Archive for Email

Office 365 – important changes for Outlook users in October

Outlook users of Office 365 need to use 2010 version or newer

Anyone connecting to the Office 365 email system using Microsoft Outlook needs to be aware of important changes that are taking place at the end of October 2017.

From 31st October, Microsoft are changing the protocols that allow connection between the Outlook email program and Exchange – moving to a more secure ‘MAPI over HTTP’. They state that they are doing this as MAPI is more efficient with data transfer and allows more secure authentication, compared to the previous method.

Unfortunately, Outlook 2007 (and earlier Outlook versions) do not work with this new protocol and Microsoft will not ‘upgrade’ them to make them compatible. This means that anyone using these versions of Outlook with Office 365 will no longer be able to access their emails after 31st October and will need to move to a more recent Outlook version, to continue to access their emails through Office 365.

Also, any newer versions of Outlook must be up to date with their regular updates, to ensure that they work correctly after the 31st October.

Here are the Office version numbers that are the minimum needed to keep the connections working after the changeover (information supplied by Microsoft as at 28.9.17):–

Office 2010 – 14.0.7164.5002
Office 2013 – 15.0.4779.1002
Office 2016 – Subscription: 16.0.6568.20xx or MSI: 16.0.4312.1001.

To check the version of Office 2010, open Outlook, go to Help > About Office Outlook.

To check the version of Office 2013 or later, go to File > Office Account > About Outlook.

For further help give us a call on 01455 209505.

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Increase Your Business Email Impact with Smart Strategies

Be smart with your email

Most small businesses rely on email as their preferred form of communication – email is the go-to format we’d be lost without. It is no surprise – it’s quick, simple and provides a paper trail. But its convenience doesn’t always mean relaxed. In fact, poor email communication can hurt your reputation and cost you customers.

Here’s how to be smart with your business email:

Are you using a free email service?

Most businesses use a domain name – that is a web address where their name can be used for either a website and/or email addresses. If you are using a free email service instead of an address with your business name, will that put off any customers? What impression may it give? It is very easy to set up a domain name and have a professional looking email address – and it is much less expensive than you think.

Manage your inbox

Your inbox is only for items you still need to access. Once you’re finished with an email, you should delete it or archive it. If you were to imagine your inbox as physical letters, you’d never let it grow to a 6-foot high stack of chaos. Instead, you’d either throw them out or do the filing. It’s not hard to identify which ones to keep for reference, so create inbox folders to sort them accordingly. As emails arrive and are actioned, move them to the relevant folder or the delete bin.

Write professional messages

Stepping across the line from casual to careless is easy if you skip the basic elements of good business writing. Grammar will always be important and the sentence structure of your language hasn’t changed. All email programs include a spell-checker, many of which draw attention to errors immediately, so there’s really no excuse. Typing in all CAPS is seen as yelling, and breaking your text into paragraphs makes your message so much more readable. One last thing before you click send, quickly glance over your email to make sure your tone is appropriate and no mistakes have snuck through.

Embrace the subject line

Many emails are missed because the subject line was empty or meant nothing to the receiver. Writing these attention-grabbing nuggets can be tricky, but if you simply summarize the message, it will be better. Just remember to keep them under 5-8 words so they fit on mobile displays.

The subject line is also checked by anti-spam filters, so it is even more important to have one that makes sense to the receiver.

Be smart with attachments

Keep attachments small – under 2MB – as they can clog up the email server as well as your email program and other people’s. For larger attachments, share the file location as a link using cloud storage. When you’re sent an attachment you’d like to keep, save the file and then delete/archive the email.

And as always, be careful with unexpected attachments, especially from unknown senders. It’s more important than ever to scan all attachments with an antivirus before opening.

Keep your CC/BCC under control

The carbon copy (CC) and blind carbon copy (BCC) let you send the email to additional stakeholders, more as an FYI than anything else. As a rule, use BCC if you’re using an email list or privacy is an issue. But before you add extra people to the email, make sure the email IS relevant to them. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a pointless email chain!

If you want help to make your business email better or need a domain name and email account setting up, please call us on 01455 209505.

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Helping to Control Spam in your Email

Getting rid of Spam in your Inbox

‘Spam’ emails get into everyone’s email Inbox and are a fact of life these days. Whether its “Russian Brides” or something else, Spam emails are annoying, especially if you regularly get a large number every day. It is not surprising that there is so much, as current estimates put Spam between 60%-80% of global email, depending on which report you read.

What many people do not realise, is that a lot of Spam emails are caught by your email company and discarded before you even get to see them – although some email companies filter out Spam much better than others do.

Having said that, there are ways to help reduce the number of Spam emails that you get – here are a few of them: –

Mark as Spam before doing anything

This is the most important thing. More often than not, we see that customers tend to delete the Spam emails, then carry on reading their ‘proper’ emails as normal – all this does is just delete it, so it doesn’t help you the next time they send an email from that address.

What you need to do is to mark the email as Spam, before deleting it. This tells your email company or email program what to do if this email address sends another email – that is get rid of it before you get it.

Email using Webmail

If you are using Webmail (getting your email through the email company website), mark the Spam email (usually on the left-hand side) and click on the Spam button, which may be marked as ‘Report’, ‘Spam’ or something similar. This identifies the email as Spam and tells the email company that you don’t want any more emails from that email address. The email company should automatically send any more emails from the same address, straight into the ‘Junk’ folder instead of your Inbox.

Email using an Email Program or App

Many email programs include a facility to mark an email as Spam. For example, if using Outlook, right-click the email(s) and select ‘Junk’. You will get options as to what to do, e.g. selecting ‘Block Sender’ (blocking just the email address) or ‘Block Senders Domain’ which will block all emails from the name after the ‘@’ symbol. Note that Outlook diverts emails into the Junk folder – they will still be coming from the email company.

Most email programs will have a similar method of diverting spam that has been received.

Many (non-free) security software programs include an anti-Spam facility, whether it blocks an email that it knows is spam using its own built-in spam filters, or “training” the program by marking the Spam emails and it blocks them for you in the future, in a similar way as above.

Businesses – hardware and online filtering

If you are a business with a business-class firewall, a Spam filtering facility can be included in the appliance, depending on the hardware device chosen, so speak to your I.T. person about this.

There are also ‘Cloud’ solutions that can route emails from your email company through the Cloud filters before you even get them – there are many solutions to choose from.

Third Party Anti-Spam programs

There are a large number of ‘Anti-Spam’ programs which say that they help in blocking and removing Spam – they are essentially adding another filtering layer for your Inbox. Having said that, you do need to check for compatibility with your email program or app, so research is essential, especially as some of these programs are more reliable than others..

As with all things, make sure that you have regular backups, in case the worst happens, but if you do nothing else make sure that you mark your emails as Spam, before getting rid of them.

If you would like help in battling Spam in your Inbox, give us a call on 01455 209505.

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Orange Email – the End of the Road

Orange Email is closing

It has been on the cards for some time but one of the UK’s big internet companies, Orange, have announced that they are closing a number of their email accounts – so-called ‘legacy’ accounts – from 31st May 2017.

Why are they closing the accounts?

Over the years, internet companies have been bought and sold, including to competitors. Generally speaking, as the companies have been bought up, the new owners have kept the email addresses from the old company going, so as not to cause too much hassle for customers because of the changeover. After all, changing your email address is a process that no-one wants to do very often.

Unfortunately, these legacy email systems make little or no money for the new owners so the costs of running them are not recouped. Also, email technology has changed and improved over the years and few companies want to invest in upgrading their systems supporting the legacy products.

What email addresses are closing?

Here is the list of the email addresses that are closing: –

•    Orange.net
•    Orangehome.co.uk
•    Wanadoo.co.uk
•    Freeserve.co.uk
•    Fsbusiness.co.uk
•    Fslife.co.uk
•    Fsmail.net
•    Fsworld.co.uk
•    Fsnet.co.uk

What you need to do – Home users

When you decide to create an alternative email address, bear in mind that it may be preferable to open an account that is not dependant on your broadband company as this will give you flexibility later on, should you wish to change.

We recommend (as does Orange) that you consider opening a Gmail account with Google. This free service has some of the best anti-spam in the business and has much more flexibility than the service that you had before.

What you need to do – Business users

If you are using one of these addresses for your business, you need to get a new address now so that you can warn your customers and suppliers as soon as possible, as there appears to be no facility from Orange to forward your customers to your new address, after the closure date.

As mentioned in a previous Blog article, it is best to use your domain name for your business emails – and this is actually cheaper than you may think.

If you need help in creating your new email account, domain name or transferring Emails and Contacts to your new email address, give us a call on 01455 209505.

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Why you should not use a free email address for your business

Don't use a free email address for your business

The message is clear: email is king. Many companies, clients and customers choose to communicate primarily by email and it is a fundamental part of marketing strategy…unless you’re using a free email like Hotmail, Gmail, or even your internet provider. If that’s the case, then you’re losing business each and every day.

Does it look professional? Probably not.

How people perceive your business is what makes your business. Imagine if banks used free email accounts – you’d never feel comfortable giving them your personal details let alone any money. Without that professional touch, you’ll appear temporary and maybe less permanent. It puts your credibility into question and sends the message that you’re not serious about doing business – or worse – that you’re prepared to cut corners.

It may misrepresent your experience

Newer businesses often start out with a free email address. The address tends to communicate that they may be new and have less experience, and are perhaps even testing the waters in a new direction. They may not be proven yet and are firmly within the hobby-zone.  Continuing to use the free address once your business moves into the professional arena means you’ll struggle to build momentum and any experience will be negated.

It’s forgettable or inappropriate

Your business success hinges on being memorable enough to gain referral custom and results from your advertising. Unfortunately, free email addresses are by default filled with hard to remember clutter, for example – joesplumbing_1985@hotmail.com or milkshakes1559@gmail.com.
Neither of these roll off the tongue, is appropriate for business, or can be remembered without a high likelihood of typing mistakes and bounce back.

Branded email addresses such as joe@joesplumbing.co.uk make running a profitable, scalable business much easier.

It’s not permanent or safe

When you use a free email address you are at the mercy of the email provider. They may close down operations or cancel your account for any reason – and there’s little that you can do. These types of accounts are also often hacked and leaked, as well as having poorly performing spam filters, if any. When a better internet or email deal comes along, you’re still stuck using the old address because it’s printed on your business cards, car lettering and flyers.

With your own domain name, you own it and can move it to a new business-grade email service easily. You’ll also have complete control over the addresses within your domain, resetting passwords and creating/closing accounts at will.

Most importantly, it costs less than you think to have branded email.

Give us a call at 01455 209505 to set up your own branded business email service.

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Live Mail – time for an alternative?

Windows Live Mail

We see that many customers have Windows Live Mail, which is a very popular free email program that took over from the venerable old Outlook Express many years ago. However if you are still using Live Mail, its usefulness is becoming more limited so it may be a good time to look for an alternative email program.

Firstly, last year Microsoft made changes to their email systems which made Live Mail incompatible with their email infrastructure. This meant that the Microsoft email systems such as Hotmail, live.com, msn.com and outlook.com no longer worked with Live Mail.

Unfortunately, in January of 2017 Microsoft also stopped supporting the Live Mail program altogether, which meant that Live Mail no longer has the benefit of security or any other updates.

Those of you who are using different email accounts to the above may find that Live Mail is still happily collecting your emails, so you may feel that there isn’t an issue yet. The problem is that without security updates, the program itself is going to be more vulnerable and as email is one of the main conduits for viruses, malware and identity theft, it may not be a good idea to ignore the lack of updates for long.

Also, with no further updates Live Mail will effectively begin to become less reliable as more email providers update their email systems that Live Mail cannot support. Likewise, we are certainly seeing an increase in Live Mail issues and the question needs to be asked – is it worth fixing?

Alternative email programs

Windows 10 has a built-in app called ‘Mail’ (although some people consider it to still be a maturing product)  however if you are not using Windows 10, then you will need to look elsewhere. Clearly Microsoft would love customers to use Outlook, which would also mean a subscription to their Office software suite.

Alternatively you can access emails online such as from Outlook.com and certainly many people do use the very popular online ‘Gmail’ service – but not everyone wants to use an internet browser for email, especially those that are comfortable using an email program.

Alternatives programs are available, such as the email program ‘Thunderbird’ which is one of the most popular free email programs around (from the makers of the ‘Firefox’ internet browser). There are other free programs such as ‘Operamail’ (from the makers of the ‘Opera’ internet browser), ‘Mailbird’ and others, but when choosing your next free email program do bear in mind that some programs are free because they add advertising or market research tracking, so some are better than others when it comes to privacy.

Luckily whichever email program you decide to choose,  Live Mail stores emails in the industry standard .eml format, which means that it is fairly easy to transfer the emails from Live Mail into another program.

If you would like help in moving to another email program, please call 01455 209505.

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Think before you click

avoiding computer scammers

A common way of getting a computer infection is by what is called a ‘Phishing’ email – that is an email pretending to be from a trustworthy source.

Quickly spot the red flags and put phishing emails where they belong:-

1. Poor spelling and grammar

While occasional spelling mistakes happen to even the best of us, errors throughout the entire message should be a warning sign.

2. An offer too good to be true?

Free items or a lottery win sound great, but when the offer comes out of nowhere – there’s definitely cause for concern. Do not to get carried away or click without investigating.

3. Random sender

Phishing has advanced in recent years to include an email or offer designed especially for you or your business. Details from public news, such as a recent function or award, or social media can be used against you. If the sender is unknown and you do not know them in any way, be careful.

4. The website or email address is not quite right

One of the most effective techniques used in phishing emails is to use addresses which sound almost right. For example, [microsoft.info.com] or [pay-pal.com].
Hover over the link with your mouse – if it doesn’t look right, or is completely different from the link text, send that email to the bin.

5. Personal, financial or business details

Alarm bells should ring when any message contains a request for personal, business or financial information, especially passwords.

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