Q: I use the Windows Essentials program on my Windows 7 PC. But I’ve heard that Microsoft won’t update its antivirus/Essentials program next year. Will I be safe if I keep using it?

Don Laughrey, Maple Grove


A: Despite their sound-alike names, Microsoft’s Windows Essentials and Security Essentials are two different programs.

Windows Essentials, now discontinued, included software for e-mail, texting and photo-sharing.

Microsoft Security Essentials (download it at tinyurl.com/n48uy93) is a free antivirus program that Microsoft will support for Windows 7 until January 2020. Even the outdated Windows XP and Vista versions of the program continue to get updates about new malware. (Windows 8 and 10 don’t need Security Essentials; they have built-in antivirus protection.)

In addition to the name confusion, scammers try to confuse people about Security Essentials. Be wary of:

• A fake Security Essentials program that, when installed, urges you to call an 800 number (see tinyurl.com/ydg7wahs). These messages typically display the sad-face emoji.

• The bogus error message “Windows Security Essentials Have Detected Issue.” It says your PC will stop working unless you call a fake “Windows Help Desk” (see tinyurl.com/yaek7jj2).

• Any offer to sell you a “lifetime” version of Security Essentials that’s better than the free one. There is no paid version.


Q: I have two PCs that share one e-mail account. But sometimes a new e-mail will show up on one computer and not the other. How can I ensure that both computers get all the new e-mail?

Dennis Bendickson, Thief River Falls, Minn.


A: The problem is most likely the result of using a POP (Post Office Protocol) e-mail account. By default, it deletes an e-mail message from your provider’s mail server after one of your PCs has downloaded and read it. As a result, the second PC never sees that message.

Contact Sjoberg’s Inc. in Thief River Falls, which runs Mncable.net, your e-mail provider. Ask for either a) an IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) e-mail account that’s designed to share messages among several devices or b) a settings change on your POP account so it won’t delete an e-mail from the server until you tell it to. For more about POP and IMAP e-mail accounts, see my earlier columns (tinyurl.com/y8n46u4w and tinyurl.com/ybjmu7jf).


Q: I do a lot of genealogy research using the PC program Family Tree Maker version 16. But some of the program’s functionality has disappeared, and the software company doesn’t respond to my e-mails. What can I do?

Rae Romero, Lafayette, La.


A: Family Tree Maker version 16 is now 10 years old, and is no longer as useful as it was.

That’s because Ancestry.com sold the program in 2016 to Software MacKiev. The new owner replaced the program’s TreeSync feature (which synchronized the family tree data on your PC with records at Ancestry.com) with a different feature called FamilySync. The new syncing function is only available in latest version of the program, Family Tree Maker 2017.


E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com. Include name, city and telephone number.