Computer Laboratory

Information for Windows users

Introduction to email under Windows

There are a number of ways in which Computer Laboratory members can read email if they use some form of Windows as their main OS. The simplest is to use a Unix based mailer running via eXceed. This has the advantage that your email is all handled in the same world as the majority of other users and there are fewer things that can go wrong with delivery plus the advantage of more users to get help from. The disadvantage is that the mailer is not especially well integrated with other facilities and so if you receive a large number of structured documents that originate in the Windows or Mac world then reading them will be harder work.

For occasional users of Windows the strong recommendation is that you use eXceed and a Unix based mail client.

The second alternative that is available is to use a POP/IMAP client and collect your mail from a suitable server. We do not run such a server within the Computer Laboratory so you will need to connect to one provided elsewhere. The recommended server is the one provided by the Computing Service - hermes.cam.ac.uk. Accounts on that are obtained from the Computing Service reception. Your incoming email will then need to be forwarded on to that server by editing your Unix .forward file.

For users who access email from a number of locations such as college, home and work this is a good option.

The final option is to use Outlook via an Exchange server, remote access is supported over PPTP. This provides an integrated system for mail, calendar and contacts management and supports synchronisation with PDA's.

Use of Outlook and Exchange is recommended for users who require its added functionality and do not need to work on email from different platforms.

Details of how to set up each of these options is described

Email via eXceed on Unix

This is the simplest to configure. Your environment will already be setup to support this. All you need to do is start a eXceed session and then start up your preferred email client when in Unix.

Attachments will have to be handled by saving them to the Unix filespace which can be accessed via \\homes\homes under Windows.

Email using IMAP/POP client

If you wish to read email on a number of different machines then you should seriously consider using IMAP and storing your messages on a server. If you use a laptop or workstation then you could use POP but do backup the mail to a storage device.

Outlook Express can be configured to use an IMAP or POP server (or even to interact with Web based servers such as Hotmail) but will need to be configured to send email to a SMTP server. When you are on Computer Laboratory VLANs the most suitable SMTP port to connect to is the host smtp.hermes.cam.ac.uk. Other outside SMTP access is blocked.

An example file that is adequate for this purpose is shown below for user gsm10. Please make sure you read the web page that tells you how to configure .forward files

gsm10@hermes.cam.ac.uk

Outlook via Exchange

To use this you must first arrange for an Exchange mailbox to be created for you. To do this email win-admin@cl.cam.ac.uk, using a personal email address. When the account has been created you will be able to send email to and from Windows. To arrange for you email to be directly sent to the Exchange server you need to modify the .forward file in your home directory under Unix.

An example file that is adequate for this purpose is shown below for user gsm10. Please make sure you read the web page that tells you how to configure .forward files

m-gsm10

Setting up Outlook

It is recommended that emails are sent in plain text. This can be configured in Tools/Options/Mail Format. Select Plain Text in the "Compose in this message format" drop-down box.
Also, make sure that the "Use Microsoft Office Word 2003 to edit email messages" and "Use Microsoft Office Word 2003 to read Rich Text email messages" boxes are unticked.

Spam filtering in Outlook

For Outlook 2003, there is the option of using the built-in Junk email filtering. Actions/Junk email/Junk E-Mail Options displays the following dialog box.
This is the recommended spam filter, as it requires no set up other than to change to change the level of protection.

For the first few weeks, you will need to monitor your Junk Email folder to make sure important emails are not being filtered into it by mistake. You can manage any incoming email by right clicking the message and selecting Junk Email, where you have the following options:

  • Add Sender to Blocked Senders List
  • Add Sender to Safe Senders List
  • Add Sender's Domain (@example.com) to Safe Senders List
  • Add Recipient to Safe Recipients List
  • Mark as Not Junk...
  • Junk E-mail Options...

Computer Services also provides a spam filter using exchange rules. Select Tools/Rules Wizard and then add a new rule. Start with a blank rule, select to 'check when a message arrives', next select 'specific works in the message header' -- click on the underlined 'specific words' and add "X-Cam-SpamScore: ssss" (where the number of letters s indicates the level of filtering -- lower numbers being more likely to cause false positives; 4 is a reasonable starting point) and then in the next form select move to a folder or delete as you prefer. If you select delete then do scan the Deleted Items folder to check the filtering is not rejecting important mail.

Out-of-office reply from Outlook

Some care should be taken using the Outlook "Out of Office Reply" facility since its behaviour is, by default, rather different to what most users expect. The only valid way of using this is to set up a custom rule in all cases so that email sent to lists of which you are a member, does not get answered.

Out of Office Properties sheet

You should then click on the Template button and type into the 'Message body' box the text you want to send back to the sender of the message - for example the period of time you are away and alternative contact information. Please ensure you remove it promptly on your return.