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Old 29 October 2008, 17:40   #1
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Technical email advice pls. IMAP or POP3?

Hopefully the collective wisdom of some of the ribnet IT bods can help me here.

We've got a small peer to peer network in the office, though one computer is dedicated as a 'server' and stores all work files. We each have an email address (5 of us) and use pop3 to receive onto our own machines. Now, whilst we don't swap desks very often, the 2 receptionists do, and I've been told that IMAP would be a better system so that where you sit doesn't matter and you can also work from home with all your archived mails available.

This all sounds fine, but I'm slightly sceptical about all our emails remaining on the ISP server. Is there a way to get all mails downloaded to the 'server' pc and then use that as the IMAP server? I know this might complicate working from home by requiring a VPN, but we can live without that if necessary. We use XP home and pro at the moment. Am I barking up the wrong tree?

Any thoughts?
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Old 29 October 2008, 18:29   #2
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This all sounds fine, but I'm slightly sceptical about all our emails remaining on the ISP server. Is there a way to get all mails downloaded to the 'server' pc and then use that as the IMAP server?
yes... although I trust a half decent ISP to do the backup (and be able to restore it if required) more than I would trust someone in a small office presumably who isn't an IT specialist.
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Old 29 October 2008, 23:12   #3
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http://www.pmail.com/downloads_s3_t.htm

Use mercury mail on the server. Pegasus on the clients if you need it.

Long time since I used it but it's still pretty good. We always setup using Exchange or Domino but you need dedicated servers/software for that.
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Old 30 October 2008, 07:42   #4
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The other alternative is to get all grown up about it and do something like Small Business Server SBS2003 and get the benefit of lots more functionality.

One thing this depends on is how your customers, suppliers and external contacts send email to you - if it's erin.ribster@my-isp.com then you might as well stick with the low/no-cost pop3 route. However if you use, or want to use, something like erin.ribster@professionalcompany.com then you might as well look at moving to SMTP and thinking a bit bigger. The downside is budget - you would easily blow 1000-ish on software alone for server and client access liceneses.
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Old 30 October 2008, 07:55   #5
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The other alternative is to get all grown up about it and do something like Small Business Server SBS2003 and get the benefit of lots more functionality.

One thing this depends on is how your customers, suppliers and external contacts send email to you - if it's erin.ribster@my-isp.com then you might as well stick with the low/no-cost pop3 route. However if you use, or want to use, something like erin.ribster@professionalcompany.com then you might as well look at moving to SMTP and thinking a bit bigger. The downside is budget - you would easily blow 1000-ish on software alone for server and client access liceneses.
richard thats the route we run here for a similar sized company - and I don't really see a benefit over the IMAP route. In fact for an average small company without dedicated IT knowledge its probably a waste of money - since things like Sharepoint services, and the group policies need an understanding to use both as an administrator and to some extent even as a user to get proper benefit needs some hand holding for people who are used to working stand alone.

if you are planning to become 20 people then consider it. if its for 5 its potentially a PITA for no gain, you will spend big on licences, a server capable of running it, and tech support to do it. Then everyone else wants extra cash too - e.g. your virus checker wants more and so on. If you like the exchange server option then at your size it might make more sense to use an outsourced package (I think BT business offer one) but then you are trusting someone else with your mail safety then.
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Old 30 October 2008, 09:22   #6
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Interestng thoughts. Thanks.

I had considered going down the SBS 2003 route, but it means a fairly major upgrade of hardware and software, something like 3 or 4k. We are a small firm of surveyors, so we don't need a web presence or any kind of on-line systems. It is mainly MS word, access and emails that we use. Our exisitng 'server' pc has raid and a NAS backup routine. I just want to be able to centralise the emails for easier archiving and access by everyone.

From my point of view, if all emails got downloaded to one pc and could then be viewed from the other local stations as well then that would be fine. I'll take a little look into Codprawns link. All our IT stuff is looked after in-house by me, we can't justify the expense of getting too advaned and fancy just for the sake of it!

We have a domain name through oneandone, with five email addresses at present. What was the background to your comment, Richard, about SMTP?

Cheers
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Old 30 October 2008, 09:23   #7
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Yep, all fair comment (Polwart)! I do like your suggestion of hosted services as that gives you the flexibility and features whilst mitigating the cost element. Get good service level agreement with a well established player in the market and you shouldn't feel nervous about trusting them with your email safety. Remember, their reputation rests on the integrity of your email, and this is their core business so they ought to do a very good job.

If you put "Hosted Exchange" into Google, there's thousands of companies offering the service.
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Old 30 October 2008, 09:45   #8
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Whilst on the subject of backup many people are still stuck in the dark ages - I mean who uses tapes for anything else these days?

We push our customers to use 2.5" USB external hard disks. Use 2 of them so one can always be taken off site - small enough for the office staff to slip into a handbag or a pocket and yet they hold enough data for full server backups.

We have saved quite a few companies using this route. Tape backups are often too small to do a full system backup - they aren't cheap either!!!
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Old 30 October 2008, 09:48   #9
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We have a domain name through oneandone, with five email addresses at present. What was the background to your comment, Richard, about SMTP?

Cheers
Keith
Simply that if you're already using, or planning to use your domain name as your email suffix, it gives you the flexibility to either redirect email to wherever you want and avoids being tied to any particular ISP. Presumably oneandone manage your MX record which points to one of their mail servers and they relay the email to a delivery point (POP3) for you? Or do you use the ISP's email suffixes?
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Old 30 October 2008, 09:53   #10
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Whilst on the subject of backup many people are still stuck in the dark ages - I mean who uses tapes for anything else these days?
Most large companies!

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Tape backups are often too small to do a full system backup - they aren't cheap either!!!
Autoloaders and robots. Automatic spanning of tapes.

Disk staging, virtual tape, near line storage, archiving, storage area networks. Different approaches to different requirement. Your USB technique suits small companies, different technologies suit large companies.
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