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Back where I began

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on August 12, 2005
(Issue 2332, Controlling the Action)

I recently upgraded to a new P4, and began migrating all my files from my old PIII. As I wrote a few months ago, I had a problem with my e-mail client, The Bat (, hanging up when I shut it down – but an upgrade fixed that problem.

For a few months, it was smooth sailing. But last week, The Bat displayed an error message on launch – my e-mail table of contents was corrupt; did I want The Bat to fix it.

Without thinking (one of my worst habits), I clicked Yes.

The hard drive light blinked for a half-minute or so, and then The Bat came up ... minus the most recent three month's worth of e-mail in my in-box.

Now, it wasn't a total loss. Like many folks, I create all kinds of folders in my e-mail client – "ComputorEdge story ideas" is one where I stash e-mails for possible future columns. So a lot of the e-mails are still in their respective folders.

But a lot weren't. I was supposed to be interviewing bluesman Robert Cray, and the e-mail from his publicist was one of the missing. Do you all realize that I had to actually dig through my physical in-box and find the original press release about his San Diego appearance so I could finalize details with said publicist? The horrors I endure ...

Okay, seriously, though, losing three month of e-mail may not be earth-shattering, but it is inconvenient as all get-out and utterly inacceptable in a piece of software the sole purpose of which is managing my e-mail.

So The Bat had to go.

An open-source solution

Like I wrote above, it's a new P4 – so Outlook Express, the default mail manager in Windows, was right there on my desktop waiting to be used.

I've used Outlook before – in jobs I had where we had to use Outlook. It's stable enough, although its security holes are legion and legendary and tend to be big enough to host Elizabeth Taylor's next wedding reception. So even though I'm not using Microsoft Office on this computer, I still don't trust Outlook Express, either.

I downloaded Thunderbird – the free, open-source mail client from the Mozilla team that created the popular Firefox browser.

I loved the interface, the menus, the ease of use. Started setting up my mail folders again, and thought life was back to normal.

But a week or so into using Thunderbird, I noticed that my P4 began freezing when I would check mail in Thunderbird. I mean, it froze hard &E#150; no three-finger salute, no nothing – to where I had to hold the power button for 10 seconds to recycle the PC manually.

After about four or five of these episodes, I realized Thunderbird wasn't for me, either.

Back to Eudora

Regular readers will remember that I ended up using The Bat after I became frustrated with Eudora – and its habit of creating corrupted mail files that, once fixed, were missing messages. Just like The Bat did to me recently.

But that was so long ago that it was Eudora 5. Eudora 6.2 is the current version – and it's still a free download from Qualcomm.

So I downloaded Eudora 6, installed it – and so far, after a couple weeks of regular use, I think I'm back to using Eudora full-time.

The new version has a cleaner interface than the previous version, although the functionality seems the same. There's an anti-spam tool included in the free download – supposedly this "junk filter" can learn over time, to more efficiently thin it out for you. I don't get much spam – my ISP has a commercial grade spam filter on the server end of things – so I don't know how much I'll be able to report on this feature.

And the stability issues with Eudora 5 came about when I had about 4,000 messages in my mail file. I have about 25 now. Only time will tell if Eudora 6 is truly my permanent mail solution.

Of course, the most important lesson in all this is that if I had been backing up my mail files along with all my text and html files, I wouldn't have lost three months worth of e-mail.

Lesson learned.