Stuck Mail Reader
Some tips on how to handle a stuck mail reader.
Some common problems with reading mail are:
A long time passes without receiving any new mail message, even
ones that you send to yourself.
The mail reader seems "stuck": it takes a long time (several
minutes) to access the contents of your INBOX or any mail folder.
You try to send mail, and it takes a long time; messages indicate that the mail reader
is trying to save a copy in your Send folder.
Here are some things to check:
- Try to login to your Nevis account. If you can't do it, or you
get an error message about accessing your home directory, that's the
problem: If you can't access your home directory, the mail server
can't access it either.
Apart from sending a message to the systems
administrator, there's not much else you can do about this issue.
The machine containing your home directory may need to be rebooted.
- If your home directory is available but the mail reader still
appears to be stuck, the problem may be with the mail server: the IMAP server
program may be stuck trying to read your mail directory information.
If this is the case, try these steps:
- Quit your mail reader program. If the problem is with the
IMAP access, this may take a long time. Don't force-quit or
abnormally terminate the program; let it take however long it
needs in order to quit.
- Delete your IMAP information folder: rm -rf ~/.imap
In general, any .imap folder that you find among your
files is a set of "bookmarks" left by the mail server's IMAP
program to speed up reading your mail files. It never hurts to
delete these directories, provided you're not running any mail
reader program at the time you delete them. They will be
reconstructed the next time the IMAP program reads your mail
- Start your mail reader again.
In trying to track down this problem, I came across this message.
In order to prevent this issue, I suggest the following:
- A typical cause of this issue appears to be when a computer goes to
sleep or otherwise disconnects while it's still running a mail
reader. The IMAP process on our mail server can remain running, and
loses synchronization with your mail program when it tries to connect.
If you get these delays, you may want to try quitting your e-mail
program before letting your laptop to go to sleep or going into
- Another cause may be having very large IMAP folders. In
particular, people often ignore their Trash and Sent folders, which
can accumulate messages without limit. You may want to consider:
- Periodically cleaning out old messages from your Trash folder.
- Filing or deleting messages from your Sent folder, instead of just leaving them there.
- Some mail readers (such as Thunderbird) allow for the
automatic purging of messages that are older by a given number of
days. I've set my Trash folder to delete all messages older than
nine months, and my Sent folder to delete all messages older than
six months. (I also BCC: all the messages I send to myself, so I
rarely have need for a separate Sent folder.)
- As I've urged elsewhere,
don't let your INBOX or other mail folders accumulate thousands of
messages. If you have that many messages in a folder, it's time to
think about creating sub-folders.
This is definitely an issue with our current IMAP server. I'd go back
to our previous IMAP server, which did not have this problem... but
that had another problem: occasionally scrambling mail folders. Given
a choice between the two, I'll stick with the occasional stuck e-mail.
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