# New Year Crashes

Given that it’s a rather cold and unpleasant day outside, I’ve been devoting a bit of time and patience to my usual quarterly backups, which are now (at least apparently) smoother thanks to Time Machine and Mail.app’s archival feature.

I still intend to record a couple of DVDs with all my photos and e-mail for off-site storage, but Time Machine does take some of the drudgery out of things.

Mind you, I still find it completely asinine that I cannot back up my MacBook properly using it because of its incomprehensible limitations1. Someone really ought to be grilled over that2.

Anyway, I’ve been rather lazy where it regards updating my IMAP backup script. A number of people have sent me patches and little improvements for it, but it always turns out that I cannot really test them (i.e., give them a thorough workout) until my next backup is due, and then, on that date, something else comes up and I end up not testing them. And so on.

Plus, despite it being exceptionally useful for the geek crowd, it’s not something I can easily tell other (non-geek) people to use/do, so I’ve been playing around with Mail.app in an attempt to figure out what it can do on its own.

Call it a learning experience, if you will.

And guess what, its Archive Mailbox... command actually does what it says on the tin – it saves an IMAP folder as a .mbox bundle (which contains a standard mbox file and a table_of_contents file), and will do that not just for SSL mailboxes but even for an entire tree of folders, which is nice.

What isn’t nice (and which was, I now recall, one of the reasons I wrote imapbackup in the first place) is that Mail.app crashes during export of very large mailboxes (4281 items, roughly 1.9GB overall) to an external disk3.

Randomly4.

When it’s the only app running5.

It also doesn’t do incremental backups or remove duplicate messages when exporting (plus having a few quirks with pathnames), but I could live with that if it had gotten the basics right.

Time to search for those imapbackup patches again, I think.

1 I still cannot fathom why it couldn’t have been architected to have access to my FileVault home directory whilst I’m logged in, like “proper” backup solutions.

2 Let’s just hope Time Machine doesn’t turn out to be a dud somewhere down the (time)line. Remember when Backup was the new kid in town?

3 I’m using a folder alongside Time Machine backups on the same external disk.

4 Tried it again. Worked fine. Tried another folder, waited a while… Bang.

5 Other than Time Machine, which wakes up now and then to sniff the hard disk.