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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Optimising Email

Most people are using POP3 for email, which means their email software periodically grabs any new messages and removes them from the server. That gets awkward when you start accessing email elsewhere, as you don’t have older emails and replies to refer to, and you have to safeguard the only copy of your precious email archive.

So others use IMAP to keep all incoming and outgoing email on the server, making everything available from anywhere and hopefully ensuring it gets backed-up by the hosting firm. But if your hosting has technical hassles you might be stuck for a while, particularly as your email package will generally only have copies of viewed messages (and may sometimes lose those if the configuration changes).

Having tried a few different approaches over the years, I’ve settled upon IMAP with all incoming email also forwarded to a roomy Gmail account. When I’m on one of my own computers I can use IMAP via an email package, when I’m elsewhere I use the hosting’s webmail (with all my folders and emails fully available), and if my hosting’s down I can resort to Gmail (without my folders and outbound messages; I could have the latter if I bothered to BCC everything). Having that extra backup gives me peace of mind and has already proved valuable.

(Unfortunately, many hosting firms only let you set up either a mailbox or forwarding, not both, or don’t support IMAP at all, and IT departments frown upon forwarding emails off-site, so you might not be able to use the same approach.)


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