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OSX 10.3.5 Mail 1.3.6 Just lost ALL of my emails from an account I access via mail

Posted on 2004-09-25
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
Not sure what happened but suddently my inbox has dropped from several thousand to a couple dozen (new emails).  For some time I have been unable to access 4 of the accounts that I pole properly... I receive the following error message "The message from YXXXX <XXX@XXX.com> concerning “XXXXXXX” has not been downloaded from the server. You need to take this account online in order to download it." I can restart the mail application and then open the emails from one of the effected accounts with no problem however if I switch between email accounts I then encounter the problem again.  About a week ago I stopped being able to access one of my accounts at all and began to permanantly encounter that message, however new emails will pop up- i just cant open them.  It is this account that the emails have now vanished from.  This work email address was moved onto an exchange server about a month ago.  I have a PC (in office) and Blackberry which also pole to this account.   Can anyone help?
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Question by:jbreg
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Expert Comment

by:brettmjohnson
ID: 12151518
This is a known problem for recent versions of Mail.app when the user has large numbers
of messages in the INBOX mailbox.  Although I can't locate the Apple support document
that details the problem.

In reality, the messages are not lost. However the index of messages database is corrupt
and can easily be rebuilt.  Try the following:

1) Temporarily stop fetching new mail while you clean up.
In Mail.app->Preferences->Accounts->Advanced, uncheck "Include when automatically checking for mail"

2) Quit Mail.app

3) Delete the message header index and text search index for INBOX, by deleting the following files:
~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/INBOX.mbox/table_of_contents
~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/INBOX.mbox/content_index
where ~ is your home directory.  If using the Finder, you will have to CTL-click INBOX.mbox and select
"Show Package Contents" to see these files.

4) Relaunch Mail.app which will automatically rebuild the indexes.

5) If you have large numbers of messages in your in-box, delete some or file them into other mail
folders.  Hint: use the Mail search feature to identify a number of messages with a common trait
(same sender, family, work, etc) and move all messages in a result set to a separate folder.  

5a) You can add new mail folders by selecting the Mail.app->View->"Show Mailboxes" menu item,
then clicking the '+' button at the bottom of the Mailboxes drawer.

5b) If you deleted a large number of messages, quit and restart Mail.app.

6) Reenable fetching mail (which you disabled in step 1)

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Author Comment

by:jbreg
ID: 12154243
Thanks but unfortunately that has not done the trick.  I still cannot see the emails for the particular account in question.  I also still get the error message recounted earlier.  Any ideas?
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Expert Comment

by:brettmjohnson
ID: 12155180
Sorry, I didn't read your original posting more closely.  The problem is almost certainly
not an issue with the local email database.  I failed to notice that you had changed
mail servers to one of the most problematic on the market.  Have you tried the steps
outlined here?:
   http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=151535

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Author Comment

by:jbreg
ID: 12155287
Which mail server is among the most problematic on the market?
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Expert Comment

by:weed
ID: 12155382
Exchange is a disaster.
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Expert Comment

by:brettmjohnson
ID: 12156006
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Author Comment

by:jbreg
ID: 12271878
OK, I have now given up on being able to view mail on that account.  I have set up an IMAP account that connects to exchange and I can get my messages that way.  My big concern is that I would really like to be able to get all my old messages back... almost 2 years of emails... my life!
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Expert Comment

by:weed
ID: 12271899
Gonna have similar problems until you get rid of exchange.
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Author Comment

by:jbreg
ID: 12272055
That doesn't have anything to do with it.

Since I'm not (and never have) connected to Exchange as in connecting to an exchange mailbox via my mac I have been effectively using it like a POP3 server, no different from any other ISP. I just started using Imap so that google article isn't that relevant to my situation. It's clear this problem is on the client side (ie my machine) where the mail is stored locally. Any ideas in that regard?
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Expert Comment

by:weed
ID: 12272124
Considering that the problem began after it moved to an exchange server, and considering exchange's track record, i'd say it is related.
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Expert Comment

by:brettmjohnson
ID: 12272178
If all mail has been downloaded locally, then it can be found in the file:
~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/INBOX.mbox/mbox

How large is that file?


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Author Comment

by:jbreg
ID: 12279747
I have many different accounts that Mail accesses...

however (what i believe to be the) the relevant inbox file: ~/Library/Mail/POP-pt35356026-5@pop.oneandone.co.uk/INBOX.mbox

is 1.8 GB

the file ~/Library/Mail/Mailboxes/INBOX.mbox/mbox is onl 304 kb

Since I have now set up the email account on IMAP, I would like the 1.8 GB into my new inbox which (i think) is: ~/Library/Mail/IMAP-tallason@mail.ecourier.co.uk/INBOX.imapmbox

Is there a way that I can retrieve these messages?
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Accepted Solution

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weed earned 250 total points
ID: 12279839
Use the Import function.
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Assisted Solution

by:brettmjohnson
brettmjohnson earned 250 total points
ID: 12283968
however (what i believe to be the) the relevant inbox file: ~/Library/Mail/POP-pt35356026-5@pop.oneandone.co.uk/INBOX.mbox
is 1.8 GB

You are running dangerously close to the maximum file size issue (2GB).
You need to sort the mail into separate mailboxes.  Mail.app is known to
suffer difficulties with very large mailboxes.  I suggest you split the mbox
into many parts using appropriate tools like grepmail, formail, or even split.
Given many of the smaller mboxes, you can construct a Mail.app mbox from
each.

http://freshmeat.net/projects/grepmail/?branch_id=3728&release_id=12473
http://www.monkey.org/cgi-bin/man2html?formail


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