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Last POP User in the World

I have two confessions to make.

First, I use Entourage for email. I almost never open Word or Excel, but I use (and quite like) Entourage.

Second, I use POP. Really don't like IMAP, though it's a weak opinion since I've not used it very much.

From 2003 (yeah, I know), this just about captures it:

First, here is some context to make my reply understandable. I've always been a POP user, never IMAP, thought I've fiddled with it on many occasions. I have the biases of someone who has a long, successful experience with POP, and no such corresponding experience with IMAP. Since I've already unconsciously adapted around the limitations imposed by POP, I'm not really aware of them. When I have tried to use IMAP, I've been put off by what I experienced as extra burdens without experiencing compensatory benefits. I never stuck with IMAP long enough to get over the learning curve and get used to it, much less enjoy it. In addition, various of the IMAP clients I've used haven't implemented the protocol in the nicest way, which further colors my experience negatively. So what follows is very intentionally not trying to be objective or claiming it is anything other than my own experience (which is certainly a driver of what I think of as good design, but at 52 I'm no longer so egocentric to think one size fits all or that my personal needs are the trump card in what gets into the spec.).

It's 2010 now, and I'm still a POP user.

I have four or five email accounts and, frankly, I don't care for the fact that every IMAP client I've used shows me twelve different folders for each account. I greatly prefer my POP set up in Entourage - I filter the email to the appropriate folder. Along the way it's tagged with a category and a corresponding color. ((These are part of the reasons I've stuck with Entourage, too, over Mail.))

One inbox. One Sent Mail folder. One Drafts folder. And one of any other folder I want.

I don't check mail on my iPhone. I have one desktop computer and, if I'm going to use my laptop for any length of time, I copy my email database to it and use it there.

Maybe I'm doubly limited. Maybe if I were to switch to Mail (Mail can import all of my Entourage data, after all), IMAP wouldn't be as painful as it seems to be within Entourage. But I doubt it - even with two accounts in Mail I have two different inboxes (yes, I realize there's a disclosure triangle), two different trashes, and a few other folders that I don't really want.

So here I am, perhaps the last POP user in the world. And, for now, content as such. Seriously, why switch? 😛

5 Responses to "Last POP User in the World"

  1. I never liked the idea of my email vanishing if my mail database were to be corrupted, destroyed, computer becomes temporarily unusable, etc,.

    I've tried at least a good ten email clients for my IMAP-based email; I always end back up in Apple Mail. Most want to segregate you into separate Inboxes, with separate Trash, Drafts, Sent, etc,. Mail, while having that granularity, keeps it collapsed unless you need it. It can be important to put a little bit of work setting Mail up to the specifics of your IMAP server, like defining what folder is actually for Sent mail, etc. Once done though life gets easier.

    Mail still keeps local copies of all my messages, but I've no fear of database corruption (something that happened to me once or twice on POP. I always had a backup… it would just be a few days old and I'd inevitably lose a few emails).

    I organize things with MailTags and a couple of smart folders so that I'm not dealing with separate account folders, though they aren't that hard to deal with. For pure archival I have a few scripts that drop messages into account-specific Archive folders dated to the month/year. This is mainly for the fact that MailTags doesn't preserve itself inside IMAP, rather in the local mail database. If everything screws up my messages are still roughly organized by month. (Still not likely, as I rely on the wonderful Backblaze service, and I don't see major problems even if my computer self-combusts).

    The final reason I think I enjoy IMAP is that I can check over my email anywhere- a simple webmail client on my servers let me have a cursory overview of any one account; as well as my iPhone of course.

  2. I know this isn't a solution for but this is what works for me. I have a Linux server running at home (on a PowerMac Cube G4, utterly silent) which runs the Dovecot IMAP server and fetchmail. Every 5 minutes, fetchmail downloads email from my various (POP) accounts: home ISP, GMail, website host, etc. This gets delivered into my Maildir and whatever IMAP client I'm using, wherever I am (home, work, train, etc), is notified and I am able to read it. I don't really care where the email comes from anymore, it all just arrives in one Inbox. I have server-side rules for sorting mailing lists or specific people into subfolders and spam filtering. It all just works. 😉

  3. If you have absolutely no need to access your mail when you are away from your computer, use a single mail client to check your mail, and have good backups of your main machine, then there is no reason to switch.

    I check mine through webmail half the day, and have flitted between OSX mail and Thunderbird for a while, so I use IMAP.

  4. Wow.

    I haven't used POP since I was introduced to IMAP. IMAP really is great, especially for those of us who use multiple computers. I run my own mail server (CentOS, running in a VMware VM on my Mac mini), and it runs Dovecot and postfix.

    I check mail from mutt on the CentOS box, from squirrelmail, from Mail.ap on {the mini, a MacBook Pro, a MacBook}, and from my iPod touch. There is absolutely no way I could do all that using POP.

  5. You're not the only one Erik - I'm using Entourage [to the surprise of many others I think should be less opinionated or derisive], and 3 separate POP accounts.

    For a while I was using Entourage for personal stuff, and Mail for "day job" - and it just became too tedious. Merging to one client was logical. The choice was then "which one do I ditch?" - and for me, Entourage was the clear winner, for much of the same reasons you've described.

    One major difference is that my primary machine is a MBP [operating as a "desktop replacement".] I've tried using "desktop + laptop" together, and it just ends up being painful. Overall my strategy has been IMHO successful: I'm currently working on building a radio telescope out in the middle of the Australian bush - IMAP doesn't work so well at the other end of a high-latency, slightly dodgy satellite link.

    So there *are* real use cases where POP still wins 🙂