Information Technology HELPDESK

The UEL Email System

Addressing - Content - Size Limits - Keeping Your Mailbox Tidy - Public Folders - Shared Mailboxes - Remote Access


This webpage is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to using Microsoft Outlook or email systems generally. For detailed instruction, please use the Outlook help system (use the 'F1' key). The IT Helpdesk (ext 2468) can also answer any specific questions and guide you through most tasks.

This webpage is intended to answer some of the more general questions that are frequently asked, and to clarify some of the policies that apply to email usage at UEL. Also included are a few tips and hints on how to get the best use from the UEL email system.


Mail Addressing and Routing

The main UEL email system is the Exchange system which is usually accessed using the Outlook email client. Outlook and Exchange work closely with the Windows Active Directory Service and will route messages directly to the correct mailbox as long as local email addresses are used (Local addresses are formatted as someone@uel-exchange.uel.ac.uk but Outlook usually hides this and shows their display name instead). Please use the Outlook Address Book. If the sender uses the same mail server as the recipient(s) the message will be delivered without having to travel outside of that email server.

The Outlook address book can be accessed via the icon on the main menu bar, or using the 'To:' button when composing a message. By default the Global Address Book is displayed. This lists every email enabled user, group and contact on the system. It may sometimes be more convenient to see a smaller listing and a selection of sub lists (e.g. Docklands Staff) is available from the selection box in the top right of the Address List window. Additional information about each user, group or contact can be seen by widening the Address Book window or double clicking on the name. Unfortunately, Microsoft do not provide a way to sort the address lists by anything other than the full display name.

Mail which is addressed to someone@uel.ac.uk will be treated as external mail. It will leave the Exchange system and pass to the UEL external mail gateway machines before being redirected back into the Exchange system and, in most cases, ending up back on the same server it began its journey from. This is obviously a very inefficient way to travel if the recipient(s) are using the same mail server as the sender.

No more than 7000 recipients can be addressed in any single message. This is to prevent anyone sending unsolicited bulk email (i.e. spam) to the entire University, or out to the Internet as a single message (See our seperate web page about Email Filtering).

Groups

Many groups on the Windows domain are also email enabled. A full list of email enabled groups can be seen in the Outlook address book.
Most groups are quite restricted in who can send email to them. Generally, students can only send to their own school student group, staff can only send to their own school staff and student groups. Most Managers can send to any group.

For distributing information to a large number of people, public folders are a very efficient method of doing so.


Content

The following points are drawn from the JANET Acceptable Use Policy, which forms the basis of the UEL Acceptable Use Policy. In the context of these points, users of the UEL email system are reminded that, in addition to any other regulations, they should not send unsolicited bulk emails to large groups of users, except in authorised business circumstances, and should not use email as a means of private advertising.

Users found contravening this policy will have their mailbox restricted to permit sending to a maximum of 20 recipients per message.

The JANET Acceptable Use Policy is available in full at: http://www.ja.net/services/publications/policy/aup.html or via links from the IT Services Policies and Standards web page at: http://www.uel.ac.uk/it/smallprint.htm


Message Size

Email systems were originally designed for simple text messages. In recent years mail browsers have become much more sophisticated and can now handle a wide range of messages formats and file attachments. However, the mail transport systems (i.e. the bits that connect different mail systems) have not kept pace with this development and can be quite slow when dealing with large messages. This is at least partly because they have to follow rigid standards in order to ensure that they can talk to many other different mail systems (which may be running on different operating systems).

The Exchange system at UEL is quite efficient at handling different mail formats, but is less efficient at handling large messages. This is because every message is first written to transaction logs which are a fixed 5Mb size. Large messages may therefore be spread across more than one transaction log. The more recipients with mailboxes in different mail stores, the more transaction logs will be involved and the less efficiently the system handles the task.

UEL mail systems have been configured to reject any messages larger than 5Mb.

This also offers some protection from a nasty trick known as mail bombing. This is where some malicious person deliberately sends large messages with the intention of filling up a recipientís mailbox until it stops accepting messages.

There is also a 500Kb limit on message size for sending to groups. If you need to distribute large files, please read our web page on File Sharing.

Mailbox Size

There are obviously physical limits to the amount of disk space available on the Universityís servers. There are two main functions that the Network Administrators have to consider when allocating storage space to users:
  1. To provide what ever disk storage space is required to support the business of the University.
  2. To ensure that the Universityís IT resources are used appropriately.
To ensure appropriate use, and thus preserve resources for legitimate use, quotas are set on how much space a user can take up with their email.
The Default mailbox size is 50Mb. If your mailbox exceeds this, then you will be prevented from sending any messages. The nightly mailbox management process will send you a warning if you exceed 45Mb. If you exceed 60Mb then no new messages will be accepted.

You can check the size of your mailbox at any time by right-clicking on 'Outlook Today...' at the top of your folder list. Select 'Properties for Outlook Today...' and then click the 'Folder Size' button. The total size will be displayed, followed by a list of each subfolder and its size.

Staff may request an increase in their mailbox quota by Email Network Admin (or tel 6661). Students are not usually allowed any increase.


Keeping Your Mailbox Tidy

You probably wouldn't pile every bit of paper in your office into one heap. Similarly with email messages, create sub folders and file messages that you need to keep into these. Keeping your Inbox tidy will also greatly speed up Outlook when it first loads. Similarly, keep your Sent Items folder tidy.

Every Sunday, the mailbox management process will send you a message showing how many messages over 90 days old you have in your Inbox and Sent Items folders. It will also show any items in your Deleted Items folder that are over 30 days old. Delete old items that are no longer required (and don't forget to also delete items from your Calendar once they are no longer required).

Deleting items is a three stage process:

  1. Deleted items are first moved into your Deleted Items folder. Items shown in this folder still count against your quota. By default this folder is emptied when you exit Outlook.
  2. Items in your Deleted Items folder are marked for deletion when you exit Outlook, or if you highlight and 'delete' them again while in the Deleted Items folder (which you may need to do if your quota has been exceeded, before the system will allow you to send and/or receive messages). At this stage they are still on the system but hidden and no longer count against your quota.
  3. After 14 days any deleted items will be finally removed from the system. This is an automatic process and not something you need to act on.
Note: If you hold down the 'shift key' while deleting messages, they will not be moved into your Deleted Items folder before stage 2. (You will be asked 'Are you sure you want to permanently delete the selected item(s)?'. Despite the phrasing of this warning message, if you say 'Yes', you will still get the 14 days grace period before stage 3).

Messages may be undeleted at any time prior to stage 3. Select the folder in which the message was last located (i.e. your Deleted Items folder, unless you used the shift - delete method.) Then select 'Tools - Recover Deleted Items' from the Outlook Menu.
Once the 14 day grace period has expired, it is not possible to retrieve deleted items, nor can they be restored from system backup tapes.


Public Folders

The Exchange mail system includes a feature known as public folders. Public folders are not associated with any single mailbox/user and are intended for items that will be read by a large number of people. As each item will only be kept in that folder with no links elsewhere, public folders are a very efficient storage method and items that are no longer required are easily located and deleted.

The UEL Public Folders include Noticeboard folders which should be checked regularly for the latest information on many aspects of UEL activities.

Public Folders can also contain calendar and contact items and are therefore very useful for departmental diaries, room booking etc. Security permissions can be applied to limit access to individuals and/or groups. Email Network Admin if you think a public folder would be useful to you. Please include a suggested name, reason why a folder is required and the content type (i.e. notes, calendar, contacts etc).


Shared Mailboxes

If you receive a lot of messages relating to a particular function/course/department within the University, it may be more efficient to use a shared mailbox for this purpose, especially if there are several people servicing that particular function. This also ensure continuity if somebody leaves.

To request a shared mailbox, please email Network Admin. Please include a suggested name for the mailbox, reason why a shared mailbox is required and a list of the people who would require access to it.

Once a mailbox has been created, you can follow the instructions on the webpage How to Add A Shared Mailbox to add the mailbox to your Outlook profile.


Remote Access

There are various ways in which you can get access to your UEL mailbox from outside UEL. By far the easiest is to use Outlook Web Access, for which a web browser and an Internet connection is all that is required. Using Internet Explorer will give almost the same functionality as Outlook, but other browsers should also work well as long as they are reasonably up to date.
The secure service on
https://uel-mail1.uel.ac.uk is recommended, but if your browser does not support secure services, then try http://uel-mail.uel.ac.uk" and click the 'unsecured connection' link at the bottom of the page.

Note: If you are having trouble with Outlook. Try using Outlook Web Access to see if the trouble is with your mailbox, or Outlook itself.