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More on mail services

As I complained about mail services I noticed a fair amount of people sugesting webmail companies that use IMAP instead of POP3.
Besided POP3 being "so 1990's" like Brad Wilson suggested, what is the advantage of using IMAP over POP3? If it helps, I have a broadband connection, so the fact that I only download message headers and not the whole message doesn't really matter to me.

TIA
RP

RP
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Subject preview are faster, saves you a few seconds everytime you are downloading tons of new incomings. If you have it set to refresh every few minutes though it won't matter much.

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I operate on three different computers, IMAP is the only reason I can handle my email - everything is automatically synchronized.  Aside from that, I don't worry about data loss nearly as much.

Lou
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Could you please explain to me the automation part a bit more?

RP
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

All the mail sits on the IMAP server, or somewhere the server can get to.  Nothing automatically happens, you just login and it hands you the bits of the email you want.

If you don't read them you just get headers.

Login from somewhere else, and the mail is still there, so long as you didn't delete it on the server.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

This would be perfect. Is there a way to implement an IMAP mail server at home? Something OSS, I don't want the usual headaches Exchange causes.

RP
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Wait a second, this is not that great. What the difference between storing the messages on your IMAP folders and asking your mail client not to delete them from your POP3 account?

RP
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

RP, with IMAP you don't need to duplicate the folder setup on every computer you check your mail from, IMAP handles that for you.

With POP3 you need to set up folders and filtering on every computer.

Andrew Hurst
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Ah!
So, suppose I have clean MS Outlook instalation on my computer. I set it up as an IMAP client, and it automagically gets the same folders as the ones set up on the server, right? And when I set up rules, they are stored and run on the server, so when I download, what it automatically does is copy the content of each folder to my pc.

More or less like that?

RP
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

For the past couple of years, I have been using IMAP for my personal email.  It's hosted ASP-style by a Chicago company called prominic.net.  $4/month for 100 MB of storage.  Web-based front-end (the Open Source IMP project) included as well.  I have a desktop computer and a couple of laptops that all have the same views of my mailbox.  Works well, but is a little slow due (I think) to performance limitations of the IMAP API.

Steve
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

"And when I set up rules, they are stored and run on the server, so when I download, what it automatically does is copy the content of each folder to my pc."

Exchange offers this level of integration with rules, but general IMAP doesn't. You end up having really two choices.

One: you use a service that offers server-based filtering (like FuseMail), and set up your rules via a web browser. Not great, but functional enough.

Two: you set up the rules on a PC that's ALWAYS running Outlook. Then, when it sees e-mail come into the system, it runs the rules, and moves everything to the appropriate folders. As long as this one "golden" version of Outlook is always running, you get the rules running all the time.

I've doing a variant of #2 (though I'm using Thunderbird rather than Outlook, because it's significantly faster). When I go on vacation or go to work, I just go ahead and leave Thunderbird running on my desktop at home, and as the messages come into the system, Thunderbird will filter and move them appropriately, and then everybody seems messages in the right place like magic.

Many of the performance complaints about IMAP come from the two-stage system of headers vs. bodies. With Outlook (and others), you can configure specific folders as "available offline". This tells the e-mail program to always download headers and bodies for that folder. Then you have instant local access to the message, even if you don't have a connection, because it's cached locally.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

On, and the reason I use system #2: the web based filtering is really piss poor. I generally filter based on custom headers (such as Yahoo Groups Mailing-List: header), so I found I had to use the more powerful local filtering functionality. I would've preferred option #1 if all things were equal.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

If you're using Outlook, then you can simply keep your .pst file on a pen drive. You then set up all the computers you use to have that as their email store (won't work with Outllook Express though).

The only problem is that you will have to back up your .pst file every time you leave the computer because it's real easy to lose a pen drive (I've just lost my second in a year!). If all your computers have USB 2.0 then it is pretty quick. If you archive messages every couple of weeks then you can keep the size of the .pst file down and run a batch file to copy the .pst on shut-down.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Ok, back to the rules thing.
I run Outlook with rules for each local folder defined to run on the inbox. As soon as a message arrives from *** or with subject *** or with naked ladies with boobies, move the message to *that* folder.

What's the difference between that rule with POP3 and IMAP folders? It seems to me there's really no big difference at all.

About the pen drive, my .pst is quite large. I don't think it fits in a pen drive. Besides the losing it-factor is also very important.

RP
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Encrypt the .pst file and password protect the pen drive. Arvhive the older mails and keep a copy of the archive on each computer. You should be able to get the .pst down to under 200MB. If you're folder is a lot bigger than that I would think that you'd have a problem with IMAP.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

>What's the difference between that rule with POP3 and >IMAP folders? It seems to me there's really no big >difference at all.

The difference is that it moves the mail to the folder which is immediately reflected on the IMAP server as well.  Then when you access your mail from another IMAP client or from an intelligent webmail client, it will see the mail in the folder it was moved to.

So even if the filtering is performed client side, it stores it on the server for you to access it from anywhere. 

Stephen Depooter
Thursday, June 03, 2004

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