Archiving your e-mails with EagleFiler

Backup Entourage

There are numerous applications out there designed to help you back up your Entourage data. I recently took a deeper look at one of them: EagleFiler by c-command ($40 shareware — c-command also makes the excellent spam filter that can be used in Entourage as a replacement for the built-in one: SpamSieve).

Most of these applications focus on collecting your e-mails from Entourage and placing it all in a database. EagleFiler is a more general-purpose utility. The application will employ multiple approaches to allow you to gather data on your Mac:

  • Drag and drop
  • Services
  • PDF services (“Print” to EagleFiler)
  • AppleScript integration with a selection of applications
  • Hotkeys (that’s what I use in Entourage)

It’s well integrated in the System and also provides notifications through Growl. For people like me, who care about localizations, it is localized in French, German and Korean.

You can create multiple databases. You can even create secure databases, stored on an encrypted disk image (fairly useful for data that needs to be kept confidential). The data can be organized in folders and subfolders, searched through Spotlight. You can use tags, notes, labels, preview through QuickLook, etc… As far as I am concerned, the versatility of the application is what differentiates it from other utilities that can be used to archive Entourage e-mails.

As I was saying, EagleFiler can import e-mails in different ways. You can drag and drop e-mails or folders straight from Entourage or drag and drop them to a folder in the Finder, then back into EagleFiler. These approaches have limitations and by far the easiest method to import e-mails from Entourage to EagleFiler is to use a shortkey. You can select specific messages, or even a folder and hit a dedicated shortcut. The messages are immediately imported in the current EagleFiler database and indexed there for fast searching. Importing a folder through this approach imports it as a mailbox with all the messages inside. Most of the messages attributes are preserved through the process.

Once all the messages are in EagleFiler, you can delete them from Entourage. Since the space these messages took in your identity is not immediately regained, some people like to rebuild their database afterwards (launch Entourage pressing the Option key down) to force it to clean up the database and regain the space. Entourage will thank you for it and the whole application sure feels a lot snappier for me after archiving the 30,000 e-mails that were patiently waiting in the “On my computer” folders

After import, all the data is accessible in EagleFiler where I can also search it through Spotlight and thanks to the structure of the EagleFiler database, my archives can be backed-up with TimeMachine without requiring a full re-backup every time I modify something (the data is not in a monolithic database the way it is stored in Entourage.

There are limitations with mailboxes though. You cannot manually create mailboxes. You cannot add messages in a mailbox (though you can merge two mailboxes together, but you can’t merge a mailbox and a folder full of messages). You can store the messages in a folder though (in which case you can do virtually anything you’d like with it).
I’ve debated for a while before I bought a license. I already had Yojimbo,which also works as a nice repository for multiple file formats (but doesn’t import e-mails quite the same way EagleFiler does). I could have bought instead an application dedicated to only archiving Entourage e-mails, but it’s actually the fact that I can use EagleFiler for multiple purposes that sold it to me: it made the $40 investment look a lot better since I could use it to create multiple databases for the many projects on my Mac and archive tons of additional junk that had been laying around for much too long. I find the application a bit on the pricey side (especially compared to some of the other utilities out there), but now that I’ve been using it for a while, I do believe its purchase was well worth it.

The application has an active support forum and the author has been more than responsive to all my e-mail requests (which I take for a very good sign…). Definitively worth taking a serious look at!

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