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Frequently Asked Questions  
Frequently Asked Questions.

General Information


What is Self-Destructing ?
Self-Destructing is the most powerful, useful and reliable email tracking service that exists on the Web today. Put simply, Self-Destructing tells you when email you've sent gets read.

Are downloads or plugins required?
No. Self-Destructing already works with almost every email program available.

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Does Self-Destructing do anything else?
Much more! For example, if your email is forwarded to someone else, we can notify you. In many cases, we can tell you how long your recipient actually spent reading your mail, and how many times they opened it and re-read it as well. If your email gets published somewhere without your knowledge, you can usually find this out, and where. We provide a mapping feature so you can find out the approximate physical location of your reader. We also have Self-Destructing Emails, Ensured-Receipt emails, proof-of-posting certificates, proof-of-delivery certificates, message retraction, and many other useful features. Keep exploring this site for more details.

How does it work?
Type your email message as you normally would. Before clicking "Send," append ".self-destructing.com" (or any of a number of variations) to the end of your recipient's email address (i.e., .self-destructing.com). This directs your email through the Self-Destructing servers, where we assign it a tracking code. When your email gets read, the tracking code comes back to our server with the date and time, so we can inform you.

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How will you inform me when my mail arrives?
Several avenues exist:

  • You can log in to this web site (www.self-destructing.com) where you can view a list of your sent emails and the details about when they were read.
  • Optionally, we also can email you this information. All good email programs feature "threading" or "flagging" of read-notifications, so you can tell at a glance which of your sent emails have been read right from within your current favorite email program (see screenshot below).
  • Soon, we will also be able to send an instant alert to your ICQ or an SMS alert to your cell phone or pager the moment your email is opened.

Your own personal web folder on our site lists the trail of every message you register with our service, so you can trace their full history.

Additional features are being added all the time. Please contact us at if you have specific suggestions.

 
Note the "message opened" informational tag on the first sent item in this Microsoft Outlook screenshot.   This example shows Microsoft Outlook's integrated email tracking correctly reporting a Self-Destructing-tracked email.

 

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How does the recipient confirm their reception of my emails, registered with Self-Destructing ?
Normally, this is fully automated. Once your email has been received, you usually receive an acknowledgement response instantly. You can also choose a banner announcement notice that will invite your recipient to acknowledge they read your email. With only one mouse click, they can follow a link to our site which tells them their message status has been confirmed, and that you have received their read response. This way, readers receive notification that you may be waiting for a reply.

Will my recipient know that I am tracking my email?
For every Self-Destructing email you send, you will be able to decide whether or not your recipient knows that it is being tracked. By default, we add a banner to all email you send; this tells the reader that the email is tracked, and invites them to manually confirm that they actually read it.

You have the option to turn the banners OFF (by selecting "none" for the banner style) for all tracked email you send, or you can add .silent.self-destructing.com to the end of the recipient's email address if you just want to send an individual tracked email with no banner attached.

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How can I be sure Self-Destructing will work with my email service?
Self-Destructing works with all popular email and webmail services, and does not require any downloads or plugins to operate properly for both sender and recipient.

Self-Destructing works with AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Bigfoot, and all web email sites, as well as Eudora, Microsoft Outlook, Pegasus, Netscape Mail, Outlook Express, Pine, sendmail, pop, mapi, Lotus Notes, esmtp, helo, and every other email client that can use internet email addresses.

My email software already features "Return Receipts." Why do I need Self-Destructing ?
The truth is, "Return Receipts" almost never work. The vast majority of all email software and users in the world do not support Return Receipts, and the few that do have usually disabled these by default. In the rare case that you send mail to someone who can support Return Receipts, they get prompted with a rude and intrusive message asking them to tell you that they read your mail, with the default action suggesting they cancel the notification.

With Self-Destructing , you get to choose how or if your recipient gets prompted to let you know they read your mail. The default action, which you can change at any time, is to always tell you when they have read it, and to let them know you asked. (Further, you may choose to support traditional Return Receipts if you want to use them.)

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What is a Message Disposition Notification (MDN)?
Message Disposition Notification, or MDNs, is another phrase for Return Receipts. (see above)

What is a Delivery Service Notification (DSN)?
This is a feature (supported by some mail servers) that lets you know if and when your email arrived in the mailbox of your recipient. It gives no indication whether or not a message will be opened or even downloaded-only whether or not it got delivered. The most basic example is a "bounced" email; if you have ever sent a message to an invalid email address, you have experienced a DSN.

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What is an Ensured Receipt?
"Ensured Receipt" is a method of sending email that guarantees the sender a read-notification when a recipient reads a message. This is possible because the body of your email is saved on the Self-Destructing server, and only the headers and attachments are sent to your recipient. When they open their email, it automatically requests the body from our server; afterward, we send the read-notification. It is not possible to get the body of your email without you getting this notification, so your receipt is ensured.

NOTE: If your recipient is not connected to the Internet when they read their email, they will have to re-connect to get it. Once you have received your read-notification, they are then allowed to keep the email, and can read it again offline if they wish.

What is the difference between Certified Email and a Proof-of-Posting Certificate?
They mean the same thing. When you send certified email, it is time-stamped and assigned a serial number, then digitally signed and appended with the secure certificate. The digital signature is then published for anyone to read at any time.

Should you need to prove at some later stage that you sent your email, the attached signatures provide admissible and certifiable proof that your email was posted on the date and time specified. Any popular cryptographic product can be used to verify the digital signature, and a regular signature-of-signatures is distributed around the Internet. This creates an indelible electronic "paper trail" that inextricably links the correct time of posting of your email to its attached signature. (NOTE: None of this reveals any information to outside parties about the email itself, including to whom it was sent or from whom it was sent.)

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What is Self-Destructing Email?
These emails cannot be retained by your recipient. You have various ways to control the length of time a recipient is able to read an email, and you can choose whether or not to inhibit printing, copying, forwarding, and saving of email. At a time predetermined by you, email sent through Self-Destructing automatically erases itself-permanently.

NOTE: Although it is very difficult for your recipient to keep a permanent record of the contents of an email, they will still be able to keep your email address, the email subject, and all attachments you send. Also, as with every self-destructing email package, there is always a possibility a recipient might find a way to record an email anyway (i.e., photographing the screen).

Can I get back an email after I have sent it?
Yes. Use the "Ensured Receipts" or "Self-Destructing Email" features described above to cancel an email before (or even after) it has been delivered. Note that these features merely cancel the body of your email-not any attachments you send, email addresses or subject lines.

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Do you read my email?
Never. For more information, view our privacy statement.

Is my email address safe with you? Will I get spammed?
Your email is completely safe. We never send, allow, or support spam of any kind, and we never give out our email lists for any reason. See our privacy statement and our terms of service for full reassurance.

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Tell me everything about Forward-Tracking Self-Destructing automatically tracks when your email gets forwarded to someone else, or opened on a different computer.
Keep the following in mind:-

  1. We only count an email as "forwarded" when it is opened on a different computer - not when it gets forwarded to a different account on the same computer (we count this instead as "re-opened").
  2. We only ever send you one email receipt at present. This means you will not usually get a receipt which says "forwarded" in it, because we usually send our receipts within a few seconds of the original email being opened the first time (or in other words - we've already sent your receipt before they even had a chance to forward it!).
  3. To get the information about whether an email was forwarded or not, you need to either (1) Click on the link inside your receipt which is labelled "Click here for up-to-date (live) tracking information.", or (2) Use your Personal Tracking Page.
  4. Not all recipient email programs permit the tracking of forwarded emails - but most of them do.
  5. It is not always possible to identify subsequent recipients of forwarded emails, so we can not always tell you the email address it was forwarded to. However - we do tell you the Browser and operating system version, the language, approximate location, IP address and ISP, and other things, so if you think you know who it was forwarded to, you can always send a new tracked email and compare the tracking information that comes back to confirm your suspicion.
  6. Often, when someone replies to an email, they include the original email at the bottom. We also count this as "forwarding".
  7. When someone replies to you like I just said above, the fact that you open the reply is counted as a "forward" - since it was forwarded back to you.
  8. If your email does not get delivered and gets returned to you (like, for example - if you send it to a wrong email address), and you open this "bounced" email, keep in mind that you're tracking yourself opening it when you get a read-notification!
  9. Keep in mind that the settings you have picked on your "My Account" page all affect the amount of information you get back. We have already chosen the most suitable general defaults for you, but you can always experiment with these settings if you're not getting the results you want already.

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Why do some receipts have much less information than others?

Many factors at the recipient end affect the amount and accuracy of the tracking information you get back. Some of these factors include: their email program, whether or not they use a firewall or a privacy or content filter, and what their proxy settings are.
In combination with the above, the selection of advanced settings you have chosen also affect the amount and accuracy of your receipts. See the settings page for a detailed explanation.
Finally, the kind of email you send (eg: ensured, self-destructing, or plain tracking) also changes the amount of information you get.


Do you take other forms of payment beside credit cards?

Yes - there are dozens of ways you can pay us. Please send an email to us if you are unable to use a credit card.

Can I get my tracking history in a spreadsheet or text file?

You can download a TEXT or CSV spreadsheet listing of your tracked emails. You must be logged in before you can use this:
http://www.self-destructing.com/self-destructing/messagescsv2.asp/mymsg.xls ...should automatically open up Microsoft-Excel (or other spreadsheet program) with your data already there (this is an XML download).
You can also use http://www.self-destructing.com/self-destructing/messagescsv.asp/mymsg.csv for an ASCII-text-only download.
http://www.self-destructing.com/self-destructing/messagescsv2.asp ...is an alternative if the above doesn't work for you.
http://www.self-destructing.com/self-destructing/messagescsv2.asp/myfile.txt ...is yet another alternative.

   
Columns:-

Date    - message send time
From    - sender email address
To      - recipient
StatusF - For future use
OriginF - R|T|F...  
          R = 1 for .relax. (self-destructing message setting - user allowed to click)
          R = 0 for .norelax. (self-destructing - vanishes on user click)
          T = number of seconds before destruction occurs
          F = future use
Stz     - Offset from GMT according to the message headers
Folder  - Which customer folder number this message should reside in
Opened  - 0 if message never opened.
         -1 message opened
         +1 message opened and recipient identification possible
1st Date      -   Date first opened
MessageID     - (from the original email, FOR dsn/mdn matching)
Subject       -  Subject title of email  
Last          -  Date of the most recent activity on this email
NumReaders    -  Count of the number of different readers of this email
TotalSecsRead -  Total number of seconds this was read for
NumOpens      -  Total number of times this email has been re-opened

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Did they delete my email without opening it ?

In most situations, the only way you can find out if they deleted your email is waiting and continuing to NOT receive any read notification. In some rare situations however - you will get a "not read" receipt that explains they deleted your email without ever opening it: but this is dependent on their email provider setting this up, and not many do.

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What does Location mean, and why is it wrong sometimes ?

Most of your receipts will contain "Location" information - this indicates the approximate physical location of the ISP (Internet Service Provider) that the recipient was using when they opened your email. This is almost always the same town as the recipient.
We use a variety of data sources to determine this information for you, and the method of tracking you use in combination with the settings on the recipient computer determine how accurate our location display will be: if you get high accuracy probabilities (eg: 95%) we are reasonably confident that we got the location correct. If you get low numbers (eg: 50% or less) we are either not confident that we could determine their location (the tracking data we recorded was inconclusive), or we are not confident that the location we did determine is likely to be correct (the location data for their ISP is not reliable).

Here are some reasons why Location might be wrong or inaccurate:

  • The recipient is using an internet Proxy: this is a setting of the ISP which can sometimes show a wrong location. In most situations, we are able to detect proxies and still return the correct location anyway, but sometimes this is not possible. AOL is a well known ISP which forces all its users to go through a proxy, so AOL location data can sometimes be wrong.
  • The recipient is using a dial-up internet connection over a long-distance telephone call: remember, we give the location of their ISP, so if they are in London and the make a phone call to America to access the internet you will see an American location for them. Luckily, this is expensive for the recipient, so it is rare that this happens.
  • The ISP of the recipient has a country-wide dialup number. Some ISPs can allow users access from anywhere in the country by routing the connection over the telephone network first - so the location will give you the correct country still, but cannot be accurate about the recipient town or city.
  • Firewalls are sometimes used by individual recipients or by their ISP or company, and these can cause the location to be less accurate. You still usually get the right country and state, but sometimes the town is wrong.
  • The ISP of the recipient are using a brand-new set of IP addresses. When successful ISPs expand and get new numbers assigned to them, it takes a few weeks for the location of these new numbers to get properly recorded, so you can get completely wrong locations when this happens - but this is rare.

Here are some reasons why it might be correct, even though you were not expecting it:

  • Someone is spying on your email: we get a surprising number of complaints about email location inaccuracy which turn out to be caused by all the email of the sender or recipient being intercepted by someone else. If this is happening to you, you will find that your "Personal Tracking Page" will be listing most of your messages as "Forwarded" and will have both the location of the person intercepting your email, as well as the real location of the recipient in the "Live" details for the message.
  • The recipient might not be where you think they are: carefully check the extra details in your receipt to see if this is the case: we show you the name of their ISP as well as the language their PC is using, and if these appear to match the location you got, it's very probably correct!

Where can I get more information?
You can read the separate FAQ for our registered users here, or our General FAQ here, or use our Contact Page to write to us.



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