Waisman Computing Services

FAQ 2130Information and Issues with using Gmail

Waisman users often ask if they can use the popular Gmail email service for their user@waisman.wisc.edu account. The short answer is "yes," but you should be aware of the potential pitfalls.
Issue 1: Once it's in, it's in.
It's quite easy to import your mail into Gmail, and setup forwarding to automatically send new mail straight to Gmail. But once it's in, there is no particularly easy way to get it back out if you change your mind.
Issue 2: Backup?
Gmail DOES NOT back up mail. There was a case in December 2006 where hackers completely erased 60 accounts. Waisman mail is well backed up and fault tolerant.
Issue 3: Is Third-Party OK?
If you deal at all with confidential patient information, you should not use a third party email service.
The good 1:
If you ask anyone who uses Gmail why they use it, the answer is usually, "Because it's awesome." It's available anywhere, easy to use, fast, and free.
The good 2:
Your use of Gmail can be completely transparent to others. When setup properly, your outgoing mail is sent from your user@waisman.wisc.edu email address.
The good 3:
If you have several email addresses (wisc.edu, waisman.wisc.edu, TDS.net, etc) you can forward them all to your Gmail account. Mail can be automatically labeled with the intended account so it's easy to keep everything straight. Each Gmail account can manage 5 email accounts. Ie, you can send mail from your Waisman address, Gmail address, Wiscmail, etc from one place.
So how do I do it?
The official recommendation of the Waisman Center is to use your Waisman email account with Mozilla Thunderbird. The intention of this FAQ is simply to point out the Pros and Cons of using Gmail for academic work.
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