Migrating from POP3 to IMAP

Generic Client Information

The specifics of each email client vary, but the overall steps are the same:

  1. Ensure your email account is working correctly loging on to Webmail if you have not done so already. Email uses kerberos 5 authentication, which will not work if you have not changed your RCS password recently. (If Webmail is your chosen IMAP client skip to step 5.)
  2. Select an IMAP capable email program such as Thunderbird; Outlook; MacOS X Mail; Eudora on Windows and MacOS; Mulberry (for power-IMAP users on MacOS, WIndows and Linux); kmail, Evolution and Pine on Linux; VersaMail, SnapperMail (Enterprise version) and Chattermail on Palm OS; etc. Most email clients written or updated in the past 5 years support IMAP. Specific instructions for some clients are available under Configuring IMAP clients.

    Choose your IMAP clients carefully, and experiment with it before migrating. Using IMAP requires a mental shift if you are used to POP3 email. Under POP3 email resides on your local client---the server is just temporary storage for new email. Even if you tell your POP3 client to keep email on the server, the email you view is really a copy stored on your local client. This is why email does not show up on all clients, and why with POP3 effort must be put into sychronizing email.

    IMAP on the other hand keeps all email on the server unless, and until, you tell the server otherwise. There is no need to sychronize email when using IMAP. The email seen on the server is your actual email, not a copy (except for cached client copies for performance.) All folders are kept, and managed, on the server at the direction of your email client. This allows you to access your email from anywhere using any IMAP device from desktop, to hand-held. But, managing it requires a good client, configured for best performance.

  3. Disable mail checking on the POP3 client. Accessing an account using both POP3 and IMAP can cause confusion, and unexpected side-effects. For example, if the POP3 client is configured to delete email from the server, it will delete email from your IMAP INBOX.

    Do not delete the POP3 account. Some email clients will remove the local, saved, email when you delete the POP3 account. Instead, set the check for email (or email polling) parameter to 0, or never. Specific migration instructions are available for Eudora and Outlook 2003 under: Configuring IMAP clients.

  4. Create an IMAP account in the client program(s) you selected. Specify:
    • IMAP as the account type.
    • mail.rpi.edu as the IMAP server.
    • IMAP SSL if available.
    • If asked about authentication type specify ``PLAIN'' or ``PLAIN Password''. (Passwords and email contents are encrypted with SSL.)
    • mail.rpi.edu as the SMTP server (without SSL or SMTP-AUTH).
    • The ``User name'' is your rcsid (the part to the left of ``@'' in your email address.
  5. Log in to the IMAP server. If you have email on the IMAP server (from Webmail, for example) it will now appear. Note: some clients require you update or ``refresh'' the folder list. Others will show you all subscribed folders once you authenticate.
  6. At this time you should look for options that fine-tune your client. Some instructions for specific clients is located under: Configuring IMAP clients. In general, you are looking for options to download full messages, or just message headers. (IMAP can delay downloading the entire message until you read it. On a slow network this can introduce annoying delays, so configure the client to download the entire message, or the entire message except for large attachments. On a really slow dialup connection, however, download just the minimal headers to prevent long start-up delays. Experiment to find the setting that works best for you.) If you work disconnected from the network, look for disconnected mode settings, which will cache all messages so you can read them while disconnected from the network. Some clients introduce a pause before connecting to the server (Eudora, for example, defaults to a 20 second pause). Shorten this setting. Also, configure your clients to use ``Trash'' and ``Sent'' folders on the server, and do server-side search and filtering (if supported).
  7. That's it. You are now using IMAP. You can view your email using Webmail, or any other IMAP client.