I want to create an offline mail archive that I can view and search. The archive will include both, Inbox and Sent.

My main OS is Windows XP 32-bit (I'm a laggard but I plan to upgrade to 7, 8, or 10, and in 64-bit) so the software that I'll use to read and search mail needs to be a Win32 graphical application.

I have a Linux playbox inside the house (in which I run a getmail cronjob to fetch new mail) but I'd like to avoid including a (local) server (IMAP for example). Although I might go with it if the pros out-weight the cons.

I have 25 mail accounts that I want to view and search, and only 5 of them are still active (sending and receiving mail). Most of the mail resides in mboxes and maildirs. I haven't yet gathered all the mail in one location so I don't know about how many mails we're talking about. Off the top of my head, I would say that all of it is under 10GB.

I accept the possibility that I may have to keep two archives of it. One in "cold" storage where it isn't accessed, and one in "live" storage where it's read and searched.

The only idea that comes into my head is importing all mail in Thunderbird and hope it can handle it. But I would need to import new mail as it arrives, which is a labor-intensive job I don't want to do. Another is to go for that IMAP server and instruct Thunderbird not to keep mail locally (I'll need to find a way to have IMAP folders for each account instead of running 25 accounts).

I would like to read proposals on what scheme and what software can I use to set this up. If you want, you can also share the system you run yourself and I can take ideas from that.


I use an IMAP application which fetches old messages from the server, copies the messages to a local filesystem, and writes the message metadata to a Mysql database. Then the messages are deleted from the user's mailbox.

Users use their HTML browser to search the metadata when they want to restore one or more messages. Messages are re-inserted in the user's mailbox with IMAP APPEND commands.

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