Readers Questions Part 8

Once again this week I will answer a selection of letters from my mailbag.

With reference to your column in the Herald Express regarding the AVG virus checker.I went to the site as suggested but to download the software entails giving out my name and address - How secure is this?

Keith Wheatley, via e-mail

Obviously in the days of mass spamming by many a company to try and persuade you to purchase a variety of products, it is often necessary to use vigilance whilst browsing the Internet to ensure that your contact details don’t fall into the wrong hands.I do however believe that there is a point on which you can verge on paranoia, and I believe you cross this when you start wondering whether to give a reputable company your e-mail address so that it can send you a personalized serial number in order that you can use its product; such is the case is here with the AVG virus checker.

You’ll find that the majority of large companies will offer you the option to opt out of any associated mailing lists they have and also to prevent them from sharing your details with other companies as they are obliged to under the data protection act - If you do find yourself on any mailing lists then it will always be possible to remove yourself at a later date.

The time that I agree that you should not hand out your e-mail address is when it is not necessary to do so or when you are looking at the site of a less reputable company or individual.It sounds like a sweeping generalization but you can usually tell by the design of the site as to how your information will be used.For example, I once had a pop up window appear on my screen saying that there may be ‘people looking for me on the Internet’ and that I should enter in my old e-mail address, my new e-mail address and the names and details of all my friends online so that it could check if anyone was still using my old e-mail address.In this instance, I hadn’t asked for the window to pop up in the first place and so it was already as such ‘spamming’ me and then it was asking me for dozens of different addresses – No prizes for those of you who guess what these addresses were going to be used for.

Just by using a fair amount of common sense can you avoid getting spammed and also continue to use the Internet for the things that it does best without fear of harassment or intrusion into your personal privacy.

Sometime ago I had a Freeserve account which I after a couple of years I cancelled because of connection difficulties and I now have another ISP but every time I go to my e-mail account, Outlook tries to connect to my Freeserve address even though I had removed all the Freeserve programs.I can’t understand why it keeps popping up - Is there anything I can do?

Dave Eldridge, via E-mail

This is caused by the fact that Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express can be set up to receive e-mails from a number of different accounts and unfortunately, the majority of uninstallers don’t seem to remove references to these e-mail accounts and so it often has to be done manually.Fortunately this is a fairly painless procedure which can be achieved as follows:

First of all, open Outlook or Outlook Express and go to ‘Tools’, then ‘Accounts’ and depending on your version of Outlook/Outlook Express, you will either have to then click on the ‘mail’ tab or click on ‘View or change existing e-mail accounts’.You should then see entries for all e-mail addresses set up on your computer so simply remove the references to your old account that you no longer use and hit on okay.

As well as simply removing references to accounts that have been disconnected, it may be an idea to look in this menu even if you are happy with your current e-mail setup to ensure that you don’t have any redundant accounts that although they still work are no longer in use.By removing all the accounts except the one that you actually use, you will decrease the chances of receiving junk e-mail and also the time it takes for your computer to check for new mail.

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.