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  1. #1
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    Getting My First Windows 7 Computer Monday

    On Monday I am picking up my first Windows 7 computer---a Dell laptop. I have been using Windows XP computers until now, so I've come here to ask for any useful suggestions for setting it up.

    The computer comes with Windows 7 Home Premium, which I'm going to upgrade to Ultimate, using "Windows Anytime Upgrade." I also has Microsoft Office Starter for which I'm getting the Product Key to convert to Office Home and Business. Anything I should be aware of when I do this? When I purchase the Windows 7 upgrade, will I have some kind of backup/reinstall option available? What about the Microsoft Office Home and Business? Will there be a reinstall option for that? Hopefully, I won't need to reinstall, but you never know.

    I did purchase Acronis True Image 2010, on recommendation in the Security Forum when I was asking questions about an imaging program for Windows XP. I'll be using it for the new Windows 7 computer instead. Any suggestions/instructions for using this?

    What good advice can you give me for setting up my computer? I want to set it up with an Administrator account and one other user (called "Limited" on my XP computer). How do I make sure that the programs I install as administrator will be available for use by the limited user? I found that I couldn't use the programs installed by administrator on my XP computer. Is that because I didn't set up a second user account until after I finished installing the programs? Should I set up both user accounts first or install programs first?

    What about tips for maintaining security? I know everyone has their favorite security software, but Windows 7 specific suggestions would be appreciated. I've read some threads about this subject and note that MSE, Bit Defender, Returnil, and Malwarebytes all have their proponents. I've used Outpost Pro Firewall and NOD32 on my XP laptop and they seemed to work fine, although I found Outpost somewhat confusing to me. When in doubt, I just denied requested access, which meant I did a lot of denying.

    The laptop has a 1 terabyte hard drive, and I'm sure I won't put a dent in all that storage. What would be a good way to partition and set up the computer? The free program Partition Wizard was recommended for partitioning my XP laptop. Would that be good to use for the Windows 7 laptop, as well?

    I know there are a lot of questions here, but I need to quickly get the new laptop up and running, and I want to do it right the first time. Thanks for any advice you can give me.

    Oh, and while I'm bombarding you all with questions, any suggestions for something that would eliminate all the annoying popups on line? How important do you think it is to have some anonymity online? I don't feel like I need to hide any of the places I go online, but it does seem a bit creepy, and I do worry whether there are any security issues attendant to being tracked.

    Okay, I'll stop for now.

  2. #2
    Gold Lounger Roderunner's Avatar
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    Hi EmiLee,

    I know nothing about Dell pc's so the first thing to do is get a set of recovery discs if they are not given to you. Some pc's have a built-in recovery partition and the option to create them.
    -
    As to creating a Limited user account, I would not, unless its for a child. To get safe surfing, Firefox can be set to always start in 'Private Browsing' mode.
    -
    I have info re partitioning but it can wait, as you seem to have enough on your schedule.
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmiLee View Post
    The computer comes with Windows 7 Home Premium, which I'm going to upgrade to Ultimate, using "Windows Anytime Upgrade." I also has Microsoft Office Starter for which I'm getting the Product Key to convert to Office Home and Business. Anything I should be aware of when I do this? When I purchase the Windows 7 upgrade, will I have some kind of backup/reinstall option available? What about the Microsoft Office Home and Business? Will there be a reinstall option for that? Hopefully, I won't need to reinstall, but you never know.
    The Windows upgrade will be just a key. You should keep that key safely stored in a place you can't forget. You will probably get it in an email message, which you should keep. You can also keep a OneNote Notebook to keep all these keys and you could even create the Notebook in SkyDrive so you can access it from multiple computers. You can then resort to it when you need to.

    Once you upgrade Windows and Office and your computer is ready to use, create an image. That will be a safe, "clean" point in time, to which you can always go back to, when in need.

    I did purchase Acronis True Image 2010, on recommendation in the Security Forum when I was asking questions about an imaging program for Windows XP. I'll be using it for the new Windows 7 computer instead. Any suggestions/instructions for using this?
    You will want to get an external drive for your backups. It's the only way to protect against hardware failure, which could occur if you just backup to a partition on the same disk you are backing up. I actually have two external disks, which I rotate as backup destinations. I am not suggesting you buy two disks immediately, but if you can do it at a later time, that would be the best option.
    What good advice can you give me for setting up my computer? I want to set it up with an Administrator account and one other user (called "Limited" on my XP computer). How do I make sure that the programs I install as administrator will be available for use by the limited user? I found that I couldn't use the programs installed by administrator on my XP computer. Is that because I didn't set up a second user account until after I finished installing the programs? Should I set up both user accounts first or install programs first?
    Setup everything with your admin account. Once you are ready, create another admin account and downgrade the first one to a regular user.
    When installing apps, some will ask if you want them installed for all users. Say yes, in those situations.

    Some users will disagree with this, which i would understand, but I don't use a regular account. With good security in place, a regular image back to external disks, the risk of devastating loss of info is rather small, so I simply don't do it. I keep installing apps and I wouldn't enjoy the account switching I would have to endure.
    Please understand that this is my personal choice and I have used it for ever. I have been using computers since the glorious times when there were no personal computers .

    What about tips for maintaining security? I know everyone has their favorite security software, but Windows 7 specific suggestions would be appreciated. I've read some threads about this subject and note that MSE, Bit Defender, Returnil, and Malwarebytes all have their proponents. I've used Outpost Pro Firewall and NOD32 on my XP laptop and they seemed to work fine, although I found Outpost somewhat confusing to me. When in doubt, I just denied requested access, which meant I did a lot of denying.
    Well, each person will have its favorites. I do agree with the use of an OS firewall, which Outpost is. Denying everything may be excessive. Not sure how it works with Outpost, but Online Armor, which I use, keeps a database of executables and can provide further advice on most programs trying to install. It is also easy to understand context - if you are setting up an app, the requests for installation are legitimate and should probably be answered positively. Also, after Windows updates, you are bound to have a few new apps or components to install. Other requests need to be properly evaluated.

    Although many people will vouch for MSE, I don't think MSE is that good, both in terms of resource usage and detection rate. You will find situations here where users had MSE and still got some malware. Of course, no app will protect you against everything, but some apps will protect you against more things than others. As AV and malware protection, I recommend Emsisoft's AntiMalware, which has consistently been top ranked in comparatives with similar apps. Between that, your OS firewall, a regular backup strategy and a good hardware firewall (in a router), you should fare fine.

    I will stop here now. You will get more advice about the remaining questions, I am sure.

  4. #4
    3 Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmiLee View Post
    The laptop has a 1 terabyte hard drive, and I'm sure I won't put a dent in all that storage. What would be a good way to partition and set up the computer? The free program Partition Wizard was recommended for partitioning my XP laptop. Would that be good to use for the Windows 7 laptop, as well?
    Dell's Win7 laptops usually come from the factory with three partitions:

    For over a decade Dell has been installing a very tiny (100MB or so), hidden FAT partition at the front. This is for Dell Diagnostics and boots a DOS variant. I've seen some recent computers come without it, though, so maybe Dell is phasing it out--perhaps in anticipation for next generation's GUID format hard drives, which won't be able to use such a partition anyway. Regardless, the point is you may or may not have that partition.

    The next partition will be the Win7 Recovery partition. It's typically about 10-20 GB and contains the factory recovery backup image ("factory.wim") in Microsoft's ImageX format. Some people like to delete it on the theory that they'll never use it if they're doing their own backup imaging (via Acronis or whatever). There's no harm doing that, though personally I leave it there because if/when you ever part with the computer it's easy to put the factory image back on instead of passing the computer on with your own stuff on it ... and with 1TB to work with it's not like it's taking up space you need for something else.

    The rest of the space will be taken up by one super-large OS partition. I always put my data on another partition separate from the OS, though some people don't appreciate the value of that and will insist it's not necessary. Since you asked about repartitioning, I'm going to guess you're in the same camp as me here. I would simply shrink the OS partition down to about 70-80 GB and devote the rest of the disk space to a giant data partition. I haven't use Partition Wizard, but I can think of no reason why it wouldn't work, since it's a pretty straightforward task.

    Roderunner mentioned OS recovery discs. One of the preinstalled applications Dell will put on your laptop is called Dell DataSafe. It has a few different functions, one of which is creating a set of recovery DVDs. Definitely do that, preferably before doing anything else. Even if you choose to delete the Recovery partition, no worries because the set of recovery DVDs can rebuild the complete factory state, including the Recovery partition, on a completely blank hard drive if you should need to do so in the future.

    Lastly, I would question your plan to upgrade to Win7 Ultimate. Is there a particular reason you think you need it? Maybe others will weigh in here, but I don't think it will add anything you'll actually use.


    Dan

  5. #5
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    EmiLee,

    Good advice from all above. I would second Dan's question on why you think you need Win-7 Ultimate. If you have a need for a specific feature of Ultimate, e.g. BitLocker then go for it but only if you need the specific feature and can't get it elsewhere. I would also, after making your restore DVD's or taking an Image Backup but before loading software or customizing the machine, download and run the PC Decrapifier to get rid of all the preloaded junk Dell puts on the machine. IMHO this includes the "Free" Anti-Malware app be it Norton or McAfee. Then load Microsoft Security Essentials and download Malwarebytes Free as a secondary on-demand scanner.

    Good Luck and Enjoy!
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I would also second most of what has been stated. I would also use Revo Uninstaller or PC Decrapifier to get rid of most of the garbage Dell adds to the PC. It will work fine with a straight Win 7 installation without the Dell stuff. In December I bought a Dell Inspiron 15R PC for my grand daughter and stripped ALL the Dell stuff out and threw it away. The PC worked better afterward.

    If you make and maintain Up To Date Images I also do not believe there is a great need for a limited account. I have been using the Admin accounts on our PC's for years with no problems. If however you will allow others to use your PC, then that is a possibility.

    In my case I also imaged the Recovery partition as well as the Win 7 partition, then deleted the Recovery partition and used Partition Wizard to recover this space into the main partition. (The Win 7 Disk Manager is not able to recover space in front of the C Drive, hence the 3rd party partitioning app) (Once you are using Imaging, the Recovery partition is only good if you are returning the PC to factory to sell or give it away IMO)

    I also am a firm believer in separating your data onto a separate partition. I leave between 50 Gb and 75 Gb on my C Drive and leave everything else to the D Drive (Data). You can also use Partition Wizard for this chore. (Win 7 Disk Manager can do this as well, but Partition Wizard makes it so easy)

    PartitionWizard.jpg

    After creating the partition and setting it to logical use this method to switch all your data to the separate partition. You need to use the indicated method to do this, otherwise the pointers to the data in the Libraries and the OS will be broken. Using this method changes the pointers.)
    Last edited by Medico; 2012-08-26 at 08:31.
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  7. #7
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    Thank you for all the good advice. Keep it coming. I am going to print out all of the suggestions for when I start setting up my computer and also so I can research some of the things I'm not familiar with.

    Ruirib ---- If I follow the procedure you indicated, setting up everything with administrator's account then creating another administrator's account and downgrading the first administrator to a regular account, does that mean that the first administrator account, which was downgraded to regular, be able to access/run all the programs installed with that account when it was an administrator account? Also, later, if I need to download another program or upgrade one that has already been loaded, do I need to do the reverse---i.e., reassign administrator rights to the first user account in order to load new programs and/or upgrade programs? Then downgrade it to a regular account again?

    Also, would you say that OnlineArmor is likely as effective as Outpost Pro firewall, but easier to understand? If I used OnlineArmor, what would I choose for an AV that would not conflict with OnlineArmor? By the way, if I am installing a new program or doing something else that would logically produce some warnings from my firewall, I will generally "allow once," since it seems most likely it is associated with what I'm doing at the moment. Does Online Armor have the provision to allow something just once, rather than allowing it from now on? I like that choice, because I'm not knowledgeable enough about what various files/processes are and I don't want to allow something to run that might potentially create a hazard at a later time.

    Do you think AntiMalware would be better to have than MalwareBytes, or would I want to have both, for different purposes?

    DG1261----Yes, I do like to keep data separate from program files. It makes backup/imaging easier. Much of my data doesn't need to be saved long-term, so I can just backup those files/folders I need to keep. (I have online storage that I usually use for those purposes.)

    Will Dell's DataSafe program create BOOTABLE recovery disks? So would that be sufficient for a clean backup of my hard drive in it's original, brand new condition? Or would I want to make an image with Acronis True Image, too?

    I have Windows 7 Ultimate because my boss, who kindly bought the laptop for me, chose to have it upgraded. I will make use of BitLocker. Are there disadvantages to having Windows 7 Ultimate, or is it just not necessary?

    Retired Geek and Medico----Will PC Decrapifier or Revo Uninstaller do a better job of getting all that stuff off my computer than simply going to Control Panel and uninstalling them? Is it straightforward and easy to use, so I won't be at great risk of messing up my computer setup? I agree about all the extras put on the hard drives of new computers. I hate the idea that some remnants may remain even if I uninstall them. Back in the days of Windows 98/ME/XP, I would usually reformat the entire drive and do a clean install of Windows only, then start from there. I don't have the time or energy to do that this time, so I'm very interested in the best way to thoroughly get rid of all the unwanted stuff. Also, I am, frankly, worried that I might not do it correctly, as I haven't researched Windows 7 thoroughly and might make a mess of it and I haven't installed any Windows programs in a very long time.

    To those who commented about partitioning the HD----Since I have such a large drive, I would like to have an additional partition which I can use for testing my image created by True Image. So I would backup an image to the external HD and then use that image to "restore" it to my computer on the extra partition. It would simply be for testing to make sure that the image was created, not for storage of my backup.

    If I've asked questions that are answered in the links provided, I apologize. I am writing this before reading all of the links. I do thank you all and, as I said, I will be printing this out to refer to as I start setting up my laptop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmiLee View Post
    Ruirib ---- If I follow the procedure you indicated, setting up everything with administrator's account then creating another administrator's account and downgrading the first administrator to a regular account, does that mean that the first administrator account, which was downgraded to regular, be able to access/run all the programs installed with that account when it was an administrator account? Also, later, if I need to download another program or upgrade one that has already been loaded, do I need to do the reverse---i.e., reassign administrator rights to the first user account in order to load new programs and/or upgrade programs? Then downgrade it to a regular account again?

    Also, would you say that OnlineArmor is likely as effective as Outpost Pro firewall, but easier to understand? If I used OnlineArmor, what would I choose for an AV that would not conflict with OnlineArmor? By the way, if I am installing a new program or doing something else that would logically produce some warnings from my firewall, I will generally "allow once," since it seems most likely it is associated with what I'm doing at the moment. Does Online Armor have the provision to allow something just once, rather than allowing it from now on? I like that choice, because I'm not knowledgeable enough about what various files/processes are and I don't want to allow something to run that might potentially create a hazard at a later time.

    Do you think AntiMalware would be better to have than MalwareBytes, or would I want to have both, for different purposes?
    Yes, the downgraded account should be able to run all programs.
    To install new programs, you could probably just install them, for all users, from the new administrator account, but I can't be totally sure about this, as I never tried it.

    I never used Outpost. Online Armor is a top quality OS and network firewall, which is simpler to use than most. You will get prompted, as you do in Outpost, but probably not as much, as Online Armor will automatically recognize some programs. After the initial setup, Online Armor pretty much gets out of your way. When installing new software, you can change OA into learning mode, and that will avoid the situations where OA can be a bit nagging - installation of new apps. Yes, Online Armor can allow just for "this session", although I fail to see why you would choose such an option, with a program that will have to use the internet or that you want to run regularly. If you are installing a legitimate program, voluntarily, why not granting permanent access, so that it gets out of your way?

    Online Armor runs pretty much with all AVs. I have used it with MSE, Vipre and now Emsisoft AntiMalware. There are users who run it with Avira or AVG or just about anything else.

    I think Malwarebytes is a great program. I use the free version for scanning on demand. I chose EAM because of its quality. As I said, EAM routinely ranks first in comparative tests, and it has a low impact on my system. The detection rate of EAM is usually a bit better than that of Malwarebytes. Make no mistake, you would be very well protected with Malwarebytes, but I think I am even a little better with EAM. Plus you can get a good combined price for EAM + OA. The cost for Malwarebytes, though, is a one time cost, while you will have a yearly fee for EAM.

    So I run OA + EAM in real-time and MBAM on demand. My expectation here is that the combination of AV and OS firewall will catch just about anything that is thrown at them.

    This is just what works for me. I believe both OA and EAM are top notch products in their classes and I don't really care about paying a few euros to have them both protecting my systems.

  9. #9
    3 Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmiLee View Post
    Will Dell's DataSafe program create BOOTABLE recovery disks? So would that be sufficient for a clean backup of my hard drive in it's original, brand new condition?
    Yes, it's bootable. I've made them and on occasion tested them. They're designed to restore the complete factory partitions and layout on a blank, virgin hard drive, such as might be needed if your hard drive dies or if you replace it with a new, larger drive.


    Quote Originally Posted by EmiLee View Post
    I have Windows 7 Ultimate because my boss, who kindly bought the laptop for me, chose to have it upgraded. I will make use of BitLocker. Are there disadvantages to having Windows 7 Ultimate, or is it just not necessary?
    No disadvantages, other than cost.

    If you intend to use BitLocker, then you'll need it. Home Premium does not come with BitLocker.

  10. #10
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    The problem with simply going to CP to remove stuff is that the apps uninstallers and Windows own uninstaller leave lots of stuff behind. This stuff left behind is what first Revo Uninstaller and CCleaner are made for. I use CCleaner registry cleaner to remove anything left by Revo.

    Before starting anything, simply create a system Image, then go to town removing the unwanted junk. Once you get everything cleaned up the way you want it make another Image before starting your customization and app installation. I always make 2 or 3 Images as I am setting up a new PC. When you are all done and set up the way you want it, create your gold standard Image. At this point I deleted all other images. That would be up to you whether you do.

    I am unsure if restoring your Image to a separate partition will work or not. Plus this might screw up your MBR. Plus to follow the Eula you might have to delete the restored Image after testing it. I have never tried this so not sure what all the ramifications are. I think I mentioned, I just restore directly over the partition I Imaged, but I am very sure the Image will work. The first time this can be scary!
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    Thank you everyone who responded after my last post.

    ruirib---I appreciate the additional information. Just one last administrator/other user accounts. Is the first administrator's account that I later change to a regular/limited account the one that I'm reading is disabled when you first start Windows 7? Or is it an administrator account that is created by me? When I'm finished with the process you outlined and ready to switch the regular account to administrator and administrator to regular account, can I change the names? For instance, I would initially name the administrator something like "Installer" and the regular account/user "Regular Acct." Then, when reversing their privileges, I would like to name the first (which has been changed to a regular account)"EmiLee" or just my initials and the second (which has been changed to an administrator account) to "Admin." I presume I would also be able to change the passwords for each after I've renamed them?

    The reason I only allow access in my firewall once when I'm installing programs is that I've been afraid that malware/virus might be able to get on my computer and spoof one of the programs I have installed. Therefore, if I have a request by the firewall to allow some activity in a program I'm not currently using, I deny it. Is that being overly paranoid and not something likely to happen? Because of my ignorance, I tend to err on the side of caution when I don't know.

    dg1261----Thanks for the answer.

    Medico----So if I follow dg1261's suggestion of creating recovery disks before doing anything else, then I could probably image the HD and test it out immediately (by restoring it directly on the C:\ drive), before doing anything else on the computer. If that works okay, then I could have more confidence in future images and not always have to restore them? Also, on a HD that has multiple partitions, does True Image image just one drive at a time or all of them---can you choose which one(s) to image?

    Also, how difficult is it to use Decrappifier/Reno Uninstaller/CCleaner? Is one easier than another? Do you use them to uninstall the unwanted stuff or just to clean up after an uninstall? I've never used any kind of registry cleaner because, frankly, unless the item they want to remove is called "evil, bad malware that will wreck your computer," I would be afraid to okay removing something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmiLee View Post
    Thank you everyone who responded after my last post.

    ruirib---I appreciate the additional information. Just one last administrator/other user accounts. Is the first administrator's account that I later change to a regular/limited account the one that I'm reading is disabled when you first start Windows 7? Or is it an administrator account that is created by me? When I'm finished with the process you outlined and ready to switch the regular account to administrator and administrator to regular account, can I change the names? For instance, I would initially name the administrator something like "Installer" and the regular account/user "Regular Acct." Then, when reversing their privileges, I would like to name the first (which has been changed to a regular account)"EmiLee" or just my initials and the second (which has been changed to an administrator account) to "Admin." I presume I would also be able to change the passwords for each after I've renamed them?

    The reason I only allow access in my firewall once when I'm installing programs is that I've been afraid that malware/virus might be able to get on my computer and spoof one of the programs I have installed. Therefore, if I have a request by the firewall to allow some activity in a program I'm not currently using, I deny it. Is that being overly paranoid and not something likely to happen? Because of my ignorance, I tend to err on the side of caution when I don't know.
    It's the first account, the one where you install all the programs, that you later change, after creating a new admnistrator account. I don't recommend changing account names. The names would change, folders no, so just start with the correct names, knowing beforehand what you will do with both accounts. Passwords can be changed at any time.

    The firewall behavior, sorry, I don't think that makes much sense. I don't know what Outpost does, but OA keeps a signature for each of the programs that it has monitored and will be able to detect any change to those programs and ask you again for permission, stating specifically that a program has changed. I would presume Outpost does the same, but I don't know if it does (I would be surprised it it didn't).

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    okay, so while I'm installing stuff I will have to be sure that I remember that the user account labeled admin is actually a standard account and vice versa.

    Don't be sorry---I appreciate your telling me it doesn't make sense. What if the firewall reports that a reliable program that is not in use at the time wants to perform an action and/or go online? Would that be suspicious, or should I just allow it? I really do want to learn how to manage these things so that I'm not spending undue time being overly paranoid and dealing with repeat questions.

    Oops .. I just reread my post and realized that I did state that the request would be made at a time that I'm not using the program, so I guess you're saying I shouldn't worry that it's malware or a virus because the firewall would have already warned me that some component of the program had been changed.
    Last edited by EmiLee; 2012-08-27 at 00:41. Reason: add last paragraph

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    On my laptop I have 3 partitions. When I am setting up an Image creation I choose which partitions to include in the Image. Generally I only include the OS partitions, not the data partition although I have included one Image with all 3 partitions in case my HD dies I have the appropriate layout.

    When you create an Image all the partitions you have included are in one compressed Image file. When you restore you choose which partition to restore and where to restore it. Only restore one partition at a time. It is very important to name your partitions very specific s it is easy to choose which to restore to where. You would not want to restore the Win 7 Image in the Win 8 partition. You will notice in my screen shot (This is the beta of Acronis TIH 2013) you select the partitions you wish to Image (notice the distinctive names) you select the storage area (I use my Ext. USB HD) and a distinctive Image name (Notice a few of the previous Image names).

    TrueImageHome.jpg

    I have never has a problem with Acronis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmiLee View Post

    Don't be sorry---I appreciate your telling me it doesn't make sense. What if the firewall reports that a reliable program that is not in use at the time wants to perform an action and/or go online? Would that be suspicious, or should I just allow it? I really do want to learn how to manage these things so that I'm not spending undue time being overly paranoid and dealing with repeat questions.

    Oops .. I just reread my post and realized that I did state that the request would be made at a time that I'm not using the program, so I guess you're saying I shouldn't worry that it's malware or a virus because the firewall would have already warned me that some component of the program had been changed.
    I allow all activity by legitimate programs. Anytime there is a change in a program Online Armor asks for permission.
    Security is something to be desired and achieved. It's not that hard. I have never had a serious issue. If I had, I have backups to go back to, if I couldn't do it any other way. There is no point in being so scared that you don't go online or restrict doing what you want to do with your computer.

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