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Thread: Using Outlook without connector - Scenarios

  1. #1
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    Default Using Outlook without connector - Scenarios

    I have two users who rely on Microsoft Outlook and I won't be able to wean them off it, no matter how much I would like to. One requires ActiveSync with his Pocket PC, the other is using Act! For now, they just have POP accounts on my old mail server.

    I want to migrate them over to my new Zimbra server too, but am unclear the best way to do it since NE is not in the cards for us--at least for a year or two.

    Option 1 would be to just give them POP accounts on the new server. Obviously that will work, but then I won't be backing up their messages on the Zimbra server along with everybody else's. Plus, they won't have access to their inbox/outbox from the web client.

    Option 2, which I think I would prefer, is not something I've seen discussed much on the forum, and that is to simply use the mail portion of Outlook as a regular IMAP client (and LDAP client for addresses). Has anyone done this and can tell me the pitfalls/landmines of doing so? One of the users is on a laptop and so is not always connected to the network. Does Outlook synchronize folders offline with anything like reliability (I should add we're talking Outlook 2000).

    It may well be that Option 2 is just a bad idea that should die a quick death. . .but I'd like some feedback from others who have succeeded or failed in this regard to give me a warning of what I'm getting into.

    Thanks in advance,

    Dan

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    We are in the process of migrating from a Linux-based Postfix/POP3 mail server, using Outlook (mostly 2000, some 2003) at the client level over to Zimbra. When we started the process earlier in the year our initial plan was to do what you are asking here; use Outlook in IMAP mode to connect up to the Zimbra server. We thought it would be too much of a jump to go directly to the web client, although that was the long-term goal. Within about the first five users that we moved over we decided to scrap the Outlook/IMAP plan and go directly to the web client. We simply felt that Outlook was not IMAP-friendly enough to continue down that route.

    There were two main issues that we ran into. First, with Outlook in IMAP mode when you delete a message it simply marks the message for deletion. I believe the default is to change the color of the message and put a strike-through line through it. You can change the Outlook setting to not show the messages that have been marked for deletion. In order to permanently delete these messages the user must manually go to the Edit Menu and select Purge Deleted Messages. This is an all or nothing process; when you run it the process gets rid of every message marked for deletion. I don't know about your users, but mine tend to use the Trash/Deleted Items folder as a secondary Inbox. "Oh, I deleted that message, but I didn't really want to totally get rid of it." Unlike some other email clients, such as Thunderbird, Outlook doesn't give you the option of sending deleted messages to a Trash/Delete Items folder. Without this option you can't take advantage of the Zimbra functionality which allows you to purge deleted messages older than "x" days.

    The second issue we ran into with Outlook in IMAP mode is that when you send a message it doesn't put a copy into the Sent folder on the Zimbra server, but rather saves it in the Sent Items folder, in the local .pst file. Similar to handling deleted messages, other email clients give you some control over where sent messages go, but Outlook does not. The standard work-around, if you search around the Web, is to setup a rule within Outlook to place a copy of any messages sent to another folder (Sent on Zimbra server, in this case). We thought this was not a great, but an OK solution until we found out that when you view these copied messages with the web client they did not contain any information in the "To" column. Since we eventually planned to move to the web client this kind of defeated the purpose of setting up the rule.

    I guess another minor issue is that within Outlook you still have another set of local folders to deal with, and Outlook always opens to the local, "Personal Folder".

    Maybe none of these things are show stoppers, but it was enough for us to skip the intermediate Outlook/IMAP usage that we had planned.

    HTH,
    John

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    John, thank you for your detailed reply. This information is extremely helpful to me.

    Since the web client is NOT an option for these two users (because, as I said before, of the other programs they're tied to), I think I'll just migrate them to a POP account so they can benefit from the spam filtering, and otherwise leave their setups alone.

    Dan

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    I'm not sure about Outlook, but many Pop clients have the option to leave messages on the server. That way you can keep the users on Outlook with Pop and they can still have the messages on the server for when they travel. Of course, they would show as unread when going online, so that may be something of a pain for them. But it might be an option.

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    With respect to the above, the Outlook/IMAP is still possible. We have mixed environment where about 200 users use POP3 with Outlook and 5 users use IMAP/Outlook. Soxfan is right with what he says, but:

    1. Deletion is really a bit of pain. Personally, it does not matter if deleted mesages are moved to trash or just striked-out, you just need to get used to it. In fact it still works like two-level erasing. What may bother you is that you need to perform purging in all folders individually, but you can create button in Outlook taskbar for it.

    2. Sent messages can be partially fixed using Outlook rule. It works quite fine, however sometimes I experienced that rule is disabled. It may be because you try to send message while offline I think. And sent messages appear as not read. Also check this MS article, it will solve To column content not just in Sent folder.

    The Sent Items folder does not populate the "To" and "Sent" boxes when your e-mail profile is configured to use an Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) server in Outlook

    Outlook 2007 handles IMAP much better. You can set up where sent messages are stored (point it to IMAP folder).

    I use Outlook/IMAP for a quite long time now and I am satisfied. I would never go back to POP3. It is great that I have in sync Outlook in office, Outlook at home and Zimbra web client anywhere.

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    Just wanted to follow-up because we still have some users who don't like the web client, and if we could overcome some of the issues we ran into with Outlook in IMAP-mode we may consider giving them the option to go back.
    Personally, it does not matter if deleted mesages are moved to trash or just striked-out, you just need to get used to it. In fact it still works like two-level erasing.
    Is this really true? If Outlook gave you the option to send deleted items to the Zimbra trash folder the Zimbra server settings would then take control and get rid of the items older that "x" days. In my mind this would make it a one-level erase. Am I missing something here? Does Outlook 2007 allow any control over deleted items. similar to the sent items setting?

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    No, you cannot make Outlook to move deleted messages to trash AFAIK. But still you have to perform two steps:

    "delete" it - it gets striked out
    purge folder to remove these definitely

    I believe that this way it works like two-level erase. The only downside is that messages deleted using IMAP are not seen as deleted in Zimbra web UI.

    Outlook 2007 has some more improvements. You can set it so it will purge striked-out messages automatically when you change to different folder (not very usable I think). You can make it start in IMAP folder too (this was possible in 2003 too, but not in XP).

    There may be more, but I do not use OL2007 regularly so I may be missing some stuff.

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    Nevertheless, given that the users in question are not exactly what I would call technophiles, what you have described is reason enough to leave them with the POP email they already have and let well enough alone. I'll continue to put all new users on Tbird which handles IMAP with Zimbra beautifully, and let these two continue to use their dinosaurian setup until they get enough spam to care.

    Thanks for all the feedback!

    Dan

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