IMAP – Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

A while ago, I recommended using IMAP instead of POP3 as the mail protocol of choice for when you want to keep your mail in sync across multiple devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones. I still stand behind this recommendation but you should be warned about how you go about using it.

Unfortunately, I have had my webhosting account suspended twice this year for letting too much e-mail build up in my mailbox. Apparently, enumerating e-mail over IMAP imposes a burden upon a mail server as the amount of e-mail grows to the point that it utilises a lot of resources (I am guessing CPU and/or disk activity). I’m happy to accept that InMotion Hosting isn’t Google but I am still disappointed that IMH doesn’t provided a warning mechanism for their customers when they approach what is believed to be a reasonable use of a shared server.

Simply suspending the entire service doesn’t make sense, particularly on a “business plan”. It’s a reactive measure rather than a proactive one and disappointing if there are enough statistics to trend and predict anticipated resource utilisation by a given account into the future.

Anyway, I am at the point with my e-mail where storing it locally on my home computer is quite limiting given that I often need to reference older e-mail to chase things up or find an important piece of information. I also find the way that IMAP handles message flags somewhat limiting (i.e. it’s flagged or it isn’t) and if something is unflagged I have no idea if it had ever been flagged in the first place. Sadly, Gmail suffers the same fate in this regard particularly if I am looking at all of my requirements for a new e-mail solution.

So, while I am looking around for e-mail hosting you might want to bear in mind how heavily you use and/or rely upon IMAP for your e-mail. If you use IMAP to get at your Gmail I am sure you won’t try to login one day and find that your account is suspended but if you use e-mail on your webhost (be is shared or VPS) then you’re going to have to play within their rules (reasonable or arbitrary).

Here’s a video to enjoy in the meantime:


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