March 29, 2004

Migrating my life to Mail and IMAP

I've been thinking of moving my mail out of Eudora for a long time now. With every passing year, Eudora gets only slightly better, while its flaws seem to become more noticeable. This weekend I finally made the move. Actually, I haven't finished yet. Moving 340,000 messages while keeping metadata (replied-to markers and other such things) intact is a large undertaking, and I'm probably only about 30% done.

What finally spurred me to change was the server that a couple of us set up last month. Thanks to that, I can now get my mail via IMAP, which I've wanted for a long time. (I can also check it via webmail and SSH. Yes, I can have my cake and eat it too, as long as it's an email cake.) Mail handles IMAP quite well and also satisfies most of the constraints I mentioned in my post a year ago. Also, Mail keeps getting better and better with every Mac OS X release.

The tricky part about migrating the past eight years of my life from POP in Eudora to IMAP in Mail is getting all of the details right. Moving the messages themselves would be easy -- I'd just copy them onto the server and be done with it. But I want my metadata, nicknames, filters, and everything else. Thank goodness for Andreas Amann and his Eudora Mailbox Cleaner. I'm shocked that Eudora Mailbox Cleaner is free. I'd gladly give him $50 for the time it saved me.

That sort of took care of nicknames and filters -- they still required some patching -- and it managed to move my mail to Mail's local storage, but it didn't move the mail to my IMAP server. As I mentioned, I could've copied everything to the server, but I don't know how Mail stores metadata so I don't have any reason to think that scp'ing the mailbox will preserve that information. Instead, I've been dragging and dropping mailboxes one at a time. With a maximum upload speed of about 30 KB/sec. from my home connection -- about four or five messages a second -- this will take quite a long time to copy 340,000 messages. I think I'll finish all of it sometime this week. Then I can get started on migrating this weblog.