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The Case Against Gmail?

I concur. Of course, there's more to it than that…

And I still use Entourage. I like the colored labels and I like the unified inbox. Screw Mail.

P.S. I'm not trying to get into - or particularly interested in getting into - a debate about the merits of gmail vs. managing your own mail servers or even POP vs. IMAP. I use POP and Entourage primarily because they work for me. I've not said using anything but what I like is wrong or silly, so please don't take it that way. If you use and like Gmail, good for you. 🙂 I simply found the line "I guess I'll just switch to an email client that doesn't allow me to drag a goddamn file into the message to attach it."

20 Responses to "The Case Against Gmail?"

  1. Why choose? I use gmail via IMAP from Mail.app (which I prefer to Entourage, but whatever). If I'm not at my own machine, I use gmail's web interface.

    1. Because my main account is not and likely never will be "@gmail.com." I made the choice long ago to host my own mail account and to use my domain name(s) for email as well as web, etc.

      All of that makes my gmail account "just another account." I log in once a week or so and delete the spam that accumulates.

    2. Erik J. Barzeski said on February 3, 2009:

      Because my main account is not and likely never will be "@gmail.com." I made the choice long ago to host my own mail account and to use my domain name(s) for email as well as web, etc.

      All of that makes my gmail account "just another account." I log in once a week or so and delete the spam that accumulates.

      Two things:

      1) I hosted my private email for about 10 years off of various Internet connections and in various data centers, and frankly I have *no* desire to do so any more. My personal domain (thewalrus.org) has gmail as its MX. I mirror all the mail locally on a couple of machines, and Google does a *significantly* better job of SPAM-filtering and handling DoS attacks than I was able to.

      2) If you're using Entourage, why not just have it pull gmail in addition to your other mail? If you hate the web interface so much, why use it? I'm really confused.

    3. Erik J. Barzeski said on February 3, 2009:

      Because my main account is not and likely never will be "@gmail.com." I made the choice long ago to host my own mail account and to use my domain name(s) for email as well as web, etc.

      All of that makes my gmail account "just another account." I log in once a week or so and delete the spam that accumulates.

      A great choice too. I made that roughly a year ago and Gmail has moved to become a secondary account only. As a plus, bulk-created forward-only email addresses are a godsend for all those pesky sites you don't really want to give your primary email to.

    4. Matt Sayler said on February 3, 2009:

      Google does a *significantly* better job of SPAM-filtering and handling DoS attacks than I was able to.

      I prefer not to give up the control I have hosting it myself. I've not found it to be a headache at all and in fact enjoy, appreciate, and welcome the small responsibility I have in exchange for the great gains.

      Additionally, I host email for others, and training them to use gmail and/or to set up an email client to use gmail isn't something I care to spend time doing.

      I could probably move to IMAP, but why? There's never been any incentive for me to move. I'm on one computer 99% of the time, and when I travel I copy my mail database to my laptop.

      Matt Sayler said on February 3, 2009:

      If you're using Entourage, why not just have it pull gmail in addition to your other mail?

      Why would I want to bog my desktop app down with email that will almost always be spam? The only time I log in is when Adium tells me I have email (via my Google Talk account). I have a gmail account primarily so I can access other Google services.

    5. Erik J. Barzeski said on February 3, 2009:

      For whatever reason, I've never cared for IMAP. Network syncing, slow feeling, all the folders, blech. It's never suited how I work.

      Wow! I'm just turning out to be a real naysayer today! Feel free to tell me to take my opinion and buzz off.

      What are the alternatives to IMAP? You said you're on Outlook^WEntourage, so I suppose you could be using Exchange's protocol. Speaking as someone who's supported both POP and IMAP (and hacked on servers for both protocols) the only time where I'd even consider using POP over IMAP would be if I were storing all mail locally and only checking mail from one machine (which is well-connected). For anything else, a well-designed IMAP server will be faster, more reliable, and more feature-rich. Even if all you use it is for a getting mail from the server to the desktop, IMAP gives you a chance at getting multiple simultaneous clients working and the ability to download message headers before the bodies -- both of which I think are must-haves.

    6. Matt Sayler said on February 3, 2009:

      …the only time where I'd even consider using POP over IMAP would be if I were storing all mail locally and only checking mail from one machine (which is well-connected).

      Ding ding ding. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

  2. I've never really used Entourage, so I can't comment- I use Mail with a good 7 IMAP accounts (non-gmail) and I used to use Gmail as well via IMAP, but the compliance of Gmail to IMAP standards is poor.

    I don't understand your comment about a unified Inbox, Mail definitely has one. I use MailTags instead of folders for organizing my emails, I prefer to just dump all my email in one place for ease of searching and 'archiving'; something I guess I did pick up off of Gmail.

    1. I've not had any particularly vexing issues with Gmail's IMAP -- though I really only use Mail.app (Leopard) to access it. Out of curiosity (and as someone who has worked on an IMAP server before) what do they get wrong?

    2. Elmak said on February 3, 2009:

      I use Mail with a good 7 IMAP accounts

      For whatever reason, I've never cared for IMAP. Network syncing, slow feeling, all the folders, blech. It's never suited how I work.

      Elmak said on February 3, 2009:

      I don't understand your comment about a unified Inbox, Mail definitely has one.

      I don't consider container to be a unified inbox. It simply collates the separate inboxes for each account. That may be a pedantic or even "stupid" way of seeing it, but that's good for me.

    3. Erik J. Barzeski said on February 3, 2009:

      For whatever reason, I've never cared for IMAP. Network syncing, slow feeling, all the folders, blech. It's never suited how I work.

      I don't find any slowness with it, and I have Mail set to keep copies of all my mail so searching runs through quickly. Depends on the host I guess in part.

      Erik J. Barzeski said on February 3, 2009:

      I don't consider container to be a unified inbox. It simply collates the separate inboxes for each account. That may be a pedantic or even "stupid" way of seeing it, but that's good for me.

      What do you see as a unified inbox? If Entourage is a worthwhile solution, I might actually switch to it.

    4. Elmak said on February 3, 2009:

      What do you see as a unified inbox? If Entourage is a worthwhile solution, I might actually switch to it.

      I'm not trying to convince you to switch. Or even get into a debate about the validity of email clients or methods of checking email.

      Jeez. It's not like I insulted vim (or emacs), people! 🙂

    5. Erik J. Barzeski said on February 3, 2009:

      Jeez. It's not like I insulted vim (or emacs), people! 🙂

      Well, you *could* use emacs to check your mail--you're right! Vi sucks!

    6. Erik J. Barzeski said on February 3, 2009:

      Jeez. It's not like I insulted vim (or emacs), people! 🙂

      Ah, but if you did that, we'd be way beyond 12 comments by now.

  3. I use GMail as an alternate email address and to access Google services. I have a setup at home where all my email accounts including GMail are periodically downloaded into an IMAP server.

    IMAP over a local network is actually pretty quick. I use the Dovecot IMAP server. Plus it means that re-installing my main PC from scratch doesn't involve jumping through hoops to backup my email.

    IMAP is a little slow, especially downloading attachments, if you have to access it via the straw that is cable internet upload speeds.

    1. " I use the Dovecot IMAP server."

      If I *were* running a local mail server, I would totally use Dovecot. It is far-and-away the best open-source IMAP server out there. Highly recommended.

  4. While I'd agree that offline Gmail with Gears is mostly worthless. I practically live out of my Gmail accounts.

    I find Gmails labels to be a far better way of organizing messages than folders. I get one spam message in my inbox a month, maybe. Search is blindingly fast (if Entourage is anything like Outlook in this regard, full text search is basically unusable). I can use a desktop client if I want (I rarely do because I actually prefer the web interface), but I have web access from anywhere. I can easily backup my entire mailbox over IMAP. I've setup mailboxes for several domain names I currently control but I've never had any urge to move away from my primary ..@gmail.com address.

    Also, there are better ways of moving files over the internet than attaching them to emails.

    1. Justin Driscoll said on February 3, 2009:

      Also, there are better ways of moving files over the internet than attaching them to emails.

      Conceptually, sending somebody a file via email is fine. The problem is more in the implementation -- the requirement of email to be able to pass through a 7-bit filter unscathed means that non-text files have to be encoded in a format that greatly expands their original size.

      I was reminded of this the other day when I had to backup my Maildir on the IMAP server in case something went wrong when I upgraded from Debian sarge to etch. The tar.gz of the Maildir came out to just under 1GB. Some investigation revealed that 80% of this was from my parents who have a predilection for emailing me cartoons, funny videos, PowerPoint slides of "amazing" pictures, etc. They are your worst nightmare. I suppose I was also partially to blame for not deleting these emails but I have a strong pack rat instinct. 😉

      After pruning that, 8+ years of email compressed down to about 250MB.

  5. Gordon Tyler said on February 3, 2009:

    Conceptually, sending somebody a file via email is fine..

    Probably my biggest issue with email attachments is they encourage the unnecessary replication of files.

    I'm too lazy to save a file to the network or put in my drop box and just email a coworker the location/link so I attach the file to the email. (2 copies) He wants another guy to see it so he replies to me and CCs the other guy with the file (4 copies). Guy 3 saves the file to his disk, makes a couple changes to the file and sends it to me an Guy 2 (4 copies original / 3 copies new). And so on...

    Combine this with Exchange Servers strategy of complete failure when it's mailbox becomes full and you've got my idea of a bad Monday morning at work.

    Gordon Tyler said on February 3, 2009:

    I have a strong pack rat instinct.

    Another feature I love in Gmail is the concept of Archiving. 🙂

  6. If you're on one computer 99% of the time, Erik's position is fine.

    I switched to gmail several years ago when i started using four (or more) different computers regularly and using one centralized location (or even IMAP) became a supreme hassle.

    I now have a google phone which also integrates awesomely with my gmail.

    google pretty much owns me.

    Oh, well.


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