Email Decision

Greetings

I love IMAP. Its great.. I can use the webclient when I’m away, and any other client when I’m at home. Everything stays in sync. No hassel. With POP, each client is only aware of the messages it created. If one downloads a message without saving a copy on the server, then the other doesn’t get it. Its a pain.

IMAP good.

Here’s my setup: I have a hosted mail server for AllardWorks.com. I’ve been using Spam Arrest for years to filter out the spam. (Incidentally, SPAM ARREST is the best spam product I’ve ever seen). SPAM ARREST downloads the messages from allardworks.com and does its thing. I used to use the SPAM ARREST web page and use Outlook Express as my at-home client. They both connect to SPAM ARRESTS servers rather than the allardworks servers.

Here’s the problem with Spam Arrest: The spam arrest web client is minimal at best. It really hasn’t improved much in the years I’ve been using it. Its really simplistic and ugly. Seriously guys, update the CSS once in a while! I jest. But really! No, I’m kidding. Or am I?

GMAIL, on the other hand, is a lot nicer. I don’t think it looks great, but its a lot more functional. The label feature is neat. (Its the equivalent of putting the same message in multiple folders). Several months ago I changed to the GMAIL client. GMAIL -> SPAM ARREST -> ALLARDWORKS.COM. That’s a roundabout way of getting there, but it works well.

Here’s the problem with GMail: My gmail address is HamletCode@gmail.com. When I send a message from GMAIL, I don’t want anyone to know it. I want the message to appear as FROM JAY@ALLARDWORKS.COM. But, there’s no way to do that. You can set the reply to address, and the from address, but underneath it all, it still sends a hamletcode header. Its received as “from hamletcode@gmail.com on behalf of jay@allardworks.com”. That might be backards, but either way, its not what I want. People keep asking me what hamletcode is when, really, that’s just my account name. I’ve been using jay@allardorks.com for probably 12 years. I’m not interested in changing it.

I put up with that for a few months, then decided against it. Last night, I moved all of my messages from GMAIL back to SPAMARREST via OUTLOOK EXPRESS. Spam Arrest offers 1 gig of storage, which should last a while. Gmail offers 6 gigs.

Points
– The SPAM ARREST web mail interface is crappy, but the spam service is unmatched.
– SPAM ARREST offers only a gig of disk space. I suggested a feature to allow users to buy more space. We’ll see if that happens when the time comes. (I’m now of the mindset that I’d like my email stored on a server, not just locally)
– GMAIL has a better interface, but I wouldn’t call it top-notch.
– GMAIL is very generous with its drive space allotments.
– GMAIL messes everything up by revealing that the message is coming from a gmail address.
– YAHOO MAIL has the best interface I’ve seen, but they don’t offer IMAP (I haven’t seen many interface though)
– I put in a feature request to ask SPAM ARREST to offer increased disk space
– I put in a feature request to ask SPAM ARREST to show how much space is in use
– Hotmail is a pain… I couldn’t get into it with my existing windows live ID. It kept throwing exceptions. It looks like a pretty serious bug, which surprises me. It would be nice to actually see it to determine if it helps me at all.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must fully disclose that my track record with Spam Arrest hasn’t been perfect. One time I asked them how to delete a contact (or something like that). They directed me to the “delete contact” button. That was embarassing, though anyone who knows me would probably find it suprising that I couldn’t find it on my own. Last night I asked them if they had plans to offer IMAP. They said “yes, we already do”. That was embarassing too. I don’t fully blame myself, though. I’m computer saavy. Clearly its not working the way I’m accustomed to, though I’m not spending enough time researching stuff. Also, the search engine (or the content) leaves a lot to be desired.

Example 1: Search for DISK, then QUOTA on spam arrest. It doesn’t come up with anything. Then search for SPACE, and you finally find what I was looking for: The disk limit.

Example 2: Search for IMAP. The three results are:
1 – Multiple Protected Mailboxes – accessing other mailboxes outside of spam arrest
2 – What is a pop server? – If you open that, it gives you some IMAP information, but if the name of the article is POP, why would I open it if I’m looking for IMAP?
3 – Options page – does that answer my question? I didn’t ask about options, I asked about IMAP.

Search #2 is what prompted me to ask them if/when they were going to going to offer IMAP, so I don’t feel guilty about it. I searched. The results were dissapointing.

One may ask why I don’t just use my own mail server rather than jump through all these hoops
– First of all, I’m not really an email administrator. I’ve had to fight through some issues for other clients of the server, but its not my cup of tea. I learned a lot, but that doesn’t make me qualified.
– I have space restrictions. Its not very generous, either. I don’t want to waste space when other services offer more space for free or for fee. (I pay for spam arrest).
– I’m responsible for backing up the mail server, which I don’t do. None of the clients (other domains, same server) use the server to persist their messages; they download them and delete them from the server. I make no claims for redundancy, etc. Since I want redundancy for my own email, I clearly can’t count on my own server.

Then, you may ask why not host allardworks.com elsewhere where responsible people can take care of all the details for me?
Mainly, I don’t want to incur the cost of the non-jay users. I have a few friends and family at allardworks.com. To relocate, I’d have to pick a plan that allows for multiple mailboxes, which I’m not prepared to do. Nor am I willing to tell them that they can’t use AllardWorks.com anymore. I spoke to TUFFMAIL.COM, which has potential if the spam arrest approach doesn’t work. They assured me that even if I leave allardworks.com right where it is and use them just for storage/web client, TUFFMAIL will never show up in the headers. Also, there’s a 30 day free trial, so I can check it out first. (The disk limits aren’t generous, though, which is why I’m not going to do it until I need to.)

Fun, right?

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