August 18th, 2009

Three Kinds of Distribution Lists

Many of our clients prefer and sometimes require the use of  “Distribution Lists” to send email messages to multiple recipients.

We are often asked if LuxSci supports “Distribution Lists”.  The answer is “Yes”, and we have three different approaches to send email messages to pre-defined lists of recipients.  We feel that is helpful to present each solution using the same requirements and to compare the relative merits of each.

Distribution Lists in Address Books

The email address field in a LuxSci Address Book can contain multiple recipient addresses, up to 30 by default.  So, for example, you could make an address book entry for “Staff” where the “email address” is a comma-delimited list of all of the email address of all the staff in your organization.

Address Books with distribution lists as entries are similar to Distribution Lists in Microsoft Outlook Contacts.  You can use them when Composing email in the LuxSci WebMail interface by selecting the entry and including all the addresses in the To, Cc, or Bcc fields of your message.

Using Distributions Lists in Address Books is efficient because:

  • All users have Address Books and thus all users can create and manage their own custom Distribution Lists
  • Address Books can be shared — so you can define Distribution Lists in an Address Book and share these with other users, or your whole account, so that everyone can take advantage of the lists that you are managing
  • You can associate other information with the Distribution List, such as notes, attachments, and other types of contact information.

There are a few drawbacks of Address Book Distribution Lists:

  • They are only useful for sending email in WebMail, unless you are synchronizing your Address Book with Outlook or accessing it via LDAP.
  • You are limited in the maximum number of recipients that can be in an Address Book distribution lists — 30 by default.
  • There is no email address associated with these distribution lists.  I.e., there is no email address that messages can be sent to, which will forward those messages to everyone on the list.

Distribution Lists as Email Aliases

The second type of Distribution List supported by LuxSci is the “email alias”.  An email alias is an email address in your domain, like “”, that does not correspond to a specific user/login.  Instead, email sent to this address is either auto-deleted, denied with a custom failure message (like “This employee no longer works here”), or forwarded to one or more email addresses.

This kind of Distribution List is the most versatile because it permits:

  • Creation of email addresses which forward email sent to them to an arbitrary list of recipients that you can easily manage though our web-based user interface.
  • Anyone can send email to the people in this list if they know this email alias (address).
  • You can have an almost unlimited number of Email Alias Distribution Lists in your account
  • Email sent to these Email Alias Distribution Lists is filtered for spam, viruses and content before forwarding to the list, if you have our Premium Email Filtering service.

The limitations of Email Alias Distribution Lists are:

  • You are limited to 25 recipients in the list by default; however, technical support will increase this to the number of users in your account, if you have more than 25, by request.
  • Anyone can send to this list.
  • You have to manage each list individually in our web-based interface.

WebAide Group Distribution Lists

The final type of Distribution List makes managing and sending to groups of users in your account much simpler.  Any user with a WebAide license (one WebAide license comes free with all new accounts, or by request to existing accounts) can use these.

First, you make a new WebAide Group and assign users in your account to it.  A WebAide group is used for sharing WebAides with specific groups of users in your account; i.e. your sales team, your billing team, etc., could all be groups.

Next, assuming that you are an account administrator, you assign an “email alias address” to this group, likes “”.  Then, any email sent to this email address will be automatically forwarded to all of the users in the group.

This mechanism is much like Email Alias Distribution Lists, except:

  • The recipients of the Distribution List always match your Group members; updating the group automatically updates the underlying alias.
  • You can have as many recipients/Group members as users in your account.  It is quick and easy to create account-wide and/or domain-wide distribution lists.
  • Management of sharing and collaboration is unified with management of your distribution lists.

Distribution Lists “of the4th Kind”

You can also make email distribution lists via custom email filters.  These provide you with a great deal of control over what messages can get sent to the list.  See Control for your Email Distribution Lists.

Which kind to use?

There are clearly pros and cons to each type of Distribution List.  However, LuxSci accounts can use a combination of these methods to meet their business needs.  For example:

  • WebAide Group Distribution Lists to manage company lists
  • Regular email aliases for ad hoc lists of arbitrary email addresses
  • Custom Filter Lists for maximum control over who can send to your lists.
  • Personal or shared Address Book entries for non-administrative users or for private Distribution Lists (ones that cannot be emailed to by anyone).

One Response to “Three Kinds of Distribution Lists”

  1. Control for Your Email Distribution Lists | LuxSci FYI Says:

    […] have previously discussed the various options for email distribution lists in our post: Three Kinds of Distribution Lists.  However, we are often asked how to make distribution lists with special properties, such […]

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