Help with Email Attachments

Attaching files to an email message is a very convenient way to distribute documents. But it may be difficult or awkward for the recipient, so please keep the following points in mind to make life easier for them. They are particularly important if you are sending to many people as when you send to a mailing list.

  • Don't use attachments unnecessarily when plain text will do. For example a simple memo may be better sent as text within the email message than as an attachment. It is both quicker and easier for recipients to read the text in the email message than to open an attachment.
  • Make sure that recipients can read your attached files. Everyone using a PC in the University can read Microsoft Office 2010 documents but this may not be the case elsewhere.
  • Be particularly wary of attachments you receive unexpectedly. Many computer viruses are transmitted as attachments to email messages.
  • DO NOT open either documents or programs which you would not normally expect to receive.
  • Keep the size of attachments to a minimum. Staff and students on all the major campuses have high speed network connections, but this is not the case for everyone. A large attached file can be impossible to read from home. It is best to avoid diagrams and pictures in attachments unless they are absolutely necessary.
  • The total maximum message size allowed that we can send/receive is 50mb. However please bear in mind that External Organisations may have lower send/receive limits.
  • When you want a lot of people to be able to see a document, consider using the Internet. Access to documents on University web servers may be restricted to University staff or students if desired. You could still send an email giving the URL. This would save space on everybody's systems. For more information contact the IT Service Desk on ext.2000, or 01902-322000 externally.

Restrictions on file types sent as attachments

Viruses are commonly spread via executable files sent as attachments to emails. For this reason, the University mail system will not deliver attachments that have a certain file type, which could potentially spread a virus. If you try and send a message that includes a dangerous attachment, you will get a warning, and the attachment will not be delivered.

Examples of file types that will not be delivered include: .exe, .com, .scr (screen saver), and Access files, such as .mdb.

ZIP files are not treated as unsafe in themselves, but the list of contents will be inspected, and the ZIP file will not be accepted if any of the contained files are unsafe ones.

The simplest way to send a file of an unsafe type is to change the file extension. For example, change the name "myprog.exe" to "myprog.ex_", and tell the recipient to change it back before use.