Q: I have three email addresses: Outlook, Gmail and Whidbey Telecom. My Outlook and Gmail are fine and download properly on my computer, online and on my cellphone without any problems. My Whidbey Telecom downloads emails to my cellphone and I can access them online without any problem.

However, Whidbey Telecom downloads to my computer spasmodically and sometimes it will take two or three days at which time, all the emails arrive on my PC in one batch.

I have talked to Whidbey Telecom several times and eventually they stated it was a problem with my AT&T provider. I visited the AT&T store and showed them the letter from Whidbey Telecom. They had no idea what to do about it and could not make any suggestions.

I realize that I can access my Whidbey Telecom emails through a web browser but would prefer to access them on my PC. I have three email accounts for distinct purposes so I do want to keep my three email accounts. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

— Monica Shull

A: OK, let’s see if I have this right. You’re not having any problems with your Whidbey Telecom emails when you access the account from your mobile device. The only time you have problems is when you try to access them from your home computer and using Outlook to do so. The service provider for your home computer is Whidbey Telecom. And I gather that the service provider for your mobile devices is AT&T.

If that is all correct, the culprit would appear to be either Whidbey Telecom’s email server or the way your home computer is configured to access your Whidbey Telecom account. In the letter from Whidbey Telecom you attached it appears they did troubleshooting and found a bad password was being sent from your computer.


Here’s what I suggest: First, make sure the username and password for your Whidbey Telecom account are correct in Outlook. Secondly, if the problem persists, contact Whidbey Telecom and tell them that the problem is not with your AT&T mobile devices but with your home computer that is serviced by Whidbey Telecom.

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Q: We have a newspaper online account, which uses a password, and we access the paper’s print replica on our phones and on our computer. My wife is worried that a connection like this could potentially give hackers a way into our computer. Another connection is the use of Google Calendar across computers and Android devices, or the Apple calendar across an iMac and Apple devices.

Nothing has happened yet, but is there a risk involved in connections like this?

— Ron Sherman-Peterson

A: Any connection over the internet offers hackers an opportunity to get into your computer.

And connections over WiFi are especially vulnerable, since a hacker doesn’t have to gain physical access to your network connection. That’s why it so important to employ strong security practices.

First, for your home WiFi, do three things:

1. Change the administrator’s password for the WiFi router.

2. Turn off broadcast of the station identifier.

3. Require a strong WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access 2) password for access to the WiFi network.


The specific steps for taking these steps varies among router models, so you’ll need to check your manual for directions.

If you’re on public WiFi you’re even more vulnerable since, by definition, everyone has access to the network. So I recommend using a virtual private network service. VPNs encrypt all internet traffic between your computer and the VPN server, so even if a hacker intercepts your transmissions they will be unintelligible.

Finally, make sure you’re got up-to-date antivirus and antimalware running so that you don’t inadvertently download malware that can access your data.