Tech Q&A: Essential Windows apps, secret Alexa commands, cybersecurity tests and more

Personal data compromised

Q: On your national radio show, you spoke of a site that contains a lot of personal details on us, like our age, addresses, relatives, etc. What was the name of the site?

A: Thanks for listening, and yes, you should definitely check out the site. But remember, there isn’t just one site that includes personal data. Pieces of your background are scattered across the internet, and finding these sites is only half the story. You’ll also want to know how to delete your information from them. Click here to find the website’s name and how to remove your personal details. You’ll also find a link that shows how to remove your information from other sites, too.

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Essential Windows 10 apps

Q: I just got a new laptop loaded with Windows 10. I went to the Microsoft app store and it’s crazy. Can you tell me what are the Windows 10 essentials?

A: Great observation. Yes, the Microsoft app store is pretty cluttered. Programmers are churning out new applications, hoping that you will invest in them, and the sheer number of programs makes it pretty hard to tell which ones you actually need or want. Now that every Microsoft user has upgraded to Windows 10 (and if you haven’t, you should, immediately), we’ve put together a list of the most vital apps. They include a cloud-based word processor, an intuitive video editor and defragging software that will help your system run more smoothly. Click here for Windows 10 must-haves.

Why do I need Alexa?

Q: My husband gave me the Amazon Echo for my birthday. What’s it good for? I don’t like it.

A: What is the point of this weird little tower? Do you really need a “virtual assistant”? If you’ve already lived your entire life without an interactive speaker, why do you need one now? Well, if you’re curious but still on the fence, we’ve put together a list of commands that even experienced Echo owners may never have thought of. Some are helpful; others are hilarious. Either way, any one of these less-known commands might make you a convert. Click here for the coolest Alexa commands.

Testing your system for security holes

Q: All the news about hackers concerns me. I have security software, but how do I know if it is working?

A: I hate to say it, but I’m glad the news has you worried. Most people should be concerned about hackers, because you never know when a strand of malware will contaminate your hard drive. I’ve known people whose most essential accounts were kidnapped by ransomware, and they had to pay a hefty price. Believe me, you don’t want to deal with this. But then again, as you point out, it’s hard to confirm your security software is working. There are several simple ways to run a diagnostic on your security software, no actual viruses required. Click here for five ways to test your security.

Microsoft Office alternatives

Q: I am going back to college and I don’t have a lot of money. Do I really need Microsoft Word?

A: Ah, the age-old question: Why don’t Windows-based computers always come with Microsoft Office installed? This is especially inconvenient for students and professionals who may not have the capital to invest in these essential programs. Well, you’re in luck: There is a handy alternative to Word, as well as substitutes for nearly every program in the Office suite. You won’t have to pay a dime for them, and they work beautifully with their costlier contemporaries. Click here for free alternatives to Word, Photoshop and more.

What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

Copyright 2017, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved. Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at