techonicals: Sync your Desktop Email client(Outlook or Thunderbird) across multiple computers

Sync your Desktop Email client(Outlook or Thunderbird) across multiple computers

If you use online email clients or webmail clients like Gmail, Hotmail or yahoo, then you dont need to sync your mails on any of computers you use.
You can simply open any internet browser and access your emails if internet connection is available.
But if you use email services daily and require managing and storing all emails on your local drive, must be regularly using desktop programs like Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird. So if you use Thunderbird at your office's PC those mails might not be available at home PC, you will have to take a copy of those mails in USB and carry this USB back to home. There's a better solution available if you are aware of Dropbox and use it.

There are several ways you could sync your desktop email client between computers, but the best method involves storing your application profile in cloud storage tool like Dropbox so that all of your settings are automatically synced between your computers. Here's how to move your Microsoft Outlook PST file or the profile for cross-platform Thunderbird to accomplish that goal.

Why not just use IMAP?

If your email account can use the IMAP protocol, then its the easiest way to have your email synced; IMAP syncs even your sent email with the email server.By using Dropbox you can sync your settings and other items, such as tasks, in your Outlook or Thunderbird program across all your computers.

Moving Outlook PST Files to Dropbox

The PST file is stored and accessed from your local drive; storing the PST file on drop box folder can accomplish this syncing without a lot of hassle.

Steps to sync Outlook 2010 on windows 7 with dropbox.

  • First you'll need to find your Outlook PST file. In Outlook 2010, you can right-click on Personal Folders and choose "Open File Location" to see the file in Windows Explorer.
  • Alternately, you can go to your Control Panel > Mail settings (if you have trouble finding it, look under User Accounts or simply search for "Mail" within the Control Panel). Click on the "Data Files... button" and in the new window, you'll be shown the location of the PST file. 
  • Usually it's under C:\Documents and Setttings\[username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook.
  • Close Outlook, then go to Windows Explorer and cut and paste the file to your Dropbox folder.
Now  when you open Outlook, you may be warned that the PST file can't be found. Click OK, then browse to your Dropbox folder to find the new location.
  • You may also have to change where the emails get stored:
  • Click on the File tab, then Info.
  • Under Account Settings, click Account Settings.
  • On the E-mail tab, select the account and click Change Folder.
  • Select the Inbox to change the email delivery location.
From your other computer(s), point Outlook to the dropbox data file by going again to the File tab in Outlook > Account Settings. In the Data Files tab, add the moved PST file, set it as the default, and remove the old location.

Note:
You'll need to close out of the Outlook program on the first computer before opening the PST file on the second one. This is very important! Dropbox is pretty good at creating duplicate, "conflicted" copies of the PST files if necessary, but constant syncing attempts of an open PST file can lead to corruption. So close out of Outlook and let Dropbox do its syncing before you open Outlook on the next computer.

If your Outlook file is very big, you could run out of space in your Dropbox account. 

Move Your Thunderbird Profile to Dropbox or a Shared Network Folder

If you're using the cross-platform Thunderbird email client, you can move your profile and email local directories to an USB, but then you will always have to carry around that USB stick.

So the better option is to move your profile your Dropbox folder. 
Here are the instructions for moving the profile on thrunderbird.
  • First close Thunderbird.
  • Now, find the profile folder. On Windows, the default location is in C:\Users[username]\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\ or 
  • C:\Documents and Settings[username]\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles.
          On Mac, the location is ~/Library/Thunderbird
          On Linux, the path is ~/.thunderbird/
  • Cut and paste the xxxxxxxx.default folder to your new location (e.g., Dropbox folder)
  • Next, edit the profiles.ini file in a text editor. You'll find the file in the same location as the profiles folder above.
  • Edit the "Path=" line to the new location, e.g., C:\Users\username]\Documents\Dropbox\xxxxxxxx.default
          When entering a non-relative path in Windows, use backslashes (relative paths get forward slashes),                   and change IsRelative=1 to IsRelative=0.
  • Save the profiles.ini file and restart Thunderbird.
On your other computers, you can copy over the profiles.ini file so they also point to the new location of your Thunderbird profiles folder. That should be it.
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