Microsoft Australia has apologised to users who have lost their entire Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail archives due to a flaw in Windows Live OneCare.
The product is Microsoft's antivirus and security application for consumers and small businesses which was released locally over a month ago and last June in the US. According to recent postings on Microsoft's OneCare forum, users were complaining that the security suite had been accidently deleting their e-mails.
Peter Watson, chief security advisor at Microsoft Australia, said today that an update to OneCare was automatically pushed out on Sunday, which is expected to fix the problem.
"Windows Live OneCare customers whose PCs are connected to the Internet will automatically get this fix. We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused our customers," Watson told ZDNet Australia in an e-mail.
Microsoft has not yet revealed how many customers were affected by the issue or offered a way of recovering deleted files. However, the company did give instructions on recovering files that were put into quarantine.
- 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.
Cure worse than the disease?
Even before OneCare's local release users of the software giant's forums started complaining about a potential glitch that appeared to be deleting their entire e-mail archive.
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 somewhere Outlook can't find them -- then the user would not be able to access any e-mails stored in the old system.
Microsoft is facing a public relations disaster as customers affected by the OneCare debacle voice their experiences.
A ZDNet Australia reader said in an e-mail: "I opened my Outlook and it tells me there is no .pst file ... I had mine set to delete infected files not to quarantine them. Six years of e-mail gone -- by the very product that was supposed to protect my e-mail".
One contributor to the OneCare forum was told by the moderator that the experience was "helping make OneCare a better program for everyone".
The miffed contributor responded: "I switched from a competitor's product which, while it was a bit slow, did not irrevocably delete my most important data. I am not here to "make OneCare" a better program ... This is clearly a case of the cure being worse than the disease".
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