September 2003 - January 2007 News from the IMAP Service Providers page

As I mentioned in my previous three posts, I'm cleaning up my web pages. Here are the News items that used to be listed on IMAP Service Providers: A Step in Dealing with Viruses, Spam, and Email Overload.

These IMAP-Service-Provider-related news items are displayed only on the permalink for this blog post.

2007 January 30:    In my blog, I posted an item titled Building and Installing Alpine (Apache-Licensed Pine). Alpine, which is basically Pine 5.0, is an excellent cross-platform IMAP client. Since it -- unlike Pine -- is FLOSS, you can create and distribute a patched version of it. For example, you might want to create a patch to make it easy to use Alpine to update a remote greenlist (discussed below). You could then distribute it to your users and the Alpine community (hint hint!).


2007 January 18:    SeaMonkey Suite 1.1 released. I discuss why I use SeaMonkey Suite, which includes an IMAP client, in SeaMonkey Suite 1.0.1 and Send This Page in my blog, and in Re: Seamonkey mail vs Thunderbird in the mozilla.support.seamonkey newsgroup.


[purple mulberry] 2006 December 11:    Cyrus Daboo released Mulberry 4.0.7. If you would like to really understand IMAP or IMAP keywords (labels), I recommend that you use Mulberry as one of your IMAP clients.


[Spamassassin] 2006 October 10:   The Apache Software Foundation released SpamAssassin 3.1.7. SpamAssassin is used by many (maybe most!) email service providers and includes support for Sender Policy Framework (SPF), which is an extension to SMTP that tries to fight email-address forgery (spoofing).


Even if your email service provider does not do SPF checking, I recommend that you use the SPF tester at DNSstuff.com or at Pobox.com to see if the combination of your SMTP MAIL FROM address and your outgoing SMTP server will be considered a forgery by systems to which you send email.

I discuss SPF in this item in What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider below.


2006 September 20 and 25:    Cyrus Daboo released Mulberry 4.0.6 and I posted a blog item titled One-Click Tagging in Mulberry. If you would like to really understand IMAP or IMAP keywords, I recommend that you use Mulberry as one of your IMAP clients.


2006 September 4:    As announced here, IMAP-Partners.net launched a support forum and is now using the domain EmailThatWorks.net. This provider is discussed in this section of The Table below and is a provider that I recommend ([M]). (Note that I need to update this section of The Table.)


2006 August 31 - September 6:    Between August 31 and September 6, some FastMail.FM users were not able to access their email for multiple days. Details are in FM's August 2006 and September 2006 Status blog. Because of this, I have removed the recommended icon ([M]) in the FM sections of The Table below.


[purple mulberry] 2006 August 20:    Mulberry, which is an excellent cross-platform email and calendar client, is now free/gratis and version 4.0.5 has been released. This is great news for IMAP users, especially if you use (or want to use) IMAP keywords, LDAP address books, or the Sieve filtering language. I discuss the trend towards making software free (both gratis and libre) in Freeing the IMAP Clients at Deflexion.com.


2006 August ~2:    The University of Washington (UW) launched the Alpine Information Center. Alpine, which is the name of the upcoming Apache-Licensed Pine family of tools, includes Unix, Mac OS X, & MS Windows desktop versions of Pine and a web-based version of Pine (formerly known as WebPine). This is good news for the IMAP world because now everyone — including individuals & service providers who use only FLOSS — will be able to use these powerful IMAP clients. I discuss the history of, and problems related to, the current Pine (4.64) license in the section Free/Libre Open Source Software and Pine on the All About Pine page. I discuss the trend towards making software free (both libre and gratis) in Freeing the IMAP Clients at Deflexion.com.


2006 May 17:    In my blog, I posted an item titled Server-Side Message Labels, which describes how I use labels, which are also known as IMAP keywords, to help me manage my email. Support for IMAP keywords is currently #19 in the list of What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider below.


2006 May 15:    In my blog, I posted an item titled Server-Side Address Books and Server-Side Greenlists. This topic is especially relevant to IMAP users (and everyone who uses server-side mailboxes) and I recommend that IMAP users read this blog item, as well as #6 (built-in support for server-side “greenlists” or “accept lists”) and #40 (LDAP-accessible address books) in the list of What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider below.


2006 May 8:    As announced in this thread at EmailDiscussions.com and in this FastMail.FM blog item, FastMail.FM is βeta testing automatic Bcc in their web-based IMAP client. Support for auto-Bcc is currently #25 in my list of What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider. FastMail.FM is discussed below.


2006 May 6:    As announced in this item in the Tuffmail System Status & Announcements blog, Tuffmail is βeta testing LDAP access to their webmail address books. This means that you can now use the same address book from all the Tuffmail web-based IMAP clients and from many desktop IMAP clients. Tuffmail is a provider that I use & recommend ([M]), and is discussed below.

Support for LDAP-accessible address books is currently #40 in my list of What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider. LDAP does for address books what IMAP does for email messages—makes them accessible from most standards-based messaging applications.


2006 May 4:    If you are searching for an email- or web-hosting provider, I highly recommend that you read the following two blog items, which will give you a sense of how sleazy the hosting business can be.

These are about the web-hosting business, but the email-hosting business is just as sleazy. I know because I've been paying close attention to the hosting business the entire time that this IMAP Service Providers page has existed (more than 4 years).


2006 Mar 8:    As announced this message in the gmane.ietf.mta-filters discussion group, Philip Guenther and Tim Showalter submitted a new IETF Internet draft (draft-ietf-sieve-3028bis-06.txt) for Sieve: An Email Filtering Language. Sieve is a standard mail filtering language that can be used for server-side or client-side filtering. Sieve is used for server-side filtering at many IMAP providers, including Tuffmail.com and FastMail.FM, which are two providers that I use.

 [Del.icio.us icon] I am collecting Sieve-related links at del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / Messaging / Sieve.


2006 January 31:    In my blog, I posted a blog item titled Using a MaybeSpam Mailbox, which describes how I deal with my possibly-spam messages. This blog item includes a Sieve script, which you might want to use if your IMAP provider supports Sieve and the Sieve IMAP flag extension.


2006 January 23:    In my Deflexion.com blog, I posted a blog item titled IMAP Tip: Use a backup-all mailbox. Using a backup-all mailbox is useful for a number of reasons, for example IMAP users can use it to get notification about all their new (RECENT) incoming messages.


2005 December 4-9:    In comp.mail.misc, there is a thread about Who should run a mail server?, in which David Segall asks this:

What are the pros and cons of running ones own mail server? If a small
(fifteen person) company without any computer experts wanted to do so
would you encourage or discourage them?

My response, which I have not posted to the above comp.mail.misc thread, is this:

The only person who should run a mail server is someone who is a full-time mail system administrator and is 100% committed to keeping up with all the latest vulnerabilities.

I realized that before I publicly respond to a question like this, I needed to update the list of providers that I recommend people try before choosing a mail hosting provider. Here is my current list:

This list is ordered alphabetically and the links go to the section of this page where I discuss the provider. I'm sure there are other decent mail hosting providers, including some on this page; these are just the ones that I know enough about to feel comfortable recommending.

Another recommendation I have is to avoid using a web-hosting provider for mail hosting. I read a lot of discussion groups about web-hosting providers and they are pretty much universally clueless about what it takes to be a good mail-hosting provider these days.


2005 November 25:    As I announced in a blog post titled Turning on Comments or My Own Private Usenet, I have enabled comments in my Deflexion.com blog. Your comments are welcome!


2005 November 10-13:    As announced in the November 2005 FastMail.FM Status blog and explained in the Server 4 outage FAQ, some FastMail.FM users had up to 55 hours of downtime starting 2005 November 10. Because of this, I can no longer label FastMail.FM with one of my recommendation icons (e.g. [M]). Note that because I use FastMail.FM myself and because FastMail.FM has very public discussion groups, I am much more aware of their problems than I am of the problems at other providers. I still have a lot of respect the FastMail.FM team because of their transparency, because of everything they do to support open-source standards-based messaging, and because, according to Outage FAQ #9, no mail was lost during this fiasco.


2005 September 30:    As discussed in this thread at gmane.mail.mulberry.user, this thread at EmailDiscussions.com (EMD), and this thread at Slashdot.org, ISAMET/Cyrusoft, the makers of the Mulberry IMAP client, announced that “the company today filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.”

My guess is that there will never again be such a powerful, standards-compliant, IMAP, CalDAV, and ManageSIEVE desktop client. If we are lucky, the amazing Cyrus Daboo will now turn his commitment to open standards & interoperability towards a robust web-based messaging system, something which is sorely needed and which might save us all from being assimilated by the big co's (Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL, etc.).

Thank you to Cyrus and his team for the 10 years they spent creating one of the rare powerful standards-compliant Internet messaging systems.

Note: The Cyrus Electronic Mail Project, which includes the excellent Cyrus IMAP server, is unrelated to Cyrusoft/ISAMET and is alive & well!


2005 September 20:    Apple Introduces Major Enhancements to .Mac. Mac.com is an IMAP service provider that is discussed in this section of The Table below.


2005 September 19:    In Ted Leung's blog, there is an interesting discussion about Model-View separation and Web mail, which includes this quote by Ted:

Just when we finally achieved "model-view separation" for e-mail (IMAP and IMAP clients), the webmail world smashed those things back together. If Gmail and Yahoo start a competition around innovations in e-mail client features -- something we're desperately in need of -- it reduces my ability to get the features I want because my mail data, my mail address, and the user interface for mail are not just bundled together, they're welded together.

I'm definitely not excited.



2005 September 15:    As announced at the FastMail.FM weblog in this blog item and at EMD in this message, FastMail.FM now supports “WebDAV access to your file storage.” Fastmail.FM is an IMAP provider that I describe in this section of The Table below.


2005 September 13:    As posted in this message at EMD, the Oddpost Team announced that they are beta testing the new Yahoo! Mail. Details about Oddpost, which was an IMAP service provider that was acquired by Yahoo! for ~30 million dollars (!), are in the Oddpost section of The Table below. No news about whether this new Oddpostified Yahoo! Mail will support IMAP -- let me know if you know!


2005 August 29:    As announced at the FastMail.FM weblog in this blog item, “FastMail.FM now gives [Members+] the ability to send SMS (text) messages from your account to mobile phones.” Fastmail.FM is a provider that I describe in this section of The Table below.


2005 August 22:    Alexey Melnikov submitted Common IMAP keywords (draft-melnikov-imap-keywords-03) to the Internet Engineering Task Force. As stated in the Abstract:

“The aim of this document is to document some common [IMAP4] keywords for the purpose of improving interoperability between different IMAP mail clients. The document both documents some keywords already in use, as well as introduces several new ones.”

I discuss IMAP keywords in this item in What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider below.


2005 August 22:    There is an interesting discussion in Joseph Scott's blog titled Email Tags, which discusses IMAP keywords and other IMAP & general email topics. I discuss IMAP keywords in this item in What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider below.


2005 August 17:    Isode published a whitepaper titled Benchmarking M-Box - Isode's IMAP/POP Message Store, which compares the Cyrus, Courier, UWash, Dovecot, and M-Box IMAP servers. Reading this might help you to decide what type of IMAP server you'd like your IMAP service provider to use.


2005 August 14-12:    If you have any doubt about whether IMAP has arrived, check out the following links:

I think it's safe to say that IMAP is [the word 'HOT' engulfed in flames]!


2005 August 12 - July 24:    On this page, I made lots of updates in the Terminology section and added the following:

  • the term “Subscribed” cabinet (aka “Subscribed” virtual collection, “Subscribed” virtual directory, and “Subscribed” virtual hierarchy)
  • the term reverse DNS record (aka rDNS record and PTR record)
  • the term SMTP path, which was inspired by a 2005-July-22 New Scientist article about "SMTP Path Analysis" titled Retracing spam steps could halt mass emails.
  • a diagram that illustrates the relationship between the objects in an IMAP mailstore (messages, mailboxes, & directories).


2005 June 21:    In Jeremy Zawodny's blog, there is a discussion about Death to IMAP Clients. This discussion includes a comment by me in which I say “Unfortunately I too have come to the conclusion that all IMAP clients suck.”


2005 June 18:    In a message on the spam tools mailing list, John R. Levine said:

“A friend of mine notes that the primary publishers of Sender-ID [SPF] records are bulk senders: ESPs and spammers. So the no-sender-id [warning in Hotmail] will in practice mean "not spam".”

So, according to John and others, it is probably time to delete the spam-signifying Sender-ID/SPF records for your domains (if any such record exists). For more about this, see Microsoft's Hotmail demands Sender-ID, backlash to follow in John's blog and Spammers Continue To Be The Biggest (By Far) Supporters Of Email Authentication at Techdirt.


2005 May 25-31:    In comp.mail.imap, there is a discussion about INBOX, how is it really supposed to work? This discussion includes two messages from me.


2005 May 21-25:    In Jeremy Zawodny's blog, there is a discussion about GMail vs. Thunderbird: GMail wins! This discussion includes a comment by me about why I have not switched to Gmail.


2005 May 23:    In comp.mail.pine, Mark Crispin, the inventor of IMAP, posted a followup message that includes this:


> The problem with maildir and IMAP access
> is that the format itself does not lend
> itself for IMAP access. This has been my conclusion as well. ...
The Courier server ... flagrantly violates IMAP in multiple ways and I think that it also violates maildir.

For more about this topic, see item #4 in Rumors, Musings, and Opinions about the History and Future of IMAP below and the article titled FUD by Sam Varshavchik, the author of the Courier IMAP server.


2005 May 23:   Lots of updates in the Terminology section below, including the addition of the terms cabinet, virtual mailbox, and IMAP path.





2005 May 12:    As announced here, AOL launched AIM Mail, which is free/gratis and includes “industry-leading spam and anti-virus protection so that your AIM Mail box remains free of spam and viruses. It comes with 2GB of mail storage and also includes support for IMAP.” I've added aim.com to The List below.


2005 May 8 and 6:    In the DreamHost forum, I posted two messages about changing MX records — feedback is welcome either in the DH forum, which is open to anyone, or by emailing me.


2005 May 2:   At EmailDiscussions.com (EMD), Trip posted an April 2005 Uptime Report. Of the 18 mail service providers listed, 17 had 99% or better uptime, 10 had 99.9% or better uptime, and 3 had 99.99% or better uptime.





2005 April 25, 24, 14, and March 31:    Lots of blogging about moving to web-based email and web-based software in general.

  • 2005 April 25: In Backpack Preview #3: Web 1.0 calling Web 2.0, Jason Fried of 37signals.com said “And what was the star of Web 1.0? Email. Backpack takes a fresh look at email.” Backpack is a web-based personal information manager (PIM) by the people who created Basecamp.
  • 2005 April 24: In Living by the browser, Rafe Colburn said “The big change for me came when I realized that I strongly prefer Gmail to Thunderbird.”
  • 2005 April 24: In Websourcing Process, Rael Dornfest said “Apple's [.Mac] service is always running in the background ... handling my personal email.”
  • 2005 April 14: In Running your company on web apps, Evan Williams said “I think nearly everyone here uses [Gmail] as their client. We just forward our @odeo.com mail there.”
  • 2005 March 31: In What's going on at Infinite Ink and Deflexion.com, I said that I've started using Horde/IMP 4.0+ because it “supports 1) saved searches across multiple mailboxes [aka virtual folders] and 2) the IMAP flag command.” And (of course) because it is a web-based IMAP client that is compatible with my other IMAP clients and is available anywhere!

If you are interested in moving to web-based software, this IMAP Service Providers page will (I hope) help you find a good web-based email system and hosting provider. To get an overview of what's going on in web-based software and web services, read the above four blog items and follow their links.


2005 April 6:    As announced here, Lux Scientiae, which is discussed in The Table below, “today became the only premium secure e-mail provider to offer lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) access to shared e-mail address books. The move makes it possible for companies to outsource their e-mail and still have shared address book access from their e-mail clients.” Support for LDAP-accessible address books is currently #40 in my list of What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider.


2005 March 4-26:   On this page:

  • Added a Terminology subsection to the IMAP: What & Why section.

  • Updated What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider so there are now 54 things to look for. The updates include the following.
    • Added an important note about backing up and restoring IMAP flags and other IMAP metadata (#2).
    • Added domain hosting (#4). “Domain hosting” is defined in the new Terminology section.
    • Added “Saved Global Search (aka virtual folders)” (#26).
    • Added “Global Search (but without saving the search conditions)” (#27).
    • Split “support for shared and public IMAP-accessible mailboxes” into two items (#29 and #30).
    • Added “ability to view .doc, .xls, and other types of attachments in the webmail client” (#33).

  • Updated the Recommendation Icons section so it now says “For most people who are looking for robust managed mail and web hosting, I recommend that you get two providers: one for mail hosting and one for web hosting.”

  • Added Non-Public IMAP Service Providers (Alumni Associations, etc.) to the Service Providers section.


2005 March 20:    Moved Tuffmail.com from The List to The Table and marked it as a mail-hosting provider that I recommend based on my research ([M]).


2004 December 29, 28, and 14:    Lots of blogging about administering personal and family email:

The last two blog entries each include a comment by me. I think 2005 is the year that people — including techies like Rafe Colburn and Jeremy Zawodny — will realize:

It's smart to outsource your email administration.

(Unless, of course, you want to be a full-time email administrator.) 2004 is when I finally realized this and outsourced my family's email. For my personal email, I use a combination of Procmail for blue/green/yellow separation & message deflexion (on the servers that host my domains), SpamAssassin/ClamAV for yellow/red separation (at FastMail.FM), and many different IMAP servers (including one running on my Mac).



2004 November 15:    Reuters published an article titled Yahoo, EarthLink to Test New Anti-Spam System, which discusses DomainKeys and mentions that DomainKeys are also supported by Gmail and Sify. I updated the section below called What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider so that “Support for message authentication using DomainKeys (DK)” is now in the list.


2004 November 10:    In the article Google Brings E-Mail Client Access to Gmail, Matt Hicks says:

On Wednesday, the company began providing free POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) access on Gmail accounts.

There is a lot of discussion about this around the Net and many people are wondering about IMAP access to Gmail, including:

I list Gmail in the Probably No IMAP4rev1 section below. [Del.icio.us icon] I am collecting Gmail-related links at Del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / HostingProviders / Gmail.


2004 November 10:    Added a subsection called Out of Business to the Problematic Providers section below. This might provide clues about types of providers to avoid.


2004 October 16 - 26:   I updated the following so they now include lots of links and information related to IMAP keywords.




2004 September 30:   As announced at the FastMail.FM weblog in this & this item, and at EMD in this thread, FastMail.FM "Full subscribers get 600MB email storage, enhanced get 2GB." This upgrade was implemented on September 30. FastMail.FM is one of my providers and a provider that I describe in The Table below.

If you sign up with FastMail.FM and want to help Infinite Ink, please use this link to initiate your registration.


2004 September 29:   As announced here, ".Mac Mail and iDisk combined storage space for full membership has been increased to 250 MB. Default settings are 125 MB of mail storage and 125 MB of iDisk space, and you can designate the storage to fit the way you use your .Mac account." .Mac Mail is described in The Table below.


2004 September 28:    Updated the section called IMAP Arena 2: SeaMonkey (Mozilla Suite) and Thunderbird versus Pine on my All About Pine page. That page also includes a comparison of Pine and its other main competitors, Mutt and Mulberry.


2004 September 22:    In the article An analysis of Microsoft's MARID patent applications, John R. Levine says:

The IETF MARID [MTA Authorization Records in DNS] working group slogged away all summer trying to produce a draft standard about e-mail sender verification. They started with Meng Wong's SPF and Microsoft's Caller ID for E-mail, which got stirred together into a hybrid called Sender ID. One of the issues hanging over the MARID process has been Microsoft's Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) . . .

If you are interested in the future of email, I recommend that you read the rest of John's article.


2004 September 16, August 26, and 25:    MailSnare published SPF records, added Greylisting to its repertoire of anti-spam tools, and upgraded multi-account business plans. MailSnare is described in The Table below and is one of the providers that I recommend.


2004 September 6:    I changed the icons that I use to recommend providers. I now use [M] for a recommended mail-hosting provider and [W] for a recommended web-hosting provider. I have not yet found a provider that I would recommend for both mail and web hosting. If you know of a provider that is good at both mail (IMAP, user-customizable filtering, keywords, etc.) and web hosting, please let me know.


2004 August 24:    Verio launched their Take the Credit Customer Referral Program. As I discuss in this and this section below, Verio is one of my providers and a provider that I highly recommend ([thumb up]). If you decide to sign up with Verio, please let me know so I can "take the credit"! (Note that I am also a Verio reseller but I am not currently reselling because I do not want to get into the business of collecting money and providing support, both of which can be huge jobs.)


2004 July 27:   As announced here, at Bluebottle the "storage quota for each mail account has upgraded to 250Mb." Bluebottle, which is in The Table below, is free/gratis and is a testing ground for their Trusted Delivery™ challenge/response system.


2004 July 21:   I posted a message in comp.mail.imap Re: IMAP vs. Gmail (was: IMAP keywords (labels) / Annotate[more]) in which I said:

I want a good Internet messaging system ... And I finally came to the realization that maybe the solution lies outside the IMAP world. Maybe Gmail's on the right track. Or maybe Chandler is. Or maybe the RSS/Atom/Syndication/WebFeed folks are.

If you are interested in the future of email and Internet messaging in general, I recommend that you read the rest of my message, which includes a quote from Google's Sergey Brin and the rest of the thread.


2004 July 9:   As discussed here and here, "Oddpost is thrilled to declare that we’ve been acquired by Yahoo!'" Oddpost, which is discussed in this section below, is an IMAP service provider. This acquisition means that Yahoo!, which is listed in the Probably No IMAP4rev1 section below, will probably eventually support intertwingled email & web feeding, which Oddpost supports.


2004 July 8:   According to this thread at EMD, Mailblocks has been acquired by AOL. Both AOL (discussed below) and Mailblocks (discussed below) are IMAP service providers.


2004 July 1:   As announced here, IMAP-Partners.net, which is described in The Table below, "now offer[s] anti-spam at no charge, and anti-virus and even group calendar features for modest, per-user fees. You wanted a lower entry price: overall prices drop by as much as 20% to 50% for some packages."


2004 June 22:    LuxSci, which is discussed in The Table below, “has changed its prices for introductory accounts. Our basic account now starts with 100Mb disk space (instead of 25).”


2004 June 16:   As announced here and here, Runbox, which is discussed in The Table below, “has decided to increase online storage space for all paying subscriber accounts to 1 GB for email and 100 MB for files. This will be implemented approximately July 1, and prices will remain the same [$29.95/year].” I think that this is the first IMAP provider that is offering at least 1000 MB of mail storage on all their plans.


2004 May 28 and April 30:    DreamHost, which is discussed below, increased disk space & bandwidth by 60% on all their plans. They also added a new option to their Rewards program: Now you can “Earn $65 CASH for each account you refer!” (If this had been an option during the last couple years, I could have earned 47 x $65 = $3055, since I have directly referred 47 customers to DreamHost!)


2004 May 22:   As announced here, MailSnare “Enhanced accounts [now] come with 100MB of storage and 10 aliases. All customers with existing enhanced accounts will have automatically received this upgrade, including an additional 40MB of storage space and 5 additional aliases.” The MailSnare Enhanced account is $19.95/year (i.e., ~$1.66/month or 20¢/MB/year) and is discussed in detail in The Table below.


2004 May 21   Cyrusoft International, Inc., the makers of the Mulberry IMAP client, announced that they have merged with Information Security Engineering Lab, Inc. and changed their name to ISAMET, Inc.


2004 May 13   Google started βeta testing Google Groups 2. This service provides an easy way for anyone to create a free/gratis discussion group that can be accessed via email, the web, or an atom feed. This is relevant to this IMAP Service Providers page because it means that you do not need to rely on your IMAP provider for mailing-list management, and instead can use the Google Groups 2 service for your mailing list management. (That's what I'm doing!)


2004 April 5:  As discussed in the Unofficial AOL Email FAQ:

... on April 5, 2004, things changed drastically as AOL announced Open Mail Access -- IMAP and authenticated Authenticated SMTP servers available to its membership. (These functions were introduced over time first to users of CompuServe 2000, then to foreign AOL markets.)

I've added AOL to The List of more reasonably-priced IMAP service providers below in this item. This is great news for all IMAP users because it means that it is likely that more and better IMAP clients and tools are going to be produced (because there are now ~40 million new IMAP users who might want these tools!).
[Del.icio.us icon] I am collecting AOL-related links at del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / HostingProviders / AOL.


2004 April 3:  As announced here, here, here, and here: “It is with sincere regret that we are writing to inform you that geekmail [discussed below] will discontinue services as of April 9. 2004.”


2004 April 2:  Today I became a Verio Reseller. I haven't decided if I am actually going to resell their services, but I decided that I am willing to pay big bucks to have a provider that I can depend on (see, for example, the details of the Verio Signature Hosting plan below). As a reseller, the price becomes reasonable and I have the option of reselling and making some money. If I decide to become a service provider, my target audience will be people who want a robust FreeBSD shell account that supports procmail, spamassassin, clamav, vsnag, pine, mutt, LOAF, and lots more. Note that my plan is not to compete with IMAP providers, but instead to offer a service that power users can use in conjunction with their IMAP hosting provider — or with Gmail or with any mail-hosting provider. For example, as I describe in this section of my Procmail Quick Start, I currently use procmail to deflect my mailing-list messages to my FastMail.FM IMAP-accessible mailboxes.

If you have any thoughts, advice, words of wisdom, or warnings about this, please post in the Infinite Ink discussion group.

 

Google-Related News  #

2004 April 2:  Two years ago today Infinite Ink first published this IMAP Service Providers article as a separate page. Before that, a much shorter version was published as part of Changing Your From Header in Pine. One good thing about paying close attention to email providers for the last two years is that it was pretty clear to me that Gmail, which is the next news item, was not an April Fool's hoax! I wrote the following at the end of 2003 in my Deflexion.com blog:

Remotely hosted disk space is cheap — this happened in 2003 but not all hosting providers have figured out they need to do this.     -Nancy McGough, December 2003 blog entry

That blog entry includes other reflexions about 2003 and predictions for 2004, including a wild Google prediction that I am hoping will come true (but did not).


2004 April 1:  Google announced Gmail, one Gigabyte (1024 MB) of web-based searchable email for free. The mailstore is not currently POP or IMAP accessible, but Gmail is relevant to this IMAP page because:

  1. It will help users get used to — and appreciate the value of — storing their email on the Net rather than on their local system.
  2. It will motivate other providers to improve their services by, for example, offering
    • intertwingled email / discussion groups / syndication (à la the likely intertwingling of Gmail / Google Answers & Google Groups / Blogger);
    • subaddressing/plus-addressing, which is discussed below and which Gmail supports;
    • unlimited easily-created keywords/labels, which are discussed below and which Gmail supports;
    • better search capabilities; and
    • increased storage space so that users have enough space to use their mailboxes for sharing messages via shared mailboxes, durling, furling, spurling, storing traditional email, bookmarks, to-do lists, etc. etc!

[Gmail by Google Beta]There is lots of speculation around the Net about whether this is an April Fool's joke, but my guess is that it's for real. And the joke is on the people who think it's a joke! Brilliant.

Since Gmail does not yet support IMAP, I've added them to the Probably No IMAP4rev1 section below. [Del.icio.us icon] I am collecting Gmail-related links at Del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / HostingProviders / Gmail.

 

2004 March 31:  As announced here, MailSnare (discussed below) has added basic RSS news feed capability to their VisualOffice test site. Note that GeekMail (discussed below) and OddPost (discussed below) also offer this.


2004 March 21:  In the article Internet Providers Should Find Their Way to IMAP (single-page printer version) at The Washington Post, Rob Pegoraro says the following about IMAP-based email:

Spam and viruses are easier to deflect, since your mail software can peek at each new message before downloading it, then wipe it off the server before it gets to stain your hard drive. But if your computer does get wiped out by a virus, you won't lose your e-mail from it.

An online discussion about this article is transcribed in Fast Forward: E-Mail Evolution. Especially interesting is this comment from someone in Virginia:

Just a word of warning for those using IMAP. My wife was doing this in order to read her email at work and at home, just as you recommended. But recently, our provider had a catastrophic RAID failure that they could not recover from, so all that email saved on their server was lost! Most bigger providers should have ways of recovering from this, but ours did not (yes, we will be taking our accounts elsewhere).

“Daily or more backups” is #2 in my list of What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider below. I recommend that you do not even consider an IMAP provider that does not do backups & restores. And make sure you test their restore procedure ASAP (before you need it!).


2004 March 19:  If you use Pine and Procmail, and would like to help find a general solution to the spam problem, I recommend that you try LOAF, a GPL'd distributed-social-network filter that Maciej Ceglowski announced today (2004-03-19). It currently works with Procmail and Pine. [Del.icio.us icon] I am collecting LOAF-related links at Del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / Messaging / LOAF.


2004 February 23:   Added a section called Minimizing False Positives With Greenlists and Bluelists to my Procmail Quick Start. Being able to use a greenlist, which is sometimes called a whitelist, is currently #6 on my list below of What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider.


2004 February 18:    Added two [New!] items in the section What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider, one about Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and one about syndication.


2004 January 17 and 20   As announced in this and this message, SpamAssassin 2.62 and 2.63 released, respectively. SpamAssassin is a popular spam-detection and scoring tool that is often used in conjunction with Procmail and IMAP.

If you use SpamAssassin, or any other spam-detection tool, I recommend that you plug it in after you process your “bluelist” (solicited bulk) and “greenlist” messages. This will both save processor power and avoid false positives & the mangling of messages that are almost surely not spam. For more about my spam-fighting strategy, see Reverse Spam Filtering: Winning Without Fighting.


2004 January 10:    In preparation for the upcoming release of Pine 4.60, which will support IMAP keywords (labels), I am re-evaluating which providers I recommend. Most Cyrus, Mirapoint, and UW IMAP servers support keywords but Courier IMAP can support keywords only in version 2.1 and later. If you use a provider that uses Courier IMAP, please let me know if their server supports IMAP keywords. One way you can test this is to use Mulberry 3.1 or later to view a mailbox on the server. Then right click on any message, choose Flags from the pop-up window, and see if the 8 user-defined Labels are available (i.e., not grayed out).


2004 January 4:   Lots of tweaks and updates on this page, including...

  • An [Updated!] item in the IMAP: What & Why section, which describes three ways to use IMAP mailboxes to update server-side filters.

  • An [Updated!] item and a [New!] item related to IMAP keywords (labels) in the section What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider.

  • A number of providers have either gone out of business or are no longer accepting new sign-ups. Many of these providers were killed (or seriously injured) by spam, viruses, and other Net abuse. I've left these in The Table with a gray background and a note about what's happening with the provider.

  • Of the providers that are still in business, many have upped their services and/or lowered their prices! I haven't updated all of them so if any details wrong below, please post in the Infinite Ink discussion group.

  • Lots of new IMAP providers added to this page. A few years ago it was hard to find IMAP providers, but now they are everywhere — I think 2004 will be the year that IMAP arrives for non-techies (2003 was the year it really arrived for techies!).


2003 November 21:    Spamcop.net, which is in The Table below, announced that in June 2003 they were bought by IronPort, the Bonded-Sender company.


2003 November 21:   At Deflexion.com in this blog item, I posted a response to a discussion thread at EMD about some things that I say on this page. The title of the blog item is EMailDiscussions.com - MailSnare recommended, FM not ...


2003 September 19 and September 3:   Added sections named Snagging Viruses and Using SpamAssassin to the Procmail Quick Start: An introduction to email filtering with a focus on procmail. These Procmail recipes are especially useful when Procmail can deliver “possibly spam” and “possibly virus” messages to mailboxes on an IMAP server. This way you can use an IMAP client to delete (or save) messages in these mailboxes and you do not need to waste time and bandwidth downloading the bodies of these spam and virus messages.


[Note] The old IMAP news items that used to be on this page are archived on my Deflexion.com blog on the page called Pre-October-2003 Deflexion & Reflexion from the IMAP Service Providers Page.

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