Computer Guide

How safe is downloading programs?

by George Skarbek - 29th April 2008

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How safe is downloading programs?

Q: I would like to download some software from the website The reason is because the software looks like it might be useful to me; also the price is right (Free). However, I am a bit uncomfortable downloading things from unfamiliar websites. Is it safe to do so; what precautions (if any) should I take? Note that I have a current installed of version of PC-cillin on my computer.

A: Millions of users download software, much of it from free sites. I have been doing this for years. My suggestion is that if your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is current then you can download that software. Be aware that probably nothing obtained from the Internet can be regarded as absolutely 100% safe. However, with current anti-virus software installed and up-to-date I would rate your probability as over 99.99% safe and I feel that the absolutely miniscule risk is totally outweighed by the benefits obtained from good free software.

Although I am not familiar with your intended site, I have used site inspection software that operates in real time to verify that there are no active threats on that web page. The software that I used is LinkScanner and is a part of the AVG 8.0 Internet security suite. When you search for a site using a search engine, LinkScanner analyses all sites that are listed and gives a tick if OK. By hovering your mouse over that tick, more information will be displayed about that site.  Note that LinkScanner is not included in the free ABG 7.5 version.


Spell check in Excel

Q: Does Word 07 Excel have a spell check? If it does, how do I find it please, and will it use my Aust and custom dictionaries?

A: Yes, Excel does have the spell check and if Office is correctly set up it will use your Australian  dictionary. Click on the Spell icon or press F7 to start the spell check. For more options on spelling click on Preferences, via the Orb, and then Proofing.


Stopping spam

Q: I use Outlook. I have a (university) address and a BigPond address. How can I get MUCH less (like none!!) spam/junk/porno email? It is increasing horrendously.

A: I wish I knew. If I had a solution I would be very rich and very popular. I believe that this can only be stopped by governments in many countries passing legislation that imposed jail sentences on spammers. However, as many politicians do not have e-mail addresses or have a secretary do the manual filtering, they are not likely to act soon.

Unfortunately for the end users there is not easy fix. Adding spam senders to a blacklist is a waste of time as they use so many different addresses.

There are some programs that detect spam and mark it making filtering much easier and some move spam to a spam of junk folder. Also more and more ISPs implement spam filtering. Using such software will make it easier for you to filter out much of the incoming junk mail.

Apart from filtering, I suggest using Mailwasher which is a great program to delete most junk mail on the server before downloading it onto your PC. You can download this program from:


Where is my mail stored?

Q: Please!!!!!!!!! going overseas, need to move my mailfiles... inbox.. approx 2000 of them....on to new laptop, not connected, but have a removable hard disk. Running Outlook Express and Win XP Pro. Doing search *.mbx or pbx does not find any files. Please, could you help!!!!!???????

A: Outlook Express stores its data in *.DBX files so you must search for *.DBX.
If the files are not found then search hidden files. Typically they are in:  C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Local Settings\ Application Data\Identities\ {DB615905-D44A-4DCE-A124- DAA12DE7E366}\ Microsoft\Outlook Express.


WEP Phrase
Could you give me some information on what the WEP phrase on my wireless modem is for? Do you use it to change the WEP code? Also, Bigpond technical help told me that I do not need to change my modem login name and password as nobody can access it if the WEP coding is used. Is this correct?
The WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) phrase is used to generate the hex code used as a password in the encryption of data sent over a wireless link. A phrase is easier to remember for most users than code such as A7D4F8B1.

The comment made to you by Bigpond is largely correct.


To look at the e-book in PDF format, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here