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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 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.

It worked.


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.

  1. Virtualization is much easier now with VMware/Virtualbox.
  2. Sites like and exist to download all the stuff you used to use.
  3. 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.


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