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Email syncronization between two computers

Does anyone know of a good way to keep email syncronized between a desktop and a laptop (preferably using Outlook Express)?    I'm using an ISP for email, so using an IMAP or Exchange server isn't really an option for me.  I've tried Googling this issue, but I can't seem to find a product that does this.   

Monday, June 2, 2003


Tuesday, June 3, 2003

If you can't use IMAP then you have to fake it with POP which means not deleting the mail off the server when you read it.

I can't remember if Outlook allows you to POP read without a delete and your ISP isn't likely to enjoy it very much if you have a large email store.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, June 3, 2003

If your ISP doesn't offer IMAP, you can use e.g. FastMail:

Roel Schroeven
Tuesday, June 3, 2003

What I'm really looking for is a product that works like the Palm syncronization tool, but between two computers instead of between a PDA and a computer.  Does anything like that exist?

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Have a look at .

Nobby Good Guy
Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Which OS-es do you have?
MS has a feature to make "folder accessible offline" in XP (?).

So - you need a good e-mail client (which stores all info and mailboxes in some directory as plaintext files) - That could be Mozilla Mail for example (and it wouldn't be Outlook ;)

You should "share this folder" on desktop and attach to it from notebook. Set it as "offline sync. folder".

Then if notebook is connected to desktop - you accessing that folder. If you are not - you use offlie copy. When you are again - they will syncronize.

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

I keep saying this but nobody appears to notice, yet the answer is glaringly simple..

DON'T SYNCHRONIZE. Just keep ONE e-mail store on the laptop.

Then set your mail client on the desktop, Outlook Express or Outlook to use the mail folders on the laptop as the mail store. If you haven't done so yet make sure that you are using ethernet to connect between the two, and when you are using the desktop you won't even notice your mail is on the other machine.

You will have to remember to back up your email store daily using your standard backup program, as laptops are hardly the safest of repositories, but you should be running a daily backup program anyway.

If you tell me the mail client you have decided to use, Outlook Express or Outlook, then I will tell you exactly what to do.

And I would appreciate it if those who argue in favour of synchronization can give me a reason for ignoring my system.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, June 3, 2003

The limitation of your solution is that I need to have the laptop plugged in any time I want to read email on the desktop.    I may leave the laptop at home whlie the desktop is at the office.   

I don't really know what about my question waranted that tone.    You seem to be very defensive.    Any solutions are welcome, I was just stating my ideal solution as I see it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

I'm still trying to figure out if and when these computers talk to each other... I'm guessing they never do.

So then there will have to be a 3rd repository of these e-mails, either online or as someone mentioned in a PDA.

Am I right?
Tuesday, June 3, 2003

No, the laptop and desktop are on the same LAN.   

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Dear Anon,
                    I wasn't being aggressive, and the comments weren't directed at you. It's simply that nobody has given me a good explanation of how my solution doesn't work when you have the laptop at home.

                If the laptop and desktop are connected on the company LAN aren't you using Exchange Server? In that case you can use the web to access your mail using Web Outllook.

                If you can give us the exact details of the setup we can make suggestions.   

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, June 3, 2003

So you need a program that will sync the two computers (just like you said).

The simplest thing I can think of is to find an e-mail program that uses folders/files only and then find a program that will synchronise two folders.

Of course, that would mean finding a new e-mail program, outlook is probably very heavily registry dependant.
Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Outlook keeps all data in one .pst file if stored locally.

If you are connected to Exchange Server at Work then you can set up and offline file .ost on the laptop and use the offline synchronization tools.

If you keep the data all on a .pst file, then you can simply use back up software (Second Copy is my favourite) which will back up the most recent copy of the file.

This is fraught with dangers however. If you open the laptop file at home and make changes then that will become the most recent file and overwrite the other.

Keeping messages on the server for a certain number of days will work for received messages but not for sent messages.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

This setup is actually for my father.  He has a small office (2 or 3 computers) and he recently bought a laptop.  He uses Eartlink for his email, so going with an Exchange or IMAP server isn't really an option.   

He set up his laptop to check his email while he's on the road, but he wanted to find a way to keep his Outlook Express clients synchronized so that if he checks email on one machine it will be mirrored onto the other (although I think he wouldn't mind a solution that requires him to change email clients).   

The problem with telling OE to leave messages on the server is that some of his work-related mailing lists have enough traffic to cause him to exceed his quota very quickly. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2003


I just can't believe that anybody has offered a software solution for this. Could you please contact me by email. You should be able to click on my name to email me.

- Hector

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

joe here, I found a web site that might have a computer
software you could use, you download it from their site,
they have free software and some of it you have to pay.
I found it while surfing the web,,,wish you luck,,

joe tungate
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

I still suspect the best way may be to take the laptop into work every day. It does have the merit of simplicity. If you're going to be having the laptop as the later version you would have to bring it in anyway.

I've done a quick Google for synchronization for Outlook Express, and there are a fair number of programs, thougn none outstanding.

Have you checked out what web hosting offers. I would have thought there was somewhere where you could pay for a few hundred megabytes of mail store.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Stephen - good point. Why not use the laptop all the time? Surely it has a monitor / keyboard / mouse out or docking station so you can use it as if it were a desktop.
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

I found LBE Sychronizer ( on the site that was listed in this thread. 

The only thing close to that I found in my Google searches was a project on Sourceforge called MailSync ( that could synchronize Unix mbox files and IMAP boxes.    I don't think it had a Windows port.

I found an interesting product called MailRelayer ( that puts an IMAP interface on top of your Outlook, Eudora, or Netscape mailboxes.    That's a possible option as well.

Thanks for everybody's suggestions.  While I do appreciate the simple approach, I really had a tool in mind.  I'll run some of these ideas by my dad and see what his opinion is.

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

What I was referring to was using the desktop but having the laptop connected to the LAN, and keeping the mail store for the desktop on the laptop.

This means that you only ever have one mail folder (plus the backups of course if one fails) and don't have to bother about synchronization.

He already has a desktop, so there is no need to go out and buy a dociking station. In fact even if he didn't I doubt if there would be much financial advantage to having a doclking station instead of a  new desktop, since you're going to be buying all the peripherals anyway and you'll get the laptop MS Office license for free with the desktop one.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

What Google search did you run? I ran one on "Outlook Express" + "synchronization" and came up with different software.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Most of the tools in the results for that search are backup/restore tools, not a true "diff" on the mailboxes.   

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

I know. That is why I was asking you what search you ran.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, June 4, 2003

I don't even remember which search I ran to find those tools.    I did a lot of searching in Google Groups for variations on "mail synchronization", "email synchronization", "outlook express sync" etc., as well as looking for a Windows IMAP server (which is how I found MailRelayer).

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Let us know the solution chosen and how it worked out.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, June 5, 2003


I was reading through this entire post since I had a similar problem. You dont seem to understand the issue. Let me try to explain to you why we feel the need to have two different data stores.

Lets say me and my wife run a small business (home-based). Some travel is involved wherein I carry my laptop when on the field. I need access to all my emails/contacts/attachments/etc.

When I am on the field, my wife is at home working on the desktop. She also needs access to all the email/contacts/attachments/etc.

Also keep in mind that there is no option of Exchange Server or anything else that runs on a "server" since that comes at an additional cost. Over the past 2 years, I have accumulated nearly 0.5GB of email (w attachments) and I dont want all that sitting on some third-party server.

Now tell me how your solution of having one datastore on the laptop is gonna work for this ?

Any suggestions will be appreciated. I think most of the "free" software out there is shareware-limited. I am surprised Microsoft couldnt include some utility within their product.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004
Its works!

Matt B
Thursday, February 5, 2004

----"You dont seem to understand the issue."----

Yea, well that's because you hadn't said anything until eight months after my post! Stephen Jones version 1 does not do mindreading. That is a feature we are hoping to put in version 2 :)

No, my solution won't work in your case. The obvious solution is to keep it all on a web host. I suggest you strip out the attachments and keep those in a separate file in the same folder you keep your Outlook .pst in. That means you can substitute relative links for the attachments themselves instead of absolute links. You can buy a program for about $15 that will do this, if you don't want to do it by hand.

You might consider archive folders if you don't want to do this, and then you will only need to keep the latest file sychned on a server. Look into Oultook's public folders to see if things can be done that way. Also remember that Outlook has the setting of keeping messages on the server.

So I would suggest either archive folders or separate folders for attachments. Keeping the contacts folder and the calendar in your own hosted space. Keeping messages on the server until you are back home and can download them to the primary message store (desktop, laptop, or my favourite, pen drive).

There are plenty of other alternatives, I am sure. Please post back to let us know what solution you finally, or provisionally decide on.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Create another e-mail address and forward a copy of all mail to the new e-mail address.  You can still send from and reply to original address in both outlooks.  Easiest and most reliable way I have found.

Joel Foust
Monday, March 15, 2004

Hi Anon

This is how I do it with OE6 -

1. I have a laptop (win2000) that travels all the time. I have a desktop also running OE6 (XP Home).
2. The laptop and desktop are connected on a home network using Ethernet.
3. On both laptop and desktop I created a new folder called 'OE Sync' directly under the c drive (c:/OE Sync)
4. I made sure this folder on both machines was 'shared' enabled with the normal permissions.
5. I then went to OE on both machines 'tools-options-maintenance' and clicked 'Store Folder' I changed the folder to  the created 'c:/OE Sync' folder
6. Close OE and then re-open OE so all the files can be moved by OE to the new stored folder
6. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that the folder where the files are stored has the IDENTICAL pathway and name i.e. c:\ OE Sync or whatever name you choose.
7. Once done, simply utilise a synchronisation tool (I use ViceVersa) and sync the folders. The sync software will use the latest files on both. You can set the syncs software to automatically sync if you wish.

This works fine, and if you have not got an ethernet setup, will work with two PC's over a Direct Parralel connection also

The only downside I find is if the two OE are changed since the last sync. Then for example-----  if you have sent/deleted/added contacts etc in the laptop at say 12.17 pm and done some other actions on the desktop at 13.22 pm and sync at 14.00pm, the changes done on the laptop will not be registered as the sync software will load the desktop files across to the laptop.

But at the end of the day, this is what happens when you sync a PDA etc.

Does this help???

Irish Eyes
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Whow, some suggestions, let me add my problem;

I have at work a networkfolder, a laptop win2000 and a workstationWin2000.....

Both system have set the sync on the network drive, so it is uptodate all the time on both laptop and workstation, 'work offline for network folders'.

I would be happy to have my three pst-files(total 2 gigabyte) on the networkdisk WITH SYNC-option. For now the are on my laptop, and the workstation just uses the inbox..

Why does windows not allow pst files to be synced, I tryed renaming but then outlook will not open them...

Does this help? ;-)

bash Janssen
Friday, April 9, 2004

I think this is exactly what you are looking for: easy2sync for outlook. The free version keeps your inbox syncronized. The pay version keeps all folders syncronized,a nd the professional version keeps your calendar, contacts, etc syncrhonized.

Dan O
Friday, April 9, 2004

Somebody has just emailed me with a problem in Outlook Express. It appears that Outlook Express, unlike Outlook, will not let you have your store folder on a network, or even a removeable drive. So my suggestion will not work for Outlook Express, only for Outllook.

Apologies if I wasted anybody's time over this, and thanks to Tony Rothwell for pointing it out.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, April 29, 2004

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