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Have you saved your AOL address book to your computer?

It seems that a good number of our customers who have an AOL e-mail address have had the misfortune of having their e-mail accounts hacked by spammers who then pilfer their address book to send out all kinds of junk e-mail to their friends and business contacts.  This can be very disturbing, not to mention embarrassing.  While I haven’t seen it often, the hacker/spammer will sometimes then delete all of your contacts from your AOL address book.  That is really salt in your wounds if it goes that far, and there is next to nothing you can do to recover the address book unless you have planned ahead and regularly saved a copy of it to your computer. You will have to start from scratch and “re-build” your address book yourself, and that can be quite a task. This is a wake-up call to all of us who use web-based e-mail and just blithely assume all of our e-mail messages and contacts are safe from loss.  They’re not.  If your Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, Optimum, or any other web-based e-mail account gets compromised, and the perpetrator does more than just copy your contacts list for spamming purposes then you may log in one day to find all of your contacts and/or e-mail messages gone.  I have not seen this at all with our customers with G-mail accounts, but that’s not to say it hasn’t happened.  Google apparently has been doing a much better job of keeping the hackers out than its competitors.  It has mostly been AOL, with Hotmail and Yahoo accounts getting hacked occasionally.  If this happens to you, change your password immediately, and be as cryptic as possible; use a mix of letters and numbers.  That way the hacker can no longer access your account.   But what happens if your address book is gone or contacts are missing?   This is why you need to save (export) your address book to your computer on a regular basis.  While I still prefer a computer based mail program—Outlook or Mac Mail, for instance—more and more of us are turning to the convenience of web-based mail, so be warned that if you get hacked there’s a chance that you will be more than just embarrassed about all the junk e-mail that gets sent to your family and friends.

Losing your address book can be traumatic for many people.  We at Bronxville Computer can help you export your address book from any web-based e-mail account to your computer, a flash drive, or any storage device for safe-keeping, and we’ll show you how to do it so it can become part of your regular backup strategy, which should also include secure online storage.  We are authorized Carbonite resellers so ask us about that as well.

Tom