Outlook Hotmail Connector or POP3?

Since the HTTP method of accessing my Live Hotmail account in Outlook is no longer supported, I found that I have the option to either use the Outlook Hotmail Connector or configure it via POP3.

What is the difference and which one should I choose?

The method that you should choose basically depends on the following;

  • your mail client/version of Outlook
  • need for 2-way-sync
  • support for other folders
  • support for other features

Your mail client/version of Outlook

This one is simple; if you are not using Outlook 2003 or later, then you cannot use the Outlook Connector but will have to use POP3 instead.

Need for 2-way-sync

As POP3 only supports downloading from the main Inbox folder of the web based account, changes that you make locally will not reflect back on the server. For instance, when you mark a message as read or reply to it in Outlook, the message won’t be marked as read or show that it has been replied to on the server.
Also, any sent item will be stored within Outlook only and won’t show in the Sent Items folder on the server.

When you use the Outlook Connector, these changes will also be synched back to the server and any sent item will show in the Sent Items folder on the server as well.

Support for other folders

When connecting to your Live Hotmail account via POP3, you won’t be able to sync with your online Calendar and Contacts folder from Live Hotmail either. Additional mail folders that you might have created as well, won’t be available in Outlook either. To download the message items from the other folders to Outlook via POP3, you’ll have to move these messages back to the Inbox folder.

The Outlook Connector supports downloading the Calendar, Contacts and any additional mail folders and make them available to you in Outlook. Also, when you make any changes to them in Outlook, these changes will also be synched back to the server.

Support for other features

Using the POP3 protocol to access your Live Hotmail account still does have some advantages though;

  • No limits;
    As you are downloading all your emails to the local storage in Outlook and have the option to remove them from the server while still have them in Outlook permanently, you are not bound to the on-line storage limits. However, considering that the current storage limit for Live Hotmail accounts is 500GB, I think that is a bit of a non-advantage.
  • Rules support;
    Rules that you have created in Outlook do not apply to Outlook Connector accounts. If you want to apply any rules to your Live Hotmail account, you’ll have to do that via the web interface and there you are pretty much limited to moving or deleting messages based on the name/address of the sender or some keywords. When you connect via POP3, you’ll have the full range of Outlook rules at your disposal.
  • Alias support;
    The current version of the Outlook Connector supports sending out via the address of your Live Hotmail account only. If you have your own domain and have set aliases for your Live Hotmail account, then you cannot choose to send out with this alias instead but will always send out with your Live Hotmail address. When you connect via POP3, you are free to set the outgoing address to your alias instead in your account settings.
  • Retention policies;
    When you use POP3 to connect to your Live Hotmail account, you won’t be bound to their retention period. Currently, messages that are in the Deleted Items folder or Junk Email folder in a Live Hotmail account, are kept there for at least 5 days and can get purged automatically after that. These retention settings won’t apply to the folders that you keep locally in Outlook when connecting to your Live Account via POP3.
    Note though that, when connection via POP3, there is no way to see the messages in the Junk Email folder that are filtered by the server, and thus are kept in the Junk Email folder on-line, other than to log in via the web interface.

Note: For the connection settings for either POP3 or the Outlook Connector, see Configure Live Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo or AOL.