Outlook 2013 and Gmail via IMAP all messed up - lost cause?!

Posted on 2016-10-28
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-11-02
Helping a friend who uses gmail and outlook 2013.  Normally I set that up with POP in outlook.  People talk so highly of imap but I view it as a cheap unreliable alternative to Exchange.  Am I wrong?

He has dozens of folders in gmail with 1 to 100+ emails in each.  'Something' happened and all the folders are still there but the emails are gone in both outlook and gmail's web interface - it said he was using very little of his 15GB.  They went missing about 1 month ago - he noticed it and then went away for a month.

>>> How would you go about getting them back?  Contact Gmail support? do they really do that for you?

I looked in deleted folders in outlook and on the website and didn't see them.

I played with old OSTs I found as part of previous versions and copies of the OST.  Exported them into a PST and have a lot of emails now.

I deleted the account in outlook, created a new one for IMAP for the gmail account.

I imported the PST of the recovered emails into outlook.  they populated outlooks folders, but NOT gmail on the web/server.

I started over (delete the IMAP account and recreate it).  I opened the PST of recovered emails and drag / dropped folders from that into imap account in outlook.  That seemed to push things back to the server.

But a couple days later now, he says some folders are missing (from both outlook and web interface).

I opened another copy of the PST of recovered emails and dragged the missing folders back into the imap account.

Now I notice situations where gmail has 2 emails in a folder and outlook folder is empty.  Or vice versa.  

Any thoughts on 'what's going on'?!  

Is there a way to push syncing of the folders?

I read about 'subscribed folders'. Right clicking on the inbox in outlook, all the folders are subscribed.

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LVL 97

Assisted Solution

by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 2000 total points
ID: 41864540
I like POP as well as I do not wish to depend up the vagaries of someone else's server.

I am not sure about the first time this happened and your recovery steps seem quite reasonable.

But for it to happen again suggests either the user is excessively careless and not paying attention, or (just as likely to me) someone has hacked into their email.

You want to certainly change all the passwords and make sure IMAP is properly making the OST file.

Author Comment

ID: 41864568
you said make sure IMAP is properly making the OST file - how do you do that!? : )

there isn't really an easy way to compare 2 PSTs or group of folders / emails, right?

Oh something else I forgot to mention - gmail allows you to enable imap and or POP.  Seems to me that you want to turn off POP to cut down the chance that you connect via POP and pull all the emails off the server. Yes, if outlook / the mail client is set to leave the emails on the server then you are OK.  But better to make it more fool proof?
LVL 97

Accepted Solution

John Hurst earned 2000 total points
ID: 41864615
Just set up IMAP so it makes an OST file (which is, I think, default). Then make sure it is backed up occasionally.

Within Outlook, there is no way to compare PST files. I back them up and date them.

I am in a minority, but I most definitely feel POP is better and safer. I have ALL my email back to 1996. If the user is willing, switch them to POP.
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Expert Comment

ID: 41864626
You state you used old versions of OST and exported them to a PST.

How did you accomplish this? I am interested to know, as I have only been able to accomplish with a 3rd party tool OST2PST.

Author Comment

ID: 41864681
ost to PST - yeah, good point. I dabbled with those 3rd party tools but none are free if I'm not mistaken?

I'm trying to think how we had them.  

Did I take an old OST and put in in place of the current OST, then with outlook / the PC offline, started outlook then exported? You know when things are working good, outlook will output the OST to a PST easy?

I remember taking the OST and just trying to open it in outlook and it balked that outlook wasn't configured for that mailbox?

sorry, not all that sure how I got the PSTs.  I was helping him a couple / few months ago and may have exported back then from within outlook as a precaution?

And then the issue with exporting the OST - that doesn't always have all the info that's on the server, right?  When dealing with Exchange, there's a slider for how far back you want data on the PC, right?

Not sure if IMAP does that (allow you to control how much / how far back is stored on the PC).
LVL 97

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 41870693
Thanks for the update.

there's a slider for how far back you want data on the PC, right?   <-- Yes there is. I can do that with an Outlook.com Exchange account. I think it might work for IMAP but I cannot verify.

Author Comment

ID: 41870755
imap - yeah, I don't see a slider.  

you were saying 'POP is better', as I feel.  But you are in the minority : (

Yeah, pop only really works if you work from 1 computer, right?.  With phone, laptop, desktop, etc accessing the same account, pop isn't as good, right? Have to delete mail several times (or ignore it on the phone - my iphone says I have 18000 emails.  I look / read there but don't bother deleting there.

Expert Comment

by:Zahier Adams
ID: 41871023
Hi have you checked the recycle bin how often is it set to clean auto
if that was done an emails still disappear it could be the server clustered with the amount of emails its like a phone when its full its starts malfunctioning and files disappear.
i can advise you to run a virus check through cmd usually antivirus cant detect .lnk virus an to eliminate that you would have to type attrib -s -h -r /s /d *.* inside you commado disk..check your virus vault an windows updates aswell. PoP everyone uses as its easier to set the incoming an outgoing server if your dont come right please let us know.thank you

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