last of the unearthed ancient emails from the early 2000s
This one has a bit of a story to it, so bear with me.
It is an inevitable truth with data archives that if you have an archive of data now but cannot access it because of a file formatting issue, you will be able to in the future. I have encountered this time and time again, and this time is no exception.
In my data archiving/disc destroying adventures, one disc originally written to in February 2001 had some stuff on it where I was able to save the whole disc.
I examine the ISO copy afterward and recognize the structure - they're Eudora Mail archives, however I didn't know which version of Eudora was used to save them originally.
Into VMware I go launching into a Windows 95 session.
I try pulling the data from Outlook Express 5 which does have a Eudora Mail importer. Somewhat worked, but the attachments wouldn't pull over. In addition it completely screwed up any HTML mail.
Tried importing the mail using Netscape Communicator which also has a Eudora Mail import. Worked much better but still didn't quite get it right (attachments missing, etc.)
Tried Seamonkey 1.1.9's mail client. Same result as Netscape.
At this point I thought, "Well, I guess I'll actually have to install Eudora to get these archives properly set up for export."
I head over to oldversion.com and download Eudora 5.1 and manually copy in the mail archives. Didn't work right for some reason. Then I wondered if the mail was originally placed using an older version, so I downloaded Eudora Light 3.0.6 and gave it a go.
I had to manually adjust a few paths so the file attachments for mails that had them showed up correctly, but yep, it worked.
Into Seamonkey 1.1.9 I go, imported the data, copied those MBOX databases over into my Thunderbird 3.1.7 profile folder and ta-da, a bunch of mail from late-2001/early-2002 I thought I lost was retrieved, all in original form, attachments and all.
Upon performing a duplicate mail search to see if I had imported these before, the result was zero dupes, so these were all mails I hadn't laid eyes on in almost 10 years.
The best mails in the archives were from a girl named Kim that I dated from East Providence, Rhode Island. Several of the mails were really long back at a time when people had long conversations in email. Messages included when we were together and post-breakup. And no there weren't any nastygrams sent or received from the post-breakup stuff.
This is the last of the ancient emails I had stored away on ancient CDs. I know from my collection there are no more because I've been through them all. The particular one that had the mails noted above escaped my attention because I wrote "BACKUP" on it and not "MAIL BACKUP" for whatever reason.
Why I was able to do this now but not before
There were three main reasons I was able to pull this off successfully.
- Virtualization is much easier now with VMware/Virtualbox.
- Sites like oldapps.com and oldversion.com exist to download all the stuff you used to use.
- Apps like Seamonkey are built upon old code that's been modernized, allowing you to import and export stuff that you couldn't before.
It's like I said, if you wait long enough, the tools you need to pull your old data from previously inaccessible archives will become available and free to use. This is part of the reason I hung on to those old discs for so long. I knew one day I would be able to get the data back - and I did.