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About Email Addresses, Clients, and Publication


Should I use generic E-mail address for my company, or individual E-mail addresses for each employee? Should I use Outlook or a Web-based client?


Some companies prefer E-mail to come to a central point, where it can be logged, distributed, and replied to in case the intended recipient is unavailable. Also, with this system, the company knows what is going on, whereas sometimes an individual may not communicate all his or her E-mails. This is becoming more of a problem now that many types of devices can be used to send and receive E-mails, outside of the company's traditional network architecture.

E-Mail via Website Forms

Most commonly, E-mail is initiated from a website, via a website form and a FormMail CGI/PHP script, but this requires management [on our part] to monitor the spam and the spam bots and the 14 year old hackers.

We would like to avoid putting a form on the website because it is more fiddling about

... and the management [of website forms] is becoming an issue. We need to write a more light-weight script that puts the onus of spam management on the customer. Captcha scripts are being commonly deployed, but they are fiddly to implement, and customers do not like them.

The main advantage of a website form is that then we do not need to make any E-mail address visible on a website, even if cloaked, and should the form recipient address be compromised, it can be easily changed, without adverse impact on company communications.

Publishing E-mail addresses on Websites

If we do publish E-mail addresses, THEY MUST BE CLOAKED, so that they do not appear in plain text within the website. Failure to do this means we become a target for E-mail Harvesters, Spam Robots, and the like. An E-mail Account can quickly become unusable, especially if using a client like Outlook, on account of the many hundreds of spams we receive, and also the large number we can 'send' when our published E-mail addresses are spoofed (forged and used to send out tens of thousands of spam messages) and bounce back to us.

Reading E-mails - PC vs. Web-based Clients

As for reading E-mails, personally, we would always use the ISP [Skymarket, AT&T, etc] Webmail interface because we can easily set up multiple identities, we are far less likely to get viruses, or have trojans stealing our address book and documents, and can get our E-mail easily even if our PC crashes.

Most Webmail clients work ok on mobile platforms, once you figure the screen widths.

Alternatively, E-mails can be forwarded to Hotmail et al, which does a lot of spam filtering for you. There is no security issue really, since Microsoft can already read all your E-mail and documents, at the NSA's insistence, and the security services already keep copies of every communication. Which is why German Security forbade use of Microsoft Windows on any Government computer.

A case in point - Microsoft Outlook, scurge of the I.T. Support world

With regards to Microsoft Outlook, it is the most common application to;

a) seriously malfunction
b) become bloated, slowing systems down - people do think it is a database!
c) be hacked, because it is 'smart', has access to all PC data, and hooks into the Windows operating system in unpleasant ways.

When Outlook becomes full, it can simply take so long to load that the system crashes, so you can never correct the problem. When a Webmail account is full, it simply bounces the E-mails, until you go in and delete a few things. Webmail forces you to manage your E-mail, whereas Outlook lets you store Gigabytes of data before unexpectedly crashing.

A very high percentage of support problems center around Microsoft Outlook, and just under that comes Microsoft Exchange Server. The highest number of serious support incidents currently come from Windows Updates. Not running crucial Microsoft software means we can turn off the Windows Update feature.

If you have to use a PC E-mail Client, consider Mozilla Thunderbird, which is free, standards-compliant, more secure, and looks and feels the same as Outlook.