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Message 1 of 9

POP3/SMTP not working properly when emails are downloaded from the BT mail server to an iPad

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I apologise in advance for the long post.  As I state at the end, I strongly suspect that the problem concerns Apple software but I wanted to determine whether there is a BT aspect that I have missed.

My wife and I have five different email addresses between us, all at btinternet.com.  Our main two email addresses direct emails to the Microsoft Outlook client on our Windows 10 desktop PC at home.  However, we each have an Android based mobile phone and, if we want emails directed to our phones, we have another two email addresses for that purpose.  Finally, my wife has an Apple iPad and, if she wants emails directed to the iPad, she has another email address for that purpose.  So, five email addresses altogether and the connection between each of the mail clients and the BT mail server is POP3/SMTP - that is, we don’t use IMAP.

Superficially, all this has been working perfectly for a number of years.  I say “superficially” because my wife has just bought a new iPad and I have been configuring it for her.  During this process, I discovered something disturbing.  For each of the five POP3/SMTP connections between the mail clients and the BT mail server, we specify that when an email is retrieved from the BT mail server and downloaded to the client, that email is to be deleted from the server Inbox.  But, because of something strange that happened during the configuration process (which I needn’t relate here), I decided to use the iPad email address to sign into BT Webmail and, to my horror, I discovered that all emails received by the Mail client on the iPad since just before Christmas 2019 were still in the Inbox on the BT mail server!  That is, they had not been deleted when they were downloaded to the iPad.  Conversely though, all emails received by the Mail client on the iPad before that date just before Christmas 2019 had been deleted from the Inbox on the BT mail server.

I have checked the Inbox on the BT mail server for each of the other four email addresses and each one is empty.  So, this is just a problem with the POP3/SMTP connection between the Mail client on the iPad and the BT mail server.

There is a further disturbing aspect to this problem.  I sent a test email to the Mail client on the iPad.  As expected, the email arrived in the Inbox on the Mail client and a copy remained in the Inbox on the BT Mail server.  I then deleted the email in the Inbox on the Mail client and subsequently signed into BT Webmail.  To my horror, I discovered that the test email had also disappeared from the Inbox on the BT mail server.  This shouldn’t happen using POP3/SMTP.  It therefore appears that the POP3/SMTP connection between the Mail client and the BT mail server is acting like an IMAP connection!  That is, the two inboxes are being kept in sync.

The question is, where do I go from here?  Is this by any chance a problem at the BT end?  For example, did some change occur at the BT end just before Christmas 2019?

However, because the problem doesn’t exist for each of the other four email addresses, I strongly suspect that the problem lies with the Apple software.  Specifically, there is a defect in later versions of iPadOS whereby iPadOS is not processing POP3/SMTP accounts as configured.  Quite simply, it looks as though iPadOS is now simply treating a POP3/SMTP account as if it were an IMAP account.

I know how to provide feedback to Apple but nothing is likely to happen, at least in the short term.  So, I might have to consider installing another email client on my wife’s new iPad.  My natural inclination would be to try the Outlook and Gmail clients because I am familiar with them, at least on Windows and Android, but I would welcome any other suggestions.  Clearly, whichever client I choose, it must support POP3/SMTP and process a POP3/SMTP account correctly.

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Message 2 of 9

Re: POP3/SMTP not working properly when emails are downloaded from the BT mail server to an iPad

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Have you gone into the iPad settings to check that it is indeed set up as POP3 account.

The settings should be as per the following link.

BT Email server settings | BT Help

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Message 3 of 9

Re: POP3/SMTP not working properly when emails are downloaded from the BT mail server to an iPad

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As you surmise, the problem is clearly with Apple as your other devices behave as expected.

You can verify this by simply adding the account to one of the devices that operate POP3 correctly. If the errant address operates correctly on that device it proves the problem lies with Apple and not BT.

I can confirm that I use POP3 and don't leave messages on the server with Windows and MS Outlook. This behaves as expected.

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Message 4 of 9

Re: POP3/SMTP not working properly when emails are downloaded from the BT mail server to an iPad

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That’s ridiculously complicated.  Why not just use IMAP and have it sent to all devices?

And, while I think about it, I do hope you’re not under the impression that is more secure.  If so, look up how email travels across the internet.

 

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Message 5 of 9

Re: POP3/SMTP not working properly when emails are downloaded from the BT mail server to an iPad

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Thank you @gg30340 .

Yes, I've checked the settings more than once, paying particular attention to the port numbers. Everything is as it should be for a POP3/SMTP account.

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Message 6 of 9

Re: POP3/SMTP not working properly when emails are downloaded from the BT mail server to an iPad

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Than you @PlanetVisitor .

To answer your question, my wife and I send and receive many emails and we don’t want our mobile phones and the iPad swamped with them.  MS Outlook on our Windows 10 desktop PC is by far the best tool for managing a lot of emails.  We divulge and use our other email addresses only in specific circumstances.

Typically, if I am out of the house and on the phone to someone, and that person wants to send me an email whose contents I need while I am still out, I will tell that person to send the email to my phone email address.  After I have used the information in the email, I will either forward it to my main email address and then delete the email on my phone or, if I don’t need the email any longer, I will simply delete it.  At any one time, there are typically no emails stored on my phone.

When we are away from home for an extended period of time, such as on vacation, we always take the iPad with us.  If someone wants to send us emails while we are away, and reading those emails cannot wait until we return home, we will ask for those emails to be sent to our iPad email address.  Those emails are then managed in a way similar to the way we manage emails on our phones.  Typically, there are only a handful of emails stored on the iPad at any one time.

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Message 7 of 9

Re: POP3/SMTP not working properly when emails are downloaded from the BT mail server to an iPad

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Have you tried the suggestion in message 3?

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Message 8 of 9

Re: POP3/SMTP not working properly when emails are downloaded from the BT mail server to an iPad

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Thank you @gg30340 .

No, I hadn’t, because I was convinced that the problem lay within the Apple code.  But, prompted by your post, I have now and, after a number of tests, it has led to a discovery.

On the iPad, when you configure a POP3/SMTP account, you have three options for the value of the setting Delete from server.  You can choose Never, Seven days, or When removed from Inbox.  I chose the last one on the understanding that it was referring to Inbox on the mail server.  But it was not.  It now transpires that it was referring to the Inbox on the iPad Mail client.  So, while emails remain in the Inbox on the iPad Mail client, they remain in the Inbox on the BT mail server as well!

There is a similar situation with the Gmail app on my Android based mobile phone.  When configuring a POP3/SMTP account, the value of the setting Delete emails from server can be Never or When I delete from Inbox, where the Inbox refers to the Inbox on the Gmail app, not the Inbox on the mail server.  So, once again, while emails remain in the Inbox on the Gmail app, they remain in the Inbox on the BT mail server.

The situation on the MS Outlook client on our Windows 10 desktop PC is slightly different.  When configuring a POP3/SMTP account, there is a tick box labelled Leave a copy of messages on server.  If you don’t tick that, it means that when an email is downloaded from the server to the client, the email is immediately deleted from the server.  Because I have been working with MS Outlook for more years than I have been using the Gmail app or the iPad Mail client, my familiarity with this model was causing me to interpret the Gmail and iPad settings in a way different to how they should have been interpreted.

So, all this explains why there were emails left in the Inbox on the BT mail server while the same emails were still in the Inbox on the iPad Mail client.  And it also explains why there were no emails left in the Inbox on the BT mail server for the Gmail clients on our mobile phones - as I stated in message 6, typically, we don’t store any emails on our mobile phones.

The only thing that remains unexplained is why a few emails more than four years old are still in the Inbox on the iPad Mail client but are not present in the Inbox on the BT mail server.  I can only surmise that perhaps BT has a policy of not allowing emails to remain on a mail server indefinitely, and emails more than four years old are deleted.  Perhaps someone can confirm?

My thanks also to @licquorice .

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Message 9 of 9

Re: POP3/SMTP not working properly when emails are downloaded from the BT mail server to an iPad

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Interesting, glad you got to the bottom of it. That's useful information to know.

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