QWhat exactly is

a drive-by download?

AA drive-by download is a program that a Web site surreptitiously plants on your Windows PC when you load its pages. (This problem is, by most accounts, limited to Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.) Many of these are only irritating -- they just force-feed advertising pop-ups to your browser -- but some change your home and search pages, alter your bookmarks and mangle important system settings.

A few of these programs can be found and deleted within the usual Add/Remove Programs control panel. Others may be featured in Internet Explorer's list of "Browser Helper Objects" (some help!), which you can view by going to IE's Tools menu and selecting "Internet Options . . . " Click the "Settings" button and then, in the small window that opens, click "View Objects."

The worst offenders, however, burrow deep into the system registry and need to be removed with such specialized tools as HijackThis and CWShredder, free downloads at www.spywareinfo.com/~merijn/.

Can I take my Outlook e-mail and just transfer it to Word?

It sure seems easy with a paragraph or two, which you can copy from Outlook right into Word. But that's as far as it goes -- you can't open an entire Outlook mailbox in Word.

Outlook may look like a word processor, but it's really a database that includes some word-processing capability. Likewise, Word is a word processor with very limited e-mail capability. The small overlap between the two programs doesn't mean one can do the other's job; trying do that would be like using a Mini Cooper to pull a boat to your vacation home.

-- John Gilroy

John Gilroy of Item Inc. is heard on WAMU's "The Computer Guys" at noon on the first Tuesday of the month. This is his last "Ask the Computer Guy" column; starting next week, Rob Pegoraro will answer personal-technology queries in this space. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071 or via e-mail to rob@twp.com.