Earlier today I wrote about a recently discovered issue between Outlook 2016 and POP3 based email accounts that can cause you to either lose emails on some devices or get duplicates.
This got me thinking about how long the POP3 aka Post Office Protocol has been around.
The original version of POP was developed in 1984 and POP3 was established in 1988 – if you are counting that is nearly 30 years ago for POP3.
The POP standard was a simple one and was easy to implement and basically downloaded content from your email server to your local account. It had no support for folders or any type of storage structure on the server although you could manually organize mail on your local device if your client supported it. There was usually a setting in a POP3 mail client that you could set to leave a copy of the emails on the server after downloading them locally and that could allow you to access the total email store on different devices.
The successor to POP is widely considered to be the IMAP or Internet Message Access Protocol but it was also devised by its inventor Mark Crispin in the mid 80's right around the same time as POP.
IMAP introduced many more features that allowed you to work in either an offline or online mode, have multiple client access to the same mailbox concurrently, allowed server side searches and supported a folder storage hierarchy on the server.
Today we still have systems that support POP3 as well as IMAP, in fact most of the popular web based email providers support both of those still.
Services like Hosted Exchange and Office 365, the latter which is now the backbone of Outlook.com, provide even more robust connectivity, accessibility and flexibility for when and where you access your email.
My family has been using Hosted Exchange, sometimes referred to as Exchange Online, for our email for over three years now and it is the best $96 dollars I spend each year. It gives us two accounts with 50GB of email storage each and has really made a difference in our email experience. The biggest bonus is that all of it is accessible across all of our devices from the desktop, laptops, tablets and phones.
No more moving Outlook PST files between desktops and laptops just to maintain access to all of our current and historical email.
I know it would have been possible to have a similar option at no cost and with less storage using Outlook.com or other web based services but this hosted email option also gave me the ability to use our family domain to personalize each account.
So – back to the original premise of this article – three reasons to move from POP3 based email accounts to something hosted in the cloud.
Number 1 – Portability
Since hosted accounts keep the emails on the server by default I can access that account from multiple devices. Read/Unread states are also updated on the server side so emails accessed on other devices that were previously read do not show up as new in other locations.
Number 2 – Storage
The amount of storage will vary based on the service and options for a purchased service but it allows you to store email messages on the server and in a folder hierarchy that can be accessed from any device that supports that account.
I used to store all of my historical emails in a local PST file but always had to remember to back it up and move it out of harm’s way if I needed to reformat or reset that machine.
Also, PST’s are not supported across as network so it meant I needed to move these storage files manually between devices to make sure I had the latest version on each device.
Now I just grab the device I want to use and it is all there in sync.
Number 3 – Easy Restoral
If you use Outlook for your email and have created a series of quick access folder shortcuts under the favorites area of Outlook, they are restored whenever you need to reinstall Outlook on a new device.
Since your email account is based in the cloud the past emails you have saved in those folders are also synced to your device automatically. You also have the option to control how many months of email to store offline on your local machine in cached storage that is local.
So in our house we sync our documents in cloud storage between all of our devices and we do the same with our email.
How do you manage your email accounts and related storage?