Linked by David Adams on Tue 26th May 2009 15:44 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes In our latest "Ask OSNews" installment, a reader asks: "Do you think Apple will ever have a standalone Windows version of their email app so that us Window users can download and use it? My family and I currently use Incredimail and occasionally Thunderbird."
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RE: I hope not.
by foljs on Tue 26th May 2009 18:15 UTC in reply to "I hope not."
Member since:

There has been at least two incidents where I work where the quantity of user's mail in Apple Mail *breaks* Apple Mail. This link isn't quite the one I'm looking for, but it's pretty close:

Choice quote: "How large does the mailbox have to be for this to happen? With Mac OS X 10.4 or later, 2.0 GB or larger. With Mac OS X 10.3 through 10.3.9, there's not a specific size where this will always occur--the mailbox could be anywhere from a few hundred megabytes (MB) to over a gigabyte (GB) large." (emphasis added.)

Now, of course this is a note about an older version of Mail, and maybe it's been improved since then, but I'm not going to trust my mail to any client where the programmers just don't know about some sort of limit where the mail program can't handle things anymore. Seriously, isn't that something that a code review should turn up?

I know I sound angry -- it wasn't even my mail that was lost, haha -- but it just seems that this shouldn't be a problem at all, ever. The users in question had many thousands of e-mails -- upwards of 60k, meticulously organized, so making new mailboxes didn't help.

First, you do understand that 32-bit filesystems (like most of those out there) had a limitation of 4GB per file. And that mbox type mailboxes store all mails in one file.

Second, you do understand that Thunderbird (and almost all clients) has exactly the same type of limitations and problems (and some of its own):

The maximum size of a folder is 4GB unless the file system limits the maximum file size to a lower value. (...) One user had a 4,195,013 KB folder before they got a error message that the folder was full.

Normally whether or not a folder is corrupted has no effect on the maximum size of the mbox file. However, in a very few cases the corruption caused Thunderbird to ignore the maximum file size, once reaching 35GB . (...)

When copying and pasting text from a word processor into a Thunderbird composition window, one user reported a limit of 908KB of text. Text beyond that limit did not appear when the text was pasted into Thunderbird. (...)

The depth of the folder hierarchy is limited by the path to last folders header. That can't exceed the operating systems maximum path length (normally 255 characters). That is not the same as what you see in the folder pane, its includes the path to the parent folder in the profile (which might be over 100 characters), and five additional characters (back slash plus .sbd) for each child folder. If you run into this limit you can display more folders by moving the profile or the accounts directory closer to the root of the drive, so that less of the total path length is wasted. There is additional overhead if any of the folders have non-ASCII characters. For example, if its a IMAP account the server would send the string as modified UTF-7, which more than doubles the number of characters.


Second, seriously, those people where cramming 60k messages in one inbox? They should not be let near a computer (hopefully, via a court order).

Last, you do understand that mail was not lost --there was just a bug that made it appear that way. I quote from Apple:

Don't worry, all those things you had in Mail are not history. Your email messages haven't really gone anywhere, but the Mail mailbox may appear empty if you let several hundred MB of messages and attachments (or more!) pile up, regardless of how much free space is on your hard disk.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: I hope not.
by jrronimo on Tue 26th May 2009 18:31 in reply to "RE: I hope not."
jrronimo Member since:

I understood the mail wasn't lost -- as I said, I found a solution to the problem.

Also, these two incidents WERE using multiple mailboxes -- didn't help.

No single mbox file was near 4 GB, either. There may have been 60k messages, but, like I said, they were well organized into folders.

And, as Apple's article says: This is a problem that can happen anywhere from a few hundred megs on up. Sometimes just... dies.

Reply Parent Score: 2