Backup, Restoration, and transferring POPFile settings

Why are Backups necessary ?

There are three primary reasons for backing up POPFile.

  1. You should always backup POPFile before installing a new version.
  2. You may want to backup your settings and configuration periodically especially if you are modifying a skin, using a pre-release version, or modifying the source.
  3. Viruses, hardware failure, a user error, or a bug in POPFile may damage your corpus. Since the corpus reflects everything POPFile has learned about the categorization of your email, it is the single most valuable collection of files in your POPFile installation.

For Windows users there is a POPFile User Data Backup/Restore utility. This utility makes it easy for Windows users to make a backup of their current POPFile data which can then be restored to the same location or a different one, possibly on another computer. You can find out more about this utility on its homepage at http://www.sugelan.co.uk/popfile/databru.html

Finding the User Data files (Windows version)

Originally POPFile and all of its data files were kept in your POPFile folder and its subfolders. Starting with the 0.21.0 release, the data files can now be stored separately from the POPFile files when a clean installation is performed. One of the reasons for storing the data files separately is to make it possible for each user to have their own corpus etc.

NOTE: If you upgrade an old version of POPFile, the Windows installer will suggest upgrading the existing data, so your data files will still be kept in the POPFile folder. This limitation only applies to the user running the installer - when POPFile is configured for use by additional users, these new users can store their data separately.

POPFile uses the POPFILE_ROOT and POPFILE_USER environment variables to find the location of the POPFile folder and the location of the User Data. The installer is aimed at the mainstream POPFile user who needs to get up and running quickly on Windows so it handles the creation of the environment variables for each user (and records the settings in the registry).

The installer creates shortcuts to the program runpopfile.exe (in the POPFile folder) which sets the environment variables to the appropriate values and then starts POPFile. For “technical reasons” the installer uses the short file name (SFN) format for the environment variables it creates.

Since the SFN format is not very human-friendly, a small utility has been created to make it easy to find the location of the User Data files for the current user. The Windows installer for POPFile 0.22.0 (or later) installs this utility and creates some Start Menu shortcuts for it (e.g. Start → Programs → POPFile → Support → PFI Diagnostic utility (simple)). If you are using POPFile 0.21.x the PFI Diagnostic utility is available as a separate download (62 KB zip file).

To make a full backup of POPFile, simply backup the POPFile folder and subfolders and, if your User Data is stored separately, backup the User Data folder and subfolders (assuming that the default locations were used for message history, etc).

NOTE: If POPFile has been configured for use by more than one user, there may be several different sets of User Data to be backed up!

In Windows systems the default location for POPFile is C:\Program Files\POPFile (though a different location can be chosen when running the installer).

The default location for the User Data is not so straightforward:

  • if an older version of POPFile was upgraded, the default location for the User Data for the user who performed the upgrade is the POPFile folder (the normal default location is C:\Program Files\POPFile)
  • if a clean install was performed, or if a new user configuration has been created by the 'Add POPFile User' wizard, then the default location of the User Data depends upon the Windows version and how it has been configured. For example, if you are using Windows 2000 or XP then the default location is probably C:\Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAME\Application Data\POPFile (or %DocumentsAndSettings%\YOURUSERNAME\Application Data\POPFile). On Windows 9x the default location could be C:\Windows\Application Data\POPFile\YOURUSERNAME or C:\Windows\Profiles\YOURUSERNAME\Application Data\POPFile.

The installer and the 'Add POPFile User' wizard make it very easy to select a different location from the default one, and even if the default locations are used it can be difficult to find the relevant folder, so a small utility has been created to avoid the need to delve into the registry. If you used the Windows installer for 0.22.0 (or later) then the utility can be run by selecting Start → Programs → POPFile → Support → PFI Diagnostic utility (simple). If you are using POPFile 0.21.x the PFI Diagnostic utility is available as a separate download (62 KB zip file).

Once you have identified the folders which are to be backed up, you can simply make a copy of those folders but you may want to use a utility like zip or WinZip. If space is a concern, you can leave out the “messages” folder. The only downside is you won't be able to reclassify any messages after a transfer or restore.

The POPFile User Data Backup/Restore utility makes it easy for Windows users to make a backup of their current POPFile data, including the “messages” folder. This backup is a customised installer which can then be used to restore the user data to a new location or a new computer. You can find out more about this utility on its homepage at http://www.sugelan.co.uk/popfile/databru.html

Finding the User Data files (Mac OS X version)

POPFile user data is stored in /Library/POPFile/ (same as the POPFile program folder) if you are using Mac OS X version.

Restoration and Transfer

You may need to restore POPFile settings or want to copy your settings to another machine. For example, you may want to share your POPFile settings between your home computer and with a machine at work. To restore POPFile,

  • 1. Shut down POPFile if it is running.
  • 2.a. If the currently installed version of POPFile is equal to or older than the backup version,
    • Copy the files from the backup you made above. If you used zip or WinZip, make sure to unzip the files. Either way, the files must be returned to the POPFile user data directory. You can find it on Windows by above introduction 'Finding the User Data files', and on Mac OS X it is /Library/POPFile/.
  • 2.b. If the currently installed version of POPFile is newer than the backup or if POPFile isn't currently installed,
    • Restore POPFile as above, and then reinstall the new version. Doing it in this order will prevent some configuration files from being overwritten (like if the user added anything to stopwords). It just saves the step of renaming the backed up config file if you are using the same version.

In either case, restoring the messages folder is optional. The only thing you will loose if that folder is not restored is the ability to reclassify those messages. Message reclassification on a restored machine is often not useful anyway.

Important configuration files

If you want to go for a minimal backup, the list of files below is (or may be) vital for your configuration:

popfile.cfg
This file contains your settings such as the ports that POPFile uses, the POPFile skin, the UI language, the system tray icon status, etc.
popfile.db
This file contains POPFile's corpus and information about configuration options that you set per bucket. Including the settings for bucket color, quarantine, header modification, and magnets.
stopwords
This file contains a list of words that are ignored by POPFile. If you added or removed words from this list, you may also want to backup this file.
pfi-outexpress.ini (Windows only)
This user-specific file is used by the uninstaller to restore the original values of any Outlook Express settings changed by the installer or the 'Add POPFile User' wizard. If no changes were made, this file will not exist.
pfi-outlook.ini (Windows only)
This user-specific file is used by the uninstaller to restore the original values of any Outlook settings changed by the installer or the 'Add POPFile User' wizard. If no changes were made, this file will not exist.
pfi-eudora.ini (Windows only)
This user-specific file is used by the uninstaller to restore the original values of any Eudora settings changed by the installer or the 'Add POPFile User' wizard. If no changes were made, this file will not exist.
uninstalluser.exe (Windows only)
This is the uninstaller which (in addition to removing the User Data files and folders) uses the pfi-*.ini files to restore the Outlook Express, Outlook and Eudora settings to their original values.
the archive subdirectory
Don't forget this directory if you have set up POPFile to keep an archive of your messages.
the skins subdirectory
Only necessary if you added or modified any POPFile skins.
See also:

 
howtos/backup.txt · Last modified: 2011/12/21 16:04 by amatubu

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