No problem leaving laptop in sleep mode

The Baltimore Sun

I have a Toshiba laptop running Vista. I use it intermittently during the day and put it on "sleep" when I'm not using it. Your letter from Pete Schuyler makes me think I'm damaging the drive from thermal cycling. By the way, the laptop usually sits on a cooling rack, per your suggestion. Should I be leaving the unit on instead of "sleeping" it?

- Jim Lavery

The sleep mode reduces the heat generated when the laptop is powered up. I do not believe you are causing any harm to the machine, nor do I think you need to change your habits.

My friends all say that when someone hacks into a computer they can access all the information therein. I do not understand how this could be done. When I access my computer from any other computer, I have never been able to access my Word files. If what my friends say is correct, how can I access my Word files from another computer?

- Bud Presgrove

It is fairly easy for a hacker, once he has gained access to your machine, to see any file. So it is important to use a good firewall and, if you can, a router that offers added protection through a technology called NAT. Any router that offers that protection will note it on the box, or in the product description on the manufacturer's Web site.

There is no need for you to hack into your computer to get remote access, however. There are software programs that make that easy. You can still use a firewall for protection, while allowing the program to access your information from a distance.

One program for this sort of access is branded GoToMyPC. You can read about it at You can find a complete list of programs that offer this capability by searching with Google for: remote access pc.

Help from a reader

Last summer I had a stroke that damaged my vision, making it very hard to read or write e-mails and documents. I found a couple of programs that helped me tremendously. I use Natural Reader to read e-mails and documents. It's a fairly simple process. ... You highlight the portions you want to be read and at the touch of a button the computer reads it to you. Dictating documents and e-mails is also simplified using a program called Dragon Naturally Speaking. I am using this program to dictate the e-mail you see here. My computer reads me your columns every week.

- Dick Schmidt

Thanks for the help, Dick.

Readers interested in these products can use Google to find them.

Bill Husted writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad