Thunderbird problems
June 8, 2005 4:40 AM   Subscribe

So I use Thunderbird, and am generally pretty happy with it. I have a couple of problems, though, which the Mozilla knowledge base isn't helping me with. More on filters and weird duplicated downloading inside...

I have the same profile on two machines (followed the complex instructions on the knowledge base to move my profile over to my laptop when I got it) and this has been fine for a while.

Problem one: I have several filters in place to move mail that comes in from various mailing lists. These work some of the time and not at other times - i.e. I have a big pile of mail in my inbox that I wanted to have sorted somewhere else. I do not use 'local folders'. Some messages do get filtered, and I can't find any pattern as to which are filtered and which aren't. One filter works reliably all the time.

Problem 2: the Thunderbird install on my laptop has, in the last couple of days, taken to downloading all my mail again. As I type, it is downloading hundreds of messages that are already in my inbox. Weirder still, I can't get the messages that are appearing as new to appear as 'unread' even if I click on them.

Any Thunderbird gurus out there? Help! Many thanks.
posted by altolinguistic to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Oh, and both machines are running Windows XP Professional and are otherwise working fine. Desktop has 2GB RAM, old laptop has 256MB.
posted by altolinguistic at 4:46 AM on June 8, 2005

Thunderbird v. 1.0.2. on both PCs.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:37 AM on June 8, 2005

I'd try one of the Thunderbird 1.1 alpha builds. Just be sure to delete your Thunderbird folder before installng the new one (not to worry, your settings are stored elsewhere). Much of the networking subsystem has been updated since 1.0.2.
posted by Handcoding at 5:54 AM on June 8, 2005

POP3 or IMAP mail? The problem could be (if you're using POP3 and leaving things on the server) that the laptop might see them as new even if the home system has already checked them. The only time I've seen doubled mail messages is when this happens.

If you're using IMAP, the filter issue could be that computer A checks and filters, but computer B checks but does not filter, thus marking mail as read, and A will only subsequently filter mail seen as new. You can copy and paste your filters from one profile to the next, or use the "run filters on folder" command from your inbox to catch the missed ones. I get this second thing a lot, when I've checked mail using a web interface and then subsequently opened Thunderbird.

Most likely explanation (IMAP or POP3) is that the profile on your laptop is screwed up. You could try setting up a clean profile and then manually moving mail in by manuall copying folder data files from your old profile into the Local Folders of your new one, outside of Thunderbird. You then check new mail, and manually move the non-duped messages from Local Folders into the appropriate spot in your Inbox. It's a pain, but it works. I've had to do this to sort out several years worth of duplicated messages.

It's much easier with IMAP of course, as you can upload mail back to the server if need be, rather than copying and pasting mbox files... Since I switched from POP3 to IMAP I have had no problem running Thunderbird mail on my laptop and home system, without getting duplicate or lost messages.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:52 AM on June 8, 2005

frogs - POP3. And the duplication problem has just happened the last two times I booted up my laptop (I don't use my laptop every day, but I do download mail to my desktop most days) and was never a problem before. Can't think of anything I've done apart from set my cellphone operator to be my ISP for my laptop in emergencies - before today, the last downloading of mail I did was via my cellphone, and that resulted in a number of duplicates (the first time this happened). Today I'm using my home office wireless network, though, and it's downloaded several thousand duplicates.

Hadn't thought of the cellphone connection before - could this partially explain the problem? My technical know-how doesn't extend this far...
posted by altolinguistic at 7:21 AM on June 8, 2005

I use Thunderbird from both my work desktop and home laptop. i spent quite a while getting things synced up properly and having similar, though not exactly the same, problems as you. This is what I do now:

- First, on both machines I moved my profile from the default location under My Documents to C:\Email. It is important that both systems operate under the same path.

- I installed the same extensions on either machine (I found that when one is expecting different extensions, it helps to delete the entire "extensions" subfolder and then reinstall them)

- Every day I use a backup program to sync my Email folder to a USB drive. Be sure to "Compact Folders" before closing Thunderbird and doing the sync or deleted messages tend to resurface. The only files I flag to NOT sync are parent.lock and prefs.js (though you should be able to copy your prefs...I have a few things different in the setup between home and work)

- When I go home, I re-sync from the USB to the laptop. Everything is there just like it was at work.

- (I've also done the same thing with my Firefox setup. This allows me to see the same bookmarks and toolbar shortcuts in both places. The key here is to move your cache directory to another location first because otherwise it's too unwieldy.)

I've left out a lot of the little details necessary to make this work but you get the basic idea. Don't know if this necessarily applies to your situation but I like it. :)

one problem I've had: Though my regular mail filters tend to work ok, I haven't had any luck with Saved Search Folders or whatever they're called. I set one up and it works fine on one machine, but it's hosed when I sync back and forth between the two. (As I read my own post, maybe it's because I don't sync prefs.js).

I'm using TB v1.0 (20041206)
posted by jacobsee at 9:40 AM on June 8, 2005

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