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Outsource your home e-mail to keep viruses at bay

I’m going to be spending most of Saturday patching servers at work, and Microsoft just kindly dropped four new patches I didn’t want in my Easter basket (so run Windows Update on your home PC if you haven’t recently), and that reminds me of something.

End users are notoriously bad about running Windows Update and updating their virus definitions, both of which really need to be done on a regular basis in these terrible times. Microsoft doesn’t seem to realize not everyone has broadband and this takes some time, but that’s the price of running Windows, I guess.

I have a suggestion for people who aren’t very technical.Those of you who are technical and provide help for friends and relatives, get your friends and relatives to quit using Outlook Express to read their ISP’s mail and move them to a webmail-based solution, such as Yahoo Mail. Yahoo’s spam filtering is pretty effective, and Yahoo keeps its virus definitions up to date. Since most viruses transmit through e-mail these days, this may provide adequate protection for most people. Yahoo limits the size of attachments you can send, so configure Outlook Express for sending large attachments using the ISP’s SMTP server, but change the return address to point at the Yahoo address. If the person is reluctant about changing e-mail addresses, call the ISP’s technical support line and see if the ISP will forward the account’s mail to the Yahoo account.

Those of you who aren’t technical, get someone to help you do this if it sounded like Swahili to you.

Hotmail works too, but when you register for Yahoo mail, you get access to Yahoo’s discussion groups too, and Yahoo has a discussion group/forum for just about everything imaginable. Way back in the dark ages before the Internet was in every household, the discussion groups were one of the major draws of online services like CompuServe, GEnie, and Delphi.

Google’s GMail will be better than Yahoo’s mail, allowing people to search on their inboxes, but it’s not ready for you and me yet. I still don’t understand the big to-do about Google targeting text sidebar advertising on your e-mail–they already do it when you search using their site. But that’s another discussion.

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2 thoughts on “Outsource your home e-mail to keep viruses at bay”

  1. Not to mention, using Yahoo! mail adds a minor amount of anonymity with respect to your geographical location. Unless someone checks the full-headers text of your e-mail messages for the routing information.

  2. Actually, Yahoo will allow you to forward your other pop address to your Yahoo Mail box. You can also forward your Yahoo Mail to your regular pop address, but you have to pay a yearly fee for that.

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