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Written by Daniel Fletcher Category: eMail
Published on 27 August 2011 Hits: 18015
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Email today is a major medium of communication. After all, it provides message delivery within moments and allows electronic documents to be sent as simple attachments. However, issues have also arisen with this medium, such as privacy issues, spam, delivery, viruses, and accessibility. Below is a list of tips that form a kind of survival guide for all who use email.

 

  1. Never put something in an email that you would not want to potentially show up in the front page of a major newspaper.
  2. After composing the message, review it again before clicking the send button. This will allow you to catch typing errors, or sending the message to the wrong recipient!
  3. Set up a signature within your email program. That way you will have a consistent and professional look to your email messages without taking any time to type it in each time. You can even include your company logo in the signature.
  4. Avoid using a scanned image of your own signature. These days, it could be easily used to “sign” documents without your knowledge or consent.
  5. If you are sending a message to several recipients and do not want each one to know who the message was sent to, then place all recipients in the “BCC” (blind courtesy copy) field and nothing in the “To” or “CC” fields.
  6. Be careful about using “BCC” if it is to talk behind someone’s back. See the tip above about newspapers.
  7. Be careful when forwarding email messages that contain racial or political points of view, even if humorous. People have been seriously reprimanded or even fired over it.
  8. Never open an email attachment from someone you do not know, regardless of how important it sounds. Even if it is from someone you know, check the content of the message to see if it refers to or explains the attachment. Simply delete the message otherwise.
  9. Email is one of the primary sources of viruses these days. Be sure to have a good and up-to-date email program. Yes, on Macs too!
  10. Sometimes people receive an email with an attachment called winmail.dat. This happens particularly to people using iMail on a Mac or Thunderbird in Windows or Lotus Notes. This is caused by the sender because they are using Microsoft Outlook and have it configured to format the email messages using RTF (Rich-Text Formatting). This is generally a bad idea. Email messages should be formatted as either text, or HTML. Most email clients actually send messages containing both versions, with the HTML version being typically displayed. If you do get one of these messages, either ask the sender to re-send the message formatted as HTML, or use a third party tool to try to de-scramble the contents of the winmail.dat file. There is an online tool available here, or you can try downloading this utility.
  11. Do not attach overly large files. A large percentage of email systems still have a limit of about 10 Mbytes for email messages. This limit is for the entire message. Email attachments have to be encoded in order to be transmitted. They cannot be sent in theor original binary format. This encoding process makes the overall size of the attachment grow by about 20%. If the total size of the message exceeds the limit imposed at the recipient’s server, your message may bounce back, or be dropped without further notice. Either break up such messages into smaller chunks, or use an FTP program, or a third party service to drop a copy of the file that your recipient can the retrieve. Two such services are minus.com and dropsend.com.
  12. Certain file types should be compressed (zipped) before transmitting or attaching. These include such files as database, spreadsheet, text, cad, and documents. This can reduce the file size by up to 90%. Do not bother compressing picture (jpg, gif, tif, or png) files. You’ll get little to no compression at all.
  13. Some email programs such as Outlook to not allow certain types of messages to be sent or received. If you really need to send a small file of this type, try just changing the file extension to something else and tell the recipient in the body of your message to change the extension back when they save it. For example, rename outlook.pst to outlook.ok before attaching the message. Zipping the file does not always work, because some services such as Gmail also scan zipped files and block them.
  14. Email sent using a corporate address or using corporate equipment belongs to the company. This has been tested and upheld in court. As such, remember that email administrators can scan email messages, or have automated scripts that send copies of emails to a certain mailbox if they contain certain keywords. People have lost their jobs for not following corporate communications policies because of copies of non-compliant email messages being automatically sent to their boss.
  15. When composing an angry message, set it aside (save it as a draft) and sleep on it overnight. Then review and revise it before sending.
  16. If you send out a lot of email messages in a day (more than a couple of hundred perhaps, but depends on your connection and service provider), such as sending out newsletters, consider using a third party service so you do not get labeled as a spammer and end up either not being able to send out any more messages or having your messages blocked by recipient servers.
  17. Do not access your private email using corporate equipment. You should refrain from doing so even on your break or lunch hour As indicated in the point above, anything you do using corporate equipment belongs to the company. Tools can be placed on such systems without your knowledge that capture any information that you access.
  18. Some email programs provide a “delivery status notification” option or a “return receipt” or “read confirmation” options. Do not rely on these. Email delivery is performed on a best effort basis. There is no delivery guarantee. The “delivery status notification” is supposed to inform you if there is a problem with the delivery process of the message. If the receiving server does not support it, then the reporting process stops. The “return receipt” or “read confirmation” is supposed to let you know if the recipient read your message. Assuming that the email program being used supports that feature, then recipient can simply cancel or disable it.
  19. Do not give your email address to people you do not know.
  20. Do not sign up for newsletters or other such services unless you are familiar with the service and have checked that their privacy policy states that they do not sell or make your email address available to third parties.
  21. If you get spam messages, do not bother creating a rule to block messages from that user. You will likely never receive another message from that fake address again. Instead, you’ll just end up with an unmanageable list that slows your system down.
  22. In general, do not click on “unsubscribe” junk mail links from messages that you did not subscribe to in the first place. By supposedly unsubscribing, you are in fact confirming to the sender that your email address is valid and will just draw more garbage.
  23. If you are getting a lot of spam on your corporate network, consider either implementing an in-house spam filtering service, or get an outside service for this. All email will be routed to the filer first, and only messages that pass are then delivered to your inbox.
  24. Don't forward chain letters.  You know, the ones that say "forward this to 5 people and something good will happen to you..."  They are just spam.

 

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