Backup 2.0.2: Error if e-mail attachment is open in third-party application

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 16th, 2004 • 4:17 am

The Backup application can be used to run automatic daily backups to an external hard drive. With the improvements made in the latest update (2.0.2), the process now runs smoothly most of the time. (See this article for more on problems with previous versions.)

But I still experience a recurrent problem, which seems fairly easy to reproduce. One of the folder that I have configured Backup to back up daily is my Mail folder.

If I receive an e-mail with an attachment (PDF file, Word document, whatever) and if I double-click on the attachment in the e-mail message to open it in the corresponding application (Preview, MS Word, etc.), this somehow puts the e-mail message in question in a state that causes an error the next time that Backup runs and tries to back up my Mail folder.

The backup process starts in the background as expected, but when the Backup application hits that particular message in the process of backing up my Mail folder, it displays an error message saying that it’s unable to copy the message with the MIME attachment and asking me if I want to stop the backup process or just skip that particular message and continue.

This occurs even if I closed the file in the third-party application (Preview, MS Word, etc.) after viewing it. Somehow, the fact that I double-clicked on the attachment icon in Mail to open it in another application changes something in the state of the message and prevents Backup from copying it. The only way to fix things is to quit and relaunch Mail itself (which I only do if I have to!).

This is an unfortunate situation, because the error message in Backup doesn’t really explain what the problem is, and because there shouldn’t be a problem in the first place. After all, when you double-click on an attachment in an e-mail message in Mail, the file is opened as a read-only file in the third application. It is not and cannot be modified by the third-party application. So opening it shouldn’t have any impact on its state or the state of the e-mail message that contains it. But it does.

Time to file a bug report, I guess.

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