E-mail Management Tips

Strangely, I’ve heard from several people in the last month, that had a acquired a computer virus and had lost all of their data.  This is a gentle reminder to remember to 1) back up your data regularly; and 2) if you have a PC, follow these tips to help protect your computer.  If you have a Mac, you may not be as susceptible to an attack, however it is still important that you protect your system.

  1. Use an Internet firewall.
    Note: Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP with SP2 have a firewall already built-in and turned on by default.
  2. Visit Microsoft Update to verify your settings and check for updates.
    Note: If you’ve installed the most recent version of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Update will also update your Microsoft Office programs.
  3. Subscribe to antivirus software and keep it current.  Some more reputable software names are Norton Antivirus and McAfee, that cost somewhere around $40/year.  Microsoft has come out with a new FREE download, Microsoft Security Essentials, for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.
  4. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know.
  5. Avoid opening an e-mail attachment from someone you know, unless you know exactly what the attachment is. The sender may be unaware that it contains a virus.
  6. Use a standard user account unless you need to use an administrator account.  The standard account can help protect your computer by preventing users from making changes that affect everyone who uses the computer, such as deleting files that are required for the computer to work.

When you are logged on to Windows with a standard account, you can do almost anything that you can do with an administrator account, but if you want to do something that affects other users of the computer, such as installing software or changing security settings, Windows might ask you to provide a password for an administrator account, therefore protecting your computer.

Keep your business (and personal) documents and systems safe and avoid the headache.

Hopefully the recipients of your e-mail can be confident that the e-mail is actually from you.

If your e-mail subject line is very generic and the “from” name on your e-mail is simply your first name, my first instinct would probably be to delete the e-mail, considering it potential spam.

Or, if you use the internet to send your mail through a Webmail program, the default name is simply your e-mail address. If you had to get “creative” to find an e-mail address name that wasn’t already taken, your e-mails may not be clearly associated to you.

I always recommend that you use, at a minimum, your first AND last name for your e-mail name. I also suggest you include your company name, too.

As an example, I know two Richard Smiths who work for two different organizations. While it’s an unusual occurrence, if I get e-mail from either (or both), it is just a little nicer to be able to identify which e-mail is from which so I can keep them organized.

Also, If you’ve just met someone, you may not necessarily remember their name, but you would recognize the company, or you remember their name but don’t recall the name of their company. There is a high probability that they have the same dilemma. Having both your name and company on your e-mails would increase the chances of others remembering who you are and further solidifying the relationship between your name and your business.

It’s not difficult to do, but it may be the difference between your e-mail being opened and read, or being deleted and your e-mail address being blocked.

One way to help alleviate the problem is to create a separate e-mail account for your orders and subscriptions. Most SPAM is generated through sites from which you’ve ordered something or joined a newsgroup or subscription, who have then sold your e-mail address to a third party. Many times if you read the fine print, you’ll discover that by signing up with them, your e-mail address is considered fair game! Sharing your primary e-mail just with those trusted friends and colleagues will help minimize unwanted email from those pesky spammers.

Latest versions of Outlook incorporate a “Junk E-mail” filtering function. Highly suspected potential junk mail is put into a separate “Junk E-mail” folder for you to go through and clean out at your leisure. You can also decide who you want to allow into your Inbox. It won’t catch them all, but it’ll help by lessening the amount of mail that goes into your Inbox.
If you don’t know who an e-mail is from, don’t send an e-mail back asking to be taken off of the mailing list and don’t click on the link provided to “unsubscribe” from the e-mail list. Spammers will use them as confirmation of a live e-mail address and then send you even more spam. Simply delete the mail. Yes, it’s annoying, and, unfortunately, it won’t ever stop completely, but it will at least not initiate another action to generate more.

If your e-mail address is displayed on your website, ask your web designer to do something to “hide” your e-mail address from the online spam harvesters. This can be done in a few different ways – displaying your address graphically instead of using text, splitting up your address into parts, manipulating the text by replacing characters, or adding some additional programming.

No method is fool proof, but it can simply make it just a little harder to get your address and should significantly reduce the amount of spam you have to sift through.

Keep your computer safe! Turn on the auto-update option, and set it to run a full system scan at least once a week.

Most viruses and worms arrive on your computer in the form of e-mail attachments. A few of them exploit security flaws in the operating system or in your browser to launch automatically, but if you keep your anti-virus program updated, your chances of being infected via this route are small.

E-mail “spoofing” and “phishing” are when a person or program masquerades as another. Some are convincing-looking messages that appear to be sent from a large company like a bank or some other entity you may do business with. The message may even contain links to a counterfeit version of the company’s Web site, complete with genuine-looking graphics and corporate logo. The intent is to fool the users into thinking that they are connecting to a trusted site, for instance to harvest user names and passwords.
If you don’t have an account or if you no prior relationship to the sending company, you can simply delete the e-mail without even opening it.

  • If it could be from a potential client, look at the title of the message.  Does the title of the message make sense?  If it contains an RE: (reply) or FW: (forward) and you haven’t had prior communications with the sender, it’s highly suspect.
  • Take notice of the grammar and spelling used in the message. If a message originates from a legitimate company, say a bank, they would NEVER release it without it having gone through a bevy of reviewers and editors.
  • Be careful when opening e-mail attachments. DON’T just blindly click on them to see what it is.  And most importantly, NEVER open any attachment from someone you don’t know.
  • DON’T always believe a link provided in the e-mail … if you’re not sure, DON’T click on it.   Spoofed e-mails will often direct the link to a bogus website.  In Outlook, if you hover your cursor over the link, it should show you the actual URL that the link is being directed to.  If it’s different from what’s visible it’s not going where you think it is.

Minimize your computer virus risk. When reading your e-mails, think before you click.

Purchase and use a personalized domain name in place of your Yahoo!, Comcast, MSN, Hotmail, or Verizon e-mail account for your business.

One tell-tale sign that the company you’re working with is a small business is that they use a personal e-mail address that they’ve set up with their ISP, or worse yet, a no cost e-mail account with Yahoo! or Google.

Think about it. How comfortable would you be opening an e-mail with the subject line stating that it was referencing something as important as your mortgage, but the address was from YourMortgageCompany@gmail.com? How professional would it appear? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using Google Mail for a personal account. Hey, it’s free! But…for your business? It can give the wrong impression.

Build credibility as well as memorability with your clients. Your domain name should reflect your business name, products you offer, or topics that your eventual website will cover. If your first choice isn’t available, try rearranging the word order or using abbreviations. For variety, add hyphens or words such as online, store, the, or shop to your business name.

Stop advertising for your ISP and start the branding process for your own business and reserve a place for your business on the Internet!

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