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Originally published Friday, October 4, 2013 at 8:23 PM

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Outlook hangup may signal data-file or anti-virus issue

The error message says the program “was not properly closed,” but based on experience with Outlook, that’s probably not it.

Special to The Seattle Times

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So what free anti-virus/anti-malware software do you recommend for the mac? I have... MORE

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Q: I have a recurring problem with Microsoft Outlook. When I close it before shutting down my computer at night, everything seems fine. But when I try to open Outlook the next time, I get a pop-up that says this: “MS Office Outlook — The data file ‘Personal Folders’ was not closed properly. The file is being checked for problems.”

It then shows a bar with how many minutes it will take. It can take 3 to 7 minutes for it to open Outlook when this occurs. Is there some way to fix/stop this?

— Cecilia Matta

A: The ideal thing, yes, is to close Outlook — and all other programs — before shutting down your computer. But I rarely close down Outlook before shutting down the computer, yet I don’t get those error messages, so it’s possible that something else is causing the trouble.

There are two things I’d suggest trying. First repair your Outlook data file. You can find detailed instructions for doing so at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/repair-outlook-data-files-pst-and-ost-HA010075831.aspx.

The other thing is to at least temporarily disable any anti-virus integration with Outlook. If the anti-virus is regularly scanning your message folders, it may be reporting false problems.

Q: I am having an issue with Thunderbird 24 (email software) running under Windows 7 Pro Service Pack 1. I installed Thunderbird 24 on the user’s account and was asked to supply administrator’s credentials, which I did. Now every time the user starts Thunderbird, he is required to enter administrator’s credentials.

I deleted Thunderbird and reinstalled it under the administrator’s account. The same problem results. Using Google I looked up and tried several solutions, but none of them worked.

What can I do to allow the user to start Thunderbird without entering administrator’s credentials?

— Richard Kennedy

A: Right-click on the Thunderbird icon and select Properties. Then click on the Compatibility tab. Uncheck the box next to “Run this program as an administrator.” That should solve your problem.

By the way, the only reason to have the box checked is if you want automatic updates of the program.

Q: This question concerns the anti-virus software I have been running on my MacBook Pro and my wife’s iMac.

The iMac was running slow and I took it to an Apple Store, to the Genius Bar, and was told that the Norton Antivirus I was running was a large program that tended to gobble up a lot of processing power while running in the background. The genius at the store told me that Apple’s security upgrades were quite adequate and we did not need any third-party anti-virus software on our Macs. He said that the day when Apple protections were no longer adequate he would quit working there!

Have I been wasting my money on Norton Antivirus for Mac all these years?

A: It’s true that Apple devices have not been afflicted with much by way of malware. But even Apple recommends that users employ anti-virus/anti-malware software.

Virus authors tend to target operating systems where they will have the greatest impact, so they go after ones that will affect more people or high-profile, “secure” installations.

That said, are you wasting your money buying anti-virus software? If it were me, I’d look into one of the free options, at least until there were more instances of infections.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/

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