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IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Which Email System Should You Use

UW students, staff and instructors can now choose between two world-class cloud-based email systems: Exchange Online (Office 365) and UW Gmail (Google Mail). Both systems offer an impressive array of tools, including a full application suite of online services that allow you to collaborate and share work with others. Each system has particular advantages, so which one should you choose?

Support for Exchange Online  Many Exchange features do not work unless the desktop version of Outlook is installed and configured. Local IT support is strongly recommended for anyone who wants to use Exchange Online with Outlook. If you do not have local IT support, we recommend using UW Gmail or limiting your use of Exchange Online to the Outlook Web App.

Email Feature Comparison

Exchange Online UW Gmail
FERPA Compliant
HIPAA Compliant *
Email space Up to 100GB


Unlimited with archive mailbox

Email attachment size limit 60MB 25MB
UW Groups available
Local IT support recommended
Full application with Calendaring
* Note: UW Medicine workforce members and clinical students are prohibited from forwarding email to UW Gmail. For more information on this policy, please contact

Additional Considerations

Migration from Deskmail  A Deskmail Copy Tool is available to move your mail from Deskmail to UW Google Apps. You can access this tool through the UW NetID Manage Portal after you change email forwarding to UW Gmail (the tool is provided at no additional cost). For a small fee, migration assistance for people moving to Exchange Online is available through a service offered by Comparex, a 3rd-party company.

Scheduling Across Systems  Exchange Online and UW Gmail both offer excellent email based calendars. While scheduling between the two services does work most of the time, for the best experience, we strongly recommend that you choose the service used by most of the people you schedule meetings with.

Application Suites  Exchange Online and UW Gmail both have associated application suites. Regardless of the the email system you choose, you can take advantage of the tools available in both systems.

  • Exchange Online is part of Office 365 (O365). Office 365 includes OneDrive, Skype, and online versions of Word, Excel, and other Office applications.
  • UW Gmail is part of Google’s G Suite (formerly “Google Apps”). G Suite includes Google Drive, Calendar, Sites, and other Google Apps like YouTube.

Activation  Exchange Online and Office 365 should activate automatically for all UW students, staff and instructors, but you will need to manually activate UW G Suite with Gmail using the Manage UW Google Apps page on the UW NetID Manage Portal.

Your primary email system, where your email is delivered, is determined by forwarding. Use the Manage UW Email Forwarding page on the UW NetID Manage Portal to change forwarding to your chosen email platform.