Walt Mossberg

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Mossberg’s Mailbox

Sharing E-Books and a Clean Sweep

Q:

One of the intrinsic values of a hard-copy book is the ability to physically pass the book to another person once I have completed reading it. Are there e-readers out there that allow you to buy an e-book, install it on one e-reader, and then pass it on another e-reader of the same brand?

A:

Yes, but not with as much freedom as lending a physical book. One of the advantages of the Barnes & Noble (BKS) Nook e-readers is that some, though not all, titles, can be lent to the user of another Nook, or to a friend who merely uses the company’s e-reader software on a computer or a smart phone. Each book can only be lent once, however, and each loan expires after two weeks.

Q:

If I totally erase my computer’s hard disk and then do a fresh reinstall of the operating system, will that also delete any and all would-be viruses, cookies, etc.—and restore the computer to its original “virgin” status?

A:

I’m not sure what you mean by a “would-be virus,” but the answer is yes. If you fully erase your hard disk with a utility that overwrites the files and free space with nonsense data, and then reinstall the operating system, the computer should act like it was new. You’d be free of any files you didn’t want.

There are easier ways to erase all cookies, by using a function in your Web browser. And the method you suggest would require you to spend considerable time installing any OS updates that have been issued since your operating-system disk was created, and reinstalling your programs and data files. Should you choose to do this, I’d urge you to back up your key files first.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox and my other columns at http://walt.allthingsd.com.


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