Deflexion.com blog >> 
Join the conversation >>
 

[Infinite Ink logo]

IMAP SERVICE PROVIDERS
A Step in Dealing with
Viruses, Spam, and Email Overload

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Copyright © Nancy McGough & Infinite Ink
Last modified 01-Sep-2007

 

   “... this soon led me where all IMAP roads lead to, Infinite Ink.”   
-- severach, 2004 August 14, EmailDiscussions.com  

 

Meta Notes

        >>

I am not affiliated with any provider (*) or software maker. I am simply trying to find good IMAP providers and IMAP tools for myself and my friends & family, and in the process I am hoping that others will benefit from my research. It is nice that I have received some donations and fees for referrals, but that is not the reason I'm doing this and it does not affect whether I recommend a provider.

(*) Update 2004 April 2:   As I discuss in here, I am now a Verio Reseller.

 

 

>>

You can use this form to search the web, the Infinite Ink site, or the Deflexion.com site (my blog) for information about IMAP (or about anything!).

 
Web
Infinite Ink
Deflexion.com
 

 

 

>>

[New!] The IMAP-Service-Provider-related news that used to be posted here is now posted on my Deflexion.com blog with the label hostingproviders or the label imap or the label webmail.

 

 

 

 On This Page 

 

IMAP: What & Why

IMAP, the Internet Message Access Protocol, used to be “the best-kept secret on the Internet,” but now (finally!) many service providers and email programs are supporting it and people are getting hooked on . . .

 

My Motivation for Creating This Page

 

 

   Terminology

  

Throughout this IMAP Service Providers page, I use the terms that are defined in this section. For example, as you can see in the diagram at the right, I use the following terms to describe the objects in a user's mailbox space:

messagemailbox(∈directory)n∈mailbox space

Each user's mailbox space contains:

  • zero or multiple messages;
  • one or multiple mailboxes (the INBOX mailbox is required); and
  • zero or multiple (possibly nested) directories. The directory in the diagram is represented as a dotted box because a mailbox is not necessarily in a directory.

Details about these and other terms are below.

 

Note 1:  Many IMAP clients represent the structure of IMAP accounts like this:

+-Account1
--Account2
  |-mailbox1 (usually named INBOX)
  |-mailbox2
  --Directory1
    |-mailbox3
    |-mailbox4
  +-Directory2
  +-Directory3
+-Account3
  

Note 2:  On some IMAP servers, for example Courier and Cyrus IMAP servers, it is possible for a mailbox and a directory to have the same name. On this type of server, a single name can be both a container of messages and a container of mailboxes.

Note 3:  These terms, especially the terms mailbox and directory, are not used consistently in IMAP software or on the web sites of IMAP service providers. This inconsistent terminology is a source of much confusion in the IMAP world.

 

          
+---------------------------------+
|  a user's mailbox space         |
|                                 | 
|   ...........................   |
|   :  directory              :   |
|   :                         :   |
|   :   +-----------------+   :   |
|   :   |  mailbox        |   :   |
|   :   |                 |   :   |
|   :   |   +---------+   |   :   |
|   :   |   | message |   |   :   |
|   :   |   +---------+   |   :   |
|   :   +-----------------+   :   |
|   ...........................   |
+---------------------------------+           

Note:  The structure represented 
in this diagram is an abstract  
model. It does not necessarily reflect 
the actual data structure that is  
used on an IMAP server. For example,  
on some systems, messages have no 
inherent structure and a “mailbox”  
is a collection of messages that 
have a particular set of tags. 



  

Note about the ordering of these terms: The terms listed earlier are used in the definitions of later terms.

 

individual account or personal account or single-user account
A customer of a service provider with a single user.
group account or family account or business account or reseller account or multi-user account
A customer of a service provider with multiple users.
user or login or user account or account
A person with her own username, login ID, password, email address, IMAP-accessible mailstore, and possibly server-side file (non-mailbox) storage. Important: A user is not the same as an email address because on many systems it is possible for a single user to have multiple email addresses (see the definitions of email alias and subaddress below). Note: The word account is ambiguous because it is sometimes used to mean multi-user account (defined in previous item).
username or account name
The sequence of characters that identifies a user on a particular system. Some systems have very restrictive limits on what a username can be, but a user can often get her desired email address by creating an email alias. For more about this, see While Signing Up: Choosing Your Username, Password, Domain Name, Aliases, and More below.
login ID or sign-in ID
The sequence of characters that is used to log in to a system. Sometimes the login ID is a user's username, sometimes it is a user's primary email address on the system, and sometimes it is something else. Some IMAP servers, for example imap.cyrusoft.com, allow anonymous logins. Note: On some systems, the IMAP server and the outgoing SMTP server use different login IDs.
administrative user or administrator or admin or master user
A person who can edit the global configuration for an account. This might include adding & deleting users, creating & deleting shared and public mailboxes, setting ACLs (access control lists), maintaining shared LDAP address books, maintaining shared greenlists, setting the default “skin” of the webmail client, and specifying SMTP-level filtering for a domain (blocklists, greylisting, SPF policy, etc.). Note: On some systems, the person who is the administrative user has two login IDs, one for configuring the system & managing her users, and one for doing email and other regular-user activities.
INBOX
A user's default incoming mailbox on a particular IMAP server. The string INBOX is case-insensitive, but it is often written in upper-case letters because that is how it is written in the IMAP specification (RFC 3501). [Geek Note: If you have shell access to your IMAP server, you might discover that there is no mailbox named INBOX. This is because INBOX is a nickname or abstraction and the IMAP protocol translates the special name INBOX to the actual default incoming mailbox name on that particular IMAP server. Examples of actual default incoming mailboxes include /var/spool/mail/username, /var/spool/imap/user/username, and $HOME/Maildir ]
mailbox or box or mail folder or folder
A container of messages. INBOX, Drafts, MaybeSpam, and Sent (which is sometimes called Sent Items, Sent Messages, sent-mail, or sentmail) are examples of mailboxes. Note 1: The word folder is ambiguous because it is sometimes used to mean directory (defined below). Note 2: In the POP world each user account has only one remote mailbox, namely the default incoming mailbox or INBOX, but in the IMAP world a single user account will usually have multiple remote mailboxes (this is one of the advantages of IMAP over POP).
sub-mailbox or subfolder
In a user's personal mailbox space, a mailbox which is not the INBOX is sometimes called a sub-mailbox. Note: The word sub-mailbox is misleading because it is possible to set up some IMAP clients so that a user's mailboxes are presented as a flat non-hierarchical structure, i.e., with no mailbox that is “under” or “sub” or “a child of” another mailbox.
local mailbox or local mail folder or local folder
A mailbox that is not accessed using IMAP, but instead is accessed using local file system calls. Contrast this with a remote, aka IMAP-accessible, mailbox. Note: A local mailbox is often in a location or in a (possibly proprietary) format that is readable only by the mail client that created it.
directory or hierarchy or folder
A container of mailboxes and possibly other directories (subdirectories or child directories). Directories can be used to create a “mailbox tree” or “mailbox hierarchy.” For example, I store my solicited-bulk-email boxes in a directory named SBE. There is no standard IMAP hierarchy separator (delimiter), but most IMAP servers use either slash (/), dot (.), or backslash (\). Note: The word folder is ambiguous because it is sometimes used to mean mailbox (defined in the previous three items).
dual-use name or dual-use mailbox or dual-use mail folder or dual-use folder or hybrid folder
A container of both mailboxes and messages, i.e., a dual-use name is both a directory (defined in previous item) and a mailbox (a container of messages). For example, on a Courier IMAP server, INBOX is both a container of messages and a container of all of a user's personal mailboxes (other than the INBOX mailbox itself, of course). Note: Some IMAP clients need to be told whether an IMAP server does or does not support dual-use names. For example, in SeaMonkey Suite and Thunderbird, a user needs to check or uncheck the checkbox labeled Server supports folders that contain sub-folders and messages. In Pine, if you access an IMAP server that supports dual-use names, it is useful to set separate-folder-and-directory-entries or quell-empty-directories. [Geek Note: Contrast dual-use name with no-inferiors name and no-select name, which are the mailbox and directory types used by UW IMAP when the underlying mailbox format is either mbox or c-client MBX.]
cabinet or virtual collection or virtual directory or virtual hierarchy
A list of mailboxes that are presented as a single directory, but in fact might include mailboxes from multiple directories and multiple IMAP servers. Mulberry uses the word cabinet and Pine uses the phrase pseudo collection and the word view for this. Many IMAP clients support the special “Subscribed” cabinet, which is defined in the next item.
“Subscribed” cabinet or “Subscribed” virtual collection or “Subscribed” virtual directory or “Subscribed” virtual hierarchy or “Subscribed” namespace
A list of mailboxes that a user has subscribed to using the IMAP subscription mechanism. A user's list of subscribed mailboxes for a particular IMAP server is usually stored on that IMAP server and is thus available to all IMAP clients (both desktop and web-based) that support IMAP subscriptions. Note: Some IMAP clients, for example Mail.app and Pine, do not support IMAP subscriptions.
virtual mailbox or smart mailbox or saved search
A list of messages that are presented as a single mailbox, but in fact might be a subset of the messages in a mailbox or include messages from multiple mailboxes. A virtual mailbox allows you to zoom in on the messages you are interested in. For example, all messages with a particular keyword (label), all messages from a particular email address, or all messages you sent & received during a particular time period. Also see Sometimes a Mailbox is Just Not a Mailbox at Deflexion.com and Universal Inbox at the WebSeitz WikiLog.
personal mailstore or personal message store or personal mailbox space or personal folder space or personal mail repository
The collection of all of a user's personal mailboxes, including the user's INBOX, on a particular system. To see a diagram of a personal mailstore and its relation to a mail user agent (MUA), see the 2005-May-26 message I posted to comp.mail.imap. Note: Some providers use the single word mailbox to refer to a user's entire personal mailbox space — this is very confusing if you are familiar with standard IMAP terminology (see the diagram at the beginning of this section and the definition of mailbox above).
personal file storage
Disk space that is used to store a user's non-mailbox data. For example, files that a user sends or receives as email attachments when using a provider's web-based IMAP client.
IMAP path or IMAP root or IMAP root path or IMAP prefix or IMAP namespace
The path to the location of mailboxes of interest. An IMAP path is used when specifying a directory or hierarchy (defined above). Here are some examples.
                                         sample        relative path        full path
IMAP server                 Login        IMAP path     to sample mailbox    to sample mailbox			
========================    =========    ==========    =================    ======================
default Cyrus or Courier    username     INBOX.        2do                  INBOX.2do
default Cyrus or Courier    username     INBOX.        SBE.webdesign-l      INBOX.SBE.webdesign-l
default Cyrus or Courier    username     INBOX.SBE.    webdesign-l          INBOX.SBE.webdesign-l
default Binc                username     INBOX/        2do                  INBOX/2do
University of Washington    username     ~/mail/       2do                  ~/mail/2do
dovecot.org                 anonymous                  dovecot              dovecot
imap.cyrusoft.com           anonymous                  mulberry.discuss     mulberry.discuss
imap.cyrusoft.com           anonymous                  lists.info-cyrus     lists.info-cyrus
imap.cyrusoft.com           anonymous    lists.        info-cyrus           lists.info-cyrus
ftp.cac.washington.edu      anonymous    #ftp/         imap/imap_archive    #ftp/imap/imap_archive
As you can see in the 6th, 7th, and 8th examples above, blank (i.e., nothing) is a possible value for IMAP path. Note: INBOX, ~, and #ftp are nicknames or abstractions and their actual locations on the IMAP server 1] depend on how the IMAP server is configured and 2] are hidden from — and are irrelevant to — a regular user of an IMAP client. See Also: RFC 2342 - IMAP4 Namespace, Folder Namespaces section of the Pine Technical Notes, the Courier FAQ, and Namespace (computer science) at [Wikipedia Icon].
email alias
An alternate email address that can be used to send email to a user.  Tips: To be able to send mail From an alias, use both a mail user agent and an outgoing SMTP server that allow you to use multiple roles (aka personalities or identities), i.e., allow you to send “forged” mail. To be able to filter incoming email based on which alias was the recipient, choose a mail hosting provider that injects a mail header line that records the original envelope recipient address. Also see the definition of subaddress in the next item.
subaddress or plus address or user-extension address or detailed address
An email address that can be used to send mail directly to a mailbox (that already exists) in a user's mailstore. If a user's address is user@example.com, a subaddress is usually of the form user+mailbox@example.com or user-mailbox@example.com. If the target mailbox does not exist, some — but not all — systems will deliver the message to the user's INBOX. Subaddresses are especially useful for signing up for mailing lists, transactional services (banking, shopping, etc.), RSS-to-email services, or any service where you want to be able to easily track (and possibly filter or reject) email from a particular entity. There is more information about subaddressing below.
MX hosting or domain hosting or virtual domain hosting or vanity domain hosting
The option to point the DNS MX record of your domain (or subdomain) at your email service provider's incoming mail exchange (MX) server. MX hosting is essential if you want 1) to have robust SMTP-level spam filtering for your domain's incoming email and 2) to avoid the problems with forwarding.  Tip: Some IMAP providers offer both email and web domain hosting, but I recommend that you get an IMAP provider whose focus is email hosting and host your domain's web site (e.g., DNS A record) with a provider whose focus is web hosting.
catchall alias or catchall address
An email address that catches all the email for a domain that was not directed to an existing user in the domain. Because of spam, I recommend that you turn off the catchall alias for your domain(s). Make sure that you get a provider that rejects catchall mail at the SMTP-level with a “user unknown” message so that legitimate correspondents will know that they need to use a different address. Note: AFAICT the only reason to use a catchall address is if you have promiscuously given out addresses in your domain and you've forgotten what those addresses are.
reject address or reject alias or negative alias
Some providers, such as Tuffmail, let you specify specific “reject addresses” that will be rejected (refused) at the SMTP-level with a “user unknown” or other permanent (5xx) DSN error message. Reject addresses are useful if you use a catchall address, subaddresses, disposable email addresses, or if you want to be able to send one-way outgoing-only announcements and use a no-reply From: header (for example, From: no-reply@your.domain, From: do.not.reply@your.domain, or From: bitbucket@your.domain). Important: Rejects or “bounce backs” should be done only at the SMTP level and I suggest that you boycott any provider or product that encourages users to do it after the SMTP handshake. Details about the problems with fake bounces are in this section of the Procmail Quick Start.
SMTP or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
SMTP is the protocol that is used to relay mail from one computer to another computer on the Internet. All IMAP service providers offer incoming (receiving) SMTP service so that they can receive their users' incoming mail. However, some IMAP service providers offer outgoing (sending) SMTP service only when a user is using the provider's web-based IMAP client. With this type of IMAP provider, a user needs to use another outgoing SMTP server when sending mail from a local (desktop-based) IMAP client (for example, the user could use the SMTP server provided by the user's Internet access provider). If I write that a provider includes SMTP service in The Table or The List below, I am referring to outgoing SMTP service (because incoming SMTP service is always included). Also see SMTP at [Wikipedia Icon]. Important Warning: Make sure your outgoing SMTP server has an rDNS record (defined below), has an IP address that is static (rather than dynamic), and is not an open relay. Otherwise your outgoing mail will be considered spammy.
SMTP path
The sequence of computers that an email message goes (“hops”) through in getting from the originating computer to the final receiving computer. Each computer on this path is usually recorded in a Received header line in the message. Note 1: Some computers on this path may not be SMTP servers. For example, the originating computer is often a simple desktop computer and not an SMTP server. Note 2: The target receiving SMTP server(s) for a domain name is specified in the DNS MX record for that domain name (see the definition of MX hosting above). Note 3: It is easy to forge a Received header line and spammers and other bad guys often do. Also see this 2005-July-22 article at NewScientist.com.
rDNS record or reverse DNS record or PTR record
If a numeric IP address can be translated to a host name or domain name, it is said to have a “reverse DNS record” or “rDNS record” or “PTR record.” Some SMTP servers, for example AOL, will accept email from a sending SMTP server only if it has an accurate rDNS record. See Also: 'Reverse lookup' at [Wikipedia Icon], RFC 1912, and man host.

Tip: To ensure that your outgoing email is not refused or considered spammy by a receiving SMTP server that does rDNS lookups, first use Verify Connecting IP to determine your ultimate sending SMTP server's IP address and then use Reverse DNS Check to check that your ultimate sending SMTP server has an accurate rDNS record. (These web-based tools are provided by AOL, but they are useful for troubleshooting general non-AOL-specific SMTP issues.) In other words, make sure that outgoing SMTP 2 in the SMTP path below has an rDNS record.
originating computer -> outgoing SMTP 1 -> outgoing SMTP 2 --> receiving SMTP 3 -> recipient's mailbox
                                           ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^  ^  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
                                           ultimate sending |   MX server for
                                             SMTP server    |    recipient's 
                                                            |    domain name
                                                            |	
                                                            |	
                                                        "last hop"

 

See Also

 

 

Tools for IMAP Users

What to Look for in an IMAP Client

What to look for in an IMAP client is discussed in

For me, it's essential that an IMAP client supports secure authentication methods, has the ability to flag (label) IMAP-accessible messages, has powerful sorting and searching options (including full text searching), makes it easy to move messages to any mailbox on any IMAP server (including moving to a mailbox that does not yet exist), lets you open more than one mailbox at the same time, and has the option to store configuration settings and address books remotely (e.g., on an IMAP, LDAP, or IMSP server).

 

[green pine icon] Pine: Desktop- and Web-Based POP, IMAP, NNTP, & ESMTP Client

Note     Pine runs on many platforms, including Unix, Mac OS X, and MS Windows (the MS-Windows version is called PC-Pine). It can also be run remotely in an ssh window. The upcoming Pine 5.0 (aka Alpine) includes a web-based client called WebAlpine.

Even if Pine is not your primary IMAP client, it is a useful backup IMAP client because it has a small footprint, is surprisingly powerful and feature-rich, runs on many platforms, adheres to standards, and is available gratis (free of charge). There are more reasons why Pine is an Essential Companion to Other Mail Clients and Tools on the All About Pine page.

 

Setting Up Pine for Multiple IMAP Accounts

To set up Pine to access, manage, and search mailboxes on multiple IMAP accounts, you can use Pine's built-in configuration screens, which are available by typing MS (Main > Setup) in Pine, or you can directly edit your pinerc configuration file. It is cumbersome and confusing to edit the incoming-folders and folder-collections variables from within the Pine Configuration screens so I recommend that you do the following.

Exit Pine and make a backup copy of your pinerc file. Then open your pinerc using your favourite editor, such as vim or  pico -w  (the -w flag ensures that pico does not automatically insert any line breaks), and then

  1. Add your INBOX specification at the service provider to your Pine incoming-folders list.
  2. Add your mailstore specification at the service provider to your Pine folder-collections list.
  3. Make sure that enable-incoming-folders is listed in your feature-list.

 

Pine
Tips
   
  • The Pine INBOX, default-fcc, and mailstore specifications for many providers are in The Table below.

  • incoming-folders and folder-collections are “list variables,” which means that they can contain a list of values. The values are separated by a comma followed by newline followed by whitespace (spaces or tabs).

  • The first collection in your folder-collections list is your Pine “primary folder collection” and it is the default location for saving and opening mailboxes.

  • You can use inbox-path to set your primary Pine incoming folder.

  • You might also want to set up Pine so that your default-fcc and postponed-folder (aka SENT and DRAFTS folders) are on the IMAP server; or so that Pine uses the provider's SMTP or NNTP server. An example of these settings is at FastMail.FM in their pinerc-sample.txt.

  • If you want to use Pine's built-in configuration screens rather than directly editing your pinerc, see the Power Pine page, especially the section Setting Up Local, IMAP, and NNTP Collections.

After you add these to your pinerc, restart Pine, type L to go to your Pine folder list, and read & manage these remote IMAP-accessible mailboxes.

Another way to go to a mailbox in Pine is to type  G (for GoTo) and enter the fully qualified IMAP specification of a mailbox, for example:    G {www.fastmail.fm/user=UID/ssl}INBOX

I have many more tips for using Pine on Infinite Ink's:

 

Desktop IMAP Clients

In addition to Pine (previous section), there are many other clients that you can run on your desktop (or laptop) and use to access mailboxes on an IMAP server, including the following.

The above is a list of the most popular desktop IMAP clients, but it is certainly not a complete list. Many more IMAP clients are listed and discussed at the links in Other Lists of IMAP Clients, which is in the section below the next section.

 

Web-Based IMAP Clients

In addition to WebAlpine and ssh-accessible Pine (described above), there are many other IMAP clients or gateways that are hosted on a server and can be used to access any IMAP-accessible mailbox, including:


Many service providers include a webmail client that you can use to access mailboxes that reside on their system. If you know of any provider that has a webmail client set up so that users can use it to access any — including external — IMAP-accessible mailboxes, please tell me.

More web-based IMAP clients are listed and discussed at the links in the next section.

 

Other Lists and Reviews of IMAP Clients

Each of the following discusses many IMAP clients.

 

IMAP Servers

 

Miscellaneous IMAP Tools

 

Service Providers

Reasonably-Priced and Free IMAP Service Providers

What's in The Table

Some providers in the table provide a full range Internet services, including mail hosting, web hosting, Usenet news access, dial-in access, shell access, and more; some provide only mail hosting; most provide POP as well as IMAP access to messages; some provide a web-based mail client; some provide web-based tools for collecting messages from external accounts; some let users write their own Procmail or Sieve recipes. To find out details about a provider, follow the links to their site.

Default INBOX, Default Sent Mailbox, and Personal Mailstore Specifications

In the third column in The Table, I give the specification for the account's personal mailstore, the default “Sent” mailbox, and the default INBOX. These can be copied & pasted into your pinerc file, which is discussed above, or adapted for use in other mail clients. For many of these I have guessed the specifications based on information that I got from telnetting to the server (described below), and on what I know about how various IMAP servers are usually configured.

The specification for the personal mailstore is where your IMAP-accessible mailboxes, but not necessarily your primary INBOX, are stored. For Cyrus and Courier IMAP servers, a user's personal mailstore often resides under the “INBOX.” hierarchy and for a UW IMAP server, they often reside in a subdirectory of $HOME named mail or Mail.

Tip    

On many Courier IMAP servers you can view all mailboxes that are in your personal mailstore, including those that are below the top level, by including a specification like the following in your Pine folder-collections variable:

    {imap.server.name/user=UID}#allfolders.INBOX.[] 
    

The #allfolders namespace is discussed in the Courier IMAP README file.

 

The /ssl, /tls, and /secure Qualifiers

In some of the specifications in The Table below, I use qualifiers within the squiggly brackets to ensure secure IMAP authentication. The /secure qualifier tells Pine to use CRAM-MD5 or another secure authentication method and /ssl and /tls tell Pine to encrypt the entire session, including the authentication. Details about these qualifier are in the comp.mail.pine thread about Questions about SSL, SASL, CRAM-MD5, etc.

The /tls (Transport Layer Security) qualifier is available in Pine 4.40 & higher; the /ssl (Secure Sockets Layer) qualifier is available in PC-Pine 4.20 & higher and Unix Pine 4.30 & higher. PC-Pine is pre-built with TLS/SSL support but Unix Pine needs to be built with TLS/SSL support.

If you use Mulberry as your IMAP client and want to be able to do secure authentication, you need to download and install the Mulberry crypto installer. The secure-authentication part of the crypto package is free (gratis), but the other part, which includes PGP, GPG, and S/MIME plug-ins, requires a payment of $4 (after a 30 day trial).

If I have left /ssl, /tls, or /secure out of a provider's specification below and it in fact works, please tell me. Also, if I put it in and it doesn't work, let me know that too!

 

Recommendation Icons

My primary goal in creating and maintaining this page is to find a good email and web hosting provider for myself. Back in the 1990s, I had such a provider, best.com, but they no longer exist and now, after much research, I have realized that 1) there will probably never again be a provider with such a great constellation of smart and talented people (e.g, Matt Dillon); and 2) it is now very hard to find a provider that is good at both email and web hosting.

For most people who are looking for robust managed email and web hosting, I recommend that you get (at least) two providers: one for email hosting and one for web hosting (*). The providers that I recommend are labeled as follows on this page.

[M]   Mail-hosting provider that I recommend based on my research
[W]   Web-hosting provider that I recommend based on my research
[thumb up]   Provider that I use and highly recommend
[thumb down]   Provider that I recommend you avoid (used mainly for providers who have lost users' email)

Note: There is currently no provider that I highly recommend (but I am always looking for such a provider!).

[New!] (*) For more about separating email and web hosting, see my blog item titled Use a Different Provider for Internet Access, Email Services, and Web Hosting.

 

How The Table is Ordered

Someone asked me about the ordering of the table, which I agree looks pretty random. Here's the algorithm I use to get the Sort key (first column).

  1. lowest level account
  2. one year pre-payment, including discount for annual payment
  3. add setup fee
  4. convert to US dollars (US $)
  5. divide by number of megabytes of IMAP-accessible storage space

Free accounts all have a sort key of zero and are sorted by Storage Space, from highest to lowest. For the providers that have the same sort key (or the same storage space if they are free), I list the providers who send ads to their users at the bottom and the ones who support secure IMAP access or give Unix shell acess at the top. In the ideal world, I'd let you, the reader, change the sort key on the fly and I'd use two years rather than one so that the sort would more accurately represent providers who charge a one-time fee for extra storage space.

Of course, when you are choosing a provider, you should consider a lot of factors other than simply “Price per MB per Year.” See What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider near the bottom of this page for other features that I think are important.

 

Translation and Conversion

 

THE TABLE


Sort
Key

($/MB/yr)
Icons
Service Provider
IMAP Software
Other Sevices
Default INBOX (put in Pine's incoming-folders list)
Default Sent Mailbox (put in Pine's default-fcc)
Personal Mailstore (put in Pine's folder-collections list)
Comments
Space  Fee ($ = US $)
0

my-mail.ch
MailSite IMAP
virus protection

{mail.my-mail.ch/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Site is in German. After you register, you can go to Einstellungen (Options) and use the drop-down menu to set your language to Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, or Turkish.

According to this thread at EmailDiscussions.com, you need to access your "direct mailbox" or adbox at least once every two weeks in order to maintain IMAP/POP access.

Also see the May-2005 discussion at EMD about my-mail.ch upgrated to 250MB + 30MB message limit.

 

250 MB
free
0 laposte.net
{imap.laposte.net/user=UID}INBOX
???

Site is in French. Offered by the French Postal Service. If you need help with the French used on the sign-up page, check out the translation that was posted by cmg32 on EmailDiscussins.com (EMD). Also see the August-2003 thread about laposte IMAP problems and the July-2006 thread about Laposte.net problems at EMD.

Highly rated by people who participate in EMD.

 

100 MB free
0 f2o.org
UW IMAP
SquirrelMail
sendmail
personal subdomain
Mailman mailing lists

no shell access for untrusted users
no outgoing SMTP for most users

over 2500 accounts

{home.f2o.org/user=UID}INBOX
{home.f2o.org/user=
UID}.webmail/[]

Users get a personal subdomain UID.f2o.org and get infinitely many addresses @UID.f2o.org.

Also see the Email Configuration FAQ.

(*) Make sure that you understand what f2o.org is about and read the discussion forums before you apply for a free account.

“f2o.org is about giving the Internet community the "Freedom to Operate"”

 

75 MB
200 MB
350 MB
+100 MB
free (*)
$7.00/month
$9.00/month
+$3.00/month
0 totalise.net
Interchange IMAP

{mail.totalise.co.uk/user=UID}INBOX
{mail.totalise.co.uk/user=UID}[]

To register, you need a UK address and phone number. Before you sign up, carefully read the Terms and Conditions and Data Protection Notice and Privacy Policy and, as I discuss below, save a copy of the TOS that you agree to.

Also see the Totalise Email Technical Support page.

Acquired by Brightview Ltd.

 

50 MB
free
0 poste.it

{relay.poste.it/user=UID/tls/secure}INBOX
???

Site is in Italian. Offered by the Italian Postal Services. It seems that you need to have an address in Italy to receive the telegramme with the activation code.

 

20 MB free
0
freezone.co.uk
Courier IMAP
SquirrelMail
Unix shell access for payed accounts

{imap.freezone.co.uk/user=UID/tls}INBOX
{imap.freezone.co.uk/user=
UID/tls}INBOX.[]

Also see the note dated 2001 31st, October -- 09:53 on the Freezone Internet Service Status page (this is how I learned that they support IMAP and TLS).

 

20 MB
50 MB
250 MB
1000 MB
2000 MB

free
£2.99/month
£6.99/month
£9.99/month
£14.99/month
0 unicyclist.com
UW IMAP
Squirrel Mail


{mail.unicyclist.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

 

20 MB
free
0
freeshell.org
 (aka sdf.lonestar.org
  aka sdf-eu.org)
UW IMAP over SSL
SMTP AUTH for vhost & vpm members

SquirrelMail 1.5 (!)
NetBSD shell access
Procmail
SFTP for arpa members
SA for arpa members
nn newsreader

{mail.freeshell.org/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
{mail.freeshell.org/user=
UID/ssl}mail/[]

mail is a subdirectory of $HOME and you can name it whatever you like or, if you want, you can use $HOME as the root of your IMAP mailstore.

You can also access your Freeshell.org (AKA SDF) email by using their SquirrelMail webmail page or by logging onto the Freeshell shell with the MindTerm Java applet (requires Java and either MS IE or a Nescape/AOL browser) and then run pine or mutt on the server.

At the Freeshell.org Unix shell prompt, you can read the FAQ by typing faq; get help by typing help; participate in user discussion groups by typing bboard; pledge financial support to SDF by typing pledge; and delete your account by typing delme.

Freeshell.org SMTP REJECTs any incoming message sent from a domain on their blacklist; some details about this are on their abuse page.

2003 January 31 - February 5:    Freeshell.org was off the Net as discussed in DDoS gets SDF Public Access Evicted and in Doug Palin and Northwest Link's Position on SDF. SDF is now back online thanks to SiteSpecific.net.

 

 

10|20? MB
100 MB
300 MB

$1 or €5 1-time token fee
$36 1-time (arpa)
+$20/year (tweak)
0
VFEmail.net
Courier IMAP
Horde/IMP
IMAP over SSL
SMTP over SSL (TLS)
SMTP AUTH & LB4S

Virus Free Email
SpamAssassin
FreeBSD system
subaddressing
use any From address


{mail.vfemail.net/user=UID@vfemail.net/ssl}INBOX
{mail.vfemail.net/user=
UID@vfemail.net/ssl}INBOX.[]

Also see the VFEmail.net (Virus Free Email) FAQ, the forum, and the domain-hosting products.

 

15 MB
50 MB
75 MB
100 MB
150 MB
free (Copper)
$14.95 1-time fee
$25/yr (Silver)
$30/yr (Gold)
$50/yr (Platinum)
0 email.it
SMTP

{imapmail.email.it/user=UID@email.it/secure}INBOX
???

Site is in Italian.

If you have a free account and use their SMTP server, their SMTP server adds a tagline to your outgoing messages.

 

15 MB
50 MB
free
€60/year
0 netcourrier.com
NETC IMAP
{netcourrier.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Site is in French.

 

15 MB free
0 atlas.cz
Kerio MailServer
virus scanning
{imap.atlas.cz/user=UID}INBOX
???

Site is available in Czech, Slovak, and English.

 

15 MB free
0 web.de

{imap.web.de/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
{imap.web.de/user=
UID/ssl}[]

Site is in German. Fax services available. Over 7,800,000 users.

To sign up, you need a postal adress in A, D, DK, E, F, FI, FL, GB, GR, HU, I, IE, L, NL, NO, PL, PT, RO, RU, SE, SK, TR, or UR. Web.de sends out a postcard with your numeric activation code so make sure that you use your real postal address! Someone told me that they no longer send a postcard with your password.

As discussed here, here, and here, the web.de IMAP server is not NUL-safe and does not support some basic IMAP functions such as the IMAP SEARCH command.

Web.de has been acquired by GMX.de.

 

12 MB
100 MB
free
€5/month
0
myrealbox.com
Novonyx IMAP (Novell NetMail)
IMAP over SSL
SMTP AUTH over SSL
LDAP
iCalendar
virus & spam blocking
Mail Proxy can access 3 external IMAP/POP accounts

shared mailboxes planned

~284,294 registered users

{imap.myrealbox.com/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
{imap.myrealbox.com/user=
UID/ssl}[]

Also see the MyRealBox page about Pine and their FAQ. Note that MRB blocks mail from Yahoo Groups.

MRB gets a [4.5 out of 5 stars] rating at About.com.

 

 

As of 11 December 2003, MRB has disabled new account signup until further notice.

 

10 MB free
0




fastmail.fm
Cyrus IMAP
IMAP over SSL
Postfix
Subaddressing (plus addressing)
personal subdomain for Member+
1-10 free aliases for Member+
domain hosting for Full+

Sieve editing using a form or web-based raw text editor for Member+ (*)
Advanced virus scanning for Member+
SMTP AUTH over SSL for Member+
Forwarding for Member+
SpamAssassin 3.x for Full+
non-optional duplicate suppression
alt SMTP port (26, 587)
alt IMAP port (443)
snarf 2-20 external IMAP/POP/Hotmail/MSN accounts
use 3, 8, or 500 alt From addresses for Member+
no POP acccess to FM for Member-
shared mailboxes for Enhanced
send to at most 80 recipients per hour for Guests
backups & restores for all (including Guests)
address-book greenlisting of domains or addresses for Full+
IMAP migration tool for migrating an entire IMAP hierarchy from an external server
SMS for Member+
mobile phone access
file storage
WebDAV

webmail with lots of skins
webmail written in perl; does not require cookies, Java, JavaScript
saved search across single folder
no global search
no greylisting

referral program


Planned: email reminders, FM webmail will be able to read from and write to external IMAP servers, FM webmail will support IMAP keywords (labels)

~300,000 users

external status page at status.fastmail.fm

βeta server for the adventurous
αlpha WebDAV server

FM contributes to the
Cyrus IMAP project


{mail.messagingengine.com/user=UID@domain/ssl}INBOX
{mail.messagingengine.com/user=
UID@domain/ssl}INBOX.Sent Items
{mail.messagingengine.com/user=
UID@domain/ssl}INBOX.[]

FM has a lot of domain names and in the specifications above you need to replace FM.domain with the FM domain that you chose.

Also see the 2004-July-22 EMD thread about FM's unique offerings, PINE : Proper Authentication Required, I use SSL IMAP/POP and get 'certificate errors'. How do I fix this?Using IMAP with PineUsing IMAP with Mozilla, this Usenet message about accessing Fastmail from behind a firewall, this EmailDiscussions.com thread about Pine & FM, Configuring Pine, the FM wiki, the FM weblog, and the FM discussion groups.

FastMail is an Australian company with servers located in the U.S. (at NYI) and in Europe.

For technical details about FM's implementation of SpamAssassin, see Jeremy Howard's message Re: SpamAssassin with large email providers...? in the SpamAssassin-talk mailing list.

(*) FastMail.FM's Sieve capabilities include ["envelope", "fileinto", "reject", "notify", "vacation", "regex", "relational", "comparator-i;ascii-numeric", "imapflags"] -- details are in the SieveExtensionsSupportMatrix in the FM wiki.

 

FM's Free Guest Account gets a [4.5 out of 5 stars] rating at About.com.

If you sign up with FM and want to help Infinite Ink, set the Referer to iiiiiii[at]fastimap.com (that's i typed seven times or in geek speak i^7) or use this link to initiate your registration (and then don't delete their sign-up cookie until after you pay for your account!).

 

Warnings:

Note:  Since FastMail.FM is one of my providers, I am much more aware of their problems than I am of problems at other providers.

 

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

 

10 MB
16 MB
600 MB
2000 MB



domain
hosting




free (Guest)
$14.95 1-time (Member)
$19.95/year (Full)
$39.95/year (Enhanced)


Enhanced accounts
include 50 domains



All accounts are single-user accounts


discounts for multi-year payments

surcharge if you pay via PayPal

Helping Hand Program
0 alinto.com

{imap.alinto.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Site is in French or English. After registration, you can set the language to Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish. Also see Enhance your email.

Effective 2002 Sept 30, alinto.com is reducing the free account's capacity to 10 MB from 15 MB.

 

10 MB
50 MB
free
€49/year
0 humour.com

{imap.humour.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Site is in French. After registration, you can set the language to Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish.

Humour.com is a subcontractor of Alinto.com and will probably reduce the free account's capacity to 10 MB from 15 MB.

 

10? MB free
0 email.si
Cyrus IMAP
Horde/IMP

{imap.email.si/user=UID}INBOX
???

Sign-up page is in Slovenian. Webmail is available in 25 languages. Some tips for signing up are in the thread Best international email provider... at EmailDiscussions.com.

 

10 MB free
0 mail.mycity.com.cn
Jetmail IMAP

{mail.mycity.com.cn/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Site is in Chinese Simplified.

 

10 MB free
0 home.se
Novonyx IMAP

{pop.home.se/user=UID}INBOX
???

Site is in Swedish.

 

10 MB free
0
mailservice.ms
Cyrus IMAP with Perdition IMAP proxy
Postfix
Horde/IMP Webmail
SMTP for pay accounts
SA
Advosys virus protection
no restores

IMAP over SSL coming “in a few months”


{mail.mailservice.ms/user=UID@mailservice.ms}INBOX
{mail.mailservice.ms/user=
UID@mailservice.ms}INBOX.[]

Also see IMAP Outlook Express Setup, the FAQ, and the MailService.ms Forums.

Note: As discussed here, here, here, and here, discussion about MailService.ms used to be banned at EmailDiscussions.com. Also, as discussed here, they spammed the FastMail.FM wiki.

Mailservice.ms has crashed & burned as discussed in this thread at EmailDiscussions.com.

2005-Jan-25 Update: As announced in this EMD message by Jeremy Howard, FastMail.FM “added mailservice.ms to our list of domains.”

 

10 MB
25 MB
60 MB
200 MB
+100 MB
free
$14.95 1-time (Plus)
$29.95/year (Premium)
$49.95/year (Corporate)
+$24.95 1-time


0 mailandnews.com
br.mailandnews.com
fr.mailandnews.com
it.mailandnews.com
mailandnews.co.uk
InterChange IMAP
Captaris webmail

{www.mailandnews.xx/user=UID/secure/tls}INBOX
{www.mailandnews
.xx/user=UID/secure/tls}[]

Replace .xx with .co.uk if you signed up at mailandnews.co.uk, or with .com if you signed up with any of the other mailandnews.com sites.

As discussed in the FAQ, they

  • block mail from Yahoo Groups & Topica, and
  • are currently not accepting new users

MailandNews is planning to eliminate their free accounts by the end of February 2003 and is “looking at charging $29.95 per year, with an early bird sign-up for current customers of $19.95.

 

10 MB free
0 swissinfo.org
SMTP AUTH
SpamAssassin
webmail requires javascript & cookies
webmail adds tagline to outgoing mail

{mail.swissinfo.org/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Site available in English, Deutsch, Fran蓷is, Italiano, Espa隳l, Portugu瘰, Chinese, and Arabic (and maybe Japanese?). Their webmail requires JavaScript and cookies. Also see the swissinfo message board, including this topic, which discusses IMAP.

Also see the FAQ.

 

8 MB free
0 freenet.de

{imap.freenet.de/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Site is in German.

 

8 MB
100 MB
free
€5.95?/month
0 inbox.lv
Cyrus IMAP
Horde/IMP
Kaspersky's virus scanning

{pop.inbox.lv/user=UID}INBOX
{pop.inbox.lv/user=
UID}INBOX.[]

Webmail is available in English, Latvian, and Russian.

As of September 2003, IMAP is no longer available.

 

8 MB
free
0 777.net.cn
UW IMAP

{imap.777.net.cn/user=UID}INBOX
???

Site is in Chinese Simplified. According to the message 777.net.cn terminates free services on Emaildiscussions.com, this provider is ending their free service. Please let me know the new prices.

 

8 MB
free?
0 hl.cninfo.net
Jetmail IMAP

{imap.0451.com/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Site is in Chinese Simplified.

 

6 MB
free
0 linuxfreemail.com
UW IMAP
Restricted Unix shell (Pine only)


{mail.linuxfreemail.org/user=UID}INBOX
???

 

6 MB
free
0 mochamail.com
MailSite IMAP
Java webmail client
SMTP AUTH

{mail.mochamail.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Also see the Mochamail discussion group. Mochamail is currently not accepting new users. If you would like to use the MochaMail.com, send email to [email icon]signup@mochamail.com so they can add your name to the list of waiting subscribers.

 

5 MB free
0 btamail.net.cn
JetMail IMAP

{btamail.net.cn/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Site is in Chinese Simplified. No longer offering IMAP access.

 

5 MB
free
0 centralpets.com
optional TMDA filtering
 (gateway to external IMAP servers)

centralpets.com itself is not IMAP accessible

I include CentralPets.com here because they use Minter Software's VisualOffice and you can set it up to check mail on external IMAP (& POP) servers. To set this up, go to Configuration Options > Manage Profiles / Accounts Set up.

Note that CentralPets.com mailboxes are accessible only via the CP VisualOffice web interface and not via an external IMAP client.

 

4 MB
10 MB
25 MB
50 MB
free
$8.95/year
$18.95/year
$28.95/year
0 cnuninet.com
AIMC IMAP

{imap.bj.cnuninet.com/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Site is in Chinese Simplified.

 

4 MB
free
0 safe-mail.net
??? IMAP Server
personal message boards (are these shared mailboxes???)
{www.safe-mail.net:9930/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
???


Also see the FAQ, Security, and Help for IMAP.

 

3 MB
50 MB
100 MB
250 MB
500 MB
1000 MB
2000 MB
5000 MB
free
$25/year
$40/year
$75/year
$125/year
$210/year
$360/year
$680/year

0



myiris.com
Courier IMAP

{mail.myiris.com/user=UID}INBOX
{mail.myiris.com/user=
UID}INBOX.[]

You can use both UID@myiris.com and UID@indiamail.co.in as your email address.

 

* no limit free
SortKey>0
(∞)-1 mail2world.com
MailSite IMAP


founded in 2000
“millions of users”


{imap.mail2world.com/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Instant translation. Site requires JavaScript. You need a Platinum Services account to use IMAP.

Also see Comparison of Hotmail, mail2world, and Yahoo!Mail.

 


∞ MB
free non-IMAP accounts
$19.99/yr (Platinum)

0.01




dreamhost.com
Courier IMAP 3.0.3
INBOX limited to 3000 msgs
IMAP over TLS
SquirrelMail 1.4.4
postfix 2
SMTP AUTH
alt SMTP port (587)
optional Junk Filter
Debian Linux 3.1 (Sarge) shell access
75-775 shell login IDs
procmail and sftp for  shell logins
backups & restores (but not junkmail box or settings)
WebDAV
VPN for Strictly Business
UW imap-utils
NFS (§)
nn upon request
One-Click Installs (WordPress, MediaWiki, & more)
Ruby on Rails
Jabber IM Service
GeoTrust certs
1 free .com, .org, or .net domain registration for life of the DH account
price freeze pledge
97-day money back guarantee

suggestion list where customers can submit suggestions and vote (please vote for plus addressing)


generous referral program (my thoughts about DH Rewards)


over 140,000 domains


2 external Emergency Status pages

 

{mail.your.domain/user=UID/tls}INBOX
{mail.your.domain/user=UID/tls}INBOX.Sent
{mail.your.domain/user=UID/tls}INBOX.[]

If you do not have your own domain name attached to your DreamHost account, use the mail server that Dreamhost assigns you. See also

Also see the User Reviews and Ratings of DreamHost at WebHostingRatings.com and HostSearch.com, and the following from the DH Forum:

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

DH has been great about installing all the Debian packages that I've requested. Note that Debian Linux is the Favorite Distribution in the Linux Journal 2003 Readers' Choice Awards.

[Warning!] Warnings:

  • 2007-Jan-2: The DreamHost Status blog discussed Relay Access Denied Errors, which begins like this: "I just submitted a request to have our [DreamHost's] IP removed from the Composite Blocking List. Everything should be resolved shortly." The problem discussed in this blog item is one of the reasons that I recommend you Use a Different Provider for Internet Access, Email Services, and Web Hosting. I use and recommend DreamHost for web hosting, but I do not recommend them -- or any web-hosting provider -- for email hosting. Instead, I recommend using a provider that is 100% focused on email hosting.

  • 2004-March-29:  greencrest posted a message in the DreamHost discussion forum that recapped all the downtime that DreamHost had during March 2004.

  • 2004-May-20:  Sean posted a comment at Teal Sunglasses in the blog entry about Dreamhost? Or Hosting Matters? in which he said: "... Basically, I think their [DreamHost's] heart is in the right place. The service works well most of the time. And when it works well, it's a good value. But it also kind of has the feeling of something that a bunch of high school kids put together without bringing in anyone who has experience running production servers and networks. I gave them the benefit of the doubt the first few times -- bad things happen to even the most prepared admins. But bad things have happened enough times, and taken so long to fix, that I really can only conclude that they're in over their heads."

  • 2005 March 23:  thinkum posted a message in the DreamHost forum, which included the following excerpt of a message from DreamHost Support: “Unfortunately, due to a bug in the junk mail processing software, some emails weren't correctly copied to your inbox, but were at the same time deleted from your junk mail list. This means that those emails are permanently gone from the system.”

Note:  Since DreamHost is one of my providers, I am much more aware of their problems than I am of problems at other providers.

 

If you sign up with DreamHost and want to help Infinite Ink, please use this link to initiate your registration. Also when you Create your New Dream Network ID, set  Referred By  to  iiDOTcom, which is the Infinite Ink NDN ID (make sure you type all 8 characters in the string iiDOTcom). If you did not do this and would like Infinite Ink to get credit (and it's within 3 months of when you signed up), please send me email and I can retroactively refer you (this is one of the great things about DH Rewards).

Current Promotion: If you use the Infinite Ink promotion code iiPromo when you sign up with DreamHost, you will get a $50 discount. Let me know if you have any problem getting this $50 discount.

 

 


20000+ MB
40000+ MB
60000+ MB
90000+ MB




domain
hosting
$49.95 setup (*)
$9.95/mo (CDI)
$19.95/mo (Sweet Dreams)
$19.95/mo (Code Monster)
$79.95/mo (Strictly Business)


unlimited domains
 
600-6200 mail users

 

(*) $0 setup if prepay for a year

discounts for multi-year prepayment


$50 discount if you use the Infinite Ink
promotion code iiPromo

charitable nonprofit discount program

 

DH matches donations to selected charities
0.01
runbox.com
(aka runbox.no)
DBMail IMAP
IMAP over SSL
NFS (§, phasing out)
Exim filters
SMTP AUTH
alt SMTP ports (26, 587)
optional spam & virus filtering
Dspam
SpamAssassin
ClamAV (broken on 2005-05-09)
greenlisting
use any From address
file storage
snarf external POP/ IMAP/ Hotmail/ MSN mailboxes
backups & restores
subaddressing
graphics-free "mobile" webmail

affiliate program


Planned: message flags, CRM-114 filtering, new IMAP server (DBmail or Binc IMAP), and more

60-day full money back guarantee


status page
{imap.runbox.com/user=UID}INBOX
{imap.runbox.com/user=UID}INBOX.[]

The Runbox Mail Manager (RMM) email service is provided by runbox AS, a Norwegian company, which also manages the Norwegian Post Office's email service. Their servers are hosted with EUnet in Oslo.

Also see

Highly rated by people who participate in EmailDiscussions.com. Also see the reviews of RunBox at MouthShut.com.

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

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

Warnings: 

 

 

 
10,000 MB

domain
hosting
1 month free trial
$49.95/yr

1 domain included
+$4.95/domain/yr


discounts for multi-year
payments & multiple subscriptions
0.02
[W]

viaVerio.com
Signature Hosting

UW IMAP
alt SMTP port (5190)
30-minute LB4S ()
webmail
SFTP & FreeBSD shell access for primary user
procmail
SA (including spamc/spamd daemons)
Usenet (via ssh window or tunnel)
qmail
daily backups
restores for free & fee
unique IP addresss
each incoming & outgoing mail msg must be 8 MB or less


referral program

 

{your.domain/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
{your.domain/user=
UID/ssl}Sent Items
{your.domain/user=
UID/ssl}[]

You can have an unlimited number of users in your domain and each has its own IMAP-accessible INBOX and mailstore. You can manage your account and users through a web-accessible ControlPanel.

Also see signature.veriohosting.com, signature-hosting.com, the Shared Hosting FAQs, the viaVerio Reseller Forums, and the providertalk.com mailing lists.

Also see the User Reviews and Ratings of Verio at WebHostingRatings.com.

Despite what some people say about Verio, I am impressed with their technical setup and knowledgeable technical staff and I recommend them.

Note: There are many other Verio plans, for example viaVerio Virtual Private Server, which also include SpamAssassin. I describe only the Signature Hosting plan here because that's the plan that I use.

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

If you sign up with Verio, please let me know so I can "take the credit"!

 

 

 
10,000 MB
20,000 MB
40,000 MB


domain
hosting
3-day test account
$19.95/mo (Standard)
$29.95/mo (Pro)
$49.95/mo (Pro Plus)


1 domain hosted
unique IP address
1 SSH user
200-1000 IMAP/FTP users

these are "suggested retail prices";
resellers receive substantial discounts


Consolidator Promotion pays
resellers $100, $200, or $1000
for moving an account to Verio


0.03
0.02





FastMail.FM Full and Enhanced accounts are described above in the Sort Key=0 part of the table because the lowest level IMAP account at FM is free/gratis.
0.04


bluebottle.com
Cyrus IMAP 2.2.x
Sendmail
Horde/IMP (customized)

SMTP AUTH
auto greenlisting of addresses that you MAIL TO
snarf 3 external POP/Yahoo/Hotmail accounts
no virus filtering
no subaddressing

optional C/R filtering; default is on

the webmail From: header can be changed by hand, but not automatically

SMS for a fee

2003-Dec-31: ~8,248 accounts
2004-Dec-31: >87,000 accounts

2005-Mar-04: >100,000 accounts
2005-May-29: >125,000 accounts


Planned: domain hosting, Premium accounts, taglines in mail sent via webmail by non-Premium users


{mail.bluebottle.com/user=UID@bluebottle.com}INBOX
{mail.bluebottle.com/user=
UID@bluebottle.com}mail/Sent Items
{mail.bluebottle.com/user=
UID@bluebottle.com}mail/[]

Australia-based company; production servers are hosted in Texas.

The Horde-based webmail client includes a nice branded set of toolbar icons.

Owners participate in the Bluebottle forums.
EMD Bluebottle forum and in other EMD forums

In their 28 March 2003 press release they announced that their “anti-spam technology will be made available through open-source licensing.” For more about this, see the 2004-Sep-17 thread bluebottle source code at EMD.

Also see

 

Important:accounts with incorrect or missing information will be disabled.

 

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

 

 

250 MB
1000 MB
$9.95/yr (Access)
$24.95/yr (Premium)
0.06 csoft.net
Courier IMAP
IMAP over SSL
qmail MTA
procmail
SA (including spamc & spamd daemons)
shell access
backups
restores for standard v-host and higher


{mail102.csoft.net/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
???

Also see Csoft.net Documentation and csoft-faq.

 

1000 MB
2000 MB
3500 MB
4000 MB
8000 MB

$5/mo
$10/mo
$15/mo (Budget)
$25/mo (Standard)
$35/mo (Advanced)


 

0.07
[M]


tuffmail.com
Cyrus IMAP
Postfix MTA
IMAP over TLS/SSL
SMTP AUTH over TLS/SSL
alt SMTP ports (443, 465, 587)
ManageSIEVE protocol

SquirrelMail
Horde/IMP

Sieve
Sieve editing in SquirrelMail, Horde, web-based raw text editor, & via ManageSIEVE protocol (*)
FreeBSD OS
optional blocklists & greylisting
Clam AV & SpamAssassin
optional per-user trainable Bayesian classifier (Bogofilter) for Standard+
personal subdomain
reject addresses
option to reject any address
not on your accept list

optional auto purging of mailboxes
use any From address
global saved search
subaddressing using + (default) or - or both
SMTP-level & webmail-
 level auto-Bcc
shared mailboxes
backups & restores
daily rejection, discard, & delivery reports
each incoming & outgoing mail msg must be 100 MB (!) or less

Also available:
  MX Relay Service

status & announcement page
at status.tuffmail.net
forum

βeta web-based IMAP clients (Roundcube and more)

βeta LDAP-accessible address books

Planned: Distribution lists and more

Tuffmail accounts created after 2005-June-12, use these Pine settings:
{mail.mxes.net/user=UID_domain/tls}INBOX
{mail.mxes.net/user=UID_domain/tls}Sent
{mail.mxes.net/user=UID_domain/tls}[] 
						  

You can use your own doman name(s) or one of the Tuffmail domain names (tuffmail.com, tuffmail.co.uk, tuffmail.cc, tuffmail.us, bsdbigot.com, bsddude.com, hermail.cc, hismail.cc, phpdude.com, ricksbar.com, tmbox.com). You get infinitely many addresses @UID.TM.domain.

User-configurable SpamAssassin including option to put _SCORE_ in the Subject.

X-Envelope-To header line records the original envelope recipient address (including the subaddress if a subaddress was used).

(*) Tuffmail's Sieve capabilities include ["body", "copy", "comparator-i;ascii-numeric", "envelope", "imapflags", "include", "fileinto", "notify", "regex", "relational", "subaddress", "vacation"]. The Sieve include extension is useful if you want to modularize and plug & play with your Sieve scripts.

 

Also see this, this, and this thread at EMD.

Lots of happy customers, including Cerebus, David, and me.

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

 

 

 
256 MB
1024 MB
2048 MB
4096 MB



domain hosting

30-day free trial
$18/year
$28/year
$38/year
$68/year


unlimited domains;


multi-user packages available


domains & users are managed
in the Tuffmail Account Manager







0.07 solidinternet.com
UW IMAP
Horde/IMP
NeoMail

SA
30-min LB4S ()


???
???

Australian company. Only offers support via the member-only SolidInternet (SI) forums.

 

500 MB
1000 MB
1500 MB
2000 MB



$36.95/yr (Starter)
$67.95/yr (Standard)
$113.95/yr (Business)
$143.95/yr (Ultimate)


0.10
[M]
luxsci.com
UW IMAP over SSL
MBX mailbox format
SMTP AUTH
alt SMTP ports
(80, 2025, 11496, 6025)
SMTP over SSL
Anonymous Secure SMTP
optional LDAP over SSL
Red Hat Linux
backups
restores (1 free per month)

optionally auto greenlist addresses you mail
web-configurable procmail
ssh access for web-hosting customers
unlimited aliases
use any From address
snarf unlimited external POP accounts
Calendars
Tasks

optional spam & virus filtering
quarantined mail does not use your disk space

Xpress Portal for dial-up users

affiliate program



{secure-email-N.luxsci.com/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
{secure-email-N.luxsci.com/user=
UID/ssl}mail/sent-mail
{secure-email-N.luxsci.com/user=
UID/ssl}mail/[]

Site is available in English, French, Spanish, Swedish, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Ukrainian, and Italian.

Also see:

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

 

 

1000 MB
+1000 MB

Email
Defense

Web Aides (includes
LDAP address
book)




MX
hosting

$9.99/mo or $99.99/yr
+$14/mo or +$140/yr

+$1.35/mo/user


+$2/mo/user or +$20/yr/user






unlimited MX domains hosted
(if the DNS is managed elsewhere)
0.10
[M]
emailthatworks.net
Mirapoint IMAP
SMTP over TLS
SMTP AUTH
 or 3-hour LB4S

Webmail Direct
WAPMail Direct
subaddressing
Sieve-like filters

shared mailboxes
Mirapoint Junk Mail software
greenlisting

backups & restores
LDAP-accessible address book
ssh access


forum[New!]

referral program


{m1.imap-partners.net/user=UID@your.domain/tls}INBOX
{m1.imap-partners.net/user=UID@your.domain/tls}INBOX.Sent Items
{m1.imap-partners.net/user=UID@your.domain/tls}INBOX.[]

Also see IMAP Partners Setup and Capabilities and Benefits. Prices are for one email domain and delegated administration.

[New!] Before 2006 September 4, EmailThatWorks.net was known as IMAP-Partners.net.

 

Note: This section needs to be updated.

 


user
300 MB

+user
+100 MB


Anti-spam
Anti-virus
Group 
calendar

domain 
hosting

 

30-day free trial
$0.99/mo
$1.65/mo

+0.99/mo
+$1.95/mo


no charge
+$0.99/user/mo

+$2.99/user/mo


+1.50/domain/mo


discounts for multi-month payment

0.10 mac.com
Netscape Messaging Multiplexor IMAP
IMAP over SSL
SMTP over SSL
No alt SMTP port
webmail
McAfee virus protection
iCalendar
WebDAV
free iBlog software and other Member Benefits

affiliate program


2002-09: >100,000 .Mac Subscribers
2005-09: “over one half million paying members”

(had ~2,200,000 users of the free service, which no longer exists)

{mail.mac.com/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
???

To sign up for an Apple .Mac (“dot mac”) trial account, you must be on a Mac, but after you've signed up you can access your messages using any IMAP client, including the Mac.com web-based mail client. After you pay for a full .Mac account, you can add up to ten additional Mac.com email-only accounts for $10/year each; each with 5 MB of IMAP-accessible space.

To find out more about .Mac, see

 

Warnings
[thumb down]  As discussed by Dan Frakes and others at MacInTouch, it is not possible to opt out of the Brightmail spam filtering. This violates my #2 and #3 features to look for in an IMAP Service Provider (see below).
[thumb down]  When sending mail using the mac.com webmail client or the mac.com SMTP server, you must “ensure that the email address in the "From" field corresponds to the account from which you are sending the message.” This violates another feature that I look for in an IMAP Service Provider.
[thumb down]  According to this applelinks.com article, Apple is removing articles that are critical of its iTools-.Mac conversion in the Apple Discussions forum. This violates yet another feature that I look for in an IMAP Service Provider.
[thumb down]  According to this 2003-Sept-09 MacSlash discussion, many .Mac users do not think the service is worth the price.

 

50 MB
1000 MB
+1000 MB
60 day free trial
$99.95/year (*)
+$49.95/year




5-user family packs available

discounts for educational institutions

(*) $69.95 for first year for U.S. users
with the purchase of a Mac
(after a mail-in rebate)


0.12 hostsnare.net Advanced
Linux shell access
daily backups
???
???


Affiliated with MailSnare.Net (see below).

 


50 MB
2000 MB

 

$9.95 setup
$9.95/mo (Standard)
$19.95/mo (Advanced)
0.20

geekmail.com
UW IMAP
sendmail
IMAP over SSL
SMTP over SSL
SMTP AUTH
alt SMTP port (2525)
NON-optional RBLs
optional server-challenge (greylisting)
optional greenlisting
optional TMDA and ASK challenge/response filtering
optional SpamAssassin
web-configurable procmail
snarf external POP/Hotmail/MSN/Yahoo/RSS messages
Horde/IMP
Clam AntiVirus


Unix shell access planned


{mail.geekmail.cc/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
{mail.geekmail.cc/user=UID/ssl}[]

Users get a personal subdomain UID.u.geekmail.com and get infinitely many addresses @UID.u.geekmail.com.

Hosting computers and company are located in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Also see Tech trio takes aim at spam in the Vancouver Sun (2003 July 15) and the Mail Experts at TightCircle.com (2003 September).

Each user can set her own SpamAssassin spam-score threshold and can optionally have the spam score (_HITS_) inserted into the beginning of the Subject header of any message above her spam-score threshold.

X-Envelope-To header is used to record the original recipient.

Mailboxes in the IMAP mailstore use c-client MBX format, which is a significantly more efficient format than the UW-IMAP default format (mbox).

Also see the FAQ, Discussion Forum, and GeekMail Blog, which includes news about GeekMail and general email-related news.

Geekmail.cc gets a [4.5 out of 5 stars] rating at About.com.

 

As announced here, here, here, and here: “It is with sincere regret that we are writing to inform you that geekmail will discontinue services as of April 9. 2004.” MailSnare has a special offer for former Geekmail users.

 

200 MB
+100 MB

domain hosting
$39.95/year
+$19.95/year

1 domain included
+$9.95/year for each extra domain
0.26 swishmail.com
Courier IMAP
Kaspersky Anti-Virus
secure IMAP access
secure SMTP access

Horde bounty fund sponsor

{SERVERNAME.swishmail.com/user=UID/tls}INBOX
{SERVERNAME.swishmail.com/user=UID/tls}INBOX.[]

Replace SERVERNAME with the server you are assigned.

Swishmail also has web-hosting plans that include IMAP-accessible mailboxes.


1000 MB
1500 MB
2000 MB
2800 MB
5000 MB
+1 MB

 

$25 setup
$19.99/month
$39.99/month
$59.99/month
$89.99/month
149.99/month
+$0.75

25-210 users
0.27
pair.com
UW IMAP
postfix & qmail
subaddressing

SquirrelMail
FreeBSD shell access
procmail
alt SMTP port (2525)
90-min LB4S
 ()
SpamAssassin
Greylisting
Clam AV

IMAP over SSL/TLS
no server-side thread by REFERENCE
SFTP for shell users
no restores
pair.* local NNTP groups
system-wide CGI scripts including blosxom
SPF support
each incoming & outgoing mail msg must be 20 MB or less

any process using 8 MB of memory is auto-killed by "the reaper"

referral program

> 160,000 sites hosted

highly respected by many long-term Internauts (the reason I do not recommend Pair is because of the lack of server-side threading & Pair does not do customer-requested restores)

System Notices


{your.domain/user=UID}INBOX
{your.domain/user=
UID}[]

If you don't have your own domain name attached to your Pair account, change your.domain to the mail server that Pair assigned you, e.g. mailNNN.pair.com.

Each account gets a primary INBOX & mailstore and between 1 and 250 virtual inboxes, each with its own mailstore.

X-Envelope-To header records the original recipient address.

You can secure your IMAP connection using an ssh tunnel, but Pair policy does not allow users to keep a tunnel running permanently so you need to regularly re-establish the tunnel. Also I think only the primary mailbox has ssh access.

Pair maintains a rather conservative list of known "repeat-offender" domains from which our servers will not accept e-mail.

If you are a Pair user, you can read and participate in the Pair discussion and announcement groups on news://news.pair.com[NNTP icon]. To access these, you need to login with the user name and password that are discussed on the pair Community - Newsgroups page.

Also see the User Reviews and Ratings of pair Networks @ WebHostingRatings.com and pair.com @ uptime.netcraft.com.

Everyone -- both Pair customers and non-customers -- can participate in the Pair Survey and request secure IMAP access, backups & restores, or anything else that you think is important for an IMAP provider to provide.

 


500 MB
1500 MB
3000 MB
4000 MB

6000 MB

+1 MB


domain
hosting


$25-$50 setup
$9.95/mo (Basic)

$17.95/mo (Advanced)
$29.95/mo (Webmaster)
$49.95/mo (Developer)
$74.95/mo (HV-1)

+$0.10/mo


1 domain included,
 10-300 mail users



8+% discount for annual payment

special offers

0.27 321.net
Courier IMAP
optional SpamAssassin
virus protection
archive/backup service for a fee
Authenticated SMTP for a fee

{mail.321.net/user=UID@321.net/ssl}INBOX
{mail.321.net/user=UID@321.net/ssl}INBOX.[]

Also see the 321.net Service Options and FAQ.

Warning 1: The JavaScript on this site crashed the Opera web browser on my system.

Warning 2: According to this thread at EMD, they may be closing soon.

 


150 MB
200 MB
250 MB
300 MB
350 MB
500 MB
free 15-day trial
$39.95/yr
$49.95/yr
$59.95/yr
$69.95/yr
$79.95/yr
$89.95/yr


0.29 gigigaga.com
Microsoft IMAP

{imap.gigigaga.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Site is in Chinese Traditional.

 

20 MB
50 MB
$5.75/yr (TWD$200)
$12.95/yr (TWD$450)
0.30 hostony.com
UW IMAP
NeoMail webmail
SMTP AUTH
exim MTA
procmail
optional SpamAssassin
WHM / cPanel
jail shell
weekly backups


{209.51.138.26/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Also see the discussion forums especially this thread about “IMAP email support”.

 

350 MB
500 MB
800 MB
1000 MB
2000 MB
+100 MB
$9.85/mo ($7.85 if prepay)
$14.85/mo
$19.85/mo
$29.85/mo
$49.85/mo
+$5/mo


discounts if prepay

 

0.30
(£0.20)
webfusion.co.uk
NeoMail?
spam filters
SSH access after faxing a form
no outgoing SMTP

???
???

Each email message received must be smaller than 5 MB. Also see the Support section.

 

600 MB
1000 MB

+20 MB

£9.95/mo or £99.95/yr
£19.95/mo or £199.95/yr
+£20.00/mo

prices exclude VAT @ 17.5% so
the £99.95 account actually
costs £117.44

0.30 mail-center.com
virus & spam filtering

{mail.mail-center.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

This seems to be the same as MauiMail.com. It does not seem to be possible to opt out of their virus & spam filtering.

 

100 MB


$30/year

0.36 eryxma.com
UW IMAP
Open Webmail
RH Linux shell access
SMTP AUTH
sendmail
procmail
backups & restores


{mail.your.domain/user=UID@your.domain/ssl}INBOX
???

If you don't have your own domain name attached to your Eryxma account, I think (?) you can use mail.eryxma.com. Also see the FAQ and discussion groups.

According to the Eryxma About Us page, “While English is our primary language, much of our staff also speaks Spanish.” (¡Muy bien!)

 

~2004 April 18: Eryxma.com is no longer on the Net. For details, see Tangled Web of Hosting Lies and the possibly-phony [Eryxma] Resignation of Patrick LaCrosse.

100 MB
200 MB
400 MB
800 MB

1000 MB
2000 MB
4000 MB
5000 MB

+1 MB
$35.95/year
$5.00/month
$9.95/month
$18.90/month

$24.99/month
$39.99/month
$44.99/month
$55.00/month

+ $0.10/month



discounts if prepay

 

0.37



mailsnare.net
Cyrus IMAP
IMAP over SSL
EdgeDesk (aka Visual Office)
Horde/IMP 4.x
Postfix MTA
SpamAssassin (also see this)
Razor
backups & restores
virus filters updated hourly
optional TMDA C/R filtering
address-book greenlisting
SMTP AUTH
SMTP over SSL
alt SMTP port (26)
2 or 10 free aliases
shared mailboxes for your (unlimited) guests
snarf 10 external IMAP / POP / Hotmail accounts
personal subdomain
use any From address
saved search across multiple folders in IMP 4
S/MIME and GPG
.doc, .xls, etc. attachments can be viewed in Horde/IMP

file storage
greylisting
calendar with alerts sent to any email address
up to 3 RSS feeds on your VO Today page
SPF
No header with original envelope recipient

affiliate program

excellent customer support

Horde bounty fund sponsor

Planned: Fax services

{mail.mailsnare.net/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
{mail.mailsnare.net/user=
UID/ssl}INBOX.Sent Items
{mail.mailsnare.net/user=
UID/ssl}INBOX.[]

You get infinitely many addresses @UID.mailsnare.net. You can also use the domains mailsnare.com, msbx.net, and the other domains that are listed at the bottom of this discussion thread.

Visual Office (VO) includes a Personal Information Manager (PIM), but it does not thread conversations in mailboxes. Horde/Imp does conversation threading, saved searches, & lots more, and is the web interface that I prefer at MailSnare.

The webmail user interface is available in over 20 languages.

Also see:

Highly rated by people who participate in EmailDiscussions.com.

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

If you sign up with MailSnare and want to help Infinite Ink, please use this link to initiate your registration (and then don't delete the sign-up cookie until after you pay for your account!). MailSnare will pay Infinite Ink a 25% commission on the total sale price, including the price of any add-on storage space or add-on services, when you sign up for a new account.

 

 
40 MB
100 MB
500 MB
1000 MB
2500 MB

+50 MB
+100 MB
+250 MB
+250 MB
etc.


domain hosting


30-day free trial (Standard)
$14.95/year (Standard)
$19.95/year (Enhanced)
$89.95/year (Business A)
$169.95/year (Business B)
$399.95/year (Business C)

+$9.95 1-time fee
+$13.95 1-time fee
+$24.95 1-time fee
+$24.95 1-time fee
etc.


$9.95 setup + $9.95/yr
  for 10 addresses






discount for multi-user plan or
multi-year payment


0.49 netidentity.com
alt SMTP port
{mail.netidentity.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

 

100 MB
+100 MB
$48.95/year
+$6/year
0.60 oddpost.com
Courier IMAP
spam filtering
auto greenlisting of address-book addresses

JavaScript/XML (AJAX) webmail client that includes an integrated news aggregator (RSS) client

outgoing SMTP only when using Oddpost's webmail client

{imap.oddpost.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Also see the Oddpost FAQ/Help and the Oddblog, the Oddpost Blog. Their webmail client requires JavaScript and MS IE 5.0+ running on MS Windows. Some bloggers and participants in a discussion at EmailDiscussions.com have raved about the Oddpost webmail user interface, while others are wary of the platform restrictions.


Also see

Oddpost.com gets a [4 out of 5 dots] rating and is the 2003[Editors' Choice] at PC Magazine and gets a [4.5 out of 5 stars] rating at About.com.

 

2004 July 9:  As discussed here and here, "Oddpost is thrilled to declare that we’ve been acquired by Yahoo!'" Oddpost is not accepting new customers and instead are "now entirely focused on providing excellent service to our existing customers and developing the new, advanced Yahoo! Mail product."

Wow:  As posted in a couple blogs, Oddpost was acquired by Yahoo! for ~30 million dollars! Or maybe 20 million.

 


50 MB
+50 MB
free for 30 days
$30/year

+$30/year


10% of your subscriber fee
donated to a non-profit of
your choice
~0.64 online.ie
Courier IMAP
using Edo Software Services

{mail.online.ie/user=UID/tls}INBOX
???

Webmail available in English, Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Brazillian Portugese, Russian, Swedish, and Uknranian.

Registration page is here.

 

50 MB
100 MB
25 EUR/yr
50 EUR/yr
0.66 mailblocks.com
SMTP AUTH
alt SMTP ports (2525, 25025)
C/R filtering
snarf up to 10 external Yahoo/AOL/Hotmail/POP/IMAP accounts


{appN.mailblocks.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Replace appN with your mailblocks server (app1, app2, etc.).

Their SMTP server only works with your mailblocks.com address in the From: header; “patented Challenge/Response technology” and “completely rids your Inbox of spam” (these quotes may be reasons to Look OUT); telnetting to their IMAP server; also read their Support & FAQ pages and as Declan McCullagh says in Will new "spam reduction" service result in... more spam?, make sure you Read the Terms Of Service Agreement and Privacy Policy; also note that while visiting their site I got repeated pop-up windows that said

Mailblocks works most effectively on Windows with Internet Explorer 5.5 or newer, but it should work with your current browser. If you see problems, we welcome your feedback to support@mailblocks.com

Their webmail is available in English, Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Brazillian Portugese, Russian, Swedish, and Uknranian.

Mailblocks gets a [4 out of 5 dots] rating and is the 2004 [Editors' Choice] at PC Magazine and gets a [4 out of 5 stars] rating at About.com.

According to this 2004-July-08 thread at EMD, Mailblocks has been acquired by AOL.

"At this time, we are no longer accepting registrations to establish new Mailblocks accounts. Existing members of Mailblocks will continue to be able to use the full features and benefits of Mailblocks."

 

 

15 MB
100 MB

$9.95/year
$24.95/year
0.70 mailshell.com
IMAP server is based on Cyrus
SMTP AUTH
personal subdomain
built-in greenlist support
daily backups
virus protection
spam filtering


IMAP over SSL planned
{imap.mailshell.com/user=UID}INBOX
{imap.mailshell.com/user=
UID}INBOX.[]

You get infinitely many disposable addresses @UID.mailshell.com.

Also see POP and IMAP and Can I use Mailshell to download or filter my other email accounts? in the Mailshell Help Guide.

If you sign up with MailShell and want to help Infinite Ink, please use one of these links:

Mailshell.com gets a [4 out of 5 dots] rating at PC Magazine.

Warning: My default INBOX on their IMAP server does not seem to work with Mulberry (but maybe this is because I'm no longer considered a Premium user and full IMAP support is available only to Premium users???)

 


50 MB



free 30-day trial (Premium)
$34.95/year (Premium)


discounts for multi-year payments
0.72 forked.net
UW IMAP
SquirrelMail
VALinux shell access
no restores


{mail.forked.net/user=UID/tls}INBOX
???

 

100 MB
+100 MB
$6/month
+$2/month
0.72 21cn.com
AIMC IMAP

{imap.21cn.com/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Site is in Chinese Simplified.

 

12 MB
21 MB
$0.72/mo (CNY 6/mo)
$2.42/mo (CNY 20/mo)
0.80 firstlinux.net
UW IMAP

{firstlinux.net/user=UID/tls}INBOX
???

Someone told me that the “Mail Plus” accounts support IMAP access, but someone else told me that firstlinux.net does not support IMAP at all -- does anyone know???

 

25 MB
$19.99/year
0.93 powweb.com
hacked UW IMAP
postfix

SMTP AUTH
FreeBSD system
PowWeb WebMail
SquirrelMail


status page
{mail.your.domain/user=UID}INBOX
???

The fact that they support IMAP is mentioned in the FAQ and in this forum message. Also see the Powweb Forums, especially the Email Fourm.

As discussed here, IMAP storage is (was) limited to 15 MB (?!).As of August 2005, their IMAP server is having problems.

[Warning!]“On September 25, 2002, Callisto went down because our first power supply failed during our nightly backup, and the backup power supply shorted out and caused a fatal corruption of all data on the RAID partition (five 72 GB drives, all SCSI Raid w/ one hot spare). . . . All accounts on callisto.powweb.com will automatically receive an additional 6 months free web hosting as compensation.”

Also see the User Reviews and Ratings of PowWeb at WebHostingRatings.com.

 

 


100 MB IMAP space
(+5 GB web space)
$30.00 setup
$7.77/month




no setup fee if prepay
for 12 months
~0.95
(€0.75)
ireland.com
OutBlaze IMAP
{imap.ireland.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Also see How to read your email using an email client?

 

40 MB €30/year
0.96 alwayswebhosting.com
UW IMAP
SquirrelMail
Red Hat Linux shell access
cPanel
spamcop & ORDB blacklists
no restores
SA
no Procmail



{serverX.alwayswebhosting.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Also see the Email FAQs and the AWH Forums.

If you sign up with AlwaysWebHosting and want to help Infinite Ink, use this link (requires JavaScript) to initiate your registration and also answer the question  How did you hear about us?  with  Infinite Ink, User ID=54668, Username=iiDOTcom  to make it more likely that I'll actually get a $5 referral fee!

 

150 MB
450 MB
2000 MB
$11.95/month
$16.95/month
$26.95/month
1.00 usermail.com
Courier IMAP
SquirrelMail
anti-spam filters
virus protection

{secure.usermail.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

 


20 MB

50 MB
200 MB
300 MB
700 MB
1.1 GB
2 GB


30 day free trial
$19.95/year
$100.00/year
$24.95/month
$34.95/month
$49.95/month
$74.95/month
$139.95/month

1.06 imeme.net
Cyrus IMAP
Exim MTA
SMTP AUTH
SquirrelMail
Twig Webmail
FreeBSD shell access
shared mailboxes
users can install Sieve
no procmail for incoming msgs
Mailman maling lists
zope hosting
WebDAV



{imap.imeme.net/user=UID/tls}INBOX
{imap.imeme.net/user=UID/tls}INBOX.[]

Also see the iMeme Wiki Web and the imeme-users mailing list.

 

500 MB
+250 MB
$44/month
+$10/month
1.20 hiwaay.net
UW IMAP
sendmail
Red Hat shell access
Brightmail spam filtering
webmail
procmail


{mail.hiwaay.net/user=UID/tls}INBOX
???


Also see the FAQs. Note that the Q&A page for the FAQ: Why is leaving my email on the mail server a bad thing? includes this:

“Beginning in January 2003, HiWAAY will no longer store email older than 90 days on the mail server.”

This makes me think that hiwaay.net does not grok IMAP.

 

 

50 MB
200 MB
400 MB

$59.95/year (NetPak)
$19.95/month
$39.95/month
1.20 activatormail.com
IMail IMAP

{activatormail.com/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

Also see ActivatorMail Email Manual. Site is available in English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.

As discussed here, they allow only one sign-up per location.

 

30 MB

$36/year

discount if prepay
1.20 securenym.net

???
???

Server-side PGP or S/MIME encryption. Also see the FAQ.

 

50 MB $60/year
1.20 saintmail.net
UW IMAP
optional ORBZ filtering
{saintmail.net/user=UID}INBOX
???

Their subtitle is “The Internet Address of Christians.”

 


15 MB
30 day free trial
$18/year
1.33
panix.com
Courier IMAP
NFS (§)
Postfix
SquirrelMail 1.4.4 & .5
SMTP AUTH
SMTP over SSL
alt SMTP port (2525)
subaddressing
personal subdomain
X-Original-To header
Unix shell access
procmail
SpamAssassin
Blocklists
Greylisting

Usenet
panix.* local NNTP groups
restores (but see the Appendix here)
option to use ORDB
current & old pines
nn

majordomo mailing lists

MOTD

{mail.panix.com/user=UID/ssl}INBOX
{mail.panix.com/user=UID/ssl}INBOX.[]

Each user gets the personal subdomain UID.users.panix.com and gets infinitely many addresses in the form subaddress@UID.users.panix.com and its plus-address equivalent UID+subaddress@panix.com.

Also see Setting Up Your Panix Account for IMAP Mail Retrieval, Using Pine with the New Panix Mail System, and the Archives of the Panix IMAP mailing list sorted by date or by subject and, if you have an account at Panix, see the panix.* local newsgroups.

Panix is “the oldest commercial Internet provider in New York” — they also provide local dial-in numbers throughout the U.S. and shell access from anywhere in the world.

 

75 MB
+75 MB
$10/mo ($100/yr)
+$10/mo ($100/yr)


discounts for Refugees from Best.com
1.43

sortonce.com
modified UW IMAP
modified SquirrelMail
virus, spam & "obscene" filtering
SSL IMAP for Enhanced
SMTP AUTH for Enhanced
alt SMTP port (587) for Enhanced

snarf 5 external POP3 accounts
no POP3 access to SortOnce.com

LDAP address books planned



{imap.sortonce.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Also see the FAQ, Help and Comparison of Email Programs.

Uses a modified UW IMAP that is compatible with Outlook Express & Outlook - you can create and delete folders and subfolders from within OE and Outlook; and all deleted messages automatically go to your Deleted Items folder. The entire service is designed for people who don't want to change the way they do email - no delete/purge cycle.

Also see

SortOnce gets a [4 out of 5 stars] rating at About.com.

Sort Once is no longer offering new accounts.

 


50 MB
100 MB
+25 MB

free 90-day trial (Standard)
$5.95/mo (Standard)
$7.95/mo (Enhanced)
+$1/mo


1.50 liquidweb.com
UW IMAP
Red Hat Linux shell access

???
???

The fact that they support IMAP is mentioned here.

Also see the User Reviews and Ratings of Liquid Web at WebHostingRatings.com.

If you sign up for a LiquidWeb account and want to help Infinite Ink, use this link to initiate your registration.

 

100 MB
250 MB
750 MB
$14.95/mo (12.46 if prepay)
$19.95/mo (16.62 if prepay)
$24.95/mo (20.79 if prepay)
1.50 arabia.com
CommuniGate Pro IMAP
{mail.arabia.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

Site is available in Arabic or English. To use IMAP, you need a Platinum eXtras! account. User interface is the same as mail2web.com.

 


10 MB
free non-IMAP accounts
$14.99/yr (Platinum eXtras!)
2.00 spamcop.net
Courier IMAP
Horde/IMP
SpamAssassin
no backups
no outgoing SMTP (except when using SC webmail)
{webmail.spamcop.net/user=UID@spamcop.net/tls}INBOX
{webmail.spamcop.net/user=
UID@spamcop.net/tls}INBOX.[]

You might also need to use Pine's /novalidate-cert flag. Also see the spamcop.mail discussion group via either nntp[NNTP icon] or http.

For criticism of SpamCop, see

The SpamCop spam-reporting application is available under the GNU General Public License (GPL) at SourceForge.net.

As announced on 21 November 2003 at Spamcop.net, SpamCop was bought by IronPort, the Bonded-Sender company, in June 2003.

 

15 MB $30/year
3.54 2ndmail.com
Courier IMAP

{mail.2ndmail.com/user=UID}INBOX
???

“Sorry but 2ndmail.com is no longer providing email services due an overwhelming amount of SPAM abuse.”

 

10 MB $2.95/month
4.08 meer.net
UW IMAP
Webmail
sendmail

{mail.meer.net/user=UID/secure}INBOX
???

As discussed in this blog entry, Jamie Zawinski (employee #20 at Mosaic/Netscape) uses meer.net.

 

50 MB
100 MB
500 MB
$20/mo ($17/mo if prepay)
$30/mo
$50/mo

prepayment discounts
4.50 mailops.com
IMAIL
SMTP AUTH
Spam Stopper™
Usenet

{mail.domain.xxx/user=UID}INBOX
???

Replace domain.xxx with the domain name you choose when you sign up. For example, if you choose mailops.com, your server is mail.mailops.com. Mailops.com does not seem to understand IMAP because they say the following on their full mailbox Help page: “We do not encourage customers to keep old mail on the server. In fact, all messages over 90 days old will automatically be deleted. If your Mailbox sum reachs [sic] the ten meg limit, you risk having your Mailboxes "zeroed out" meaning all messages will be deleted.” (I don't put them in the Unreasonably-Priced List because of other services, such as Usenet and extra email addresses, that they provide.)

 

10 MB $44.95/year
? graffiti.net
Outblaze


{imap.graffiti.net/user=UID@graffiti.net}INBOX
???

The Graffiti.net free account includes 100 MB of mail storage, but it is not IMAP accessible.

 


? MB
no free IMAP accounts
$19.95
30.05
(£16.79)

onetel.net.uk
Mirapoint IMAP
webmail
dial-in
no port 25 hijacking


{mail.onetel.net.uk/user=UID}INBOX
{mail.onetel.net.uk/user=
UID}[]

As announced here, One.Tel beat “off competition from BT Openworld, Breathe, AOL and Freeserve to be named as the UK’s "best national consumer ISP."”

I know that a sort key of 30.05 looks ridiculously high and you're probably wondering why I consider One.Tel reasonably priced! If you live in the UK, the land of charge-by-the-minute phone calls, and need dial-in access to the Net, I recommend One.Tel because 1) they have an unlimited (no-charge-per-minute) plan;  2) they provide IMAP access to your messages;  3) they do not hijack your outgoing port 25 (SMTP) requests;  and  4) their Mirapoint SMTP server speaks ESMTP. Many providers, such as Earthlink, AOL.co.uk and Freeserve, do not support IMAP or force you to use their SMTP server (or both).

It takes a long time to connect to their IMAP server -- does anyone know why?

If you sign up with One.Tel and want to help Infinite Ink, answer the question “How did you hear about One.Tel?” with “Recommended by a friend” and then specify iii (that's i typed three times or in geek speak i^3).

 

10 MB

£13.99/mo or £0.01/min
Sort
Key

($/MB/yr)
Icons
Service Provider
IMAP Software
Other Sevices
Default INBOX (put in Pine's incoming-folders list)
Default Sent Mailbox (put in Pine's default-fcc)
Personal Mailstore (put in Pine's folder-collections list)
Comments
Space  Fee ($ = US $)

 

If you know the Pine incoming-folders, default-fcc, or folder-collections specification, amount of IMAP-accessible storage space, or fees at these or any other IMAP provider, please let me know and I'll include them on this page.

 

The List — 251 More Reasonably-Priced IMAP Service Providers

In addition to the more than 100 IMAP providers that I discuss in The Table above, this section lists a couple hundred more IMAP providers that I have not yet added to The Table.

  1. 10tohost.com -- virus filtering, $2.00/10 MB/month
  2. 1and1.com (aka 1und1.de) -- FAQ; “3.5 million customers on paid services”; injects the original envelope recipient in an Envelope-To header; backups but no customer-requested restores; also see this EMD thread
  3. 4web-space.com -- I read in a discussion forum that they support IMAP, but I don't see this mentioned on their site
  4. 65535.net / jvds.com -- cPanel
  5. 852.net -- site is available in Chinese or English; located in Hong Kong
  6. 9y.com -- 2 MB free, Premium Accounts, “Transparent, end-to-end 2048 bit encryption”; affiliated with Hushmail.com
  7. accudomains.com -- Email account plans, domain name registrar
  8. ace-host.net
  9. actadivina.com Freeform and pre-designed packages -- Cyrus IMAP
  10. addaction.net
  11. affordablehost.com -- cPanel; Pre-Sales Q & A > Do you support IMAP?; supports SPF as of 2004 -Sep-14
  12. aim.com -- free 2000 MB (will eventually offer unlimited storage), web-based client displays ads, announced 2005-May-12; also see this thread at EMD, this blog by an AOL employee, the aol.com listing below, and [Del.icio.us icon] my AOL/AIM-related bookmarks at del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / HostingProviders / AOL
  13. ald.net
  14. aliencamel.com -- “Unlimited Email Storage” (might be a reason to Look OUT), Australian company; also see this EMD thread
  15. all2all.org -- Twig webmail
  16. aol.com and aol.co.uk (and many other countries) -- AOL's Open Mail Access, which includes access to their IMAP and SMTP (but not POP) servers using any mail client, made its world-wide debut on 2004 April 5; supports SPF; for details see Accessing the AOL Mail System using IMAP & Authenticated SMTP: An Unofficial Guide , Can I use a third-party email program with my AOL email?, and F.A.Q UNIVERSAL E-MAIL AND NEWSGROUPS WHATEVER THE ISP YOU USE (AOL INCLUDED); Warning: AOL expires old messages off of their IMAP server and the AOL IMAP server does not support the IMAP SEARCH command. [Del.icio.us icon] Also see the aim.com listing above and my AOL/AIM-related bookmarks at del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / HostingProviders / AOL.
  17. alterhosting.com -- Courier IMAP, Majordomo mailing lists
  18. assortedinternet.com -- cPanel, SquirrelMail, SpamAssassin, Unix shell access, MailMan mailing lists, also see their IMAP page
  19. atjeu.com -- cPanel
  20. austindev.com -- cPanel
  21. avahost.com -- Courier IMAP, cPanel
  22. bgxmail.net -- "The World's First FREE 10GB Email Service," discussion about this provider is banned at EMD
  23. bigfoot.com -- IMAP seems to be available on Premium and Ultra plans but I cannot find the name of their IMAP server on their site
  24. bigimap.com -- Cyrus IMAP, $10/512 MB/month, $12/1 GB/month, $16/2 GB/month, $20/3 GB/month, plus addressing, backups, & more features
  25. bitserve.com
  26. blogomania.com -- cPanel, exim MTA, SpamAssassin, SSH access upon request for Basic Plan, “370 clients and growing
  27. bluehome.net -- free/gratis, SquirrelMail, powered by Mac OS X Server, SpamAssassin, ClamAV, Procmail, also see this message at EMD
  28. bluehost.com -- cPanel, Does Bluehost support IMAP?
  29. burntmail.com -- Courier IMAP, $15/1001 MB/year, no bandwidth limit (might be a reason to Look OUT)
  30. britain.net (or pla.net or isleofman.net) -- MailSite IMAP server (mail.britain.net), SMTP AUTH, £9.99/?? MB/year
  31. california.com and its national counterpart econetwork.net -- CommuniGate Pro messaging server; server-side filtering; Internet connectivity (dial-in, DSL, etc.); they donate 20% of profits to non profit organizations chosen by clients and provide nonprofits with free web pages and internet service
  32. caravanmail.net - 100 MB free
  33. CIHost.com Shared Unix Hosting and Shared Windows Hosting (aka unixhost.com) -- sued America Online, discussion about the lawsuit and about CIHost.com are at Slashdot.org in AOL Sued For Over-Zealous Blocking, which includes discussion and links about its sordid history including this link and this quote: “For those thinking that CIHost sounds like some insane overlitigous company that tries to use lawsuits to make its profit... You're right. :)”; the Witty Worm took down some of the CI Host servers in March 2004
  34. clearlight.com
  35. colondot.net -- Exim MTA, SAUCE filtering, FreeBSD system
  36. contrasthost.com -- cPanel
  37. cornerhost.com -- $50/500 MB/year (basic), $100/1000 MB/year (script), $200/2500 MB/year (shell), IMAP over SSL, SMTP AUTH over SSL, SquirrelMail, ssh for shell accounts, Procmail, Red Hat Linux, FAQ/mail wiki page, off-site status blog, innercircle mailing list; many users, including BenHammersley.com
  38. crnc.net -- H-Sphere or cPanel control panel, forum, used by del.icio.us, (before you sign up, ask crnc.net if the plan you are interested in includes IMAP)
  39. crontime.com
  40. crystaltech.com -- servers run an MS operating system; IMail 7.13; CRAM-MD5 authentication; virus scanning; backups & restores; webmail; 250 MB mail storage in addition to web storage; ASP/.NET; discussion forums; no ssh???; happy customers
  41. ctyme.com (aka marxmail.net) -- Exim MTA, SpamAssassin, SquirrelMail, subaddressing, used by Lawrence Lessig as discussed in this 2004-Dec-14 blog item; planning to switch to Dovecot IMAP; also see this thread at EMD; Warning: As posted here, Mark Perkel, the ctyme.com CEO, is "someone who works from home and . . . I would not want to be prohibited from running an email server from home."
  42. cwazy.net (aka cwazy.co.uk, zapo.net) -- 350 MB free, Cyrus IMAP, SquirrelMail, forum; also see this 2005-July-30 EMD message by stevew, a cwazy.net representative
  43. cyberbite.com -- Verio reseller; as you can see in the viaVerio Signature Hosting entry in the table above, I use and recommend the Verio Signature Hosting account
  44. dathorn.com -- cPanel, $13.50/2 GB/month
  45. dbtec-networks.de -- Cyrus IMAP, sendmail, SquirrelMail, Solaris OS, Bynari InsightConnector groupware packages available, site is in German
  46. deru.net
  47. digitaldaze.com
  48. digitalspace.net - the fact that they currently support IMAP is mentioned in the FAQ, but note that they say that IMAP “support is not guaranteed at this time for security reasons”; high price/MB/year
  49. DeepMail.com -- Anti-Spam & Anti-Virus Protection; CommuniGate Pro IMAP; $9.95/100 MB/month; +$3.95/+50 MB; daily backups; ¿¿¿restores???
  50. dombox.com -- site available in English and German, Swiss Company, related to swissmail.org (see below)
  51. domehost.com -- cPanel
  52. doorhost.net -- cPanel, Forums, including an Email Forum
  53. dr2.net -- cPanel; according to this thread, it is run by a 16 year old
  54. eapps.com
  55. easynetdial.co.uk -- Brightmail spam filtering
  56. econonethosting.com -- forums
  57. electric.net --
  58. electricmail.com -- Sophos AV
  59. enhancedhost.com -- Plesk 6, SquirrelMail
  60. enic.cc -- domain name registrar
  61. eskimo.com -- UW IMAP, alt SMTP port (2525), LB4S (), SquirrelMail, shell access, MindTerm web-based SSH client, Usenet, local NNTP groups (announcements & lobby), discounts for Linux User Group members, discounts & extra storage space for pre-payments, virtual domain discounts if you link to eskimo.com on your web site. Also see Jessamyn West's why eskimo.com? I have recommended Eskimo.com as an Internet access provider and my friends & family who use them are quite happy with their non-corporate friendly service. [Note that until Summer 2004, Eskimo.com used a very old IMAP2bis server.]
  62. eumx.net (aka mzplanet.com) -- RoundCube webmail, Support Forum, “We will disable POP3/IMAP access between June 9 and 13 [2005] due to testing and service optimisation.
  63. evenmail.com -- “established in February 2004”; (lots of English language and grammar mistakes on this site)
  64. everyhost.com -- related to everybody.org
  65. everyone.net -- personal and group accounts; FAQs, including IMAP FAQs; no shared mailboxes
  66. ez-web-hosting.com -- cPanel, SpamAssassin, double redundant nightly backup
  67. ezrs.com -- SquirrelMail
  68. f15.com -- $19.95/1000 MB/year
  69. fatcow.com -- in business since 1998
  70. fazter.com -- also see this pop-up window and Is This Copyright Infringement? International Email Hosting Company Asks You to be the Judge
  71. featureprice.com -- went out of business 21 May 2003 and seems to have been reborn in mid August 2003 with IMAP support; (Here is what I said about the pre 21-May-2003 incarnation of FeaturePrice: the fact that they do not support IMAP is in the Sales FAQ; also see the review of FeaturePrice.com at 10-best-web-site-and-domain-hosting-services.com)
  72. fidelityhosting.com
  73. finalasp.com -- MS Exchange server, Outlook Web Access, Knowledgebase, $19.95/150 MB/month
  74. flashmail.com -- seems to be using NetWin Server Software
  75. flexihostings.net -- cPanel, forums
  76. focalhosting.com -- they don't say how much space you get!?
  77. forest.net -- Postini spam and virus filtering, CommuniGate mail server
  78. freedom2surf.net -- Cyrus IMAP (inmail.f2s.com), virus protection updated daily
  79. freemail.com.cy
  80. freemail.nx.cninfo.net -- 5 MB free, site is in Chinese Simplified
  81. frontdrive.com
  82. fusemail.com -- personal and group accounts, Courier IMAP, SpamAssassin, ClamAV, customized SquirrelMail, RSS feeds, lots of plans including $19.96/350 MB/year and $71.88/1250 MB/year; no bandwidth limits (might be a reason to Look OUT); “Block 100% of Spam and Viruses” (might be another reason to Look OUT); shared mailboxes, address books, calendars for group accounts; FuseMail Forums including a Checking Mail with IMAP forum; Bug database; address-book greenlisting; no headers that state original envelope addresses (discussed below); server-side saved search folders; no support for IMAP keywords, address book does not support distribution lists; “I [Site Admin] am not certain that the server-side sorting functions can be utilized here at FuseMail at this time [2005 April 15]”; referral program; also see Fused Personal Basic Plan vs. Fused Personal Free Plan in the FuseMail forum, the EMD thread Yahoo terminated 2 of my accounts - is it because of FuseMail??, and this, this, and this EMD thread; Question: Do they do backups & restores???
  83. FutureQuest.net -- Courier IMAP, qmail MTA, no access to .qmail files, SpamAssassin, forums, also see the User Reviews and Ratings of FutureQuest at WebHostingRatings.com
  84. geekisp.com -- Courier IMAP over SSL, SquirrelMail, Qmail MTA, TMDA, TMDA-ofmipd, SpamAssassin, OpenBSD, domain hosting
  85. gnu-darwin.org -- SquirrelMail; if you donate $15 or are a GNU-Darwin contributor, you get 1 year access to a full featured email account with a user@gnu-darwin.org email address; supports SSL; GNU-Darwin shell access; free 1-month trial subscription
  86. gradwell.com -- Courier IMAP, virus scanning, SpamAssassin for an extra fee, SMTP AUTH, +£10.00 (plus VAT)/+100 MB/year, text (non-binary) Usenet access
  87. gravital.net -- Courier IMAP, TMDA C/R filtering, FreeBSD
  88. gsp.com -- LB4S, also see Virtual Server E-Mail, (they seem to be Verio resellers, which is a good thing IMHO)
  89. homepageuniverse.com -- Plesk control panel, Horde/IMP, SquirrelMail, forums, including a DomainMail forum, “looking into the possibility of offering MS Exchange
  90. hostcolor.com -- UW IMAP
  91. hostdepartment.com -- daily backups, a restore is $25, Horde/IMP, HostDepartment.com supports The Horde Project
  92. hostdesigns.com -- Icewarp Merak Mail Server
  93. hostforweb.com -- cPanel, they state “Procmail support” but someone emailed me and told me that HostForWeb.com no longer lets users use Procmail, support forums
  94. hostgator.com -- cPanel
  95. hostgo.com
  96. hostica.com -- SquirrelMail, IlohaMail, SqWebMail, Horde/IMP, also see Email Support
  97. hosting365.ie -- also see I love my webhost, you should too
  98. hostingmatters.com (aka hostmatters.com) -- UW IMAP, Horde/IMP, Neomail, Squirrelmail, SpamAssassin, cPanel, Fantastico; "Shell access is available on request for supported packages"; Backups; Offsite emergency status page; Email Forum; as discussed in this thread, their IMAP server is slow; as blogged here and here, recommend by Shelley Powers of Burningbird.net; as blogged here, used by Teal Sunglasses
  99. hostingworks.com -- Courier IMAP, 30-minute login before SMTP ()
  100. hostit365.com
  101. hostpacket.net -- SpamAssassin
  102. hotbox.ru (aka mail333.com) in Russian or English -- 20 MB free
  103. hp.com -- Premium account supports IMAP, $11.95/100 MB/month, MS Exchange Server
  104. hub.org -- $99.99/256 MB/year, Cyrus IMAP, Horde/IMP, Sieve, spam tagging, virus filtering, FreeBSD shell access, pine, unlimited domain hosting included
  105. hummingbirdhosting.com -- domain registrar, the Setting up a User (email account) using the Ensim Control Panel mentions IMAP
  106. hushmail.com -- PGP compatible secure email; IMAP access available in Premium and Business plans; also see IMAP Access in the Hushmail Help system; started by Phil Zimmermann, the creator of PGP
  107. i12.com
  108. i8k.com
  109. icdsoft.com -- IMAP over SSL, Courier IMAP, SpamAssassin, login before SMTP ()
  110. icmail.net -- 1000 MB free
  111. ideanode.com -- SquirrelMail, Plan Details (for geeks) says “High-Performance IMAP server” (which is not geeky enough for me and makes me wonder what they are hiding; might be a reason to Look OUT)
  112. iinet.com
  113. iMagineis.com -- Red Hat Linux; UW IMAP
  114. imap4all.com -- Bronze/Silver/Gold comparison table, extra space is +€1/250 MB/month, IMAP over SSL, SMTP AUTH, backups, restores cost €100, Horde/IMP, 15-day trial, Dutch company; also see this 2004-July-16 EMD message from the IMAP4all Administrators
  115. impacthosting.com -- MailSite IMAP, virus scanning
  116. indoglobal.com -- Courier IMAP, SMTP AUTH, virus protection, optional SpamAssassin and/or C/R filtering, ssh access, WebDAV, Indonesian company (I think), U.S.-based servers
  117. infinology.com Virtual Private Server plans -- webmail, sendmail MTA, I don't think their low-level accounts support IMAP, but this makes me think their high-level accounts do
  118. inmail24.com
  119. innerhost.com -- UW IMAP, sendmail, .Net
  120. internetconnection.net -- Courier IMAP
  121. inwa.net -- Courier IMAP, qmail MTA, Horde/IMP webmail, located in Washington state
  122. io.com (formerly "Illuminati Online") -- Internet connectivity, five levels of spam filtering protection (including SA), SquirrelMail, Mailman mailing list hosting, cool Staff page
  123. izymail.com -- 15-day free trial, $6.05 one-time signup fee + $13.25/6 months, can access AOL, MSN, Hotmail, & Yahoo mail
  124. jager.com -- free; 3 MB storage space
  125. jiffynet.net -- FAQs, the table says “IMAP Mail - Horde Mail”, but they seem to be more focused on “POP Accounts”
  126. KangaWeb.com -- the fact that they support IMAP is in the Email FAQ; weekly backups, SpamBoxer
  127. ktb.net -- Dovecot IMAP, shell access, procmail
  128. laughingsquid.net -- Courier IMAP, Horde/IMP Webmail, IMAP over SSL, Email FAQ; as discussed here, laughingsquid.net is by boing boing pal Scott Beale
  129. likk.net -- free (gratis), Zope hosting (?), 100% Microsoft free
  130. location7.com -- $35 (£20+VAT in the UK) / year / 100 MB, Courier IMAP, FAQ, Virus and Spam Filtering, Mail Provider Comparison Chart
  131. loftmail.com -- $35.40/1000 MB/year (Corporate), free/gratis accounts do not support IMAP, Cyrus IMAP over SSL, Horde/IMP, server-based filtering via Sieve, ManageSIEVE protocol, no headers that record original envelope addresses, backups for all, free/gratis restores for Corporate accounts, OpenBSD, optional greylisting, maximum email size is 200 (!) MB for Corporate accounts
  132. lunarpages.com -- Horde/IMP, cPanel, Fantastico Script Library, “SSH is disabled on all servers except the dedicated hosting plan and enterprise plan which has limited SSH support.”; lots of forums including a forum about email
  133. lycos.co.uk -- free and pay accounts include “HTTP/IMAP” (I do not know if this means you can use any IMAP client to access your Lycos.co.uk mail -- does anyone know???)
  134. macosx.com (aka macsrule.com) -- virus scanning; SpamAssassin upon request; Courier IMAP; SMTP AUTH, SquirrelMail, Horde/IMP, Email FAQ, $9.95/yr for 5 MB; 1.99 sort key
  135. macrefuge.com -- according to their FAQ, they offer IMAP but not WebDAV (so it's not truly a replacement for DOTmac)
  136. macteens.net -- 1 gig free, SpamAssassin, ClamAV, support forums
  137. magicaldesk.com -- SyncML, also see this thread at EmailDiscussions.com
  138. mail.az in Azerbaijani, Russian, and English -- 10 MB free
  139. mail15.com / mail333.com -- 15 MB free, IMAP over SSL, SMTP over SSL, ad free, no tag lines
  140. mail2web.com -- $1.99/200 MB/month, based on Microsoft Exchange
  141. mailandfiles.com -- Courier IMAP, no outgoing SMTP, $5/50 MB/month
  142. mailfetch.net -- unlimited bandwidth (might be a reason to Look OUT); seems to be a FuseMail reseller (another reason to Look OUT)
  143. mailstates.com - this site crashed Opera so I'm wary of them; requires Java
  144. mcm.net -- 4 MB free, in French
  145. mediatemple.net -- Email KnowledgeBase, weblog; as discussed here, used by TheManInBlue.com
  146. memset.com -- cPanel
  147. mi8.com -- Microsoft Exchange Hosting & Outsourcing, includes MAPI, POP/IMAP, and OWA (Outlook Web Access)
  148. microneil.com -- $2/mailbox/month + $0.25/MB/month, virus and spam filtering
  149. mintchaos.com
  150. modwest.com -- Cyrus IMAP, ssh access, nice Knowledge Base system with user comments
  151. .mp (ccTLD of Northern Mariana Islands) -- 1 Gig combined IMAP/web storage; Personal-Site (PS) FAQ; Commercial-Site (CS) FAQ; PS Terms of Use; also see the thread Dot MP Up and Running at RussellBeattie.com; make sure you read their Terms and other legal documents before you pay
  152. mstrata.com -- Courier IMAP, non-optional spam and virus protection, $20 Setup Fee + $10/100 MB/month, you need your own domain name
  153. myacen.com virtual (enterprise level) and reseller hosting -- SpamAssassin installed; this discussion thread on their forum makes me think they don't grok IMAP
  154. myecom.net -- 10 MB free
  155. myownemail.info -- 2 MB free
  156. mythic-beasts.com -- IMAP over SSL, Exim MTA, procmail, SMTP AUTH,
  157. mywebwizards.net -- SSH access
  158. N1hosting.com -- list of installed software versions, including IMAP software, is here
  159. nasstar.com -- UK company
  160. neathosting.net -- cPanel, recommended by Natalie Downe
  161. neomailbox.com -- see also Service features and specifications; personal subdomain, IMAP over SSL, SMTP over SSL, Razor spam detection, ClamAV virus detection, Open BSD, $39.95/150 MB/year, bandwidth limited to 200 MB/month, extra bandwidth for a fee
  162. netservers.co.uk -- virus filtering
  163. networld.com -- CommuniGate Pro
  164. Networth Enterprises -- SpamAssassin; NetWorth Enterprises donates to evolt.org 10% of hosting and reseller services revenues paid by evolt.org members (“evolt.org is a world community for web developers, promoting the mutual free exchange of ideas, skills and experiences”)
  165. neucomm.com -- dial-in access in US and Canada; Courier IMAP
  166. neureal.com
  167. newatech.com -- “space used by your mail accounts... is unmetered”; company located in Seattle and Nepal
  168. nexpoint.net
  169. nightskyhosting.com -- qmail, TMDA
  170. ninthwonder.com
  171. no-more-spam.de -- in German, TMDA (Tagged Message Delivery Agent ) C/R filtering
  172. nwnexus.com
  173. nyi.net -- also see their packages; According to Netcraft.com, nyi.net was the #1 Most reliable and fastest hosting company site during June 2003
  174. oeone.net -- WebDAV, free 60 day trial
  175. Omnis Network
  176. opensourcehost.com -- cPanel, SpamAssassin, Drupal hosting, special offer if you set your Referral ID to drupal; another special offer if you type CMS as the referrer
  177. ot.com -- $15/100MB/month, 5 login IDs, unlimited addresses @yourdomain
  178. perso.be -- according to this message at EMD, they use IMP based Alinto outsourcing and you get 10 MB
  179. personalsites.org -- cPanel
  180. phatcom.net -- Courier IMAP, 100 (or 50?) MB free, SquirrelMail, SpamAssassin, no outgoing SMTP
  181. ploghost.com -- cPanel, no ssh or telnet access, company in Philippines, servers in Europe and U.S. (I think)
  182. pobox.com (aka rightbox.com and onepost.net) -- "Mailstore" (which includes IMAP) account is $50/100 MB/year; Postfix, reject addresses and more
  183. promptpost.com (or veloxmail.com; squeml.com; mc2post.com; ezeml.com; icaremail.com; swifteml.com; wingedmail.com; epo.st; email1.st) -- 130 MB free, donations accepted, Courier IMAP, SquirrelMail, discussion groups, can host at most 100-150 active users, one-man operation (the last two are reasons to beware IMHO)
  184. pubbox.net (aka pubbox.de) -- 100-1000 MB free/gratis, Courier IMAP, SqWebMail and CAMAS webmail, Bayesian spam filters, Exim MTA, DragonFly BSD operating system, servers located in Berlin, Germany; one-man operation; also see the EMD thread titled pubbox.net - Interesting Free IMAP/SMTP service
  185. python-hosting.com
  186. rcthost.com -- cPanel
  187. redmail.com -- +£99.95/ +1 GB / year
  188. redpin.com -- Courier IMAP, qmail, exim, SpamAssassin, no virus filters
  189. remarkablehosting.com -- SMTP AUTH, FAQ
  190. revisemedia.com -- Wordpress hosting
  191. rt19.com -- UW IMAP
  192. rhyton.com -- ssh access, +$1/+1 MB/month
  193. sandershosting.com
  194. sentinare.com -- according to this page, they use Maia Mailguard
  195. serverintellect.com -- SmarterMail webmail, Microsoft servers
  196. sh3lls.net
  197. shiremail.com -- £3.50/10 MB/month
  198. shore.net (primus) -- SMTP over SSL/TLS, exim, Using Pine to get Mail, Comparing POP and IMAP
  199. shutmail.com -- 3000 MB free, also see this thread at EMD
  200. sify.com -- 15 MB, DomainKeys support, located in India
  201. simplicato.com -- Courier IMAP, Web Mail, ClamAV, SpamAssassin, FAQ, IMAP vs. POP3 by Brett B Shere (this article needs to be edited but it shows that they are IMAP fans)
  202. site5.com -- cPanel, not much info about IMAP although it is listed in their comparison table, mbox-formatted mailboxes, Horde/IMP, NeoMail, SquirrelMail, LB4S (), Knowledge Base, Forums, Fantastico, Ruby on Rails, affiliate program, “IMAP folders are allowed, it's the IMAP subfolders that aren't allowed.” (might be a reason to Look OUT), also see site5.com weblog
  203. sitelutions.com -- SpamAssassin, mail-only accounts available, Package Comparison Matrix, no ssh access on shared hosting accounts
  204. slashmail.org -- “for individual use only,” UW IMAP over SSL, Sendmail, SquirrelMail, DSPAM, Clam AV, & more, alt SMTP port (225), traditional Unix mbox format mailboxes, “No E-mail Storage Limits!” (might be a reason to Look OUT); affiliated with ucebee.com
  205. smileglobal.com -- “20 Email Boxes, 100 MB Storage Per Box, 2 Gig of Total Storage”
  206. snailmail.ch -- free, mail.snailmail.ch is using Courier IMAP
  207. softflare.com -- qmail
  208. speakeasy.net -- Courier IMAP, SMTP AUTH, server-side spam/virus filtering, Usenet news server, also see I hate Mandatory Mail Filtering!!!! - speakeasy.net bites the dust. (was "I hate SpamAsssassin") in gmane.mail.spam.spamassassin.general
  209. spry.com
  210. stgeorges.myvnc.com -- 60 MB free, Merak Groupware to sync Contacts/Task List/Calendar/Notes with Microsoft ® Outlook; also see the thread "Just signed up at stgeorges.myvnc.com" at EMD
  211. sudio.com -- Plesk control panel, Horde/IMP, also see POP & IMAP Email Account (Mailbox) in the KB, Sudio Inc. contributed a nice skin to the Horde/IMP project
  212. superbhosting.net
  213. superb.net -- used by Gary Lawrence Murphy
  214. surpasshosting.com -- cPanel; Fantastico; Email discussion group (requires log in); as discussed in this blog entry, used by cookingforengineers.com
  215. terabolic.com -- Cyrus IMAP, $39.95 / 50 MB / year
  216. teramail.com -- SquirrelMail, Postfix, site is in Korean
  217. texas.net
  218. textdrive.com (aka joyent.com) -- Postfix MTA with plus addressing, Dovecot Courier IMAP, IMAP over SSL, SMTP over SSL, WebMail (IlohaMail, SquirrelMail, Horde/IMP), SpamAssassin, Webmin control panel, no subaddressing, WebDAV, iCal, FreeBSD, discussion forum, affiliated with Textpattern CMS, supports Textpattern, WordPress, Instiki, Ruby On Rails, and more, $12/300 MB/month, $25/1000 MB/month, or $40/2000 MB/month, shell access, SFTP access (but no FTP access), Procmail, Mutt, no Pine (which might mean they are not especially supportive of IMAP users); Status blog at status.textdrive.com; backups & restores; “50% of [TextDrive] proceeds go to Rails development”; used by Evan Williams and Keith Devens; Privacy Policy, Safe Harbor Policy; Planning on VPS plans someday; also see the thread Getting very nervous about production reliability / availability in the TextDrive forum, the blog item Bad customer service at rc3.org, and the thread Lingering e-mail problems? (which is about a painful upgrade to an alpha version of Dovecot IMAP). [Del.icio.us icon] Also see my TextDrive-related bookmarks at del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / HostingProviders / TextDrive.
  219. thebestisp.com -- $29.95/300 MB/month
  220. thehostingcompany.us
  221. thoughtlocker.net -- ssh access
  222. tigahost.com -- sendmail, located in Hong Kong
  223. tilted.com -- located in Forest Park, IL, USA
  224. tiscali.com -- 10 MB free; Internet connectivity (dial-up, broadband) in many countries, for example in the UK via tiscali.co.uk
  225. totalchoicehosting.com (aka TCH) -- cPanel, Horde/IMP, SquirrelMail, NeoMail, exim MTA, no SSH (as of 2003 May 16), Jail Shell, also see Procmail/spamassassin Weirdness in the TCH forums
  226. uk2net.com -- Gold account supports IMAP; for warnings, see this thread at EmailDiscussions.com
  227. ukshells.co.uk -- Courier IMAP, transitioning from RedHat to Slackware Linux, SpamAssassin, procmail, SSH access for “shell account” plans, also see forums
  228. ultradesign.com -- 20 MB per mailbox (makes me wonder if they grok IMAP); Mac OS X servers; Remote Administration, Webmail, Autoresponders, Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam; owner affiliated with Spamhaus.org
  229. unitedemailsystems.com -- 3 GB free, forum, also see this 2005-July-30 thread at EMD
  230. valai.net
  231. valueweb.net -- Sending/Receiving Email mentions IMAP; Brightmail spam filtering; PC Magazine Editors' Choice (25 March 2003)
  232. venturesonline.com
  233. vervehosting.com -- Horde, Neomail, spam & virus filtering (including SA), cPanel
  234. virtualnames.co.uk -- spam filtering, 30-minute LB4S ()
  235. viperhost.com -- cPanel
  236. visi.com -- Courier IMAP over SSL, Internet connectivity, Authenticated SMTP over SSL, Procmail, Postini, SpamAssassin, procmail, ~35,000 Usenet newsgroups, nn newsreader
  237. visitmail.com -- in French, UW IMAP
  238. vnmails.com -- mail.vnmails.com seems to be a Merak IMAP server, 10 MB free
  239. vonetwork.net -- cPanel
  240. voxel.net
  241. webhost4life.com -- .NET
  242. webintellects.com -- as discussed here, the patch command is not available
  243. webmail.us (aka excedent.com) -- $30/1024 MB/year, business and user plans, 99.99% uptime guarantee (but make sure you read the SLA section of the TOS), Dovecot IMAP, Postfix MTA, ClamAV, SpamAssassin, customized SquirrelMail, Red Hat Linux, “Certain administration features of this site require Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher and will not function with most versions of Netscape.”; “There is a $100 fee per mailbox for data restores.”; “Is there any chance of webmail.us implementing greylisting? ... probably not anytime soon.” (might be a reason to Look OUT); also see the blog of Webmail.us CEO, Pat Matthews, The Webmail Blog, the blog of Bill Boebel, the CTO of Webmail.us, and the blog of Mike Bulman, a Webmail.us team lead; As of May 2005, ~5500 customers, excellent customer service
  244. webservehosting.com - cPanel and Fantastico
  245. wikidev.net -- 12.93€/3000 MB/month; Cyrus IMAP, Horde/IMP webmail, Debian/Gnu Linux, MediaWiki hosting; ~27 customers (including me :-)); run by MediaWiki developer Gabriel Wicke, who you can learn about here, here and here
  246. xensia.net -- Courier IMAP, IMAP over TLS/SSL, SMTP AUTH, Webmail, Control Panel, user-configurable SpamAssassin, servers & corporation located in UK
  247. xlinternet.com -- Ensim, SquirrelMail, Majordomo, used by Wikitravel.org
  248. xmission.com -- Internet connectivity, SpamAssassin, Horde/IMP Webmail, xmission.* newsgroups, 7 MB email quota (I think this quota is only for the primary INBOX and not for other mailboxes in your IMAP mailstore)
  249. zettai.net -- SpamAssassin, virus protection, SquirrelMail, Courier IMAP, Zope hosting, WebDAV, Email FAQ, How to Use the E-mail System, Backups FAQ, no Procmail, no Sieve, Forums
  250. zipmail.com -- $11.99/50 MB/year
  251. zzz.com -- Internet connectivity

 

For Power Needs: Outsourcing, Co-Location, and Dedicated-Server Options

If you need lots (gigs) of space or you need to provide IMAP services to lots of users, see

Also some of the providers in The Table above have outsourcing or reseller plans. For example, luxsci.com has a “Private Labeled WebMail” option.

 

Look Promising, But Do They Do IMAP?

 

Problematic Providers

Many of the providers in this section do not focus on IMAP, but instead focus on other services such as web hosting, spam fighting, or Internet connectivity. This means that the IMAP criteria that I am using to evaluate them are not what their business is focused on. I include them here . . .

 

Note     I think of IMAP as a litmus test for email service providers and, to me, any provider who hosts email but does not use IMAP, along with other messaging protocols, is living in the dark ages of the Internet.

 

IMAP Service Providers with a High “Price per Meg per Year”

These providers let their users use IMAP to access their mailboxes, but they are, in my opinion, charging too much for the amount of IMAP-accessible space they provide. Space is cheap these days and if a service provider understands IMAP, they understand the need for lots of space. It's fine to have bandwidth limits and charges, but storage space should be cheap cheap cheap!

Probably No IMAP4rev1

As far as I can tell, the following providers do not currently support IMAP4rev1, which is the current version of IMAP.

 

Out of Business or Acquired

The following providers used to be listed above. I include them here because they might provide clues about types of providers to avoid.

Other providers that have gone out of business or have stopped accepting new customers are listed in The Table with a gray background.

 

 

Providers Offering Message Deflexion (including deflexion to or from IMAP servers)

Sometimes it is useful to have messages available in a data format or through a protocol that is different from the original format or protocol. For example, you might prefer to read...

Providers and tools that facilitate message deflexion are now listed on a separate page called Internet Message Deflexion: Intertwingling IMAP, SMTP, NNTP, IM, RSS, & More.

 

 

What to Look OUT For in an IMAP Service Provider

In addition to looking for the things listed in the next section, I suggest that you be wary of a provider who . . .

  1. does not support multiple IMAP-accessible mailboxes (aka folders) for a single user and instead only supports IMAP access to a user's INBOX. For a discussion about this, see the thread Which Hosts Are Able To Offer IMAP Subfolders? at WebHostingTalk.com, which includes this conversation snippet:
    "If a host provides the IMAP service, then you should be able to make subfolders."
    Agreed.
    And I also agree. If a provider only provides IMAP access to the INBOX, it should probably not even be called an IMAP service provider!

  2. munges the body of messages that pass through their SMTP server. For example, as discussed here, Critical Path rewrites URLs that occur in incoming messages so that the URL is deflected through the Critical Path HTTP server. This is an egregious invasion of privacy! Note that I think that it is acceptable for a provider to munge a message in order to defang or remove a virus.

  3. uses a virus scanner that sends auto-notification to forged From: headers (thus polluting the Net even more) or to you, the intended recipient of the virus (thus polluting your mailbox).

  4. uses a phrase such as “100-percent effective” or “patent pending” or “proprietary technology” or “spam free” in the description of their service. These are clues that the provider does not understand the organic nature of spam, viruses, and of the Net in general. Examples of providers who use these phrases are:
    1. SpamArrest.com, which uses the first phrase here and the second phrase at the bottom of almost every page on their site. They confirmed their cluelessness by sending spam to advertise their “anti-spam solutions”! For more about this, see More evidence of SpamArrest.com's style (or lack of it) is in this press release where their president and CEO, Brian Cartmell, says "Hormel is acting like a corporate crybaby."

    2. Mailblocks.com is an IMAP provider that I describe above. They confirmed their cluelessness by filing lawsuits against other spam-fighting companies (including their fellow “spam-fighter” Spam Arrest!). For more about this, see Spam foe puts his own interests first by Mike Langberg at SiliconValley.com.

    3. FuseMail.com, which is in The List above, uses the phrase “Block 100% of Spam and Viruses” on their front page.

  5. * has no bandwidth or space limits. If a provider does not have these limits, it means either 1) they are inexperienced;  2) they are going to pull a “bait & switch” on their users; or 3) their system is going to crash & burn and take your messages down with it. For more about this, see Note that extremely well funded providers such as Google and Microsoft can probably successfully offer services with very high bandwidth or space limits.

  6. uses a turnkey system such as cPanel or Ensim. Sometimes this means that the people running the system are not very technically savvy.

  7. does not have a web page describing the technical details of their system and the tools that they use. Sometimes this means that the people running the system are not very technically savvy.

  8. rolls their own mail tools, rather than using established tools that have been used, tested, and debugged by many users on many systems. This is especially worrisome if their home-brewed mail tools are closed source and thus not open to scrutiny — and bug fixing & feature enhancement — by the collective eyes of the Net.

  9. only supports SMTP authentication using the flaky and obsolete LB4S (Login-Before-SMTP) rather than the more robust SMTP AUTH. LB4S is also known as Login-Before-Send, POP-before-SMTP, POP AUTH, and DRAC (Dynamic Relay Authorization Control). To learn more about LB4S, see POP before SMTP support at mozillaZine and the discussion about SMTP relaying at EmailThatWorks.net. Note that I think it is fine if a provider offers both LB4S and SMTP AUTH.

  10. supports IMAP over SSL, but
    • either charges more for it than plain (non SSL wrapped) IMAP access,
    • or their documentation does not describe how to set up IMAP clients to do IMAP over SSL.
    Either of these are a clue that the provider does not care about protecting their users and their system from password sniffers and man-in-the-middle attacks. SortOnce.com (in table above) is an example of a provider that charges more for IMAP over SSL.

  11. has an IMAP server named pop.domain.name. This is a clue that the provider might have a POP rather than an IMAP mindset.

  12. talks about “your mailbox” instead of “your mailstore” or “your mailboxes” — this is a clue that the provider has a POP rather than IMAP mindset. The words mailbox and mailstore are defined in the Terminology section above.

  13. has customized their system so much that it is difficult for them to upgrade. I think that this is the reason that Eskimo.com, which I discuss in The List above, used very old software until Summer 2004.

  14. has set up their outgoing SMTP server so that when it has a problem sending an outgoing message, it tries to contact the target SMTP server for only a short amount of time and then gives up and bounces the message back to the sender. An example of such a provider is enom.com, which tries for only 2 hours as discussed in the EmailDiscussions.com thread FastMail Outage - Enom Caused Lost Mail. Note that this is only relevant if you use the provider's SMTP server for sending, auto-replying, re-routing or forwarding mail.

  15. § uses NFS because NFS is notoriously problematic when file locking is needed. If you might ever want to use a mailbox format that requires locking, for example traditional Unix mbox format or c-client MBX format, make sure you get a provider that does not use NFS. For more about this, see my 2004-June-23 message in comp.mail.misc.

  16. has a domain name that contains the string spam. This means that they are vulnerable to being sued by Hormel Foods, which is what happened to SpamArrest.com (details in the press release SPAMARREST LLC TELLS HORMEL FOODS CORPORATION TO CAN ITS TRADEMARK CHALLENGE). This could also be a clue that the provider is not in the email business for the long haul and instead is trying to cash in on the current spam problem. For an example of a provider that had the string spam in their domain name and no longer exists, see the history of spamfree.net at archive.org. Also see Hormel Attacking Anti-Spam Trademarks? at NuclearElephant.com.

  17. is involved in a lawsuit. An example of such a provider is CI Host, which is in The List above (with warnings) and was discussed at Slashdot.org on 2003 August 25. Note especially the Slashdot comment titled CI Host's Better Business Bureau Rating. Also see the previous item (#16).

 

 

What to Look For in an IMAP Service Provider

In addition to looking out for the 17 things listed in the previous section, I suggest that you look for the 54 things listed in this section. I've put the ones that are the most important to me at the top but, of course, your requirements may be different from mine.


Note
   
  • IMAP service is a storage business. This is not what most ISPs are used to.”     --IMAP Partners

  • As you can see in my list below, security and privacy are important to me. To find out why I think it's important that everyone demands these features, see Want privacy? Take action by Dan Gillmor in The Mercury News and The Case For Secure Email by Erik Kangas of Lux Scientiae (which is described above).

 

#1: No Auto-Deletion of Messages Unless Requested by User

  1. No automatic deletion of messages, unless
    • either a user explicitly requests this (for example, for a particular address);
    • or the mail was sent through an open relay, open proxy server, or other server that is known to be a spam source, in which case it should be rejected with an informative SMTP-level failure notice that is sent back to the sender so that the sender will know that their message was not delivered and that they need to fix their SMTP server.

For more about this growing problem, see:

 

[Updated!] 53 More Things to Look For

The next things that I look for when choosing an IMAP provider are the following.

  1. Daily or more backups, long archival of backups, and willingness to do restores for a reasonable fee when a restore is needed because of user error. Because Pair.com (in table) will not do restores (see #17), I do not recommend Pair.com as an IMAP host. Contrast this with:
    Even if your service provider claims that it does backups and restores, it is still a good idea for you to do your own backups. For more about this, see:
    Important:  If you use IMAP keywords (aka user-defined flags or labels) or any IMAP metadata, find out if your provider backs up and restores this metadata. Many providers that use Cyrus IMAP, for example MailSnare.net and FastMail.FM, do not restore all the IMAP metadata, especially the \SEEN flag. This is another reason to do your own backups!

  2. Employees and owners who use IMAP themselves and take advantage of some power IMAP features. You can find out about this by sending an email message to the contact address for the provider and ask if the person who reads your message uses IMAP. If the answer is no or “what's IMAP?”, ask to be put in touch with someone in the company who uses IMAP. Then engage them in a conversation about IMAP and ask them why they use IMAP, what they like about it, what IMAP client they use, what they think are the advantages and disadvantages of IMAP compared to POP, etc. I think that the main reason that Fastmail.FM (see above) is so successful is that the owners, Jeremy Howard and Rob Mueller, are keen IMAP users and the reason they created FM was to satisfy their IMAP needs.

  3. The option to point the DNS MX record of your domain at the provider's mail exchange server (aka MXer). This is known as “domain hosting” or “MX hosting” and it is essential if you want robust SMTP-level spam filtering for your domain's incoming mail.

    Tip: Some IMAP providers offer both email and web domain hosting, but I recommend that you get an IMAP provider whose focus is email hosting and host your domain's web site (e.g., DNS A record) with a provider whose focus is web hosting. [New!] For more about separating email and web hosting, see my blog item titled Use a Different Provider for Internet Access, Email Services, and Web Hosting.

  4. Option to use the provider's server-side and frequently-updated virus- & spam-detection tools such as MailScanner, greylisting , or SpamAssassin, and if a user chooses to use these, give the user the option to set her own configurartion preferences. For example, each user at pair.com (in table above) can customize SpamAssassin via her ~/.spamassassin/user_prefs file. For details about the pair.com setup, see pair Networks - E-Mail - Junk E-Mail Filtering: Advanced Options.

  5. Built-in support for server-side “greenlists” or “accept lists” that users can use for reverse spam filtering. It is especially useful if a user has the option to:
    • upload a pre-existing greenlist (Bluebottle supports this)
    • automatically populate the greenlist with email addresses that are in address books and “SENT” mailboxes (FastMail.FM uses your address book as your greenlist)
    • create a Subject string or a recipient address string that will be automatically greenlisted (FastMail.FM lets users do this by setting a secret word)

    Bluebottle (in table), FastMail.FM (in table), Runbox (in table), MailSnare (in table), Mailshell (in table), Lux Scientiae (in table), and most providers who use the Horde/IMP webmail client, are examples of providers that have built-in support for a greenlist. Note that Bluebottle and Mailshell calls these “Approved Senders,” FastMail.FM calls this a Whitelist, Lux Scientiae splits this concept into “Legitimate Lists” (for subscribed mailing lists) & a “White-List,” Pair.com calls these “Accepted Addresses,” Hotmail calls this a “Safe List,” and Outlook 2003+ calls these “Trusted Senders.”

    For more about this, see my blog item titled Server-Side Address Books and Server-Side Greenlists.  

  6. If you choose to have messages tagged with a spam score, one of the keys to dealing with them is to be able to sort (order) the messages in your 'MaybeSpam' mailbox by spam score. This way the non-spam messages -- which should have low or no spam scores -- will bubble to the top of the sorted-by-spam-score mailbox. One way to do this is to have the spam score injected into the beginning of the Subject of each message and then use your mail client to sort the mailbox by Subject. For example, I do this in SpamAssassin by including the following in my SA user_prefs file:
    rewrite_header Subject {_SCORE(0)_}
    I recommend that you choose a provider who gives you the option of putting the spam score in a field that can be sorted on by your mail client. FastMail.FM (in Table) and Tuffmail.com (in Table) are examples of providers who give each user the option to inject the spam score into the Subject. If your provider lets you edit your SpamAssassin user_prefs file, see  man Mail::SpamAssassin::Conf for details about SpamAssassin configuration options.

  7. User-configurable server-side processing of messages, using, for example, the standards-track Sieve (see RFC 3028 and 3028bis) or Procmail. Then users have the option to build their own greenlist and other reverse spam filters. FastMail.FM (in Table), TuffMail.com (in Table), and Loftmail (in List) are examples of providers who offer server-side Sieve filters. [Del.icio.us icon] I am collecting Sieve-related links at del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / Messaging / Sieve.

  8. Refuse to send your password in plain text by accessing IMAP servers and web-based IMAP clients using either . . .
    1. CRAM-MD5, DIGEST-MD5, KERBEROS, GSSAPI or SPNEGO, or another secure authentication mechanism, or
    2. TLS/SSL (Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer), which encrypts the entire session, including authentication and data transfer.
    It is best if the server is set up so that plaintext password authentication is not allowed. This way you can't accidentally send your password in the clear. If your provider does not support secure IMAP, complain. And be assured that it will not be the first time they hear this complaint.

  9. [So long, and thanks for all the passwords] If the provider gives Unix shell access, make sure that you can connect using SSH, preferably SSH2, which offers substantially greater security than SSH1. Note that if your provider supports SSH and does not support one of the secure IMAP mechanisms that I describe in the previous item, you can use ssh port forwarding to secure your IMAP connection. (Note that the old protocols for accessing a Unix shell — rlogin, telnet, and rsh — are dead and you can visit their graves here.)

  10. If you want to be able to transfer data using a protocol other than IMAP, make sure you can do this securely using, for example, WebDAV, SFTP, FTP over SSH2, or FTPS (FTP over SSL/TLS).

    Note that the following IMAP providers offer WebDAV: Dreamhost.com (in table), Imeme.net (in table), Mac.com (in table), indoglobal.com, OEone.net, SpyMac.com, TextDrive.com, and zettai.com (the last five are in The List).

  11. Lots of disk space and low one-time fees for additonal disk space. FastMail.FM (discussed above) and Mailsnare (discussed above) are examples of providers who charge a one-time fee for extra disk space.

  12. Redundant servers so that hardware or software upgrades can be done with minimal down time.

  13. Support of subaddresses that can be used to have incoming messages delivered directly to specific mailbox based on the subaddress. Subaddressing is also known as “plus addressing,”   “user-extension addressing,”  & “detailed addressing” and is discussed on the following pages:


    With subaddressing, you get infinitely many email addresses for a single user ID. Depending on the provider, you may be able to use these addresses as disposable email addresses (DEA), which means that you have the option to “kill” an address once it becomes a spam repository (i.e. have all messages that are sent to it automatically rejected during the SMTP handshake).

    Note that the term “plus addressing” is a misnomer because some MTAs, for example the Courier and the qmail MTAs, use a dash (-) instead of a plus (+) as the recipient delimiter. FastMail.FM (discussed above) and Tuffmail.com (discussed above) are examples of providers who let their users use subaddresses that can be used to have incoming messages delivered directly to different mailboxes based on the subaddress. Also see the thread titled plus-addressing at EMD.


    Subaddressing
    Tips
       
    • Subaddresses are especially useful for signing up for mailing lists, transactional services (banking, shopping, etc.), RSS-to-mail services, or any service where you want to be able to easily track (and possibly filter or reject) mail from a particular entity.

    • If you use subaddresses, do not use the base address for anything important because it will be easily guessable (“de-plussed”) by spammers & spambots, and will become a junk repository.

    • If you want to use a lot of plus addresses, choose a system that will automatically deliver a plus-addressed message to the subaddress mailbox if the subaddress mailbox already exists. On some systems you need to create a filter and a target mailbox for each plus address, which can be quite a chore if you use a lot of plus addresses. FastMail.FM and TuffMail.com are examples of systems that automatically file plus-addressed messages if the subaddress target mailbox exists. If the target mailbox does not exist, the message is filed in the INBOX.

    • In my Procmail Quick Start, I have a tip about using Procmail to route solicited bulk email (mailing-list messages) to appropriate plus addresses on a remote system.


  14. If you can't get subaddressing (previous item), the next best thing is a personal subdomain so that you can use infinitely many addresses @your.personal.subdomain. Depending on the provider, you may be able to use these addresses as disposable addresses.

    For example, FastMail.FM Members+ (but not free Guest accounts) and all endjunk.com, f2o.org, Mailshell.com, MailSnare.net, TuffMail.com, and Panix.com users are able to receive mail sent to anything@username.fastmail.fm, anything@username.f2o.org, anything@username.mailshell.com, anything@username.mailsnare.net, anything@username.tuffmail.com, and anything@username.users.panix.com, respectively.

  15. If you can't get subaddressing or your own subdomain (see previous two items), the next best thing is an old-fashioned alias. Depending on the provider, you may be able to use an alias address as a disposable address. For more about why aliases are useful, see While Signing Up: Choosing Your Username, Domain Name, Aliases, and More below.

  16. Message headers that record original envelope addresses (including subaddresses) and how these envelope addresses got resolved, such as
    • Delivered-To:  (used at most providers who use the qmail MTA such as the viaVerio Signature account; used at Gmail and GMX)
    • X-Delivered-to:  (FastMail.FM uses this as discussed here)
    • X-Resolved-to: (FastMail.FM uses this as discussed here)
    • X-Mail-from: (FastMail.FM uses this as discussed here)
    • Envelope-To:  (used at some providers who use the exim MTA)
    • X-Envelope-To: (Tuffmail.com and Pair.com use this)
    • X-Envelope-From:
    • X-Original-To:  (used at some providers who use the postfix MTA, e.g. DreamHost and Panix.com use this; MailSnare uses this as discussed here)
    • X-Rcpt-To:

    These are useful because the addresses in the From:, Reply-To:, To:, and Cc: headers often do not tell the full story about where a message was sent from or to. These “envelope headers” can be used by filters -- such as Procmail, Sieve, Pine, or Mulberry filters -- to help you do reverse spam and other filtering. They are especially useful if a provider lets you use either subaddressing, a personal subdomain, or aliases (see previous three items) and you want to sort your messages based on which incarnation of your address a message was sent to. For more information about these envelope headers, see the virtual domain section of my Procmail Quick Start.

  17. User-configurable server-side filters that can filter on the original envelope addresses (see previous item).

  18. IMAP server and web-based mail client that support IMAP system-level flags and user-defined flags, which are sometimes called labels, categories (in Outlook 2003+ & Entourage), keywords, or tags. Keywords can be used on the following IMAP servers: It is possible for a system administrator to disable IMAP keywords, so these types of servers do not necessarily support IMAP keywords. For more about IMAP keywords, see Alexey Melnikov's IETF Internet Drafts draft-ietf-sieve-imapflags-05.txt & draft-melnikov-imap-keywords-03.txt, and the 22 user-defined keywords that I use.

    IMAP servers that do not support keywords include Courier before version 2.1 and Mercury.

    IMAP clients that support keywords include Mulberry 3.1+ (up to 8 keywords), Cone (up to 9 keywords), Mozilla Thunderbird and SeaMonkey (up to 5 keywords), Pine 4.60+ (the number of keywords that Pine can use depends on the IMAP server limitations; details about setting up and using keywords in Pine are here), SquirrelMail with the appropriate plug-in, and the upcoming FastMail web-based IMAP client. If you would like to be able to use more than five labels in Mozilla or Thunderbird, please go to bugzilla.mozilla.org and vote for Bug 114656 - allow arbitrary number of labels.

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

  19. Server-side filter or delivery agent that is user-configurable and can set and detect system-level flags and user-defined flags (keywords). For example:
  20. IMAP server that can do server-side threading and sorting (ordering) of messages in a mailboxes and advertises these capabilities. To find out if an IMAP server supports these, telnet to the IMAP server and issue the CAPABILITY command. Ideally the server will announce the following three capabilities (along with STARTTLS and other useful IMAP features!).

    CAPABILITY Means the IMAP server does... Comment
    SORT sorting by Date, Subject, From, Size, To, or Cc (and Arrival, which actually involves no sorting) For technical details about both SORT and THREAD, see the IETF Internet Draft titled INTERNET MESSAGE ACCESS PROTOCOL - SORT AND THREAD EXTENSIONS by M. Crispin and K. Murchison.

    THREAD=REFERENCES advanced threading using the References, Message-ID, and Subject headers to group “conversation threads”
    THREAD=ORDEREDSUBJECT ordered subject threading, which sorts subjects alphabetically, groups messages with the same subject, then sorts the groups by the date of the first message of each group This type of “threading” is useful when reference threading (see previous capability) does not work because a mailbox contains messages that have been mangled by buggy software, such as Lyris ListManager (discussed here and here), Lotus Notes, or an Exchange Server that injects the header X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2653.19).

    Note:  Courier IMAP advertises THREAD=ORDEREDSUBJECT but does not do it. If you use Pine or any c-client based tool and are having problems because of this, try adding the undocumented /loser qualifier to your mailbox specification.


  21. Uncensored -- except for spam -- web or NNTP discussion groups where users can share tips, ask questions, etc. It's best if these are publicly accessible so people who are considering using the system can get a sense of both the system and the user community.

  22. Web-based or ssh-based mail client that you can use from anywhere. For a web-based client, find out if it requires cookies, JavaScript, java, or a particular web browser. These type of requirements can be a problem when you're on the road and using someone else's machine.

  23. Ability to set your From: header and Reply-To: header to any valid email address when using their outgoing SMTP server or their web- or ssh-based mail client. These different From: headers are sometimes called identities, personalities, profiles, or roles. For more about this, see the EMD threads Mail services where "From address" can be specified and change from address.

    Tuffmail.com (discussed above), Mailsnare.net (discussed above), and FastMail.FM (discussed above) are examples of providers that let you use any valid address in your From: header. Mailblocks (described above), AOL (described above), and MSN are examples of providers who let you change the Reply-To: header but require you to use your Mailblocks, AOL, or MSN address (respectively) in your From: header when you directly use their outgoing SMTP server.

    Warning: If the domain name in your SMTP MAIL FROM address has an SPF record, you need to use an SPF-acceptable SMTP server; otherwise your mail will be considered a forgery by SPF-aware tools. This is discussed in this thread at EMD. As I discuss in this item below, support for SPF is another feature to look for in an IMAP provider.

  24. Ability to specify an automatic Bcc (blind courtesy copy) address in one or both of the following:
    1. your provider's web-based email client (ideally with the option to delete the Bcc address if you don't want a particular message Bcc'd)
    2. your provider's outgoing SMTP server -- this will work with any email client, local or web-based, that uses your provider's outgoing SMTP server (authenticated with your username) without you needing to explicitly specify the Bcc address in the email client

    Auto Bcc'd messages can be used for:
    • archiving a copy of all your sent messages on a different server;
    • checking that your outgoing messages are not mangled by your outgoing MTA or MSA and that they are successfully sent & delivered (at least to the auto-Bcc'd system);
    • updating a remote blue or green list via Procmail, Sieve, or another server-side filter that resides on the auto-Bcc'd system; and/or
    • other things that I discuss in my blog item titled Server-Side Sent Messages

    The Horde/IMP web-based IMAP client, which is used by many IMAP service providers, supports auto Bcc. Webmail.us (discussed above) offers BCC Archiving for an additional fee. Starting 2006 May 8, FastMail.FM (discussed above) supports auto Bcc in their web-based IMAP client. Tuffmail.com (discussed above) supports auto Bcc in both their web-based IMAP clients and their outgoing SMTP server.

  25. Saved Global Search. Webmail that supports saved searches (aka smart folders), which can search some or all of your mailboxes and present the search result as a virtual mailbox. MailSnare (discussed above) and Tuffmail (discussed above) bother offer this in the Horde/IMP 4.x webmail client. FuseMail (discussed above) offers this in their webmail client and also makes these “search folders” available to any IMAP client. The FastMail.FM (discussed above) webmail client and some other mail clients supports saved search across a single mailbox, but this is not very useful if you have more than a gigabyte of messages spread across many mailboxes.

  26. Global Search.  If you can't get saved searches across multiple mailboxes (previous item), the next best thing is webmail that can search across multiple mailboxes (but without saving the search conditions). Some versions of SquirrelMail support this.

  27. Ability to “bounce forward” (aka redirect / resend / remail / MTA-style forward) a message when using the provider's web- or ssh-based mail client. This will allow you to, for example, update a remote blue or green list via Procmail. The FastMail.FM web client (as discussed here) and the Horde/IMP web client can do this. Pine, which can be run in an ssh window, can do this if the feature enable-bounce-cmd is set.

  28. Support for shared IMAP-accessible mailboxes so that some mailboxes can be shared with specified other users. Shared mailboxes can be used for announcements, discussion groups, blogging, shared bookmarks, syndication (similar to what RSS provides), spam reporting, Help Desk tracking, and lots more. FastMail.FM Enhanced accounts (in table), Imap-Partners.net (in table), iMeme.net (in table), MailSnare.net (in table), and Tuffmail.com (in table) are examples of providers who support shared IMAP-accessible mailboxes.

  29. Support for public (aka anonymous) IMAP-accessible mailboxes so that some mailboxes can be shared with the public. Public mailboxes can be used for the same things as shared mailboxes (previous item), but they are readable by anyone. I do not know of any provider who supports public IMAP-accessible mailboxes, but I'm looking!

  30. If you will run Pine remotely on their system in a shell (ssh window), it is nice if they have compiled Pine so that it supports SSL/TLS and so that you have the option to use a PASSFILE. One or both of these features are useful if you want to run Pine on their system and access IMAP and NNTP servers that require authentication. As discussed in this DH Knowledge Base article, DreamHost (described above) is an example of a provider that has compiled Pine with these options.

  31. Ability to securely encrypt and decrypt messages when using their web- or ssh-based client. MailSnare.net (in table) supports this in their Horde/IMP 4.x webmail client. Safe-mail.net (discussed above) supports this.

  32. Ability to view .doc, .xls, and other types of attachments in their web- or ssh-based client. MailSnare.net (in table) supports this in their Horde/IMP 4.x webmail client.

  33. SMTP server that speaks ESMTP and authenticates using SMTP AUTH, ideally SMTP AUTH over SSL so that your user ID & password will be encrypted. Having access to a provider's SMTP server is useful for times when you do not have access to a local SMTP server or your local SMTP server has restrictions, such as not allowing you to use any From header you want. Details about how to set up many mail clients to do SMTP AUTH is at MailOps. As I discuss in the Look OUT section above, I suggest that you be wary of providers that do not use SMTP AUTH and instead use the flaky IMAP-before-SMTP or POP-before-SMTP authentication.

  34. Alternative outgoing SMTP submission port (or ports) that you can use in case your Internet access provider hijacks or blocks outbound port 25 connections. Port 2525 is often used for this. Earthlink is an example of an Internet access provider who blocks outbound port 25 connections.  (Thanks to David W.Tamkin for suggesting this item.)

  35. Optional use of message authentication using DomainKeys (DK). You can learn about DomainKeys here, here, and here. ControlledMail.com, Earthlink, Gmail, Yahoo, and Sify support DomainKeys.  [Del.icio.us icon] I am collecting DK-related links at del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / Messaging / DK.

  36. Optional use of SPF.  [Del.icio.us icon] I am collecting SPF-related links at del.icio.us / Deflexion.com / Messaging / SPF; especially useful is the 2005-July-31 article SPF loses mindshare by John R. Levine.

    Warning: If the domain in your SMTP MAIL FROM address has an SPF record, you need to make sure that you use an outgoing SMTP server that is acceptable to SPF — otherwise your mail will be considered a forgery by SPF-aware tools. You can use the SPF tester at DNSstuff.com, at Kitterman.com, at Pobox.com, or at Microsoft to see if the combination of your SMTP MAIL FROM address and your outgoing SMTP server will be considered a forgery by systems that do SPF checking.

  37. No taglines or ads inserted in messages that you send via their SMTP server or via their web- or ssh-based mail client. Ads make it more likely that your message will be tagged as spam or "probably spam" by the recipient's mail server and that your intended recipient will never receive your message.

  38. SMTP server that does not add a header that state's the sender's IP address. As discussed in this thread at EmailDiscussions.com, FastMail.FM, Hushmail.com, and possibly GoDaddy.com are examples of providers that do not add such a header. Another example is LuxSci's Anonymous Secure SMTP (discussed above). Yet another example is Horde/IMP Webmail at MailSnare.net (maybe this is generally the case with Horde/IMP?). In order for this to be useful, you need to also use an email client that does not put your IP address into a header. For example if you use Pine, you need to use version 4.51 or later and set the disable-sender feature.

  39. [Updated!] LDAP-accessible address books that can be updated by the user. LDAP-accessible address books make it possible to use the same address book from the IMAP provider's web-based IMAP client(s) and from most desktop IMAP clients (but not Opera). LDAP does for address books what IMAP does for email messages—makes them accessible from most standards-based messaging applications. IMAP-Partners.net (in table), LuxSci.com (in table), and Tuffmail.com (in table) support LDAP-accessible address books.

    [New!] For more about this, see my blog item titled Server-Side Address Books and Server-Side Greenlists.

  40. Support for the ManageSIEVE protocol so you can update, manage, and automatically check the syntax of your remote Sieve scripts using a program running on your desktop (for example, Mulberry). Tuffmail.com (in table) and Loftmail.com (in list) are providers that support the ManageSIEVE protocol.

  41. Support for iCalendar (Internet Calendaring and Scheduling Core Object Specification, RFC 2445), iMIP (iCalendar Message-Based Interoperability Protocol, RFC 2447), and iTIP (iCalendar Transport-Independent Interoperability Protocol). Mulberry 4.0 and later, Apple's iCal, and the Mozilla Calendar Project support these protocols. MyRealBox.com, Mac.com, and TextDrive.com are examples of providers that supports the iCal protocol.

  42. IMAP server and web-based IMAP clients with full read-write ANNOTATEMORE support.

  43. If the provider uses UW IMAP, find out what is the default mailbox format, whether a user can use a non-default mailbox format and if so, how to do that. If you like to keep thousands of messages in a single mailbox, you'll probably want to use the efficient c-client MBX mailbox format. LuxSci (discussed above) is an example of a provider that uses MBX format mailboxes.

  44. If the provider uses Courier IMAP, ask what file system they use. A Linux file system (that is not using traditional ext2 or ext3) tends to be better at handling large maildir-formatted mailboxes than a SVR4 file system. It's best if the file system has fast  open()  calls. If they don't have this type of file system, mailbox performance may be slow. For more about this, see Daniel Stone's message Re: UW IMAP hatred? (Re: Postfix Newbie questions) in mailing.postfix.users.

  45. Ability to send an auto-reply to messages that are from addresses on your greenlist. This way if you decide to stop using the account, you can set it up to automatically notify green addresses about your new address.

  46. Ability to cancel the account and have all messges that are sent to it automatically rejected at the SMTP level so that your correspondents will know that messages are not being delivered to that address.

  47. If you host both a web site and email with a provider, it's nice if you have the option to have a different IMAP and (S)FTP password. This way if one password is compromised, the other data should still be safe.

  48. If the provider has a web-based mail client, it's useful if this client can also be used to read and manage content that is syndicated (e.g., via Atom, RSS, etc.). Oddpost (discussed above), MailSnare (discussed above), and FuseMail (discussed above) are examples of providers that offer this. Geekmail does it by snarfing (via “Mailfunnel”) RSS feeds and putting them in your Geekmail IMAP INBOX, which can then be accessed via any IMAP client, including their webmail client. MailSnare presents up to 3 feeds on your Today page. Rumor: According to this 2005-April-10 EMD message, Gmail might be planning to offer this.

  49. Option to read or be notified about new messages via an RSS/XML feed. For example, if you have a Google Gmail account, unread messages in your Gmail INBOX are available via a username/password-protected Atom feed at https://gmail.google.com/gmail/feed/atom. I do not know of any IMAP Service Provider that offers this -- if you do, please let me know.

  50. If you like to read NNTP newsgroups, it's nice if a provider allows access to News via IMAP so you can use an IMAP client, such as Mulberry, to read newsgroups. If you know of a provider that has this set up or a site that describes how to set this up, please let me know!

  51. Located in a country that does not have privacy-invasion laws such as the proposed European Parliament anti-terrorism law or what is described in the article All emails to be logged and stored for six months under new Swiss law.

  52. Emergency status page that is located on an entirely different network. For example, FastMail.FM (discussed above) uses status.fastmail.fm and the FM forums at EmailDiscussions.com, DreamHost (discussed above) uses dreamhoststatus.com, and HostingMatters.com (discussed in this section above) uses gandalf.hmdnsgroup.net/nagios/.

  53. Access to an IMSP (Internet Message Support Protocol) server so you can store your configuration files, address books, and bookmarks (Cyrusoft is planning support for IMSP bookmarks) on the server and access them from any system that supports IMSP. Note that ACAP (Application Configuration Access Protocol), which was supposed to be a replacement for IMSP, is dead. As Cyrus Daboo said in this 2003-June-19 message to the mulberry-discuss mailing list, “Don't use ACAP, use IMSP instead.”

 

For more about features to look for in a provider, see

 

Before Signing Up

 

While Signing Up: Choosing Your Username, Password, Domain Name, Aliases, and More

 

For some more thoughts about all this, see:

 

After Signing Up: Using Your Account

Here are some tips for using your IMAP accounts.

 

Promoting IMAP

Here are some things that you can do to get the word out that users want IMAP. And they want it to be secure.

 

 

The History and Future of IMAP

Some of the history of IMAP is described in the comp.mail.misc message Re: Did POP3 servers ever auto-delete mail after retrieval? and this follow-up message, both by Mark Crispin, the inventor of IMAP.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF.org) hosts Proposals for IMAP extensions in their Internet-Drafts section.

 

Rumors, Musings, and Opinions about the History and Future of IMAP

 

Using Telnet to Investigate an SMTP or IMAP Server

To find out details about an SMTP server and if it is accessible from your system, telnet to its SMTP port, which is usually port 25.

telnet smtp.server.name 25
 

To quit, type

quit
 

To find out details about an IMAP server, telnet to its IMAP port, which is usually port 143, by typing either

telnet imap.server.name 143
 

or

telnet imap.server.name imap
 

The server's greeting message sometimes states the type of IMAP server and its capabilities. To find out more about its capabilities, type

a capability
 

followed by Enter (Return). To exit, type

z logout
 

followed by Enter.

Note     Each command you send to the IMAP server should begin with a unique alphanumeric identifier. I use a, b, c, ... z but you can use any alphanumeric characters you like, as long as each is unique.


To find out more about using telnet to talk to a server and the meaning of the results, see

 

See Also

More Service Provider Lists and Comparison Charts

Note that some providers who list POP on their feature list also support IMAP, but do not advertise this fact. I suggest that you email POP providers that look good to you and ask if they support IMAP.

 

Shell Accounts

A shell account is useful if you want to be able to remotely run Pine or other IMAP tools such as mailutil by ssh'ing to a remote Unix shell. This is a convenient way to process your email when you're on the road and need to use an Internet cafe, a friend's computer, or a mobile phone to access and process your email. Some of the IMAP providers in the table and the lists above also offer shell accounts. The providers listed in this section focus on providing Unix shell accounts.

 

More Ads

 

General IMAP Links

 

Technical IMAP-Related Links

 

Discussion Groups

Electronic discussion groups are a tremendous resource -- one of the best things about the Net IMHO -- and I regularly participate in a number of them. I prefer using

  1. an NNTP server, or ...
  2. a mailing list, or ...
  3. an IMAP shared or public folder

and a good NNTP or IMAP client that can thread, kill, etc. I do not like web-based discussion groups -- mainly because I can neither FCC messages that I post nor save random discussion messages in my IMAP mailboxes -- and it's unlikely that you'll see me participating in those.

Also see the IMAP Connection's list of IMAP-related Online Discussion groups.

 

Search

You can use this form to search the entire Web or the entire Infinite Ink site for information about IMAP (or about anything!).

Google
 
Web Infinite Ink

 

[Updated!] Thanks

Thank you to the people who include this page or a section of this page in their del.icio.us bookmarks. Some details about the deliciousness of this page are in the following tagometer:

Thank you also to the people who link to this page including the results of this search:

Thank you to the following people who either sent me feedback about this page, put me down as a referrer when they signed up with a provider, or contributed to Infinite Ink.

and also thank you to the people who have supported Infinite Ink and who I have not gotten permission to publicly thank, or who want to remain anonymous.

So far I have referred more than 75 customers to DreamHost (more than 60 Direct and 15 Secondary; described in table), 68 to MailSnare (described in table), at least 13 signups (11 of which became subscriptions) to Runbox (described in table), at least 11 to LuxSci (described in table), and at least the following to FastMail.FM (described in table):

273 x Guest    at $0.00 = $  0.00
 55 x Member   at  0.75 =   41.25
 85 x Full     at  3.00 =  255.00
110 x Enhanced at  6.00 =  660.00
                          =======
                          $947.25

Thank you all very much! If you forgot to put me down as your referrer at DreamHost or FastMail.FM (or probably any of the providers that I recommend), it is possible to do it retroactively, so please send me email about this. Please let me know if you put me down as your referrer and, if you like, I'll add you to this Thank-You list. Also, if you've sent me suggestions and I've left you out of this list, let me know that too (this will save me the work of digging through my mailboxes!).

Also thanks to vBulletin for the cool thumb and smiley icons that I use on this page, and to the members of public discussion forums, especially EmailDiscussions.com, who post lots of useful IMAP information.

 



IMAP Service Providers: A Step in Dealing with Viruses, Spam, and Email Overload
<http://www.ii.com/internet/messaging/imap/isps/>
Copyright © Infinite Ink & Nancy McGough

1st published in Changing Your From Header in Pine
 published here 02-Apr-2002
updated 20-Sep-2006
tweaked 01-Sep-2007