Access to Employees' Email

Posted on 2010-01-09
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I have a client that wants to be able to access all his employees' emails at any time.

The company currently run a POP based mail system.

Am i right in thinking that the only way to do this properly is to purchase and impliment MS Exchange.
I assume that this would also be possible by having all the mailboxes stored on the server and using "open outlook data file" from the file menu within Outlook?

Any other suggestions? I've searched EE, but all questions on this subject seem to be related to Exchange.
Question by:dangermouse1977
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Expert Comment

ID: 26272702

Before you get into the technicalities, you need to bear in mind that in many jurisdictions (including the UK), accessing an employee's email without their consent would be a major breach of privacy laws. Most organisations include a line in an employee handbook or as part of an IT policy signed by the employee; however, I suggest you contact a lawyer or attorney for full clarification.

It depends what POP3 solution you use as to whether the manager could view user mailboxes. If no email is being left on the POP3 server, the attempt will be fruitless, since it will be downloaded to each user's individual PC via Outlook.

Many "real" mail servers will offer the ability to access other user mailboxes with the proper permissions. However, I can assure you this can be done in Exchange. I have a blog post at http://tigermatt.wordpress.com/2009/05/24/exchange-2007-full-mailbox-access/ covering this in more detail.

In Outlook, once connected to the Exchange account, you would use File > Open > Other User's Folder.


Author Comment

ID: 26272723
Thanks Matt

I've advised the client of the legalities, they have an AUP for their IT system that includes a clause granting managerial access permission to "any and all communications transmitted via company accounts and/or equipment"

I was aware of the procedure in Exchange as I've set this up several times, however this client doesn't really want to spend the money on an Exchange solution for their total of 7 employees.

I have a vague recollection that allowing copies of POP mail to sit on the server only works for incoming mail and not for sent items?


LVL 58

Expert Comment

ID: 26272741

A POP3 solution really does have limited functionality when compared with a full mail server such as Exchange.

If mail is configured to be left on the server, that will only affect incoming email. Outbound email does not get synchronised back to the server.

You might have some luck if you switched to using IMAP, if supported by the ISP. IMAP is a client/server email access protocol which leaves data on the server, but allows it to be accessed via Outlook. You can configure Outlook to move the Sent Items folder to the IMAP account, so sent mail is synchronised back to the mail server. However, you would still require some means of actually getting to a user's mailbox; based on most IMAP solutions, this is going to require knowing their password.

Has the client considered SBS 2008? There are significant cost savings to be gained with this software, and it includes everything a small business would need (remote access, Exchange 2007). I have a number of SBS 2008 servers in 2-user companies and the costs have been kept quite low.

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Expert Comment

ID: 26272743
Instead of Exchange you can use a mail server (POP3) which has copy all imcoming and all outgoing emails. I am using the similar one in Hongkong (I can tell the service provider name if required).
simply creat one account called COPYALL and and set all users incoming/ sent emails to be copied in "copyall" account.    now all the emails can be accessed by configuring "copyall" in outlook express (or) outlook and then  by way of rules each employee's emails can be diverted to their respective folders.
LVL 58

Expert Comment

ID: 26272745

The method GBaveja describes would be akin to Exchange's journalling feature.

This can probably be done (forward all mail to another box), but it won't work for outbound emails, unless the POP3 host supports it. Of the ISPs I've seen, there has never been a method to journal outbound email.


Author Comment

ID: 26273989

I was reading about journalling this afternoon before I posted the question as it happens, an excellent feature that I can imagine being very handy in a lot of installation environments.


Your comment about SBS 2008 interests me, I must confess that I've been mainly out of the serverside game for a couple of years and I've not kept current.
Can you tell me more, you say it includes Exchange... are you meaning that it's a one box server operating system package, with AD and all the security features needed to run a domain controller as a file server also, and yet also includes exchange server (If that's the case then I assume just the cals would be needed?)
If so, then that sounds like an excellent solution!

LVL 58

Accepted Solution

tigermatt earned 2000 total points
ID: 26275771

SBS is exactly as you describe it. It's an integrated, simple (relatively), managed, single server deployment which includes Active Directory, Exchange 2007 (in SBS 2008, Exchange 2003 in SBS 2003), Sharepoint, file/print services, WSUS, Remote Web Workplace (tools for remote access) and many other things. Essentially a single-server running all the critical services any small company would need.

The benefits of SBS are that it can practically deploy itself; you give it some information through wizard-type interfaces and it does the wizard. A lot of the time consuming configuration tasks can now be performed in seconds, even by non-IT staff (not necessarily every company has IT staff on-site at all times).

It really is a great product and for what it packs in, it's well worth the money. I have it running for a couple of companies with no more than 5 users on smallish servers and have not had any issues. Provided you properly specify the server (use a RAID array for redundancy, at least 6GB of RAM in SBS 2008 - I would recommend 8GB) and configure the server with the wizards, you can't go far wrong.


Author Comment

ID: 26276657
Done.... sold..... have yourself 500 points and thanks very much.

If I have any issues with the configuration I'll be back on here!
LVL 58

Expert Comment

ID: 26276828
Enjoy! Thanks.

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