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Plan incoming e-mail (Windows SharePoint Services)

Office 2007

Updated: December 1, 2006

Applies To: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

 

Topic Last Modified: 2007-02-12

In this article:

Incoming e-mail is a feature of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 that enables SharePoint sites to receive and store e-mail messages and attachments in lists and libraries. This new feature enables teams to store the e-mail that they send to other team members without opening the SharePoint site and uploading the content that was sent in e-mail. This is possible because most types of lists and libraries can be assigned a unique e-mail address.

This article helps server and farm administrators understand the choices they need to make before they deploy the incoming e-mail feature for their organization.

There are several key decisions that you can make as you plan for incoming e-mail. These decisions include whether to:

  • Accept e-mail from all e-mail servers or only safe e-mail servers.

  • Use the directory management service to create distribution lists and contacts from SharePoint sites.

  • Specify the folder that you want the system to check for incoming e-mail.

  • Specify the e-mail server address that will be displayed in Web pages when users create an incoming e-mail address for a site, list, or group.

Some scenarios — for example, using the directory management service — require one or more IT professionals to implement. Nonetheless, you can still implement a basic incoming e-mail scenario even if your organization does not have an IT staff.

If your organization does not have an IT professional staff, you can enable a basic incoming e-mail scenario by installing the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) service on the server running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and enabling incoming e-mail by using the automatic settings mode with all default settings. In this scenario, e-mail is delivered directly to your SMTP server and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 periodically checks for e-mail in the default e-mail drop folder that is automatically configured by the SMTP service.

Selecting the automatic settings mode and accepting all the default settings is the easiest way to enable incoming e-mail because all configuration settings are made for you and, therefore, little expertise is required. For most organizations, this configuration is all that is needed.

You enable a basic incoming e-mail scenario in the following steps:

  1. The server administrator uses the Windows Components Wizard to install the E-mail Services component on the server that you want to receive incoming e-mail. This installs and starts the SMTP service on that server.

  2. The farm administrator enables incoming e-mail by using the automatic settings mode and accepting all the default values.

  3. The site collection administrator enables the incoming e-mail feature on the libraries and lists in which they want to store incoming e-mail and assigns each library and list a unique e-mail address in the form address@SMTPserveraddress. For example, sharedfiles@SMTPserver.contoso.com.

When users send e-mail to the address of a list or library, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 detects that new e-mail has been delivered and sends it to the appropriate list or library based on the e-mail address.

NoteNote:
If this basic scenario meets your needs, you can skip the remainder of this article. For more information, see "Configure incoming e-mail" in the Help system.

For more advanced administrators, additional choices are available, some of which require more expertise to deploy than choosing the basic scenario with all default options. This section describes the following configuration options:

  • Safe e-mail server

  • E-mail drop folder

  • Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service

  • Incoming e-mail server display address

You can configure Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 to accept e-mail from any e-mail server or only e-mail that has been routed through a safe-e-mail server application, such as Microsoft Exchange Server.

This option requires an IT professional to configure the e-mail routing through the safe e-mail server and is available only in automatic mode.

You can derive the following benefits by routing e-mail through a safe e-mail server:

  • User authentication   The SMTP service cannot authenticate users who send e-mail to your site, but Exchange Server can. The server administrator can use the SharePoint Central Administration Web site to specify that the system accept e-mail from authenticated users only if the e-mail is sent through Exchange Server.

  • Spam filtering    Exchange Server provides spam filtering to eliminate unsolicited commercial e-mail before it is forwarded to its destination — in this case, the server running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. Another technique that can reduce spam is to allow members of the team site to archive e-mail only in lists on which you have granted write permissions to members.

  • Virus protection   Exchange Server provides virus protection for e-mail routed through it.

 

Worksheet action

Record your decisions about safe e-mail servers in the Safe e-mail servers section of the Plan incoming e-mail worksheet.

You can specify the location from which Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 retrieves incoming e-mail. The benefit of using this option is that it enables Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 to retrieve incoming e-mail from a network share on another server. However, we recommend that you do not do this. This is because Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 cannot detect configuration changes on the remote e-mail server that is delivering the e-mail to your drop folder. This means that if an administrator configures the e-mail server to no longer deliver e-mail to this folder, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 cannot detect that the configuration has changed, and therefore will not be able to retrieve the files from the new location.

You can also use the SMTP service to receive e-mail and specify the folder to which e-mail will be dropped instead of accepting the SMTP service's default setting. This is useful when the default folder location is full or nearly full.

NoteNote:
When incoming e-mail settings are set to advanced mode, you must ensure that the logon account for the Windows SharePoint Services Timer service has modify permissions on the e-mail drop folder.

 

Worksheet action

Record your decisions about safe e-mail servers in the Safe e-mail servers section of the Plan incoming e-mail worksheet.

NoteNote:
Because this option is only available in advanced mode, you cannot specify an e-mail drop folder and also specify one or more safe e-mail servers.

The Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service connects SharePoint sites to your organization's user directory to provide enhanced e-mail features. The benefit of using this service is that it enables users to create and manage e-mail distribution groups from SharePoint sites. This service also creates contacts in your organization's user directory so people can find e-mail-enabled SharePoint lists in their address books.

A typical directory management scenario proceeds in the following steps:

  1. A site collection administrator creates a new SharePoint group.

  2. The administrator chooses to create a distribution list to associate with that SharePoint group and assigns an e-mail address to that distribution list.

  3. Over time, the administrator adds users to and removes users from this SharePoint group. As users are added to and removed from the group, the SharePoint Directory Management service automatically adds and removes them from the distribution list, which is stored in the Active Directory directory service. Because distribution lists are associated with a particular SharePoint group, this distribution list is available to all members of that SharePoint group.

  4. Because the SharePoint Directory Management service is used, e-mail addresses are automatically generated for the discussion boards and calendars on team sites, by default, and added to the team distribution list. The e-mail addresses for these two lists will be in the following form, by default: GroupAddress.discussions and GroupAddress.calendar.

  5. By including e-mail addresses for discussion boards and calendars in the distribution list, all e-mail and meeting invitations sent to this distribution list will be archived in the team site.

For more information about planning for the SharePoint Directory Management service, see "Planning the Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service" later in this article.

Administrators can specify the e-mail server address that will be displayed in Web pages when users create an incoming e-mail address for a site, list, or group. This setting is often used in conjunction with the Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service to provide a more friendly e-mail server address for users to type.

 

Worksheet action

Record your decisions about safe e-mail servers in the Safe e-mail servers section of the Plan incoming e-mail worksheet.

As a farm administrator, you have two settings modes from which to choose when enabling incoming e-mail: automatic and advanced. As described in the "Basic scenario" section above, you can choose the automatic settings mode with default settings. However, the automatic settings mode has additional options that you can choose.

The following table describes the configuration options and whether they are configured on the Configure Incoming E-Mail Settings page in Central Administration by using the automatic settings mode or the advanced settings mode.

 

Configuration option Automatic settings mode Advanced settings mode

Safe e-mail servers

Yes

No

E-mail drop folder

No

Yes

SharePoint Directory management service

Yes

Yes

Incoming e-mail server display address

Yes

Yes

The advanced and automatic settings modes are similar in that they both enable farm administrators to configure the Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service and the e-mail server address to display in Web pages. These settings modes differ in that the automatic settings mode replaces the ability to choose what e-mail servers to accept e-mail from with the ability to specify the folder to which e-mail is dropped. Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 uses this e-mail drop folder to detect new e-mail messages.

NoteNote:
The e-mail drop folder setting is not available in automatic mode, because that mode automatically sets the e-mail drop folder to the folder that is specified by the SMTP service.

Before configuring incoming e-mail, perform the following tasks:

  • Install the SMTP service on each server on which you want to receive and process incoming e-mail. Alternatively, provide another way for e-mail to be delivered to your e-mail drop folder.

  • If you use the SMTP service on the server running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, ensure that the server is running the Windows SharePoint Services Web Application service. This enables e-mail that is received on the Web server to be processed by Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

For more information about installing the SMTP service, see the Windows Help system.

You can configure the Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service by using either the automatic settings mode or the advanced settings mode. You can choose to enable the Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service on your server or server farm running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, or use the Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service of another farm. One advantage of using the service running on another farm is that Active Directory permissions are managed in a centralized place (that is, on the other farm).

To enable this service on your own server or server farm running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, the SharePoint Central Administration application pool account used by Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 must have write access to the container that you specify in Active Directory. This requires an Active Directory administrator to set up the organizational unit (OU) and the permissions on the OU. The advantage of using the Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service on a remote farm is that you do not need the help of an Active Directory administrator to create and configure the OU if the OU already exists.

When you configure the Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service to create distribution groups and contacts in Active Directory, you must provide the following information:

  • Name of the Active Directory container where new distribution groups and contacts will be created. This must be provided in the following format:

    OU=ContainerName, DC=DomainName, DC=TopLevelDomainName

  • Name of the SMTP server to use for incoming e-mail (or accept the default SMTP server if one exists). This must be provided in the following format:

    Server.subdomain.domain.top-level_domain

    For example, SharePointServer.support.contoso.com

  • Whether to accept messages from only authenticated users.

  • Whether to allow users to create distribution groups from SharePoint sites. If you choose yes for this option, you can also choose whether users can do any combination of the following actions:

    • Create a new distribution group.

    • Change a distribution group's e-mail address.

    • Change a distribution group's title and description.

    • Delete a distribution group.

When configuring the Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service to create distribution groups and contacts using a remote Microsoft SharePoint Directory Management service, you must provide the following information:

  • The URL of the remote directory management service. For example, http://server:adminport/_vti_bin/SharePointEmailWS.asmx.

  • The name of the SMTP server to use for incoming e-mail.

  • Whether to accept messages from only authenticated users.

  • Whether to allow users to create distribution groups from SharePoint sites.

 

Worksheet action

Record your decisions about safe e-mail servers in the Safe e-mail servers section of the Plan incoming e-mail worksheet.

Use the following worksheet to record your decisions about incoming e-mail:

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