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Originally published Friday, March 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM

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Patrick Marshall: Making sure email deletes from POP server

The most common cause of receiving multiple copies of incoming email messages stems from leaving copies of emails on the server.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Q: My computer runs Windows XP and I use Outlook Express 6. I do not leave copies of emails on the Comcast POP3 server. In recent months I've been receiving multiple copies (anywhere from 1 to 60 copies) on some of my incoming email messages. The first Comcast representative advised me to rename the Pop3uidl.dbx file. It did not work. The second representative suggested that I choose Direct Forward under Comcast Email. It also did not work. The third representative said this was not a problem that they serviced, and suggested that it's a Microsoft problem. Could you help me resolve this?

— L.K. Lu, Seattle

A: First of all, the most common cause of this problem stems from leaving copies of emails on the server. If there's any problem with the headers in your email application reading them, your program may keep downloading them.

So the first thing I would do is to check your email using Comcast's Web interface and see if the emails you think you have erased from the server are still there. If they are, make sure Outlook Express is properly configured so that emails will be deleted from the server when you download them. If that isn't how it's configured, go ahead make the change. If it is, you need to tell Comcast that those emails are not being deleted.

The only other likely cause of this problem is if you have mail forwarding improperly set up for the mailbox or if you are using multiple mailboxes and forwarding mail from one to another. In either case you need to make sure that any forwarding of mail has an appropriate endpoint. This would be an issue to explore with Comcast rather than Microsoft.

Q: Recently I needed to reinstall the operating system on my Hewlett-Packard computer. Immediately before beginning the process, I backed up my computer using Norton Security Suite. I have been using the backup utility in Norton, thinking I was safe and being diligent. However, when I went to recover my files I find I do not have my Outlook PST file and I have lost all my TurboTax files except those saved in a PDF format. My Quicken files also seemed to be absent, but that was not a problem since I back that up almost daily. It appears everything else that I have looked for is there. Is this a problem unique to me and the way I am using Norton or is this backup program not something I should be using? Is it possible these files are hidden somewhere I can't find them?

— Mary Puntenney

A: I'm afraid you're out of luck. By default, Norton will backup Outlook PST files. But it can only do so if Outlook is not running when the backup is performed. And, by the way, that's not a failing of Norton. Outlook prevents any backup program from accessing the PST file while the program is open. My guess is that you must have had Outlook open during backups.

Q: I own a Hewlett-Packard Pavilion Elite. I'm trying to copy information on Internet Explorer, Hotmail, personnel files, etc. Every time I try to copy, the Script Error Box appears on the screen. How do I correct this problem? I will be preparing my taxes and I need to copy all the information..

— Helene Petersen, Sammamish

A: The fact that you're getting a script error message implies that it's a problem with the website you are visiting or possibly with your browser. If this is happening with just one website, I would contact the site's webmaster. If it's with multiple sites, I would try either installing another browser or reinstalling the browser you are using.

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


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