Category Archives: E-mail

Freeserve E-Mail to End

Anyone with an email address from Freeserve, Orange, or Wanadoo will find that it doesn’t work after 31st May 2017, and they won’t be able to access their account or send or receive emails.

Freeserve was bought by Orange years ago, and then Orange was bought by EE and now EE is part of BT. So the current owners have decided to shut down all the old email systems they have inherited.

Their explanation (and a full list of the affected email systems) is here.

If you want to know what your options now are, get in touch with me (preferably by e-mail to paul1@pdoc.co.uk) and I’ll try to help.

Am I about to download a virus? (Part 1)

There are lots of good, useful things you can download from the Internet for free. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of things that will harm your PC, pop-up fake warnings, mess with your search results, and so on.

How do you tell a good download from a bad one?

The same applies to e-mail attachments – how do you tell a safe attachment from a dangerous one? Continue reading Am I about to download a virus? (Part 1)

BT mail settings

Updated 1st March 2017

To understand this post, you might need to read my article Understanding E-Mail Settings

If you want to use a non-BT e-mail address  (for example a Freeserve address, or maybe you have your own domain name) with your BT mail service, see my pages here.

BT has (at least) three different mail services. Your first challenge is to find out which one you use.

If your BT email address ends with:

Continue reading BT mail settings

Various

I’m thinking of writing some articles on these topics:

  • BT Infinity … it’s probably not going to be as fast as BT claims; there are some constraints on installation which can be a problem for some people (and BT don’t warn you about); you can get identical products from people other than BT and VirginMedia.
  • iPads and smartphones … many of my customers don’t understand that they will almost certainly have to make some changes to any existing POP3 mail programs (Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Thinderbird …) if they start using an iPad or smartphone (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry …) for e-mail
  • Possibly a general tutorial on how mail works. With the rise of smartphone (see above) people need to understand a little about POP3, SMTP and the rest of it.  People are increasingly getting problems with checking mail too frequently, mailboxes too full, timeouts set too short, mail clients falling over each other, not using the right SMTP server to allow them to send mail when away form home …
  • Domain names … more people seem to be changing ISPs these days (maybe because of the rise of fibre) and changing e-mail addresses is often an issue. A personal domain name is cheap and very useful, but almost no home users understand or consider getting one (in fact, quite a few small-business users aren’t as clued-up on this as they might be). I might write an explanation about domain names, mail forwarding, etc.

Mail problems

Apart from malware, setting up mail still seems to cause most problems I see, and I’ve lost count of the number of people who tell me that BT call centres don’t seem able to help with even simple mail problems. Some people have even told me that they found my BT help pages after having been told about it by BT, which is a compliment of sorts from BT, I suppose.

I notice that VirginMedia are now doing outbound validation in a similar way to BT — if you are not using a VirginMedia e-mail address to send from, you have to register the address you want to use with VirginMedia. They have managed to do this in an even more annoying way than BT, though, in that rather than just permit a validated sender to use their SMTP servers, they add a SENDER: header to each outgoing mail item. This means that recipients using most versions of Outlook with see it as from the virginmedia address “on behalf of” the validated address. Not many people like this, but — other than not using VirginMedia’s SMTP servers — there is no way round it that I know of.  For me, it would be a reason not to use VirginMedia.

Talking of reasons not to use certain ISPs, BT Business Broadband (which provides btconnect.com e-mail address) refuses to allow individual non-BT addresses to pass through its SMTP servers. This means that their customers who want to carry on using an old e-mail address from another ISP aren’t able to do so. BT Business Broadband won’t tell me why they have this policy (they cite only “security concerns” which they won’t or can’t explain) or why BT Broadband (btinternet.com) allows it and BT Business Broadband (btconnect.com) doesn’t. I suspect whoever made this decision doesn’t understand the issues. I’ve noticed this before in companies with “product managers” who often seem to be marketing people who don’t really understand the technology. I suppose BT would say it’s better to have product managers who are marketing people who don’t fully understand the product than it is to have product managers who are technical people who don’t fully understand marketing.

Personally, I’d be happier with a bit less marketing from BT, and a bit more product knowledge in its product managers and call centres. I still find their engineering staff are almost always absolutely excellent, though, although they tend to hide away from customers, maybe understandably!

New for 2011

Looking back over the last year, some things have changed in the world of PCs, but many problems remain pretty much the same!

Malware — viruses, trojans, spyware and the like — continues to be a big problem. I still see a lot of PCs infected with various trojans designed steal information or money from the unwary. The writers of this stuff are very professional, so I assume there is big money behind it.  The most common still seem to be the sort that tells you that tour PC is “at risk”and invites you to download some software to cure it. Invariably the software “finds” lots of things that aren’t really there, and then invited you to register if for about $49.95 to enable it to remove them.  If you ignore it, it will get ever more persistent, until the PC becomes unusable.

Sometimes these types of software claim to find viruses or other infections, sometime “memry problems”, “registry errors” and so on.  Of course, there are quite genuine and very useful products that do all these tasks, so it’s hard for the normal person to tell the genuine and useful from the fake and harmful. Sometime these fake products every have professional-looking websites (but almost always without traceable addresses or contact details).

An example of a fake product is here.

A simple tip: before you download any software, search for its name on Google.  Ignore any sponsored links, and if almost all you find in the search results is people asking how to remove the product, and reputable sites (such as bleepingcomputer.com and techguy.com) offering removal instructions, then tread very carefully!

A new development in 2010: three of my customers who had infected PCs received a phone call to the home numbers from the “Windows Support Group” telling them their PC was infected and offering to remove the infection at a price. It wasn’t clear how their phone number had been obtained (all had their phone numbers in at least one document on their PC, though), who the caller was or who he represented, or how much this “service” would cost. Very suspicious indeed.

Everyone should have a good and up-to-date antivirus program. Two good ones (both free) are the free versions of AVG 2011 from here or (my current favourite) [Update October 2017] Microsoft Security Essentials from here. Windows 10 has a built-in anti-virus program, Windows Defender, which is at least as good as any of the free programs. [End of update]

Happy new year to all.