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IMAP vs. POP (and who cares…)

Over the years, email has changed dramatically.  In the current 2010 world, most companies still offer POP as well as IMAP for receiving email.  In many cases, automatically adding an email address to a new computer or iPhone will use the POP method for getting email to you.  What difference does it make?  Ah, hence this little post…

Again in our 2010 world where many of us have a personal computer at home, a Blackberry or iPhone and occasionally (or more) work computers provide web access to our personal email it can be a pain to read and re-read a message on multiple devices.  This is where the IMAP and POP difference comes into effect.

When using POP [wikipedia] the device (in this case, iPhone, computer or other device), grabs the new mail from the server and removes the email (unless some settings are changed on the system to “keep mail on the server”).  In cases where you see the same mail on your phone and computer but they both show as unread (until you read them in two places) the system is using POP.  The other drawback is when you send a message using POP the device that sends the message retains the message locally (meaning if you are at work and you send a message that morning from your home PC, you will not see that message).

POP was valuable in the past, especially in years past when email storage was very limited (10-100MB, not the 7.5GB world of gmail).  Getting emails off the servers was important and a requirement to keep from “bouncing” mailbox full messages.

The thing that bothers me these days is if you set an email address up on an iPhone or iPad using GMail, the system makes it very easy but uses POP.  A quick adjustment to the account will make email a much more efficient tool with the use of IMAP.

IMAP [wikipedia] is the newer of the two protocols and again is supported by most email systems.  With Google’s email system, using IMAP allows you to read a message on your iPhone or Droid and when you check the message on your home computer, that message will show as read.  If you replied, that too will show up.  Do you have folders (or labels as google calls them)?  IMAP will also display those in your email program.

The bottom line is check your email settings and switch to IMAP if you are comfortable doing so.  It will make the use of email so much more seamless.

  • For Google’s GMail, check this page for clients and settings
  • The page for setting GMail up on an Apple mobile device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
  • Apple’s MobileMe IMAP setting page
  • Yahoo does NOT provide IMAP without purchasing Yahoo Plus (I would not suggest investing in this)
  • AOL’s page for setting up IMAP

If you have questions or concerns about changing your email setting, please let me know.

If you made these changes to your system and have seen improvements with the way the system(s) work, again, let us know.


SquareUp with your iPhone/iPad or iPod Touch

David Pogue from the NYTimes outlines the benefit of taking credit card purchases right from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. A company called Square has made a free solution for the iPhone and iPad that allows the device to swipe or type in a credit card and take payments right into your bank account.

This is a great solution for the small business. I have it for my consulting company. Square takes a percentage (though smaller than most credit card companies at 2.5-3.5% of the purchase) and a $0.15 processing flat fee.

Interesting enough, it does bring up questions about why don’t people consider Square for their garage sales, bake sales and payment for the landscaper. It makes payment easy, cool and protects the seller and “store”.

Have a iPhone and a small business, seriously consider Square.

Read David Pogue’s article from the NYTimes

Updating an iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4.0

Apple makes the process of updating an existing iPhone very simple by using iTunes as the tool for all software updates, applications and backup of the settings, content and other information.

If you have an iPhone 3GS (there appear to be some issues with the first generation phone, iPhone 3G, so updating at this time is NOT recommended), a connection to your computer with the USB cable should start iTunes and let you know there is a software update for the iPhone. I would recommend a Download and Install choice and give the process at least 30 minutes.

iTunes first downloads the latest version of the iPhone software (iOS 4) and then will erase, update and ask if you want to restore all your information to the iPhone as it was before you began the update. For most users, this is what I would recommend since the system will put music, movies, settings for email and calendars as well as photos back onto the device. Again, this could take another 15-30 minutes depending on how much info you have or had on the phone, so it is recommended that you do not do this when in a rush or heading out of the house for some reason…

Since iTunes manages your media and your iPhone, it is recommended you connect the iPhone to a computer once every week or two. This accomplishes a few things. It backs up your phone, data and settings. It will pull photos and videos from your phone into iPhoto for sharing and checks with Apple to see if there are updates to your phone which could improve performance, stability or reliability.

Questions – let us know…

iTunes from an external drive

CNET has a really simple and good article and video about moving your iTunes to an external drive. Check out the video below:

The basic idea would be that with the files moved off the main drive you could keep the files on another USB or larger drive (since I know many people are growing their iTunes collections into the ten’s or hundred’s of GB of storage). This would keep valuable and important system disks free of music and video files.

Conficker gets an update

In an interesting twist, the Conficker virus has not done anything huge as expected on April 1, but over the last couple of days the virus has reached back out to tighten some controls and protect itself from anti-virus software (via NYTimes). It also is pulling an encrypted “payload” which is causing some delays with the companies finding out what it is trying to do since the level of protection is so high.

The update also run though a series of checks to make sure the infected computer has internet connections (via CNET). The antivirus companies have been watching, working and updating as they find ways to slow down or eliminate the malware.

One of the coolest things that came out of this is a “eye chart” for seeing if you may have the virus. Go to this page and see what happens. There is a key at the bottom to review the results. Simple but effective.

Yesterday (April 9), researchers have declared that this comes down to money (via CNET). As with many of the latest malware, if they can take control of your PC, many times they just want to send out spam and generate a penny or so per message delivered (multiply that by millions of infected PCs).

If you think you have or do have a variant of Conficker, you should do everything you can to remove it since it could be used steal personal and/or financial information. Questions or concerns, let us know.

Protecting your Information Online

The Today Show recently had a segment on Limewire and the possible bad effects of the file sharing software (check out this via wikipedia) (and others).

One of the key things many people do not think about when using a file-sharing solution, the software is designed to not only obtain (download) files, but to upload files as well (a give and take model – minimize “leeching”).

A few years ago I worked at a College in NC. One morning I noticed a HUGE amount of traffic leaving the campus. I tracked it back to ONE PC. In a couple of hours hundreds of gigabytes had been downloaded from his computer. I called and suggested he quit the program and check the sharing settings. Within an hour of the call, he responded, shut down the program, and traffic returned to “normal”. He just did not know he was sharing his data OUT (not only downloading files IN).

Many of the software programs run through a setup when installed that ask what you want to share with the internet – many users do not pay much attention to these questions and just click “ok” – exposing their documents, music or photo/movie folders to the world.

The segment from the Today show describes how a family’s tax returns (social security numbers, address, children’s information) was all fair game! College applications – online. There was also a story today (03-02-09 via cnet) about the blueprints for the President’s helicopter (Marine One) being found in Iran and believed accessed via a contractor’s laptop and a file sharing software.

The other effect to consider is many files shared on Limewire or the like are illegal (music/movies top, but not only reasons for the software – there are legitimate uses). Many times the downloads take at least an hour – that is one hour that you are sharing your data with the world… Once it hits one PC there is no getting it back…

Do you have a “family PC” that your kids use along with the parents for taxes, banking and other “sensitive” information – check for file-sharing tools, limit (or eliminate) their use and offer the great (though non-free) alternatives like iTunes, Netflix or Hulu.

Educate yourself and protect yourself…

Business continuity for the small business

Here is a great little article from about how to protect a small business from the issues that may befall someone who works out of their home or office ranging from power outage to earthquakes to health/life insurance.

As someone who has provided disaster recovery for larger offices and businesses, my recommendation to the individual is treat your self-run business or small business as a big business. Invest in a backup tool/tape/drives. Move data off-site every week or so and have something to allow you to get up and running as quickly as possible.

I have forgotten (until painfully obvious) that a laptop is a great solution during a time of power issues (especially if you have a broadband card). Power even blinks in the house and I do not notice since I’m still working with a fully-charged battery.

More thoughts or concerns about protecting your home or small business from the “disasters” that may come upon your profession, read further…