email client "POP3" trouble

YaYangTeah
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We are using smarter mail to host for our clients. Due to the client requirement need to be using the same mailbox for daily operation.
We are configured POP3 email messages on multiple computers for them and leave the message on server about 90 days.
Recently reported from our client same of the PC can not receive email and I went the Webmail and check all the email has gone.
After trouble shooting, we found that one of the PC has uncheck leave the message from server. We can restore this message on the problem maker PC, but our management is question is that possible to restrict user to do the configuration in their own device
I believe that is not the new issue in this world ,so I would like to seek for expert advice how to overcome this human error issue.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
Since "Leave Mail on Server" is a user setting and you have multiple users, then it is very difficult to control all the users.  

We would not use POP3 in this circumstance. We outsource this to a local Hosted Exchange service or Microsoft 365. It is a very economical way to manage email.
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
The problem is use of POP3.

The POP3 protocol is designed for single user access of mailboxes.

Switch to using IMAP4 instead.

And, you'll have to be clear about permissions you set on your mailboxes. Normal permissions will allow multiple people access to the mailbox + if one person deletes + expunges one or many messages, then these messages are gone for all people.

You may have to play permission games so people can only read/reply to messages + never delete them.

This will depend on exactly how your managing your multi-user mailboxes.

Tip: This type of mailbox access is complex to setup + maintain. Do yourself a favor + setup Ubuntu Bionic + latest stable Dovecot IMAP4 for this. This will save you many hours of time over trying to accomplish the same thing on Windows or using some 3rd party service.

Tip: If there's any alternative to using shared mailboxes, like using a support ticketing system instead, go for the alternative + you'll save yourself even more time.
i believe imap to be more convenient for shared mailbox as well unless you really want each user to have individual copies.

that said, many servers will allow to prevent users from deleting messages using access control settings which is an efficient way to ignore whatever purge the client may attempt.

another approach is to setup separate mailboxes for each uesr and turn the current mailbox into a distribution list so each mail is delivered in each user's individual mailbox. then each user can setup their client the way they see fit.
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2018
Commented:
As skullnobrains, you can set options to attempt blocking message deletion.

An POP3 still will fail in odd ways for shared mailbox access, because the server side code is written for single user access/locking, not multiuser.

Switch to IMAP4 + you'll save yourself countless hours of debugging, with no solution, because POP3 was never meant for heavy use of shared mailboxes. IMAP4 was specifically designed to fix the POP3 protocol short comings for accessing the same message many times by one user or many users.

To IMAP4, there is no difference between one user + many users accessing a message.
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Commented:
We are configured POP3 email messages on multiple computers for them and leave the message on server about 90 days.

Firstly, POP3 is the wrong protocol to use for what you're doing. Trying to share a single mailbox between multiple users using POP3 is bound to fail and give you problems, one of which you have already discovered. Another is that any sent email is only available on one workstation unless cc'd so all other workstations can also pick it up and manually file in the email client sent folder. In short, it's just a bad idea. IMAP would make far more sense as already suggested.

That said though...

After trouble shooting, we found that one of the PC has uncheck leave the message from server. We can restore this message on the problem maker PC, but our management is question is that possible to restrict user to do the configuration in their own device
I believe that is not the new issue in this world ,so I would like to seek for expert advice how to overcome this human error issue.

A simple way to restrict all workstations from being able to access the email client configuration settings would be to use third-party software such as Install Block by Bash Software.

Install Block is a solution I deployed at a company I administrated for and can be used to lock down any software in any way you choose very easily. Can also be used to control an entire network of workstations very easily.

Hope that's helpful.

Regards, Andrew

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