Internet speeds and IMAP email

This may be more of a rant than an article, yet it needs to be said. For the love of Pete, please upgrade your internet from DSL!

In October 2017 a customer needed new computers. A long-needed upgrade from XP to Windows 10. With that came the mandatory migration away from Windows Live Mail, part of Windows Essentials which was discontinued January 10, 2017. This was the email client / program that they entire office had used for years.

The Customer used many email folders and did not want or like Outlook. So, the search for an email program that would look like and import Windows Live Mail started.

Because the client uses multiple devices (Office PC, Home PC, tablet and phone) they use the IMAP protocol for email. This way, in theory everything syncs. You can read more about the definition of IMAP here:

A couple of test programs were used with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Finally, we (the Client and Ward Computers) decided on a program called eM Client. Data was imported and configurations setup. I must admit, I was and still am not a fan of eM Client, it just met their wants.

The troubles occurred when each computer tried to sync email with IMAP. Even though the host (GoDaddy, where the main email was stored and sync’d from) was the same, the client (eM Client) wanted to sync everything. Since the internet connection was 5Mb, with actual download speeds from 768k to 1.5Mb and upload 25% of that, things were slow.

Add to that, that all employees make a change to an image then email the image as an attachments, then back for approval (with the attached image) or edits which are emailed again causing hundreds of thousands of emails with duplicate attachments that are saved in each account. They also save every email, all attachments so there was gigs and gigs of data trying to sync / check. They use their email dozens of times a day, 5 days a week.
It took 6 weeks before the syncing was finished.

The time it took also resulted in hundreds of timeouts, delays in emails coming in, especially with attachments and the continued “resending” of same emails. I did bring the owners PC to my home with a 20 Mb down and let it run, twice. It synced there.

At some point I will write an article about not sending attachments in emails back and for and keeping every email while in the same office (can you say “Dropbox” or NAS).

Since this was taking more than 5 minutes, and I supplied the new computers, I was taking the heat for the issue, after all “this never happened before”. I explained day after day how they needed to upgrade the internet or at least get the one they use to run closer to 5Mb. They also needed to get a new router. The old one was a Motorola with Wireless B.
To speed things up when emails would not send, I changed email SMTP from Secure 443 to unsecure and 25, emails went out at that point.

With one computer that had 2 emails accounts the downloading ‘circle’ by one email account never stopped and there were dotted lines (signifying it was syncing) under “Contacts” that never stopped. I changed the IMAP sync from 4 minutes to 10 and IMAP port from 143 to 993 this stopped the syncing but prevented receiving of new emails. Next, I changed sync from 10 to 15 minutes, turned off Sync on startup and made sure “Conversations” were off. All of that did not help, the Syncing circle stayed on. Emails did come through when eM Client was first opened, however not after that. As a result, the employee was rebooting the computer 7 times a day!

Another day another call about emails constantly at “synchronizing subfolders”. This time I decided to be sure it was not security software, even though these issues did not occur at my home with the 20 Mb internet. Malwarebytes had been uninstalled, I set eM to be exempt in ESET. Changed some settings in eM, all to no avail. Just to show staff, I logged on to their GoDaddy work space. GoDaddy received and sends emails quickly.

After 8 weeks of almost daily calls and complaining I convinced the customer to call their internet provider (I had been recommending this actually for about 2 years). The on phone, the AT&T people noticed an “issue” and sent a technician to come out, which took 2 days. The Tech only tested to the building, this was a strip center, he replaced some external line and now the customer was getting a steady 2 Mb/s, being satisfied, the tech left. Remember, they were paying for 5Mb/s down.

Another week and another call out to AT&T, this time the tech did go in the building and disconnected and reconnected the DSL modem. He then told them all was perfect according to his laptop and left. I see that way too often, where internet service providers connect their laptops to the modem and magically get perfect speeds. I connect mine and get 25 to 50% less. The customer did not tell me the AT&T tech was coming or out, so I found out after the fact. After I came out, I once again suggested a new modem / router.

Several weeks later the customer called, they bought a new modem. I replaced it and the router, they now are getting 4-5 Mb/s. They still have not gotten faster internet service, claiming that no-one offers it and that the City internet wanted a ton of money to run to them. The building is in an old, poor part of the business district and needs new wiring.

The stress of the boss and staff that was pushed on me could have been greatly reduced with a decent internet connection. Mediacom, the competition in that area offers a minimum of 100 Mb/s, 20x faster, though I have to believe that they won’t run it to the customers.

If you are cheap and don’t want to upgrade your internet speed and if you are swapping computers, use IMAP email, and are switching email programs, prepare for delays.

Update, summer of 2019, the client let me setup the built in Windows email program as a ‘backup’ to eM Client. When eM Client is off, all emails send / receive and sync in a reasonable time. When he keeps both programs running things are horrid for the whole office. Also, his iPad sync’s the email in seconds. Both Microsoft and Apple are only syncing new stuff, eM client is syncing / checking all folders and past stuff.

Update June 2020, the customer is upgrading to 1 Gbps each way, in July of 2020. The cost is $150 a month, which is a good price for business internet, though I get that at my home for $48 a month. Business pricing of internet and phone lines is a way for the providers to steal from businesses and creates higher prices for the consumer.

With that upgrade the only email issue is after the 3rd forward, attachments and inserted images don’t show in Window Mail. They are just the red X.

Researching this, it is a known issue and has been for years and Microsoft apparently has no intention of fixing it. As a result, I switched him to Outlook online. This took some tweaking and a couple of days. Once properly configured and contacts were correct all has worked just fine.

  1. Don’t use eM Client email, he even paid for the recent version released summer of 2020 and it still did the same thing (syncing every piece of data in the email every few minutes).
  2. Get internet as fast as possible.
  3. Windows Mail will stop showing images after a few forwards.
  4. Get a NAS or use something like OneDrive or Dropbox for shared images, you can keep versions easily and your email “light”.

Until we meet again, have a virus free week.

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