Comparing free email clients to Outlook 2010, can I find faster IMAP & MAPI?

Posted by Paul Braren on Sep 12 2011 (updated on Aug 14 2014) in
  • Mobile
  • Productivity
  • I've been using Mozilla Thunderbird, Zimbra Desktop, and Windows Live Mail for a couple of weeks, trying to find the best solution for my needs.

    I use since 1997 for POP and more recently IMAP email.  I also use, MobileMe, and Hotmail (which is the oddball here, uses MAPI instead of IMAP, used for all my web orders & SPAM).  I need to keep separate email accounts, and don't wish to configure email forwarding.

    This all works fine from my iPhone 4, of course, and fast too.

    But back on my PC:  I like the concept of a single inbox view (like in iOS), which Zimbra and Live Mail both have, but speed is an even more important concern for me, as I've found Outlook 2010 to be too darn sluggish in dealing with my large local email, even when stored on SSD.  My pst files are between 1GB and 2GB in size.

    I'll post a follow-up here, once I have a better sense of which email client works best for me, with the best speed.  I should also note I don't care as much about calendar and contacts, it's mostly the speed at which I can navigate my bloated inboxes that matters.

    Update, Sep 20, 2011:

    It looks like the verdict is in:  once I load these up with a few thousand IMAP messages, the speeds I'm seeing are very similar to Microsoft Office 64 bit Outlook 2010, so I'm going to have to table this project for now, and keep living with Outlook 2010 for a while longer.

    Update, May 2, 2012:

    This issue with Live Mail and its poor handling of photos continues to plague me and many others, sad that it's not getting fixed, otherwise I'd probably make the clean break from Outlook:

    It also turned into quite a pain to get the address books just right, but I would have to rate the 3 thusly, after a few dozen hours of hands-on time:

    1) Windows Live Mail

    Nice UI, and very easy to set up with full Hotmail support and easy to get used to the UI, with very slick "All inbox" and "Unread email" views, but ultimately about the same speed as Outlook and missing calendar and address book imports that'd make the transition easier

    2) Zimbra

    Pretty fast and good "All mailboxes, Inbox" view, but had trouble with more complex email account configuration ( IMAP inbound and SSL through outbound), and tough to use for Hotmail compatibility

    3) Thunderbird

    Fast, but just "different" enough in subtle ways to become annoying, with no unified inbox, and no easy Hotmail compatibility

    Finally, here's an admittedly a bit older and biased look at the features of these 3 email clients, but the nice graphic is handy:


    Update, July 30, 2012:

    Well, a lot has changed, including:
    Windows Live Mail is getting discontinued
    Mozilla Thunderbird is getting discontinued
    Windows 8 Mail (part of Windows 8) is getting IMAP support
    Office 2013 Outlook still has no Unified Inbox

    so back to the drawing board. For now, I'll just have to wait and see how Windows 8 Mail works out, or live with Outlook 2013's multiple inboxes, or just give up and go to gmail, assuming it ever handles multiple IMAP accounts more smoothly. Or Sparrow for Windows?