An easy way to distribute information about your company to your potential clientele is to set up an E-mail autoreply, or autoresponder. An E-mail autoreply is an E-Mail Alias which executes a program that automatically replies to any E-mail sent to it. The E-mail autoreply can be configured to send any message in the automated reply, such as a FAQ (frequently asked question list), marketing plan, or product listing.


Follow these steps to configure an autoreply:

  1. Create an autoreply message called ~/.autoreply (the message sent back to the customer) in your Virtual Private Server home directory. Use an online file editor, like pico, or transfer the file to your PC in order to add the alias. Be sure to download and upload the ~/.autoreply file in ASCII mode.

  2. Add something like the following to your ~/etc/aliases file in order to create an autoreply for info@YOUR-DOMAIN.NAME:

    info: YOU@YOUR.ISP, "|/usr/bin/autoreply -f info-reply -a info"
  3. Run newaliases to update your /etc/aliases.db file:

    # newaliases

When E-mail is received at info@YOUR-DOMAIN.NAME, an autoreply containing the message in the ~/.autoreply file will be sent back. E-Mail sent to info@YOUR-DOMAIN.NAME will also be sent to YOU@YOUR.ISP. Without the YOU@YOUR.ISP, the mail from the customer would not be sent to YOU@YOUR.ISP.

The -m option specifies a different message file (for example, autoreply -m /etc/mymessage). Be sure you use the full path from your Virtual Private Server home directory.

The -f option allows you to change who the autoreply message will be from (in the example above the From: field the customer gets will read info-reply@YOUR-DOMAIN_NAME).

NOTE: When creating an autoreply, make sure to make the From: address different than the autoreply recipient name. This prevents your autoreply from getting caught in an 'autoreply loop' with another autoresponder.

The -a option specifies a user that an autoreply can reply for. The user specified should be the same as the user configured for the autoreply (for example, "info: ... -a info").

The -h option can be added to an autoreply to turn off the X-info headers (if you don't know what these are, don't wory about them).

Please note: the information on this page applies to ITS web hosting plans. It may or may not apply to other environments. If you are looking for a feature described here, or better support from your hosting provider, please consider hosting your site with ITS!

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