Thunderbird topology

MJWestkamper mjwestkamper at
Wed Apr 17 19:42:54 UTC 2019

Please see below...

On 4/17/2019 2:01 PM, Mark Banner wrote:
> On 16/04/2019 19:52, MJWestkamper wrote:
>> One example; many users use a laptop for their e-mail client. 
>> Generally they have somewhat limited disk space and many use a SSD. 
>> E-mail chains can get very lengthy and may include graphics and 
>> attachments. The e-mail database can get very large very quickly.
> For some people, I suspect this might be true, but I doubt it is an 
> issue on a large scale. If you have a basis for this being a wider 
> issue, please let everyone know.
I can offer from a personal experience that the issue is significant. At 
my firm we've built a kluge to provide the means to archive e-mail on a 
server and setup a different instance of Thunderbird to access the 
archive. It is at best clumsy. We must archive for the historical 
record. I have counseled others on how to do the same.  There was a 
discussion some time ago on a Thunderbird forum, I can't find the 
thread, where this was discussed at length.
>> My comment relates to the topic here when considering topology. Where 
>> and how the data are stored should consider the ability to not only 
>> backup at a different location but to provide a indexable archive, at 
>> a different location.
> Personally, I don't think we should talk about Thunderbird providing 
> backup options. Backup is something that's been long resolved for 
> personal computers and servers and there's not really much point in 
> Thunderbird re-inventing it (and spending lots of time on it).
In part I agree. There are a lot of backup methods and there is no need 
to create another, unless it does something useful. I look at e-mail as 
a data base. I can backup it up and restore it. If I backup using the OS 
backup or something similar I restore the data to a point in time.  If I 
have a database and I want to restore something specific, I have to 
restore the whole backup, access what I want or merge the backups. Gets 
> We could, however, make it so that recovering individual emails stored 
> by Thunderbird is easier. For example the work for switching the on 
> disk format to file-per-email rather than file-per folder would help 
> with being able to select to restore a single email from a backup.
Yes, a file per e-mail or file per folder is a method. The indexing 
files and searching the metadata was popular for a time. Relying of the 
OS mechanisms turns out to be problematic. Google had a desktop search 
too. It relied on the OS file system. Didn't work well for e-mail. The 
problem as I see it; e-mail has a different structure and the container 
should be different. For instance an SQL database is not a good 
repository for an unstructured record set. The way its done now in 
Thunderbird is good. Backing up or archiving e-mail in a form 
Thunderbird readily uses seems to make sense.
> Archiving is a potentially different case and what you're suggesting 
> makes me think of the facility I think Outlook had to store its emails 
> in a pst file on a network drive (But still be able to access them). 
> Not sure if it still has that.
> Generally again, I'd probably revert to how much of a problem for 
> people generally is this. Having worked at a couple of large 
> organisations, I've not known either to have this sort of requirement, 
> nor for people needing it. We know there are people who save a lot of 
> email, but how common is it and does it make it worth solving compared 
> to everything else that Thunderbird currently needs to be doing.
I can't argue your point; simply not enough information. I do believe it 
would be a good thing to consider as the problem is increasing 
geometrically in time. I do know it is a problem in some cases. 
Intuitively seems like a large problem. We could test the validity with 
a questionnaire.

Ant too I realize resources available to work on Thunderbird are finite 
and the requests far exceed those resources.

My original comments were pointed to a discussion on topology. If there 
is a need to change Thunderbird topology, doing so with the ability to 
later develop a means to extend its capability to access multiple data 
structures on different devices would make adding an archive doable 
without significant restructuring.

MJ Westkamper | WEI Inc.| 379 Middlesex Turnpike | Old Saybrook CT. 
06475 | (860) 388-3038

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