Patrick Marshall answers your personal technology questions each week.

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Q: A recent article in The Seattle Times about ransomware is very scary. I have external drive backups and use Carbonite. Will the ransomware affect these also?

— Allen Matson

A: You’re right to be concerned. Yes, ransomware can also encrypt files stored on external drives and even in the cloud — any files, in fact, that can be accessed through your infected computer. Fortunately, some cloud storage services, including Carbonite, offer “versioning.” With versioning, multiple copies of your files are saved over time. When ransomware strikes, you must first either remove the ransomware or reformat your drive. After that, you can restore the most recent version of your backup before the infection.

Some cloud storage services, including Microsoft OneDrive, offer versioning only as an extra-cost option.

Also, you’re safe from the current ransomware attack if you’re running a current version of Windows 10. The ransomware exploits vulnerabilities that have already been patched in Windows 10. Most of the affected computers were running older and unpatched versions of Windows.


Q: My son was trying to add a user ID for his son on my HP Pavillion Touchsmart 15 notebook. He somehow managed to delete my administrator account. I’m pretty sure that all of my files, pictures, music, etc., are still on the computer, but I can’t figure out how to get to them. When I go to switch users, my account is not there. Any advice?

— Margy Sturrock, Woodinville

A: You don’t say what version of Windows you’re using. The steps I’m about to give are for Windows 10. You can access the hidden administrator account by clicking on the Start button, scrolling down to the Windows System folder and right-clicking “Command Prompt.” Next select “Run as administrator.” At the prompt, type “Net user administrator /active:yes.” (Don’t type the quotation marks.)

Now when you click on the Start button and then the User Account button you’ll see the Administrator account listed.

Once you’re logged in, you can try to restore your user account. On the desktop, press Windows key + R to open a Run dialogue box. Enter “%systemroot%system32rstrui.exe.” Press Enter and then follow instructions to select a restore point before the account got deleted.


Q: I have recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tab E tablet. The apps from my Samsung 7 Edge phone were transferred to the tablet by the salesman. One app is Acrobat Reader. How do I transfer PDF files from my Windows 10 desktop to the tablet?

— D. Mack

A: There are two simple ways to get those PDFs onto your tablet. First, if you’re going to be moving files between the two devices frequently, you’ll want to set up the tablet to transfer files. The first time you connect the tablet to a computer it will offer to install software for transferring files. After that, simply swiping down from the top of the tablet screen will open the notification panel. You can then select to connect the tablet as a media device. Then you’ll be able to move files between the devices using Windows’ File Explorer.

Alternatively, if this is a one-time thing you could simply mail the PDFs to yourself and open them on the tablet.