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IMAP IDLE no longer working

FIXED
fnxweb
Dabbler
Posts: 19
Registered: 20-06-2011

IMAP IDLE no longer working

I've always fetched my mail to a local server, but in performing a migration to a new box I noticed an issue with PlusNet's IMAP comms:  my mail fetcher (“fetchmail”)  uses IMAP's IDLE command to await notification of new mails.  This notification is no longer happening (I'm 99% certain it was working a few years ago last time I had to investigate due to another PlusNet  IMAP issue).

I'm not losing connections, but after IDLE has been issued I see nothing until my end times out and issues a DONE (in preparation for cycling around for another IDLE).  If any email has turned up in this time (verified by monitoring PlusNet's webmail) instead of me getting the immediate reply telling me so, I only get told after I've issued the DONE.

This means I'm not being told about new emails for whatever the IDLE timeout period is (this defaults to 29 minutes, but mine is currently 4 mins. due to the aforementioned older issue [PlusNet drops IMAP connections after 5-10 mins. with no notification, leaving the client dangling until the end of the period when you get a comms error]).

Is anyone else in a position where they might see this or be able to verify it?  I have to presume someone running a mail client such as Thunderbird and connecting directly to PlusNet's mail server would see the same lags (but this is a test I have yet to run), but would they notice?

11 REPLIES
maranello
Pro
Posts: 1,004
Thanks: 90
Fixes: 1
Registered: 11-01-2008

Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working

@fnxweb

Unfortunately I can't help with your query, but within your post you mention 


fnxweb wrote:

PlusNet drops IMAP connections after 5-10 mins.

When using Windows Live Mail email client I frequently get time-out notifications, but have never managed to find out if the time-out period can be increased. Do you know if this is possible?


 

My other car isn't a Ferrari
fnxweb
Dabbler
Posts: 19
Registered: 20-06-2011

Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working

Not a clue, I'm afraid, I've never used it;  it would have to be an application-specific option.  The only thing I can suggest in your case is to see if there's a way to use polling over IMAP (with say a 1m. poll) instead of using IDLE.  Thunderbird allows this, but have deliberately (!) obfuscated the option's name so as not to scare ordinary users — “Allow instant server notification of new messages” — so you may have a similar option you can disable and just use a poll.

I may be doing that myself (well, I can now set the IDLE timeout so there's be less network activity as I won't be logging in every minute), as I see no evidence at the moment of PlusNet's IDLE working at all, even for short periods, but I need to do some more exhaustive tests at the weekend.

Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
Posts: 17,644
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working

Hi fnxweb, please do let us know how your testing goes.

If this post resolved your issue please click the 'This fixed my problem' button
 Chris Parr
 Plusnet Staff
PeeGee
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 1,088
Thanks: 47
Fixes: 3
Registered: 05-04-2009

Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working

I often wonder why people express a need for instant e-mail notification (on a domestic service) - is it that they cannot wait a short while? That is because I do not usually have a situation where I "wait expectantly" for an e-mail, so a short delay between availability and reading is not a problem.

That said, I do run a cron task which uses "getmail", instead of "fetchmail"*, to "move" e-mail to a local mail server at 30min intervals when I may be likely to be using a computer - outside that time they can wait! IDLE is not an option as I fetch from more than one e-mail account.

My e-mail client also has accounts to fetch mail directly, should the need arise, and for "catchall" access.

Phil

* Don't remember the reason!

Plusnet Fibre (Sep 2014), Essentials (Feb 2013); ADSL (Apr 2009); Customer since Jan 2004 (on 28kb dial-up)
Using a TP-Link TD-W9980 modem-router.
fnxweb
Dabbler
Posts: 19
Registered: 20-06-2011

Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working

Well, I'll admit there's an argument for learning patience with message receipt, but the every increasing use of instant messaging suggests that's a lost battle 😀

As it happens, I starting noticing the lag recently as there seems to be an increasing prevalence of password reset /proof of ID / acknowledge emails that only have a shelf life of 10 minutes (and this timeout I'm seeing would mean they rarely get received in time.
This used to be about a day or two — I guess patience is no longer a virtue.
Superuser
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Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working

PeeGee
Aspiring Pro
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Registered: 05-04-2009

Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working


fnxweb wrote:
As it happens, I starting noticing the lag recently as there seems to be an increasing prevalence of password reset /proof of ID / acknowledge emails that only have a shelf life of 10 minutes (and this timeout I'm seeing would mean they rarely get received in time.

That is a problem, though I cater for that (urgent and expected) situation through an account in my client that bypasses the local server.

I'm still in the recent Dark Ages - I even have my client set to not display HTML (I have a browser to display web pages Shocked ). When on a metered connection I had a 10k limit on e-mail sizes during metered times and downloaded the rest, plus updates etc, during the unmetered period.

Phil

Plusnet Fibre (Sep 2014), Essentials (Feb 2013); ADSL (Apr 2009); Customer since Jan 2004 (on 28kb dial-up)
Using a TP-Link TD-W9980 modem-router.
Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
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Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working

I've no idea myself, but I'll ask around a bit.

Kelly Dorset
Broadband Service Manager
Community Gaffer
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Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working

Fix

Hi, 

It looks like the IDLE functionality was disabled back in November as part of our investigations into the performance problems.   Once we've stabilised the platform, we'll look at if we can restore it.   Sorry about the inconvenience!

Are you able to work around this with your set up?

Kelly Dorset
Broadband Service Manager
fnxweb
Dabbler
Posts: 19
Registered: 20-06-2011

Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working

OK, thanks, that's actually good news, since it means I'm not going mad!

Yes, I can work around it (well, I may not bother, I've already nobbled my fetcher to retry the IDLE every 4 minutes so I may well just leave it at that), and, TBH, I wouldn't be surprised to find I'm unique, at least nowadays.

And it means I can stop worry about investigating in this heat Smiley

 

For the record, though, on top of what I've mentioned above, I have determined that Thunderbird exhibits the issue with stock settings, but, again, you'd only know if you were staring at the screen.  The current IMAP defaults for TB do enable IDLE if available, but also enable a 10 minute poll which interrupts the IDLE prematurely and allows the messages to be found.

So on stock TB settings you'd have a worst-case 10 min. (if doing nothing else) wait and average 5 min.  I haven't tested any other clients.  Except the PlusNet webmail, which (as mentioned) does oddly show new messages immediately...

 

Is there any way to be flagged for notification as and when the IDLE function is re-enabled?  That way I can dial back my poll period.

Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
Posts: 17,644
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: IMAP IDLE no longer working

It's unlikely we'll be able to notify people if this gets turned on but we'll certainly try when we see the work scheduled.

If this post resolved your issue please click the 'This fixed my problem' button
 Chris Parr
 Plusnet Staff