Q: When I click on a link in an email to take me to a site, I get a little window saying the server is busy and to try again or switch to see whats wrong. The computer is hung up until I hit the switch button 10 to 20 times, opening up various windows like printers, etc.
Finally, I get a blank page from Windows and can kill it and regain control of the computer, but I cant get the link to work.
I use XP and Firefox is my default browser.
How can I get this to stop and the links to work like they used to?
George S., Raleigh.
Even when its working properly, email has become a bit of a scourge on modern society.
A July 2012 report by McKinsey Global Institute showed workers spend about 30 percent of their average workweek reading and answering email. Thats completely separate, according to the study, from an additional 14 percent of their time spent communicating and collaborating internally.
During a follow up, George S. clarified that although he uses Firefox to browse his email, his machine is also running Eudora, an email client originally developed back in 1988.
This switch problem, has been troubling Eudora users for years, says Paul Rosenberg, owner of the Chapel Hill repair shop Love Your Computer.
Rosenbergs first step in the diagnosis would be to turn off any firewall software, if present. Because these programs attempt to assert some control over whats going in and out of your network, they can sometimes block or interfere with even legitimate links. Dont leave this software permanently disabled, but if you find it solves your problem, it might be time to consider another security solution.
Also on the troubleshooting list: Make sure Firefox is actually set as your default browser. Under preferences and advanced settings you can actually have the program perform a system check for that default status in case you accidentally change it.
If all of the above dont work, it may be worth considering a new mail client, Rosenberg said.
An open-source edition of Eudora is still available ( wiki.mozilla.org/Eudora_OSE), but Rosenberg points out that its essentially just Mozillas Thunderbird email client with a classic feel.
Thunderbird ( www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/) is free to download, open-source and fully supported by Mozilla, the same company responsible for the Firefox browser. It also offers protection from phishing attacks and spam, and promises to make culling email easier with features like add-ons and the ability to share large attachments with contacts.
It might not be as good as giving up email altogether, but hopefully these quick fixes will keep you from pulling your hair out when your system hassles you for clicking an email link.
Send technology questions to email@example.com. Please include your name, city and daytime phone number. Sorry, we cant answer every question.