Read old emails from Outlook Express, Windows Mail, and Thunderbird

A friend of Russ and Sheila Stevens needs to access his late father’s Outlook Express messages—tricky since Outlook Express is no longer available. My answer covers more than Outlook Express.

Keeping old emails is pretty easy as long as you keep the same email client. Once you move from one mail client to another, however, you may need special software to access older mail.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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7 steps for archiving your files for posterity

Doug Schofield asked about “long-term storage for my most important data: My family tree, irreplaceable photos, interviews, and audio recordings.”

I have family photos that go back more than 100 years. But I can’t be sure that, a hundred years from now, my descendants will have my photos.

No one knows for how long your files will be accessible. Both file formats and physical media can go out of fashion. And the media itself may not be stable over the long haul. I can’t guarantee anything, but these steps will increase the odds that your descendants can know their ancestors.

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Five precautions for avoiding malware when you download and install software

Roger Mccullough downloaded three separate programs, and Panda Anti-virus Pro found malware in all of them.

Downloading a program—especially one from an obscure publisher without a positive reputation—is something of a leap of faith. It’s a bit like letting a total stranger into your home.

But if you follow these five steps, you should be okay.

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When the time comes, you'll be able to make Windows 10 look like Windows 7

Tom Corbett is considering moving to Windows 10 when the time comes, “but I do want the desktop to look like Windows 7.”

I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to do that, but I can’t say for sure. Windows 10 is still a work in progress, and the available Technical Preview keeps changing. So consider this an educated guess.

Let me start with the basic warning: Do not install Windows 10 on your main computer until the commercial version is released. For the time being, install it on a spare computer, a virtual machine, or not at all.

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You can securely wipe your files, hard drive or SSD with one of these free utilities

Stoqn Tochev asked about securely erasing sensitive files without destroying everything on his hard drive. I'll discuss SSDs, as well.

When you delete a file conventionally, it goes into the Recycle Bin, where it can be easily restored. When you empty the Recycle Bin, Windows makes the space where the file once resided available for other files. But the data from the file remains until another file writes over it.

Things have changed since I last covered this topic in 2013. SSDs have become more popular, and they work differently. Also, as Windows 8 has gotten older and more mature, I felt I should discuss a tool built into that operating system. Finally, I've replaced one free tool I used to recommend with another, easier offering.

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When 'error 404 file not found' strikes: How to remove broken browser bookmarks

Rich Wynne wants an easy and automated way to remove broken bookmarks from his browser.

Any longstanding collection of browser bookmarks is likely to have some that now point to dead URLs. You could find out which ones by clicking each individual bookmark and see if it gets a 404 error—that is, if you enjoy torture.

Here are better solutions for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

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Why your PC has two Program Files folders, and why one of them is (x86)

Dave Thomson asked about the folders Program Files and Program Files (x86). "Why are there two, and is there some advantage of using one over the other?"

First, you shouldn't pick one over the other. Let Windows make that decision when it installs the software.

Like most up-to-date PC users, you're clearly running a 64-bit version of Windows. Computers capable of running 64-bit code (also referred to as x64) have been around for almost a decade, and are pretty much ubiquitous these days. The same goes for x64 versions of Windows.

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