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Use Email Auto-Replies With Caution

If you are going to be away from your computer, you can set up your email program to automatically reply to incoming emails with a message explaining that you are absent. These "Out-Of-Office" or "Vacation" replies can be a good way to let customers and friends know that you have received their message but will not be able to answer immediately. However, some caution is required when configuring your automatic replies: Thus, wherever possible, you should place controls on who gets your auto reply emails and make sure that each recipient only receives one reply. For personal vacation messages you could ensure that replies are only sent to specified addresses such as those listed in your personal address book. For business "Out-Of-Office" messages, you could make sure that replies are not sent to messages diverted to your "Spam" folder. Email filters can be setup in such a way that replies are only sent to messages matching particular criteria.

There is a number of good auto-reply managers available that can work in conjunction with your email program and help you deal with the above issues. Reviews of several such programs are included on and a Google search will reveal many more.

Last updated: 24th May 2007
First published: 24th May 2007

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen