After reading in last week’s column that a woman lost irreplaceable data stored in an e-mail account, a computer expert says consumers shouldn’t treat e-mail as an electronic filing cabinet.

Janet Ikola of Richfield wrote that she lost photos, genealogy data and tax information when a technical problem caused them to disappear from her CenturyLink e-mail account.

“E-mail is for correspondence, not document storage,” said Minneapolis IT professional Dennis Fazio. “I know a great number of people keep all their e-mail in their inboxes, which is an extremely bad practice. That’s one of the most fragile places to store things of importance, with a much higher probability of loss through server hiccups or accidental deletion.”

He suggested that consumers store messages or data they want to save in an e-mail folder that is separate from the inbox, and that they make sure that folder is copied to their home computers. In addition, he suggested that consumers copy any documents or attachments contained in the e-mails and store them separately on their home PCs. He also recommended backing-up the home PC information to another location, such as an online storage service unrelated to the e-mail provider.

“We’d all be so eager to spend many hundreds or even thousands of dollars to recover lost pictures and documents after the fact,” Fazio said. “Let’s do it for less before they’re lost.”


Q: I had to remove the Symantec security software from my PC because it wasn’t compatible with Windows 10, which I recently downloaded. I currently use Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium, and I’m wondering if this provides sufficient security.

Nao Nunai, Saint Anthony


A: No, your PC should also run antivirus software. Malwarebytes is designed to be a second line of defense, not a replacement for traditional security software.

Why? Because Malwarebytes doesn’t search for known computer viruses and other malicious software as traditional security programs do. Instead, it looks for the behavior patterns that are associated with viruses and other undesirable programs.


Q: I’ve been having problems with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer on Windows 7. After I finish viewing a Web page or playing a game on the website, I either get a box saying the browser has been disconnected or a “500-13” error. Is there a simple fix?

Ed Holt, Lakeland, Fla.


A: The error message could mean that Internet Explorer has corrupted files or incorrect settings, both of which can be fixed. But it could also signify a problem on Microsoft’s MSN website, which you can’t fix. Potential fixes for Internet Explorer are listed at, but it would easier to switch to Google’s Chrome browser (


E-mail tech questions to or write to Tech Q&A, 650 3rd Av. S., Suite 1300, ­Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.