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IMAP: Does everybody have lot of headaches with it?

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May 29, 2012 6:26:40 PM

I've always used POP and its fairly predictable and reliable. Recently I converted some of my POP accounts to IMAP. Its been a bizarre experience. Mail comes down automatically instantly (as it should) then it just stops. Then I get cryptic error symbols so I download manually and it comes down fine. Its illogical and aggravating.

Wondering if IMAP just isn't ready for prime time. I'm using Operamail which, on some accounts, seems to work great, which leads me to suspect its the providers that are acting flakey.

IMAP promises that a message pushes to your email program within a few seconds of it being sent. So you don't have to waste bandwith with POP servers inquiring every 5 minutes if you have any new email. That's the premise as I understand it at least. And it sounds perfect. Did I misunderstand something?

More about : imap lot headaches

May 30, 2012 10:32:46 AM

IMAP has been around for a long time and I've never had any problems with it. Most people have moved away from email clients and just use webmail now though.
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June 1, 2012 12:33:39 PM

I haven't had any problems with imap. Also, you misunderstand what imap is. IMAP leaves email messages on the server so that no matter where you check your mail from you are always viewing the same messages. With POP3, messages are deleted from the server when you download/read them. IMAP also supports public folders.

Most businesses use IMAP so if an employees computer dies, they don't lose their email. They just get a new computer, install a mail client, and they are good to go - no lost emails.
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June 11, 2012 12:30:51 AM

Yes I understand the importance of deletion from servers. But that has nothing to do with me. I'm only using one computer. As I said, the strength of IMAP is you don't have to continually ping the POP server to see if there's new messages. If its important I used to check every 10 minutes. That's a lot of pinging! IMAP, when it works, display the messages almost the second its received.

Its still not working very reliably. Not sure if its the email service or Operamail that's the problem or maybe they don't talk together well.
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June 11, 2012 8:00:49 AM

Stick with POP if you don't like IMAP. Checking the server every 10 minutes is a minuscule overhead. A typical web page contain tens or hundreds as much data as is used when checking a POP server for new messages (indeed, downloading a new message vastly outweighs the overhead of checking).

Would you consider looking at a web page every hour or so to be a huge overhead?
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June 11, 2012 11:52:57 AM

tom2u said:
As I said, the strength of IMAP is you don't have to continually ping the POP server to see if there's new messages.


As far as I know, IMAP doesn't push messages, the mail client still has to do a check. I have mine set for every 10 minutes. There is no pinging involved. It requests a list of new messages and the headers for those messages get returned.
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June 11, 2012 12:03:04 PM

IMAP doesn't push messages, but it does push notifications. The client then has to request the message. You would really need to carry out benchmarks to see which system produced the quickest response and/or the least use of resources. I would be very surprised if there were any significant differences between the two for the majority of users.

The main advantage of IMAP, as far as I am concerned, is the ability to access one mailbox from multiple clients.
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June 11, 2012 6:14:39 PM

The advantage of IMAP is that you get the message instantly. And POP can never do that without pinging the POP server incessantly all day. IMAP is the clear winner here but if only it would be as reliable as POP.
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June 11, 2012 6:32:31 PM

Maybe it's your mail client that isn't reliable? At work, we run ALT-N's MDaemon mail server. I use Mozilla's Thunderbird mail client and have zero problems.

Outlook Express is terrible at IMAP.
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June 11, 2012 6:52:07 PM

I've never had any problems with IMAP using various mail clients on Linux, Windows, and iOS. On the other hand, I've never had any problems waiting 10 minutes for an email either.

Could be a problem with the implementation of IMAP on the mail server.
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June 11, 2012 10:13:54 PM

Hawkeye22: Why does OE fail at IMAP? I haven't used it for years but it sure was good for POP way back in the day. The thing is some IMAP servers seem to work flawlessly with Operamail.

Ijack: Implementation of IMAP: Do some email services have lousy IMAP service?

I wonder if IMAP is harder to implement than POP for most email services.
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June 12, 2012 6:57:57 AM

As with any software, some implementations are better than others. IMAP is inherently more complicated, and is more recent, than POP so some implementations do suffer from bugs. I guess the same is true of clients too, although I have never experienced any problem with either. OE is rather dated now so it is possible the problem lies there. Its successor, LiveMail, has always worked for me.
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June 12, 2012 12:22:30 PM

tom2u said:
Hawkeye22: Why does OE fail at IMAP? I haven't used it for years but it sure was good for POP way back in the day. The thing is some IMAP servers seem to work flawlessly with Operamail.


Yes, POP3 was a well established protocol and OE had no problem with it. It's IMAP implementation was broken, due to I believe was some microsoft proprietary code to make it work with Exchange servers. Versions of the MDaemon mail server had specific settings in it's config files just to accomodate outlook express. The settings were usually listed as to fix outlook express idle command or to fix outlook express.... There were at leat 3 to 5 settings just to get outlook express to work properly with IMAP. This may have been fixed in the newest versions of OE because Mdaemon has removed these settings since version 11 (a year or two ago) I think it was.
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June 12, 2012 4:06:35 PM

Interesting, your remarks on OE. Guess its an old system they couldn't afford to allocate a lot of resources to.
How does Windows Live Mail work with IMAP I wonder?
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June 12, 2012 5:57:43 PM

Outlook Express isn't even packaged with windows (7) anymore so that should tell you something. I haven't used live mail, but reports are that it has good IMAP support. There are a lot of imap clients out there. I'd try live mail or thunderbird and see if you get the same results. It could just be a bad server implementation of imap.
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