Nevis Mail Files A discussion of where mail files are stored.


To simplify the following discussion, I make the following assumptions:


When mail is accepted from the outside world by the mail server for a user, it's stored in the user's "in-box" (which might be shown as INBOX or Inbox or a similar variant). The actual location of a user's INBOX is on the mail server. On the Linux cluster, you can access your INBOX as a file via automount; the file name is /a/mail/inbox/$user, where $user is your account name.

There is one exception that only affect users of alpine: occasionally, a file named mbox may be created in your home directory. (Older versions were prone to this.) If this happens, then every time alpine starts up, it moves the contents of your INBOX to the end of ~/mbox. If your INBOX mail appears to have vanished, look for the existence of this file.

Caution: Don't let your mail INBOX get too large, that is, don't leave a large number of messages there. The reasons are:

  1. It slows down your mail program. Every time you start your mail program, some machine (probably the mail server) is reading through your entire INBOX to process the mail headers. If you find that it takes a long time to start up your mail reader, that may be the reason why.

  2. It makes the mail backup process take up more space. Your INBOX is modified every time you receive a new message. If you have 50MB INBOX, and a 1KB message is added onto the end, the incremental backup will still archive the entire 50MB file.

Please consider using folders, which minimize both of the above issues.

Folders in Pine/POP3

If you use folders with alpine, then your mail folders are being kept in your home directory, probably in ~/mail. If you use another mail read in addition to alpine, you may want to change this to /a/mail/folders/$user. The Alpine web site has more documention on folders.

Folders in IMAP

The default location of your mail files is /a/mail/folders/$user, where $user is the name of your Nevis account.

Reminder: Only use /a/mail/folders for mail. Any data or work files placed here will be deleted -- no warnings, no excuses, no sympathy.

Mail backups

Nevis mail is backed up not just once, but twice:

  1. The mail server, along with all the other systems at Nevis, is backed up nightly.

  2. Four times a day, the mail files are copied onto hypatia, the central administrative server.

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