Backups are important. As Joni Mitchell reminds us, “Don’t it always seem to go / that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”.
Details about what to backup in Mail are provided in a tech note from Apple. A complete backup set of Mail includes the following:
- All the files located in ~/Library/Mail.
- The “Mail Downloads” folder located in ~/Library
- The “com.apple.mail.plist” file located in ~/Library/Preferences.
- The “AddressBook” folder located in ~/Library/Application Support
(“~” is a symbol for your user or home directory. “~/Library” is the Library folder in your home directory.)
There are at least five ways to do the backup:
- You could simply copy those files onto a blank CD-Rom mounted on your Desktop and burn them off once a week.
- You could incorporate those files in a daily or weekly backup using Dantz Retrospect, RsyncX, Synk, Deja Vu or one of the many other backup apps. This is what I do. I use Deja Vu, because it is clean, flexible and easy and the developer is a nice guy. I back up email and documents daily and the Home directory once a week onto an external drive. With Deja Vu’s scheduling, it’s a “set and forget” kind of thing.
- If you have a .Mac account you could use the new Backup 3 software from Apple. It is very pretty, but seems rather slow on my PowerBook, although I’m trying it out for the first time today.
- Mail Archiver X is a dedicated Mail backup app. It offers to backup your mail, and also to clean it for archiving. It can strip out HTML and other useless things, so that you only save the important parts of your correspondence. It also offers a browser to search and manipulate your mail archives.
Currently, the release version of the software doesn’t support the new message format in Mail 2.0. I emailed the developers about this and they replied:
The beta 2 of version 1.3 adds compatibility for Mail in 10.4…. Please be aware that a new and improved interface will be available in the next version of Mail Archiver X. If all goes well, a new beta can be ready within the next two weeks.
It costs USD 34.95. Wait and see would be my advice.
- You could use one of the archiving apps like MailSteward or FastMailBase which offer features above and beyond merely backing up your email. They won’t back up your preferences or your Address Book though.
(I see that the Tao of Mac is also thinking about backing up today, although—as you would expect—in a more sophisticated and high-powered way.)
- Recovering deleted messages in Mail 2.0
- Importing emlx messages into Apple Mail 2.0
- Reclaiming disk space from Apple Mail
- A dedicated, easy-to-use backup app for Apple Mail and Entourage
- The dreaded “your home directory is full” error
Tags: Address Book, Apple Mail, backup, Mail Archiver X, mail.app, tip