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Tuesday, September 6th, 2005, 12:01 pm

Mail Backup and Restoration

Separate boxes
Always store your mail in (at least) two isolated places

Unfortunately for most of us, there is rarely an option in mail clients which caters for one-click backup and restoration of E-mail. We still lack an embedment in a GUI, which makes backup trivial to all, as well as quick to invoke.

An alternative to explicit backup is duplication of data files. Owing to the use of Open Source applications, my mail gets backed up on the SAN every night and on another computer twice a week (in an open and raw MBOX format). I advise everyone to install a reliable mail client and set up a repeating job that can handle backups without any user intervention (see links below).

Microsoft applications (speaking of computer crashes when backups are truly needed) rarely seem to mind portability and safety of data. Outlook and Outlook Express would lock your mail in proprietary formats, which is the reason why I ceased to be their user (having started with Netscape Mail). Anything that served Microsoft’s purpose, namely my immobility, appeared to be the grand goal. Thunderbird will save your mail in a form that is extremely painless to back up. Furtherfore, it can also easily import mail from Outlook or Outlook Express, in a way that preserves all the data and even mail settings.

Another backup option is by converting mail to HTML, which is open and standard-compliant. There exists a Ruby script called eml2mbox which bridges a gap and helps towards the generation of Web pages from individual mail messages.

Older notes about mail management:

Thunderbird-related items:

As well as links that are related to mail, lots of resources and tips on backup reside on this Web log.

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