Everyday I receive a massive number of emails from many sources and half of them are valid (i.e. not spams). And at certain times I receive huge attachments from friends with pictures or other things. With a normal Streamyx ADSL connection this is fine, but when it gets hiccups my email retrieval process normally gets interrupted in the middle (timed out). 90% of the time my Thunderbird go nuts and corrupted its own “state” database. This means that it “forgets” which message it has downloaded and which has not.
This will not be a big problem if I set my email client to “delete from server” each time but I set it to “leave on server” as an online backup. I know I know I am a freak. Because of this, the next time it retrieves, my email client will download every message from my Inbox (which is in the thousands because I still keep my emails since 1997). This is insane.
I needed a more robust solution and as a Linux geek I used fetchmail to download my emails to a local server and set it to “leave on server”. From my observation, it does not have the same corrupting effect as Thunderbird when a timeout occurs. Good, one problem solved. Next, I set my Thunderbird to retrieve email from the local server which is faster than a speeding bullet. OK, I exaggerated. I set it to “delete from server” where the server is the local server. Good, another problem solved.
Now I have my emails intact regardless of what the connection condition is.
But… when I am on the road I have a problem to retrieve my emails. I heard someone is shouting, “why the hell don’t you just use the webmail?”. When it comes to email, I think I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Except for GMail, I will need my Thunderbird to compose my emails.
This is when I realized that I can do something about it. I enabled a simple VPN server on my Linksys WRT54G router which I have flashed with DD-WRT. Here’s a complete guide that I followed: http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/PPTP_Server_Configuration.
I have never regretted since, but I do have to make sure that the connection to my home is stable enough. But please be warned that this will only work if the connection you are using allows PPTP pass through.
There you go, a story of someone having email OCD. What’s your excuse?
Oh BTW I also have a PAC (Proxy Auto Configuration) setting on my browsers so when there is a connection to the Squid box at home (the VPN is connected), it’ll utilize the cache. 😛