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Poco Forums • View topic - New messages simply disappeared from the In Mailbox!

New messages simply disappeared from the In Mailbox!

Help and advice on using PocoMail

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New messages simply disappeared from the In Mailbox!

Postby Raffael » Fri Aug 06, 2004 9:11 am

A few days ago I retrieved about 160 messages from my pop3 server. As I have many filters some of these emails went into predefined mailboxes and some others (I guess about 20-30) remained in the "In" mailbox. I replied to some of them and read some others. Then I went in various highlighted mailboxes (where the filters put some new messages) to see the new messages there and as I went back to the In mailbox ALMOST ALL THE NEW MESSAGES HAD DISAPPEARED from it!!!

I tried to compress the mailboxes to see whether it could be an indexing problem. No change. Then I made a backup of PocoMail (with the included tool), then closed PocoMail and started it again. None of the disappeared emails were there anymore. Finally I went into "New Mail" (Special Mailboxes) and all the newly retreived emails were listed there (as I first deleted every link before the new retrieval) but when I opened the ones which were in the In mailbox, their message bodies simply were blank. So at least I could be sure that it hadn't all just been a "Fatamorgana"...

Minor bugs are acceptable and there are a couple in the latest PocoMail Version (3.1.0.1880), for instance with Poco Console. But the disappearing of messages without any reason is simply unacceptable! :evil: And the response time from the PocoMail support is about 3 days or more in average, which does not allow one to change a lot in this type of situations...

I read some postings about it in the former forum but did not pay much attention. Now it is clear to me that I should have...

Did any one experience the same or similar sudden message disappearances in PocoMail??
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Postby Sandy » Fri Aug 06, 2004 9:22 am

Did any one experience the same or similar sudden message disappearances in PocoMail??


Nope.

Some users have reported things something like this in the past, but it has always (as far as I remember) turned out to be an error on either the users part or something unique to their system.

My bet is that the msgs are still there, but not where you expect perhaps becasue of some glitch in how your filters work (or don't work). With Poco closed, try searching the entire Poco directory for a text string you know was in one of the missing msgs; you may find the file they are in that way.

Of course, there could always be a brand new problem that you are the first (or nearly the first) to see. But I suspect that is unlikely.

Personally in 3 years (I think) of Poco use I have never had an email msg lost. I assure you if msgs were lost I would be quite upset.

P.S. Msgs in Poco that don't display doesn't necessary mean the the info in the msg isn't there. It may be that your msg file (MBX) or index file (IDX) is corrupt somehow.
Sandy
 

Postby Raffael » Fri Aug 06, 2004 9:50 am

My bet is that the msgs are still there, but not where you expect perhaps because of some glitch in how your filters work (or don't work).


Yes Sandy, I would be glad if the thing would be so easy... :?

Indeed I think I can say that I master very well my system and it took me enough days (and nights) to test and try a lot of things in PocoMail, as I did never find a updated and complete help file or user guide... (This IS really the weak point of PocoMail, the proper documentation of all the "advanced" functions. It is a pitty because there are many good things I like in PocoMail!)

I remember exactly how it happened. After the filters had done their correct job, as I said, around 15 messages remainded in the In mailbox. Because I hoped it could be a indexing issue I first compressed only the In mailbox. As it did not help I then compressed ALL the mailboxes. This did not bring the lost messages back. Then I made a backup and I tried later to edit the In.mbx as well as In.idx to see if I could find these messages. Nothing! And the In.~mbx or In.~idx were not in the backup (why?), so no way from here too. Besides the disappeared messages could definitely not be in another (sub)mailbox because the link in the New Mail would point there too, which was clearly not the case.

I can just try to imagine that the fact that I did not setup PocoMail as most of the users probably would, could maybe somehow play a part. I have two email addresses with 2 different PocoMail accounts to work with. In addition I have the messages not in the same directory than the PocoMail installation...
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Postby frazmi » Fri Aug 06, 2004 3:14 pm

Raffael, may I offer a couple of comments and ideas?

First, the absence of the ~idx and ~mbx files suggests that you don't have the setting Options | General Options | Retain backup mailbox copy checked.

Second, I have multiple accounts and have them configured to send messages to various directories -- both by way of filters and by way of setting the account's In and Sent mailboxes. So I don't think that's a problem in your case.

Third, I believe your loss of messages is possible, especially (i) IF you are running an anti-virus program that "cleans" the incoming messages, and (ii) IF some of the messages contained encoded attachments with viruses, and (iii) IF the AV missed the virus when the message was first received, and (iv) IF you later run a system virus scan that finds and "cleans" the infected file. I've found that in this case, moving a message after the AV has cleaned the virus can cause severe corruption in the index files and in the message files. Please see this postfor more info if you are interested.

Fourth, from your post, it was unclear whether you have searched the raw in.mbx file for your missing messages. If you have not done so, I'd suggest using a programming editor (like Editeur or Crimson Edit) to open the file and search for the lost text. (If you find it, it could easily be mixed in with another message -- I've seen that happen several times due to the corruption of the index file that can occur with AV cleaning.)

Fifth, as to fixing (or working around) the Poco - AV interaction problem (assuming it exists, of course) here are the two things I am trying:

1) I switched from Norton AV to McAfee. I don't like McAfee's interface, but it seems to catch all of the incoming viruses before handing the messages to Poco. On the other hand, Norton AV quite often missed an incoming virus.

2) When a virus is noted by McAfee, I compress my In box immediately.

I hope something here is helpful.
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Postby Raffael » Sat Aug 07, 2004 2:56 am

You are most welcome frazmi. In such cases one can only appreciate some good inputs... :)

About the Retain backup mailbox copy it is interesting to note that it is (and was) checked. Nevertheless in every backup I did I can find only In.mbx, In.dat, In.idx and In.~idx. Same applies for all the other (sub)mailboxes in the backup directory.

Now about the AV s/w: I am running Norton AV 2001 but did not configurate/activate the email filtering part so I rather believe that it should not interfere with PocoMail. In addition I did not run any AV hdd scan for a long time. Basically I am very cautious with incoming mail regarding viruses and I never execute a file which came as attachment. Most of my attached files are .pdf or occasionally .doc or .xls which should not be a great problem. Besides I just setup my whole system from scratch a few weeks ago. So this makes me think that there is (unfortunately) no explanation about my case from this viewpoint.

About searching the raw in.mbx: I tried with a simple ASCII editor (Notepad) and I searched the name of the person who wrote without any success. The reason is very probaby that it was a very bad idea to compress twice. Doing this I sent the only file version of in.mbx or in.~mbx which could still have contained the disappeared messages to the "hdd nirvana"...
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Postby waratel » Sat Aug 07, 2004 4:10 pm

In the last couple of days I have seen a problem whereby incoming messages have been genuinely lost on my system. And this is due to an interaction with Norton AV (2002). Like you, I don't have NAV set to scan email.

Unfortunately, a bunch of emails I received from an anti-phishing list that I subscribe to contain a text string which NAV interprets as a possible exploit. It's not, and the emails were quite safe, but though NAV didn't scan the incoming email, it did cause access to be denied to the Poco mailbox where my filters directed the mail to. There were about 6 emails waiting on the server. Two got through to the mailbox before NAV kicked in with it's block. As a result the four remaining emails completely disappeared. Poco was unable to write them into the blocked mailbox.

I had to login to my administrative account (XP), disable NAV, delete the offending emails, from both the mailbox and then Trash, and compress these boxes. The missing emails remain missing.

I am not saying this is what has happened in your case, but agree with frazmi and think that you should examine this possibility of AV interaction.

Bill
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Postby frazmi » Sat Aug 07, 2004 6:46 pm

Raffael, I hear you regarding the Norton AV. I still think it's worth looking at your Norton logs to make sure that they didn't run (perhaps via a scheduled background scan) and modify any of your mailbox files. (It's a long shot, given what you have said.)

Are there any other programs that might have run to modify the mailbox file?

I don't have time right now to think this through any further... Good luck.
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Postby hessi » Sat Aug 07, 2004 11:25 pm

Hi there,

I have the same problem. It happened to me without Norton AV installed, after a clean install of Pocomail/Barca - even after a complete new OS installation. I posted this information in the old forum and in the new one, I sent backups of the mailbox files to PSI - unfortunately nobody seems to care about this - I entered this into bugtraction - we'll see ...

--
Stefan

See also: http://www.pocosystems.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=75
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Postby Raffael » Sun Aug 08, 2004 11:30 am

frazmi wrote:I still think it's worth looking at your Norton logs to make sure that they didn't run (perhaps via a scheduled background scan) and modify any of your mailbox files.

Are there any other programs that might have run to modify the mailbox file?


Frazmi, I had a closer look at my NAV. I found an activity.log file but surprisingly there is no date for the information logged (crazy, a log file without date stamp...). There are some characters I cannot read with an ASCII editor though. What I can read is the name of files which have been scanned some time. Unfortunately there is no reference to an .mbx file.

On the other hand the auto-protect mechanism from NAV could very probably interfere somehow in the background, maybe without logging anything in the activity.log file. Some options can be set and mine were that found viruses, isolation activity and ending of manual or scheduled scannings should be logged. One option instead was not checked (did it now): access error. A part of this auto-protect may be customised somewhat. Checked were following options: check file when "executing / opening" and "downloading or creating". This last option could play a part. I unchecked it now. Finally one may choose what NAV should do if a virus is detected. My settings were to isolate the infected file. So it remains a mystery if supposed NAV had "find out" that in.mbx would contain a virus code if the in.mbx would have been isolated and the activity logged in the log file... Anyway I changed the settings to ask me what to do in the future.

I am not aware of any other program which might have modified the mailbox file (on the fly).

So the big question mark remains, especially if I read what has already been posted in this thread. I wonder what will follow... Just one thing is really not very encouraging: the information politics of PocoSystems!! I first wrote personally to the support and after it took them 3 days to reply "The first thing I would suggest is to look for In.~mbx file, which will contain the previous incarnation of your mailbox before the last compress. You can rename it to In-old.mbx (note to remove ~ sign), then start PocoMail and look inside In-old mailbox that will show up in your Mailboxes pane.", which did not help me at all, I am still waiting for my second mail reply:

:arrow: whether the bug / problem is known or not!??...

That is why I write in the forum now... :?
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Postby Jim » Sun Aug 08, 2004 1:30 pm

Raffael wrote:I am not aware of any other program which might have modified the mailbox file (on the fly).

So the big question mark remains, especially if I read what has already been posted in this thread. I wonder what will follow... Just one thing is really not very encouraging: the information politics of PocoSystems!! :arrow: whether the bug / problem is known or not!??...

That is why I write in the forum now... :?


Time and time again, the information supplies by users points to the fact the messages that are permanenly lost are almost always related to the interactions of AVs, anti-spam with PocoMail, and presence of infected messages. In more general terms, the way you use PocoMail in conjuction with other programs is a very important aspsect of the problem. We certainly cannot simulate the working of every available AV or anti-spam in conjuction with PocoMail. As a result, the extent to which we can simulate the above problem is limited.

What we have been doing is looking over our program routines to make sure PocoMail does not contribute to the problem; this much is being done for the next beta.
Jim
 

Postby Jim » Sun Aug 08, 2004 1:31 pm

Raffael wrote:I am not aware of any other program which might have modified the mailbox file (on the fly).

So the big question mark remains, especially if I read what has already been posted in this thread. I wonder what will follow... Just one thing is really not very encouraging: the information politics of PocoSystems!! :arrow: whether the bug / problem is known or not!??...

That is why I write in the forum now... :?


Time and time again, the information supplied by users points to the fact the messages that are permanenly lost are almost always related to the interactions of AVs, anti-spam with PocoMail, and the presence of infected messages. In more general terms, the way you use PocoMail in conjuction with other programs is a very important aspsect of the problem- something that is beyond our control. We certainly cannot simulate the working of every available AV or anti-spam in conjuction with PocoMail. As a result, the extent to which we can simulate the above problem is limited.

What we have been doing is looking over our program routines to make sure PocoMail does not contribute to the problem; this much is being done for the next beta.
Jim
 

Postby frazmi » Sun Aug 08, 2004 2:22 pm

Jim, it's really good to hear that you're checking out this interaction for the next beta.

I'm wondering if the suggestion I made elsewhere (about the effect of AV in "cleaning" an mbx file) is being investigated as part of this activity? Is my idea even possible, given Poco's architecture?
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Postby Raffael » Sun Aug 08, 2004 2:25 pm

Jim wrote:We certainly cannot simulate the working of every available AV or anti-spam in conjuction with PocoMail. As a result, the extent to which we can simulate the above problem is limited.

What we have been doing is looking over our program routines to make sure PocoMail does not contribute to the problem; this much is being done for the next beta.


Yes Jim, I do understand that the interaction amongst various software has become very complex nowadays and it is virtually impossible to test every situation.

Nevertheless there must be at least a part of "responsability" on PocoMails side as I have been using different email clients during years with NAV and I never had messages suddenly wiped away just after having retrieved them from the pop3 server. There are many other good email clients on the market which are not sensitive to AV software.

But frankly what bothers me the most is the information PocoSystems is giving about this type of apparently well known problem. It should be clearly communicated to any new user that this could be a weak point and there should be some white paper available about what to do if that happens. And last but not least it would also help you to find out where the problem exactly lies!...
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Postby Jim » Mon Aug 09, 2004 1:44 am

frazmi wrote:I'm wondering if the suggestion I made elsewhere (about the effect of AV in "cleaning" an mbx file) is being investigated as part of this activity? Is my idea even possible, given Poco's architecture?


That suggestions is being investigated. I will check with the developers (yes, that's a plural). Thanks for the reminder.

Raffael wrote:But frankly what bothers me the most is the information PocoSystems is giving about this type of apparently well known problem. It should be clearly communicated to any new user that this could be a weak point and there should be some white paper available about what to do if that happens. And last but not least it would also help you to find out where the problem exactly lies!...


The fact that we provide this forum for discussing issues likes this does not make it a weak point in our product. In fact, it is not. Try discussing issues with our competitors in the same fashion. Speaking of third-parties, I suppose you are working with other software (AV, anti-spam, and firewalls, and the like) providers to isolate the problem, should in case it is with their product. Let us know what they say. For example, this is a quote from another customer experiencing a related problem:

anonymous wrote:I have tracked the problem to a program called ccApp.exe, which is associated with Symantec's Internet Security suite.  Disabling that program resolves the problem...
Jim
 

Postby Sandy » Mon Aug 09, 2004 5:00 am

Nevertheless there must be at least a part of "responsability" on PocoMails side as I have been using different email clients during years with NAV and I never had messages suddenly wiped away just after having retrieved them from the pop3 server.


This proves nothing. You'd have to do a systematic test of each software combo in a controlled environment to conclude anything from such observations. Your stmt above (far too common in the world of computers) is much like me, for example, going to my doctor and saying that I have an allergy to plums because I ate one last nite and now I am sick; I eat peaches all the time and don't get sick, doesn't that prove I am allergic to plums?

It should be clearly communicated to any new user that this could be a weak point and there should be some white paper available about what to do if that happens. And last but not least it would also help you to find out where the problem exactly lies!..


Frankly, I find this a ridiculous request. You want the kind of red ink "lawyer" warnings that typically accompany let's say an clothes iron that says such things as: "DON'T put this iron in the bathtub when you are in the tub." or "You may be recieve a severe electrical shock if you touch a frayed cord"

C'mon, when is the last time EVERY piece of software you have interacts cleanly and without conflict with every other piece of software? Maybe the computer hardware box you got from Dell with your new computer in it ought to say in bold letters: "Software you place on this computer may not always work perfectly especially if you install more than one program."

Give me a break. You don't even yet know what happened, or what's at fault, much less what the fix ought to be. (Could even be, dare I say it, "user error".)
Sandy
 

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