Outlook Express Help Desk

Should I scan my Email for viruses?

The plain and simple answer is no. And here's why;

  • The file has to be downloaded before it can be scanned.
  • If your anti virus shows a false positive, which is a frequent occurrence, an important and totally innocent message may be deleted.
  • As long as your real time system scanner is running then you are still protected.

To make it much safer when opening Emails set OE to read all messages as plain text.  That way any nasties that are coded into the message will not run unless they are in an attachment and yes I am aware that HTML messages are much prettier.  Which do you prefer, Safe or Pretty?  The most important rule is don't open attachments or messages that you are not 100% positive are safe.  If you want to read an HTML message and do it safely then SAVE the message as an *.eml file and then double click it to open in OE.  In that case your on demand anti-virus scanner will check the file before it opens.

Norton (Symantec) now acknowledge that auto-protection of email is not necessary. The following is copied from their support site:

"..If you disable email protection, is your computer still safe from email viruses?
Disabling email protection does not leave you vulnerable to viruses and malicious software in email. It is a separate layer of protection in addition to Auto-Protect. Auto-Protect scans any incoming files, including email, as they are saved to your hard drive. As long as you keep your virus definitions up to date with LiveUpdate, and keep Auto-Protect enabled and set to scan files as they are created or downloaded, your system is fully protected."

Norton Antivirus' autoprotect feature also disconnects users from the internet whenever they try to download using Internet Explorer. What is Norton's fix for this problem? Disable autoprotect.

Also, users in Freeserve UK find they cannot download email after installing Norton Antivirus 2001. Again Nortons advice is to turn off autoprotect.

Also see;
Norton Antivirus causes OE6 to stop responding

As for McAfee, the problems are too numerous to even think about. You would be tired before you finished reading them.

McAfee now says it is not necessary for Outlook Express users to use Email scanning. Here's what they have to say about it:

"You don't have to worry about the e-mail scan as this is a corporate feature -requiring Outlook 2000 and a mail server such as Exchange server. Unless you meet the criteria you should make sure that it is disabled. As long as you have the Download scan and Internet filter enabled you'll be just fine as these two options effectively checks anything downloaded -including e-mails. I hope this answers your question. Remember e-mail scan is for corporate users only".

McAfee have admitted there is a problem, and is referring its users to MS MVP Steve Cochrans rescue utility called DBXtract

There have also been MANY confirmed reports of McAfee's email scan and auto-update programs corrupting Outlook Express's data folders (*.dbx) causing massive loss of email, particularly the inbox folder. If you still feel that you must use this program, ensure that Outlook Express is NOT set to go directly to your inbox when opening.

If you are already using McAfee VirusScan and you are experiencing problems with Outlook Express then see this page for help.

If you are using Dr. Solomon's NetGuard then the odds are that you are having problems.

When you attempt to send or receive messages using Outlook Express, you may receive either of the following error messages:

The connection to the server has failed. Account: '',
Server: '', Protocol: SMTP, Port: 110, Secure(SSL): No,
Socket Error: 10061, Error Number: 0x800CCC0E


The connection to the server has failed. If you then view the Internet Accounts dialog box, you may see a new news account and a new mail account both named "" These new accounts may now be configured as your default mail and news accounts. If you try to alter these settings, your changes may not be saved, and the "Access the Internet using a proxy server" setting in Microsoft Internet Explorer may automatically be enabled when you restart your computer.

You can work around this issue, by restoring your original mail and news accounts as your default accounts. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. In Outlook Express, click Accounts on the Tools menu.
  2. Click the Mail tab, click your original mail account, and then click Set As Default.
  3. Click the News tab, click your original news account, click Set As Default, and then click Close.
  4. Quit and then restart Outlook Express.