About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

September 17, 2013

Recycle Bin

imageI talked to a young lady recently about how she used her Recycle Bin.  As if you did not know, the Recycle Bin is the trashcan icon on your Windows desktop.  It is usually located on the lower right or upper left corner of the screen.  It displays as empty or full.  When full, whether it has one file in it or one million it will look the same.  

She told me that she uses her recycle bin for storage of files that she may need one day…WHAT? WAIT!  The recycle bin is designed for discarding files, not as a place to keep them.

There are many ways your recycle bin could be emptied. Then you would have no files left.  Consider if your hard drive were to self-destruct and you took it to be repaired. They would not be trying to save your recycle bin but your My Documents folder where all of your files you may one day need should be stored.  I would even unenthusiastically recommend that if you think you may use a file again you should create a folder on your desktop and store those files there.  But your Documents folder is the preferred and safest method for the majority of users.

I also recommend backing up your important documents somewhere.  That way when the inevitable hard drive crash comes you will have the important documents safe somewhere else.  I always recommend Dropbox ( — caps count in that URL and if you use this link you get some extra storage).  That is where I keep all of my backups.  With it being free for up to 2 GB of storage most users will be covered.

Another question I get about deleting items from the Recycle Bin revolve around people needing a file they accidentally deleted.  Oops.

Several things dictate what you should try.  The easiest is if your deleted file is still in your Recycle Bin.  Just open your bin by double clicking on it, search for the file, right click on it and choose, "Restore."  It will reappear in the exact location, i.e. folder it was in when you deleted it.  Done.

However, if you have deleted it by using the, "Empty Recycle Bin" command on your bin, you could have problems getting the file back.  You may be in luck if your Recycle Bin has not been emptied for a long period of time.  There is no specific time and it really depends on how often you use your computer.  Basically when you delete a file it really is not deleted from your computer.  The file is marked so that the computer sees it and it is still on the hard drive.  The mark tells the operating system that if it needs that space on the drive to store something else it is available and can be used.  If the file you need has been used, or rewritten, you may be out of luck.

There is a tool I have used to save my life in these situations many times.  You will not know whether or not you can get it back until you try.  The app is called, "Recuva" and it is found online at  This application is free for the basic model which is probably all you need.

Once you run Recuva your find your file is fully useable.  There are other apps out there like this one, but Recuva has always worked well for me.

February 8, 2011

Power of the Broom, Part 3

In review, Ubuntu is a free Linux based operating system that you could use to replace Windows on your computer.  I will hit a few more Ubuntu specialties today and move on next week.

Since Ubuntu is free you would think that getting help about how to use things would be impossible.  However, since there are a lot of Linux "geeks" out there who want to have converts to Linux software, you have surprisingly good support.  If you have a question, go to, "" for help.  If you cannot find the answers you are looking for feel free to ask the people in their forums.  All the needed links are found on that page.

imageNext, Ubuntu gives users 2 GB of online "cloud" storage.  Once you finish installing Ubuntu you will be asked to sign up for "Ubuntu One" which is your free storage area.  You can choose to store your documents, music, presentations, etc. there.  What if you fill up your free 2 GB and want more?  You just add more storage in 20 GB increments at a very affordable price when compared to other alternatives.

Ubuntu offers a free streaming app at Ubuntu One for music; however, even though it is free you must purchase the music from the Ubuntu store.  So depending on how much music you already have that may not be a good thing.  The music can be played on your Ubuntu system using, "Rhythmbox" which is a pretty good audio player for streaming, podcasts, internet radio and your music library.

What about software that you used in Windows?  This will probably be the biggest difficulty for switching over to a Linux system if you are a heavy duty Windows person.  There are several options.

First, I found many of the same programs I used in Windows redesigned by the developers for Linux and they work fine.

Next, many programs not available for Ubuntu have substitutes that are better, just as good, or maybe not quite as nice but still get the job done.

After this there is Wine.  Wine is not a beverage to drown your Windows-related depression in. It is a free application that will allow many Windows programs to run on Linux systems.  I have used it to run iTunes (which isn’t made for Linux) and it works OK; however, you cannot get to the iTunes Store using it.  Not a good solution, but you can experiment.

imageFinally, for Windows apps running on Ubuntu you could consider, "VirtualBox".  VirtualBox allows you to install a Windows operating system on an Ubuntu machine.  This allows you to run any Windows program.  It creates a "virtual" computer for your use after logging into Ubuntu.  This works well but be aware that you will have to have a licensed copy of the Windows OS to install.

Several of you have written over the past few weeks telling me you tried Ubuntu on an older computer, and like it a lot.  Keep in mind, I do not regularly answer Linux questions so if you have one check with Ubuntu Support and Google.  Do keep me posted if/when you try it out!

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