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Stephen Jones

How outlook destroyed my Gmail account in one night.

I don't remember why I launched Outlook 2007—instead of Outlook Express. The program asked me if I wanted to upgrade from the old one, which I did; I had nothing to lose, I have configured Outlook Express not to delete my original emails—on the server. I also unchecked not to remember the password. And after saying no to "set as default email program", I closed Outlook 2007. Oh I remember now: I wanted to see how the navigation pane worked. Yes, the navigation pane is a great invention.

The problems started after that; Outlook 2007 would prompt me for my email account user/password every 30 min or so. At the forty one and a half attempt, I got fed up, and entered my credentials. You know, it was a modal dialog...

So this morning, due to the hard labor of Outbreak 2007,  my Gmail account is empty! All my labeled/stared mails: gone. Even emails I have sent into my own account to save pieces of information or a file or a data: gone (well, they came back on my hard drive actually). My resumes and CV that I could easily send to recruiters where ever I am: gone.

What I did next, was finding the option which disables "remove original mails" or something similar. I spent about 30 min but couldn't find it anywhere. Wow! What a progress Microsoft. Now I feel the pain of people who complained about Word 2007 before. Where the hell did that option go?

Thanks Outlook 2007, thanks Microsoft, for because of you I have started my day with already high level of anger and resentment. I might also die of heart attack, but of course you don't give a byte.
TiredOfMicrosoftTryingToTeachUsHowToDoThings
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
You didn't know to check the boxes that delete your mail from the pop'd account?

How is that M$'s fault?

Giving you the benefit of the doubt, Outlook toggled that setting on upgrade?
sharkfish
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
Well, if I was able to do it in Outlook Express. Why shouldn't I be able to do it with 2007?
TiredOfMicrosoftTryingToTeachUsHowToDoThings
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
Search for "Read POP3 e-mail messages on multiple computers" in help.
Dan Fleet Send private email
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
*How is that M[icrosoft]'s faults"

Yes, it's Microsoft's fault, but every mail reader seems to have that same insane default, to delete data on the server.
my name is here
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
I don't get it. You finally gave in on the 41 time and didn't bother on the first 40 times to just kill Outlook and move on? Show me an email client that won't do exactly what you describe by default. All email clients assume that you are using them as your sole client and that you don't want to keep messages on the server.

Sheesh!
uggh
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
If gmail has an imap interface, you can transfer them back
ankur Goel
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
I feel your pain - and I agree - when you set up, it's not at all obvious where you switch that.  And it did used to be fundamentally different. I use Outlook 2002 to read my company mail (with an Exchange server).

When I was having difficulty reading some embedded items in a customer mail, I fired up my new laptop and tried to read the same messages using a newer version than that.  Exactly the same result as you - followed the configuration steps and off it went, pulling all the mails locally.

It's not as simple as saying you should untick the box.  In the older version(s) like 2002, Outlook (the full version, not Express) seemed to just be a viewer to your Exchange mailbox - my mail certainly isn't copied locally using that version, unless I start using AutoArchive or something that actually writes items to a new folder.

Although the setup in the newer version asked me to configure a local folder, I didn't expect the server mail to just start going in there.  To fix it for me, I exported the items from the local folder to a seperate copy in the Outlook 2002 format, copied that folder to my original machine, and imported them using the 2002 client, so they appear back in the server.

So for me at least, it wasn't a case of "Damn, I didn't uncheck that option", but that the client just didn't do that at all in the old version.
So no, it's not just you
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
> So no, it's not just you

With earlier versions you were using EXCHANGE. The default here is to leave the emails on the server.

If you connect to gmail you will be using POP3 (or possible IMAP but POP3 is the default). ALL POP3 clients default to downloading emails and removing them from the client.

It was your choice to move from a full client/server email solution to a mashed-up webmail program with hacked on POP3 support that is still in Beta.
Adrian
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
...personally, I can't figure out why we haven't grasped IMAP, yet... 

it sure would solve some problems.
Michael Dwyer Send private email
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
I feel your pain too, ignore the dweebs here who would blame it on the customer. That software does you a great disservice when you can accidentally destroy something so important.
onanon
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
> So no, it's not just you

With earlier versions you were using EXCHANGE. The default here is to leave the emails on the server.

------

I'm not the OP - the default was to leave stuff on the server with Exchange - and I connected to the same Exchange server and mailbox with the newer full Outlook client.  And there it too downloaded locally, which is different to what it did before.

I didn't use it for any POP3 stuff.  I use thunderbird for that - which also defaults to deleting on the server.
So no, it's not just you
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
>>>If you connect to gmail you will be using POP3 (or possible IMAP but POP3 is the default). ALL POP3 clients default to downloading emails and removing them from the client.

It was your choice to move from a full client/server email solution to a mashed-up webmail program with hacked on POP3 support that is still in Beta.

You are right, you explain this to my old mother.

Indeed blame the customer.
Karel Thönissen Send private email
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
POP3 is supposed to download messages and then delete them from the server.  Leaving them on the server is a modification of what POP is really intended to do.
Ward Send private email
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
The issues as I see them:

1.  Should a techie posting to JoS understand the intent and use of POP3 clients.

2.  Should Outlook prompt you in some way to ask "do you want these deleted or not"

3.  Should grandmas have to understand POP3 vs. IMAP and does it matter if #2 had been in place

4.  Should the default behavior of POP3 delete your mail from the server
sharkfish
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
5.  Is it Microsoft's/Outlook's responsibility to work around an implementation detail of POP3 protocol
sharkfish
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
Wow, that sounds like a "Norman Door."  In fact, most email programs that enable that by default is like a "Norman Door" from that book that Joel recommends.
M
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
sharkfish
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
Sharkfish, I understand what you're saying. But like I said, I knew it was the default behavior; that's why it was set that way in Outlook Express. Now, Outlook 2007 said it loaded the information from Outlook Express. Like I said, I just wanted to play with the navigation pane, and I closed the program right after.

The prompt came from nowhere, like a process by itself, a memory resident like application. I turned the PC off, but it came again. I did a search on Google and read that this might happen if the upgrade process is not complete, that my account must be tested or something. So I entered my login/pass combo. The prompt went away.

Outlook tried to connect to Gmail to get my messages, but I canceled the process. Now during the night, it did it. What angered me is the sense of having no control at all.
TiredOfMicrosoftTryingToTeachUsHowToDoThings
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
Seriously, you have any amount of control. It's all there in the options. What you did (and fair enough, we all do it) was make an assumption which turned out to be wrong, which was that the 'upgrade' to Outlook 2007 would port all your OE settings as-is, semantically identical and unchanged.

Problem is, Outlook is most definitely not the same thing as Outlook Express, despite the name similarity. OE is not a 'free' version of Outlook. They are fundamentally different products that sprang from the same well (the old Exchange 5 mail client). Installing Outlook 2007 is not truly 'upgrading' Outlook Express, and while Microsoft does the user a favour by offering to port their settings (much as Firefox offers to port your IE settings), you should not expect a seamless handover between two different products. It's common sense, I find, not to do so.

The occasional login prompt problem you describe can happen when, for whatever reason, your connection to the server is unreliable. If an attempt to log in via POP3 with the stored credentials fails, Outlook will prompt you to enter the credentials again.

Meanwhile, the defalt for Outlook is to do a send / receive cycle on each configured account every 20 minutes or so. It would go ahead and try the stored credentials again, and if this time it succeeded, would proceed to do the send / receive in the way you describe.

All of this is entirely logical and predictable. None of these things is some weird Microsoft-specific 'standard' behaviour. This is how pretty much all POP3 clients will behave by default.

Ultimately, then, this is all about an assumption that you made when you installed Outlook 2007, which turned out to be false. While you could perhaps blame Microsoft for making the porting of settings less than perfect, it would have been common sense to have checked everything after the install anyway.

One to chalk up to experience, I think.
Outlook Express != Outlook
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
Why would anybody's grandmother be setting up Outlook to read their gmail by pop3 anyway?
Stephen Jones Send private email
Friday, June 06, 2008
 
 
"I feel your pain too, ignore the dweebs here who would blame it on the customer. That software does you a great disservice when you can accidentally destroy something so important."

Destroy? It's moved it from the server to the client. That's what it's meant to do, and it hasn't been 'destroyed'.
Craig Welch Send private email
Saturday, June 07, 2008
 
 
Microsoft OutLook has been nothing but absolute brain-damage. It is not standards-compliant, it top-posts, it sends a lot of HTML-only email by default, it has a slow search. I've been happily using kmail on Linux for a long time now, and I backup my email regularly.

What do you expect: that Microsoft will make a program that has no bugs? My suggestion for you is to switch to Mozilla Thunderbird or something like that. Anything but Microsoft LookOut.
Shlomi Fish Send private email
Saturday, June 07, 2008
 
 
I feel your pain.  Outlook did the same thing to my Yahoo account a few years back. 

The little box that you need to uncheck to avoid having your mailbox cleaned out isn't even available in the "add a new mail account" wizard.  You have to start the process, then race to find and uncheck that box before Outlook has done too much damage!
Jason Kester Send private email
Saturday, June 07, 2008
 
 
----"The little box that you need to uncheck to avoid having your mailbox cleaned out isn't even available in the "add a new mail account" wizard. "-----

It is. More settings|Advanced Settings
Stephen Jones Send private email
Saturday, June 07, 2008
 
 
"moved" - that's the keyword. Microsoft moved but they didn't copy. They should have copied since GMail is an external non-MS program and let the user himself delete his mails on GMail. MS doesn't have any right to change content on GMail.
Ezani
Sunday, June 08, 2008
 
 
Why is Outlook getting the blame instead of Gmail. Outlook was on the market first and was designed to connect to Exchange, IMAP and POP3. Why should Outlook have special modes to cope with Gmail? For years (or even decades) home users have connected to their ISP to download their email. Everyone was happy. Then Google comes along with gmail and tries to invent a new concept of 'never delete another email again'. Someone hacks together a POP3 connector so you can use Outlook with this BETA webmail product that is attempting re-define how you store you email. It goes wrong.

Prehaps if gmail wasn't still in Beta, Microsoft might be able to code special cases for it. No one in their right mind would modify one of their core products to work with an upstart product that is still in Beta.
Adrian
Monday, June 09, 2008
 
 
Why is Outlook getting the blame instead of Gmail. Outlook was on the market first and was designed to connect to Exchange, IMAP and POP3. Why should Outlook have special modes to cope with Gmail?

It's not a requirement to have a special mode to cope with GMail - in this instance, GMail is just a.n.other POP3 system.

Stephen - which version of Outlook are you on to see that setting.  It's not in the newer of the two versions I used.  In fact, I actually get a popup during the setup process telling me that I have to start Outlook and change the setting in there to stop the mail getting deleted.  So the only way to make sure you don't get the stuff deleted on the server in that instance is to change Outlook to start in offline mode, so you can fire it up without it connecting.

It seems perfectly sensible that you should see the setting during setup, and it should be more prominent.  I wouldn't class it as an "Advanced" setting myself.
So no, it's not just you
Monday, June 09, 2008
 
 
"Microsoft OutLook has been nothing but absolute brain-damage. It is not standards-compliant,"

Actually, if it removed email from the server during a pop3 receive then in this case it was following the standards. But lets not let the facts of the case stand in the way of another "Linux rools, Microsoft are teh suck" rant that doesn't address the issue at hand.
Rob Moir Send private email
Monday, June 09, 2008
 
 
This is another example of something that happens quite a lot in IT. You've been given exactly what you asked for without the program / its coders stopping to consider if that is what you actually meant.

As I spent a fair amount of time delving into how stuff like email works at quite deep levels I'd certainly blame myself if this happened to me, I should know better, but it's hard to say that this behaviour that's logical in the context of the computer is really logical in the context of the human using it.
Rob Moir Send private email
Monday, June 09, 2008
 
 
ezani: ""moved" - that's the keyword. Microsoft moved but they didn't copy. They should have copied since GMail is an external non-MS program and let the user himself delete his mails on GMail. MS doesn't have any right to change content on GMail."

Wrong. MS has every right. The POP3 protocol says that once mail is received by the client it should be deleted from the server. Outlook did just that, and nothing else. MS did nothing wrong.

Being able to leave the messages on the server is supported by everyone, but is actually a violation of the protocol.

The OP is at fault here, because the OP didn't change the default (protocol compliant) setting. You choosing to blame MS for something that isn't their fault is typical /. behavior; you should be ashamed of yourself for not being more intelligent.

OP: Complaining that "Outlook did bad. Wah! Wah! Wah!" doesn't change the fact that it was your poor judgement that caused the problem. Outlook did nothing wrong. You did. Suck it up and accept your mistake, and learn from it so you don't do it again in the future.
Ken White Send private email
Monday, June 09, 2008
 
 
Rob,

Sorry, but I have to disagree. The programmers wrote to the POP3 protocol; that specifies the behavior expected (the removal of the messages from the server when received by the client). This should have been the expected behavior - it's the OP's fault that his expectations were wrong.

The ability to leave the messages on the server after receipt by the client is not protocol-compliant, and is an add-in that was done as an "enhancement". To expect this non-compliant *enhancement* to be the default in Outlook is wrong; standards-compliant behavior should be the default, and Outlook did it right. The OP is wrong, not Outlook or MS.
Ken White Send private email
Monday, June 09, 2008
 
 
If you want to keep your messages on the server and also view them with an email client like outlook, you are best off switching your gmail account to IMAP. It's an easy switch; just requires toggling a single setting.  Email clients will all leave messages on the server, in folders the way you want them.  Also, if you do this, you will be able to all of your messages back onto gmail within outlook (you can drag messages from local outlook folders into the gmail folders.)

Of course, you probably will have to re-organize everything and relabel & star and all of that BS.  But, the lesson here is that using POP3 that way is sort of a hack-job and not what it was intended for.  IMAP is the way to go for the way you use it.
SM Send private email
Monday, June 09, 2008
 
 
Ken, you may have mis-understood me.

I fully appreciate how POP 3 works as you can see in my post above the one you replied to, where I already made the point to Shlomi Fish that you made to me.

My point is that this has resulted in lousy customer experience... If Outlook is upgrading from another *microsoft* client where the settings were to leave mail on the server, it should have been possible to interrogate the old client and either import their settings from that. Or at the very least Outlook could note that the user had non standard email settings of some kind and bring the matter to their attention so they could change it before using the client.

Or possibly GMail could step up to the plate and make it harder to remove email from their system (add a checkbox to *really* delete mail via pop 3 perhaps) as it's very much arguably their fault for behaving in a manner contrary to the POP3 standard. In retrospect the title of this thread ought to be "How GMail destroyed itself in one night" but I don't blame non-technical people for failing to understand the subtleties of internet standards.

Sometimes "technically correct" is the worst kind of correct.

Those of us here get paid to understand things like "How *exactly* does email work" or other equally obscure things. I'm surprised that this stuff actually appears to be news to some of the other people posting in this thread.

But... The average user's knowledge of email begins and ends with "I click this icon here, then I delete all the spam then I read what's left."
Rob Moir Send private email
Monday, June 09, 2008
 
 
Ken,

"#@*%&!" the POP3 protocol! If the standard demanded that you moved instead of copied, that leaves things in a very risky situation because you have no backup and if anything goes wrong, you lose the whole e-mail as in the OP's case. Also in this case, we are dealing with two different vendor products - a client from MSFT and a server from Google -- you don't go changing the content of another vendor's product.
Ezani
Monday, June 09, 2008
 
 
I tend to agree with Rob on this. Outlook is acting according to the protocol but this is not really what the user expects.

The problem with shifting from Outlook Express is that MS has deprecated OE, and of course Outlook only ever imported email address books and so on; the import wizard never looked at the leave on server problem.

Gmail and Yahoo also must bear part of the blame. There is no reason why they shouldn't send some kind of warning message before deleting.

@Ezani
Gmail isn't a program and Outlook is not interacting with a program. It is pulling mail from a mail server using the POP3  protocol
Stephen Jones Send private email
Monday, June 09, 2008
 
 
ok, nobody seems to offer a solution..?

do this trick, if you still have all your mail in outlook 2007.

go to your gmail account
in settings enable imap, save

now add an account in outlook 2007,
an imap account for google.
follow googles description on how to do that.

make sure your pop account in outlook doesnt work,
disable it but dont delete it.

now, select all messages (ctrl-a) in your inbox.
drag and drop them in imap.gmail inbox
do same for sent, drop in imap sent

uploading will take quite some time, but worth the effort!

good luck, Dirk Jan
Dirk Jan Luiting Send private email
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
 
 
oh yes,
first, you should make a copy of your pst files....
better make a backup before moving emails..
Dirk Jan Luiting Send private email
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
 
 
Ezani: ""#@*%&!" the POP3 protocol! If the standard demanded that you moved instead of copied, that leaves things in a very risky situation because you have no backup and if anything goes wrong, you lose the whole e-mail as in the OP's case."

But you're wrong. If the standard requires it, behavior that supports the standard is correct. Google did nothing wrong here; neither did Outlook.

"Also in this case, we are dealing with two different vendor products - a client from MSFT and a server from Google -- you don't go changing the content of another vendor's product."

Again, you're wrong. That's entirely the purpose of having standards - so that implementations that support the standards work regardless of which vendor (or combination of vendors) you use. Saying that one vendor shouldn't do something to another vendors product is wrong; if they are both standards-compliant, then doing something in one vendor's product should have zero negative effects (IOW, non-standards-compliant effect) on the other vendor's product. And here it didn't - Outlook did exactly what POP3 standards said it should, and gmail allowed it exactly as POP3 standards said it should.

The fact that you don't agree with the way the standard was implemented means nothing (except that you disagree). The standard was designed the way it is, regardless of how you or the OP feels about it, and complying with that standard (regardless of how you feel about it) can't be wrong. The fact that you say it is is your opinion, but as I said it means nothing. Compliance is compliance, whether or not you agree with the standard's definition, and no matter how many times you repeat yourself won't change that fact.
Ken White Send private email
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
 
 
Rob: "Ken, you may have mis-understood me."

Possibly, but I don't think so. I was specifically addressing this part of your post:

"You've been given exactly what you asked for without the program / its coders stopping to consider if that is what you actually meant."

Implementation according to the defined standard has nothing to do with whether the coders considered what the user actually meant. Compliance means compliance.

As far as the settings not being correctly carried over from OE to Outlook, I guess I'd concede that that's an error on MS's part. However, I *never* blindly say "Carry over my settings to a new version (or new application)." and then use it without verifying that critical settings were carried over. I'm actually in a conversation with Grisoft's Tech Support about the inability of AVG 8 to upgrade an AVG 7 installation and carry over the settings from a previous version; they not only don't carry over the settings correctly, but the GUI has changed so drastically with the new version that it's almost impossible to find the correct place to fix the incorrectly applied settings.

Perhaps the problem here is that the user's expectations were based on their misconception or misunderstanding of what Outlook would do. I still don't think that can be entirely blamed on MS; the OP appears to at least have a rudimentary understanding of POP3, but apparently didn't bother to think about it before just blindly saying OK. The fact that Outlook did what it was supposed to do isn't a bug; it's a misconfiguration by the upgrade process that was not correctly validated by the user before the software was used.
Ken White Send private email
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
 
 
"Implementation according to the defined standard has nothing to do with whether the coders considered what the user actually meant. Compliance means compliance."

Microsoft are in a difficult position here. They're frequently criticised for not following the standards and now they have and it sounds like I'm criticising them for it.

The fact of the matter is that the user has had a bad experience and this is something that "the computer" (from a user's point of view, regardless of who owns the lines of code that are at fault) should be smart enough to have caught.

But also, you're right. You should code to the standards in general terms. I'd argue that there are a couple of edge cases here that Microsoft could have used and caught this:

1) When upgrading / migrating from another client, capture the user's settings if possible, or at the very least draw the user's attention to the need to check settings prior to fetching mail for the first time.

2) Regardless of point 1 above, in the specific case of email providers like Google who can't be bothered to think through the consequences of their actions, they could throw a specific exception that says "OK, these people are using Gmail. Gmail is run by idiots*. Therefore, I'm going to (turn off pop3 delete and make user turn it on /OR/ set the standard config but warn user that Gmail might have a problem with this"

(*What idiot at Google made pop3 available when using it as intended breaks the major features of their setup?)

Actually, the more I think about this, while it would be nice if Outlook had caught this, the people who "should" be catching it are Google. They should either not offer POP3 support as it breaks their system to some degree, or they should implement a non-standard server that ignores the POP3 DELE verb unless the user ticks a little box somewhere to turn it on.
Rob Moir Send private email
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
 
 
I think it was in the other thread that was spawned by this, but someone pointed out that the user interface is orthogonal to the API. A standards-compliant POP3 email client should issue exactly the commands that the standard calls for, and respond exactly as the standard dictates.

What is reported to the user through the UI is a completely different question. The implementation of the API was not at fault, it was the implementation of the UI.
Drew Kime Send private email
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
 
 
-----"What idiot at Google made pop3 available when using it as intended breaks the major features of their setup"------

Perhaps it was revenge. No web mail client wants POP3 because it means you don't see the ads. Yahoo used to insist you had ads with the mail if you set up POP3.

POP3 was only introduced because loads of nerds asked for it. Perhaps Google thought to teach them a lesson.
Stephen Jones Send private email
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
 
 
Here is a quick summary of how I see this discussion.

Neither Microsoft nor Google are to be blamed for implementing standard behaviour of the POP3 protocol. That's exactly what standards are for.

Gmail could be improved a bit. I don't use Gmail myself, but I assume that deleted mails are moved into a "Deleted Mails" folder when working with the online interface. Why isn't this done when mails are fetched with POP3? But that's no blame either, it would just be a useful option.

Microsoft is partially to be blamed. First, for a misleading product name (Outlook Express vs. Outlook) leading to false assumptions for the average user. Second, for assuming what the user wants without giving an indication of what happens. Third, for immediately starting the action before the user can readjust the options. IOW, a complete UI failure.

But there are also two lessons for the OP.

1) You were successfully social-engineered by finally giving your credentials though you didn't intend to do so. Don't let this happen again.

2) Never test against a productive system, always use a test environment (e.g. a second freemail account). You just want to see what an aplication looks like? Install it in a virtual machine.

A last tip before you have to learn a third lesson: Before doing anything to restore the mails to Gmail, make a backup of the downloaded copy, make sure the backup works and safely store it away.
Secure
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
 
 
I hadn't thought of that angle Stephen. Interesting idea that. I'm sure Google wouldn't do something as evil as that though ;-)
Rob Moir Send private email
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
 
 

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