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Originally published November 16, 2012 at 4:29 PM | Page modified November 16, 2012 at 4:29 PM

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Make sure copies are copyrighted

Special to The Seattle Times

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Q: In the past six months I have received two emails about a “Notice of Claim of Copyright Infringement” from my Internet service provider. These were the result of downloads by another family member, who claims they were legal copies of computer-game files from the Steam Workshop.

I think of myself as a law-abiding citizen and really, really do not want to receive any more such notices. But it is not clear to me how to know when a download is problematic. I assume the sites with this content do not come with a disclaimer like, “You will get in trouble with the law if you download anything!”

Is the use of BitTorrent a red flag? How can I prevent future incidents?

— James Young, Shoreline

A: Use of BitTorrent itself isn’t a red flag. BitTorrent is simply a file-transfer program, and there are all kinds of legal file transfers going on over the Internet.

Your question is a good one, though. Fact is, notices of copyright infringement include the names of the copyrighted works that were downloaded, so you can check that out with your family.

If you’re absolutely sure no one in your family is doing the downloads, it’s time to check on your network security to make sure no one has hacked in.

Q: I own a Sony Vaio laptop that is about 5 years old. Windows Vista was preinstalled and I had nothing but issues with Vista, so last year I started off with a clean install of Windows 7. The laptop has 1 GB of RAM.

This question is a follow-up to Martin Paquette’s question (Q&A, Nov. 10). I downloaded TreeSize and ran a report. I have a couple of files that are using a lot of space: Windows.old and Windows.old.000. I have tried to delete these files, but I get messages indicating all kinds of bad things will happen if I continue.

Is there a safe way to delete these files to gain extra space of my hard disk?

— Darrell Marsolais

A: The contents of the Windows.old folders were saved just in case there was a problem with your upgrade. If everything is working fine with Windows 7 you can definitely delete the Windows.old folders.

To do so, you use the Disk Cleanup utility. Click on the Start button and then type disk cleanup in the search field. Even before you finish typing you’ll see the Disk Cleanup utility at the top of the window that pops open.

Launch Disk Cleanup and you’ll be asked to specify a drive. Select the drive on which Windows is installed. (That’s usually the C: drive.) You may be prompted to select the drive you want to clean up again. Next, check the box next to “Previous Windows installations” and then click on OK. Finally, when prompted, click on “Delete Files.”

Q: You missed an obvious possibility in your reply to Martin Paquette, who was running low disk space: the Recycle Bin. I have found that many people never empty it. It is easy in the process of adding, deleting, and moving large files to end up with lots of large items in recycle.

I don’t know how well that garbage-collection process that Microsoft uses works on the Recycle Bin. I believe it is supposed to start deleting things when the disk drive gets full. But since I am scrupulous about keeping my Recycle Bin empty I never see it in action. It wouldn’t surprise me to know that it doesn’t work very well. And this can easily result in Mr. Paquette’s problem.

— Patrick J. Russell, Seattle

A: You’re right. I should have mentioned the Recycle Bin.

If you right-click on the Recycle Bin, you can set a custom size limit for the bin and you can disable it so that deleted files are completely removed from your computer.

There are also a number of utilities available that will automatically empty the Recycle Bin according to user-set parameters.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology,

The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/

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