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Summary files always being rebuilt

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darkstar
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Summary files always being rebuilt

Why is it that whenever I move my USB disk drive (containing all my PortableApps, including Portable Thunderbird v17.0.6) from one computer to another, I always have to go through all my folders and rebuild the summary files? This is tedious (I have a LOT of folders) time consuming and a real annoyance. That is because I HAVE to have the summary files rebuilt before I can download new email from my server and SEE what new messages came in. This is a bad design and really needs to be addressed, especially if the developers are going to claim that they have a useful and portable version of Thunderbird.

Marc..

John T. Haller
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Summary Files?

By summary files, do you mean the MSF files? You shouldn't as they don't contain any path data, or at least they shouldn't by default. By default, they contain paths of the form mailbox://nobody@Local%20Folders/foldername/etc. Can you open them up in Notepad++ or similar to confirm, please?

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darkstar
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Re: Summary files? and more weirdness IMHO

I believe you are correct in implying that when Thunderbird reports that it is building a summary file, that indeed it is rebuilding the MSF files. That, at least, is what I gather from doing some Google research....

I did you one better and ran a recursive grep on all the .msf files looking for the string "mailbox:" and found nothing, i.e. -

grep -R mailbox: *.msf

I poked at this a little further and discovered something unexpected as well -

I first opened Thunderbird and compacted all folders then exited Thunderbird. I copied a few of the .msf files, for some of my mail folders, into a backup copy, then opened Thunderbird, clicked on the corresponding folders and allowed Thunderbird to rebuild the summary file for that folder. I then did a diff to see what, if anything changed and was surprised that the number of differences was quite significant! EVEN for folders which have not had any new mail added to or removed from them for a very long time! WTF? I did not try to decipher the details of the differences, looks like a lot of hex data but might guess it is timestamps or something similar that changes from one rebuild of the summary data to the next??? I dunno, may not be important, but seems rather surprising AND needless work being done by Thunderbird, to be rebuilding summary files when they shouldn't be needed...

Anywise, regardless of whether you think the summary files should be rebuilt or not, in order for me to see new mail I must do so first. And that is annoying to say the least, when I move my PortableApps disk drive from one computer to another.

John T. Haller
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Rebuild on Inbox

How much mail do you have in your inbox? I know Thunderbird generally doesn't like really big mail stores in a single folder. I keep mine relatively under control (except one with 1,000 messages). Also, forgot to ask, do you use IMAP or POP?

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darkstar
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POP and big mail stores.

I am not sure what you mean by "inbox", I have nothing in the Inbox folder itself, but I do have lots of subfolders under the Inbox folder, some of which do have more than a 1000 emails. I also have lots of other folders on the same level as the Inbox folder, some of those with subfolders, and many of which have large numbers of emails stored for future reference. In this day and age of giga byte and tera byte drives I should think a mail client should not really care how many emails a user wished to store.

For me, it is an extremely time consuming process to try and manage so much, all the time, and delete those which I don't need. I do go through them about once a year when I have a spare day or two, but most of the time I cannot be bothered to sort through and delete unnecessary email. If that is a requirement for using TBird, then that may break it's usability for many of it's users! (I, for example, subscribe to a LOT of mail lists, some of which I manage/moderate, which is why some of my folders can get rather large. That is why I need to keep email in a handy archive. I often have to retrieve old email and use TBird's search capabilities a LOT!)

I do not understand why you are implying that there is a connection between large email folders and having to rebuild summary files before new email can be seen/read. Please explain your thinking on this, and I hope it is more that just saying TBird is flakey. To me, this rebuilding of summary files has to be triggered by some difference Portable TBird is seeing when it is executed under different computers. My first guess is perhaps it is looking at and comparing time stamps or file path differences somewhere... Keep in mind this is happening even when I move from one Linux/Wine system to another, or from one Windoz system to another, as well as from one OS to a different OS..... File path differences might be the trigger because my USB drive gets mounted at different mount points and that seems highly likely to be the trigger for making it necessary to rebuild summary files. (Especially since a rebuild of summary files is not triggered because of a reboot of the system that my USB drive is connected to. File paths are not likely to change then.)

If Portable TBird is looking at time stamp differences, to trigger a summary file rebuild, that seems to be a very dangerous choice to be using in a PortableApps environment. To be comparing file path differences seems unlikely, but symptoms are pointing in that direction, and again in a portable environment that would be a poor choice to be using to trigger summary file rebuilds. I would have thought file size differences would be the likely trigger, but I am seeing summary file rebuilds occurring on folders/mail stores where NO changes occurred. Got me beat, I dunno what other file attributes TBird would care about and monitor in order to cause it to trigger a summary file rebuild...

I use a POP account and do not have the choice of using IMAP at the moment.

John T. Haller
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Summary and Inbox

Each folder in Thunderbird is independent. You should never have to have a summary file rebuilt before checking mail due to this. The only summary folder that may need rebuilding before checking is the Inbox folder, because this is the only folder that mail arrives in via POP. I've never seen it rebuild anything except the current folder you're looking at. I have, however, seen people with 20k+ messages in their inbox folder and wonder why their mail client is slow to rebuild the index on it. That's what I was referring to.

I haven't used POP in years (and would never again since I started using IMAP) so I can't really speak further than that.

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darkstar
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What now?

John - I appears that your understanding of the internals of how Thunderbird is suppose to work, and my experiences with how it is actually behaving apparently is different. I understand that you do not have the expertise to resolve this issue. Recommendations? Should I submit this as a bug report against Portable Thunderbird (how?) or against Thunderbird itself? It seems you are in agreement with me that this behavior should not be happening, but it is. Anyone else have any thoughts or ideas?

The workaround that John is suggesting isn't very appealing to me, and I don't think that keeping small folders should be a requirement for using TBird. So either I will have to give up on using Portable TBird (YUCK!!!), continue to use it as is and live with this annoyance (YUCK!!!) or find an alternate path to a solution somehow. At the moment I guess I will search around for an alternative and if I find something I can use then I will give up on using Portable TBird and you can consider me just another disappointed user of what otherwise should be a great open source project.

Ken Herbert
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From a quick Google of the

From a quick Google of the topic, it seems this is a recurring issue that has been happening for users of Thunderbird (not just the Portable version) at least since version 3 was out.

Generally the responses have been to reduce the size of your folders (even though Thunderbird no longer has the 4Gb file limit, it is still recommended to stay well below that size), and compact regularly, for some users this fixes the issue but for others it doesn't help.

For some users deleting the .msf files and letting Thunderbird perform a clean rebuild has also worked.

Otherwise I would suggest looking further through similar reports as there may be some potential fixes I did not see in my quick search.

wsmwk
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see

see https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=624806#c2 and https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=232047#c16 and comment 24, etc

I would not expect folder size to be a cause of this. But larger folder size will of course impact the amount of time needed to rebuild the summary

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