Taking Care of your Company Email
Email is essential to every business in 2021 – whether it is for simple things such as responding to the odd quotation request or used as the main source of communication by your company.
This help sheet will provide tips and information on some of the most common email questions and issues that our clients come to us for support with.
Training your email – Junk & Spam
We are commonly asked about junk and spam emails and how to stop them.
There are many security features which will help to pick out the junk from the human email, such as whitelisting, blacklisting and spam filtering. Which is best for your specific email can be determined by a conversation with your support engineer.
Any spam filter however will make mistakes, if you have it turned on high then you may find that human emails end up in the junk folder and if you have it low, you may find that you have more junk email land in your inbox than you would like.
The idea is to find not only the perfect balance, but also to accept that as the software’s human supervisor, you need to stay on top of checking the junk folder and let the software know when there is an error. This is done by training your email, its very simple – if you find a human email in the junk folder then move it to the inbox, if you find spam in the inbox then move it to the junk folder (rather than simply deleting it). Your email software and spam filter will recognize these behaviours in time and you may wish to change the strength of your spam filter or take other action, such as whitelisting a specific email address, based on these issues.
Choosing the right email service
There are lots of email service providers on the market and choosing the right one for your business is incredibly important.
Free Services – there are many free email providers available, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL etc. Many businesses start out with one of these free email addresses before moving on to a business email service. The pro to these email services is obviously that they are free to use, the cons vary from service to service but the main one is that with a free service, you are not offered support in the event of something going wrong or the service being withdrawn, which could be detrimental to your company. With a free service, you also cannot generally use your own company domain name eg firstname.lastname@example.org making your email address less professional than that of your competitors.
Email Server in your office – this option has the highest upfront cost as well as a cost to having a professional available for maintenance however for a large company, this is often a more cost effective long term solution. The setup would require a domain name which points to an on-site server with specialist email server software installed and a fast, stable internet connection. The pros to this system are that the company wouldn’t have to pay individually for each email address however the cons include the high costs and maintenance and skill level required.
Service via private company – Many companies offer to provide email and they are all very different, this method also allows you to use your own professional domain email. When looking at services like this it is important to know whether you have a shared IP address with other companies, what level of support you are paying for, how much storage you have available, what type of email it is (POP, IMAP etc) and what disaster recovery is in place. A pro to using one of these services is that you may get a more personal service than if you were to use Microsoft, the cons however vary hugely, I would always recommend discussing any such service with your support engineer to ensure that it is right for your company.
Service via Microsoft Office 365 or equivalent – Generally Microsoft 365 email is a good option for businesses, again it uses your professional domain email, everything that you need is included (you can also include software that you may already pay separately for), the support is 24/7, setup is simple on all devices etc. A pro to using this service is that it is tried and tested, millions use it so any issues are fixed immediately. A con to using this service is for some larger companies it may not be cost effective as it is charged per email address.
Protecting your company email
Once you have your email in place, you must ensure that it is secure. This can be done using a variety of methods.
Complex Passwords – The primary security must have! Your email should be protected with the use of a complex password (see blog on complex passwords), this password should be used only for one account and never shared. It’s also common for some email services to request that you change your password periodically in order to keep it safe and secure.
Backing up – Depending on what service you are using, your options for a backup differ. Ensure that your regular computer or server backup includes your email and check with your service provider or support engineer about anything further that you could be doing. It is especially important to do a manual backup prior to making any major email change.
Smartphones – Most people now have their email setup on their phone or tablet, often also on their personal phone. It is important that you have your phone or device passcode protected if your email is set up on there so that if you lost your device, your email could not be compromised. We recommend that companies have written terms for the use of email on their employees devices and the facility to deactivate that device access quickly should the need arise, speak to your support engineer if you are unsure about this.
Know your email – It is important that you and your employees know what type of email service you have (POP, IMAP, Exchange), what the consequences are if they accidentally delete an email, how to resolve an issue such as deletion or service disruption etc and who the email service provider is. The type of email and what that means should be part of an employees initial training, the other information could simply be displayed on the company noticeboard for use if an issue should occur. Always inform your support engineer of an issue – even if it is being dealt with directly by the service provider.
Unlocking the Jargon:
Whitelisting: A whitelist is a list of trusted email address that can be added to your spam filter software. This generally ensures that any email from that specific email address does not end up in spam – it does not ensure that this email is safe of any virus or security issues though so always bear that in mind.
Blacklisting: Very much the opposite of the whitelist, the blacklist will prevent emails from that address coming through to you at all. Ensure that you don’t blacklist for the sake of it though, unsubscribing for example may be a better option if it is a known company, as blacklisting can have negative consequences for that companies domain. Talk to your support engineer before blacklisting if you are unsure.
Spam Filter: A piece of software, usually on your email server, which assists with filtering out the junk from the human emails. It will use various methods such as looking at the domain the email was sent from, looking for keywords within the email etc. In some cases you may be able to adjust how high the settings of the filter are however this may be unavailable at an individual, rather than a company wide level.
POP/IMAP/Exchange: These are all different type of email setup. Microsoft 365 for example of Exchange email and is the recommended email type for business. With Exchange and IMAP email, the server is communicating with all devices where the email is set up, if an item is deleted on 1 device, it will also automatically be deleted on all other devices and on the server. With POP email, each device is treated individually and doesn’t communicate changes back to the server, POP email is not recommended for business use.
Domains: A Domain is like the address you would use for your website, a Domain Name would be required for all professional email types and would be registered and paid for periodically via a Domain registrar. As a domain name is essential, if you do not renew your registration, your email will immediately stop working. Likewise, if you were to change any of the required DNS settings with the domain name then your email would stop working. A complex password should be used for your domain name registrar account and should not be shared.