I've been waiting for this for so long - just in time to test it out with the new Apple Mail!
Google has slipped IMAP support into its GMail service, allowing users to manage their mail on the server and access it using different clients, with the status of their messages maintained. IMAP is a vast improvement over POP3 - the more popular protocol for collecting email - though it seems GMail will continue to support …
IMAP doesn't require a user to stay connected. If you use thunderbird, for example, you can download some or all messages & then choose to work offline. Next time you connect all replies will be sent and new mail downloaded. IMAP with SSL connections also avoids the tedium of VPNs, you can securely read mail from anywhere.
Seconded Steve's comments. IMAP doesn't require you to stay connected. I have been using IMAP for years with Outlook Express and the beauty of it is that even if I have no net connection, I can still work with my mail (compose, reply, delete, move e-mails), then reconnect to sync everything up in one swoop.
I never have to worry about whether the mail is the same on my PC or online either, it's always synced, so if I go on holiday for example, I can expect ALL my mail to be available to me, then when I get home, IMAP syncs it all again. Haven't used POP3 since my Uni days and that was 7-11 years ago.
Well, thank foo for that. All working on my PDA right now, so I'm a happy chappy. One word of warning, if my language was set to UK English, no imap. US English = imap! So for those that can't see the imap option, do a swap over and away you go.
Shame pop3 is foobarred for my gmail account, but google haven't got round to fixing it for about 8months.
I suspect the author was referring to IMAPs general brittleness caused by many clients' assumption (based on the protocol itself) that they can hold an open socket connection to the server and expect to pick it up and use it a little later.
It only takes one dodgy firewall on route loosing track of the IP session for this to break and for the client to get stuck in an ugly cycle of timeouts.
Basically IMAP was designed for a situation where the clients are relatively local to the server and communicating over a well known/controlled network. It does work widearea but it isn't perfect for that use.
Care to explain why (in your opinion) IMAP is a "dog" or why POP3 is "so much better"??
How can a protocol that actually requires you to download your virus-laden spam (POP3) be better than a protocol that gives you a list of your messages waiting on the server? With IMAP you can just delete it before it gets anywhere near your computer.
This is brilliant. I've been using IMAP with my ISP (PlusNet) for as long as I can remember, so that I can read my email at work, at home on different computers, and even on my mobile.
But more importantly is that Google apps will also support it so now you can use your own domain name with the Gmail interface, and pick you email anywhere you go. (Just as a note the Gmail Java App for mobile phones has never worked with Google Apps)
I read in other places that Google are rolling this out so you might not get the option for a few days.
So maybe Thunderbird 2 developers will get off their high chairs and maybe actually get around to fixing the many bugs in IMAP support they've left in.
POP3 support has had most of its bugs fixed due to its popularity. But IMAP has been left out in the cold for years.
I've been reporting and waiting for IMAP filtering to work correctly for years.
I just wish they'd also save the email settings into a Imap folder so I don't have to update 3 versions of Thunderbird everytime I change a filter and move around.
Not up on your George Orwell ?
I was merely implying that IMHO IMAP is a generally good and reliable beast.. and that POP3 is an annoying pimple on my IT landscsape.
(Although I can see why historically POP3 was something that was necessary given the dial-up access everyone had in it's hay day..)
What a truly risible comment about IMAP. POP3 is great - I mean who doesn't love their email being stuck on a single computer? Who doesn't love having to download the entire message? IMAP clearly has no advantages, with my IMAP account I can access it on almost any device from any location with a small footprint and all mail gets filtered/virus checked/spam checked on the server. Let's all hope to God that Rob doesn't fancy a career in IT.
Yep POP3 has the true advantage. The advantage of losing all of your mail when your computer goes tits up. This is its primary, main and inherent advantage from which you cannot escape.
I keep all my mail on an IMAP server. All 5-6GB of it. As a result I have not had any mail loss for the last 8 years. None of the usual "the client (insert name here) ate my mailbox" and "the disk failed so I have no access to any of my mail" for now. None of the "I need to change the client so I have to convert my folders". None of the "This email is on my other machine". None of that...
And most importantly it works on anything starting with my desktop, my personal laptop, my company laptop, my phone, pda, etc. Without paying for any extra software.
You only get real pop3 if you do your username as recent:email@example.com and even then only for the last 30 days or so of email. If you use their regular pop3 it resets every time you download email or look at your account. So look at your email via the web and then come home and try and download into thunderbird and it will only download the messages since you looked at it over the web. No using two offline email softwares together either. This is not how regular pop3 works and is a a total pain as the recent tag is hidden. Read the discussion groups and people trying to download their latest email is a total gamble.
If you use the recent tag and download at least once a month then you can make it work with thunderbird but also filter out any email sent via gmail because you get a copy of every sent email back. But coexisting web use and an offline email client was a complete pain to setup and no thanks to google. Maybe imap will be better, I hope so but I wouldn't bet against it having a secret google way of working like their pop.
After today, GMail is now collecting all my POP3 mailboxes and making them accessible by IMAP.
IMAP is so much better than POP4. Especially when you have two desktops, a laptop and a phone and want to have the same Email on all of them!
You can even push messages up onto the server to make them accessible on your other devices!
Personally I use both. IMAP is fine for one user sharing my domain who can access her email from wherever she is and her inbox and folders all stay on the same server. Another uses POP3 as he doesn't want it stored on the server. With POP3 and Fetchmail I can arrange for automated delivery of my messages to another machine which I don't want to act as an MX for the same domain. Having optional use of either protocol makes it possible for multiple prefixes all @the.same.domain to have individual delivery and storage preferences.
Actually, we use IMAP at my company, and love it. Except, what do people in a small workgroup who aren't blessed (cursed) with an Exchange server do for Calendar sharing? The few tools I've looked at seem to create new separate-but-equal calendar form/apps within Outlook, which would render PDA sync useless.
True. For services such as GMail, I'd rather use IMAP. But for most non-free email, I tend to use POP3, not just because I'm used to it (using internet since 1996). I use it because most email addys I use are changed, deleted or something frequently. Using IMAP usually makes all that e-mail go bye-bye, POP3 will keep it on my PC for all eternity.
These problems were very standard when I was in HS/college, as the IT folks loved to wipe student accounts every semester, or change our addys. That, and well, I've switched so many ISP/work email accounts I have lost count of those.
Of course, I still have to backup all that stuff, as having locally stored e-mail can increase the risk of losing everything... as I did back in '97 when a virus ate my HD.
You bet it feels nice and familiar, David, but not for the reason you're possibly suggesting - a quick check will reveal you that IMAP predates Exchange by god knows how many years. As usual.
(I'm assuming here that Microsoft email client/server solutions don't prefer to settle for IMAP but use some closed and "optimized" protocol of their own, all for the customers' own good of course, am I wrong?)
There's the TOP command, supported by almost all servers, in my experience.
When there was an annoying worm/virus sending 100 kB messages I had a Perl script that connected every 15 minutes using POP3 and deleted those messages without downloading them. There were hundreds of them arriving every day, so it really was worth connecting every 15 minutes. Fortunately the messages were easy to identify from the header.
I'm a bit wary of IMAP because it's so complex. There are bound to be bugs in every implementation.
A simple solution to downloading from gmail to two computers: get a second (free) account and forward messages from one to the other; one computer downloads from one account, and one from the other. Presumably this disc-space-wasting solution is no longer required with IMAP, but can I be bothered to fix a set-up that still works?
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Been hooked on the joy of IMAP since my uni account used it. Own servers now run it, can't stand the idea of reverting to POP3 (although the fun of making sure all e-mail is backed up and synced across multiple machines in case of failure / whimsical format does hold some appeal ...).
"How can a protocol that actually requires you to download your virus-laden spam (POP3) be better than a protocol that gives you a list of your messages waiting on the server? With IMAP you can just delete it before it gets anywhere near your computer."
POP3 requires no such thing. You can download just headers and decide what to actually retrieve from the server and what to delete straight off the server. It may be that this facility is not implemented in many POP3 email clients, but Pegasus has had it under the name "selective mail download" for many years and it remains my primary defense against spam.
In the decade-plus I've been using Pegasus, the number of incoming messages that weren't obviously identifiable as spam or not can be counted on the ten fingers, no toes required.
Fortunately Pegasus also gives the user full control over what attachments to open and whether to interpret html-ized messages or not, so it's safe to download even viral vectors as long as you have your wits about you. IOW, the rare ambiguous messages that are viral still have an exceedingly hard time infecting you.
One unpleasant development looms, however: I have received legitimate messages that looked a great deal like spam when I examined the headers. Canada Post sends out shipping notification messages that are very spam-like, for example: the Received: headers refer to servers with no obvious connection to any organization you've heard of (esp not to Canada Post), and the messages are html format only, another characteristic of many spams. Somebody in Ottawa or Toronto is too much in love with cleverness and lives in too tall an ivory tower.
The ignorance of the comments touting iMAP vs POP displayed here is appalling. If the article author or the commenter are IT people, they should be fired for incompetence.
The bottom line is that all of the “unique” attributes claimed in the above postings are in fact within the scope of both implementations using standard email clients. You just have not be totally clueless.
"Microsoft email client/server solutions don't prefer to settle for IMAP but use some closed and "optimized" protocol of their own"
I wouldnt call it optimised.
Ever tried to conect to a truely remote (as in different country or other very large distance) exchange server?
Microsoft in their wisdom require hundreds of minisclue packets to be sent back and forth to connect, each one waiting on sucessful completion of the previous. this means that with any significant latency in the network connection you can be looking at 5 minute load times for outlook.
Note that that can be mitigated by competant IT management, but that assumes a lot :)
It took me less than a minute to set it up on my three home comp's in the morning - just got happy from the news even though I was running late for work. I've been using IMAP wherever I could since around 1999-2000
On a side note I've been using Hotmail since a few months after the release in 1996.... Did the ISP email accounts really start to disappear in UK that early? Here in Scandinavia I remember it was still one of the key features for deciding on which ISP to go with back then - and still was far beyond y2k...
is that it allows you to change mail providers reasonably easily. You don't like Gmail in 5 years time? (or want to switch from another imap provider to them), you can knock up a script that'll just slurp the mail off one server and pop it onto the new one - folders and all. Probably apps about to do this stuff - if not I might write one and make my millions.
As much as it pains me to point out anything positive about MS Exchange, they have remedied somewhat the stupidity of using minimally sized packets over WAN links (or any kind of network) mentioned by James Findley.
Buried in the account options of the MS Outlook client is the option to access the MS Exchange server via HTTP or as they put it "Connect to my Exchange mailbox using HTTP". There are some other options to further tweak the settings.
By doing so, you can get two bonuses;
1. MS Outlook will not bog down your whole OS while it sends, checks,sends, checks and basically babbles at the MS Exchange server over a WAN link with latency higher than 10 ms.
2. If the MS Exchange server connectivity is lost, you will not have to reboot your PC while MS Outlook goes insane. You can carry on using your PC until connectivity to the MS Exchange box is back.
MS Outlook 2003 has this option. Not sure when it was first made available.
Of course to use it, the MS Exchange version must support it and it must be turned on.
Turning on these options have made a distasteful task (relying on MS Exchange) a little less bitter.
Folder support. pop3 doesn't have it with inbox only support. imap supports folders, subfolders, and subfolders of subfolders. Etc.
As well, i don't have to rely on client sorting for email, since all the folders are kept on the server - procmail being your friend and all. Thus, even the stupidest thin client with a good imap implementation has all my folders properly sorted, and i don't have to work out spam filters when i change clients.
Admittedly, this is a very "in the innards" reason to use it.
my feeling is: you can make pop3 act like imap4, for everything BUT server side folders - and that alone is reason enough to use it.
But i understand why, back in the day of not quite so inexpensive storage, ISP's didn't want to. I remember back in '96 trying to convince the ISP i was working for that we should support imap, and it truely did simply come down to a business case for paying for storage. It wasn't worth it.
I use Outlook (not express) and POP3 to access my email. Therefore I have all my mails downloaded onto my hard drive. I then back up my PST file.
I can also access my gmail via the web, and the messages are still there.
In fact, when I delete my messages from Outlook they remain on googles server. Despite me having the "delete mail of server" checkbox enabled.
With IMAP you can use a mail client at home and webmail out and about - at work or on holiday for example - and still keep access to your folders. I use Thunderbird and webmail with my ISP and it works a charm.
And for the guy who wanted to be able to change ISPs - easy - hook up your IMAP client and drag n drop your folders to your machine or to your new account. Where's the hassle?
POP3 is nice lightweight protocol for slow or dial-up connections - but most of us don't have those any more.
For Google it makes perfect sense - people get to use a client at home and the webmail interface on the move. And Google gets to keep all your email on their servers so they can do all their ad-targeting and data mining.
And I am an IT guru/programmer/user, so you can take your idle threats of having me fired and shove them up your ahole.
I am forced to use IMAP at work, and every freakin day I get messages about how my mail box is full.
No such issue with pop.
with imap somebody is holding my email and can peruse it at their leisure, delete it, corrupt it, send it off to the FBI, all with no control from me.
If I care to have such a 'feature' I can use yahoo, google, msn to hold it for me. I don't.
That has nothing to do with IMAP, that's the stingy storage your ISP / Server has per mailbox.
Apart from folder structure there's nothing wrong with either protocol. Most "issues" are client based (like old Outlook 97 forgetting the POP3 message marker and downloading *all* you mail again every couple of weeks...)
Admittedly, I can POP to mailboxes over telnet better than I can IMAP over telnet... :P
Clearly you aren't as much of an IT guru as you think. Otherwise you'd realise that mailbox full is because someone has imposed limits on you. Complain about the people imposing limits that break your work rather than complaining about a protocol that isn't the problem.
IMAP beats POP3 for anyone and everyone who uses more than one mail client and/or more than one PC. For me, everything must be IMAP now because I move around so much. Fortunately my main mail is on our own server, so limits (or lack of) are imposed by me not someone else.
I've had my FastMail account for quite a few years now. It's the only free email account I can find that actually provides IMAP4 support. The downside is that it is only 10MB. Larger storage is available, but comes at a cost.
I was hooked on IMAP4 ever since I was introduced to it at my former uni. POP3 works for most people who require only rudimentary functions. For synchronisation purposes, POP3 is a poor alternative to IMAP4.
I'm eagerly anticipating IMAP on my Gmail account.
You may be a user, even perhaps a programmer, but don't use the "g" word in vain :-) You're not a guru.
There aren't any differences between POP and IMAP *from the point of view of your specific rants* (note emphasis).
If you're unable to log in for a few days (like maybe go on vacation), POP3 can also hit whatever size limit your mail admin has set. Conversely, you can have your laptop/desktop IMAP mail client move all messages to the local spool as soon as you switch it on, just like POP.
As for someone else reading your email, until you log on and POP them off, they're sitting there. And if you think you're logging on every 30 seconds or whatever, well (a) you can do the same with the IMAP client anyway, so what's your point? and (b) 2 lines in /etc/procmailrc gets your server admin a copy of all your emails, *before* they hit your inbox. A few more lines can do the corruption, deletion, sending to FBI, and anything else your paranoia can dream up too. Pop or imap doesn't matter.
I'd be glad to supply the scripts if your admin will contact me, but I'll bet he already knows. In fact, seeing as you're such a nice guy, he's probably doing it already ;-)
Better stop using email, buddy!
With gmail, assuming you don't have more than 3gb or emails you can just set it to auto archive any mail downloaded over pop3, so you can always access it even if you HAVE downloaded it, via the web.. and its like a auto backup system :)
so i dont see why imap is so important on gamail...
Yes, yes, yes Ian, and here's another one:
"IMAP compliments webmail..."
Unless Paul's implying IMAP praises webmail, the word is *complement*.
Incidentally, I've been running mail servers for about 8 years now and we support pop3/imap/webmail, but my biggest problem with imap/webmail is not the disk space I have to provide, it's the difficulty with load-balancing across multiple, geographically dispersed servers. Because of its "now you host it now you don't" nature, pop3's a breeze, but the synchronisation issues with the other two are a pain.
I may be wrong - but I don't think Pop3 has any of the inbuilt server side mail searching/filtering/storage functionality that imap has built in, enabling you to quickly find the mail you want, and store it somewhere sensible, making far superior to anything pop3 offers.- But then again I guess most mail clients (except pine) don't give you access to all this extra functionality.
www.merseymail.com, was built round Imap, and until recently offered external imap use - a service which sadly has been withdrawn due to over use.
There may be advantages to IMAP, but GMail's POP3 support already gives you the best of both worlds. You can download messages to your own mail client but set GMail to archive them when you do. If you use GMail's SMTP server for sending, sent messages are kept in your GMail account too.
I've taken to using GMail as my main e-mail client but occasionally download messages to Thunderbird so that I have a local copy.
For those who don't already know, there's also quite a nice mobile client available for GMail.
I use the same POP3 account on three clients - you just leave messages on the server instead of deleting when you download it.
The POP3 server can often forward a notification or whole message to another email account with each email received.
My experience with IMAP clients, is the server is set up to delete messages after 90 days, which also deletes the local "offline" copy. IMAP gives you virtual folders, but if you are not careful, their contents also get deleted after 90 days.
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