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Understanding IMAP, Webmail and Outlook


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For a long time, I've used POP to access SpamCop, but after instaling Outlook 2003, I decided I'd give IMAP a try. I have no problem actually configuring Outlook to use IMAP with Spamcop, but I don't understand some of the side-effects and hope that someone can enlighten me.

1. When I delete a message in my IMAP Inbox folder, it doesn't go away, but rather is displayed with a line through the subject. If I log into webmail, it shows the same way - colored dark red and crossed out. I can't figure out what is supposed to actually make the message go away. I looked for some setting in Outlook to "purge deleted messages", but it didn't seem to help.

2. If I use IMAP, does that mean that all undeleted messages stay on SpamCop's server "forever"? I know I can copy them to a local folder, and it seems that they actually do get downloaded, as I can access the messages "offline", but I'm used to the behavior where I can delete downloaded messages on the server and they'll stay on my local system. What is the "best practice" for using IMAP? I tend to dislike leaving all my messages on the server, though I know there are advantages to that too.

3. I also use a Palm Tungsten W and, on weekends, check mail mail with it. At present, the client I use (Snappermail) does not support IMAP, though that is coming soon, I hear. What I find out is that even if I have a message marked as deleted on the server, it gets fetched by POP. Will that problem go away when I switch to IMAP?

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One way to envision IMAP is that when you fire up your end, you are looking at a mirror of what's on the server. You can manipulate things on your screen, which then get mirrored back to the server, with the action duplicate there.

When you delete something on your screen, the corresponding file at the server is flagged for deletion, so it's "gone" from your view, but not necessarily physically deleted from the server yet. (Thus the lack of a "purge" command from your app at your end of this view.)

When the IMAP server does it's trash run, things flagged for deletion get taken care of .. (should note that in other threads, there's a setting you can make about where it goes at that point .. either moved to Trash or killed in place)

And again, in other threads, timelines have been expressed, so you may want to double check, but I think it was 14 days for Trash, 20 days for Held after which things were physically deleted from the SpamCop server. InBox I'm figuring will stay as long as you leave it (until it becomes noticed for its size)

Copying items of interest to one of your Local folders is the only way to insue that you'll have a copy "forever"

Use of IMAP eases things a bit, as you're manipulating the message traffic on the server 'directly', vice a POP that has to download to your system, you play with it, then have to send it all back in one form or another ..

hope this helps a bit .

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In Outlook 2000, as in Outlook Express, the command is "Edit / Purge Deleted Messages". It is probably the same in Outlook 2003.

I know, the Edit Menu is a pretty silly place to put that command, but Microsoft has never paid too much attention to consistency in Outlook and Outlook Express.

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