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My company provides an Outlook/Exchange account we must use for mail/calendar. Like many companies, they unfortunately also provide a ridiculously small mail quota.

I got tired of managing and backing up .pst files (since I'm always in my e-mail there is never a good time to back it up), so I started storing my archived mail "in the cloud", using an IMAP server I set up on my Linux box.

This has a few drawbacks for me:

  1. IMAP (at least the implementation in Outlook) is *very slow*. Furthermore, if I move a large number of messages to the IMAP server, it blocks the entire Outlook client for hours sometimes, which is quite annoying.
  2. Can't use exchange over HTTP to do mail without launching a VPN session, because the client-side rules I have which organize my mail fail and disable the rule if the IMAP server can't be reached.
  3. If I reply to a message from my IMAP store, I have to specify a SMTP server willing to relay for me in order to send e-mail, unless I always remember to select my Exchange account while composing e-mail.

... but the main advantage of being very easy to back up, with a couple of cron jobs that essentially do an 'rsync'.

Short of moving the IMAP server to my local host (which seem like might have the same file locking problems as using a .pst), my options seem limited for solving (1). I'd like to come up with a solution for (2) and (3) though.

For problem (2) would it be possible to somehow tell Outlook that the IMAP server is "offline", and have it synchronize my changes during a periodic "send and receive"? If so, I wonder if it would block the Outlook client, like it does in problem (1), and if it would be compatible with the client-only rules I use to sort my mail into folders.

I've looked all over the options menu and have not found a way to tell Outlook to not use a certain account for sending mail, which would solve (3).

Is anyone else crazy enough to be doing something like this? Any ideas?

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i think anyone crazy enough to do that would find something else to use besides outlook, but that's just me. –  quack quixote Jun 18 '10 at 5:32
1  
@quack - I'd love to not use Outlook, but it's the only way I can schedule conference rooms and use the company calendar –  Mike Jun 18 '10 at 6:00

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Best solution I've come across yet:

Ditch Outlook, for the most part, and use Thunderbird + DavMail (Exchange gateway) + Lightning (Calendar). Key links:

After installing Thunderbird, there is a button on the welcome screen which will allow you to install the Lightning plug-in for calendaring.

DavMail is the key piece that allows calendar integration. It acts as a proxy which takes standard CalDAV and talks to your Exchange server (using its OWA URL).

Everything falls into place from there. After installing the Lightning plug-in for Thunderbird, select File > New > Calendar, then select On The Network and select CalDAV format. Configure it as follows:

http://localhost:<caldav-port>/users/<your-email-address>/calendar

The <caldav-port> is configured in the DavMail Gateway Settings UI. (Default is 1080, but can be changed if 1080 is already in use)

You can also install davmail in a central location and (under the advanced tab) have it allow remote connections, though this setting should only be used on a secure network. (in this case, you would replace "localhost" with your DavMail server)

Note, I also use fetchmail to download messages from the Exchange server to my local IMAP server.

(+1 To quack quixote's comment of "find something else to use besides outlook")

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