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Email Services

There are two sides to email services that we offer, sending and receiving. We allow broadband customers to send email through our email servers and we also provide incoming as well as outgoing email services for customers who we provide email services for on their domain.

Email settings:

Please see our Support Pages for the email server settings that you should be using.

Sending email

Sending email means that you use an email program of some sort to compose an email and send it. We will accept the email from you and send it on to the right destination. We do check the email you are sending does not have a virus or look like spam and will return an error to you if it does. To send an email you need to configure your email program to use the gateway smtp.aa.net.uk. This is actually several powerful email servers.

You can normally only send email via our email gateway if you are connected via our internet service. If you want to use it from elsewhere you can use authenticated email sending where you configure your email program to use your mailbox (email address) as the login, and your mailbox password as the password. This then allows sending of email from any internet connection via our servers.

You should also use TLS (encrypted link) to connect to our mail servers for sending email or the submission port. These are usually options on most applications in the same place as you configure the mail server. If you are concerned about security you may like to look in to PGP encrypted email which would allow you to send emails only the recipient can ever read.

You can also log in to our web mail system to send email from a web page if you prefer. We recommend Thunderbird as an email program for your computer. It is free, and available for Windows, Linux and Mac systems. Thunderbird has an option to also hold local copies of email. This is a good idea as we cannot guarantee to never lose your stored email, though we take every effort not to.

We would recommend that customers using their own email servers send email directly using MX records rather than to use us as a 'smarthost'. Our servers are configured not to relay bounce messages, as this often causes problems for other Internet users.

Whilst we are happy to relay legitimate email as part of our customers mailing lists, we would suggest that if you have a large mailing list that you operate your own email server and send email directly rather than using our email relay. Some mailing list software have options on how to send email, if there is an option to send 'direct' or 'use MX records' then we'd suggest using that. Do speak to Support if you have any questions.

To help reduce the spam we relay from infected of hacked computers, we run messages through spam and phishing signatures which check for known virus, phishing and spam messages. We also check the IP connecting to us against 'DNS Blacklists'. (If you find your IP is on a blacklist then the MX Toolbox site is a good place to test your IP address against lots of blacklists.) Occasionally we manually block IPs from relaying email, in these cases we normally send an abuse report to the contact we have. If we deny access then a suitable message with details is given. You can speak to Support who can help diagnose a problem with you.

Receiving email

Receiving email means that email is sent by someone else and gets to our mail servers where we hold it for you ready to collect and read. It is also possible to have the email sent direct to your email servers and use us a backup in case your servers or internet connection is down. This is set up using DNS for your domain.

Assuming we are holding your email for you we will hold the email in a mailbox. This is just an email address. The email address is anything you like followed by an @ followed by your domain (or a sub domain if you like). You can set up the mailboxes on our control pages for your domain. You can have as many mailboxes as you like.

When we receive the email we will check if you have aliases set up. These are rules which mean mail to one email address is sent to another, or to several other email addresses. The can be useful for different email addresses to the same mailbox, e.g. bob@example.com and robert@example.com may want to go to the same person and so the same mailbox. This is also useful for a group email address that needs to go to many people and so many mailboxes. Generally you need a mailbox for each person that receives email. You can set up aliases on our control pages for your domain.

We check for known viruses and reject any emails that contain one. The other important step we carry out is to check if the email appears to be spam (junk mail). We give the email a score. If the score if very high we reject it. If it is very low if goes in to your mailbox. In between we put [SPAM] in the subject and will put it in your mailbox. Each mailbox can have separate folders and if you have a spam folder we put the likely spam email in there for you. We also delete email from the spam folder after a while to stop it being cluttered up. If you have not seen an email you are expecting check the spam folder. The level that is considered very high or very low is configurable per mailbox on our control pages for your domain.

If you configure your own DNS and want to use our email service, the top MX to define for incoming email is your domain followed by incoming-mail.co.uk, e.g. example.com.incoming-mail.co.uk. If using our DNS we normally set up MX records for you, but if you have to put these back set the MX record to secondary-mx.co.uk.

Email storage

We do add up the maximum amount of data storage in each mailbox in the month and if the total for the domain exceeds 1GB then you are charged for each extra 1GB or part at £1.20/GB.

High volume email users

The basic (light usage) email package includes 1GB or storage, and processing of your inbound and outbound emails, as well as spam filtering and so on. There are no limits on number of mailboxes or number of emails you send and receive. However, based on the number of emails we receive and check per original target domain per month we may decide you are no longer light usage and change your domain to a standard email account or a high usage user with an additional monthly charge. We will email you to tell you that the number of emails reaches a threshold for standard or high usage levels, and you have to reach the threshold for three months in a row to be changed to a different classification.

There are things you can do to minimise the levels of emails processed, and these are the same measures to minimise spam:-

  • Email to invalid email addresses is rejected immediately and does not count, so we recommend not using wildcard email aliases (i.e. that accept any email address)
  • A lot of spam is sent to common first names, so making your email firstname.surname@yourdomain can help reduce the levels of validly addressed emails which count towards usage
  • Don't post your email address on newsgroups or web sites as they can be harvested and used for spam.
  • You may want to set up aliases for specific uses, e.g. giving an email to an on-line store. Then, if they leak your email address you know who leaked it and can remove the alias.

Email etiquette

A few points to consider when sending emails.

  • Please send emails in plain text not HTML. Usually an email is a simple paragraph or two of text. This is far better sent as a plain text email. It keeps it short and quick and it can be read by any mail client even on mobile phone email clients, blackberrys, and so on. We recommend making plain text the default email composition setting in Thunderbird account settings.
  • Be considerate with large attachments. In fact with any attachment. Not everyone wants a huge email. Not everyone can read every file format. Not everyone can read word documents even. If you are quoting something on a web site, quote the web site address rather than attaching a large file.
  • When replying you normally quote at least some of the original email. Cut off any signature (should be removed anyway but not all email clients send signatures correctly). Remove irrelevant parts. Quote relevant parts with lines starting ">" (thunderbird does this for you) and reply below each part to which you are replying.
  • If you have a signature block, keep it short, ideally no more than 4 lines of text.
  • There is no real point in replying to spam
  • Please be polite

Encryption

Depending on your email client you may be able to digitally sign email and to encrypt emails. To do this you will need to know about using PGP.

Mor information

We have more information about our email services on our Support Pages.