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General Email FAQ

This document is an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list of the most common email-related problems dealt with by the IT Services Helpdesk.

Click on one of the topic names to view the questions for that topic. To view the answer for any question, click the '+/-' link. Click again on any link to hide its contents. (If the links don't work for you, see the advice at the bottom of this page.)

  • [+/-] Getting Started

    • I'm new to Oxford - how do I get set up with email? [+/-]

      The central Oxford University email system is part of the Nexus service. All new University card-holders new get automatically issued with an Oxford account which gives them access to Nexus and other services. A letter containing the account details should be received within a day or two of the card, and at the same University address. The letter contains details on how to activate the account.

      Once activated, access to Nexus is either by the Outlook Web Access service ( or via an email client such as Outlook, Entourage, Thunderbird or Eudora - for client configuration information see our web pages on Accessing Nexus via your email program.

      For further information see the main IT Services email web page.

    • My Oxford account's activation code is lost or has expired. [+/-]
      • Lost activation codes can be replaced by the IT Services Help Centre either in person, by internal University post to your college/department, or by email to a member of your registered local IT support staff on request from them.
      • Expired activation codes can be temporarily unexpired via a request to the IT Services Help Centre.


    • What is the difference between Outlook Web Access and Nexus? [+/-]

      Nexus is Oxford University's central email system. You can access your Nexus email account by several methods. One way is to use an email client program such as Outlook or Eudora. Another option is to use your normal web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Netscape, Safari etc.) to access Nexus's web interface which is called Outlook Web Access ( You can use whichever method suits you best, or even alternate between them - you access exactly the same remote inbox and mail folders in each case. You get access to more Nexus features (such as calendar, contacts, to-do lists) if you use a Microsoft client (Outlook or Entourage) or access Outlook Web Access using Internet Explorer. Note that email clients operating in POP mode normally remove new messages from the central system so they are then only accessible on that local machine.

    • How do I set up my email software to access Nexus? [+/-]

      See Accessing Nexus via your email program.

    • What are IMAP and POP? [+/-]


    • How do I transfer my email from another system onto Nexus? [+/-]

      Any IMAP-capable email client such as Outlook Express, Netscape Mail, Eudora etc. should be able to transfer messages directly into Nexus IMAP folders using the client's own facilities for moving messages and folders. This includes items from the client's local folders, and also items from other IMAP system to which the client has a connection.

      Nexus's web interface has no facility to import messages or address books. You can, however, use Outlook (available on the Help Centre computers) to import your contacts from a variety of other systems, so long as these are in a suitable format (it may be necessary to export the addresses from their present location using an export facility in the old email client). Once you have imported them into Nexus, you can access them in Nexus's Outlook Web Access interface.

      The Finishing computer use at Oxford web page's section on Material stored in your IT Services accounts contains information about the moving of email accounts which may be adaptable for this problem.

  • [+/-] Password and Quota Problems

    • I've forgotten my password or it has expired. [+/-]
      • Forgotten and Expired passwords can be reset using Webauth, provided you have previously set up a Webauth security question
      • If you have not set up a security question, or have forgotten the answer, you will need to obtain a Rescue Code from the IT Services Help Centre. Rescue Codes can be issued in person, by internal University post to your college/department, or by email to a member of your registered local IT support staff on request from them.


    • How do I change my password? [+/-]

      Your password is changed via the web page at: Please read the information on the web page about how to choose a new password.

    • I changed my password and now I can't get in to my email. [+/-]

      If you use an email client such as Outlook Express that remembers your password (to save you typing it in each time), the stored setting will need updating to match your new password. There is a web page on how to do this in various email clients.

      If you can't get your Nexus password to work:

      • you could be mis-typing it - passwords and usernames are case-sensitive so make sure you don't have your keyboard's <CapsLock> key turned on
      • you may be using the wrong password (e.g. you set it to something slightly different to the password you are trying, or are using the password for some other service)
      • The password may have expired. Most new passwords issued by IT Services have only a 30-day lifetime, during which you need to change them.

      Contact the IT Services Help Centre for further advice.

    • I've deleted lots of messages but I still seem to be over my quota. [+/-]

      Some possible reasons:

      • You may not have successfully Purged the items you have marked for deletion
      • You have deleted numerous small messages but one or more large ones remain
      • New messages that were waiting to be delivered have now arrived and filled up your inbox again
      • You have left an email session running on another machine which is preventing your account from being updated. If you can't close down the old session, you will need to contact the IT Services Help centre for assistance.


    • How do I find how much disk quota I've got left? [+/-]

      For Nexus accounts, login to Nexus Account Settings and select the [Show email usage and quota] option.

    • Can I get my quota increased? [+/-]

      For personal accounts, Nexus quotas are currently fixed for all at 2GB. Generic accounts for departmental or college administrative use, or relating to academic projects or groups, can apply for additional quota. Requests for additional quota should be sent to supplying details of the account concerned. Up to 1GB additional quota can be provided free but additional quota of 3GB or more is charged and can be bought by your local ITSS through the registration system (providing costs can be borne by the department or college).

  • [+/-] Problems and Limits with Sending Email

    • I can read my email OK but get "SMTP" error messages when I try and send emails. [+/-]
      • If you are using Outlook 2003 or an older version of Outlook then manually visit the Microsoft update website and use Microsoft Update to check that you have no missing service packs or updates for Microsoft Office or Outlook
      • Your SMTP server for sending mail 'from' an University of Oxford email address should be and the options for secure (SSL/TLS) connections should be enabled (see our email configuration web pages for details). The sending port should be set to 587
      • If you wish to use a third party email account via a mail client from within Oxford, you will need to connect to their SMTP server on port 587
      • If you are using anti-virus software such as AVG or Norton Anti-virus whose mail-scanning options don't support secure connections, you may need to turn off the scanning of outgoing mail in the anti-virus software.


    • I get an error message when sending a message - what does it mean? [+/-]

      Some of the more common failed delivery messages for Nexus are described at the Interpreting failed-delivery reports page. If you cannot find your message there, you can ask for help from your local IT support staff or the IT Services Help Centre.

    • Why do people get a blank message back when they email me? [+/-]

      This may be because you have activated your Out of Office reply but have not entered any message text.

    • What's the maximum size of message I can send on Nexus? [+/-]

      The size limit for email messages on the Nexus system is 100 MB. This includes the email 'envelope' and any attachments. External email systems may have a lower limit, so your recipient may not be able to receive large messages even if you can send them.

    • How many recipients can I add to an email? [+/-]

      The short answer to this question is 500. However, it is not usually a good idea to send email to a large number of recipients in one go as mail servers may well treat the messages as spam. Many email clients will allow you to 'mail merge' and send email one at a time. An added advantage of this is that you are usually able to tailor the message (for example, to have it begin with "Dear [First_Name] [Last_Name]"). Another excellent way of making mass mailing easier and avoiding the problems already mentioned is to create a mailing list that you can manage yourself. See Electronic mailing lists for information on how to create and manage mailing lists.

    • I can't get Eudora's SSL settings to work? [+/-]

      If you are trying to configure Eudora's SSL options and clicking the Last SSL Info button just results in an error message "You have never checked mail using SSL connection with this personality since the last time you started Eudora", then:

      • Try sending a message to yourself - this will probably result in an connection failure error message.
      • Choose the [Tools/Personalities] option
      • In the list of personalities that appears, right-click the one whose setting you want to change (there may only be one) and choose [Properties]
      • Click the Last SSL Info button - this should open up the Certficate Manager screen

      For more information on configuring Eudora, see: Eudora

  • [+/-] Undelivered, Missing or Accidentally Deleted Emails

    • I accidentally deleted some messages - can I get them back? [+/-]

      Possibly. Deleted items go to your Deleted Items folder. If you deleted it from there as well (and some people's email programs are set to Empty Deleted Items on exit), you now have a second chance with Oxford Nexus. Items are kept in the Recover Deleted Items store for a further seven days which you can access using Outlook or Outlook Web Access Premium (with Internet Explorer). See the Deleted email - restore page for details.

    • Messages sent to me don't arrive. [+/-]

      If the sender gets an error response, this may indicate the nature of the problem, for example:

      • VIRUS ALERT - the message contained a virus and was intercepted by the University's email scanning system.
      • SMTP error 550 - Recipient address does not exist. means they are using an incorrect email address - carefully check both parts of the email address either side of the '@' sign.. If this problem is following a direct reply to a message you sent, your own email client could be misconfigured.
      • Child process of local_delivery_mbx transport returned 75 usually means that your email account does not have sufficient free space for the message to be delivered. You need to free up some space by deleting and purging unwanted messages.
      • SMTP error 550-Invalid HELO... may mean that the sender may be using a misconfigured email service - for more information see Sending mail to Oxford.

      If the sender receives no error response, it could be that:

      • The message was actually delivered but was intercepted by your junk-mail filtering scores - your junk-mail filter settings may be too low. You can change how strict the junk-mail filtering is by logging in to Nexus Account Settings and selecting the [Set spam filter level] option.
      • Your mailbox may have been over quota when the message arrived. The mail system will periodically retry to deliver the message, so clear out some old messages and wait for the message to be delivered on the next attempt. This process will be repeated for several days before finally reporting the failed delivery to the sender 
  • [+/-] Attachments

    • Can I keep a message but remove the attachment it has with it? [+/-]

      A few email clients are able to do this, most notably Microsoft Outlook (though not Outlook Express). In Outlook:

      • Open the message and right-click the Attachment icon
      • From the Quick menu, select [Remove]
      • Close the message using [File/Close]
      • In the Save changes confirmation dialog box that appears, click Yes

      A less satisfactory method is to forward the message back to yourself - email clients usually have the option to remove attachments from forwarded messages. However, the forwarded message will then have you as its sender rather than the original sender, making future replies more complicated.

    • Why can't I open attachments in Outlook Express and Microsoft Outlook? [+/-]
      • Outlook Express (version 6.0 onwards) has a security setting which prevents potentially dangerous attachments being opened. To change this setting, go to the [Tools/Options/Security] dialogue and untick the box labelled Do not allow attachments to be saved...
      • Microsoft Outlook (version 2000 SP3 onwards) rigidly prevents the opening of certain types of potentially dangerous "Level 1" attachments, whereas less dangerous "Level 2" attachments can be saved to disk. Third-party software such as the free Outlook Attachments utility can be used to override these restrictions.


    • How large attachments can I send and receive? [+/-]

      Using Nexus, you can send and receive messages with a size up to about 100 MB. This includes the email 'envelope' and any attachments.

  • [+/-] Junk or Unwanted Emails

    • Why do I get messages replying to emails I never sent? [+/-]

      This is usually caused by a virus infection, most often on someone else's machine. The virus trawls the infected machine for email addresses which are then used to send out infected messages to random recipients which appear to come from randomly chosen senders. The apparent senders may then get replies from the targetted recipients, or failure messages if the emails could not be delivered for some reason. There is little you can do about this other than always keeping your own machine up-to-date with anti-virus software and system updates.

    • How do I stop getting junk mail? [+/-]

      Nexus has a powerful junk-mail filtering facility which can place suspected junk-mail into a folder called Junk E-mail. You can change how strict the junk-mail filtering is by logging in to Nexus Account Settings and selecting the [Set spam filter level] option.

    • I use Nexus's junk mail options but I still get junk mail. [+/-]

      Using the junk-mail filtering facilities in Nexus should significantly reduce the amount of junk mail that arrives in your inbox. However, some messages do not contain sufficient indicators to mark them as junk mail. If any such messages are sent from a consistent email address, you can use the blacklisting facility. However spam messages usually have a forged sender address.

    • Some junk-mail displays offensive images without me even opening it. [+/-]

      Some email client programs automatically display a message's content in a 'preview pane' before you open the message. However, there is ususally a configuration option to stop this happening, for example:

      • In Outlook Express, untick the [Tools/Options/Read/Automatically_download_message] menu option, and/or untick the [View/Layout/Show_preview_pane] menu option.
      • In Microsoft Outlook 2003, set the [View/Reading_Pane] option to Off and deselect the [View/Autopreview] menu option.
      • In Microsoft Outlook XP/2000, deselect the [View/Preview_pane] and [View/Autopreview] menu options.
      • In Netscape Messenger (older versions) untick the [View/View_Attachment_Inline] menu option
      • In Netscape Messenger (newer versions) untick the [View/Show-Hide/Message_Pane] menu option.
      • In Eudora, untick the [Tools/Options/Viewing_Mail/Preview_Pane] menu option.


    • I got an email trying to get my bank or email login details - who should I report this to? [+/-]
      • There are large numbers of emails circulating which attempt to trick people into revealing confidential information such as bank account passwords using a bogus web-site. Sometimes the institution concerned requests such messages to be forwarded to them - their web site usually has details.
      • If the message is asking for University of Oxford email login details please send it with the full email headers to


    • Can I stop receiving messages from a particular sender? [+/-]

      Many email clients, such as Outlook, include an option for blocking senders. See the documentation for your email program.

    • Why do messages from a particular sender always get put in my junk-mail folder? [+/-]

      Some characteristic of these messages, or the route by which they are being sent (e.g. via a 'blacklisted' site), is resulting in them being assigned a junk-mail score higher than your junk-mail filtering threshold. The simplest solution is to use your email program's 'whitelisting' or 'safe sender' option - messages from a specified email address will always be delivered normally regardless of their junk-mail rating. See the documentation for your email program.


  • [+/-] Address Books

    • How can I add an address from a mail message to my address book? [+/-]

      This depends on your email program. In many clients, right-clicking on the From: address may produce an option to save it in your address book. See the documentation for your email program for details.


  • [+/-] Finishing at Oxford

  • [+/-] Using Mobiles to Access Nexus

    • How much support can IT Services offer me? [+/-]

      IT Services staff may not have any direct expertise in the device that you are trying to configure. If the general help here cannot help you, it may be worth bringing your device into the Help Centre. The staff in the help centre may try to assist if they feel familiar with your device or others like it. Otherwise, you could try a web search instead.

    • I can get on the Internet with my device - how can I pick up my email? [+/-]

      Your device may have a built-in email client. If it has, try looking at our mobile email configuration pages to find suitable setup instructions. Hopefully, you can get your device to pick up and send emails.

    • What does it cost? [+/-]

      The cost of interacting with Nexus should be free. However, the overall cost to you depends on how your device connects to the Internet. If you have a Wireless LAN connection, it is usually free (but places like airport lounges may charge). If you are using your mobile telephone via 3G or GPRS, then you are likely to have to pay a charge to your mobile phone company. If you are abroad (away from the country that runs your mobile contract) then it can be very expensive, and using a Wireless LAN could help to avoid the costs.

    • Can I use Nexus with my mobile device? [+/-]

      The answer depends very much on your device. On many devices it is easier to configure the email client within your device to pick up your email than to use teh Outlook Web Access interface.

    • I can't connect to the Internet [+/-]

      This is the first problem that you should overcome before trying to pick up email. Try to find some manufacturers instructions (or possibly some from your mobile 'carrier') that explain how to connect your device to the Internet. Once you have managed that, check that you can browse some web pages (e.g. try then return to the issue of making your email client work.

    • How secure is it? [+/-]

      Much of your security considerations should relate to how you are connecting to the Internet. Often, wireless connections are not very secure, but this depends on the type of wireless connection you are currently using. Pubs, shops and cafes may be quite open and 'insecure', whereas the University's Eduroam is relatively secure. When you interact directly with Nexus, your username and password should be encrypted.

    • I have lost my phone - can a thief see my email? [+/-]

      Probably. Whatever, you do next, you should change your password as soon as possible. See the web page at Until you do this, it may be possible for a thief to see all of your personal email and maybe to send emails pretending to be you. This is because many hand-held devices will remember your username and password. Once you have changed your password the thief could see some of your old emails (sometimes this is just the start of the emails, but it could be the whole email). This is a risk with mobile devices. Always try to lock the device witha password or PIN (but this is not necessarily completely secure).

    • Can I read and respond to my emails when I am not connected? [+/-]

      This really depends on your device and your client. Many clients will allow you to browse through your most recent messages and respond to them and to 'queue up' your replies until you next connect. However, some clients may insist that you remain connected in order to read, prepare, and send emails.

    • What happens if I'm sending an email and I lose connection (e.g. in a tunnel)? [+/-]

      This should not matter. Your email should not normally be sent until it the whole email has been processed and a confirmation received from the server. If you are not sure whether it has sent successfully, check out your 'sent items' folder (or equivalent). If it failed to send, some email clients will leave it in a 'drafts' folder (or equivalent).

    • Will my email stay on the server when I collect it on my hand-held device? [+/-]

      This is really down to how your client is configured and behaves. Most mobile clients tend to leave the emails on the server but you should experiment with this and check how your client behaves. If you are having difficulty with this behaviour you should decide whether your server settings (see also "IMAP and POP") are set correctly.

    • What is "push" email / can I use my BlackBerry device? [+/-]

      "Push email" describes a method whereby email is sent to your device, and usually you do not have to actively check your email by telling your device to connect to the server. It is the method often used with BlackBerry and some other devices, but requires special (non-standard) functionality at the server end. This method contrasts with the "pull" method whereby you consciously tell your device to check the server and to collect emails from the server.

      Currently Nexus does not support this "push email" usage but may at some stage in the future.

      It is possible to configure a BlackBerry to pull email but this is often seen as contrary to the way that most people want to use such a device. Your service provider (usually a mobile phone company) may not support any other method than 'push'.


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Written by IT Services. Latest revision 12 December 2017