Choosing the Perfect Domain Name

Choosing the Perfect Domain Name

In planning your online presence, the domain name choice is one of the most important decisions you will make, particularly if you will rely on non-internet promotion to drive traffic to your site. If you expect all of your visitors to come to your site by simply clicking a hyperlink from a search engine or from other web sites, your domain name can be about anything; but, if you expect any portion of your audience to manually type the domain name into their browser’s address bar, you’d better choose that domain name carefully.

In essence, your domain name becomes the “brand name” of your web site. Millions of dollars and millions of hours have been devoted to research on effective branding. Most of the results of that research are directly applicable to the choice of internet domain names. Some of the results are even more important for domain names than for consumer product brand names.

A “good” or effective domain name will meet most or all of the following criteria:

A Good Domain Name is Easy to Spell and Pronounce

Avoid the use of words that are either inherently difficult to spell, or that may be spelled in more than one way. You should choose your domain name so that you can speak the name to someone who can then easily type the name into your browser, without your having to spell it out for them.

Some “good” examples: yahoo.com; cnn.com; infoseek.com; excite.com. Even the more unusual of the above examples would be easily typed and typed correctly from the spoken word.

Some “bad” examples: eidos.com; submit-me.net; hisel.com; tanztreff.com; schweizr.com. I don’t know how to pronounce most of these, and I certainly wouldn’t know how to spell them if I heard them pronounced. Hyphenated domain names can be a problem, too. The natural tendency would be to pronounce the name as if it were not hyphenated, so I’d be likely to type submit-me.net as submitme.net unless you made the hyphen explicit. Even if you made it a point to say “submit hyphen me dot net,” you could probably expect at least one person to type it in as “submithyphenme.net.”

I have to pick on myself in this category, too. We own several domain names — some good and some bad. The name of our company is Tintagel Net Solutions Group, Inc., and we’ve always used the domain, tintagel.net. Not only do we have to spell it every single time we give it to someone, but we usually end up spelling it two or three times. We also own perlarchive.com, which for those folks familiar with the Perl programming language isn’t a problem. The problem is that “perl” sounds like “pearl” for those less familiar with the language. We solved (or at least eased) those potential problems by registering tnsgroup.com and pearlarchive.com, too.

A Good Domain Name is Easy to Remember

You want people to visit your web site more than once, don’t you. You’ve got to come up with a distinctive name that’s easy to recall. Many of the other suggestions in this article contribute to making a memorable domain name. Using hyphens and irrelevant number combinations in your domain name don’t help.

A Good Domain Name Invokes Positive Associations

“Cover Girl” makeup, “Irish Spring” soap, “Bounty” paper towels. What these and other brand names have in common is that they invoke in the consumer’s mind positive associations, even when those associations have no direct connection with the product to which they’re attached. Research has shown that individuals process information more completely, remember the information better, and form more positive attitudes when the information is associated with positive, happy images.

Good examples of positive domain names: yahoo.com, islandofgifts.com, alohaprints.com, webolicious.com.

A Good Domain Name Reinforces the Site Concept

Hopefully, the visitor will be able to draw some connection between the name of your site and the content that appears on that site. Consistency between content and name can aid in memory and encourage repeat visits. A domain name that is completely contrary to content can cause dissonance in the visitor’s cognitive processes, and is likely to result in more negative attitudes being formed, unless that contrariness is humorous or ironic in some way.

Good examples: yourdomainhost.com; 3dfxgames.com, perlarchive.com, etoys.com, blackfilm.com, downloads.com, shareware.com.

The Shorter the Better

Everything else being equal, I believe that shorter domain names are better than longer domain names, if for no other reason than the fact that they’re usually easier to spell, and certainly easier to type. The problem is that most of the “good” short names are already taken. It’s my guess that you’d be hard-pressed to find a two-, three-, or four-letter combination that’s not already registered.

Three-letter names seem to be very appealing to a lot of folks, maybe because so many individuals and companies have names that can be initialized into three-letter combinations. We’ve seen some folks try to compensate for the shortage of these domain names by hyphenating between each letter (e.g., a-b-c.com). I think that’s a bad idea for the same reasons described above, and also because I have learned that is physically impossible for me not to type a hyphen after the last letter — I invariably end up typing a-b-c-.com. I think it’s the Gestalt closure principle in action, and I assume others will have the same problem.

Thankfully, the domain name registration system limits our ability to go crazy with long names. Domain names cannot exceed 26 characters in length (including the “.com”). Without that limitation, I have no doubt that the net would be cluttered with domain names like ihaveabeautifulwebsitewontyoucomevisititplease.com.

Good Domain Names are Unique

This one’s getting tougher — it often seems that all the really unique names have been taken. The last thing you want, however, is a domain name that so closely resembles other domain names that your visitors become confused and type in your competition’s URL instead of yours. Distinctiveness also, of course, aids memory.

The distinctiveness issue is the reason that so many consumer products companies “create” brand new words for their brand names — words like Exxon, Xerox, Citgo. Note also that these distinctive made-up words remain easy to pronounce. A domain name like xycjxyk.com is certainly unique, but it is not going to be effective in generating recall or traffic.

Say Something About the Visitor

Coinciding with positive associations reinforcement of the site concept, good domain names often say something positive or unique about the visitor, making the experience and the domain name more personally relevant to the visitor. You might achieve this result by directing the name specifically toward the visitor by incorporating the words “you” or “your” or some variation into the name. Whatuseek.com, for example, tells me that this site exists for me. Other examples: doityourself.com, lovingyou.com, myownemail.com.

Avoid Linguistic Traps

One of the reasons that many companies make up new words for their brands is to avoid the possibility of choosing a word that has potentially negative connotations for in different languages or cultures. One of the more popular urban marketing legends involves Chevrolet’s attempt to sell the Nova automobile in Spanish-speaking countries. One possible interpretation of Nova in Spanish is “it won’t go,” which, of course, would be kind of a bad name for an automobile.

The point is to “step back” from the domain names you’re considering and look at them from as many possible viewpoints as possible. When you’re combining multiple words into one name, play a game to see how many other, unintended words might be picked up from name you’re considering. Consider whether any possible unwanted double entendres might be lurking in the combination. Always consider your target audience and that audience’s likely interpretation of your domain name — some of us still interpret “bad” as the opposite of “good.”

Conclusion

Selecting the right domain name has never been easy, and it’s getting more difficult as the number of registered domains increase. However, it remains one of the most critical decisions you can make.

A good process would be to select a number of possible names and then ask for comments from disinterested third parties. Play the word association game to discover what associations the name invokes and to uncover any unintended meanings or difficulties. Give them a spelling test to see if it meets the easy-to-spell criteria. Ask them what they’d expect to find on the web site.

The choice you make now is a choice you’ll have to live with for a long time to come. Think about it carefully. Spend some time with it. Do some research. A little upfront work will pay big dividends in the future.

Beginner’s Guide to Web Hosting

Beginner’s Guide to Web Hosting

So you want to start your very own website? Are you confused about domains, DNS, VPS and a dozen other abbreviations? Then you’ll like this page!

In this post I am going to walk you through the basics of web hosting, how to start your website the right way and how to move forward promoting your brand new site.

You’ve probably heard of web hosting from time to time and have a very good idea of what web hosting is. Some on the other hand do not and that’s where this guide will come in handy. We’re going to cover what a domain registrar and web host is, the different types of web hosts out there, ways to check out if a host is reputable or not, how to choose domain names, different aspects of a host and a whole lot more.

We’ll start with the basics. If we were to search for the term “web host” on Google, we’d return over 31 Million results. That’s far too many for me to go through. I’m not too sure about you guys. With web hosting being so saturated, meaning there are so many web hosting companies to choose from, it’s hard to determine which are reliable and which aren’t.

Before we get into how to choose a web host or what to look out for, let’s talk about web hosting and try to understand it a bit more. There are several types of website hosting out there and determining which one to pay for can be a bit daunting for some. We’ll start by first understanding what web hosting is, then we’ll talk about each type of web hosting so we can better decide which is best for our needs.

What is a Domain Registrar?

Your domain registrar takes care of actually registering your domain name with ICANN. It’s not free for them to create domain names either. They have to pay an ICANN fee.

There are two types of domain registrars really: ICANN accredited and non ICANN accredited domain registrars. An ICANN accredited registrar is in direct contract with ICANN, while a non-ICANN accredited registrar only resells domains provided by an ICANN accredited registrar.

There are not so many ICANN accredited registrars. One of the biggest retail registrars, Namecheap is also a reseller and not ICANN accredited.

Your web host can be your domain registrar at the same time. I do not recommend that. Your domain name will pile up a lot of branding and authority. You want to have full control of it without a web hosting company requiring you to buy additional services to keep your domain active. It’s much simpler to change a web host later on if necessary.

It’s usually also a lot cheaper to go with a third-party domain registrar. I am in the process of writing a post about the cheapest domain registrars and I will update this post with that reference.

What is Web Hosting?

Web Hosting is a service that enables storage and access of data typically associated with websites on a server or group of servers. That’s a complicated way of saying you can store your website on a web server and your visitors can access it, thanks to your web host.

Another definition is web hosting is the act of hosting HTML documents, PHP documents, ASP and so on, on a dedicated computer that will serve them to anyone that is interested in viewing them. They can do much more than this, but this is just a basic understand so we can move forward into the different kinds of web hosting.

Anyone with an internet connection and the right tools can (theoretically) become a web hosting company. Since the barier for entry is so low, we should be aware of companies that would pose a risk to our website’s long term growth. So if you have an internet connection and you can serve any type of web file for download to the general public, then you could consider yourself a web hosting company.

Now we all know this isn’t a good way to do business. There are millions of companies that pay big bucks to house their servers and equipment in DC’s (Data Centers) that can provide the type of service to those servers that they need to actually be considered worthy of hosting something for web use.

So now we have a basic understanding about what a web host is, let’s take a look at the different types of web hosting services out there today. Many of us will only need one of them, but a few may opt for something more expensive as it will tailor to their needs better then something less expensive.

The Main Types of Web Hosting

There are quite a few different types of web hosts out there today that we can choose from, we’ll explain each one in the order of importance or should I say the needed experience level. We’ll start with the most basic and move up to the most advanced.

  • Free Web Hosting
  • Shared Web Hosting
  • Reseller Web Hosting
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server) Managed
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server) Unmanaged
  • Dedicated Server Managed
  • Cloud
  • Dedicated Server Unmanaged
  • Colocation

There are probably a few that we may be missing, but this is most if not all of them. Now let’s go over each one so we can better understand which would be right for our needs.

If you are just starting out you will probably go for shared web hosting. Imagine a big server with hundreds of small websites put on it. That’s shared hosting: your website shares the resources of a server with a bunch of other clients.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are usually used when a website has grown out shared hosting. This time that big server is divided into bigger chunks. Like instead of a couple hundred, let’s say 4 or 8. You get the idea. The setup is quite different than shared hosting. Usually some kind of virtualization technology is used to create a VPS.

A VPS is a virtual server, so if your website hits heavy traffic, the other sites hosted on that physical server are not affected, and vice-versa.

Dedicated Servers are usually used by enterprises when they are dealing with heavy traffic or in need of heavy computing power. A full server is at the disposal of the client and they can do whatever they want with it.

The newest buzzword is Cloud. The most basic way of looking at cloud is: it’s multiple machines connected together into a big pile of resources (like CPU power, storage space, memory). They are seamlessly connected so you can scale your hosting environment at will and virtually without limit.

This post is a work in progress.

Understanding the Domain Name System

Understanding the Domain Name System

Let’s say you want a domain name — for the purpose of this explanation, we’ll use adomain.com.

Let’s break down what a domain name is first. And to do that, we’ll need to break down and define what a URL is.

URL is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator, which in layman’s terms, means an internet address.

url

In the above diagram, we see that a URL is made up of 3 things:

Protocol

This is the communication method with which one computer speaks to another. Just as we’re using the written English language in this website as our communication method for our visitors, the computer systems that make up the internet have their own “languages”, known as protocols. For example, HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol, which is one of the methods used for computer communication on the world wide web. HTTP is used to transmit web pages or other files to the person requesting them.

Other widely-used internet protocols you may or may not be familiar with are:

  • Usenet: used for newsgroups
  • FTP: File Transfer Protocol – used for uploading and download files.
  • Telnet: used to allow you to directly connect to a defined, specific computer
  • E-mail: uses POP, or Post Office Protocol, to receive mail; and uses SMTP, or Standard Mail Transport Protocol to send mail.

You have accessed this page using HTTP. If you tried to access it with one of these other protocols, it wouldn’t have worked properly, or would have simply failed. (Just try giving someone who doesn’t speak your language directions to the nearest gas station — they’ll wind up out of gas in the middle of the desert.)

Looking at the above diagram, you may be surprised to learn that you already knew what a domain name is, but didn’t know the term. Basically, a domain name is a unique phrase that makes up every WWW and email address… a “mailing address” on the Internet where the “address” is a word or phrase that points to a particular site.

Domain Name

A domain name consists of two parts: the name and the extension. The name is the part that you rack your brain with, trying to come up with a name that is both easy to remember and available. The extension is more correctly referred to as the top-level domain, or TLD. The name is referred to as the second- level domain. It’s possible to have many levels in a domain name. For example, it would be quite common to refer to our example domain name as www.adomain.com. In that example, the www could be called a third-level domain. Or, we could get creative, and define something like files.adomain.com, or secure.adomain.com, or even something like
i.love.my.beautiful.website.at.adomain.com.

There are a several top-level domains available to the general public:

  • .com – generally for commercial purposes
  • .net – typically used for internet service providers
  • .org – generally used for non-profit organizations
  • (country extension) – these will be used more frequently, if not exclusively for new domains in the near future. Why? Because we’re running out of useful names. (How many times have telephone area codes been changed in the last 10 years to accommodate the abundance of new phone numbers requested?) A domain with a country extension will look like Your Domain Host.us (United States), or Your Domain Host.fr (France).Some country code TLDs, like .cc, .to, and .ws, are available to anyone who wants them. Others, like .ca and .br, are only available to citizens of the issuing countried.

There are a few more domain extensions available, but only to applicable institutions. You would need to provide proof of eligibility to use these domain extensions:

  • .edu – used only for accredited educational institutions
  • .gov – used only for United States government departments
  • .mil – used only for the United States military

File Name

A particular page or file that a domain’s web site offers for viewing.

Okay, domain name, I get it… now how can I get one?

The first thing you need to do is select a domain name. It may sound easy, but remember, the internet’s been around for a while now and the name that “pops off the top of your head” may already be taken. You need to do your homework to find out what will work best for you with the domain names that are left. A good idea is to write down several names before you check availability so that you won’t pull out your hair until you after find the last domain name on your list is taken. For some advice on choosing the perfect domain nameCLICK HERE.

Next, you want to take your list of possible domain names and see if they’re available. For 3-letter, top level domains (TLDs) such as .com, .net, and .org, you need to visit a domain name registrar, and check to see if the domain is available. For 2-letter TLDs, you have to visit the appropriate country’s registration agency. You can also fill in and submit the form below.

Check Domain Availability

Once you have established that adomain.com is available, you need a place to put it. A domain host is used for this purpose.

Why do I need a Domain Host and what do they do?

Have you ever seen a URL that looks like http://75.98.175.77?

Well, it may surprise you that 75.98.175.77 is equal to Hosting Manual.net. Currently it’s a shared server so you cannot reach the website through that IP address, but if it was on a dedicated server you could reach it by typing in those numbers.

Those numbers are called IP (Internet Protocol) addresses (commonly called IP numbers). The IP number uniquely identifies the location of your internet files on a particular computer, similar to the way the IRS uses a Social Security number to uniquely identify each American citizen. Using the same analogy, all American citizens also have names (amazing), so according to the government of the United States, a Social Security number is synonymous to a person’s name, but uses the number for identification purposes. (A mere coincidence that the same government that created the Social Security Administration also created the internet? I don’t think so.)

You get that IP number from a domain host. A domain host is a company that has a bank of internet servers (a series of computers with high-speed, 24-hour connections to the internet) and has purchased a block of these identification numbers for distribution. So when you sign up with a domain host, a domain hosting account is set up with your anticipated domain’s name. Your account will have (at the barest minimum): server space for your internet files, the ability to upload and download files to/from your account on that server, access to e-mail, etc., (features vary widely between different domain hosts) and that elusive IP number.

After you have an IP number, it’s time to register your domain. Either you or your domain host will register your domain with a domain name registrar.

After you receive confirmation that your domain is being registered, all that’s left to complete the domain name registration process is sit back and wait the 3-5 business days for InterNIC to correlate your domain name with your IP number. (That part’s easy enough, isn’t it?) In the meantime, you will have access to your domain hosting account (via your IP number) so that you can set up your web site(s).

After your domain is registered, you’re on the internet with your own domain!

Here’s what happens behind the scenes (totally transparent to you) after you have a registered domain name:

The Domain Name Server (DNS) system kicks in. Every registered domain name is associated with a Domain Name Server (DNS). ISPs and web hosting companies maintain domain name servers that link domain names to their particular server space. In addition, there are 13 or so Zone Name Servers that link every domain name in the world to the appropriate local nameserver. ISPs and web hosts update their name servers as needed to reflect additions and changes to the domain names on their systems. The Zone Name Servers are updated twice a day to accurately map user-friendly Internet addresses to computer-friendly numeric addresses (among other things).

In a nutshell:

  • Domain – HostingManual.net
  • IP# – 75.98.175.77
  • DNS – correlates the Domain and the IP#
Protect your Domain Registration

Protect your Domain Registration

We often get frantic support calls like, “HELP! My web site is completely down!!!” We do a little checking and discover that the web site’s fine, but the problem is that the domain name registration has expired, so the registration agency has disabled the nameserver lookup. In some cases, the registration expired so long ago that the registration has been completely deleted (and in one case, re-registered by a porn site.) This underscores the importance of checking your web site frequently even if you haven’t made any changes to it lately. We do not monitor the status of your domain name registration.

This problem is almost always caused by invalid contact e-mail addresses in the domain name record. Most registration agencies send renewal notices via e-mail to the billing contact and/or the administrative contact associated with the domain name. If those e-mail addresses are no longer valid, you won’t get the renewal notice, your domain registration will expire, and your domain name will be “turned off”. In some cases, you may even lose your rights to the domain name entirely.

Don’t let this happen to you. Check the information associated with your domain name to make sure that all the information is still valid. If it’s not, change it. You can view your domain name record by using the WHOIS lookup of just about any domain registrar (e.g., CLICK HERE to look up your domain name using  our cross registrar domain name checker.

Free Domain Name Registration

Don’t forget — you may be eligible for free domain name registration of domains hosted certain web hosts. CLICK HERE for the details of that.

If you already have hosting and don’t have free registration, you can still take advantage of cheap registration rates some registrars offer.

Free Domain Name Registration and Renewals

If you’ve already taken advantage of a free registration offer, please remember that companies do not actively monitor those registrations for renewal. You must explicitly request them to renew the registration for you.

For qualifying accounts, follow the instructions posted here to submit your renewal request. If you do not make this request, your registration will expire and your domain name will be disabled. If you do not qualify for free renewal, follow the instructions contained in your renewal notice to purchase renewal for your domain name.

Please note that if you don’t turn on automatic renewal, companies do not monitor the status of your domain registration. Even if your domain name expires (or is deleted and/or re-registered by someone else), hosting services are still provided, active (by IP number), and billable.

Beware of Bogus Renewal Scams

Several domain registrars are targeting unsuspecting domain owners with domain expiration notices disguised as renewal invoices or as official government notices. These bogus “invoices”, sent by postal mail and/or e-mail , are in fact solicitations to transfer your domain away from your current registrar, which is likely to result in a significantly higher cost with no additional benefit.

Pay close attention to any domain renewal notices or invoices you may receive to ensure that they’re from the actual registrar of your domain name.

How to Reduce Spam?

How to Reduce Spam?

Unfortunately, it appears that the problem of spam is here to stay. As if that thought’s not bad enough, the volume and the offensive nature of this questionable practice seems to be increasing at an exponential rate. We receive a lot of questions about this problem and its solution. The short answer is that there probably is no 100% fool-proof solution, but implementing the suggestions that appear below can help to reduce it.

  • Never publish your e-mail address on your web site

The primary way that spammers obtain your e-mail address is through the use of spambots, or spiders, that scour the web searching for the @ sign — the telltale indicator of an e-mail address. These spiders search the source code of your page and harvest everything that looks like it might be an e-mail address. The only way to avoid having your address harvested in this way is not to publish it there in the first place.

Of course, you probably do want potential customers and other visitors to be able to contact you. At first glance, the suggestion not to publish your e-mail address might seem self-defeating, but there is an alternative …

  • Use Mail Forms Instead of Mailto Links to Provide a Contact Method

CGIEmail is a powerful, yet easy-to-use mail form processor that’s installed free on all of our accounts. In addition to thwarting the spambots, CGIEmail allows you to require certain information from your correspondents and it provides formatting options for incoming e-mail.

Instructions for configuring and using CGIEmail are available in the Hosting Manual at http://www.hostingmanual.net/cgi/cgiemail.shtml

  • Disable catch-all mail forwarding

Spammers often send their junk to random addresses at your domain. With catch-all aliasing enabled, all of this spam is delivered to your default catch-all account. If you disable the catch-all feature, spam addressed to random, non-active e-mail addresses will simply be deleted before it reaches your account. If you do choose to disable catch-all forwarding, be sure that you have created an e-mail user account or e-mail forward for all of the addresses that you do want to receive incoming e-mail.

  • Never follow the “unsubscribe instructions” contained in a spam e-mail.

… unless you specifically recognize that you voluntarily subscribed to the list in the first place. Spammers often use bogus “unsubscribe instructions” to verify that your e-mail address is working. Following these bogus instructions will most likely result in your e-mail address being added to even more spam lists.

  • Don’t forward chain-letters, virus warnings, etc.

Most chain letters and virus warnings that you receive by e-mail are either hoaxes, or they are initiated by spam houses for the intent of getting every email address you know. Chain letters spread like wildfire and always tend to end up right back at the spam house, with the email address of everyone it was sent to. Before you take any action regarding an unsolicited virus warning, check the validity of the warning at http://www.sarc.com/. We’ve never received a virus warning by e-mail that didn’t turn out to be a hoax; and many of these hoaxes advise you to delete key system files that will end up damaging your computer (and the computers of all your friends that you forwarded the bogus warning to.)

  • Use POP E-mail Accounts & E-Mail Fowarding Creatively

Another popular way of harvesting e-mail addresses is through your own correspondence. Every time you purchase something online or e-mail a company or organization, your e-mail address is available for addition to a mailing list. Don’t put too much faith in the privacy statements of web sites that you don’t have experience with. Spammers make their living by theft and deception — they’re certainly not beyond providing false information in their privacy statements.

All of our accounts come with free e-mail forwarding and free additional POP e-mail accounts. You can use these features to your advantage in your fight against spam:

First, create a new POP user just for the purpose of collecting spam. We named one of ours unused@tintagel.net, but you can call yours anything you want — you’re never going to use it for anything but collecting spam, anyway.

Now, take a look at the spam you’re receiving and notice the address it’s being sent to. In many cases, spammers grab your domain name and just make up addresses to attach to it. When you notice spam addressed to an e-mail address that you do not need for regular business or personal use, create an e-mail forward that redirects mail sent to that address to the spam-catching POP account you created in the preceding step.

The spammers often harvest addresses from the domain name WHOIS system, grabbing your administrative, billing, and technical contact e-mail addresses to add to their lists. Use a unique e-mail forward for your contact information, and when the spam begins to arrive at that address, change your domain name record to reflect a new forwarded address, and redirect the old address to the spam-catcher POP.

Whenever you order a product or service online, create a unique e-mail forward for the company you’re ordering from. For example, if you’re ordering a CD from amazon.com, use amazon@yourdomainname.com when you register with them (don’t forget to replace yourdomainname.com with your actual domain name; and don’t forget to create an e-mail forward to deliver mail to a valid POP account.) This approach provides two benefits: 1) it allows you to redirect that address to your spam-catcher if you start receiving spam; and 2) it will let you know who’s selling your personal information to spammers — you can then decide whether those companies are deserving of your trust and future business.

[NOTE: Eventually, your spam-catcher POP account will fill up and exceed its 10 MB quota. When this happens, e-mail that’s sent to that POP account will begin “bouncing back” with an error message to the sender. Don’t worry about that — it won’t hurt anything. If the spammers actually provide a valid return address (which almost none do), the bounce will serve as notice that you’re not accepting their mail.]

  • Use Spam-Filtering Software

Your Domain Host accounts include free SpamAssassin spam-filtering software, which can be configured by individual users through the webmail interface (www.yourdomainname.com/webmail/).

  • Use an External Spam-Filtering Service

Several services are now available that will filter your e-mail for you (for a fee). Most of them allow you to set up a “whitelist” of all addresses that you want delivered automatically. Senders that do not appear on your “whitelist” are sent an automatic response informing them that they have to log in at the service’s web site and “prove” that they’re a human and not a spambot. If the sender complies, the mail is delivered (and you then have the opportunity to add the sender to a blacklist if you no longer want to receive mail from that sender.

These services are very effective at blocking spam. The downside is that it does result in some inconvenience to your correspondents.

The most popular spam-filtering service is: Spamassassin.apache.org

Protect Yourself Against Viruses and Worms

Protect Yourself Against Viruses and Worms

A new breed of viruses is rapidly spreading across the Internet. Many of these viruses and worms appear as deceptively-innocent e-mails, which accounts for their rapid spread. In addition to the damage they do to individual computers and networks, they also overload mail servers and networks, which can cause delays and other problem with normal e-mail delivery. You can protect yourself (and the rest of the Internet community) by following a few simple rules:

  • NEVER open any file attached to an e-mail from an unknown, suspicious or untrustworthy source.
  • NEVER open any file attached to an e-mail unless you know exactly what it is even if it appears to come from a friend or someone you know.
  • Install and run a good anti-virus software, and update the anti-virus files regularly.
  • Make sure that your e-mail client is up-to-date and set to high security.
  • Make sure that your operating system is regularly updated.
  • Avoid downloading files you can’t be sure are safe. This includes freeware, screensavers, games, and any other executable program. Scan the programs that you do download with your anti-virus software before executing or installing them.

Three of the more common worms in current circulation (at the time of the post) are the W32.Mimail.A@mm worm, the W32.Dumaru@mm worm, and the W32.Mydoom.A@mm worm. These worms are delivered with attachments and one of the following (or similar) subject lines:

  • Use this patch immediately!
  • Your account
  • test
  • hi
  • hello
  • Mail Delivery System
  • Mail Transaction Failed
  • Server Report
  • Status
  • Error

For more information, see the following: