be removed. Formatting will be enough. I am afraid to start the process only to find I’m missing some little detail and get stranded. I have all the program discs but don’t know if my CD-ROM has a driver and where it is as it was installed at a computer store and I never got the installation disc. Do you know where I can find a procedure showing steps to be taken?


Charles S. Parker


A: If you reformat the drive you will lose whatever is on it. A better solution for your purposes would be a data-erasing utility. Such utilities not only delete files from the operating system, they also overwrite the sectors on the disk where the data resided so that it can’t be recovered. One low-cost solution — with a download price of $39 — is StellarWipe. You can check it out at: www.stellarinfo.com/file-eraser.htm.


Q: In a recent column, you answered a question about firewall software. The response focused on feature sets but did not discuss the basic effectiveness of the firewalls. We connect to the Internet through a router. Our home network is hidden (we hope) behind the NAT feature of the router. We never accept communication from outside. Under these circumstances (just keep everyone out: no ports, no outside access), is there any advantage at all to using firewall software in addition to or instead of the NAT or does the NAT provide all the protection we need?


David Aynardi


A: NAT does not provide all the protection you need. (For readers who don’t know, NAT stands for “network address translation.” It’s a method of hiding your computer’s identity to those outside the firewall.) And if you are using the Internet, you are not keeping everyone out. At the very least, the router is keeping port 80 open. Firewalls are not foolproof, but they are an important piece of providing adequate security for your computer.


Q: When I receive pictures attached to an e-mail, often I want to print them. This is not a problem, as I click on the icon in the Attachment box, the picture is brought up by Windows Picture & Fax Viewer and I have the opportunity to save to disk, copy, print and so on. The problem is that when I click on Print and go through the steps, the program brings up the picture I wish to print, and a picture from every Web site I have ever visited! I have been unable to figure out how to delete these cookies. Can you help?


Barbara Crawford, Mercer Island


A: Those aren’t cookies. When you select Print in Windows Picture & Fax Viewer, the program calls up a window displaying all the image files in the current directory. The currently open file is highlighted. That’s just the way the program is designed. If you want to remove those other images, just delete them from that folder using Windows Explorer.


Q: I have picked up a bad adware program that I can’t delete. In Control Panel’s Add-Delete Programs, it appears as Ebates Moe Money Maker. However, it will not delete normally. Apparently this annoyance is causing frequent pop-ups when I’m on the Internet. What can I do to delete this?


Gerald Hankins


A: Ebates Moe Money Maker is a tricky little critter, legally as well as technically. When you agreed to install Moe Money Maker, part of the license agreement — which many users don’t read — allows the program to use pop-ups in your browser whenever it likes. What’s more, you agree to let the program disable any software that might interfere with it doing so.


And Ebates doesn’t exactly step up and tell you how to opt out once you’ve opted in. There’s nothing on its Web site about how to remove the software, and Ebates hasn’t responded to my queries.


Fortunately, there are some sites that can remove the adware. An automatic removal tool is offered at www.2-spyware.com/remove-ebates-moe-money-maker.html. There are also instructions for manual removal if you feel comfortable editing the Windows registry.


Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.