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Windows Mobile, dowloading via POP3, emails disappearing from serv

Like many people, I normally use Yahoo! Mail via the web and like to keep all
my emails stored on the Yahoo! server. However sometimes I can’t get access
to a PC/the web and I download my emails to a PDA/palmtop via POP3. The PDA
uses Windows Mobile software. Since using the PDA, I have had the problem of
emails disappearing from the Yahoo! server. However I think I now understand
how to avoid this.

It seems that Windows Mobile is set up so it always leaves a copy of emails
on the Yahoo! Server when it downloads them via POP3. This can be seen by
downloading emails into Windows Mobile and then logging into Yahoo! via the
web. You should see that the emails are still in your inbox.

It therefore seems that the disappearing emails problem only arises when you
delete emails on your PDA and the ‘Deleted Items’ folder on the PDA is
emptied. When this happens it seems that an ‘instruction to delete’ is
created by Windows Mobile and the next time it connects to the Yahoo! Server
via POP3 it gives this instruction to the server and the relevant emails are
deleted from the server.

Disappearing emails are not so much of a problem for Outlook users. This is
because Outlook has 2 tick boxes: “Remove from the server when deleted from
‘Deleted Items’” and “Remove from the server after [ ] days”. These can be
found in the ‘Advanced’ tab in the email account settings. If both boxes are
unticked, you can therefore delete emails from Outlook without deleting them
from the Yahoo! Server. However, at present, Windows Mobile doesn’t have
this option so when you delete emails from your PDA they are also deleted
from the server (as described above).

What I’ve found is that when the Windows Mobile inbox has a lot of messages
in it, it’s tempting to start deleting them (or move them to another folder
and then delete them later). However, if you don’t want to delete emails
from the server, you should avoid ‘managing’ your emails from the Windows
Mobile inbox. Instead, you should use Yahoo! Go or wait until you can log
into Yahoo! mail via the web (which you may or may not be able to do with
your PDA). Once you’ve done this, you will see that the next time you
connect via POP3 the Windows Mobile inbox clears to the extent you ‘managed’
it via Yahoo! Go or the web.

If your inbox becomes so full that your PDA stops working you can use the
‘Clear All’ instruction in the ‘Services’ menu. This will delete all the
emails from Windows Mobile on your PDA but not send an ‘instruction to
delete’ to the server. However this is only a temporary fix as the next time
you do a POP3 download all the emails will be downloaded again. You will
therefore need to ‘manage’ your inbox via Yahoo! Go or the web (as discussed
above) before connecting again via POP3.

If you’re not going to use your PDA for a while it’s sensible to use the
‘Clear All’ process before you put it away. As detailed above, this will
clear all the emails from the PDA but not delete them from the server. This
will prevent them from being deleted accidentally in the future.

If you’ve deleted emails by mistake you may be able to recover the
situation. You should first check whether they’re still in the ‘Deleted
Items’ folder. If they are, you just need to move them back into your inbox.
If not (i.e. the ‘Deleted Items’ folder has been emptied) you need to make
sure that the ‘instruction to delete’ the emails doesn’t make it through to
the emails on the server. This can be done by:

1. Deleting the Yahoo! POP3 account on your PDA (before it connects to the
server) and then setting it up again. This should make the ‘instruction to
delete’ requests disappear so, in theory, they will never make it through to
the server.

2. Logging in to Yahoo! mail via Yahoo! Go or the web (before the PDA makes
another POP3 connection) and moving the relevant emails out of your inbox to
another folder. This should prevent the ‘instruction to delete’ requests
finding the emails (as POP3 only synchronises inboxes). However the problem
with this method is that the ‘instructions to delete’ sit on the server for a
while (if not indefinitely) so if you move the emails back into the inbox
they are likely to disappear at that point.

Email providers sometimes keep deleted emails for a while before removing
them completely from their servers. Therefore, as a last resort, you could
try contacting the email provider and asking for the deleted emails to be

POP3 access only synchronises inboxes so when you send emails from Windows
Mobile the ‘Sent’ file on the Yahoo! server will not be updated. To keep a
record on the server you will therefore need to copy yourself into the email.

An alternative approach to accessing your mail when roaming is to not use
POP3 access for your main Yahoo! mail account. Instead, you could set up a
separate mail account for POP3 access and then use Yahoo! Go to review emails
in your main account and forward them to and from the second account where
necessary (e.g. for downloading attachments).

Sep 5 '07 #1
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