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Compacting Mail

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Wish You Were Here
 
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Post Posted September 6th, 2021, 5:37 am

I have a LOT of email. Many years of it in several different accounts. I keep it because I often reference old mails for a number of different reasons. I generally do not have them download remote content which is usually images and logos I don't need as much.

I'm not interested in deleting it or making it inaccessible in any way.

In the last few days, whenever I open the mail tab, I've been getting a dialog box asking about compacting.

What does that do? Is there a way to raise whatever threshold/limit activates that prompt?

ElTxolo

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Post Posted September 6th, 2021, 6:53 am

Wish You Were Here wrote:.... In the last few days, whenever I open the mail tab, I've been getting a dialog box asking about compacting.

What does that do? Is there a way to raise whatever threshold/limit activates that prompt?

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Wish You Were Here
 
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Post Posted September 6th, 2021, 7:17 am

"Note: Compact does not apply to accounts using the Maildir storage format. Unlike MBOX, Maildir stores each message in a separate file, and deleting a message results in deleting the message file."


My folders in SM are either Mail or ImapMail. I don't see either MBOX or Maildir anywhere.

DanRaisch
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Post Posted September 6th, 2021, 8:44 am

You're comparing apples and oranges.

POP and IMAP are email transfer protocols and refer to how Thunderbird interacts with the email provider's servers to accesses your messages. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/off ... ca85d5b1c9

The other two terms refer to how messages are stored on your local computer after they are accessed from the server:

MBOX is a file format in which multiple email messages are stored in a single file. That means that all messages you see in your Thunderbird Inbox with a POP type account are stored on the hard drive as single file named Inbox, with no file name suffix. https://www.jagwaresoftware.com/blog/wh ... -file.html

Maildir is a message storage method used by email clients like Thunderbird in which each message is stored as a separate file. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/ma ... hunderbird

Compacting is periodically necessary for accounts (particularly POP type accounts) using the MBOX storage method. It is not necessary or possible when the Maildir storage method is used.

Rob_S
 
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Post Posted September 6th, 2021, 10:31 am

Get your flame throwers ready!!!

In some ways I would say the compact documentation is factually incorrect, in that it says compact does not delete messages. In fact, it does.

Deleting a message in the interface "edit, delete message" or using "delete" key or "moving" a message to a sub-folder does NOT delete the message from the mbox file (such as inbox or sent file). It merely updates the index so as not to display the message and "marks it for deletion" in the mbox file.

The "Compact" operation completes the task by actually deleting the message from the "Mbox" file and thus reducing the file size stored on disk.

Until you have compacted the folder, it is possible to restore the deleted message to make it visible again in the mbox file using a text editor.

What "compact" does not do is to delete any messages currently visible regardless of size, age, or content, so it will not affect what you are currently seeing.

Thus, if you have deleted only things that you actually meant to delete, then using compact is a very good idea to reduce file size and efficiency.

I have inbox and sent folders that have survived for 20 years or more, and numerous compact operations, and never suffered any unintentional loss of data.

Wish You Were Here
 
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Post Posted September 6th, 2021, 12:36 pm

I've gone through and deleted a large number of unnecessary messages in the actual mail account, both POP and Imap. I don't know how that affects mail in SM.


I know that SM does not pick up the user created folders in those accounts if SM is set up for POP access. Once I go into the server based mail account and move messages from the Inbox to a user created folder, they essentially disappear in SM, whether they're supposed to or not.

Imap accounts pick the up and display them.

Rob_S
 
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Post Posted September 6th, 2021, 3:14 pm

True. The principle of POP account is that you download messages from server, and then normally delete them from the server eventually. Newly created messages sent from your local mail account are saved, and messages deleted on your local account behave as noted in my post above.

An IMAP account means you are totally dependent on the remote server (your internet provider or otherwise) to store your messages, and your local account downloads the presence or absence of whatever is stored there remotely.

A pop account can actually be used both ways. You download your email on your computer based seamonkey account and store forever. You set seamonkey to delete messages from server after say 2 weeks.

Your phone can be set to the same account using imap. It will display only the last two weeks worth of inbox messages. Unfortunately it will not see your sent messages from the computer.

That is very basic rough explanation, more details need to be explored if you do this. For example if you delete a message from your phone before seamonkey pop mail has received it, then seamonkey will not get that message, as it is gone from the server.

I did not think deleting a message from the server should or would affect Seamonkey (edit) POP mail already downloaded.
Last edited by Rob_S on September 6th, 2021, 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DanRaisch
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Post Posted September 6th, 2021, 3:27 pm

did not think deleting a message from the server should or would affect Seamonkey mail already downloaded.


Not true. Messages displayed in a SeaMonkey IMAP account will be deleted from SeaMonkey if the account is accessed through a browser and the messages deleted from the server. If the user wants to retain messages in SeaMonkey but remove them from the server, the messages can first be copied or moved to a sub-folder of SeaMonkey’s Local Folders which breaks the link with the server.

Rob_S
 
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Post Posted September 6th, 2021, 8:58 pm

Correct, I should have made it clear I was referring to a Seamonkey pop mail account, as referenced in the previous sentence.

LinuxUserSince1991

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Post Posted September 27th, 2021, 4:24 pm

Rob_S wrote:Get your flame throwers ready!!!

In some ways I would say the compact documentation is factually incorrect, in that it says compact does not delete messages. In fact, it does.

Deleting a message in the interface "edit, delete message" or using "delete" key or "moving" a message to a sub-folder does NOT delete the message from the mbox file (such as inbox or sent file). It merely updates the index so as not to display the message and "marks it for deletion" in the mbox file.

The "Compact" operation completes the task by actually deleting the message from the "Mbox" file and thus reducing the file size stored on disk.

Until you have compacted the folder, it is possible to restore the deleted message to make it visible again in the mbox file using a text editor.

What "compact" does not do is to delete any messages currently visible regardless of size, age, or content, so it will not affect what you are currently seeing.

Thus, if you have deleted only things that you actually meant to delete, then using compact is a very good idea to reduce file size and efficiency.

I have inbox and sent folders that have survived for 20 years or more, and numerous compact operations, and never suffered any unintentional loss of data.


Thanks for this excellent explanation. Flame throwers?! Not from me! :)

I've carried my mail with me for 25-ish years, and all along I've wondered about certain things, but never bothered to research them. For example, I'll sort my files by size at a command line, and see that my SM 'Drafts' file is GIGANTIC, yet when I go to it in SM, it's empty. Then, after I compact it, its size drops to 0 bytes, as it should. Now I know why!

Just a general FYI for anyone reading this, compacting is not dangerous at all; I've been doing it forever and never lost a single message unintentionally. It's just a way to reclaim 'unused' space--unused as defined by @Rob_S.

I am curious about this: "Until you have compacted the folder, it is possible to restore the deleted message to make it visible again in the mbox file using a text editor." Which file would you edit and what change(s) would you make?

DanRaisch
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Post Posted September 27th, 2021, 5:21 pm

Which file would you edit and what change(s) would you make?


To try to manually recover a deleted message:

* - Do NOT compact folders
* - Turn off Thunderbird
* - Locate the file containing the message in your profile (It will have the same name as the folder in Thunderbird and have no extension) (eg If the message is in the Sent folder, look for the
file Sent.)
* - Delete the file with the same name AND the extension .msf (eg. Delete the file Sent.msf)
* - Open the file which does NOT have an extension with Notepad (or another text editor, not Word)
* - Locate the messages that were unintentionally deleted
* - Change the status (X-Mozilla-Status) to all zero
* - Save that file
* - Restart Thunderbird

If you first moved the message to the Trash and after that emptied the Trash, you can try it also with the file Trash in your profile.

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Post Posted September 28th, 2021, 3:30 am

Some added thoughts.

It seems only one mail account was creating that message. Compacting only did that one account from what I saw while in the process, unless others were too quick to notice.


All seems well since.



POP mail accounts .... when I move mail to folders from within the mail account server, they 'disappear' from SM since it does not populate folders created on the server end.

Recreating the account as IMAP picks up those folders and messages.

DanRaisch
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Post Posted September 28th, 2021, 4:46 am

POP mail accounts .... when I move mail to folders from within the mail account server, they 'disappear' from SM since it does not populate folders created on the server end.

That would be normal as the POP email protocol only gives email clients (like SeaMonkey or Thunderbird) access to the server inbox folder. As far as the clients are concerned, the other folders on the server don't exist.

LinuxUserSince1991

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Post Posted September 28th, 2021, 10:50 am

DanRaisch wrote:
Which file would you edit and what change(s) would you make?


To try to manually recover a deleted message:

* - Do NOT compact folders
* - Turn off Thunderbird
* - Locate the file containing the message in your profile (It will have the same name as the folder in Thunderbird and have no extension) (eg If the message is in the Sent folder, look for the
file Sent.)
* - Delete the file with the same name AND the extension .msf (eg. Delete the file Sent.msf)
* - Open the file which does NOT have an extension with Notepad (or another text editor, not Word)
* - Locate the messages that were unintentionally deleted
* - Change the status (X-Mozilla-Status) to all zero
* - Save that file
* - Restart Thunderbird

If you first moved the message to the Trash and after that emptied the Trash, you can try it also with the file Trash in your profile.


Excellent! I'm going to file this away and try it sometime, just for the fun of it. As noted, in 25+ years I've never inadvertently deleted anything, but it's fun knowing solutions just in case, especially for passing on to others who need help. Thank you!

DanRaisch
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Post Posted September 28th, 2021, 12:40 pm

You're welcome.

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