More than two thirds of public sector workers cannot send or receive emails larger than 10MB in size.

A study by Virgin Media Business said that these restrictions are making it difficult for workers to send large file attachments and as a result, staff are increasingly going to extreme measures to ensure that important messages are received. It found that 69 per cent of workers cannot send or receive emails larger than 10MB in size, while 89 per cent are unable to send or receive emails in excess of 15MB.

It also found that the average worker can only send emails of up to 12.5MB in size and has just 140MB of space in their mailbox. Andrew McGrath, executive director of commercial at Virgin Media Business, commented that the size restrictions on email inboxes can also be a major source of frustration.

“Often staff will attempt to get around the problem by sending a file using a personal email account, file sharing website or unsecured USB device. But despite having the best intentions, these solutions can create more problems than they solve by potentially putting confidential data at risk,” said McGrath.

"With the average worker sending or receiving more than 160 emails a day, it is high time that these restrictions were lifted. Many of the existing limitations were designed to conserve bandwidth, but advances in networking and communications technology mean that they are no longer necessary and could be hindering workers, whilst potentially making corporate data vulnerable. Sweeping these email restrictions away could free up time for IT staff to focus on driving real business change through innovative technology.”

Tony Pepper, CEO at Egress Software Technologies, called this research very interesting. He said: “I think this is a fundamental issue public and private sector business face. These trends clearly show that users need to share data and are willing to take matters in their own hands to achieve this goal.

“We believe that it is the obligation of the business to implement technology that is built seamlessly into end-users workflow. This makes sharing information easy while at the same time offering appropriate levels of control and auditing in the event that files are mishandled by third party recipients.”

Speaking to SC Magazine, Stuart Feargrieve, managing director of Axway UK, said that a combination of solutions would solve the problem. He said: “One is to have a holistic approach to the transfer of files and the other is to develop a managed file sharing log where files are managed inside an organisation.

“You also need a policy-driven approach to bring the email application into the managed file transfer world. If you put policy controls on the content of files, you can control what is being sent out while a large file gets sent into a dedicated server within the domain, so it brings email into the managed file transfer environment.”