Q: It appears that the Outlook program that is part of Office 365 accesses my Gmail account via Outlook.com. I found that if I am not signed into my Microsoft account, Outlook can neither send nor receive Gmail.

This is where my paranoia kicks in: It seems to me that Microsoft is forcing me to make them a go-between in my email transactions. It is not technically necessary to do that, but it does give Microsoft access to everything I write and receive. It’s just a tactic to get access to information, which is where all the value is in the internet business today.

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I’ll guess that you’re not much interested in getting involved in, or commenting on, conspiracy theories. But if you’d like to comment on all this, I’d love to hear what you have to say. In any event, I’m going to stop using Outlook.

— Herb Munson, Ballard

A: Actually, I am able to access external email accounts through the Outlook application without logging into my Microsoft account.

That said, I love a good conspiracy theory … at least as long as there’s some real evidence to support it. And yes, I personally believe that — at least in the United States — companies have free reign to access way too much of our data.

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Microsoft, by the way, has gone on the record that it doesn’t read customers’ emails.

If you want a higher level of privacy — or at least assurance of privacy — you may want to try a provider like ProtonMail. The company is based in Switzerland and is subject to the stricter privacy laws that are in effect in that country and in Europe generally. ProtonMail also says that it encrypts all emails and the company is unable to read them. ProtonMail does offer a free account option, though if you’re sending and receiving many emails you’re likely going to hit the free account’s ceiling of 500 megabytes of storage and 150 messages a day.

Alternatively, you could always choose to host your own email server. That, of course, would be an even more expensive option.

Q: We had a power outage about a month ago and I lost access to my Wi-Fi on my laptop. I have been previously using Wi-Fi for about eight years. The “general” Wi-Fi network that Xfinity offers is even gone.

I spent about two hours on the phone with a Comcast tech and he could not figure out the problem. All of our phones, the printer and tablets have no problem and all are on the network.

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I do know that the Wi-Fi has been disabled by going into advanced settings and device manager. I also tried reconnecting, disconnecting and reconnecting the adapter to no avail. All available updates have been installed. How do I re-enable the Wi-Fi? Do you have any ideas?

— Sherri

A: If it was just a power outage, restarting Wi-Fi should be a simple matter of restarting not only your computer but also any routers on the network, including cable modems and Wi-Fi routers. But I suspect the problem in your case may not be just a power outage.

If the outage was caused by a power surge, or if there was a surge when the power came back on, it could have damaged any of your devices — cable modem, Wi-Fi router, or the Wi-Fi client in your computer. You may need to replace one or more of those devices.

It sounds like your Wi-Fi client is an external one. For readers who have computers with internal client adapters, be aware that if it gets fried you can get a Wi-Fi client that plugs into a USB port.