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Shared email archives

How you conscious people here manage your email archives?

We have eight years of emails in a miriad different formats an I want them all to be shared in the intranet (4 users, 2 servers). Last year messages are in the server and we access them with IMAP apps.

The conversion of all the archive is a hard work so I only want to do it just once. I have been considering import the old messages in the actual IMAP system, but I don not think that IMAP is designed as a historical mail repository. Maybe a database is the solution, but you lose the "email feeling".

I think this eight years email communications are really a great part of my personal life, and the whole part of my company so yes, I want them all!!!


Nacho Bracho
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

What kind of email mailboxes are you talking about? Are we looking at proprietary (or at least binary) formats like a lot of Win clients may use? Or are they all standard Unix formats like maildir?

I think that's the biggest question here because if it's mostly standard Unix-style plain-text archives there are probably free tools you can manipulate it with.

As for actually managing the archive, I don't know what the best way to access it is. I just tar up all my old messages and rotate archives every few months. Not great, but I don't access it all that much, either. Maybe there's a web app you could use? Or maybe a mailing list archive CGI could be tricked into thinking all your old emails were list data. I haven't ever set one up, but hey, email is email, it can't be that bad ;) (knock on wood...)

Mike Swieton
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The Cyrus IMAP daemon [1] allows you to setup mailboxes that can be shared among multiple users. It's also fairly speedy on larger mailboxes, assuming that you aren't running it on a five year-old PC. What's nice is that people can use their preferred mail reader -- I've used Outlook, Outlook Express and Mozilla Mail -- to access the archives and they're not smashed into a plodding web format.


Chris Winters
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

There are tools to convert between formats. Its just a question of patience (we have emails stored in Outlook, Emailer, other apps, even Compuserve files, almost a year of FirstClass shared with another company and current intranet IMAP). Well, loooots of patience...

Surely our amount of emails are just a fraction of the bulk processed by Hotmail in two hours but I dislike using unappropiate tools.

I can setup a shared database, but the email threads with message id's is just a mess (something to study and spend time in).

IMAP is good, but to perform a query, all messages must be downladed in the client machine, not only headers, so it is not better than POP.

I'll keep on searching...

Nacho Bracho
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

No way you should consider moving to this platform but if you are already using Exchange server as we are where I work, you can use a public folder as a shared and searchable mail archive.

It's fairly common practice too that these are used for mailing list subscriptions as it's nice to have an archive of *some* *techincal* discussion lists at times.

Robert Moir
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Have you tried (or at least given a looK at) ZOE:

From their about page:


The goal here is to do for email (starting with your personal mailbox) what Google did for the web... The Google principle: It doesn't matter where information is because I can get to it with a keystroke.
So what is Zoë? Think about it as a sort of librarian,  tirelessly, continuously, processing, slicing, indexing, organizing, your messages.
The end result is this intertwingled web of information. Messages put in context. Your very own knowledge base accessible at your fingertip. No more "attending to" your messages. The messages organization is done automatically for you so as to not have the need to "manage" your email.
Because once information is available at a keystroke, it doesn't matter in which folder you happened to file it two years ago. There is no folder. The information is always there. Accessible when you need it. In context."

That quite odd manifest "hides" a great program. The idea: it's a sort of meta-index and mail proxy at the same time. It'll index and cross-reference your messages... It's not something easy to undertand, but it's quite "addictive" once you try it...

My recomendation: Give it a try.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

>Have you tried (or at least given a looK at) ZOE

I tried it a couple of times, and I will try it again. I do not know if the app is not mature enough for me or, on the other side, I  am not mature enough for the app.  :-)
Thanks for remembering it to me.

On the Exchange suggestion, yes, I don't like the switch, but I get the idea you are talking about. (Technical lists are also in my mind to share in the intranet, in spite of all my friends say "Do not store junk, everything is in Google").

I posted my question here, at Joel's site, because of the "realistic" nature of the site and the people in it. Somehow, I was expecting more on "forget email format, store it all in a database and go on working".  :-)


Nacho Bracho
Thursday, March 13, 2003

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