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The danger of opening e-mail attachments

By JOHN TORRO

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 11, 2000


Q. When I open an e-mail attachment, a box comes up with: "Open Attachment Warning." Most of the attachments are from friends. Are these safe to open? I have been told never to open an .exe attachment because it could contain a virus.

A. The best advice I can give you is to make sure you have an up-to-date antivirus program, such as Norton or McAffee, active. And I mean one that is updated at least on a weekly basis. Next, I would make sure that you also have the latest security updates for your e-mail client. You can get the latest security updates for Outlook Express from the Windows Update site (http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/). I also recommend disabling the Windows Active Scripting, because this is a common method for spreading viruses, and never open up an .exe file sent by e-mail without confirming with the sender (someone you know) exactly what it is and only after scanning it with your virus detection software. You can read more about disabling Active Scripting at: http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q192/8/46.asp.

Restoring WordPad

Q. The file containing WordPad was lost. We know that it is on the Quick Restore CD, but that will be a major undertaking.

A. Try reinstalling just Wordpad. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, then double-click Add/Remove Programs.

2. Click the Windows Setup tab, click Accessories (the word, not the check box) and click Details.

3. Click the WordPad check box to select it and click OK.

4. Click OK.

You may be prompted for your Windows installation media. This is not your Quick Restore CD, unless you can confirm that the Windows setup media is on this CD. It may be somewhere on your hard drive. Some vendors put this in the C:\Windows\Options folder. Check with the PC vendor if you need this information.

Shutdown problems continue

Q. Your answer on Dec. 4 about the MSGSRV32 error message didn't work, even trying both changes. Any more suggestions?

A. I'm not surprised. The solution I offered was a typical first step. However, shutdown problems are very complicated and, unfortunately based on the e-mail I receive, very common. It almost always has to do with a faulty driver/BIOS, but determing which is difficult. You may want to try Microsoft's online troubleshooting wizard for Windows 98 at http://support.microsoft.com/support/windows/tshoot/.

Microsoft also has comprehensive troubleshooting guides for shutdown problems.

For Windows 95: http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q145/9/26.asp.

For Windows 98: http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q187/6/07.asp.

For Windows 98 (Second Edition): http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q238/0/96.asp.

And, in case you thought Windows Me would solve this problem, for Windows Me: http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q273/7/46.asp.

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