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Migrating from AOL to Thunderbird - importing old mail

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zachariah

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Post Posted July 21st, 2005, 10:32 pm

The only thing holding my mom back from saving ~$20/mo. is the fact that if I switch her to Firefox&Thunderbird her old archived AOL email message are stranded in AOL.

I have a workaround (which may or may not work), but I would prefer it if Thunderbird would import those messages when it's installed. I haven't tried since maybe v0.9 or v1.0 of Thunderbird, but I'm assuming nothing's changed.

So I must ask:

Can (or when will) Thunderbird have an option to import old messages from AOL?

Any info appreciated. I did try searching the forums, but "AOL" is too short a search term to give very good results -- so point me to any threads already about this.


As for the workaround I mentioned ... Since Thunderbird can use AOL's imap server now, I should be able to (from within AOL) drag the old messages back into the inbox, then launch Thunderbird and re-sort the old messages into the Local Folders. But, as you can imagine there is likely going to be problems (like new dates on the messages, maybe --- and what happens if a new message arrives while I'm doing this?) and it will be a time consuming pain in the rear. So, an automated import would be preferable.

I guess even a 3rd party utility would be acceptable (but those I have tried (last year) weren't very stable)

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old SKopischke
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Post Posted July 22nd, 2005, 4:28 am

All IMAP imports work the way you fear - you will have to manually drag each mail folder to a local folder. As for what happens when a new message arrives while doing that - it will end up in the Inbox, as always.

zachariah

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Post Posted July 22nd, 2005, 9:25 am

Not the best news, but it's what I expected.



But, no info on if Thunderbird offers to import from AOL (as it does for OE, for example) upon installation of Thunderbird?

(I'll probably install it this weekend on my mom's machine again, so I'll know at that point anyway)

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old SKopischke
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Post Posted July 22nd, 2005, 9:30 am

Since AOL mail is not local to the workstation, such an import is highly unlikely for a future version of Thunderbird.

zachariah

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Post Posted July 22nd, 2005, 9:51 am

I don't understand what you're saying.

AOL does archive (at least some of) it's messages locally (it's called the Filing Cabinet, or something).

It's those messages I want imported.

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old SKopischke
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Post Posted July 22nd, 2005, 9:57 am

I wasn't aware that AOL archived anything locally - are you sure about that. However, an 'archive' is not an active mail repository and each approach to archiving is different. I still wouldn't expect Thunderbird to have an import routine from an archive - especially an AOL archive. I wouldn't imaging they pay much attention to any standard approach to mail box formats.

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Post Posted July 22nd, 2005, 11:18 am

To the best of my knowledge, AOL uses a nonstandard IMAP setup, which means the mail is stored on the server. As far as archived messages, I don't know, probably more propietary crap.

zachariah

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Post Posted July 22nd, 2005, 6:59 pm

(I should note my mom is using Windows XP and AOL 9.0 Optimized)

yeah, it's "more proprietary crap"

AOLeave - export your AOL data is one of the third party solutions I've come across, but as it says on the site, the guy is "working on the Personal Folders tool. It can only be classed as 'alpha' quality". Not exactly ideal.

There's also about.com's instructions to Export an Individual Message from AOL's "Saved on My PC" Folder, and it says if I want to export more than one message then I should "try one of the email migration tools", but it doesn't say where to get those.

I tried installing Thunderbird 1.0.6, and (as expected) it didn't offer to import the local messages (just message from Outlook and Outlook Express). This is a real shame.

Firefox 1.0.6 also doesn't import from AOL either, but I think it should also.

I bet Asa would agree with me.

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old SKopischke
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Post Posted July 23rd, 2005, 4:36 am

Whether Thunderbird should import from AOL is not the question. The question is whether AOL abides by standards enough to allow any other application to import from it. It's not Thunderbird's problem if AOL insists on creating data stores that cannot be accessed by standards-based applications.

As for Firefox (since it's not an e-mail application), I don't see what it would do with an AOL import, even if it could....

XeF6

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Post Posted July 23rd, 2005, 5:15 am

Dunno if this works but can you not create a new folder in AOL mail and transfer all the archieved mail into that. Then create your AOL account in TB and then move ot locally into Tb?
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Post Posted July 23rd, 2005, 8:49 am

Disclaimer: I don't know anything about AOL except for their reputation (very bad here).

Can you move the mail from AOL to some local folder on the hard drive using Outlook Express (or even Outlook)? If so, moving from Outlook Express and/or Outlook is relatively simple.

zachariah

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Post Posted July 24th, 2005, 11:23 am

XeF6 wrote:Dunno if this works but can you not create a new folder in AOL mail and transfer all the archieved mail into that. Then create your AOL account in TB and then move ot locally into Tb?
Good idea ... I'll test and see if that works!

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zachariah

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Post Posted July 25th, 2005, 12:26 am

ok ... so, XeF6's suggestion is the way I gonna get this done -- but is not the ideal solution.

I don't know if it was different a year ago, because I thought that I couldn't create any folders in AOL's imap system -- but according to the Unofficial AOL Email FAQ - Guide to AOL's IMAP & SMTP servers:
Notes, Issues, and Peculiarities
...
* Additional IMAP folders cannot be created, except as a subfolder to the Saved folder.
and I tried it and it worked.

This solves the problem of messages getting mixed up in the INBOX.

But I'm nervous about it so I am planning to only move like 20 messages at a time.

Also, when I want to transfer a message from AOL's local store of messages to (a subfolder of) the Saved folder the only option AOL gives is to move the message. It would be far better if I could just copy it, but I will workaround this.

The workaround is to (locate* on my computer and) backup a copy of (what used to be called) the Filing Cabinet (but apparently isn't anymore with AOL 9.0 Optimized) files to a new folder -- do the message transfer -- then copy back the files.




* I still have to research where those are stored now -- hopefully Google already knows for me.
(of if I'm really lucky it's still a *.pfc file)





PS -- here's a detailed set of instructions for using AOLLeave: Ask Mr. Excel - Rescue your messages from AOL
Apparently he was successful -- and I may try it -- but, again, Thunderbird should do this itself.

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zachariah

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Post Posted July 26th, 2005, 2:35 pm

zachariah wrote:ok ... so, XeF6's suggestion is the way I gonna get this done -- but is not the ideal solution.

I don't know if it was different a year ago, because I thought that I couldn't create any folders in AOL's imap system -- but according to the Unofficial AOL Email FAQ - Guide to AOL's IMAP & SMTP servers:
Notes, Issues, and Peculiarities
...
* Additional IMAP folders cannot be created, except as a subfolder to the Saved folder.
and I tried it and it worked. ...


Well, I found out today that you can't drag messages from "Saved on my PC" folders to Online Folders.

I'm now looking at using AOL Leave -- so hopefully it goes ok.


I tried AOL Leave and...

First I right-clicked on each local folder and saved it as a .pfc file.
I then ran AOL Leave as the instructions said.
In a pfc which I know only had 1 message, 0 messages were in the final file
In a pfc which I know had over 100 messages, only 17 were final file

I didn't even bother bringing these into Eduora or Thunderbird

so the message are totally stuck in AOL unless I can figure another way to get them out

(I'll try the forward-to-OE thing and see if it works at all -- though of course it will take forever, since it's like 5+ years of email)

What's really messed up is that there's not even a way to get them into AOL Communicator (the rebranded Thunderbird) which would be super easy to get the messages to Thunderbird after getting them into there 'cause they use the same directory structure.

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zachariah

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Post Posted July 26th, 2005, 3:29 pm

ok, so it's $25 dollars, but I'm gonna try:
ePreserver - Convert AOL address book, favorites and email
"Supported Applications
* AOL 4 through 9 (All languages except Japanese and Chinese.)"


edit: All I did was try it on the mail, which was successful
-- but it appears to extract anything from AOL and put it in OE or Outlook (which Thunderbird happily imported)

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