Email is a perennial pain in my computing life. Whatever the platform or application, it makes me grind my teeth.

I have multiple online personae. There's the manager, the consultant, the stationer and the writer. Some of those roles break down further. Finance manager, sales manager, marketing department, customer service executive. I have lots of roles and titles.

In theory, each electronic identity belongs in a separate bucket. I have corporate accounts hosted on Exchange servers, my domains on Web Hosts, and a series of consumer addresses from tech giants past and present.

Email can be free or costly. Google will give you addresses for no money as long as you're happy for them to do as they please with your data. Exchange addresses are protected by firewalls, backed up, and entirely the business's property. Web hosts will provide IMAP email, a sort of lowest common denominator for email. It is perfectly functional, if somewhat basic.

The type and purpose of an email account will inform how it is best accessed. An Exchange account is most potent when accessed through Outlook on Windows. The whole stack is Microsoft and designed to work together. That said, the same combination works very well on Mac OS.

Like it or lump it, corporate email functions as a timesheet, filing cabinet and management tool all in one. Emails are categorised and filed and easily searchable for later use. Outlook has become a complex edifice, demonstrating how smart, organised, and hard-working we are. A personnel question in 2017? Just hang on, and I'll pull up the email. Paper clip expenditure in June 2021? Wait one, I'll pull up the approval. Outlook was the place for this, preferably on an Exchange server so that PST files could be preserved forever on backup discs, tapes and remote servers in Ulan Bator.

What about personal mail? Unthinkingly, I always ran my personal accounts in the same way. Whoever the provider, I would set up folders (or labels) and look to automate as much as possible. A digital clean-desk policy. Who would want notification of an interest rate change alongside confirmation that their pizza was on the way?

Both Lime and Loggedoff (the company that owns Nero's) have IMAP provided by a web host. Lime has one employee—me—and Nero has two. How many emails could there be?

"Too damn many" is the answer to that question! I need to get on top of email, and for the masochists or nerds amongst you, I will document the journey.

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