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Move local Thunderbird mail to Corvid

Typically, by the fall of 2007, all SCS users have accounts on the Corvid e-mail system. Some, however, may still have locally-stored messages, perhaps remaining from a previous configuration using the POP protocol.

Once you've configured Thunderbird to access the SCS mail system, you can move any local mail to your account on the Corvid server. This arrangement will exploit Corvid's real power. Storing all your email — both read and unread — on the Corvid server provides the following advantages:

  • SCS Computing Facilities maintains and backs up the Corvid server, regularly monitoring the system for errors.
  • Your mail is accessible even if your desktop system is unavailable, crashed, or down for repair
  • You can access your mail from a laptop or home computer in the same way you do from your office
  • Messages on Corvid are available through the SCS webmail interface: http://webmail.cs.cmu.edu [offsite link, opens a new window]

Procedure

Moving mail from a local Thunderbird folder to the Corvid server is simple, although potentially tedious. While the interface may vary slightly with platform, the common theme is that you will see two different folder trees, one under your Corvid account and one on your local host. If Harry Bovik names his Corvid account "Corvid_Bovik," for example, he will have a folder tree rooted at that name and another descending from "Local Folders."

To copy a folder, say, "Foo" from his local machine to the Corvid server, Harry can select the source folder and drag it to the destination, somehwere in his "Corvid_Bovik," tree. In good Windows fashion, Thunderbird will copy the source files (cross-device) to the destination. When he's satisfied that the process succeeded, Harry can delete the source "Foo" folder. This procedure will handle up to 250M of content — Rule of Thumb: < 500 messages.

Alternately, for larger folders or for individual messages, create the destination folder under your Corvid account first, then:

  • Select the files to copy. "SHIFT-mouse_left" will select multiple messages, and "Ctrl-a" will select select all messages in a folder.
  • Go to "Messages" > "Copy"
  • Navigate to and select the destination folder. SCS Help recommends "copy" over "move" to enable verifying success before removing the local folder.

Common Problems and Solutions

'Invalid mailbox name' error

You cannot move folders whose names contain any "special characters" (e.g. slashes, brackets, shift+any number, question marks). Attempting to move such a folder will generate an error like: "Can't move the items. The server responded: 'Invalid mailbox name'." To handle this situation, rename any local folder containing special characters before you move it.

Moving large local collections

If you have a large collection of local messages to move, contact the SCS HelpDesk, <help@cs.cmu.edu> or x8-4231, and, as always, feel free to call on us with any questions or problems.