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Until now I accessed my emails from several email accounts with POP instead of IMAP, mainly because my providers have very limited web space. I would like to change that and wonder what is the best solution.

I considered setting up my own private mail server which downloads the emails from my providers and makes them available to Outlook via IMAP. However then I couldn't access them from other devices. (Or can I?)

Then I thought of creating a Google Mail account and have my emails forwarded to GMail. But how can I have GMail forward outgoing mails to the corresponding providers? Basically I want to keep my email addresses as they are and just insert a IMAP server in between without anyone noticing what's going on behind the scenes.

Any suggestions?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Gmail has a very nice ability to check for your pop accounts and send email through your own smtp settings. It will however always show something like " as" in the header of some more advanced email clients (like Outlook).

If you can handle setting up your own email server, go for it, but it will be hard and costly to achieve the same uptime and quality of service Gmail does. If you have your own domain, I highly recommend using the Google Apps service so you get the quality of Gmail, but with your own email address.

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Thank you! I wasn’t aware of Google Apps! Everything went smoothly! – CaptainProton Dec 21 '09 at 13:43

I've been using Fastmail for some years now, for a similar scenario as you describe. Up front: it is not free, currently 20$ (=15 EUR) per year for the plan I use (i.e. 800MB storage).

You basically forward your other email to your fastmail account (if forwarding is not supported by a provider, you can make fastmail fetch it every x hours). For outgoing mail, you have complete control over the from-email address that is displayed, much more control than with Gmail. You can use ANY address you want (not that this would always make sense, though). People will not know you use fastmail, it will appear as if you mailed them from your specific email account.

For more balanced opinions, I suggest you check out the site where fastmail and other similar IMAP providers (including Gmail) are discussed, both with good and bad points.

Setting up your own imap server seems like a lot of trouble and work to me.

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Gmail limits your options for good reason; isn't there a risk that your mails get marked as spam or even bounced because of address spoofing? If you send an email from a renowned domain but not from it's servers, large mail providers (hotmail, yahoo, gmail, etc.) will see it and probably block it... – Damien Dec 17 '09 at 11:20

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