When good email goes bad

I recently suffered a loss of memory. I, like many people, keep my emails organized into project and topic folders. I call it my email brain. This has served me well over the years as I always had at my fingertips data related to a particular event, decision, project, etc. It was my long-term memory and it was the basis of my productivity.

I am one of those who had to switch email systems and client. The switch was relatively painless but the mandated email client was in a completely different format and not easily assimilated into my backup strategy. Oh, sure, I set the switches to leave my mail on the server and to copy it to my local machine (so I thought). All was working well until last Tuesday. That is when I discovered all of my saved email messages were gone.

I opened my email client that morning and the folders I filed things in the day before were suddenly empty. I opened more folders only to watch their contents disappear while the client synchronized with the server. As you can imagine, this has left me brain dead concerning my research for ongoing projects and bereft of any archived data. Some of my current projects are going to have to be completed without that much needed data -- which means some of them are going to have to be redone as they will invariably not meet the reviewers’ scrutiny.

Our IT folks made a valiant effort to retrieve my email from the backup tapes but it was to avail as there simply wasn’t anything to restore. I have a theory of what happened given the chain of events. Everything was fine until I allowed the client to update to a new version that morning. I think what happened at that point is the new version did not obey the setting to store my email locally and so when the next time I synchronized, the client cleared the local folders because the server folders where empty. If this is true, then there is likely no cure for this calamity.

Don’t be like me...save your email folders frequently and with prejudice. And the next time your email client offers to upgrade to a new version, decline the offer and do a full backup first. It is a wonder why the client doesn’t do that in the first place.

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Charles Bell

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