Can I stop emails from downloading to a PC? | Q&A with Patrick Marshall


Q: I am one of the old guys (pushing 80) […]

Q: I am one of the old guys (pushing 80) mentioned in your recent article. I have several issues with our computers. Our 2-year-old Dell laptop with Windows 10 downloads emails when it is turned on. This is not the primary computer. I would like it to only download emails when tasked to do so.

The Dell also refuses to recognize our Canon Pixma printer. I tried downloading the printer data on the laptop.

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We also have a Mac from 2019 and recently had upgraded from Catalina to Big Sur. I have Malwarebytes on both computers and McAfee on the Dell. I am told the Mac does not need anything else for anti-virus protection. Is that so?

Bill Barnes

A: The steps to turn off automatic downloads of emails depends on the email client you’re using. In Microsoft Outlook, for example, you’d click on Send/Receive in the main menu, then on Send/Receive Groups, then on “Disable Scheduled Send/Receive.”

Of course, if you’re accessing your mail through a web browser there is no way to turn off automatic downloads because the messages you see aren’t actually downloaded to your computer.

As for the Canon Pixma printer, you’ll want to visit Canon’s website, select the specific model of Pixma printer you have (and there are many models) to download the correct drivers for the operating system you want to use it with. The drivers will lead you through installation.

And as for anti-virus protection, I’d say you’re all set, though if you’re running Malwarebytes on the Windows computer my opinion is that you can let go of the McAfee anti-virus software. Malwarebytes, which started out as an anti-malware program, now also includes anti-virus protection.

And, of course, I’ll add the usual caveat: No anti-virus program provides 100% protection, especially against new viruses and other malware. So it’s really important to follow safe practices online and with email. Don’t visit sites that you don’t trust. Don’t click on links or attachments in emails unless you’re sure about the identity of the sender. And don’t let your email program automatically download images embedded in emails.

Q: I used the password-keeping program RoboForm for years. It would time out after a while, so I had to enter the main password multiple times per day. It was well-memorized. I also had it written down. Then, one day it stopped working. I was still logged into RoboForm on my desktop computer, but the password failed on my phone. I wish I had backed up the list of passwords on the computer. I assumed it was a glitch with my phone, of which I’ve had many. 

I tried to contact RoboForm, but to do so, you need to have the main password. Resetting the password erases all your data.

I switched to using LastPass because they have a way to recover a lost main password. It’s convoluted, but they have a way. But I’m still irked about the sudden and inexplicable loss of my access to RoboForm.

Do you have any clue what might have happened? Have you heard of this happening?

Ross Carey

A: I’ve not been able to find any cases other than yours in which a RoboForm master password stops working.

By the way, with both RoboForm and LastPass you can designate an emergency contact so that they — and you — could get access if your master password is lost or forgotten.

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