How to read email attachments without downloading

  • Thread starter feynman1
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  • #1
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If one reads email attachments without downloading, could they catch viruses?
 

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  • #2
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If one reads email attachments without downloading, could they catch viruses?
How do you read the attachment without downloading it first?
 
  • #3
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If one reads email attachments without downloading, could they catch viruses?
Elaborating what @Mark44 has said, when you click on an email attachment (a pdf file for example) to view it on browser, your browser downloads it and stores it as cache. So, if the file has a virus, it should be able to start its work then and there. That is why it is advised not to even click on attachments from unknown senders.

By the way, files generally do not "catch" viruses; they can come with a virus. When you download and open such a file, the virus program is activated.

Most email clients come with online antivirus programs that automatically scan attachments. Sometimes, however, the attachments cannot be scanned if the file size is large or if the antivirus program does not support that file type. In that case, be extra cautious.
 
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  • #4
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How do you read the attachment without downloading it first?
there's a preview option in email
 
  • #5
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Elaborating what @Mark44 has said, when you click on an email attachment (a pdf file for example) to view it on browser, your browser downloads it and stores it as cache. So, if the file has a virus, it should be able to start its work then and there. That is why it is advised not to even click on attachments from unknown senders.

By the way, files generally do not "catch" viruses; they can come with a virus. When you download and open such a file, the virus program is activated.

Most email clients come with online antivirus programs that automatically scan attachments. Sometimes, however, the attachments cannot be scanned if the file size is large or if the antivirus program does not support that file type. In that case, be extra cautious.
thanks a lot, though always downloading every file to the hard drive is so annoying
 
  • #6
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The thing to consider here is where are you reading e-mail from?

1) You are reading it using en e-mail program on your computer like Outlook. This program "lives" on your computer and the only way to view / preview an attachment is for it to be downloaded to your computer.

2) You are using some kind of webmail, for example gmail.com / outlook.com which are web based e-mail clients. In this instance you are just looking at a regular web page. In this instance if you "preview" an attachement it's gong to be open at the web server and shown to you just like any other data is on the web. This is a safer option if your concerned about security. If you want that attachement though and you do downloaded then it's been transferred onto your computer again.
 
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  • #7
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If I'm using a webmail, people say that previewing in email without downloading is equivalent to putting the attachment into cash (on a hard drive), so they suggest not to preview an attachment. Now you are suggesting the other way round, saying previewing is safer because nothing goes to the hard drive yet?
 
  • #10
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feynman1 You misunderstood me. You have to differentiate between whats being processed on your computer or whats on a web page which is just sending you text / images etc like regular web browsing.

If your using a e-mail program on your local computer that program has to access / download the attachment to your local computer to create a preview for you to see.

If your using a web page to look at your e-mail. i.e. Logging onto gmail.com / outlook.com etc......all your are seeing is a regular web page. Depending on how that web page is written, when you view a preview, it is the gmail.com / outlook.com web server which opens the files and then just send you the text / images like you are looking at any other web page, nothing get's downloaded.

Less advanced webmail products are probably not as well written and probably would need to download the attachement so it very much depends on the programming of the webmail interface your using. In either case you might not download it if you use webmail where you definately will if your have a regular e-mail client on your computer.
 
  • #11
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I would suggest you take a look at virtualisation if your that paranoid. I have a copy of Windows with outlook installed as a virtual machine which is set so that all disk writes are non-persisitent. The second I turn that virtual machine off any data that has been written to it is flushed from the disk. I really don't care about downloading a virus via e-mail personally, I turn on the virtual machine, open outlook, check my e-mail, then turn it off again and anything downloaded is instantly gone. It takes a little tech knwo-how to setup but not an excessive amount.
 
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  • #12
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feynman1 You misunderstood me. You have to differentiate between whats being processed on your computer or whats on a web page which is just sending you text / images etc like regular web browsing.
Thanks a lot. I'll keep in mind that previewing without downloading is safer on a webmail but not on an email program installed on a local PC.
 

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