More Mail flakiness

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
July 30th, 2003 • 12:03 am

I’ve already had the opportunity to describe several flaky aspects in Mac OS X’s Mail before… This one is something that I have been experiencing recurrently in recent weeks, because I am in the process of downloading a large number of files via FTP over my slow modem connection and the process takes up quite a bit of bandwidth.

What happens is that the downloading process (in Transmit) takes up on average 2 KB/s, which doesn’t leave much for other downloading processes, including web browsing and email checking. Still, email checking and web browsing are feasible, as long as you are patient and can keep busy with other tasks while your messages or pages are slowing loading.

The problem in Mail is that, quite often, when receiving fairly large messages (50 KB or more), if the downloading process is slowed down by some other task, Mail does complete the download successfully, but fails to erase the message on the POP server once the download is complete. This means that the next time Mail checks the same account for new mail, it finds the same large message again, and downloads another copy. This can go on for quite a while too. Something in the slowness of the connection causes Mail to fail to erase the message on the server, even though it successfully erases smaller email messages on the same server (i.e. in the same account) after downloading them.

The only solution is to interrupt the FTP downloading process in ORDER to give Mail more bandwidth and to ask it to CHECK the same email account one more time. Alternatively, you can quit Mail, launch a tool such as Mail Siphon, log on to your email account, and erase the offending message on the server.

Still, it’s a pain, and it’s obviously some kind of flakiness in Mail itself, since things work fine otherwise, i.e. with smaller messages or when more bandwidth is available.

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