E-mail Services: still the most important internet application
Major changes for 2018
USP Networks has offered a wide range of e-mail solutions since 1996, based around standard unix email platforms that provide forwarding, POP3, IMAP, webmail using SMTP. All are subject to commonsense terms and conditions - which are best summed up as "please don't be daft".
Over the past 15 years, many users have not managed their mailboxes well, and just allowed them to accumulate until they fill up and fall over. As connection speeds have risen from 9600bps to 100Mbps, the scope for gathering junk data quickly has gone through the roof.
Over sized attachments have been a considerable problem - no mail attachment should ever be more than 5MByte - please use a file transfer service like dropbox if you want to send high definition images. Some users still have slow connections where big enail attachments can effectively block their mail service. We have frequently had to untangle mailboxes with over 10GByte of mail; "normal" unix mail scheme were designed in that when connection speed were 300 bps, not 100Mbps. This meant unix mail began life expecting to manage a mailbox of maybe 10Mbyte of data. A 10Mbyte mailbox filled up from a 300bps connection over 4 days. These days 10Mbyte fills up in a couple of seconds.
Another big change has been the smartphone revolution. Although now taken for granted, it is less than 7 years since smartphones became functional enough for "normal" people to use with ease. However, we suggest you should be fully aware of the pact you struck with your network provider (and Google, Facebook etc), as explored in this unnerving panorama documentary. You phone is a far more effective tracker than the ankle tag provided with an ASBO...
So now things need to change as we digest and implement the consequences of GDPR and other changes across the industry.
The Email service we have used since 2003 is being retired on 1st August 2018 and we need to move a number of users to alternative solutions ASAP.
New regulations from services like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc. mean that simple Email forwarding - mail sent straight through without spam and virus checks - may not work reliably. The big services may discard mail without warning. The new regime also requires all Email lands into a mail box before forwarding.
Our own "boutique" email services have remained a popular alternative to US-controlled ad-funded services, not least because we have been able to perform complex mapping and routing, but also because we can guarantee we are not scanning mail in order to sell user profiles to advertisers
The new regime means that the curse of spam is a lot better under control, although it will never be eradicated completely.
What this means for USP customers
We have a new cloud server mail platform set-up and ready to ingest migrations. It is more mobile and tablet "friendly" than the existing solution which was developed 10 years before anyone had heard of smart phones or tablets.
Historically, we have provided domain name registrations with mail and web forwarding that also occasionally included (free) mailboxes services - but all free email services must now cease.
We continue to offer free mail redirects on the new platform; however, as advised this may not work reliably when redirecting to Gmail and others - a formal mailbox is the best way to ensure continuity.
We are contacting all current USP mail users to discuss options.
Routing mail for multiple domains (and aliases) into a single mail box will still work where USP is the domain registrar and mail service provider.
Google Apps Mail
Google changed everything with what is effectively infinite searchable capacity - the first 15GByte of which are "free". This means you never need to make an effort to manage your mail, but can find anything at any time as long as you are prepared to top up the storage fees.
We have helped many clients adopt the Google Apps solution - mostly because a Google account is fundamental for Android phone users, and now integrates smoothly with all smartphones - and because of the enormity of Google means that it is (probably) too big to fail.
But there is always a nagging doubt how private it really is. And should the service ever become subject to political or legal intervention, no one knows what could happen - we simply haven't been faced with finding out - yet. But one thing we all know about now is that Google has refined advertising targeting to the point where google knows you better than you do yourself. This can be quite disconcerting.
Google Aps can be used in conjunction with the domain name(s) of your choice, giving you identity control and portability.
We continue to be surprised how many users are willing to tie themselves to their connectivity service providers address - like firstname.lastname@example.org. Whilst Gmail and Yahoo addresses are portable between connectivity providers, you rarely end up with a slick address, more likely an unmemorable compromise like fred.bloggs9766
With Google Aps, you can have a range of options available from organizational calendars, online documents, address books and much more, linked direct into all your staffs' mail. Gmail supports both Imap/POP3 mail for those who wish to keep mail clients and local copies of email. There is support for mobile devices including all the popular smart phones and pads.
Google's accumulation of online support is quite comprehensive, but it can be long winded to wade through. Phone support is much like any other call centre service. It ranges from excellent to diabolical. USP has accumulated a lot of experience using Google aps and can generally provide advice if you get stuck.
USP networks will configure and test your Google apps account for the one time fee of £50+VAT with domain alias or multi email address. The paid account options available are shown on this link, Google Pricing - the starter charge is £3.30+ VAT per user per month: see google pricing for more details.
The cost to migrate an IMAP mail account (100MByte or less) to a google account is £20+VAT
A further option
Although we no longer advise mail forwarding to Google/Hotmail accounts, You can maintain a (single) google mail as a consolidated searchable archive that collects mail from your various IMAP/POP mailbox service(s).
Housekeeping during email migration
USP email services will be migrated to the new email platform before the shutdown date, and this may cause a brief period of downtime while DNS records update and caches are cleared resulting in email bounce messages. Free email forwards will be set-up on the new mail server - however the recipient address may reject the mail forwards and we will not be advised or keep any copies of these emails before forwarding on your server. Please note GDPR regulations mean that transient forwarded email can no longer be stored without complications.
POP3 Mailbox Account 100Mb = £36pa (£20 pa with domain name)
POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol (version 3), comprised of transit mailboxes for email systems so that a user can retrieve and download email to local mail clients (Outlook etc) from a central location where the email waits for delivery. POP3 accounts allow users to have mailboxes on a server with their domain name. This means that if you own the domain name yourdomain.com, you can receive email and send from email@example.com. Although USP provides a send (SMTP) outbound gateway for all users an increasing number of ISPs will not permit their users to access SMTP servers outside their immediate network. In which case you may need to use the outbound SMTP service provided by your ISP. USP email is also accessible via a simple advert-free wemail interface.
Email Forwarding £10.00 pa (free with domain registration)
Available with web-basedl configuration.
Email forwarding is a very useful feature which allows you to have unlimited email addresses at your domain. For example firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com etc. All mail received at these addresses will be automatically forwarded to a SINGLE existing email address e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org.
This feature can make your email address look far more professional. For example email@example.com looks far better than firstname.lastname@example.org
Free feature of our POP3, maildrop and filing accounts
Your USP POP3/IMAP mail boxes can be read and managed through the optional webmail interface (including attachment management). This means that you can access the mail from any suitable web browser. This process does not affect the ability to subsequently download and read the mail from your usual off-line POP3 mail client (Outlook etc).
Virus and Spam Scanning £3 per mailbox per month
A basic scan is included with all mailboxes to keep the most obvious nuisances at bay; and an optional paid-for server-based virus scanning uses a user-configurable combination of whitelist, blacklist and pattern matching, and features a web interface with quarantine zones that allow users to review the contents of their mailboxes for a period AFTER delivery in order to post-tag spam, or release suspect items unfairly quarantined.
Maildrop/ Micro private BBS 100Mb = £36pa
In view of the problems of managing spam, you might like to consider setting up a POP3 mailbox specifically to use as a simple password protected bulletin board, via our simple webmail interface. This address can (and should) be kept confidential and never posted in a public place - or the spammers will inevitably find it. And if they do, you can request a new address and cancel the "compromised" address.