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One of my users has three email accounts, two POP and one Exchange on a machine with Office 2003. I set up a new machine with Office 2007 and when I added the two POP and one Exchange account, her Inbox on both machines filled up with over two thousand unread emails (instead of only 45 unread emails prior to my tinkering). I have two questions: 1. How can I fix this mess?
2. What should I have done instead?

Thanks for all your help!

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The POP3 protocol does not have any method for keeping track of which messages are read vs. unread. That is functionality usually implemented in the client.

For example, in Outlook 2007, by clicking the "More Settings" button in the "Change E-mail Account" window, you're presented with a "Internet E-mail Settings" window. In this window, under the "Advanced" tab, there is an option to "Leave a copy of messages on the server". When this option is enabled, the client will not delete messages after downloading. The client keeps a track locally of what messages have been downloaded.

So, when you switch clients, that local tracking process starts over, hence the thousands of "old" e-mails being downloaded.

It's a limitation of the POP3 protocol, so there's not much you can do. If the email provider also provides an IMAP service, you may consider switching to it, as that protocol can keep track of read vs. unread on the server.

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Thanks, chuckx. If I switch from POP3 to IMAP on the new machine (the old one is still running), will it cause any problems? Is there anything else of which I should be aware? Thanks, again for your help! – Charles Aug 20 '10 at 19:34
It really depends on the who's running the e-mail service. For example, with gmail there's no problem using both protocols in parallel. – chuckx Aug 20 '10 at 19:59

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