Ask Leo! #465 – The Rumors of Microsoft Security Essentials’ Death have been Exaggerated

*** Featured

What are Yahoo's IMAP, POP3, and SMTP settings?

I heard that Yahoo! is making POP3/IMAP access available to everyone, not just their paying Plus! customers. What are the settings?

I'm actually surprised that making POP3/IMAP access available to everyone took Yahoo! this long. Competition in the free email world is fierce, and this has been an obviously lacking feature.

Until now, that is.

Continue Reading: What are Yahoo's IMAP, POP3, and SMTP settings?

How do I secure my router?

I'd like to know how to clear the history of my Linksys Cisco router. I'd also like to know how I can protect it from hacking and who else besides the people that know my router's WPA code can view browsing history.

There are a couple of misconceptions in your question, which I'll clear up in a second.

The more general topic is an important one: how do you make sure that your router is secure? After all, as your firewall it is your first line of defense against malware trying to get at your computer from the internet.

You'll want to make sure there aren't big gaping holes.

And sadly, very often and by default, there are.

Continue Reading: How do I secure my router?

What are's IMAP, POP3, and SMTP settings?

How do I use Hotmail or with my desktop email program? It wants something about POP3 and SMTP. What should I put in?

With the proliferation of devices running their own email programs, settings for POP3, SMTP, and now more frequently IMAP are a popular request for the various email services.

For a long time, Microsoft didn't provide the ability to connect to a desktop email program, but they added it to Hotmail a few years ago. With the transition to as Hotmail's replacement, that functionality remains.

Continue Reading: What are's IMAP, POP3, and SMTP settings?

Do I Need to Stop Using Microsoft Security Essentials?

I read an article last week that basically said Microsoft had give up competing with other anti-malware tools and that Microsoft Security Essentials wasn't going to be any good any more. The article recommended that I quit using it immediately and switch to something else. What do you think? Do I need to stop using Microsoft Security Essentials?


No you don't. If you've been happy with it, you're perfectly welcome to keep on using it as you have in the past.

To put it a different way, I'm not changing my recommendation. Microsoft Security Essentials remains my recommendation for most people. I'm also not changing what I use myself, which is MSE.

As it turns out, the majority of the "journalism" on the topic over the past couple of weeks has simply been repeating a single source of information. Worse, the repetition included not only a couple of quotes without full context from a Microsoft spokesperson and also additional speculation by the author of that original piece. As the story was repeated, even more speculation was added and assumptions were made.

The result was quite the kerfuffle.

Now, I don't call myself a "journalist" – I'm just a geek with a voice on the web trying to help people use their computers. But even I know that just repeating and embellishing what others are saying about what others are saying isn't the right way to approach something like this.

So I took a different approach. I went to the source and contacted Microsoft directly for clarification.

Continue Reading: Do I Need to Stop Using Microsoft Security Essentials?

*** Answercast

Answercast #128 - Certificate errors, power surges, USB chargers, https and more...

Do you wonder how the s on https works or why all USB chargers don't? Will it help to upgrade your RAM or hurt to leave an external drive plugged in? Plagued by certificate errors? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

Listen Now!
(Includes the raw transcript on which the articles below were based.)

Will adding an "s" to http make my connection secure?
If you can turn http into https and it works, that means that the site has a security certificate. So why aren't they using it?

Continue reading: Will adding an "s" to http make my connection secure?

Can I use backup software to move programs?
Moving data to your new machine from your backup is easy. Moving the programs is a different story.

Continue reading: Can I use backup software to move programs?

Why don't all USB chargers work on all USB devices?
Charging requires both voltage and current. You may need to check the small print on your phones and devices to sort it all out.

Continue reading: Why don't all USB chargers work on all USB devices?

Would it be worthwhile to upgrade my RAM?
When it comes to things like memory and RAM, more is always better. But you may not need additional RAM just yet.

Continue reading: Would it be worthwhile to upgrade my RAM?

Why do I keep getting certificate errors from my school's website?

Ultimately, a problem with a security certificate belongs to the owner of the website. There may be a way to get around it, but you probably need to contact them.

Continue reading: Why do I keep getting certificate errors from my school's website?

What are your thoughts on utilities like SyncToy for backing up?
SyncToy is a useful tool as long as you understand what it can, and cannot, do.

Continue reading: What are your thoughts on utilities like SyncToy for backing up?

Why are applications and operating systems hiding so much these days?
A lot of thought really does go into decisions around feature design. You may think it's silly, but you have to look at the big picture.

Continue reading: Why are applications and operating systems hiding so much these days?

Will an external drive left plugged in be damaged if there's a power surge?
It's not just power you need to worry about; connected drives can also get malware. But that doesn't mean you can't keep yourself safe.

Continue reading: Will an external drive left plugged in be damaged if there's a power surge?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week

echo chamber

The echo chamber is a term coined to characterize the seeming confirmation of news reports and other information when in fact only repetition has occurred.

The process works as follows:

  • News source "A" publishes a report. The report may or may not be accurate to some degree.
  • News sources "B", "C", "D" and perhaps others re-publish the original report without performing any fact checking, often adding their own interpretation or speculation without adding any independent confirmation.
  • Consumers see the report as coming from 4 independent, presumably unrelated sources and thereby give that report and often the accompanying speculation significantly more credibility than it would deserve if recognized as having come from a single source.

In reality it is not 4 independently confirmed sources, but rather a single source published, or "echoed", 3 or more additional times.

Sadly this type of "reporting" is rampant on the internet today.

Word o' the Week features a computer term or acronym taken from the Ask Leo! Glossary. If there's a word you're not sure of and would like to see defined, click here to let me know.

*** Featured Reader Comments

What are the internet's rules about free speech?

Ben writes:

The analogy I like to use is "My house, my rules". If a guest in my home uses foul language in front of my children, I have the right to demand they either clean up their language or leave. Same goes for websites.

If I were to post vulgarity and hate speech on this message board, I would be within my legal rights to do so BUT Leo would be within his legal rights to delete my comment and ban me from posting any further.

(Of course, this is simply my layman's understanding of the law)

Why does my computer crash when I try to back up?

Tom R. writes:

I agree with Leo: if the fan is running so hard that you can hear it in a different room, the crashing problem may be caused by overheating. My first investigation would be to open the case and clean dust and gunk out from the inside of the computer, using canned air, to open up clean ventilation pathways for the cooling fans to be efficient. Take the unplugged computer outside to do this very dirty operation.

The Most Important Skill

Jim F writes:

May I agree with Betty Braden. Many many years ago I looked after the Local Education Authority's workshop that dealt with our schools' AV equipment. Too many times the fault reported by members of the schools' staff, even if clearly defined, could not be found. So many times the answer could have been found by just reading the equipment's instruction manual. In those cases the kit was returned with the tags "NFF" & "RTFM". Public forum prevents me from translating the acronyms ;-)

Leo writes:

"No Fault Found" and "Read The Friendly Manual" -- I don't see the problem. ;-)

*** Thoughts and Comments

If you've had any question at all about the future or efficacy of Microsoft Security Essentials, know that I've not changed my recommendation. It's still my default go-to anti-malware tool.

As long as I've been doing this, the MSE issue is the first time I found myself actually attempting to contact folks within Microsoft for specific clarification. Even though I once worked there, that was over a decade ago and these days I'm just another outsider when it comes to things like this.

That being said, I was very pleased to have made contact with the person whose comments I felt had been misinterpreted. And once misinterpreted ... well, see the definition of "echo chamber" I've quoted above for what happened next.

As I said in Do I Need to Stop Using Microsoft Security Essentials? I don't really consider myself a journalist - that's not my background, my education or my skill set. And yet it bothers me that so many actual "journalists" failed to do something as simple as confirming the facts before making wild speculations.

Sadly, I also understand why that might be. I'll have more to say on that in a future editorial, since it really impacts how you and I should view what we read online.

I do believe that the MSE issue is important. I'm not saying that everyone needs to run MSE, but if they're going to step away from it they should do so for reasons based on something closer to facts. Rumors of its impending death don't qualify.

Share Do I Need to Stop Using Microsoft Security Essentials? with anyone who has a concern.

Till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom
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