May 16, 2005

Global Fix of Eudora Attachment refs

In the course of upgrading or moving Eudora, we sometimes find configurations that do not comply with our current Biomedical Library standards. One problem arises when attachments are reset to reside in the standard directory c:\Eudora\attach, but old messages still refer to another attachment directory. This may true if the icon for an attachment has an “X” over it, indicating that Eudora cannot find the attachment.

Fortunately (in this case) the Eudora mailbox files are ASCII text, meaning that we can use various text-manipulation tools to search and replace. This is particularly handy when dealing with many mailboxes - in the case of one user, 659 mailboxes. Opening and closing each mailbox file in Notetab could take hours.

Facing this situation, we looked for a free utility that could do global search and replace functions for all mailbox files (*.mbx) under c:\Eudora in one step. Of many options available, we selected and tested the free tool Handy File Find and Replace from http://silveragesoftware.com/handytools.html.

We had some trouble with it at first because we misunderstood regular expressions, but UNIX sysadmin Dan, who often deals with regular expressions, explained it. To specify “\” in a search without it being interpreted as the first half of an escape sequence (e.g. “\n” = newline) you use “\\”. It looks weird, but in the world of regular expressions it works really well. Substitutions like these are often done in scripts or at the command line, but HandyTools gives the process an easy, graphical interface.

The results are reduced to c:\Eudora\attach. Of many options, we chose to recurse subfolders, and within the Properties tab we chose to modify all files, even those marked read-only.

In the rather huge c:\Eudora directory structure I tested, the process only took a few minutes. After the change, mailboxes are fixed but most tables of contents must be rebuilt. We do not yet know how to make this happen globally, but Eudora makes TOC files easy.

If you see messages about currupt or damaged mailboxes, just select the highlighted button (Create New or Please Do), let Eudora fix things, then click OK at the results window. Nothing is guaranteed, but I have yet to see this fail. The user may have to do
this for each mailbox opened, but it takes very little time. Many or all fixed messages might then be marked as read, but otherwise everything should be fine.

When the attachment references and tables of contents are fixed to the user’s satisfaction, they should backup all of Eudora to the network. Here at the Biomedical Library we run a little batch file to copy all of c:\Eudora to h:\Eudora_backup. This can take anywhere from a minute to hours, depending on how much data is stored. This is the ONLY backup method we currently support for Eudora. Run it at least weekly.

If you have any concerns, questions, or corrections, please let us know through x45937 or let me know personally. Otherwise I will assume that it works as expected, as it seemed to in our tests.

Posted by tapli005 at May 16, 2005 9:22 AM