When we say personal email, we think of a POP3/IMAP mailbox or Webmail. When it comes to business correspondence, we think of an Exchange account. Although Exchange and POP3 / IMAP accounts are generally viewed as two drastically different email options, in reality the borderline is not so rigid, as both approaches have their strong and weak points – making their combination sensible and even desirable in some cases. We will give you a brief overview of their features and provide a possible compatibility solution.
POP3, the third version of Post Office Protocol, is a standard Internet protocol that email clients use to collect messages from the server. Typically, mail retrieval process goes as follows: an email client connects to the server, retrieves new messages, moves them to the computer’s hard disk, deletes them from the server, and disconnects. However, modern POP email clients usually have an option of leaving emails on the server after downloading, so that the user could access them from another device or computer. Microsoft Exchange is a system of email accounts on the server, where all the data is stored centrally and synchronized with users’ computers and devices. In addition to email functionality, Exchange also provides for synching and sharing of such items as tasks, calendar entries, contacts, and more, which is essential for today’s corporate users.
Using an external POP3 server for storage of incoming emails has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, messages are saved directly to your hard disk and can be edited and viewed even in the Offline Mode. Next, you can postpone and schedule sending messages and their size is unlimited. Furthermore, you can open attachments rather quickly, as they are saved to your computer as well. On the other hand, POP3 is a very simple protocol without any notion of folders whatsoever; it only works with the inbox folder, so the local folder structure is not coordinated with the structure of your mailbox on the server, and this may result in the delivery of duplicate emails.
Speaking of POP3 mailboxes on the server, they can be either personal or global. Personal, or single user mailboxes collect mail addressed to separate users. Global, or catch-all mailboxes collect all the mail addressed to the domain and then distributes it to recipients according to their names in the TO field.
Some companies opt for the so-called ‘mixed configuration’, when some of the users work with Exchange mailboxes, and others use POP3 accounts. Moreover, one employee can have two corporate accounts with different domain names hosted with different companies, and he is forced to switch between Outlook accounts to be able to work with these mailboxes properly.
Another option is to go for ‘pure’ Exchange, using a POP3 server as a gateway for incoming messages. Such configuration can be considered fairly beneficial for a number of reasons. First, it allows saving disk space on the Exchange Server, as messages are delivered directly to recipients and then removed from the server; at the same time, users can benefit from all the valuable Exchange functionality such as shared Tasks, Calendar, Contacts, and a systematic backup of these items. Second, as an administrator, you can enhance security by limiting Internet access to your Microsoft Exchange Server if you have your mail delivered by an external server.
In order to retrieve mail from one or several POP3 servers and deliver it to mailboxes on a Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, you can use a special POP3 downloader tool, for instance, MAPILab POP3 Connector for Exchange 2013. This solution is a flexible and highly adjustable tool, which can be customized to suit the needs of any user or administrator. The program is easily managed through the standard Microsoft Management Console, and the Connector is displayed alongside other administrative snap-ins.
Furthermore, you can use as many external POP3 mailboxes as you like, and you can download as many messages as there are with a pre-set frequency. Thus, you can have the connector check the POP3 server for new messages as often as every 1 second.
Each mailbox is managed separately in order to adapt to its user’s preferences and server settings. Next, both personal and catch-all mailboxes are enabled, as the connector can automatically identify the recipient on Exchange Server 2013, 2010, and 2007. In addition, the search of recipients can be customized by adding routing rules, such as search by TO, CC or Subject fields.
MAPILab POP3 Connector supports such popular protocols as IMAP and SSL, providing for a secure connection.
And finally, some good news for those who currently use Native POP3 Connector for Exchange 2000 / 2003: MAPILab POP3 Connector is supplied with a migration tool, so as not to lose your preferred configuration settings as you upgrade to Exchange 2007, 2010, or 2013.