Backup that Mailbox

March 07, 2011 by Gabe | [mmd] |

Category 2 Data

I posted previously about finding your data buckets. It amounts to sifting through all of your digital records and assigning a cost and benefit. The ultimate goal, is to know what you have and how to secure it.

I assign email messages to category 2, along with receipts and warranties. Most email is unlikely to be crucial since I've probably already acted on it in some way. This is very different from family photos or tax documents which are generally irreplaceable.


I primarily use a MobileMe IMAP account for personal email. This means that all of it is stored in the cloud. While I tend to trust the stability and robustness of Apple's MobileMe service, bad things still happen. That means I need to secure my own data and not count on someone else to safegaurd it for me. I clone my boot drive periodically, which includes email. This ensures that I can get to my email if I have a catastrophic disk failure and MobileMe goes offline. However, the 3-2-1 model means that it is not secured until I have at least 3 copies.


Apple Mail provides a simple way to get your mail out of the application and into a backup folder. Simply select the mailbox folders and choose Archive Mailbox from the Mailbox menu. I export two copies. one copy goes to my Dropbox account. The second copy goes to an archive folder on my Drobo. That means that my mail is secured in the following way (in addition to MobileMe):

  • 1 copy on my machine (SSD drive)
  • 1 copy on Dropbox (cloud storage)
  • 1 copy on Drobo (NAS disk storage)

The final trick is to make sure Spotlight and Launchbar both exclude my data backup locations. I really do not want to see multiple copies of the same email when I search from either tool.