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Evolution backup recovery

Filed under: Open Source — Thomas @ 15:36


I pretty much never drink and hack, and last Friday's evening is a good reason why. I was having a rare beer and managed to spill part of it on my keyboard and desk. So I turned the keyboard around, started cleaning it as fast as I could, forgetting to actually unplug it. I called it a night because nothing good was going to come from that night anymore.

And on Saturday morning I noticed that my INBOX was gone. Hm, is it really gone? Yep, gone from my laptop too. Crap, must have deleted it on the server by accident while cleaning my keyboard...

And because my NAS is a little full lately, I haven't been as diligent with backups as I normally have been. Hm, and the modest cache on my N900 isn't very useful either...

Luckily, evolution on my work machine was shut down for some reason, so yay, it has a reasonably fresh cache of my INBOX!

Except that it's not all that straightforward to actually get this cache back into Evolution. Just copying its contents to an existing or new folder doesn't do anything. The files themselves are split up versions of the actual email, assumingly because the evo guys thought it would be faster to search header and body by splitting them off from the attachments and saving them separately, inventing their own caching format. Which is fine, but makes it impossible to actually restore a backup with...

After lots of Googling, I stumbled upon this tool that did the trick for me. A lot of hours wasted over a bunch of emails... But what would happen if I really lost my IMAP server mail ? Run this script by hand on all the folders ? Shudder...


  1. Modest cache on N900 – does it work sensibly for you? It takes ages for my N900 to open my mail, it works only with small inboxes, but then I do not want to delete my 6 years of email…

    Comment by Tomáš — 2012-04-01 @ 17:27

  2. No, modest works badly on my N900, really sluggish… but like you I have years of email.

    Comment by Thomas — 2012-04-01 @ 18:42

  3. I realize four years ago the advantage of keeping all my emails online after a personal computer crash. If your emails are critical as they are for me, you should really make sure to have a copy on it online (e.g. on GMail). You may setup your inbox either a copy to GMail, or tell GMail to get the mail from your pop/imap server or, even better, use GMail.

    Comment by Patrik Dufresne — 2012-04-01 @ 17:28

  4. Wouldn’t it be awesome if evolution used Maildir instead of a custom cache?

    Comment by foo — 2012-04-02 @ 03:33

  5. I use http://offlineimap.org/ to keep my e-mails safe, since I don’t even trust google to not lose my e-mails someday. It’s not the most intuitive to setup (although that might be getting better), but it works.

    Comment by Shane Bishop — 2012-04-02 @ 15:14

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