back to article Gmail and Outlook sitting in a tree, not t-a-l-k-i-n-g to me or thee

Nobody likes Mondays, least of all Google's Gmail, the POP3 and IMAP services of which fell over this morning to deprive Monday morning mailers their start-of-week fix. The issues appeared to kick off at around 11:30 BST and continues to prevent those who prefer to access their Googly mail via means other than the browser. The …

  1. CaptainBlue

    "Far be it from us to suggest that this might be a fitting reminder that it is time to consider a move to something a little more modern rather than trying to access Google email from a third party client."

    Are you suggesting we should be more up to date by having different apps for different mail providers? How very modern!

    1. LDS Silver badge

      No, of course you can let that single provider access all of your mail accounts and put its long pointy nose into them too....

      I got rid of third party email server even for my personal use years ago.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Google Mail

      still using this? How quaint. Well... if you want all your emails scanned by Google then carry on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: Google Mail

        It's impossible for e-mail to work without the receiving server reading the e-mail. The only way this wouldn't be the case if the body of the e-mail was encrypted and therefore could only be rendered by the recipient. Then the receiving server would be reading the encrypted body.

        It's what the receiving server/person/company does with the data they collect or could collect that may be an issue.

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: re: Google Mail

          if the body of the e-mail was encrypted and therefore could only be rendered by the recipient...

          ... the security of the sign-on would be largely immaterial too.

          There's an awful lot to be said for encrypted e-mail. It's almost inconceivable that e-mail if invented today would not be encrypted and yet somehow we're still still in the shadow of UUCP.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: re: Google Mail

        I use gmail to communicate with friends and other humans. I use secure mail services for anything that needs to be secure.

      3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: re: Google Mail

        If you reside at any major University pretty much anywhere in the US, the University handed it all over to Gmail to run for them "for free" years ago. That's how the US government ended up going after people like Prof Xi Xiaoxing. Most involved believe the government was scanning University email en mass (via Gmail) and simply didn't understand what they were seeing.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/us/politics/fbi-xi-xiaoxing.html

    3. jonathan keith Silver badge

      Er, what?

      I'm honestly at a loss here trying to understand what's so bad about - for example - using the Outlook desktop client to handle email from an Exchange account, and both my Fastmail account and a Clook account via IMAP.

      Or is the problem just that I'm not down with the cool kids?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: is the problem just that I'm not down with the cool kids?

        Probably that. But neither am I, you know. I use Gmail for my professional mail only. For the rest, I have a French national mail account (with La Poste, the French mail service), and then I have my personal mail server for everything strictly private, between friends and a special spam account for when I have to sign up to some site that doesn't deserve it.

        I access my Gmail with a Chrome, obviously (work, remember ?), but I forward everything I get to one of my personal accounts which I access with Lotus Notes via POP.

        For all the rest of my email accounts, I use Thunderbird, which is configured to not leave mail on the server. And I purge my Gmail account as soon as a thread is no longer relevant.

        In other words, my mail is local, I don't leave it on someone else's server. Not even mine.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      FAIL

      OAuth itself breaks the whole open source concept. You have to register a particular service to access it, and in theory this could be abused in the current model without some level of secrecy. And those keys "and stuff" you need for OAuth are normally embedded within the application, but you CAN NOT DO THIS FOR OPEN SOURCE without unzipping your pants and letting people see your most private secrets, and maybe abusing them, and getting the service shut down, and breaking EVERYTHING.

      This means:

      a) you're stuck with "CRapps" to access your mail (which effectively breaks under Linux and FreeBSD)

      -or-

      b) you use web-mail (which stinks on ice and often requires script to work)

      -or-

      c) you GO ELSEWHERE <-- my choice

      'c' is almost as good as a clue-bat.

  2. Avalanche

    "The problem appears to be related to POP3 and IMAP access; if you're connecting to Google's servers using those services, then sending and receiving email could be a challenge."

    Especially sending email would be a challenge that way, as neither POP 3 nor IMAP is for sending email. That would be SMTP.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google's SMTP was also down this morning, but is up again now (at least for me).

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Flame

    OAuth2 lock-out

    OAuth2 is a fucking bind to implement on third-party email clients because you've got to crowbar a full browser into the IMAP/POP authentication stage and there are no real standards for authentication, each provider does it is own way and email client developers have to reverse engineer it.

    This is what happens when you let huge corporations take control of open standards.

    But one piece of software/app per provider protected by its OAuth2 wall is more modern (the author knows what he's doing when he drops that word into the article).

  4. AJ MacLeod

    I'd suggest that what's required is something a few decades LESS "modern" - how about ditching cancerous authoritarian providers like GMail and Outlook.com and going back to completely standards compliant email services that don't bind you to provider lock-in or intrude into your entire online life?

    1. Qumefox

      The issue with doing that is that hosting any kind of public facing server is a major pain in the ass to actually do correctly and have actual redundancy and security. If it wasn't, the "Cancerous authoritarian providers" wouldn't exist in the first place. No one would put up with Google or MS's slurping if avoiding doing so was even halfway easy.

      1. AJ MacLeod

        Running any kind of server is a bit of a pain of course but I'm not so sure it's all _that_ difficult. I certainly could never hope to provide the redundancy that Google supposedly have, but over a decade and a half of running various (mostly) small-scale mail servers I'm pretty sure that their total non-availability has still been less than GMail's IMAP and SMTP outage just today.

        Far better to have lots of smaller providers dealing with far fewer accounts each, so that individual outages are much less widely disruptive.

        Regarding putting up with Google et al's slurping... in my personal experience the vast majority of people sadly either don't know or even care, and the younger folk seem even less bothered than most.

  5. sanwin

    I can never understand why people read email in a browser, rather than 'modern' it seems totally antiquated to me. Outlook started demanding my gmail password this morning - ironically it is only my backup for if my main email goes down.

    1. Gordon 11

      I can never understand why people read email in a browser, rather than 'modern' it seems totally antiquated to me.
      Whatever happened to the idea of separating data presentation and data display?

      I expect a mail server to be able to supply the mail data, and then I may run whichever mail client I wish to display it to me in whatever way I can persuade it to do, in a way that best suits my needs/wishes.

      Similarly, why do people assume that mail is sent from an application by a user typing at a keyboard?

      I have a few dozen mails sent to me every day by the background process that check the health of my systems and backups (and this is just for my systems at home - when I worked I had far more doing similar things there too). How would I get that to work with OAuth (or similar)?

  6. Dapprman

    Hit me this morning

    Took me ages to get Outlook working with GMAIL again - found the answer by accident. I'd been looking at the security area, but under the gmail settings POP3/IMAP tab I found that while it showed POP3 had been enabled for a long time there was no option selected. I selected Allow POP3 and all worked again.

    Thought it was just me as I could find no news at the time (around midday UK time) but looks like maybe Google took a simple annoying route to try and stop people using third party clients.

  7. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Far be it from us to suggest...

    Hmmm, not sure who "us" is here, but one of the uses of email received as an email rather than a monitored stream of html is the ability to parse it for one's own purposes.

    Spam filters work in this way, and therefore it would appear that what is being advocated as "best practice" is that Google knows what's best as regards what is and isn't spam.

    That's one purpose. With browser-email we're going back to the days of independent silos of information, needing to be transcribed and entered into a different silo. I write email parsers for customers that need the ability to automatically process orders and such-like, in order to revolutionise their productivity. If orders have to be copied and pasted from a browser-based interface there is a reliance on the operator doing it correctly, and who's to say that the provider might intersperse the message with formatting that breaks copy/paste.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whatever it's worth...

    Had a report of this this morning.

    Had a look at the settings on the machine in question.

    The only thing needing tdoing was switching the "Security and Authentication >> Authentication method" to "OAuth2".

    After that, everything went back to "normal" Monday-mode.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have used Pegasus email application for my home use since my local first ISP actually came to your house to install everything for you. I hope it can keep going for a few more years - to avoid me being forced into browser or M$ applications.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      I prefer Thunderbird, but I share your sentiments.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I prefer Thunderbird, [...]"

        Will Thunderbird survive the oAuth changes? It is the one that is top of my list should it become necessary to change. Apart from its reputation I have no idea how it stacks up as a self-contained POP3, IMAP, SMTP application.

        1. jelabarre59

          Thunderbird is suffering a lot of breakage these days, severe memory leaks that necessitate closing the application at least once a day (sometimes twice). I suspect the massive boatload of code-breakage coming from Mozilla/Firefox is having it's way with Thunderbird, and with the Mozilla Project so intent on abandoning/not-abandoning it (really the first, they just loudly protest it isn't so) and not enough staff/support, I'm concerned it may not last. And seeing as the alternatives are the bloated and clumsy Evolution, or a multitude of email clients who believe that columnar-only UIs are in ANY way usable, not much available to replace it.

          And to state it quite clearly; a web browser is *NOT* an email client.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            I don't have a problem with breakage in Thunderbird and it only closes when I turn off my computer, but otherwise I completely agree with you, especially with:

            And to state it quite clearly; a web browser is *NOT* an email client.

  10. teomor

    If you’re suggesting we use email “apps” in a browser as a more modern option, you must be off your meds. Most of us are using email for productivity, and having a dedicated desktop app to quickly switch to (and desktop notification/badges and all the goodies) is always going to be the better option!

    If it ever comes to Gmail not working on my mail client anymore, I will ditch it in a blink of an eye, before ever thinking of opening gmail.com on my browser again.

  11. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Are they disabling IMAP completely?

    Wait ... are they disabling IMAP access to Gmail completely? I run my own mail server and I don't use Gmail for anything, but I do use an IMAP fetch program to scrape my Gmail box, for those occasional twits who assume that your email address *must* be firstname.lastname@gmail.com

    If that's going to stop working ... damn ...

  12. Bernard Peek

    There's an addon for Thunderbird to synchronise its calendars with Google. It's borked and asks for authentication every ten minutes.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      And useful addons have been killed. However, Thunderbird is still the best email client, but I am afraid that says more about other email clients.

  13. ajbhovis

    PLEASE !!!

    As I am in my late 80's I'm no longer a whizzz at these things - always playing catch-up - so would someone, somewhere, speaking plain English and not the latest and greatest tech jargon, PLEASE … explain to me why Mozilla Thunderbird stopped receiving E-mails a week ago, yet still enabling me to send E-mails??? And what do I do about it? My wife's thunderbird is unaffected and both sends and receives.

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