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Learn How to Open Email Attachments Safely

written by: Bruce Tyson•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 7/7/2011

Learn and start using these best practices for opening email attachments. These simple steps can prevent you from launching an email virus or other malware on your computer.

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    About Email

    Email attachments are a convenient way to transfer files to someone else but they can be dangerous if they are sent with malicious Crystal Clear app email intent. Executable files that are contaminated with viruses, script files, keyboard loggers, and advertising bots are just a few things that can come into your system through an email attachment if you aren't careful.

    An awareness of the fact that email attachments are a threat to your computer is the first step toward learning to handle them properly. Fortunately, there are some other measures that you can take as part of the best practice opening attachments from email that will help you safely enjoy the benefits and flexibility that email attachments represent.

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/CyberSkull

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    Effective Email Attachment Management

    The following are some of the best practices to use when opening a file that is attached to an email.

    1. Install an antivirus program that scans email attachments. Programs like AVG and Norton Internet Security are good options, but there are others out there. Be sure to read some reviews and pick out the program that seems like the best fit for you.

    2. Enable your spam filter. A lot of the time people malicious email attachments come from people you don't know, meaning that spam is a major culprit when it comes to email attachment problems. When you set spam options on your email client, you can automatically eliminate a large portion of the risk.

    3. Disable automatically executing attachments. Email clients like Microsoft Outlook are effective at preventing delivery of executable attachments. Although this could be inconvenient at times, resist the urge to unblock these attachments.

    4. File and discard email clients. Attachments take up space on your hard drive even if you leave them inside your email client. When you open an email attachment, decide whether you need it or not. If you do, save it to a relevant folder on your hard drive. Afterwards, delete the email and/or the attachment so you don't needlessly clutter up your email.

    5. Automate attachment management. Utilities are available that will automatically handle the management of your email attachments. Add-ins for Microsoft Outlook, Gmail and other email clients are available that make it easier to automatically process and store your files.

    6. Use compression. Save space in your sent mail folder and help get your email attachments through destination firewalls by using file compression utilities like. You can use utilities such as WinZip, WinRAR, etc. to shrink your files and give them a different extension (.zip, .rar, etc.) so they get to their destination quickly and intact. Compression is especially helpful when emailing multiple files by combining them into one for transit. This can make it easier for recipients to keep all the files together when saved to their hard drive.

    Use these best practices for opening attachments from email to help keep your computer safe and your attachments organized.