Email has completely changed the way people do business. It’s become an integral part of daily communication. But like any other technology, there are frustrations that can come along with email.
One of the biggest frustrations people have with email is SPAM, or junkmail. There are several things you can do to protect yourself from getting bombarded by spam:
- Create a junk email account that you use for day to day transactions, rather than using your business email address. There are tons of free email solutions out there such as gmail, yahoo and hotmail that work great for this. Every time you give out your email address online, you risk getting added to a junkmail list, so by using a “junk” email account, you can check it only when you need to and expect it to get junk.
- Don’t list your email address on websites. It’s common to find people listing their email address on their website. The problem is there are email harvesting programs out there that look for these addresses and add them to spam lists. You are better off having a contact form that doesn’t expose your email address.
- If you use an an email program such as Outlook, configure it to not automatically download images in emails. By viewing emails in spam messages, it can indicate to the person who sent it that your address is indeed an active account and then they will add your address to their spam lists. If you turn images off, you can always right-click on an email and turn on images for that particular email if you want to.
Combating Spam you Already Have
So maybe you have started doing some things to protect yourself from getting more spam, but you are already getting tons of it. What can you do? This is a huge problem for a lot of people. Unfortunately the people sending out spam are quite crafty, and built in spam protection programs are not always enough to stop it all. It often requires a multi technique approach to seriously reduce spam. Here are a few things you can do to block spam.
- Use an email program with a bayesian spam filter such as Microsoft Outlook or the free Mozilla Thunderbird. Outlook Express does NOT offer bayesian filtering.
- Turn on any spam filtering that your webhost provides. A common program used by web hosts is called Spam Assassin, and you can configure it in many ways to effectively block spam, although this in itself will usually not catch all spam. Sometimes increasing the aggressiveness of Spam Assassin can greatly reduce your spam, but the more aggressive you go, the higher chance there is of misidentifying emails as spam when they are indeed legitimate. For this reason make sure your spam goes to a designated folder that you can occasionally check. Using this method combined with a bayesian filter should take care of a large majority of the spam you get.
- Completed these things and you are still getting a ton of spam? You may need to take a more drastic step to filter out spam. There are many spam filtering services out there, but one free technique that works very well and is to forward your email to a Gmail account and then configure your email program to check your Gmail account using POP3. This way Gmail will filter out all your junkmail for you. You can continue to use your email program just as always and still give out the same email address to people you always have, but you won’t get all the spam. If you need access to webmail, you will need to use Gmail’s webmail interface rather than the webmail provided by your web host. Here are the steps in detail on how to do this:
- Create a Gmail account here.
- Contact your current email provider to forward your email to your new Gmail account.
- Setup Gmail to enable POP download. Log into your account and click the “Settings” link at the top and then click on the “Forwarding and POP” tab. Check off “Enable POP only for mail that arrives from now on” and configure whether you want gmail to keep a copy of your emails or delete them once you download them to your email program. They provide instructions on how to configure your email program to check your Gmail account.
- Change your Outlook (or other email program) account settings to now check your Gmail
- That’s it! One thing to note: If you reply to an email using Outlook, make sure you change the account you are sending the email from, or you will by default send it from your Gmail account. This is only annoying if you don’t want people to ever see your gmail account.
- ONE STEP FURTHER: If you want emails sent from Gmail’s webmail interface to always look like they came from your domain rather than your gmail account, you’ll need to go into Gmail’s settings again and configure “Accounts” and add your domain’s email address there. Gmail will send a verification email to your domain’s address to verify you own it – just click the link to approve that request when you get the email and that’s taken care of. You can then set that account to be your default account for sending emails in Gmail from now on.