Q: After keeping track of my passwords without any kind of program for several years, I started using LastPass a month ago. If my laptop is stolen and the laptop’s PIN is figured out, it seems like all of my accounts’ usernames and passwords stored in LastPass would be accessible. Is there a way to prevent this from being the case?

Mike O’Leary

A: LastPass has two levels of security to protect the passwords on your computer. First, you need to sign into LastPass before you can use it. So make sure to create a strong password and keep it somewhere safe. Not on a cheat sheet taped to your laptop.

Secondly, enable two-factor authentication in LastPass. You can set up the program either to send a text message with a code to your phone or to work with any authentication app whenever there’s a login. That way even if your laptop is stolen the thief won’t be able to log in.

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Read more from Patrick Marshall here >>

I now use two-factor authentication for all of my “sensitive” programs and access to financial websites. Yes, it’s an extra step that can be kind of irritating. But better safe than sorry.

Of course, you’ll also want to enable security on your laptop to prevent someone from accessing it if you’ve left it on. Windows, for example, lets you require a code or face recognition to awaken it from sleep mode.


Q: I read Mike Dwyer’s letter to you in a recent column and I feel compelled to respond because I, too, had problems that were caused by old and defective Comcast hardware. In my case, the ordeal lasted approximately a year and involved more than 10 technicians being sent to diagnose the problem and inevitably not finding it until they finally sent three consecutive teams of their most experienced technicians.

Rick Fague

A: I’m hopeful that 5G wireless may soon save us all from all that can go wrong when cables are strung across streets and into houses and all the hardware involved in getting those signals from the service provider to our computers.

Q: In a recent column about SSD vs SATA drives you explain the speed differences. It seems like your advice in favor of SSD drives was reversed when you wrote, “Unless you’re using a portable computer a SATA drive is ideal for the operating system.” Did I miss the point?

Christian Whitmyre, Burien

A: I think SATA drives are still the go-to option for desktop computers for many uses because they don’t have limits on the number of writes that can be performed. And SATA drives also have lower price tags for a given amount of storage. That said, when I edit videos — which aren’t going to require a lot of fresh writes — I store them on an external SSD drive.

For laptops, where size and weight are critical — and where jarring impacts sometimes happen — the smaller, lighter SSD drives, which have no moving parts, are a better choice.

Q: How can I transfer my emails to another Gmail account if that previous Gmail account is no longer in use and has been deleted and can’t be recovered.

Ntokozo Hope

A: It all depends on how recently that Gmail account was deleted. Google doesn’t say what the time limit is, but if it was recently deleted you may be able to recover it. Here’s where to find instructions: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/6236295?hl=en.