Q: When I insert a USB key into my computer, I get an error message that offers to repair the key. I accept the offer and the computer quickly repairs the drive. Why does the drive need to be repaired repeatedly?
— JC Kenner
A: One of my drives recently started behaving the same way. I was able to prevent the error and fix the loop by clicking “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media” in the system tray. I checked with Microsoft about this issue, but got no response.
Q: In a recent column you described how marketers embed a pixel in emails to follow the openings. What exactly constitutes the “opening” of an email? In Outlook I can click on the email list and get a “preview” of the email in a panel. Does this count as an opening? Or is it only when I double click and the email opens?
A: In tracking pixels, viewing an email in the preview pane is equivalent to opening it. Outlook blocks images in the preview pane and when you open an email by default. This protects you from image-based tracking pixels. If you trust the sender, you can right-click on the blocked item and select “Download Images”.
Q: I liked the answer you gave to Greg Carlock about whether others can see if you’ve opened an email. There are email services like Proton Mail that I use that trick tracking tags in emails to see a centralized server rather than the user. In short, there are email services designed to fill the privacy gaps that traditional email providers don’t provide.
A: I couldn’t agree more. I have used Proton Mail and been impressed with it. Not only does Proton Mail block email tracking, it also encrypts all your email traffic, including attachments. But that’s not all. Even free accounts (which are limited to 150 emails per day) benefit from a virtual private network. Readers who wish to know more can consult proton.me.
Note: Thanks to the knowledgeable readers who commented on my reader response last week regarding slow internet speeds when using a network switch with a cable modem. As they pointed out, the first question I should have asked was whether the questioner was using an older switch that only offers 10/100 network speed. A newer gigabit switch would almost certainly boost performance to its satisfaction.