Q: I counted over 50 accounts that I have passwords for – some important and financial and some not so much. I am considering getting a password manager but it seems pretty complicated on how to enter them, how they work and even what you do if you forget the main one you need to set it up with, not to mention if the site gets hacked.
Any suggestions, as I could really use one but I find the process daunting?
— Name withheld because it’s probably a password!
A: Yes, password managers have been hacked in the past. Generally, though, what you need to worry about is not the password manager providers’ servers being hacked. More often a vulnerability is found in the client software that you use on your computer.
Good password manager companies quickly update their software as soon as a vulnerability is found.
Are there still risks? Yes. But those risks aren’t as great as forgoing using a password manager and instead using weak passwords because they’re easy to remember. And the most dangerous behavior of all is to use the same weak password on all your accounts.
You’re also correct that it’s very important to put your master password somewhere safe. If you lose that you’ll likely have to reset your account and start over from scratch.
The one thing I wouldn’t worry about, though, is not being up to the process of installing and setting up a password manager. The process is almost automatic and doesn’t require any specialized computer knowledge.
Q: I have five old HP laptops; the older models are the Pavilion variety. As with all laptops, the batteries eventually fail to hold a charge and either need to be replaced or you just have to keep it plugged in.
I was able to convert all of the older laptops to Windows 10 with minimal issues and I have been keeping them upgraded all along the way.
When Windows 10 build 1903 came out, I noticed something I had not seen before in a long time. Two of the older laptops were showing 1 hour until full charge. Even more strange, once charged, the batteries actually worked for just a little over an hour. So far, they have been back to working like new ever since. Any idea on why this miracle occurred?
— Dean Renner, Duvall
A: I’ve never heard of a dead battery recovering on its own. But I wouldn’t say yours had FULLY recovered. A fully charged battery in good shape should run a laptop for considerably longer than an hour.
And you may want to check out Windows 10’s battery life reporting tool. You can find the details of how to use the tool here.
By the way, I have heard that putting the dead computer battery in a freezer for a several hours can bring it back to life. Instructions are here.
Unfortunately, most newer laptops come with batteries that aren’t removable. The good news, however, is that those batteries last a lot longer than older batteries did.
Q: In a recent column you indicated that you can’t reinstall Windows without the media. Actually, there is a feature for reinstalling without the media. First you go to Microsoft and download the OS. It fits nicely on a USB drive. Then you go to the boot menu on your computer and boot from the drive and install.
This is different than a free install. Windows needs the installation key. Fortunately, Microsoft has moved the key where you can’t lose it. The key is now in the BIOS. You just reinstall your computer and when Windows does the activation step, it will find the key in BIOS.
— Toupdade Ornot
A: You’re right. I should have pointed the reader to Microsoft’s instructions here. That’s where you can create the media with which to install. And yes, if the computer is fairly recent and Windows was installed by the maker of the computer the product key will be stored in BIOS.
Your name, by the way, is awfully close to “To Update Or Not.” You don’t want credit for an excellent tip?