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How to make your eMail System flexible during COVID-19





Most firms who moved to Office 365 are now in a strong position to securely access Email and MS Teams from pretty much any device in any location. But what happens if you haven’t made that move and still have an on premise Exchange server that is starting to struggle with the demands you are making on it?

What can you do now to alleviate some of those problems?

A word of caution about security and GDPR

Before I get into making some recommendations you need to be aware that by opening up your email system to make it more accessible you are in danger of extra security risks and potential GDPR breaches. You should make sure that the systems your staff are using are protected as best they can be, they should be patched up to date, and proper anti-virus software and ideally be dedicated to the task in hand working with your clients and nothing else. All of this is capable of being delivered remotely let us know if you need some help with it.

Improving your Exchange Servers performance

Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam

One thing you can do which will dramatically improve the performance of your Exchange Server and Email system is to implement a proper Email gateway product that sits between the internet and your email server. This will filter out a large proportion of the email that is sent to you before it reaches your exchange server. Products like Messagelabs and Mimecast will take out spam and phishing requests before you staff get them. This also increases security by reducing the amount of attacks that get through. When you think 45% of email sent each day is spam a staggering 14.5 Billion emails a day the impact on your email system will be significant. This is a low risk option reduces email traffic and can under certain configurations provide a much more robust Web Mail service.

Reconfiguring how you access Email

If you are using Outlook on your PC or laptop over a remote connection can place a lot of strain on your Exchange server. You can reduce this by using Outlook in cached mode, initially this will download your email from the server and store it in an OST file on your PC once it is downloaded you can then operate locally without a connection. So you could download all the email you needed to deal with disconnect type your replies and then connect again and send them. This would significant reduce the bandwidth requirement at your offices which could be slowing things down for everyone.

For the Geeks out there also…

1. Use the free Exchange Best Practice Analyser tool from Microsoft

2. Tune the server for optimal memory utilisation the more RAM for user mode applications on the server the better for Exchange

3. Use a RAID array with ideally 15k rpm disks to speed up the performance of the mailstore

4. Make sure your AD Server is on as few hops as possible from the Exchange server ideally over high speed 1Gbs network connections.

Migration

Should you be considering moving to O365 now?

This is by far the best solution for Accounting Firms going forward. Ultimately it is where you are going to end up so maybe you should consider it now. The issues you will face is that you will want to do this with little or no disruption to your staff. This is possible using a product called SkyKick it allows you to synchronise mail both to your local email and to your new Office 365 account. Therefore there is no interruption to email service. Again if you need help with this please let us know.

Finally…

Forwarding

The most simple way of helping the situation to limit load on your Outlook Web Access platform is simply to forward email to another email address. This could be the iCloud Account on you iPhone or another Email system like Gmail, or Hotmail. This is not ideal as it exposes your sensitive client data to another system. But at least it will allow you to access your email easily and at little to no load on your Email Server. To set this up simply login to your Email server in the normal way and setup a forwarding rule.

If you need help now to set these things up please reach out we are happy to help free of charge over this difficult period.

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