Gmail Failure
Posted by Manolis Platakis on 23-11-2008 at 5:39
Once upon a time, back in 2004, I entered university and so I got an e-mail account from my department with user-id std04100. Google had launched Gmail a few months before. In the end of 2004 I received an invitation to register for a Gmail account (which was invitation-only back then). So, I got a m.platakis user-id for my new Gmail account.



Initially, I decided using Gmail for extra-university activity. However, in the end of 2006, I kept getting a huge daily amount of spam mail in my uni account so I decided to make use of Gmail's great spam filter. I created a new Gmail account which would only be used as an intermediate layer to filter out spam mails. So, I proceeded claiming std04100 as the new Gmail user-id and verified my departmental account. So far so good. The years passed and I began working as a research fellow in my department. Thus, I was granted a "platakis" (i.e. my surname) user-id. I immediately verified the new account in my filter Gmail account and forwarded both my uni accounts to the filter one. I have been using solely platakis user-id to reply from ever since.

Time has gone by and I am using the std04100 gmail account not only to filter spam but to archive all my conversations online (besides thunderbird local inbox) as well. Therefore, I am using Gmail's SMTP server. As a result, all the mails that I send have "Sender: std04100 at Gmail". After a while, I became annoyed from the fact that although I had a platakis uni account std04100 still appeared in every mail's header because of the user-id I had picked back in 2006 to use Gmail's spam filter.

To cope with this "problem", I decided to make use of my first Gmail account which was pretty idle apart from some lousy registrations. So I began forwarding all my university mail to m.platakis Gmail account, I verified platakis uni account in Gmail and I enabled POP3 checking the "From now on" option in order not to download previous mail from this Gmail account in Thunderbird. Everything worked smoothly. Unfortunately, I was not satisfied and proved to be too greedy.

I said to myself: "Why don't I transfer all the archives from my old filter Gmail account to my new (an actually older gmail account :P) filter Gmail account?". I took the following steps:

1. I activated the "Get mail from other accounts" option in m.platakis.

2. I enabled POP3 for all mail in std04100.

Old mail started flowing into m.platakis Inbox but unfortunately not Sent mails. To make matters worse, I, all of sudden, came up with 100 duplicate old mails in Thunderbird! Apparently, the "POP3 from now on" option that I had enabled in m.platakis to be able to download new mail to Thunderbird considered my old mail flowing from std04100 to m.platakis as eligible to be downloaded from Thunderbird!

3. I hastily disabled POP3 in m.platakis.

4. While waiting for the process to be completed I carefully deleted the duplicate mails from Thunderbird.

Later on, I checked Gmail and saw that the procedure was really slow (there was a relevant warning in Gmail's Mail Fetcher FAQ). It was 4 AM, I wanted to go to sleep and I didn't want to leave POP3 disabled along with the fact that Gmail kept bringing batches of 200 mails from std04100 in a very slow speed.

5. I changed the Mail Fetcher's options checking the Archive incoming messages (Skip the Inbox) and verified that incoming old mail didn't end up in the Inbox.

6. I enabled POP3 from now on in m.platakis and after while I downloaded 100 more duplicate mails in Thunderbird.

7. Although the process was a bit faster I was totally frustrated and the archive in m.platakis was really mixed up. I disabled POP3 in m.platakis to stop receiving duplicate mail in Thunderbird and erased the already downloaded.

8. I removed the std04100 mail account from the Mail Fetcher but mail from std04100 kept flowing into m.platakis and refused to stop! Apparently, the huge amount of mail had created an unstoppable queue.

9. It was 5 AM when I performed the check mate move disabling POP3 in std04100. M.platakis stopped receiving mail from the already removed(!) std04100 account instantly and I was able to re-enable POP3 from now on in m.platakis.

I went to sleep having achieved a partial messed up migration from std04100 to m.platakis, disappointed with my failure as well as with the loss of crucial sleep time but happy because I had made peace with myself: "It doesn't matter so much if I have to login to my deprecated std04100 Gmail account to check my archive once in a while".

Kudos, if you managed to read the whole blog post.
Posted by skarab on 23-11-2008 at 12:47
Incidentally, a few days ago nikan easily solved thw same problem by using IMAP instead of POP. Makes sense, since IMAP preserves the date of the original mail, while POP doesn't. Here is his blog post that explains the process.
Posted by Manolis Platakis on 23-11-2008 at 16:21
OMG! I did this on Tuesday 18 November.
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