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Homeworking with VPOP3

In these troubled times, many of you will be working from home, or thinking about working from home. This article is intended to help you out in that situation.

Email Forwarding – not the best way

A common request is how to forward email to personal email addresses to allow home working. While that may seem like a simple solution, often it is very problematic:

  • the personal email account may filter forwarded emails as spam, because they can look very much like spoofed emails
  • if you forward messages which are spam or which look like spoofed emails, then you could end up with your mail server being flagged as sending spam, which could end up with you not being able to send any email at all
  • the original sender may receive bounce or notification messages from the personal email account or the user’s home ISP. That looks unprofessional
  • when the user replies to a message, then it may appear to come from that home user’s personal email address
  • when you return to the office, then the forwarded messages will either be missing, or the user will have a lot of sorting out to do, of all the emails that have arrived while they’ve been working from home

Important: If you decide to use forwarding anyway, never, ever, ever mark the forwarded messages as spam in the personal email account, and make sure that all the home workers know this. If you do mark the forwarded messages as spam, you will almost certainly end up with your office VPOP3 server being blacklisted as a spam sender, which could lead to your office ISP blocking you from sending any mail, or suspending your account, or worse. Just the mere fact of forwarding spam could get you blacklisted, but marking the forwarded messages as spam is much worse.

Accessing VPOP3 remotely

The alternative to forwarding email is to access your VPOP3 server remotely. VPOP3 is a full email server, so it can work just as an ISP’s mail server, but is private to your business, and you have full control over it. All you need to do is have some way of addressing it (eg a static IP address, DNS name or Dynamic DNS name) and change permissions to allow access to it.

In this case, the email will not have to go through anyone’s home email account, so the potential problems with the forwarding method will not occur.

VPOP3 User manual – allowing remote access to VPOP3

If your users will be taking their work computers home, and that is the only computer they will be accessing their email on, then this option will work well with either the VPOP3 Basic or VPOP3 Enterprise edition of VPOP3. You may need to reconfigure the email account to access the external of the VPOP3 server, rather than the internal one, but no other changes will be needed.

If your users will be using their own home PCs, iPads, smartphones, etc and/or will be accessing their mail from multiple devices, then the best option is to use IMAP4 for your email access. In that case, all the mail is stored on the VPOP3 mail server at the office, and any devices will synchronise with the mail server.

That will mean that if a message is deleted or moved to another folder whilst the user is working from home, then when they return to the office, they won’t have to delete or move the message again, because it will all synchronise.

Similarly, if a user sends a message from their personal laptop, it will appear in the ‘Sent items’ folder on their work PC when they are back in the office.

To use IMAP4, you need to use VPOP3 Enterprise. This may require a licence upgrade, but it is not expensive – for instance for a 25 user licence, the upgrade from VPOP3 Basic to VPOP3 Enterprise is only £85 + VAT (that’s just over £3 + VAT per user). If you are upgrading to VPOP3 Enterprise from VPOP3 Basic, you will probably want to move all your existing messages from your email client’s personal store onto the server, but that can be as simple as drag & drop (or we have a PST import tool if you prefer).

We can help

At this time, we can answer any further questions you may have by email if you want to set up home working.

Further, if you have an active Software Maintenance or Support contract with us, we are willing to remote in to your VPOP3 server PC and change the configuration as necessary to allow remote access. Usually this will cost £30 + VAT, but at this time we are willing to do it free of charge. If you are upgrading your licence to VPOP3 Enterprise, we will also install it for you remotely if you wish (in UK office hours).

Note that you may also need to set up port forwarding in your router. We can try to do that as well, at the same time, as long as you know the admin login details for your router, and as long as we know the router, or can work it out… (No guarantees there, are there are hundreds of different types of router)

For extra security, if you are using VPOP3 Enterprise, we recommend that you add an SSL certificate into VPOP3 to encrypt the connections between your users’ home PCs and your mail server. This costs £29.95 + VAT for a certificate for 1 year. Unfortunately, we can’t give this away for free, because it costs us to obtain these certificates. However, if you do this, we are willing install the certificate into VPOP3 for you.

Note that the free support offers above only apply to the situations described above – not general technical support – and only until the end of June 2020. Note that you may need to schedule a time for us to perform any remote support as we may be busy. Please email us with your requests.

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