Ultimate GMail IMAP solution

My struggle managing and archiving emails across multiple devices continues.

Here are my parameters for an effective email system

1. Read and respond to email from multiple devices

2. Synchronize changes (message status, drafts) across devices

3. Have access to my full email archive

4. Online archive for backup purposes and remote access

Simple, yes?

No. IMAP offers this functionality, but unfortunately,chokes on large folders. It’s so bad that it actually blocks incoming mail while waiting for the IMAP synchronization job to finish.

Here’s my new solution:

1. Primary Gmail account, with IMAP enabled

– Account forwards all email to the archive account

2. Secondary archive Gmail account.

– POP3 access only

Client configuration and usage

IMAP access to the primary account, with mailboxes mapped as appropriate. This is set up on phones, desktops, laptops ensuring that changes made on one device are visible on the others.

Emails requiring attention are starred. Anything else can be deleted since it has been safely sent to the archive account

POP3 access to the primary account. Messages should be set to be left on the server. This serves as a read-only archive.


The archive account has ALL emails including those that have been deleted as pointless.

Online access from remote cyber cafes might necessitate checking two accounts if I need to dig back into the archive.

In the event of a machine failure:

1. Configure IMAP access to the primary account.

2. Configure POP3 access to the archive account, messages set to be left on the server.

Here’s how I did it

  1. Create a new Mail Archive account (ie archive@myhost.com).
  2. Copy current Inbox and “Attention” emails into a local mailbox. We will restore these later into the primary IMAP account.
  3. From the primary gmail account, move all messages from All Mail into Inbox. It’s most quickly done via the web interface.
  4. Populate the new Mail Archive account.

    Under settings, set account to download all mail from the primary account via POP3. (Make sure that POP3 access is enabled on that account).

  5. Recreate the primary gmail account in the client (we will populate this via IMAP). Sync the account.
  6. Restore the Inbox/Attention emails to the primary account.
  7. Migrate these emails over the Archive account via POP2
  8. Disable the automatic fetching of the primary account into the Archive account.
  9. Set up the Archive account in the client, via POP3 access. Modify settings so that emails are LEFT ON THE SERVER!

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