It appears that I’m not fully understanding how IMAP works, because every solution I’m coming up with seems pretty lame. My old computer (which I just upgraded) had two “email Accounts” set up for a single email address in Outlook 2013:
- IMAP for email, with offline cache stored in an ost file
- POP3 (I think?) for contacts, stored offline in a pst file
This is obviously inelegant. The net result was that for the last 8 years, my “folder pane” on the left side of Outlook 2013 looked like this, with the email account listed first and old-style pop3 account listed second:
…Inbox <== this is where new emails come in
…Inbox <== important emails gets saved to folders I created under this
… …(28 more folders. I have 32 folders for organizing saved emails)
Having two different “accounts” for the same email was super annoying, but it worked so I counted it good enough. I never really understood it so I essentially just ignored the “duplicate” Deleted Items, Junk E-Mail, Outbox, etc… But now with my brand new spiffy system I built myself from scratch, I’m looking to do it the right way this time.
So I set up IMAP as the default account. Now my brand new Outlook 2019 shows the following for the side panel, beautifully, perfectly manicured:
… …(all 32 folders)
…(all the rest of the normal folders you see like Junk, etc…)
I was absolutely thrilled. Finally, I no longer have two different (confusing) “accounts” for a single email address. Importing my contact list and old saved emails from the old computer’s .pst file worked easily and flawlessly. Really, I couldn’t have been happier. Until I started using it.
This new IMAP default account with no POP3 secondary connection (if that’s what was actually happening on the old system) doesn’t default to show my email contacts. If I hit New Email, then choose “To…” to pick recipient(s), no contacts appear in the list. I have to manually change the “Address Book” dropdown from the new default of “Contacts (This Computer Only)” – which is empty – to “Contacts”, which has my actual contacts.
Every. Single. Email. If I create a new email, my default contacts list is empty, forcing me to change out the default “Contacts (This Computer Only)” address book to the “Contacts” address book. If I get an email from a new address I want to add to my contacts list, adding the new address defaults to the empty “This Computer Only” list, again forcing me to manually change the address book. If I forget – as in, I just add the new address normally the way I always used to – the new contact ends up alone in the “wrong” address book.
So, fine, if that’s the way of things in the modern world, I can adjust. I could (I think?) move all my “Contacts” to “Contacts (This Computer Only)” and call it a day.
Except, if I move everything to “Contacts (This Computer Only)”, those contacts cannot be backed up by backup software. Outlook saves IMAP data to ost files instead of pst files, and ost files cannot be backup up. Well, I mean, you can, but you CANNOT restore any data from ost files.
Which means that every time I do a backup, I will first have to manually open Outlook and click a million things to export all of my contacts (being sure to correctly pick them!) to a csv file or whatever, and only then can I run a backup.
This can’t be correct, can it? What kind of fucked up system requires you to manually open individual programs and manually export data to a different format just to be able to back it up?
Am I correct that IMAP email DOES NOT save your contacts list to the server? IMAP email can ONLY have “offline” contacts lists? That can’t be right.
Please, does anyone know anything about IMAP? I want to set up my beautiful new computer as follows:
- Using Outlook 2019 is a hard requirement
- In the left pane, I just have a single “account” with a single Inbox, a single Sent Items, etc…
- When I create a new email, the “To…” dialog defaults to my actually populated contact list.
- When I do a daily (weekly more likely) backup, I DO NOT WANT to have to open Outlook at all, just like I don’t have to open Firefox at all to back up my firefox profile.
Is it actually possible to accomplish this goal, satisfying all four of the above requirements? I assume it is possible because it seems like the kind of thing that pretty much everyone should want. Which leads me to suspect that I just don’t understand something very basic about how IMAP works.
Does anyone know if the very basic, straightforward, common sense solution I’m looking for is even technically possible?
My current solution is to abandon IMAP altogether and just go straight POP3 for everything, since that saves everything to a pst file which is easily backed up and restored from. Note that I don’t particularly care about syncing emails between multiple devices. This is for this-desktop-only email that I will never check on any other device.
Before I go the (seemingly crazy in 2021) POP3 route I figured I’d ask here to see if anyone knows the “proper” way this is supposed to be done.
So in a nutshell, how do you back up your contacts list for IMAP email?