Use Gmail To Consolidate your Email Accounts

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the upgrade Windows Live made by allowing import of not only internet based email, but POP accounts. Many are looking for a way to consolidate and aggregate mail accounts into one cloud-based spot.

Gmail
Gmail

If you’re a Gmail user, the option is available to you to add  up to five POP & IMAP accounts. So that means no internet accounts (such as Windows Live or Yahoo). Windows Live has this feature, but not Gmail. Anybody know why not? If you’re looking to consolidate your email accounts into one place, let’s look at Gmail.

Here’s a list from Google of supported IMAP & POP clients for easy reference.

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IMAP
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POP

It’s a pretty easy process to consolidate your IMAP & POP accounts into Gmail. After you’re logged into Gmail, click on the ‘Settings’ button at the top right and then click on ‘Accounts’. Then you’ll see

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At this point you can click on the learn more button and be able to read some FAQ and other instructions from the Google help site. If you’re ready, then click on the ‘add a mail account you own link and follow the prompts to enter in your POP & password settings. Google sends an email to that account in order to verify you truly do own it.  Below are some settings you can specify for that particular account.

gmailimage

Gmail instantly goes to work pulling your emails into the Gmail interface. You’ll notice that Google has color coded each of your email accounts to help you keep the emails sorted out visually. Of course you can apply labels (filters) to emails coming in and have them go to a different folder (or label), if you like. If I did that, I’d forget to check it!

Advantages
  • Your emails are now ‘in the cloud’ and you’re able to access them from any computer. This is appealing for those of us with POP accounts as we’re usually limited to accessing those emails from one computer
  • Unlimited storage – well, almost. Outlook will crash if your account gets to 4GB and will probably act sluggish long before that point. Gmail has an 8GB allowance – more than most of us will need.
  • If you keep your life on your email (receipts, conversations, attachments, etc.), it’s a great storage space and easily searchable
  • Gmail does allow off-line access now. Consult my earlier posting to activate this feature
Disadvantages
  • What about back-up? Gmail doesn’t have a backup feature (see note below)
  • Internet outages/overloads/attacks If something like this happens, you won’t be able to send & receive emails
  • Trust factor. You have to have a lot of trust and faith in Google that they will keep your data safe, private and instantly available

To have a backup of your email, you could keep your Outlook running and have your mail flowing in there and simply make periodic backups.

It seems like there are lots of advances with email, calendar and contact collaboration. However, we’re not quite there yet with having everything we want. Until that day comes, we will continue to cobble solutions to fit our needs.

After doing the research for this post and the Windows Live Mail post, it seems that Windows Live will at least let you integrate both types of mail accounts. If you have an experience or solution that’s worked for you, please share it.

Addendum 8-13-09

After writing this article, I found someone HAS come up with a way to back-up Gmail. You may want to read about it first at Lifehacker as there are many comments that may be helpful to you before you decide to use it.

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