What is the ~ (tilde) file on my desktop?

Question

I continually get a ~ file on my desktop and have no idea what it is..any help?

Also when I shut down xp says program - O is running would you like to...wait / end program...what is O? I have run Norton antivirus and spywarenuker...any help?

Thank you

Answer

This question was answered on September 9, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The file appearing on your desktop with the filename ~, commonly known as a tilde, is a backup of your Windows Address Book It is appearing as a result of the April 2003 Cumulative Patch for Outlook Express (330994) The patch is installed for Outlook Express 5.5 or 6 in response to a vulnerability that could allow an attacker to run code of the attacker’s choice on a user’s machine To exploit the vulnerability, an attacker would have to be able to cause Windows to open a specially constructed MHTML URL, either on a web site or included in an HTML email message.

Unfortunately, there is a bug in the patch.Whenever you make a change in your Windows Address Book file (*.wab file), Windows makes a backup of this file Generally this backup is called username.wa~ , however after the patch is installed the backup gets renamed to just ~ instead and saved in the directory where you start your Outlook Express Most of the time, people start Outlook Express from a shortcut on their desktop, so the backup file gets placed there This is how the tilde (~) file arrives on your desktop Although Microsoft has indicated that it knows about this problem and intends to make a patch available, they have not released one yet, as of July 2003.

Because the file is simply a backup of your Windows Address Book, spyware searching utilities or anti-virus products wont flag it as anything suspicious

The file can be deleted However if it is deleted, you wont have a backup of your Windows Address Book if a virus or something else corrupts it or you accidentally delete the information in the address book So I wouldnt necessarily delete the file without backing it up first Personally, here are the steps I would take to remain safe in case you need the file again.

Right click on the file and choose Rename

Type in a name for the file and add the .wab extension to it

For Example, you might want to rename it to addressbook.wab or something similar

Now, put a blank, formatted floppy disk in your floppy drive and right-click on the newly named file

Choose Send To, Floppy Drive (most likely A)

Now the file is backed up in case of emergency, right-click on the file on your desktop and choose Delete

Each time you make a change to your address book, this file will reappear so its a good idea to keep that floppy drive around and make a backup each time you make changes This protects you from losing valuable email addresses in case of a disaster.

you can uninstall the patch, this will fix the tilde (~) file from appearing, however you will not be protected from this security vulnerability either If you want to uninstall the April 2003 (330994) patch.

How to uninstall

To remove the download, complete the following steps:

On the Start menu, point to Settings and then click Control Panel (In Windows XP, click Start and then click Control Panel.)

Double-click Add/Remove Programs

In the list of currently installed programs, select Q330994 and then click Remove or Add/Remove If a dialog box appears, follow the instructions to remove the program

Click Yes or OK to confirm that you want to remove the program

Restart CPU.

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Author

Posted by Student of Katharine Gibbs School - New York on September 9, 2003