Email Woes
August 21, 2006 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a be-all, end all e-mail solution that will allow me to rid myself of e-mail woes forever!

As my father's IT expert and die-hard open-source advocate, when he had his old laptop and Outlook was barfing at his huge inbox, I naturally suggested that he moved to Thunderbird.

All seemed well, until an occasion where he was out of the country, Thunderbird said that "his user profile was in use, select another" and rather than terminate Thunderbird, her created another profile. Of course, this made him feel like all his old email was "gone." He used this new profile for approximately 5 months (I was away for college and could never really understand his problem) and accumulated quite a voluminous amount of email. Thunderbird started acting up for some odd reason, and fed up, he decided to go back to Outlook.

Of course, while Thunderbird gives you amazing importing abilities, it absolutely blows at exporting. As he couldn't figure it out, he just started from scratch again, referring back to Thunderbird (both profiles, now that I've shown him how to switch) as needed.

Then, he got a new computer. It was decided that we would try to merge everything together for a clean start. Having essentially three email accounts perplexed me, and I had to basically import everything into Thunderbird, then do a monstrous .csv dump using some eml2mbox utility, and some freeware dawn for the addressbook (another disaster). Of course, csv's suck, and it doesn't really work well. Outlook is kind of screwy, it shows up as only 1 .pst file , but there's two accounts listed in the Outlook window.

All of this is really, really annoying. I hate .psts and .emls. Why can't they pick a damn standard and all get along? Anyways, I digress. What I want:

Is there any way to locally host an IMAP server? I'm envisioning something that "tricks" outlook and thunderbird and appears as separate mailbox. From there I can select all the messages and put them on that specific mailbox server. Then, when I want to switch email clients, instead of having to copy and back up and change data, you just reconnect to that IMAP server. Does someone make this? I've googled...and...get...nothing.

Using a real IMAP server isn't really an option, as the sum of all these emails is in the 20 GB range.

I've thought about locally hosting my own IMAP server, but it all seems way too complicated.

Additionally, the Address Books. After all this, there are duplicates galore. What's the best way NOT PLAXO to clean all of them up? Over the internet, "we'll store your information for you, forever" solutions are bad, software that you control from your computer good, and free, even better.
posted by unexpected to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there any way to locally host an IMAP server? ... I've thought about locally hosting my own IMAP server, but it all seems way too complicated.

What do you want here? If you're talking about 20GB of mail, you really do want your own IMAP server.
posted by bonaldi at 5:13 PM on August 21, 2006

Additionally, you need a proper client. Eudora is well-thought-of for very large mailboxes, and has very fast searching of them in v.7
posted by bonaldi at 5:15 PM on August 21, 2006

Try The Bat. It handles large mailboxes amazingly well, in my opinion. Its managing about 12,000 messages from POP mailboxes, & another 18,000 on IMAP, & everything works quickly & like it should. Even searching is very quick... I'm guessing it continually indexes new messages.
posted by devilsbrigade at 5:55 PM on August 21, 2006

Should have included a link.
posted by devilsbrigade at 5:57 PM on August 21, 2006

posted by thilmony at 6:31 PM on August 21, 2006

bro, you have to compact your mailboxes. if you dont compact your boxes, the program starts tripping. the advantage to thunderburd is that you can even write your own scripts/extensions to do it for you.

not sure why he created a new profile before he tried to compact his box.

stick with thunderbird, but only if youre willing to do the work to personalize it. thats the most important advantage to TB.
posted by Davaal at 6:46 PM on August 21, 2006

The Bat is great, if you can't get Tbird to cooperate (and to my embarassment, you sometimes can't).
posted by baylink at 6:48 PM on August 21, 2006

Zoƫ might do the job.
posted by Mr Stickfigure at 6:54 PM on August 21, 2006


I must have missed the part where they jumped from 2.5 gigs to 20gigs. The amount of e-mail this man has would overwhelm it very shortly.

As for IMAP servers, just check out sourceforge.

And honestly, Outlook may be a bear at times but quite a few people prefer it to a plain e-mail only program (don't forget to auto-archive, or you'll be sorry after a while). Maybe your open source evangelism is a bit misdirected this time?
posted by IronLizard at 7:01 PM on August 21, 2006

"... Is there any way to locally host an IMAP server? ..."
posted by unexpected to computers & internet

Sure, there are a bunch of ways of doing this. In the Windows world, paid software and support is the way to go, because that's how commercial developers get funding, and thus, that's how problems get solved. Open source only really works when the tools are free, and the installed base isn't already over served with options. But for a few Windows users, a couple hundred dollars in license costs for advanced e-mail features, plus annual maintenance and anti-virus packages, are de riguer.

You need to get over the complexity issues, too. Running local IMAP servers or POP3 clients makes you entirely responsible for your mail store. If you corrupt your file system, you lose your mail store if it isn't backed up. Beyond that, if you are running your own IMAP server, you have some additional responsibilities to ensure that your convenience doesn't cause an easily hijacked mess for thousands of other people if your machine becomes a spam zombie. And, if you're running a local IMAP server, you have some responsibilities to your upstream ISP for handling mail relay to your intermittent connection server in some way that is sensible, and doesn't make his store and forward spool for your local server a problem to him, if you go on vacation for a couple of weeks. If you don't understand mail exchange (MX) configuration, and store-and-forward mail environments, investigate them and learn.

Condensed version: good, cheap, simple. Pick two.
posted by paulsc at 7:06 PM on August 21, 2006

Just out of curiosity - how does someone accumulate 20GB of mail?

I consider myself a pretty heavy email user - I send and receive several dozen emails a day - and I have every email I have ever sent or received, going all the way back to 1992.

My mailbox currently stands at 4GB.
posted by dmd at 7:22 PM on August 21, 2006

dmd: mailing lists.
posted by devilsbrigade at 7:52 PM on August 21, 2006

Just out of curiosity - how does someone accumulate 20GB of mail?

My old boss would exchange attachments with clients, and CC herself on every e-mail. She chose that over viewing the Sent folder because she prefered the continuity of having a single giant folder. Essentially, she has a copy of every e-mail ever sent to her, and two copies of every e-mail she's ever sent.

Or she did, until her file got over 8GB and imploded.

To the asker, is archiving some of that e-mail just not an option? Does he need constant random access to every e-mail ever?
posted by evil holiday magic at 9:56 PM on August 21, 2006

Response by poster: To answer all the questions:

How does 20 GB of email accumulate: Imagine the same time frame as you, except imagine receiving approximately 100-200 emails a day. Now Imagine receiving tons of powerpoint attachments and word docs and things that ordinarily take up a large amount of space.

I've tried the archiving, I've even tried deleting, but my dad is a pack rat. We have magazines dating back from the late 1970's. Old habits die hard, and in this case it's better to deal with the situation than change 50 year old habits!

paulsc sounds very bitter about open-source, but he makes valid points. Maybe the IMAP thing is too complicated.

davaal: do you know where I could get scripts to do the compacting? This is exactly what happened, and it totally flaked out.
posted by unexpected at 10:49 PM on August 21, 2006

If you just need access to an IMAP server long enough to get everything into one mailbox, you could have a look at Dreamhost. Cruise around the internet and you can find a $95 off coupon, which brings a year of hosting to about 20 bucks. You then have a 20 GB IMAP server that you can use to move messages to a central storage location, be it Outlook or Thunderbird. I know they've been through some hiccups recently, but for what you're doing it sounds like the price is right.
posted by cebailey at 6:12 AM on August 22, 2006

No cruising necessary: coupon for $95 off is METAFILTER.
posted by dmd at 8:04 AM on August 22, 2006

« Older How do I install Ubuntu on an old laptop with no...   |   Making Me Some Templates Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.