Thursday, January 28, 2010

E-mail help content - Attachment queries

A few people asked why the list of attachments on our help pages that are disallowed differed from the one on the Google help content for Googlemail/Gmail, and some people even helped out with some testing of different attachment types - which was much appreciated.

We've looked into this with Google, and the answer is relatively simple. On the Google Apps platform (where our customer mailboxes are living as we migrate over to Google), the configuration is sometimes slightly different to what is on Googlemail/Gmail as Google tends to try things out (such as testing different type of attachment rules in this case) on their direct to users platform before rolling them out to partner instances - e.g. like they do with Google Labs.

In other words, our help content was incorrect and I'm in the middle of writing up a brief to get the help content updated.

So apologies for the inconvenience and it made sense when Google explained it to me!

Thanks to those who took the time to raise this one with us.

I've also posted this to our Help & Support forums.

Monday, January 25, 2010

blueyonder e-mail migration FAQ

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to give us some feedback on the blueyonder migrations to Google so far.

We've now uploaded some answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which can be found here and are repeated below:

Note: In general this advice also applies to and e-mail addresses, although those customers have been on the Google platform for some time.

We recommend all customers use Webmail as their main way of accessing their e-mail as you can only access the advanced features of Virgin Media Mail like chat and the advanced search function via Webmail.

    Why am I receiving old mails when migrated?

    A fundamental goal of the migration is to try and ensure that emails present in the old mailboxes are migrated to the new mailboxes and that no email is lost during the migration process.

    What we’ve found is that some email client software used by customers over the years has left some emails on the email servers by mistake when the email client software should have deleted them.

    As it is impossible for us to identify all of the various email clients in use and their particular behaviour, these emails are also being moved to the new mailboxes to ensure that no emails are lost.

    Also any emails previously sent using webmail are also being moved to the new mailboxes.

    If you do not want these e-mails any longer, we suggest logging in to webmail and deleting them.

    Do I need to make any changes to access my mail from multiple PC’s or devices?

    This depends on how you’re accessing your email from multiple PC’s or devices.

    If you are using POP (which most e-mail software is configured to use), or a combination of POP and webmail, to access your emails then you need to enable something called recent: mode on all the PC’s or devices (e.g. mobile phones) where you are using POP to access your email so that any emails received in the last 30 days can be seen from them all.

    More information on this can be found on our help pages and in this forum sticky post.

    If you are using IMAP, or a combination of IMAP and webmail, on all of the PC’s or devices then you should not have to change anything.

    If you are using a combination of POP and IMAP then we would recommend configuring all the PC’s or devices to use IMAP where possible. If your device does not support IMAP then configure POP for that device with recent: mode as described above.

    If you are using webmail on multiple devices or machines, you don't need to enable recent: mode or make any other settings changes.

    Do I need to change any other settings in my email client software?

    Not right now. While we’ve added additional email security features with new settings to use on the new platform your old settings will continue to work for now.

    The new security settings will be required later, but we’ll be in touch with more information before that happens and a tool that’ll make the changes for you if you want.

    You can take advantage of the new security features now if you want, you just need to switch to the new settings detailed in this forum sticky post.

    If you need help with your settings remember there are plenty of step-by-step guides in our knowledge base.

    Why am I seeing e-mails disappearing?

    This is normally a symptom caused by accessing your mailbox from multiple PC’s or devices.

    Check the 'Do I need to change any other settings in my email client software?‘ FAQ answer above for the changes you need to make to stop this happening.

    Why am I getting an error when trying to login?

    In the last year we’ve been standardising the way all Virgin Media Internet customers log in to My Virgin Media to simplify the process for everyone.

    Previously customers have been able to log in using any email address (email alias) associated with a mailbox. Now the primary email address of that mailbox must be used to login to My Virgin Media and webmail.

    If you are not sure of what the primary e-mail address on your mailbox is, there is a tool that will help you find this on the Webmail login page. The tool can also be accessed here.

    Note that this email address can also be used to login to POP or IMAP as the Username configured in an email client. This is the recommended setting for this although the existing Username configured in your email client will continue to work until we require some additional new security settings to be used at some point in the future. We’ll be contacting you at that point with more information about this, along with a tool that will make the required changes for you if you wish.

    If you want to take advantage of the new additional security features right now you can modify you current settings to the new settings. Details of the new settings can be found in this forum sticky post.

    If you need help with your email software, remember there are plenty of step-by-step guides in our knowledge base.

    If you are using the correct e-mail address and still having problems accessing your e-mail from Webmail (and any e-mail software) you might want to try resetting your password in My Virgin Media to see if that helps.

    What if the primary email address of the mailbox isn’t the one that I want to use?

    Unfortunately you can’t change this right now as Google only introduced a capability to change the primary mailbox address quite recently and we are still looking into how to best implement this for our customers.

    If you are using webmail to send and receive emails you can however ensure that the email address you use to send and receive emails is set to your primary email address by selecting the “Account” option in Webmail settings and selecting your primary email address as the default “Send mail as:” address.

    How do I turn off the spam filter?

    The Google platform has advanced spam filtering which will pick up the vast majority of junk mail, but you will need to tune the filter for your mailbox to maximise its effectiveness (so that it knows what you consider to be spam and not spam).

    You do this by accessing your mailbox via Webmail and clicking on the 'Report Spam' button for mail in your inbox that you consider to be junk mail. Similarly you should also periodically check the 'Spam' folder in Webmail and click on the 'Not Spam' button for any e-mails you consider to be genuine.

    If you already have a preferred anti-spam system configured on your email client and want to use this instead of the advanced Google anti-spam system you can do so by using the filter settings in webmail.

    The instructions on how to do this are here, and the filter you need is:

    Matches: is:spam
    Do this: Never send it to Spam

    When setting up this particular filter a warning message will be displayed. In this instance the warning message should be ignored as it is not applicable for this particular filter.

    Once configured, this filter setting will continue to deliver spam to the inbox of your email client software where it can then be handled by your existing anti-spam system.

    How can I set up another mailbox?

    Once your existing mailboxes have been migrated to the new Google platform any new mailboxes created by you will be mailboxes rather than mailboxes.

    We’ve also increased the number of individual mailboxes that you can create from 5 to 10.

    Why are there three screens before I get to my Webmail

    While the accounts are being migrated to the new platform we need an additional step in place during the Webmail login process. This is required so to ensure that you access your email at the old platform or the Google one dependent on whether you have been migrated or not.

    Once the migration process has been completed, this additional step will be removed as this check will no be longer required.

    Why are messages still on the server even though I have deleted them with my e-mail software?

    Messages are now kept on the server by default so that these can also be accessed from Webmail if the user wishes to do so. With the storage allocation of mailboxes having been increased from 30MB to 7GB the previous default behaviour of deleting emails to avoid filling up mailboxes is no longer required.

    If you wish to change this default behaviour, login to Webmail, choose ‘Settings’ and then ‘Forwarding and POP/IMAP’. In the ‘POP Download’ section, option number 2 has a dropdown menu in it. Select ‘delete Virgin Media’s copy’ and save the setting. However please bear in mind that if you choose this option the only emails you will have access to in your inbox in Webmail will be the ones that you have not downloaded to your PC or other device.

    Alternately, if you are accessing your mailbox from multiple PC’s or devices and are using the recent: setting, this will keep your emails on the server for 30 days making them accessible from multiple PC’s and devices.

    Why is an e-mail put in the bin folder of Webmail when I delete it from my e-mail software?

    The bin folder is the equivalent of a “deleted items” or “trash” folder in email clients. Deleted items are placed in the bin folder to make them accessible from webmail or from e-mail software using the IMAP method of accessing the mailbox. Emails are automatically deleted from the bin folder 30 days after having been placed there.

    Why does an e-mail stay in the ‘All Email’ folder when I delete it from my e-mail software?

    This behaviour is specific to use of IMAP within email clients. Further details on this behaviour can be found here.

    To fully delete the message in IMAP drag the message from the All Mail folder into the bin folder, delete it (will appear with strike through) and then purge the folder using the purge option (e.g. ‘Empty Deleted Items’) of your email software.

    When do I get migrated to Google?

    Many customers have already been moved to the Google platform, but those who have not done so yet (with addresses) will be moved over coming weeks.

    Customers with e-mail addresses will be moved over to Google when we’ve finished the migration. We will be writing to these customers with more information ahead of them being moved to the Google platform.

    Can I use the name I use in my e-mail address with as well?

    At the moment you cannot use the name you use in your email address with as well.

    While any new e-mail addresses created end with, we have 'reserved' any existing names used in email addresses in the three 'old' e-mail domains so that they cannot be allocated to any other customer.

    For example, if the name richard.branson existed in the domain no new customer would be able to use the same name ending in, as it is allocated for Richard to use it should he decide to when we offer this opportunity later this year.

    If the name exists in more than one domain – e.g. if the name richard.branson also exists in the domain – both address owners will be given an equal opportunity to have the address allocated to them.

    We will be writing to customers with more information on this once the migration to Google has been completed.

    In the meantime if you try to get new names ending that are the same as your name in one of the ‘old’ e-mail domains in My Virgin Media you will see a message saying the name has already been taken.

    When I can use my email name with will the address still work?

    Yes, you will still be able to use the old email address to receive emails into the associated mailbox. Note that the new email address will be the one used to login to the mailbox.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Virgin Media Mail Update - 300K in

Today we've migrated the 300,000th mailbox to the Google platform, meaning we are a good way through the second of our e-mail migrations – Virgin Media National customers with e-mail addresses already having been migrated, and customers with addresses being next. Oh, and of course new customers have been on the Google platform with e-mail addresses for some time.

So how is it going? Actually pretty well. We started off small, quickly moved to migrating 50,000 mailboxes a day onto Google and are now talking about going even faster – which is actually over and above what our plan was!

With something this massive there's always a risk of problems, but thankfully we've had hardly any issues and the majority of calls that came in were customers looking for general assistance on how the new webmail works and some account enquiries as to how to access the new platform.

So in short we're generally very happy in how things are going. Our technical support teams are getting some really good feedback, and we hope customers are enjoying the 7GB mailboxes, the new chat and search features and the massively improved webmail interface that's integrated into our site's single sign on.

I spent 3 days with our technical support team last week to help out with any questions and queries they were having as well as to see some of the direct feedback coming in from our customers – and here's the team helping them out in Liverpool if anyone's interested:
We're expecting the first pass of all mailbox migrations to finish within the next 2-3 weeks, and to have cleaned up any outstanding mailboxes in February.

We've also found a few bugs and issues since we started the migrations, and it's worth an update on what we've found out and what we're doing about them.

Some of them have already been fixed – such as one causing intermittent errors when sending mails – and what we're working on right now is:
  • Occasional errors when using IMAP to access your mailbox. Service is usually restored on a retry, but we're working on a fix.
  • Webspace renaming errors – a coding fix is being developed for this
  • Inability to delete aliases – a fix is also being developed for this
  • Attachment rules on help pages being inconsistent with what appears to be the behaviour in live – we're checking these out with Google
The most common issue reported is some customers reporting old e-mails being redelivered when they are migrated to Google. From looking into this, the cause appears to be IMAP folders that have become unsubscribed (but are still present in a user's mailbox, hence the mail is migrated to Google) which is either down to the software used or changes the user has made to their setup within that software.

At present the team are working on identifying the pattern of this further, but it's quite intricate and is down to third party software used by some customers rather than the migration process itself – we're seeing what we can do to limit the impact of this though, without impacting 'genuine' mail naturally!

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to feedback so far.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snowme Working

It's been a very cold week, and where I am (Surrey) both Debz and I have been snowed in since Tuesday and home working. Here's what the snow was like at lunchtime (yes, it was that dark) when we ventured out for a short walk on Wednesday:At least there's been a very warm Westie to keep the feet warm when on the laptop on the sofa though!

PlusNet have reported an increase in VPN (Virtual Private Network) traffic - and we've also seen noticeably more home working going on this week across our broadband network (as we saw during February's snowfall), with around a 17% increase in traffic during working hours coming from consumer connections.

Our business division this week advocated businesses having contingency plans to support additional levels of home working in cases like this, and we've been practicing what we preach with (on Wednesday) 2,400 of our staff members home working remotely via our Citrix server farm - three times more than normal levels.

Speaking of which, I can't escape the Excel spreadsheet I need to work on any longer! I hope everyone has a warm weekend.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The second Google migration

Happy New Year everyone.

This morning we made the 'go' call to kick off the second migration of customers' mailboxes to the Virgin Media Mail (Google) platform, those customers with e-mail addresses.

Before Christmas we did an internal staff trial – with 85% of respondents finding it to be an improvement on the previous platform – and have now worked through all the feedback, resolved a couple of minor bugs and closed down the trial as a success.

On Monday we sent the first batch of pre-migration e-mails to over 500K customers (the rest of the mails go out next week) to inform them of the pending migration, what will change and to link off to the help pages – and today we move the first 1,000 customer mailboxes over to the Google platform. Customers also get a 'welcome' e-mail once their mailbox has been moved onto Google.

Last year we launched Virgin Media Mail for new customers and completed the first of our three migrations (for customers with e-mail addresses), leaving us to complete the remainder of the migrations ( customers will follow the blueyonder migration) and to launch the 'Domain Change', where we will give existing customers the opportunity to adopt the style of e-mail addresses if they want to.

Also keep an eye out for some great new help videos about e-mail over coming weeks. We hope they will help guide customers through the Google experience when needed – customers seem to really like it once they're using it!