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Thunderbird & BT

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  • 1 has this problem
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  • Last reply by Toad-Hall

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I know that this is a topic that has been addressed before, but is there a definitve answer?! I am changing ISP from Timico & keme mail to BT Internet. I'm going for a................@btinternet.com address. I've looked on various forums and there seem to be conflicting views. I'll outline them and my concerns: Is it in fact possible to keep Thunderbird with BT Internet?; I've seen differing answers; Would it be POP or IMAP?; differing answers again; Is there anyone on this forum who is successfully using Thunderbird with BT Internet? I'd be very grateful for that definitive answer!

I know that this is a topic that has been addressed before, but is there a definitve answer?! I am changing ISP from Timico & keme mail to BT Internet. I'm going for a................@btinternet.com address. I've looked on various forums and there seem to be conflicting views. I'll outline them and my concerns: Is it in fact possible to keep Thunderbird with BT Internet?; I've seen differing answers; Would it be POP or IMAP?; differing answers again; Is there anyone on this forum who is successfully using Thunderbird with BT Internet? I'd be very grateful for that definitive answer!

Chosen solution

You may find BT help pages say:

  • IMAP always syncs with the BT Email server, so any changes you make in your email program will also appear in your webmail inbox
  • POP3 doesn’t sync with the BT Email server so changes you make in your email program will not be transferred to your webmail inbox and could be lost

This makes it sound like POP could lose emails, but what they do not mention is that if the email has been deleted from an imap folder, it will be lost from server by default. If you delete a pop email, but do not have settings to delete off server (which you can do in Thunderbird), then it is possible to force another download of all emails on server and if you have not compacted the folder, there are other ways to force the email to be displayed again. So, I repeat, whether pop or imap remember to do a backup and store it in a eg: external hardrive. As a minimum: I would suggest a backup the first time you set up account and download emails. I would suggest a backup is done prior to updating each version of Thunderbird.

You will find much advise likes to push you towards Imap, after all the server then has full access to all your emails including everything you send. And all businesses would prefer you to use their webmail account :)

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re :Is it in fact possible to keep Thunderbird with BT Internet? If any server offers pop and/or imap and smtp then Thunderbird which is just a program running on your computer, can access server to download/send and display emails in ether pop or imap.


I use BT as ISP and have a bt email address. I have used Thunderbird to access emails for decades. I'm using a POP mail account to do this, but imap would work equally as well. It just depends which you prefer to use.

Pop works best if you only use one computer - one device to read emails. Imap works best if you need to access mail from various computers or also access emails via a phone. There is no right or wrong in Pop versus Imap, it is purely down to your requirements and preferences. (Gmail however, works best as Imap.)

Pop simply accesses the server Inbox and downloads to the pop mail account Inbox. You can choose to keep copies on server (Set up in Account Settings > Server Settings) or not. There is no synchronising between the server Inbox and the pop account Inbox folder. So if you accessed your webmail account and deleted a load of old emails to create space on server, it would not delete any emails in the Thunderbird pop account. All pop account folders and their contents are stored on your computer in the Thunderbird profile folders as a completely independent copy. eg: Sent emails will show in pop account 'Sent' folder, which is created automatically the first time you send an email. In BT webmail account you will not see any of those 'sent' emails because the only copy is in the pop account and pop folders do not sycnhronise with server folders.

Imap accounts can see only what is on server. All imap folders synchronise with folders of same name on server. So if you delete an email in Thunderbird imap account, it will get deleted off server. Also, if you accessed webmail account and deleted an email, then when you open Thunderbird, it will synchronise with server and auto delete that email from the imap folder. In effect, the server folders and the imap account folders are one and the same. The benefit is this: you can logon to webmail account to see identical emails and identical folders and therefore you can access via another imap account on another computer or phone to see everything. But do not consider the copy in Thunderbird is a truelly independent copy as it can only show what is one server.

Regardless of whether you use POP or IMAP you should still create a backup periodically, but ensure the imap account really has downloaded full copies of emails in all folders first. It is possible to download just headers or set only specific folders to download full copies. Benefit being the server stores everything, so you do not need to use up a load of space on computer.

So, it depends upon your needs. I only read emails from one computer - periodically I check webmail using a browser to check nothing has got into the server Spam folder that should not be there or to delete old emails, but I just need incoming mail to the one device. So I created a POP mail account. It works very well.

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Chosen Solution

You may find BT help pages say:

  • IMAP always syncs with the BT Email server, so any changes you make in your email program will also appear in your webmail inbox
  • POP3 doesn’t sync with the BT Email server so changes you make in your email program will not be transferred to your webmail inbox and could be lost

This makes it sound like POP could lose emails, but what they do not mention is that if the email has been deleted from an imap folder, it will be lost from server by default. If you delete a pop email, but do not have settings to delete off server (which you can do in Thunderbird), then it is possible to force another download of all emails on server and if you have not compacted the folder, there are other ways to force the email to be displayed again. So, I repeat, whether pop or imap remember to do a backup and store it in a eg: external hardrive. As a minimum: I would suggest a backup the first time you set up account and download emails. I would suggest a backup is done prior to updating each version of Thunderbird.

You will find much advise likes to push you towards Imap, after all the server then has full access to all your emails including everything you send. And all businesses would prefer you to use their webmail account :)

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Helpful info: https://www.bt.com/help/email/manage-email-account/manual-settings/what-are-the-settings-for-outgoing-and-incoming-bt-email-servers

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/automatic-account-configuration When you create a mail account - but before you actually download any emails, always go through the Account Settings first to make sure all settings are exactly as required.

Example images of 'Server Settings' for a pop account and also Junk Settings.

If you create an Imap account then you can subscribe to see server folders:

  • Right click on imap account name and select 'Subscribe'
  • select folders and clickon 'Subscribe' and click on OK

More info on understanding and setting up settings for synchronisation: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/imap-synchronization

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Thanks again - I'll be going for POP. It's what I'm used to.

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Your help and comprehensive answer was just what I was looking for.

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adrian431 said

Your help and comprehensive answer was just what I was looking for.

Your welcome :)