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Fri, Jan. 24

Free program opens compressed files

Q: A friend sent me an e-mail with an attachment with a .RAR extension. How do I open that?

A: First, make sure your friend really sent the attachment. Some e-mails are generated by evildoers who "spoof" or imitate innocent people's e-mail addresses and send infected attachments. Once you've verified it's legitimate, then you need to open the attachment. There are several free programs that can open compressed files such as RARs. The one I use is IZArc. IZArc will extract RAR, ZIP and many other archives. The program can be found here:

Download IZArc and either save it somewhere you can find it, or run it. When you run the file, give whatever permissions your version of Windows requires in order to allow it to install. When you get "Welcome to the IZArc x.x.x Setup Wizard," click Next. Accept the agreement, then click Next. Click through the next few screens except "install Internet Explorer" (unless you really want to). Otherwise, say no to that, and then click Install. Next, select English (or any language you like). The next screen is "File Associations" - in other words, the files you'd like IZArc to open for you. I generally choose to click OK here. Click Finish. If it opens a Notepad file, just close it.

Now, any .RAR or .ZIP file you double click on (in Windows Explorer or an email) will be opened by IZArc. You can then view, execute, play or extract whatever is inside the archive.

Q: I understand that it is important to have different passwords for each website where I enter personal information, but I am afraid to carry a list of my passwords. Is there a safe way to remember my passwords?

A: There are a number of software programs that will handle that task. You use one master password to enter the program and the program keeps track of all other user names and passwords. One of the higher-rated programs of this type, Lastpass, is free. You download the program from Once the program is setup, it will ask for your e-mail address and a master password. Once installed, the program will offer to store any user names and passwords at any website you visit. It will even offer to generate stronger passwords for you. You can store basic personal information and let the program fill in forms at these sites. All this information and the passwords are stored at their website, where everything is encrypted. The one thing they do not store is your master password, which is kept on your own computer in encrypted form. This way, no one who might break into Lastpass' computer can access your information. When away from your computer, you can access your information and passwords as long as you download the software onto the computer you are using or onto a USB drive with Firefox or Chrome Portable. Check the Frequently Asked Questions on the Lastpass website for more details including other special features.

The Prescott Computer Society (PCS) is a PC-based users' group that holds several entertaining and educational meetings each month to show you how to get the most out of your computer. For further information, visit E-mail questions for future columns to

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