A reader writes: "I signed up with several Web sites to get periodic e-mails discussing issues in politics. I can browse to those Web sites but am unable..."

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Q:

I signed up with several Web sites to get periodic e-mails discussing issues in politics. I can browse to those Web sites but am unable to receive the e-mails. Something is blocking them as I am sure they’ve been sending them, and I think it’s my firewall. But I have no idea how to change my firewall to allow the e-mails. Do you know?


tscribegail@san.rr.com


A:

If you’re getting any Internet e-mail at all, it would not be the firewall blocking messages from a subset of senders. Are you running any kind of spam blocker, such as Norton Internet Security, or are you using a junk-mail filter in your e-mail program? If you are, it may be those e-mails are being snagged as junk mail. You’ll want to specify them as “valid” mail in your spam blocker.

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Another possibility is those e-mails are not getting through your Internet service provider. ISPs will block mail coming from servers they consider to be sources of spam. So you may want to talk to your ISP.


Q:

Twice now, I’ve seen you print a question about how to back up Outlook Express and twice you have told people to “… simply copy the mail files to a backup folder, preferably on removable media. … ” My question is, do you mean the one large all-encompassing mail file or individual e-mail folders?

I would love to know the name of Outlook Express’ one mondo file to just drag it to a CD, for example, but I never can figure out what it is called. What I finally did was download the free Outlook Express Backup and Outlook Express Restore from Cnet and then burned a CD.

Would you please give more precise details about backing up Outlook Express e-mail folders, including the steps? I think most people have a lot of e-mail they would sure hate to lose.


— Lesley Stuart


A:

It’s true Outlook Express doesn’t exactly make it intuitive and easy to create a backup of messages. The specific steps are as follows:

1. On the Tools menu, click Options.

2. Click on the Maintenance tab, then click the Store Folder button.

3. Highlight and copy the contents of the folder location field.

4. Close the dialog box.

5. Click the Start button in the lower left-hand corner of Windows, then click Run.

6. Paste the folder location you copied into the Open field.

7. On the Edit menu, click Select All.

8. On the Edit menu, click Copy, and then close the window.

9. Right-click any empty space on your desktop, select New and then Folder.

10. Type a name for the folder name, and then press ENTER.

11. Double-click the folder you just created to open it.

12. Select the Edit menu, then click on Paste.

Restoring your backup would be done by copying the contents of your new folder back to the original location.

An easier solution for most users might be to purchase a third-party application that automates this process. A couple of programs — both costing around $40 — are Outlook Express Backup Wizard (www.outlook-express-backup.com) and Outlook Express Backup Genie (www.amicutilities.com).


Q:

I have two questions concerning my Dell 2400 computer running Windows XP Home edition. This and two other computers run from a DSL modem and are connected by a switch.

When I boot up the computer and try to access e-mail using Outlook Express, I occasionally get an error message saying the address book did not load and I should reinstall Outlook Express. When I reboot, I am able to open and read e-mail messages, but if I try to delete a message I receive an error message saying this message could not be deleted. Rebooting again usually cures both problems.

How do I reinstall Outlook Express? By reinstalling XP from the Dell distribution disk?

Also, with this computer on the network, the Internet and Ethernet lights flash even though I’ve done nothing to access the Internet. Any ideas why?


— Tom Barker


A:

It does sound like you’ve got a corrupt Outlook Express file. Here’s a link where you will find detailed instructions on how to reinstall Outlook Express: support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;318378

As for your Internet and Ethernet lights flashing, it may be that an application is at work even though you don’t know about it. It might be a “legitimate” applications, such as the Windows update utility. Or it may be an “illegitimate” application, such as a virus. Determining which it is can be tricky, but do make sure you’re running up-to-date antivirus software and a firewall.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail 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/columnists.