Personal IT: Email

June 2, 2005

Email is the most important aspect of my personal IT infrastructure. It’s also particularly hard to achieve since I’ve been spoilt with the Exchange, Outlook 2003 and Outlook Web Access setup at Synop. Here are my personal requirements for email:

I looked at a number of alternatives for providing this, including Gmail, paid email hosting and running my own server. All of them had limitations against the above criteria. In the end I’ve adopted a hybrid model that more than meets all the above criteria:

  1. Create an email address associated with a domain,
  2. A Gmail account acts as the primary email server, store and web access interface for
  3. Outlook (or your preferred client) provides POP access to Gmail for a local store and email program.

This setup is straight forward, except for the problem of having sent messages appear to come from while still being automatically archived in Gmail. Mail sent through the Gmail SMTP server is automatically archived, but appears in the From header to have come from your Gmail account. Mail sent through your ISP SMTP server is not added to the Gmail sent mail archive. To resolve this problem, I decided to send email through the ISP SMTP server while configuring Outlook to automatically BCC all messages to my Gmail account. In both Gmail and Outlook I then setup a filter to label these received messages as sent items and archive them automatically. Now, all sent messages appear to come from while a copy is permanently archived on the Gmail servers for later access.

For those that are interested, here is the basic setup: