Mail Worries

Which emails are important to you?

About a year ago now, Apple Mail upped and died on me. Something corrupted and my entire mail database went *poof* Not *poof* in a pretty fairy dust and sudden treats kind of way. *poof* in a “those lights in the sky are really a cloud of meteors on a direct collision course with your small town” kind of way.

Much nashing of teeth and hair pulling later, I’d got Thunderbird up and running with (most) of my emails restored to me. I thought no more of it and next time I look around, it’s a year later, Thunderbird is starting to run like it’s stuck in treacle, and I never was totally happy with some of the ways it did things anyway. Time to change back to Mail?

Which is a brilliant idea in theory, but right now I’m right back to the “nashing/wailing” point of software installation.

I’ve got Mail up and running again.
I’ve got all my myriad of email accounts set up (eight accounts never seemed like so many till I had to configure the pop & smtp servers for all of them!).


A few random emails have downloaded, but not the majority. We’re talking emails from December 2006 that are coming through, but nothing from then on. I’ve tried to forward some of the more ‘important’ emails to myself and… a few get through, but others aren’t. There’s no fricking rhyme nor reason!

But the real point of this post, other than to rant of course, is to ask – which are the important emails? I have a habit of never throwing anything away if I can help it, so my Thunderbird folders were stretching at the seams. It’s quite disconcerting to fire up Mail and be faced with pristine folders. Or rather, a virgin inbox with NO folders because I want to start my filing system from scratch. I know there’s some important emails locked away in Thunderbird that I’m going to want to reference again but… I can’t decide which ones to manually forward to myself.

Pretty much everyone on the planet knows that I am abysmal at email. Abysmal doesn’t even cover it really. Perhaps a scorched earth approach is what I need? A blank canvas upon which important emails will be clearly visible? Plus, thanks to the glory of Gmail, it’s all stored online anyway, so none of it’s really LOST lost.

But there are emails which I’ve kept because they mean a lot to me. It might just have been a quick two liner but… I’m a sentimental old fool I know.


They are just bits and bytes but not to have them at my fingertips to scroll through at my leisure is very discombobulating. A letter – now, I can see a reason you get attached to a letter and treasure it, but an email?

16 thoughts on “Mail Worries

  1. I’m a bit confused. Why are you bothering with Mail or Thunderbird at all? Just use Gmail all the way. You can save everything you want, and you still won’t have any system failure issues.

    I haven’t used a desktop mail application in a really, really long time, and I certainly don’t miss it.

  2. If your host support IMAP I’d use that. I’ve had the same problem with dead hard drives, corrupted mailboxes, and the like.

    Then I switched to using IMAP so everything sits ever so safely on my server so it’s there if I need it. I also make good use of my Gmail account (though for some things I still like to use a real client). And Mail does the trick nicely.

    On to the question of important email.. ALL OF THEM! I am a serious email packrat, as I am with most things. Even long before the days of Gmail I’d keep totally useless, unnecessary mails for years at a time. So yeah, all of them are important. 😉

    Most important being serials/registrations. sentimental mails from friends. Cool random compliments. Pending job offers and interviews (*crosses fingers for Wednesday*)

    Things like that. hehe

  3. Josh: Presumably not all 8 are Gmail.

    I’m pretty sentimental about e-mail too, and I do try to keep them around. But I wouldn’t shed any tears if I lost them. The only e-mails I’m really bothered about are ones containing important information I might need to refer back to. But even with them, I try to make a local back up of any important info within.

    I’m far too unorganised and haphazard to rely solely on emails, so I make sure I wouldn’t be lost without them, in the inevitable event that I lose them all. (As I have done more than once.)

  4. peroty already said, but I second using IMAP if you have the option. Or at the very least, keep the “keep emails saved on server” option ticked in your POP3 settings. That way, if (when) you lose them all, they can be easily retrieved.

    The most likely reason you’re emails aren’t coming through is because when you switched to Thunderbird, you didn’t have that option ticked.

  5. Can you use IMAP with Gmail? I thought it was POP3 only? And yes, I do have the “keep on server” option checked and I thought I had it checked in Thunderbird but clearly… something’s gone a bit pete tong.

    Though I’m starting to appreciate the whole fresh start approach!

    And yes, the reason I use a desktop app at all is because I actively use all 8 email accounts for different reasons. Four of them are gmail, so I *could* stay web-based, but I’d have to check/re-login to gmail four different times. The other four have fiendish web-interfaces. Trust me, collecting them all in one place is much, MUCH easier for me at least.

  6. Erm? okay, clearly from my previous comments you can tell that I’m not completely taken with the idea of a cyberlife, but I’m afraid I do need to ask the question… why do you need to keep 8 email addresses? I know why you have some of them (for the blog and for our ISP) but isn’t 8 a little beyond the necessary?

  7. 1) The personal email I use for, well, personal stuff. If you have this address you know I like you 😉
    2) The gmail address I use for all blog-related stuff.
    3) The email that came with the domain which I keep as a back up and for domain related business.
    4 & 5) Two ‘throw away’ gmail addresses which I mainly use when I sign up to sites I suspect are going to spam me.
    6) The email address that came with our ISP
    7) My very first ever email address that, despite my best efforts, I still get mailings on from two sites I’m interested in. I can’t get them to switch where they send the emails to, so I keep an eye on it just in case.
    8) A yahoo! address I had to get when I signed up for y!im. This one is causing me a headache as I can’t get the pop access working at the moment, but I rarely use it so it’s not that much of a hassle.

    At one point I also still had 3 uni addresses and a hotmail address, but they’ve now all died their natural deaths.

    Yes, it seems a lot. Why not consolidate them all into one address? Why not get them all to forward to gmail?
    Well, if nothing else, there are periods where gmail goes kerfluey (yes, that’s the technical term) and I like to have options in case they go totally to the dark side.

  8. To be honest, none, really. I’ve had quite a few email addresses in the past and I can’t even remember most of them. I’ve also used Thunderbird for a while, with an email address I don’t have anymore either. Gmail now stores it all, but I don’t think there’s much of importance in there. And there’s a Yahoo! one I use for ‘official and boring stuff/people’ but I haven’t checked that in ages. The one thing I’d dislike losing are some of my favourite photographs. But if that did happen, I guess I could just recreate those. The new ones would then be like the memory of how I remembered the old ones. You could try the same with emails. Or would that be too Tate Modern as a project?

  9. I sort of wish this would happen to my email. At first I would be sad. Then I would feel free, free as a bird.

  10. I have to say, I’m revelling in my lovely empty inbox (I’ve got folders and filters set up again now, so the email is starting to build, I just don’t see it) and it’s such a restful feeling if the truth be told. I’m almost compelled to KEEP the inbox that empty now!

    (And no Rich, I haven’t forgotten you!)

  11. Heh.

    I have many email accounts, but all of them are neat and tidy. Stuff comes in, gets read, acted on, then deleted or filed away. Things in my inbox = things I have yet to do. So I rarely have stuff in the actual inbox as it makes me feel I have a ton of stuff to do 🙂

    It’s the one area of my life I’m fanatically tidy about.

  12. See, that’s my policy at work and I (more or less) manage to stick to it.

    Personal emails just defeat me though 🙁

  13. @Rich – I’m a recent Guitar Hero convert. It is perhaps the most enjoyable video game I’ve ever played. However, Freebird is 3 times as long as just about any other song in the game. It was fun at first, then finger fatigue set in.

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