Communication, Collection, and Collaboration! Oh, My!​

Communication, Collection, and Collaboration! Oh, My!

Email Systems in Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Beyond

As we implement new information systems technology for small and medium businesses, we find that (most of the time) business owners get overwhelmed by the number of options that are out there. So, as a way of simplifying the process of grasping the nuances of the Microsoft 365 suite of collaboration options, it might be useful to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of each option.

This article assumes you are a small business that has a subscription to Microsoft 365 Business Standard or  Premium

Most small burgeoning businesses are in the adoption phase of Microsoft 365 email.  It is the easiest and most cost-effective means of managing your email services.  We highly recommend it over the G-Suite email or just plain-ole “webmail” or IMAP email systems.

Most of the time these companies are very happy with having a crispy new company url (SomeYoungCompany.Com) , a website to go with it, and want to get all of those leads pouring in to their email so they can serve these new customers that need their products and services.  

Really, you will want to think about how to receive, process, and store those emails now and into the future so you don’t create additional work for yourself or your tech company and end up costing additional money down the road in labor or productivity lost that you could have saved with some advanced planning.

The quickest and easiest solution is to create a mailbox for every email address in your business and an email address for every employee and aliases if an employee is responsible for an email address other than his or her own.  This will work, and may be the best fit for some businesses,  but pause for a second and think of all of the email addresses in your company and how they can be best utilized within Microsoft 365. [*formerly Office 365]  There are many options that can save time and money down the road.  This is where a partnered IT company can help lay out your options and smooth the decision making process.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Not counting Teams collaboration tools (that is a whole different article and series of instructionals) there are 4 ways of sending and receiving emails using Microsoft 365 tools that are available to subscribers.
  2. Mailboxes are your primary source of interpersonal communication with the outside world and what most people think of when collaboration tools are discussed.
  3. Aliases are not actually a thing in themselves, but they are worth exploring as they can be misunderstood and confused with some of the features reserved for the other means of communication.
  4. Shared Mailboxes are meant to be a means of two way communication with a group of people.  Think of it as a queue of email-communicated tasks or a well of leads for sales or a drop-bucket for communication requests from web forms.
  5. Groups are meant to be a way for groups of people to communicate amongst themselves.  This is more akin to a message board and is most used for group collaboration on a single subject or with common interest.

A mailbox is usually associated with a single user and requires a license.  A mailbox is required for a user to log on to and use Office 365 email.

    • Mailboxes require a paid license
    • Mailboxes are what is commonly referred to as an “Email Addresses” but it goes deeper than that.
    • A Mailbox is really just a repository for message files that has an “Email Address” attached to it so the server knows where to put the emails addressed to that address.
    • Users need a mailbox in order to log in and use email
    • One cannot have access to other email features like shared mailboxes without first having a mailbox.
    • Every humane expected to receive email in your company needs access to a mailbox


A Microsoft 365 Email alias is another email address attached to your mailbox. You can have any number of email addresses that flag messages for your mailbox.  However, any email you send will come from your primary email address.

    • An alias is another email address that a person can be reached at
    • Aliases do not require a license
    • All email sent to an alias goes into the users inbox.
    • The primary email address is always the “from” address

Shared Mailboxes

A shared mailbox is shared with one or more users.  Shared mailboxes do not require a license and include the features of a normal mailbox.

    • Shared mailboxes cannot be logged into directly.  It shows up on their folder list, and a user must have their own mailbox to be able to see that folder.
    • Shared mailboxes are not supported on mobile Outlook
    • Shared mailboxes appear as separate mailboxes in Outlook and Outlook on the web.
    • A user with “send as” permissions can send email from the shared mailbox email address
    • If a user with “send as” permissions replies to a message in a shared mailbox, the reply appears to come from the shared mailbox email address
    • A user can also (if they have permission to do so) send a message “on behalf of” a shared mailbox. The message will appear to come from “Jane Doe on behalf of ”
    • Calendars and contact lists in shared mailboxes are fully useable by users having access to the shared mailbox
    • Emails sent from a shared mailbox by default appear in the sent items of the user sending the email message.
    • Shared mailboxes support subfolders (i.e. it is possible to create folders under inbox for example in order to organize email)
shared mailbox


Office 365 Groups have much the same functionality as shared mailboxes. Groups however can have associated SharePoint Team Sites, OneDrive documents, and OneNote notebooks. If collaborating around a mailbox is important to your business, a group may be a better fit than a shared mailbox.

    • Like shared mailboxes, groups cannot be logged into directly
    • Groups are supported on mobile devices
    • Groups appear beneath a users mailbox in Outlook
    • A user can send email and have the message appear to come from the group email address
    • A user can also (if they have permission to do so) send a message “on behalf of” group. The message will appear to come from “Jane Doe on behalf of ”
    • Email sent as a group email address will not appear in the group Sent Items folder, in fact there is no visible Sent Items folder. This cannot be changed
    • Groups do not support subfolders.

Outlook Not Synchronizing With Gmail

We have a client that uses several email addresses from within Microsoft Outlook. Some of them connect to Exchange. Some connect to IMAP (regular email), and some connect to G-mail. G-mail is IMAP, except it has weird requirements that change without any sort of notification.

So here we are, the client is getting all sorts of popups asking him to log into G-mail when he synchronizes mail. This happens from time to time when he changes his account settings, but it never happens all at once. So, we knew something else was wrong.

The first thing we tried was to go ahead and re-enter his password. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the password gets lost or one or the other services require a manually entered password occasionally. This wasn’t the problem as the issue did not go away.

The next thing we tried was to examine the account settings inside Google. You can do this by going to Your security settings will be where to look for password issues and security problems associated with the account. We didn’t find anything wrong, so we moved on.

The last thing we did was consult TechNet at Microsoft about this issue where we found many possible solutions. We will share those with you below:

  • Use a Google Application Password: Sometimes Google does not play nice with programs they feel are less than security-savvy. This is a good thing usually, but it creates a bit of an inconvenience. An App Password is a unique password that is used for these special programs that is unique to that particular program. It is not your regular password for that account, but it is used in place of that password. It is like a special password for just that application. Hence, the name “application password.” You can find the details linked HERE.
  • Check your license. Sometimes your Office license gets switched off for non-payment or for other accidental or weird reasons like leaving a job or changing license plans. So, check that your license is associated with your office account. Here is how to check that: Just go to “File” in the upper left corner. Then go to “Office Account” in the middle on the left. You should see that you are signed in. It will indicate that you have either a subscription product or a purchased license. If you do not see an account in this window, you should sign into Office. Here is a link that will show you how.
  • Privacy Settings: Outlook has privacy settings that will allow you to restrict information shared with third-party services – like Gmail. To find those privacy settings, navigate to:
    File > Office Account > Account Privacy – Manage Settings (on the left in the middle)
    A window will pop up that says “Your data, controlled by you” at the top. In this window, Make sure you have at least “All connected experiences” (bottom of Connected Experiences section) and “Experiences that download online content” checked. These features, if not turned on, cannot download account information necessary to sign into Gmail IMAP functions necessary to connect an account to Gmail through Outlook.

This is by far not a complete list of all of the problems you could be having with Outlook. It is a great program and the most widely used business application used for sending and receiving emails, but sometimes it is really just too much to handle. We get that, so our services are available to those who would want them. Just click the link below to open a new ticket with us and we will be happy to get you working again.

Equifax Has Been Hacked!

Folks, I realize the internet is abuzz with different companies being hacked and alerts about all sorts of data breaches, but this one is not just a some-company-somewhere type of hack you can disregard.  Neither is this an oh-no-let-me-call-so-and-so.  This one will directly affect many many people over the course of many years.  Let me explain.

Continue reading “Equifax Has Been Hacked!”

PSA: New Ransomware Outbreak! WannaCry/WannaCrypt Windows Vulnerability

There is a new ransomware attack called “WannaCry” that has the ability to affect your computer by simply being on the internet.  It has affected around 100 different countries and spreads without user intervention, clicking, or performing any action.  In other words, if you don’t have the proper security patches and protections in place, you are vulnerable right now without even touching your computer.


How to protect yourself:

As always, the best way to keep yourself protected is to keep your computer up to date.  Sure, those constantly recurring patches are annoying, but they are necessary.  The quickest and easiest way to protect yourself NOW is to update your computer with the latest Windows security vulnerability patch.

Information for the patch can be found HERE and HERE.

A direct link to the patch to download and run can be found HERE.


How to check for the update:

Settings, Updates, Update History
Control Panel, Programs and Features, Installed Updates


How do you know if you are infected?

When you try to open a word document, your computer tells you that your file has been encrypted.


What to do if you find yourself infected:

1. Remove the computer from your network.

2. Call your LOCAL computer professional for help recovering from this threat.
phone: (469) 844-7789