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Internet => Web Browsing & Email => Topic started by: Weaver on March 07, 2017, 04:50:25 PM

Title: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Weaver on March 07, 2017, 04:50:25 PM
My ignorance, because I have never used IMAP I have a couple of totally stupid basic questions, and would be interested to know about different email clients and options for behaviour settings.

* Using IMAP do you tend to always leave mail on the server after downloading it in email client x? Or can you download the whole lots and empty the server?

* Do you have to have a live internet connection while you are using IMAP client x?

* What if you lose your internet connection midway - is the typical client sickly?

* What about totally off-line use?

* Is IMAP any good?
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: broadstairs on March 07, 2017, 05:04:08 PM
I use IMAP on my Android tablet, the client I use is set up to download messages but leave them on the server, once downloaded you can work offline but you may not have all of each individual email. For me IMAP is ideal when away from home to view emails and then download them to my desktop for archiving later.

Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Weaver on March 07, 2017, 05:22:19 PM
Broadstairs - could one change those behaviours on your particular email client? I ask because I am wondering how much - poss zero - is fixed by the nature of IMAP.
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: broadstairs on March 07, 2017, 05:43:47 PM
I use an Android client called K-9. IMAP was designed to allow multiple clients to handle the same inbox(es) on a server only deleting them when deleted on the client. Looking at the settings for K-9 you can optionally always download entire messages or only those up to a certain size, it has poll and push folders (whatever they are). If you always want to download all messages and delete from the server then POP3 is best which is what my desktop and laptops are configure for (although the laptops dont delete off the server they still use POP3).

Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Weaver on March 07, 2017, 06:03:44 PM
I had got this vague idea from somewhere that you tend to end up being forced to leave stuff on the server. Is that way off then?

If someone is leaving mail on the server and using imap, then (typically) what on on earth is supposed to happen when it simply builds up and hits the mailbox quota? You presumably start losing either old or new mail randomly at that point? (Answer: depends on the server or its settings or who knows what?)
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Chrysalis on March 07, 2017, 06:16:23 PM
I use both POP and IMAP.

On my desktop for my main email accounts I use POP and keep email archived locally, however this can end up been heavy, my email storage is currently several gigs.

On specific accounts even on my desktop I use IMAP.  On my phone I use IMAP for everything and it is set to not delete on the server meaning I can still download a copy to my desktop.

I used to use outlook, and am still considering moving back to it due to thunderbird performance problems and no a/v scanning.

So a comparison of both email clients from my perspective is that.

Outlook supports scanning of email's via nod32.
Outlook has a solid performance.
Outlook manages RSS very well - however I do plan to move RSS feeds to my phone away from my email client.
Outlook on my system does not support GCM or CHACHA ciphers.
Outlook is problematic when using IMAP, works great on POP but finicky on IMAP.
Outlook when accessing email accounts can login to multiple at once, but is slow at downloading large emails.

Thunderbird supports latest ciphers.
Thunderbird has no issues on IMAP
Thunderbird I have found no way to scan email's for viruses.
Thunderbird downloads large emails way faster than outlook but also can only check one email account at a time, so its check's take much longer.
Thunderbird has odd performance issues, especially when its left running for a while, it seems to have the same issues as firefox had with its lack of multi core processing and garbage collection causing stuttery behaviour.
Thunderbird some emails I archived at start of year have vanished.
Thunderbird (with the right addon added) does have better more granular rule system for auto sorting emails.

For reference my point's on outlook is version 2010 fully patched 64bit version running on windows 8.1  I expect the latest outlook on windows 10 does use GCM ciphers.

My phone uses the K9 email client.
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Weaver on March 07, 2017, 06:45:09 PM
Chris, what settings do you use in imap? And could you tell me about the leave-on-server vs delete and offline possibilities you have open to you with imap, if you'd be so kind?

I like Outlook a lot, but Mrs Weaver is all-iOS now. Seeing as so called 'Outlook' iOS is god-knows-what third-party badged thing, so it appears, who knows what it is so I don't see any point paying for it. I'm sticking with Apple's mail client for her because I'm hoping that that might work properly  her needs in terms of functionality are modest, she just needs something reliable and needs 100% integration with the rest of the Apple universe. And I already get paid-for full Apple support for everything anyway.

But I'm wondering if I'm mad sticking with POP simply because it's all I know. I really want to make sure that stuff is downloaded and deleted from the server, but I notice that there is 90MB of stuff sitting on there, so I'm wondering if I somehow ended up getting the app set up to use IMAP accidentally as apparently this is possible because of some strange auto-detect thing it does during setup, something that I was not aware of, and I'm not sure how to tell exactly what it's doing by looking in the settings, need to take another look. (Now I come to think of it, I could do a pcap on a session, if all else fails, to confirm which protocol it's using.)

Anyway, I ought to find out what the story is with IMAP and mail possibly building up on the server, just in case it is using imap.

So the questions boil down to: “Is there anything utterly bad about imap for my purposes?” and, “Does it have any killer advantages, which I am missing out on?”
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Ronski on March 07, 2017, 06:57:54 PM
The killer advantage is if you use multiple devices to read and send email, you can also use webmail.

I used to use POP, I'd check my emails throughout the day on my tablet (Aquamail), but they'd still be on the server for my email client at home to collect, so that would download them, all marked as UNREAD of course, so I was basically doing things twice. If I sent an email from my tablet it would not be in my sent box at home, or vice versa.

Now I've switched to IMAP whatever I read on whatever device is marked as read or deleted no matter which device I use, same goes for if I send an email, it's there on all the other devices sent folders.

This of course does mean ALL mail resides on the server until deleted, the way around that is to archive it, in my case all have to do is get Outlook to archive after X days (I still haven't done this)

Therefore using IMAP is so much easier when you want to access the emails from different devices.
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: BigJ on March 07, 2017, 07:14:50 PM
Ronski has pretty much summed it up in my view. I use a mix of IMAP and POP with Thunderbird and K9 on Android. I too periodically archive messages locally. Just to add a bit of flavour, this is how I do things.

With Thunderbird I keep the client in complete sync with the server. Changes Locally reflected on the server.
I've setup K9 on my mobile very differently, only the read state is updated on the server and the folder size is limited to 25 messages (older messages removed on client). Deleting message on K9 doesn't delete them on the server though if I've deleted with Thunderbird, it'll get deleted on K9 at the next sync.

Also you don't need a live internet connection. I sometimes start Thunderbird in off-line by mistake.
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Ronski on March 07, 2017, 07:23:32 PM
I've just set outlook to archive all messages once they are a year old, so those are now stored on my PC but still show up in Outlook and are fully searchable, just in a separate folder to the IMAP ones. Checked via Webmail and anything older than a year had gone, and thus removed from the server.

Incidentally if I don't have an internet connection then all my existing emails are still there in Outlook - so they are stored locally. Aquamail only keeps the last 25 messages, but can download more if so desired so it doesn't end up using loads of space on the tablet.
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: broadstairs on March 07, 2017, 08:05:20 PM
I must admit I've used Thunderbird for some years now on both Windows and Linux initially because I could use the same on both with the same shared folders on both on dual boot, now I use Linux only I've stuck with it. Setup for POP3 it checks all of my accounts in seconds because there is only new stuff on there so only a few emails each time. I know it single threads the accounts but for hobby use it's fine. Even when I've been on holiday and there are 100+ emails it does not take long to download all of them. I must admit running on Linux I am not that bothered about checking for virii as I never open anything suspicious anyway not that I really see any often anyway. It probably could be better in some areas but it's no big deal for my use.

Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Weaver on March 07, 2017, 08:56:22 PM
I forgot about the multiple-access thing. I was aware of that advantage but forgot about it temporarily because it doesn't apply in Mrs Weaver's case currently.

Leaving that aside temporarily, any other killer points in favour of IMAP?

Apologies, I still am wondering about the possibility of mail build-up on the server? How do you deal with that and has anything bad ever happened to you with IMAP?

There is no doubt that Mrs Weaver would never delete stuff off the server to keep quota down to a safe level. She wants a big historical archive visible in her email client.

For all I know, this could be a non-issue provided that servers manage quota by always dumping the oldest emails whenever necessary and never failing to store a new email, plus various other conditions, but I just don't get it. What if you just had a peep at an email using imap and didn't download the whole thing, or just fetched the header? I can't put together a picture that makes sense.

Btw, many thanks for your valuable feedback thus far, very helpful.
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Weaver on March 07, 2017, 08:58:51 PM
[RevK said the other day that he was getting sick of Thunderbird (shock horror), because it was crashing all the time on his OSX box. Must be dark times. Can someone mend it? Is the source available and debuggable?]
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: BigJ on March 07, 2017, 09:29:27 PM
Sorry no idea about OSX.

I can't really think of any other real IMAP killer features.

I've only been using IMAP for about 2 years and in that time I've never run into problems. Checking the options in Thunderbird it does seem possible to control the number of messages on the server. See attached screenshot.

I not very good at explaining ideas and concepts but I think of IMAP as syncing email messages in the way that DropBox etc sync files. POP3 is all about downloading. Hopefully someone can do a better job :)
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: sevenlayermuddle on March 07, 2017, 09:30:28 PM
I have been using Thunderbird for as long as I have been using OS X (about 7 years), don't recall it ever crashing - literally, not once.  That said, there's a lot I don't like about Thunderbird so I am beginning to change allegiance to Apple's mail client on the Mac (still IMAP).

Re IMAP, the beauty is that multiple clients can all sync with the server, so everything you see on your iPad will also be visible on your phone, or PC etc.   That includes not just incoming mail, but also sent mail and unsent drafts too.  And of course you can have multiple clients on the same device too, useful if you just want to test the water with a different mail App, in a non-destructive experiment - just as I have been doing with Apple and Thunderbird, side by side, to decide which one I dislike least.

In the most common setup, mail gets deleted from the server when it is deleted from one of the clients, and it then disappears from the other clients too next time they sync.   If you were worried about hitting server storage limits, you could just move everything to a local folder after a while, deleting it from the server and other clients in the process.

Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: broadstairs on March 07, 2017, 09:33:20 PM
I think the storage quota thing on the server is a consideration if you only use IMAP. My hosting company handle my email and the storage used by my emails is part of my overall disk quota. If you own your own server it's not a big issue but if you keep emails from the year dot then it could be on rented space. If you need a huge number of emails then downloading via POP3 is a better way to go IMHO.

Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: sevenlayermuddle on March 07, 2017, 09:54:06 PM
To put the server limit issues in context, my own mail is hosted in a Google Apps account.   Like any other gmail account, the limit is currently 15GB.  I very rarely delete email and so every email I have ever sent or received, since first acquiring email in early 90s, is stored in that gmail account.   Approaching just 7% of the limit, last time I looked and anyway, they keep increasing the limit.

And don't forget, the fact it is hosted offsite by some distant provider means you can worry a little bit less about backups and recovery in the event of something awful, like a home fire.
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Weaver on March 07, 2017, 09:59:39 PM
Invaluable feedback folks, thanks.
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: Chrysalis on March 08, 2017, 03:14:15 AM
I have various email accounts.

Hotmail and gmail which are accessed via a browser or phone app.  I use neither for business purposes, generally gmail I use for mailing lists as its ideal for high traffic mail.
Hotmail I used to use many years ago a lot more, but now I just check it infrequently and generally it just gets spam and emails for stuff like forums I registered it with a long time ago.

For work/personal and contact when signing up to something I use one of my personal domains which I host myself so the actual space limits I have are in reality in the TB's really just limited to the size of the storage on my servers.
Title: Re: IMAP and email clients
Post by: currytop on March 17, 2017, 11:05:34 PM
A bit late to the party but I like to visualise IMAP as a file system where a mail is a file. I now use IMAP for all mail and may access it from any of my user machines via Thunderbird. One of the file servers here runs a Dovecot IMAP server and holds an archive of all mail for about 25 years. It just appears in Thunderbird as another mail account, and TB filters are used to move older mail from the Internet IMAP server to the local server after a time, so alleviating overflow worries. So far TB handles this quite well without any noticeable slow down or other ill effects.

TB searches work just fine on the external or internal IMAP servers/accounts.

TB can be configured to retain emails locally so you can review and compose replies without an Internet connection. I think several have already said as much above.

For me it means I can pick up any machine and get an identical view of my current or archived mail.