Q: My wife and I each own our own computer with Windows 7. We want to continue using Windows 7. Our concerns are security issues. Could we use alternative security such as Malwarebytes in lieu of Microsoft Security? Is there another program to use in tandem or stand-alone?

Lastly, can I still use Office 2007 as I have the discs and the ID Key?

— Barry Thom

A: You’re right to be concerned about security issues. Yes, you can certainly use anti-virus and anti-malware programs other than those that come with Windows. In fact, I do the same thing you’re considering.

But that’s not the main thing for you to worry about if you keep using Windows 7 once Microsoft stops providing security updates for it.

Support for Windows 7 will end on Jan. 14. After that date Microsoft will no longer issue security updates to patch discovered vulnerabilities in the operating system. At that point, your exposure to hackers will increase.

Yes, you can keep using Windows 7 as long as your computer lasts. In fact, since you have the discs and ID Key, you could even install it on a new computer. But given the security risks, I’d recommend against that.


Q: Regarding the recent reader’s story about trying to close a Facebook account of a dead relative. I set up my aunt on Facebook at age 89, maybe 10 years ago. She died about eight years ago. I think I have her Yahoo account password but nothing else. And nobody is left who knows anything else.

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Read more from Patrick Marshall here >>

I’m imagining Facebook accounts for billions of dead people. I cannot imagine how many “clouds” that will take to store.

— Connie Knudsen, Crown Hill

A: And I often imagine the same thing. All the digital lives of deceased people keep living on in this new digital Twilight Zone. You might be interested in the film, “The Final Cut.” It’s a 2004 movie starring Robin Williams about people having implants that record their experiences. Those recordings are then edited after they die to tell their story. Strange stuff.

Q: Help! Every day I get three or four emails indicating my sent email can’t reach its intended recipient. How can I block these?

— Bob Lalande, Tacoma

A: I can only think of three possible answers. If you continue to get that kickback message and the recipient specified in that message is one you’re actually trying to send email to, don’t send email to that address. It’s probably not a working address.

If you’re sure it is a real address, it’s possible that the domain your email is coming from is being blocked by the recipient’s email-service provider. If you suspect that to be the case, contact the recipient through other means and ask them to notify their email-service provider of the problem.

If you don’t recognize the specified recipient of that email, the most likely cause of the problem is that a spammer is using your email address to send spam and that particular piece of spam is being sent to a nonfunctional address. If that’s what is going on, the only effective way to eliminate the problem is to open a new Gmail email account.