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email FAQ

  knowledgebase  :: network status

Q: What is meant by the 'capacity' of a mailbox?
A: Mailbox capacity refers to how much mail it can store before it gets full, and starts returning sent mail to the sender with an 'over quota' message. This measurement is usually made in megabytes.

Q: What are the differences between POP3-based and web-based email?

  • pro: POP3 mailboxes are easier and faster to use
  • pro: POP3 mailboxes are more secure
  • pro: POP3 mailboxes tend to get less spam than web-based mailboxes such as Hotmail
  • pro: POP3 mailboxes are more configurable (as they are used with full-fledged email applications such as Outlook, Eudora, or Pegasus Mail)
  • pro: there's no need to login to a POP3 mailbox each time you use it - your email software remembers your password
  • pro: once you download your POP3 mail to your local computer, you can store hundreds of megabytes of email
  • con: mail downloaded from your POP3 mailbox to your local computer cannot be accessed by you when you're away from your computer, unless you use a remote-control program such as PC Anywhere, and your machine is accessible via the internet

Q: What is email forwarding?
A: Forwarding is where email destined for a given mailbox is automatically redirected to another mailbox.

Q: What does POP3 stand for?
A: Post Office Protocol version 3. It's the language your email software and email server speak to one another when you check your mail.

Q: How quickly are messages sent, once I click 'send'?
A: Pretty well instantly.

Q: How quickly are messages delivered to me, once the sender clicks 'send'?
A: Pretty well instantly. However your computer only checks for mail at a given interval. This interval can usually be changed in your email software's Options menu. You can turn this feature off completely and only check your mail manually. You can ask your computer to check for new mail manually (and immediately) by clicking "Send and Receive" in the toolbar.

Q: How can I tell whether the recipient got the message?
A: If there was a technical problem, you will receive an error message. However, the absence of an error message does not confirm that the recipient has read the message, it simply confirms there was no error delivering it. To confirm that a message has been read, you can try using "return receipts" - however these are not recommended, as they are supported on all systems, for privacy and security reasons. Most email software can be configured to ignore all return receipt requests. If you use a return receipt and receive a message saying "relayed to non-DSN-aware mailer" and/or "relayed; expect no further notifications", that means the recipient's system does not support some/all of the confirmation receipt function. The best way to confirm that a message has been read is to call the intended recipient on the telephone and ask them.

Q: Is there a record of each message I send and/or receive?
A: Yes - your Sent Items folder and your Inbox, respectively. Your employer (if applicable) may keep separate logs, however if they do this they are usually required by law to notify you of this. For example, in the UK, employers must seek an employee's consent before they make a recording of a private communication, whether that employee is in the office, or not.

Q: If I accidentally delete a message, can I get it back?
A: Possibly. Check in the Deleted Items folder. If you haven't emptied it, the email should be there.

Q: Why shouldn't I use the Deleted Items folder to store mail I don't want to delete?
A: You will have no way to delete the mail you do want to delete, in that case - if you, or anyone else, clicks "empty trash", then all that mail you were keeping will be deleted. Therefore, you'll never click it and your Deleted Items folder ("trash") will become huge, slowing down your computer and, sooner or later, causing some kind of failure (for example, disk full / backup too long / search takes forever / mail program has limits on the size of a folder, or the maximum number of messages). In addition, some programs don't include the Deleted Items folder when searching - meaning that any mail in there will be invisible (except if you browse it manually, which will be a pain since it will be huge and filled with spam and viruses, as well as the mails you were keeping). And then there's the risk someone else will click "empty trash", not knowing that it was being used for something other than trash. Think about it - why would the software provide an empty trash function, that you cannot use? Why would the software make it easy for someone else to accidentally delete your important mails? Why would the software hide all those mails from search results? It's because the Trash is not designed to store important mail. Trash is for trash, not for storage. Make a separate folder to keep important mails.

Q: Are my emails backed up?
A: No. Emails are stored on your computer; if the hard disk in your machine fails, you may lose your email. The same is true of any other data you have stored on drive C:. Custom backup solutions are available to overcome this - contact us for more information.

Q: Are there limits to the size of an attachment?
A: Yes - most important is the size of the recipient's inbox, and also the speed of their connection. Large files take a long time to transfer over slow connections (such as modems). Avoid sending files over 2Mb in size to a user on a modem-based connection, unless they don't mind. Avoid sending files over 1Mb in size to webmail accounts such as Hotmail. Their inboxes are small and will reject larger attachments entirely. Most business-related email accounts will accept large attachments (between 5Mb and 10Mb). Most attachments you're likely to send will be Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and so on - these are typically 0.1Mb (100Kb) in size or less. So you could send around 10 of these sized attachments to a Hotmail box before receiving a "mailbox full" message. The exact number depends on the size of the attachment, and how much mail was in the recipient's inbox already. Attachments are also around 25% larger than their unattached versions. So, sending a 1Mb file to an empty Hotmail account will still produce a "mailbox full" error, as the attachment will be 1.25Mb in size.

Q: I want to send a 5Mb file to my colleague across the office. It won't blow his quota, why shouldn't I email it to him?
A: Well, you can. But it's wasteful, in a word. You're needlessly shunting a whole lot of electrons from A to B and it's not pretty. It's even relatively slow. A better solution would be to create a shared area on your network, and simply copy the file to it. Then your colleague can access the shared area and copy the file from it. As the file never leaves your network, it's very fast to transfer, and all those electrons can do something else.

Q: What is the difference between Outlook and Outlook Express?
A: Both products are from Microsoft. Outlook Express comes free with Windows, and is the "lite" version with basic functionality. Outlook comes with Office (or can be purchased separately) and includes calendaring, task management and groupware features. Outlook lacks newsgroup support, and instead relies on Outlook Express to do that job for it.

Q: Can my colleagues access my email in my absence?
A: Yes, but only if they open your email software on your computer (just as you would if you were there).

Q: Can I access my email remotely?
A: Yes, but only mails your computer has not already downloaded (perhaps because it's switched off, or because your email software isn't open). You can then use web-based POP3 interfaces such as Squirrelmail.

Q: Can someone read my email while it is in transit?
A: Yes. Email is as private as a postcard; bear in mind that most people use letters and envelopes, not postcards, for their regular correspondence. However, the sheer volume of emails makes casual reading impossible. Most likely, nobody will ever read your email - but if they wanted to, it is possible. To attain confidentiality, you must use encryption, which is beyond the scope of this document (and is probably not implemented on your computer). Custom cryptographic solutions are available - contact us for more information.

Q: Can someone tamper with an email while it is in transit?
A: Yes. The integrity of an email can only be verified by using encryption.

Q: Can someone pretend to be someone else (ie. forge their address)?
A: Yes. The authenticity of an email can only be verified by using encryption.

Q: What about viruses?
A: Viruses are a danger. You should ensure that anti-virus software is installed on your machine. Even with anti-virus software installed, you should still exercise caution when opening emails. In particular, avoid executing (double-clicking on) attachments you are not expecting. This means, if your friend - or someone you don't know - unexpectedly sends you a Word document, spreadsheet, screen-saver, "operating system patch" or whatever, check with them before you open it. Viruses send themselves as attachments, disguised as innocent-looking files (even images and MP3s), possibly from someone you know (who is infected already). The email will also have an innocent-looking subject line and message body. But it will never contain information only your friend could know. If you suspect a virus in an email, simply delete it. However, your anti-virus software will probably beat you to it! Generic virus filtering is also available.

Q: What about junk mail (spam)?
A: Nobody can spam you if nobody knows your address. The simplest way to avoid spam is to keep your address relatively private. Tell your friends and colleagues, but avoid giving the address to parties who will probably do something disreputable with it. Almost all marketing schemes (free newsletters, competitions, etc) fall into this category. If you must give your address to a website (or whatever), ensure they state "we don't share your email address with anyone, ever". Otherwise they'll share your address with others, and then it will go into the Big Spammers Database in cyberspace, from which it can never be removed. This is your responsibility - it's your inbox that will fill up if you're not careful! Spam filtering is also available.

Q: I told only my closest friends and a few customers my email address, but I'm still receiving spam and/or viruses! How did my address become public?
A: Mass-mailing viruses exploiting holes in Microsoft's Windows operating system are the likely culprit here. When one of these viruses infects a machine, it usually scours it for email addresses. These addresses are then used by the virus, which sends viruses to it, as well as using the address to forge the FROM field when sending itself to other users. The owner of the address will thus receive viruses from infected associates (although the message will probably appear to be from someone else). Meanwhile, the address itself ends up in other people's inbox, as the sender of a virus (although owner of this address is probably not infected at all). This process repeats seemingly endlessly, creating a vast sea of public addresses.

Q: What legal considerations should I bear in mind?
A: Emails from your account represent you, and possibly your employer. Using an email account for any unlawful purpose may incur disciplinary and/or legal action against you. This includes, but is not limited to, the mailing of defamatory or copyrighted material, or the mailing of unsolicited commercial email (spam). You should see your manager, if applicable, for further clarification. In addition, you are reminded that unlawful activity, including, but not limited to, the mailing of defamatory or copyrighted material, or the mailing of unsolicited commercial email (spam), is a breach of our Terms of Service.

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