e-mail: The Perils of Reply All

An e-mail “did the rounds” at our client site last week. It was a 50k image that contained a scanned paragraph of text relating to some employment issue in Australia – clearly a very focused subject and one that should never really have made it on to a global e-mail. However, for some reason this image (a jpeg) was sent to many thousands of recipients globally…including the e-mail alias abc@def.com!

The original e-mail, including its 50k image attachment was 4MB in size, the first FW: e-mail in the screenshot below. As folks started to Reply All asking to be removed from the list, the size of the e-mail grew, reaching 6MB in the screenshot – I did see one that had reached 7MB. Each Reply All message included the original recipient list as text which added to the size. As time went by, hundreds of MB’s of e-mail hit mailboxes…slowing down the entire global network.

Even as IT staff issued warnings about Reply All, still people did it…it took the best part of 48 hours before the e-mails ceased and who knows how long to clean up the mailboxes. You can be sure that some of the mailboxes in the 000’s that were affected would be unattended in someway, so the legacy of the many 4MB e-mails will live on in the OST’s (perhaps PST’s too) and backup devices for a long time to come. A very costly e-mail…

Lesson learned from this: do not click on Reply All unless it is absolutely necessary. If you do find yourself in the position of having to use Reply All, do try and slim down the e-mail body, i.e. remove unnecessary content such as embedded e-mail addresses etc.

reply all

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