Get rid of old, unwanted online accounts
Q. I want to get my information out of sites I don't use anymore. I've written down the sites where I have accounts, but how do I delete them for good?
A. Kudos for taking charge of your online privacy. Unfortunately, every site handles deleting accounts differently. You'll have to poke around each site to find out what options you have. Or you can visit a site like Delete Your Account, Account Killer, JustDelete.Me or wikicancel.org. You'll find the steps to delete your accounts on hundreds of popular websites. The catch however, is that not all sites let you delete your account, and even if they do it's not always easy.
If you run across a site that doesn't let you delete your account, remove as much information from the account as you can. Then switch your email address and password to something other than your real ones. That way, in a data breach a hacker won't get anything useful about you.
How to tell if photos are stolen
Q. I'm on a dating website and the photos one person is sending to me don't look right. Is it possible to see if those photos were lifted from somewhere else online?
A. You bet. It's called a reverse image search, and - surprise! - Google can help you out. Just go to Google and click the Images link. In the search bar, you'll see a little gray camera icon. Click on that and either paste in an image link or upload a photo from your computer. Hit search and Google will show you where else the photo is used online. You might also take a look at the photo's hidden data to see when, where and with what camera it was taken. To see this information, download the photo, right-click on it and select properties. Then go to the details tab.
Stopping advertisers in their tracks
Q. I'm sick and tired of advertisers sending me targeted ads online. Now I hear they can track my phone! How do I stop it?
A. First, you might want to consider trying a private browser like DuckDuckGo. It doesn't track your IP address or search history, collect your data or store your personal information. You'll be completely hidden from advertisers while searching.
However, that's just a starting point. On your phone, you'll want to turn off ad tracking. iPhone users need to go into "Settings >> Privacy >> Advertising >> Limit ad tracking" and toggle it On (yes, I said "on"). Right underneath that setting, incidentally, you'll see the "Reset Advertising Identifier." Tapping on that will make you appear to be a new user to trackers.
To turn off the ad tracking in Google's new "AdID" system, you don't go to your Android phone settings, but your Google Settings app. You might have to look under your full list of apps to find it. Tap the Ads link and then check "Opt out of interest-based ads." You can also see your advertising ID and tap "Reset advertising ID" to make a new one. Again, this will make you look like a new user to advertisers.
Easily repair or sell your broken phone or tablet
Q. I dropped my iPhone on the ground and the screen is cracked in a million different places. Is there a cheaper option to fix my phone other than completely replacing it?
A. You can go online to a site like iFixit, buy a new screen and replace it yourself. If you don't have time or confidence in your tech skill, you can contact a company like iCracked. It will schedule a tech to come to you and fix your gadget. Most repair places handle both Apple and Samsung gadgets. The cost of replacement and repair may vary and some repairs may need overnight care to ensure that the sealing process is complete when replacing a screen. You can also sell your gadget through sites like iCracked or Gazelle, even if it's busted. Choose your gadget make and model, your mobile provider, the storage capacity and the color. You'll have to answer questions about the condition of your gadget, and then you'll get a quote. Naturally, it won't be a lot, but it might be enough to help you afford a new phone.
Easily recover deleted and erased files
Q. I accidentally deleted some important files on my computer. Is there any way I can get them back?
A. You might be in luck. When a file is deleted, it doesn't disappear; the data hangs around hidden until another file overwrites it. A program like Recuva or FreeUndelete can scan your hard drive, flash drive, memory card or iPod for deleted files and recover them. It will detect photos, emails, videos and other documents. The program then gives you a list of what it finds along with the condition of each file. When you recover files, I recommend saving somewhere other than the drive you're recovering from. That way, you don't risk overwriting the files you're trying to save. Just remember that the recovery process can take a while, and isn't always successful.
Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Hear it locally at 94.3 WSC News Radio noon-3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to www.komando.com.