Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

It is perfectly safe to stay logged into your email account if you keep yourself protected from a few specific scenarios.

You sent me steps (in addition to changing my password) when my Yahoo mail had been hacked, for which I thank you. One more please: should I always sign out of Yahoo when I'm finished with dealing with mail?

In this excerpt from Answercast #15, I talk about how I manage my email accounts in my home office and ways to stay safe with online email.

Sign out of online email?

Typically, no. I don't.

I'm logged into email all day long. Either via a website or I run Thunderbird. That thing's running all day long.

I say 'typically' because there are scenarios where you want to be careful.

Shared computers

The most obvious one is if you're not the only person who has access to your machine.

In a case like that, you probably want to log out, not only out of Yahoo... but potentially out of Windows as well... if there is someone around who could walk up to the machine and maliciously (or not quite so maliciously) start poking around in your stuff, log out.

So, physical access is the big one.

Do you have a virus?

Obviously, everything is up for grabs if you happen to have malware on your machine.

Be sure to do all of the things it takes to keep your computer safe on the internet. But if you're doing that, and you don't have somebody running around your house who's going to access your computer while you're not around, I'd leave it on all the time. I would and I do.

It's not something that I spend a lot of time worrying about.

Article C5310 - May 7, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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4 Comments
Arleen
May 8, 2012 10:08 AM

I had Open Office 3.3 on my computer, it was always crashing, hired a computer repair person, he took it off my computer and installed microsoft office 7. Now when I want click on a document to open it says "Adobe ReaderX, Adobe Reader could not open "___".doc because it is eithr not a supported file tye or because the file has been damaged. How can I fix this? I keep calling the repair guy and never get a call back.

There's no such thing as Microsoft Office 7. There's Microsoft Office 2007, or 2010. Assuming it was one of the later, installing it should have fixed this up for you. I'd do a repair (should be available in Control Panel - Programs - Microsoft Office), or a complete reinstall of Office.
Leo
08-May-2012
connie
May 8, 2012 12:20 PM

@Arleen,
Here's an article on how to set your file associations, or the default program used to open files. You need to set Word to open those .doc files. This article is for Vista, but Windows 7 is similar.

Setting file associations

ina
June 2, 2012 8:43 PM

I've always used a WIRED connection, and frankly, haven't really bothered to learn how a wireless connection works. When I heard the question above, I thought of something I heard about when wireless routers became popular--"if you don't secure your router, anybody walking by can use your connection." Here's my question, IF I'M LOGGED INTO MY EMAIL ALL DAY, and I have a wireless connection, is it possible for a neighbor or passerby to view my email without logging in?
Is it just "connectivity" that others can "steal" or can they actually view my web history, bookmarks, etc.?
Thanks.

This is why you want to encrypt your wireless connection using WPA - without it anyone nearby could potentially watch what you send and recieve, and connect as if they were on your local network (because they would be).
Leo
03-Jun-2012
connie
June 2, 2012 9:04 PM

@ina,
It's not wireless that's the problem, but improper security. If your connection is not secured almost anyone walking by with a wireless device (laptop, iTouch, etc.) would be able to use that connection to connect to the internet.

Accessing your email, and the files on your computer would take both the desire to do so, and an extra skill-set that most folks don't have. So, no. Anybody walking by couldn't do it. However... it's those few who do have both the bad intent and the skills that you have to worry about. So, yes, there are some folks that could do whatever they wanted with your computer if you gave them access to it by not being secured properly.

Here's a good article to read that will help you understand how to secure your router, and be sure to subscribe to Leo's newsletter because he really knows how to teach this stuff!

http://ask-leo.com/securing_your_router.html

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