Thunderbird email folder in odrive folder

I am working on the “solution” of backing up my all email.
Currently my all emails are on ISP IMAP server.
I was thinking: install Thunderbird, let it keep all messages downloaded locally and set up the local folder for Thunderbird emails to be in my odrive folder. This way I would have my emails in 3 places:

  • local Thunderbird folder
  • odrive connected storage i.e. onedrive or google

Would there be any limitation of performance issue if my local Thunderbird email folder was in odrive?

The only one I can think of is:
Thunderbird keeps all emails in maildir so if big file with the messages gets updated odrive has to upload it to odrive storage (onedrive, google) - otherwise?
Thank you for any hint

Hi @homonto,
I haven’t used Thunderbird for a long time, but I quickly looked it up and it looks like their option for maildir should work okay (saving each e-mail in an individual file rather than having everything in a monolithic file). I wouldn’t expect much performance impact.

With sync, odrive is going to try to upload as soon as it sees a change, so you’ll just need to be aware of that in case there are any files that constantly change and need to be uploaded and re-uploaded. the maildir option should alleviate a lot of that concern, though.

The backup feature may be a better option for you since this seems to be a traditional backup use case instead of a full, bi-direction sync use case.

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Hi @Tony
Of course I meant: Thunderbird with mbox storage - 1 file for entire folder - not maildir (million files instead)
But I shall now try the backup - this case I would have only 1 time per day the sync - right?

thank you

Hi @homonto,

You can actually configure the backup interval (see the backupIntervalMinutes premium advanced config setting here:

Otherwise, yes, the default interval is 24 hours after the completion of the prior backup job (if you need it to run at an exact time every day, you can use the CLI to script it and have the small script kick off using Windows Task Scheduler / cron job).

You can also run a backup job on demand through the odrive tray menu (see That way, if you want to keep a long time interval but have the ability to manually kick it off situationally, you can do so.



Hi @JeffL,
So I was testing both: Thunderbird IMAP folder synced to odrive as well as second option (you proposed) - backup.
I like the backup i.e. the fact that it does not happen real time but once a day.
I have now backed up all files that changed with multiple instances - every time file changes backup will create new copy. That is fine for normal files but for email files I am not 100% - when it comes to recovering the entire IMAP structure it might be a bit tricky to find which file is the right one.
On the other side: perfect backup.
I am still not decided which approach is better. Screenshot 2020-12-15 at 20.18.41


Ah, yes, what you’re saying makes clear sense for an email inbox. We save different copies as a way of keeping file versions, but you wouldn’t want that for your use case at all.

I think for now, you can try to use the sync-to-odrive method… I think what we’ll likely do is to create an advanced configuration option which you can use to turn off the file versioning for backup. I’ll need to discuss this with the team and see if that is feasible and if we can get it onto the roadmap.

We’ll keep you updated here.


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@JeffL, lovely, I am waiting then for … the manual :wink:

Here’s the user manual page for how to set up and use the sync to odrive (direct sync relationships) feature.

Depending on how often your inbox file changes and how big your inbox file is, I think you’ll probably want to wait for the override flag on Backup to turn off version history. For instance, if your inbox file was constantly changing and this file was very large, we’d constantly be trying to upload it but it would never finish catching up. That scenario would just eat up your bandwidth.

If this is an email account that doesn’t get a lot of email traffic and the inbox file is small enough that you think you’ll be okay syncing the file up after every change, then sync to odrive might work.

I’ll keep pushing for the backup version override setting for you. =)

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Hi @JeffL
now I am a bit lost - now I see 3 methods of syncing my emails from local comp to the cloud:
1- backup the folder to odrive:

  • the folder to by backed up up is out of the odrive folder on the comp
  • by default every 24h repeated
  • creates new file versions to avoid overwrite,
  • con: many versions of the file exist - not good for email files

2- move profile folder of Thunderbird to odrive folder on the comp

  • real time sync
  • overwrites files - no versioning
  • con: sync is real time - no way to do it i.e. every 4h or 24h

3- sync folder to odrive

  • actually the same as point 2 above but without moving Thunderbird folder into odrive folder on the comp
  • same pros and same cons (except no need to touch Thunderbird profile config)

Did I mix all up?
Idea was: mix point 1 with point 3 (because point 2 requires manual reconfiguration of Thunderbird profile - folder location on the comp - not difficult but)


That’s a great summary for the out-of-the-box options… I think you’ve got it.

A couple other thoughts:

  • If you’re familiar with shell scripting, you can probably set up something simple to copy inbox.msf to a folder inside your odrive on a regular basis. So this is as if you relegated yourself to just manually dragging-and-dropping inbox.msf into a folder inside your odrive folder except that you’re using a script to do it for you.
  • Or there are a couple of advanced client options which may be useful such as disableFSEvents to turn off real-time automatic detection of local changes to sync up. You can couple this with setting localScanIntervalSecs so that you have control over when local changes are detected.

I didn’t recommend these options initially because scripting can be fairly advanced and it’s not for everybody.

I think based on prior forum posts you’re on Mac? You can set up a cron job using crontab -e to create an entry such as * * * * * cp -rp /path/to/my/inbox.msf /Users/homonto/odrive/path/to/where/I/want/to/keep/this/

If you understand the cp command part and vaguely need to know about how to set up a cron job or what all the * values mean for scheduling based on the minute/hour/day-of-month/month/day-of-week, you can look at this person’s blog post for some tips on Mac. But I’d say that if you’re not familiar with Terminal usage on Mac, then it’s probably a lot safer not to wander down this route.

The advanced client options are also powerful, but these settings are global to the client install and not scoped to a particular integration or folder. So if you change those particular settings, it will apply to how that installed instance of the sync client approaches all of your storage links. If you are okay with that so that your client basically only checks for changes you’ve made locally on some particular time interval (and not real-time), then turning off FSEvents and setting a local scan interval might work for you. The local scan interval should be set high enough to avoid upload churn based on how frequent the inbox file changes and how large it is (how long it will take to upload each time).

To me, the best productized solution is the setting for backup without versioning. You could also just resort to manually copying inbox.msf to a folder location in odrive from time to time for now until the new backup option is available. Let me know what you think?


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Thank you @JeffL for your time.
I used to be Unix (Solaris, remember?) and Linux administrator and shell scripting (or “dinosaur” languages like Perl) is nothing new for me - of course cron as well :wink:

The whole idea came to picture when I completely accidentally deleted 1 folder on my Mac from my email - I used Apple Mail client - I had everything on my Time Machine but… bloody Apple Mail client does NOT have any config option to keep always full messages on local comp - only headers. So of course Time Machine had all my Sent folders/messages but not all incoming ones.
Then I called ISP and asked for restore from backup - these guys told me: “only last 24h” - omg!
So Thunderbird came to help as I can easily set up “download full messages to local comp” - but then this has to backed up (using odrive).

Ok, I will think further - there is no “boxed” solution I see so I will need to think further what to do.
1- If I keep syncing in real time without versioning my “accidental” deletion of the folder will be immediately synced to cloud as well so in such case the whole idea of backup of my mails will go to trash ;-(
2- if I stay with versioning, the moment I will have to restore it and some folders will have 200 versions - I will die as well
But probably the second option is the only possible with extra - from time to time - deletion of all “older than…” files from the backup - but this has to be done on cloud side… any option for this in odrive “backup to odrive” solution? RETENTION POLICY I am thinking about :wink:

My way of coping with emails is: ALWAYS Inbox must be empty - all messages are distributed into the specific folders so truth be told my Inbox is always… ZERO bytes :wink: So the backup must go through all folders in mail program - copying specific folders to one place is not possible - I have probably 100+ folders in my email and some messages are from… 2003 - yeap, don’t ask me why I need them but… :wink:

Anyway, thanks again for your help.