Most desktop email clients have one big problem, that becomes apparent over time: They do not offer email archiving or backup options. This means that the email databases will increase with every email, which in turn can have an impact on the performance of the email software. It should be obvious that it takes longer to load an email folder with five thousand emails, than one with ten.
The main purpose of email archiving and backup software is to offer fallback copies if the emails and mailboxes in case they get corrupted or deleted on the main storage device. Many desktop email client users do not backup their mail databases regularly, which can end in disaster if the mailboxes get corrupted. The same applies to companies and businesses, but with dire consequences.
As a side effect, archived emails can be moved to another storage device or server, so that they free up disk space on the hard drive that the email client uses to store the email database.
Today we are going to show you how to speed up the email client Thunderbird, by archiving part of the stored emails. The idea is to combine backing up emails regularly, with the benefits of being able to remove emails from the email client that are old and not needed on a regular basis. In case they are needed they can still be accessed in the archiving software.
Before we start, we are going to create a full backup of the Thunderbird profile with MozBackup. Just download and run the backup software, and select to backup the Mozilla Thunderbird profile. Make sure all data is included in the backup (default settings).
The program can later be used to restore the full Thunderbird profile in case that is needed.
Windows users have the option between several email archiving programs. For the purpose of this tutorial, we are going to use Mailstore Home. The program makes it almost foolproof to archive emails from various email clients, including Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail, Microsoft Outlook, Google Mail and general IMAP and POP3 mailboxes. The program includes options to search and read emails directly in its interface.
It takes only a few clicks to archive emails in MailStore Home. A click on Archive E-Mail opens the archiving page of the software. Here it is possible to select an email client or protocol from the list to launch a wizard.
The e-mail archiving wizard looks like this for Thunderbird users:
Selection of the Thunderbird profile:
The default profile is the standard profile. Most users will probably only have the default profile, unless they are working on a multi-user computer.
Customization of the archiving options:
Here it is possible to select all email folders for backup, or only specific ones. It is furthermore possible to filter emails by data or status.
The archiving can take some time, depending on the number of emails stored in the Thunderbird mailboxes. MailStore Home displays the saved profiles in a listing on the archive e-mail page. The program saves all information, including email attachments and headers in its interface.
We suggest to archive all emails on the first run. This is important as it makes it easier to delete emails in the email client afterwards. Delete emails? Yes, to speed up Thunderbird emails need to be removed from the client.
The next step depends on the user and the folder structure. A user only working with the inbox may want to delete all emails older than a specific age, and do the same in the sent, trash and junk folders. This should reduce the size of the mailboxes considerably in the email client.
Finally it is important to compact the folders after deleting the emails in the mail client. Like other email clients, Thunderbird does not physically remove the emails from the mailboxes after they are deleted by the user. This is done by compacting the folders.
The option is available under File > Compact Folders. Before it is selected, a folder in the mail structure needs to be selected.
Hint: It is possible to configure Thunderbird to automatically compact folders by clicking on Tools > Options, switching to the Advanced tab, there to the Network & Disk Space tab, and enabling Compact folders when it will save over x KB.
Thunderbird may start up and feel noticeably faster after archiving and deleting emails in the client. This largely depends on the amount of mails that have been stored in the client prior to the operation. A user with a few hundred mails will probably not notice a speed improvement at all, while a user with tens of thousands of emails likely will.
Do you archive or backup your emails? Let us know in the comments.