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Using Thunderbird 17 with an IMAP account set to keep mail offline. Works great. Except that in order to keep my mail, Thunderbird maintains one enormous file called "INBOX". For an account of mine that's 4 years old, this one file has grown to over 30 GB! Not that I mind keeping so much data, but it's a pain to have it all in one file because when I run an incremental backup of my home folder using rsync this huge INBOX file has to be transfered each time. Way slow!

To be clear, this is the file I'm talking about:

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Doesn't rsync perform delta transfers by default? It should transfer only the newly added messages … assuming you're rsyncing over SSH or another "smart" transport, not over NFS. – grawity Jan 12 '13 at 23:59

Have you considered Tools > Account Settings > Server Settings > Message Storage > Clean up ("Expunge") Inbox on Exit

or Synchronization & Storage > Disk Space > Synchronize the most recent XX days?

Also consider rsync over ssh. It's very fast.

Here are some options to more frequently clean your Inbox:

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In the accounts list, right click on "Inbox" and choose "Compact"

...Figured this out after I'd posted the question. Got my INBOX file down from 30 GB to about 800 MB! Nice, but still not perfect, so I don't consider it fully "answering" the question.

It would be better to find a solution that either did this automatically (maybe a way to do it from the command line so that it could be run periodically) -- or be able to use an all together different approach of storing files separately. Transferring 800 MB is still a pain when making a remote backup over a network.

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