In a nutshell, I wanted to have all of my mail available wherever I went and to also avoid the hassle of downloading duplicate mail whenever I reinstalled Windows from scratch (which isn’t often but still an annoyance nonetheless). I already had IMAP connectivity from my iPhone and have used IMAP on and off over the years so this wasn’t an entirely foreign concept on my part.
So how has it gone?
Well, I can report that I have had virtually no problems since making the change. Thanks also to my new web host, InMotion Hosting, I have had minimal downtime and commendable performance as my stored mail approaches the 1GB mark. I have also appreciated the ability to search all my mail either from my iPhone, through webmail or from my desktop whereas I would have been restricted to what was locally cached or available in each instance.
I guess the sole remaining risk is that should my web host go offline for an extended period of time without notice, I would be stranded without my mail. This should be incentive enough to maintain backups of email locally but would prove to be annoyance for anyone other than the dedicated or those who can remember to do it manually. Services like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo may be better in this regard as (one would hope) they would have some sort of resilience and redundancy in their mail platforms.
Still, I wouldn’t recommend IMAP for the faint of heart or those who don’t have fairly constant or mobile connectivity. The risks may outweigh the benefits for people in these cases and could prove to be more complicated than necessary.