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Issue #74: December 21, 2008

Q: I have been trying to find out if I can get rid of the program “Data Execution Prevention”?  I’m running a HP Presario 2.2 AMD Athelon, 2 gigs ram, 260 Gig HD Dr. with Windows XP Media Center Edition Ser Pak # 3.  I have some photos in a folder called “pictures” along with some other folders in that if I try to open the dir. I get this box saying I cannot open the folder because DEP want let me.  If I go to My Computer and open the C dr. and then open the folder it will work most times.  I’ve tried doing what I’m told to do when the DEP box opens, but to no avail.  I would like to just get rid of the program.  I have used a Laptop with Vista and a Backup Desktop with XP on the same “pictures” Dir and they both work fine. 

– Jim J.
Fort Walton Beach, FL

A: DEP is not a “program” Jim, as much as it’s a feature of the Operating System.  It helps to prevent malicious code from executing on your computer from locations where data typically resides.  Some malware will attempt to slip past virus scanners by hiding in areas of the computer’s memory where data (non-executable stuff) typically lives.  When Windows detects something trying to launch a program from an unusual area of memory, DEP locks it down to prevent malware from spreading on your system.  Since you’re running what you describe as a “used laptop” has it occurred to you that maybe DEP is actually doing its job, and protecting you?  I think you’re playing with fire by trying to disable it.  Nevertheless, if you’re bound and determined to tempt the possibility of burning yourself, I’ll show you how to take control of DEP.  I’d rather you go into this with my warnings and your eyes wide open, than carelessly, or uninformed of the risks.

Right-click on “My Computer” and select “Properties”.  Select the “Advanced” tab, and under “Performance” click “Settings”.  Go to the “Data Execution Prevention” tab.  From here, you can totally disable it (NOT RECOMMENDED) or exclude certain programs from being inhibited by DEP.  Before taking any measures to disable DEP, I highly encourage you to read the following Microsoft Knowledgebase article:

TIP OF THE WEEK:  Last week a reader recommended cleaning up e-mails before forwarding them.  One thing I forgot to mention was that if people would just use the BCC: feature for addressing their bulk e-mails there wouldn’t be all that clutter at the top in the first place.  Also, in many e-mails, the clutter is larger than the e-mail itself!  In these cases, it’s often easier simply to copy the part of the e-mail you DO want to forward and paste it in a new e-mail.

If you haven’t had enough of Christmas lights yet, it’s not too late to take in my “Geek Lights of Christmas” light show at the corner of Bluewater Blvd and Antiqua Way in Bluewater Bay.  The 23 minute shows begin on the hour and half hour each night starting at 6:00 with the last show starting at 9:30.  We’ve really enjoyed meeting and talking to the many of you that have stopped by so far.  Merry Christmas everybody!

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