POP3 vs. IMAP Recommendations

Chuck Topinka

New Member
I know pretty much everyone recommends using IMAP. I have always had a love/hate relationship with IMAP. I understand all the benefits, but two big drawbacks that I've seen have always held me back from recommending it exclusively. How do you effectively migrate email to another server or host for someone who uses an IMAP connection? And how do you control your server email account size when all of your email is stored on the server forever?

I had one client using IMAP synch his connection and instantly overloaded his email storage. He had emails from many years ago still in there somehow. And when we moved to KH from our previous provider, the biggest problems came from IMAP users who suddenly complained they had lost all their email. It was on the old server and we had to use Horde's fetch to pull it over. This was very time consuming and only about 1 out of 10 users were able to do it themselves. We even had trouble doing it successfully about half the time.

Since we are on an SSD plan, storage is still pretty expensive (at least in my client's eyes). I've started recommending some of them use Google Apps for Business or Go Daddy email, but I hate to seem like we can't provide an end-to-end solution. I don't see how we can provide 30GB of storage for $5/month though.

Does anyone have any ideas or best practices for email on a KH VPS?
Morning Chuck,

How do you effectively migrate email to another server or host for someone who uses an IMAP connection?

I have actually copied the files for the emails over at the file level, using rsync if I remember, and then chowned them to the proper user. It worked fine although took some time to make sure that I had everything. Both accounts can also be setup in an email client and then just drag and drop the emails from the old into the new. You get around the domain name pointing to the new server by using the old server's IP# and it should work fine.

And how do you control your server email account size when all of your email is stored on the server forever?

The size is a different ballgame all together. I have one client, a small business, that uses IMAP for a number of their people and they constantly bump into their account limit. I simply forward them the warning email and tell them that it's time to clean some things up or their email will stop working. Definitely not an elegant solution and certainly not something you like telling a client but, what are you to do? They're the ones that agreed to that amount of disk space and that is what they pay for so why should they be allowed to use more than what they pay for?
Morning Dan,

Thanks for the reply. We first tried the drag and drop instructions with clients (about 2% success) and then found they were a little more successful with Horde fetch (probably 8% success) and ultimately we ended up doing it for the remaining 90%. We didn't have direct access to the mail files on the old hosting provider or moving the files directly probably would have been the cleanest.

As for the space, I 100% agree about the clients getting only what they pay for. It's just hard to come up with a good answer to the question, "How come I can get 30GB of email storage from Google or Go Daddy for $5/month, but you are going to charge me a lot more than that?" The only answer I have right now is because 30GB costs me $60/month. What I actually tell them is they are welcome to use one of those email solutions with the current hosting and we will configure it all for them. I don't believe in overselling.

I've considered getting a VPS-1 just for emails and then upgrading that to a VPS-2 and so on as storage requirements grow. It looks like KH pricing makes it cheaper to get a "bigger box" than just adding storage to an existing instance. At least this would move the less speed critical emails to the less expensive RAID based solution. There's probably other benefits related to having a different IP for emails than for the website, but it still seems like it could be more trouble than it is ultimately worth. Does anyone else do anything like this or should I just continue to point clients at Google for email and collaboration stuff?
We're never going to be a Google. And Godaddy doesn't give you 30G for $5/mo they give you 2. And I have heard some horror stories about Godaddy's servers too.

I put nearly all of my clients onto Google Apps when it was free and it was an awesome solution. I'm still quite peeved that they discontinued the free version although I of course understand. Google Apps could be an all around solution for them but as far as I know their hosting capabilities are limited, you get a wysiwig editor. No FTP or root access or anything like that. No Wordpress or Joomla. To my knowledge anyway :)

I've thought about using Amazon for external email too but haven't looked into it too seriously as I really haven't had the need yet. The only way you're going to get disk space like that is with a cloud provider and that means a 3rd party which means added cost, there just isn't any way around that.

I retain my customers because I maintain a very smooth running server, it's not overloaded like so many other $5/mo offerings are. They receive the personal touch, I'm small and I take care of everything myself from creating email accounts to managing DNS records and everything. They don't want to deal with it or pay someone else an exorbitant amount of money to manage all of that for them.
Amen to all of that! I would never consider Go Daddy for anything but domain registrations and SSL certificates. Google isn't really well suited to web hosting, but the stuff you get from the $5/user/month Apps offering is pretty good. We have 3 full-time people in the company and use Google Apps for collaboration and email ourselves. It sounds like our business setup is very similar to yours.

Before we used Google Apps for email, we just used POP3 and left mail on the server for 7 days or so. This synched email to all the devices and we never had to worry about storage quotas. I even see some value in having a different folder structure on the mobile than on the desktop, but suggesting POP3 usage is definitely not en vogue. ;)
Google Apps was previously $25 per user per month so at $5 it's actually not a bad deal at all. Matter of fact I would say that's an excellent upgrade for a webhost to offer to their clients ;)