Software giant Microsoft has denied that Windows Live OneCare automatically deleted quarantined e-mail files, contrary to customers' claims.
Several users claimed OneCare seemed to be responsible for either deleting or quarantining the .pst or .dbx files on their PC. These are used by Outlook and Outlook Express respectively to store e-mail archives. If they are deleted -- or moved -- then the user would not be able to access any e-mails stored in the system.
Microsoft has since released a patch but today insisted users were primarily at fault. "It is important to clarify that although in certain cases OneCare might automatically delete a piece of malware, OneCare does not delete archive files such as .pst or .dbx files, nor can users set OneCare to automatically delete such files when quarantined.
"To delete whole archive files, such as those .pst and .dbx files that were erroneously being quarantined by OneCare prior to the fix issued last weekend, users would have had to manually delete the files from the quarantine dialog," a Microsoft US spokesperson told ZDNet Australia.
"Again, to be clear, .pst and .dbx files cannot be automatically deleted by OneCare, due to the way the service is designed," the spokesperson said.
Microsoft claimed that a very small number of customers had files that were actually affected by the flaw. Affected users are advised to contact customer support or run OneCare's backup and restore facility to restore files from previous backups.
On Tuesday, Microsoft Australia chief security advisor Peter Watson apologised to Outlook and Outlook Express users for the fiasco.
To recover files in quarantine, Microsoft advises users to:
- Close Outlook or Outlook Express
- Click Change OneCare Settings in the Main OneCare user interface
- Click on the Viruses & Spyware Tab
- And then click on the Quarantine button and then select the .pst or .dbx file and then click on Restore.