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deleting old email

tags: data

Alex Schröder reminds us:

> Data parsimony demands that we don’t collect the data we don’t need; that we don’t store the data we collect; that we don’t keep the data we store. Delete that shit!


So today I went ahead and removed 5 old mailboxes in odd formats. Nowadays I use emacs/mu4e and I did not feel inclined to import the old stuff. I did search for and find two text documents from 2001, which I moved into the Archive directory, something like my personal timeline.

But before calling rm I decided to have some fun with them mail boxes. Using a few shell commands I found this:

243 individual files

102 MiB used disk space --- this was a lot of space back when I started computing stuff (ca. 1989)

4559 "^Subject: " lines found, which I translate to individual messages.

oldest message from 1998-11-12

latest message from 2006-02-20

the bulk of those message were from 2002 .. 2004

No, I did not look at them. I did not waste countless hours trying to freshen my memories about things long forgotten. I will admit that I pulled an email address from these files a few weeks back, but it was not really important or a live saver. I did send a message to that email address, however, and I got a nice reply, too!

So, on to the 37000 emails in my current mailbox? Hmm. Maybe I should archive this stuff once a year and start over. Just wondering ...

$ find Maildir/ -type f | xargs grep -h '^Date: ' | sed 's/^Date: //' | dateutils.dconv -i "%a, %d %b %Y" -i "%d %b %Y" -f ymd 2>/dev/null | sed 's/-..-..$//' | sort | uniq -c
    108 2004
    455 2005
    344 2006
   3843 2018
   3529 2019
   4485 2020

37641 individual files/messages (maildir format)

2772 MiB used disk space --- wtf?

oldest message from 2004-10-26

the number of emails/year goes up from 450 to 4500 over the course of 15 years. Fascinating!

So I deleted 100 MiB and kept 2700 MiB --- oh my!




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