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Filtering your email

All incoming mail is checked for viruses and for spam (junkmail) before being delivered to your account. The mailscanning software is highly reliable, but not 100% reliable. Some spam and even some viruses will continue to get through; and there will be some false positives, that is genuine messages which are falsely identified as viruses or spam. The action taken by the mailscanning software is as follows:

Mail identified as carrying a virus: the message is disinfected, any infected attachment is removed and quarantined and the message is passed on to the recipient. The recipient is therefore informed of the action that has been taken and if it seems that there has been a mistake the quarantined attachment can be restored. If a message is treated as a virus, the Subject line of the message is flagged thus: {Virus?}

Mail identified as Spam: the message is passed on to the recipient, with the Subject line flagged thus: {Spam?}. Also the software adds several extra headers to the message, one of which gives a "spam score". The {Spam?} flag is added if the spam score reaches a certain threshold, set by IT Services. If the threshold is set lower, less spam will get through unflagged, but there will be more false-positives. If the threshold is set higher, more spam will get through unflagged, but there will be fewer false positives.

Read more about spam

Why doesn't the mailscanner discard all messages infected with a virus or identified as spam?

This is the most commonly asked question. The reason is that the mailscanning software is not 100% reliable. IT Services cannot take responsibility for discarding messages which may be genuine. There are known cases where important messages (e.g. confirmation of sale messages from on-line vendors, or the results of grant applications) have been mistakenly flagged as spam. These cases are rare, but not rare enough for LIS to take the decision to discard messages. It is up to each individual user to decide whether he or she wishes to take that small but definite risk of losing genuine messages. You should therefore review the options listed below and decide where your own priorities lie.

What can you do?

As a user of e-mail you have various options:

    • Let all your mail, spam included, come into your inbox; use the {Spam?} flag to identify junk messages and delete them. You can sort your messages by subject and delete all the flagged messages together. Look at the subject and sender of the flagged messages, to assess whether you think the message has been correctly flagged as spam.


  • Use the junkmail filters in Outlook: when properly "trained" these will move all flagged messages plus other messages which Outlook has learned to regard as spam, into a Junk mail folder

If you would like help deciding what to do, please contact the IT Service Desk.

Quick answers

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Contact the IT Service Desk

Log a call using IT Self-Service
(01334 46) 3333
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(Mon - Fri, 09:00 - 17:00)

Level 2
University Library
North Street
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9TR

Opening Hours
Mon - Fri
: 08:30-18:00
(front desk support
from 09:00)

Sat: 10:00-17:00
Sun: 11:00-18:00

The IT Service Desk is closed
for staff training on Fridays
between 09:30 and 10:30