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Posted at 6:45 AM ET, 11/22/2010

PostPoints tip: If you put in data, make sure you can take it out

By Rob Pegoraro

Facebook ate up the news the previous Monday by introducing a major upgrade to its messaging system that lets you use it as an all-purpose e-mail account. The new Messages option isn't available to everybody yet, but even if it were I'd suggest holding off. Why? For now, there's no quick, easy way to read and write Facebook messages outside the site's services and software, using the mail program of your choice. At a minimum, wait until the Palo Alto, Calif., company delivers on the promise of offline synchronization with regular mail programs (using a standard called IMAP, short for Internet Message Access Protocol). I don't doubt Facebook's sincerity about delivering that feature--it added a site-wide data-download feature in October that will export everything on your profile--but it's worth sticking to principle here. (You do remember the usual disclosure about Post Co. chairman Don Graham sitting on Facebook's board of directors, right? If not, consider this your reminder.)

This goes for other Web services too. AOL and Google's Gmail, for example, each provide free offline downloading and synchronization of your messages and so earn some points with me, while Yahoo Mail loses out by charging for that feature. It can, however, be tricky to see if you can take the data and run; if you're not sure, go to a site's help section and search for words like "download," "export" and "sync."

(About the "PostPoints tip" title: Since July, I've been archiving each tip-of-the-week e-mail we send to PostPoints members under this blog's "Tips" category. Today's item went out on Nov. 16.)

By Rob Pegoraro  | November 22, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Tips  
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I wish more web mail providers would give us an IMAP option. If I use POP3 with my account, any folders I create in the web interface are not carried to Outlook, and any folders I create in Outlook don't get to the web account. But I want to be able to download my e-mail into a laptop, and read them while not connected to the web.

Posted by: jcflack1 | November 22, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

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