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Reassign letters for drives in Windows

Q. How do I change the letter assigned to a drive in Windows?

You normally shouldn't have to bother doing this – unless, perhaps, you're bored with calling your primary drive “C:” after the past three decades of doing so. But adding extra drives or connecting to another computer on a home network can lead to drive-letter conflicts.

For example, when I plugged a multiformat card reader into my desktop at work, it grabbed a drive letter that already belonged to a shared volume on the office network, confusing a few programs.

In that case, you should follow the procedure outlined by Microsoft at support.microsoft.com/kb/307844, which involves traipsing through a little-used corner of the Control Panel to get to a “Disk Management” applet that, among other tasks, will let you assign the letter of your choice to any drive. This article refers to Windows XP, but the same procedure works in Windows Vista.

How to keep your Gmail private

Q. How can I keep somebody from snooping in my Gmail when I'm using a public WiFi connection?

You should use an option that Google's popular Web-mail service finally began offering last month: a security setting that will switch your Gmail use to an encrypted, protected connection. When you log in to Gmail, click the “Settings” link at the top right of the page, scroll down until you see a “Browser connection” category, and click the button next to “Always use https.”

From then on, your Gmail sign-in and everything else you read or write at this site will be digitally scrambled as it flows from Gmail's servers to your browser and back.

But when you're reading sensitive messages in public, don't forget to make sure nobody's looking over your shoulder.

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