PC Doctor November 6, 2009

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Dear PC Doctor,
    I have accrued several e-mail addresses over the years. There's my work e-mail, school e-mail, and my own personal e-mail. Instead of logging into each account to check each addresses mail, is there a way for me to check all three at the same time? I've heard of e-mail clients such as Microsoft Outlook, but I'm looking for something that's not too complicated and easy to manage. Any ideas?
Dear Lauren,
    Microsoft Outlook is one way to go about what you have in mind, but you are right; it can be a little confusing to setup. I would recommend using G-mail, as it’s quick and easy to setup. Plus since it's web-based, you don’t need to install a software client. The cool thing with G-mail is that it can be setup to collect e-mail from other addresses, no matter the service provider. All you need is the log-in information of the e-mail account, address and password. If you don't already have a G-mail account, it's free to sign-up at www.gmail.com
    To set your G-mail account to collect from your other e-mail addresses, log into your G-mail account. Open "Settings" found in the upper right corner. Click the "Accounts and Import" tab. Click "Add POP3 e-mail account." This will open a little window where you can enter the e-mail address for the account that you’re adding. After entering your e-mail address, Google will automatically determine the server info and port name. All you have to do is to enter the account's password, and you're done!  Once setup, G-mail will periodically check the e-mail account and collect it to your G-mail account. You can add up to 5 e-mail addresses in this manner; so it should work fine with your work, school, and personal e-mail. Happy computing! 
PC Doctor
PC Doctor's Tip of the Week: Testing a Password's Strength
    A couple weeks back I described how to create strong passwords. Wouldn't it be cool if we could somehow test a password, to see how strong it is? There's a nifty application called the Hackosis Brute Force Calculator. What this calculator does is determine how long your password could hold against a brute force attack. A brute force attack is an attempt to crack a password by literally trying billions (even trillions) of word, number, or letter combinations per hour. An average consumer computer processor can test 137 billion password combinations per hour! Professional hackers with heavier computer processing can do much more than that.
    Here is the results of a few passwords I tested. The password Andrew88, 6 letters and 2 numbers; would take an average computer approximately 7 minutes to crack via brute force. As you can see Andrew88 is a rather weak password. Let's try a slightly longer password, such as AndrewsDog88. With 8 lowercase, 2 uppercase letters, and 2 numbers; it would take an average computer approximately 2,138.85 DAYS to crack. Big difference from "Andrew88," and it's not that much longer. But I can do much better with even longer password, and a heavier computer processor still might have a good chance against "AndrewsDog88". So let's try the pass phrase “ButchLovesFuzzyBalls,” that I created a few weeks back in a previous PC Doctor. With 20 lowercase and 4 uppercase letters, an average computer would take 1,380,413,743,017,503,227,904 DAYS to crack it! Again a heavier processor probably could knock this number down a bit, but even if it was 1 quadrillion times faster than an on average computer it would still take 1 billion days before it could be plausibly cracked via brute force. 
    What I learned from inputting these passwords is that the stronger passwords are compiled with a variety of characters. Use both uppercase and lowercase letters, use a few numbers, and keep the password above 8 characters. Try out a few passwords on the calculator. If you find that it's weak, try sprucing it up a bit by lengthening it, and adding different characters, such as numbers or uppercase lettering. An online applet version of the calculator can be found at this website: www.symmonsfamily.net/bfcalc.php.
Until next time…happy computing!