Bossing You Email
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Be The Boss Of Your E-Mail

Unwanted junk email (Spam) and virus attacks means keeping in control of your email system is fast becoming an important issue. Short of telepathy email is the most powerful form of communication. Losing its advantages is simply not an option in this day and age. Everyone should take the effort to read up on their email software. For example effective use of filters can make, or break an email package.

Below are some notes and pointers to help you get the best from your email experience. Please take the time to engage all points mentioned.

Understand your email: Email is based on 3 main issues. Your username and password. Your incoming email server address (pop3 server). Your outgoing server (SMTP server). The POP3 server can be used on any ISP, so you can collect your email from anywhere if you know the accounts information (username and password). Your outgoing (SMTP) server is linked to the ISP. If you dial into a different ISP your email software needs to know the SMTP server for that ISP. This 'limit' is designed to restrict the sending of spam.

Manage your email: Read up and fully understand the filter system provided by your email software. Filter systems might be called message managers, message rules or something similar. Their use is the same. Create filters for family members, friends and other useful contacts, or groups. When an email comes from a filtered person, email address, or subject then the email gets filed into another folder, which is easier to understand. You can see how to filter the "Field Track User Club" with Outlook Express at: which will give you an idea what you can do.

Manage your messages: Use the Read/Unread state of a message to keep you informed. Outlook Express' default setting is to mark a message read after 5 seconds. Switch it off! Only mark a message read manually, or at least extend the time. Imagine you read a message but decide to do something about it later. How will you find it, or be aware of it in a few days? I would suggest that you manually mark a message read, or delete read messages of little value. Those left unread will thus be better highlighted when you return to your email software later. Do not leave 100's of unread messages. Messages can soon get lost in the chaff. If you return to your email and it has far too many unread emails, how will you notice the new important ones? If it has all got on top of you, mark the lot read and have a clean slate. Never let your email software beat you into a corner. If it has done so, clear the system. Mark everything read. Delete some, or move them to another folder. Manage it properly and it will reward you. Never delete to many. Emails can be handy to search for at a later stage. The "Field Track User Club" can be very useful having a lot of informative emails that can be reviewed and searched at a later stage. Use the display/view options in your email software to sort emails in a specific order (date). Use the option to only view unread messages, etc. Check your email regularly. It is better to read and keep informed daily more than weekly and monthly. Check your email at least once a day. Reading 20 emails once a week is harder than reading 2/day. Be the boss of your email, or lose it's function.

Subscribe to a good virus alert email service. Create a folder and filter emails from it to this folder. Unless you get an email from them warning of a potential virus disregard all others. Especially those that tell you to tell all your friends. One service is:
but there are other. Your Anti Virus software creators will provide such a service - use it and never believe an email about a virus that you have not confirmed first. A valid virus warning can be confirmed, as can a hoax. They also never instruct you to 'email all your friends'. If in doubt go to and do a search both on the "Web" and through "Groups" with relevant text and see what comes back.

Always be sure your Anti Virus system is up to date before opening any attachment. New viruses and trojans in things like Outlook Express do not even need you to open the email - simply looking at it can infect your system. The same goes for some spam and HTML emails, as the message can sometimes need to dial out to collect a picture (or virus) and thus they can log that you read the email.

If you use Outlook Express (OE) for email, I'd strongly suggest you replace it with something else, or keep it up to date - the easiest option is to use something else.

I use the email software The Bat! (
), however a very similar application called Fox Mail ( is free and works about the same. You could also try the free Thunderbird. Do a search for email software at, as there are a few good email packages available. Some free and some for a small fee. Try a few. The basics of good email is that it never dials out and limits what you can do with attachments. This gives you a little time to consider your actions and check for viruses. There are many email packages out there, so check them out and see which one you prefer. AOL users do not need email software, as it is part of the AOL 'package'. Email is a central communications system and is worth finding the right tool, paying for it and understanding how to get the best from it.

With recent spam/virus email sending a 150Kb file your email system can very quickly become clogged up. The solution here is to set up filters in your email software to delete these types of messages from your pop3 server, so you never have to waste time downloading them. OE is a little limited in this area, however the downside to setting up such drastic filters is you could delete a message you wanted and simply never see. Accessing your POP3 server directly and combining this function with good filters means you will remain on top of any email attacks. Both The Bat! and Fox Mail can access your pop3 server directly and you can double check if you want to download a message, or not. If you use other email software then you may need to install and use something like Mailwasher (

When online your computer can also be open to attack, thus the need for a firewall system, so you can decide what you allow in and/or out of your computer system. A good one is Kerio's personal firewall ()
, however there are a few free firewall systems. Anti-Hacker, though not free, looks quite good:

A firewall can be a difficult subject to understand but it's function is quite simple. It checks everything going into, or out of your computer. If in doubt you deny its action. Common programs like your email software will want constant access and these can be given rules, so the firewall never ask again. A firewall will stop someone trying to attack your machine while connected to the Internet, as well as, stop viruses and like getting out of your machine onto the Internet. There is a user involvement with a tool like this, which sometimes presents the difficultly and confusion, not to mention the constant queries. The questions lesson, however do not be dissuaded from using a good firewall, it is a requirement these days - like safe sex!

A good system starts with a good, up to date Anti Virus system, however these can slow a machine down and need to be kept up to date. Even then a virus can exist before an AV system is updated. I personally don't like AV systems running all the time and can't always find the time to update the thing. For this reason I always recommend and use a second line of defense after a little common sense - your email software. Use, or buy a good one.

Always have a firewall running and understand it, as best you can.

A useful site to check your firewall is
. Many free tools are available directly from: Use all you can at this resource, as there are a few tools that will clean up your system in relation to your life online.

Use something like Mail Washer (or good email software) that gives you better access to your email server(s). You never know when you might need to access it to delete emails instead of having to download a load of rubbish.

Check your system for 'spyware' and the like picked up through email, or more likely the Internet. Something like Ad Aware from

The latest version offers a useful update system and for personal use is free. It checks your system for little bits of code/registry entries and the like and allows you to clear them. Very useful.

·Up to date Anti Virus system.  
·Better informed about new viruses.  
·Good email software/Useful spam filter system.  
·Computer protected by a firewall.  
·Tools to check for 'Spyware'.  
·Check for Windows (OS) security updates/patches.  

With the right tools you'll not be caught out and it may limit the amount of time you spend fixing your system, or watching everything is doing it's job.

You can't rely on your AV system alone these days and I always recommend good email software as a matter of course.

Operating systems like XP also have some issues regarding firewalls and virus attacks. Keep popping to
and following links to "Shields Up", as you'll be able to test your computer's Internet security, as well as download useful free programs that will close a few possible issues with your computer. This is a very good site and may include some semi heavy reading but to at least cover some of it in stages is a major step forward. Sadly the days where you simply switch a computer on and do your business has long gone. The time has arrived when you have to take an active interest in protecting yourself to maintain an effective communications system - there's no 'get out of jail' card here! It is time to take an active roll in protecting your computer and reduce the potential for major problems. Losing your ability to use and enjoy email, as a form of communication, is simply not an option.