How to tell if your web-mail system is any good

Commercial Web Mail providers
HotMail No
Yahoo Mail No
Gmail Yes
Open Source Web Mail packages
IMP/Horde No
RoundCube Yes
SquirrelMail Yes
Hula Yes

Here’s a quick test to see if you web-mail system is any good:

When you first log in, does it show you your mail (your Inbox), or something else? If it shows you something other than your mail, what do they think you were logging in for?

The table to the right shows how the leading commercial and open-source web-mail systems stack up.


12 thoughts on “How to tell if your web-mail system is any good

  1. Russell: Actually, in the Yahoo! Mail Beta I have tried out (just double-checked), I still get a “welcome” page rather than the inbox when I first login.

  2. I really don’t understand why Yahoo! new Beta app still does this, just like the old version.

    Attention Yahoo! = I don’t want to read advertising or sign up for another service. I simply want to get to where my mail is and do something with it. Make me happy and I’ll pay for your services. Annoy me and I’ll avoid or leave all together.

    Add to the frustration that inside of the app, you have to deal with a giant blinking vertical ad in the right-side pane. Good thing Firefox and Camino can both block these ads outright. Surely there’s other, less intrusive ways to make money.

  3. Odd, Georgia Tech’s webmail installation ( uses IMP/Horde, and the first thing we see after logging in is the inbox. Perhaps this is configurable?

  4. I’ve used IMP/Horde on a number of systems, and the only time I don’t get my inbox automatically is when it’s ‘monthly maintenance’ day. Maybe that’s how it got the black mark.

  5. I think it should depend on whether or not you can configure where you’re sent upon login. I have always had my Horde installations configured (through the Options) to show me my mail once I log in.

  6. Just as an FYI for anyone else who happens to hit this page from Google: To make Horde/IMP show your inbox when you login you need to edit horde/config/prefs.php and set the value of $_prefs[‘initial_application’] to imp. Also, you probably want to switch the authentication backend to
    “Let a horde application handle authentication” and select IMP as the app in the Setup->Horde->Authentication tab.

    The fact that this isn’t in their FAQ is kind of strange. Maybe I’ll look at their wiki later tonight….

  7. This is an awesome post. You are so right. One note: in Horde you can customize your “Start” page but still, it should be that way by default.

  8. I love GMail!

    I was running a domain with some partners for a commercial project and got really tired of the default Squirrel Mail setup.

    After being pointed to Google’s Hosted Mail solution. I signed up my domain for the beta and was accepted into the test program (for up to 6 users on your domain). I needed only 5 for my 4 other partners and it’s really working out well!

  9. I use’s webmail. It’s just a modded version of Horde. It lets you choose to see your Inbox or your folders when you first log in.

    It’s a pay service. And there’s no rich-text … but I get to report (not “just-hit-delete”) the spam I get to the ISPs trafficking it.

  10. However, it may be worth mentioning that this has now been fixed for the new Yahoo Mail in beta.

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