Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How To Set An Automatic Webmail ‘I’m Away’ Response

You have probably seen one of these: you send someone an e-mail, and later, in your Inbox you see their reply. So you open it and it says, “I’m on vacation. Quit bugging me!”

Okay. Maybe not those words. Exactly. But you know what I am describing. Right? It’s an e-mail feature called ‘vacation responder‘ (aka “I’m out of the office”).

If you go on vacation (or otherwise won’t have Internet access for a while) and you have a vacation responder turned on, an automatic reply – with a message you’ve pre-typed (you do not have to say “Quit bugging me!”) – will be sent automatically to the Sender letting them know you will get back to them, just not right away. When you get back online again, you simply turn it off again.

Find the Webmail you use from the list below.

* Gmail
Here’s how to let people know you can’t respond right away:

  1. Sign in to Gmail.
  2. Click Settings along the top of any Gmail page.
  3. From the General tab, select Vacation responder on in the Vacation responder: section.
  4. Enter the subject and body of your message in the Subject: and Message: fields.
    • If you’ve enabled a personalized signature in your settings, Gmail will automatically append it to the bottom of your vacation response.
  5. Check the box next to Only send a response to people in my Contacts if you don’t want everyone who emails you to know that you’re away from your mail.
  6. Click Save Changes.

* Hotmail
To make Windows Live Hotmail reply to incoming emails in your absence:

  • Select Options | More options… from the Windows Live Hotmail toolbar.
  • Follow the Sending automated vacation replies link under Managing your account.
  • Make sure Send vacation replies to people who email me is selected.
  • Type your desired out-of-office message under Enter the message you’d like to send while you’re away:.
    • Possibly include approximate info on when you will be able to reply personally.
    • Who to contact in the meantime or an alternative way of reaching you might also be appropriate.
    • In general, keep the message simple. Something like “I’m currently unable to read my mail, sorry! Come February, I’ll get back to you. In the meantime, you can…” shall do.
    • The subject Windows Live Hotmail uses for automatic replies is “Vacation reply”, by the way.
  • If you frequently get mail from people not yet in your Windows Live Hotmail address book, make sure Only reply to your contacts is not checked.
  • Click Save.

* Yahoo! Mail/Earthlink/Mindspring
To set a vacation response:

  1. Click Options in the upper-right corner of your Mail page. Then select Mail Options…
  2. From the list on the left, click Vacation Response.
  3. Check the box that says Enable auto-response during your vacation.
  4. Select start and end dates for your trip.
  5. Enter the day your vacation will start in the “”Auto-respond from”” field and the day it will end in the “”up until (and including)”” field.
  6. Enter a Generic Response. It can be up to ten lines.
  7. When you are finished writing your Generic Response, click Save Changes located near the upper-left corner of the page.

* AOL
AOL WebMail allows you to setup an away message, that will auto-reply with a custom message or a pre-set message that you choose, when you are away. This is extremely useful if you are on vacation and need to reply to someone who might email you.

1. Click the Settings link, located at the upper right of your AOL WebMail inbox.
2. Click the General link, located in the left panel.
3. In the Mail Away Message section, click the drop-down menu and select an appropriate away message. If you select Custom type your own personal away message in the text box provided.
4. Click Save.

[Note: if your webmail service is not listed here, don’t worry. The method is the same. Look for a “settings”, “options”, or “preferences” menu (those are all the same things, btw.).]

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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November 16, 2010 Posted by | computers, e-mail, how to, Internet, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Protect Your Privacy Online

I have posted several advice articles on computing safety in the past, and I cannot emphasize enough that there are steps you can — and should — take to reduce your risks of Identity Theft and spyware infections.

I have posted these steps for you to take advantage of (free), and I will continue to do so. I encourage you to use my “Search box” widget, or Categories, to find and read past Tech–for Everyone security articles.

Tip of the day: Increase your security and privacy by removing your browsing tracks. All browsers record histories, store copies of the webpages you’ve visited, and to be helpful, store your log on User Names and Passwords, and the answers to forms you’ve filled out. Your machine is programmed to be as fast, efficient, and helpful as it can, and it takes steps you may not be aware of to do this.

For example, your browser will store a “temp” copy of this Webpage in one of many “temporary” folders, and make a note of the time. This is done so that should you return to Tech–for Everyone, your machine can load it from local memory– which is much faster than downloading HTML instructions, text, and graphics and building the page.

Your computer uses the timestamps to determine if there’s been changes to the “source” page, and if there has been, it will download the newer page ‘elements’. This helps to give you the illusion of a “fast Internet”.

Other automatic conveniences that record your personal information are Autocomplete, Autofill, and AutoLogon. This is usually accomplished through the use of cookies. (In spite of what you may have heard, all “cookies” are not “bad”.) Hackers know where to look for all this stored information, and they know how to exploit it. Today I am going to show you how to counteract, and change some of this automatic behavior and help you keep your privacy, well, private.

Start by opening IE and clicking on the down-arrow to the right of the Tools menu and selecting Internet Options. (Loyal readers of this blog will already be familiar with this window.)
iops.jpg

In the “Browsing History” area, click on the “Delete” button. Now a menu window will open…deletehist.jpg
Here you are presented with your choices of what to erase (or to “delete all”) and what not. I recommend getting into the habit of regularly clicking on the first, third, and fourth delete buttons — Temp files, History, and Form data.
[note: Form data is particularly important to erase if you have made an online payment, and/or entered your credit card number. Even if you did so on a Secured site.]

Firefox users can set this to be done automatically each time you end your browser session. Click on “Tools” > “Options” and select the Privacy tab.
ff_opts

Sadly, there is no method to set IE to do this automatically for you (you would need a 3rd party utility for that…see today’s free link) and you must remember to this manually.

You can, however, set IE to erase the “temp” files automatically. Click on the Advanced tab of Internet Options, and scroll down to the Security list of settings. Place a check (select) in the checkbox next to “Empty Temporary Internet files when browser is closed”, as shown below. Then click “Apply”, and “OK”.
advnced.jpg

Today’s free link: the tool I use to erase the digital breadcrumbs on my machines is Absolute Shield Internet Eraser. From site: “AbsoluteShield Internet Eraser protects your privacy by cleaning up all the tracks of your Internet and computer activities. The tool is integrated with IE and it can erase the browser cache, history, cookies, typed URLs, autocomplete list and so on in one click. You can also set the tool to automatically erase those tracks when you quit IE or quit Windows.”

[note: several utility programs have a tracks eraser feature, and so you may have this already… such as if you have Glary Utilities, or CCleaner.]

* Original posting: IE 7 and your privacy, 7/8/07.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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November 6, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

How To Use Windows Backup Tool

Wizard Automatically Copies Your Daily Changes

You’ve all heard it; you can’t say you haven’t been told, can you? You want to back up your data. A back up copy of your music, pictures, records, and correspondence [your memories] can be a lifesaver (well…maybe not a life-saver, but how about a tears and sorrow-saver?).

In my previous article on defragmentation, I showed you how to use Windows’ built-in Task Scheduler to solve the problem of file fragmentation using a ”set it and forget it” method. Today I’m going to show you how to use basically the same tool to create a backup of your system, for use as a means of recovering from a “really bad” glitch.

Tip of the day: If you follow the steps I outline next, you will set up an initial system backup, and then, and this is the best part, Windows will each night make a backup of any changes and additions you’ve made during the day– automatically.

[note: One thing you should know before we begin is, it is pretty important that you store this back up copy some place other than your Windows drive (usually, your “c: drive”). This can be on another “partition” on your hard drive (not so good), or on a seperate hard drive — such as a “storage drive” attached to your machine with a USB cable, or a network drive (best). For this example, we will use an USB-attached drive identified by Windows as “e: drive”.

If you do not have another partition or attached storage available, you can use the first steps of this article to create a system backup, and then use a utility like WinZip or WinRAR to make CD (or, better, DVD)-sized subdivisions which you can burn to disc(s), after that, make a routine of monthly (or more often) backups of your My Documents folder to disk as well.]

Step#1: open the Windows Backup utility by clicking Start >Programs >Accessories >System tools >Backup. A window will open welcoming you to the Backup Wizard.
* Click “Next” and it asks if you want to make a backup (default) or restore from a back; we’re making a backup so click next.
* Now we’re asked what we want to back up, and here you want the bottom option, “Let me choose what to back up”. Click “Next” again.
* On the next screen, expand the My Computer on the left-hand panel, as shown below.
backup1.jpg

Look to the left-pane again and you will see that I have placed a check in the box next to Local Disk (C:) [my hard drive] and System State. That causes all the other checks to appear. That’s what we want, so now you do it — click on the plus sign next to My Computer, and then click inside the Local Disk and the System State boxes. Now click next.

* Now we’re asked which location you want to store the backup copy at. Click on the browse button and navigate to the (hypothetical) (E:) drive (your actual location will vary). The default file name is acceptable, so hit next.
* Follow the Wizard all the way through the next few “next” buttons until you get to Finish, and you’re done with Step 1.

You now have a copy of your whole computer that you can use to restore it to this moment in time, should disaster strike…or should you buy a larger hard drive as a replacement, load the new drive with your settings and data.
[note: It is a very good idea to also burn this to disc(s). Use a zip program, in conjuction with your burning software, to get the Backup.bkp onto your CD’s or DVD’s]

Step #2: Here’s where we use launch the Backup Wizard again and this time use the Advanced Mode to schedule an automatic daily “incremental” back up. An incremental backup will look at your files and folders and make a copy only of the new, or modified files you added since the last incremental backup. In this way, you’ll always have a complete copy of your present set up ready to come to your rescue should you ever need it.

To begin, once again open Windows Backup, Start >Programs >Accessories >System Tools >Backup, and this time click on the blue link that says “Advanced Mode” when the Welcome window appears.
* Then click Next, and then click on the top button of the new Backup Wizard Advanced Mode page, the one that says “Backup Wizard (Advanced)”. Then click Next.
* Now choose the middle radio button, on the What to back up page, that says, “back up selected files, drives, or network data” and click Next.
Here again you want to expand My Computer and check Local Disk and System State. Click Next, and again navigate to (hypothetical) drive “e:” and click next again.

Now you’re on the “Completing” page but do not click “Finished” just yet; instead click on the Advanced button. Now you’ll see the Type of backup (By default it will say “Normal”) page — use the drop-down arrow to set it to “Incremental” and hit next. Put a check in the checkbox marked “Verify data after back up” and hit Next. Leave the radio button on “Append this data to existing backups” and hit Next.

Now we set the schedule. Select the radio button labeled “Later” and the schedule windows will activate. Give the “job” a title, like ‘daily’, and click the Set a schedule button.

backup2.jpg

Set it to Daily, and set a time that won’t interfere with your using the computer…say during your lunch hour. Click on the OK button and a “run as” window will open. Make sure the user name is an account that runs as an Administrator, and give this job a password (and ‘confirm’). Hit next. Verify, and hit Finish.

Done!

I realize that this may seem like a daunting number of complicated steps, but really all you’re doing is following a wizard. Once you’ve done this process though, you can rest in the comfort of knowing that there is an up-to-date copy of all your important files and folders available to you in case of digital dire straights. If you’ve ever had to wipe a hard drive and reinstall Windows, you’d know just how valuable a backup like this can be!

Today’s free link: I have located a Startup Manager that passes muster, which I added as an update to my “answers” article, and will repeat here in case you missed it. Ashampoo StartUp Tuner 2

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 28, 2008 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, file system, how to, PC, storage, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments