IMAP Frame of Mind

I got an email message from someone, who I'll call X, who is trying to choose an IMAP service provider and, among other things, wrote:
“I would LOVE it if you would just recommend what I should use.”
I asked some questions and here is an excerpt of X's reply, which I'm posting with permission:
“I am very poor and I have a lot of accounts, like I said. for instance, I made a mistake and sent you the mail from the account for my freecylce lists instead of my techsupport. I have an account for junk and an account for friends and an account for what is happening in town and an account for bills and the like, etc. Each account has its very own Inbox and sent and draft and trash and sometimes I create folders just for that account. This allows me to control my viewing as well as see everything I want to see in a client but only spend time on the things I want to spend time with. It also reduces spam in some accounts. Since I have around 20 accounts, paying separately for each one would be prohibitively expensive, even if I weren't completely poor.”
Before I can even think about recommending an IMAP provider, I need to find out if X is able to -- and wants to -- completely throw out this way of managing email. This way of thinking about email is most likely based on a POP frame of mind. If X is willing to switch to an IMAP frame of mind, I would recommend this:
  • Get rid of all these 20 accounts.
  • Get one good IMAP service provider that:
    • lets you use 20+ aliases (or subaddresses)
    • has server-side filters that can be set up to filter incoming messages based on what alias was the recipient
    • includes a web-based IMAP client that supports 20+ personalities (aka identities) that can be automatically tied to specific IMAP sub-mailboxes and/or specific reply-to addresses

  • Get a good desktop IMAP client that supports 20+ personalities that can be automatically tied to specific IMAP sub-mailboxes and/or specific reply-to addresses.
Finally, because of the spam problem, I do not recommend using a free/gratis IMAP service provider for any email that is important to you. My guess is that I'm not going to be able to help X, but I am interested in engaging in a discussion about this. Please post if you have any recommendations for X or any thoughts in general about the IMAP frame of mind. For example, do you have an IMAP frame of mind? Do you think that the IMAP way is a better way of thinking about email than the POP way? Is there a better way, e.g., the Gmail way?
Hashtag: #imap-frame-o [?]

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