Max email limits trip up unwary in Office 365, GoogleApps

<!–:st–>Make sure anti-spam measures don’t kill your email. <!–st:–>

If your business sends a lot of emails then make sure you move to the enterprise plans in Office 365 or the paid version of Google Apps (for Business). The cheaper or free plans have a relatively low limit on the number of emails you can send each day and if the limits are exceeded Google or Microsoft can stop you sending email for up to 24 hours.

Each user on Microsoft’s P1 small business plan for Office 365 is limited to sending emails to 500 recipients a day, apparently to stop people using Office 365 to send spam. Here’s the official page. If a user includes three addresses in one email, that counts as three recipients.

If the user emailed the same three people 10 minutes later it would count as another three recipients. A long discussion with a large group of people could quickly see a small business user hit the 500-recipient limit.

This scenario is already causing problems. One business posted a first-hand story on ZDNet where its staff were unable to send emails using Office 365 for Small Business because they had exceeded the limit. A new CEO sending out introductory emails to customers and suppliers found that he was unable to send emails for 24 hours.

Google Apps Standard edition (the free version of Google Apps) also has a 500 recipient maximum per day. Google’s support page on this topic says that addresses are counted whether they are in the to:, cc: or bcc: fields.

As ZDNet’s Ed Bott points out, hitting the 500-recipient limit could easily happen to a small business. “Imagine if your little company rolls out a new product that gets a mention on the Today Show or a high-profile web site like ZDNet. You could easily have 500 messages in your inbox when you get to work in the morning. If you try to respond to every one, even with a form response, you’ll hit that 500-recipient lockout before your first coffee break.”

Moving to Google Apps for Business (the paid version) or the enterprise versions of Office 365 raises the limit. Google’s jumps sixfold to 3000 recipients while Office 365 triples to 1500.

Microsoft defended the limit as a necessary anti-spam measure and said customers with legitimate needs could contact support for help.

However, in the ZDNet reader’s scenario, the IT consultant found that there was no way for Microsoft’s support to override the 24-hour block, and the small business had to wait it out before being able to send email.

Google’s support page says it is a little more lenient. “The restriction on sending new mail typically lasts for one hour, but can last as long as 24 hours. A user can access and use the account normally after this period, at which time the sending limits are automatically reset.”


About Sholto Macpherson

Sholto Macpherson is a business technology journalist specialising in cloud software. He lives and works in Sydney, Australia.

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