I have accumulated around 20 gigas of PST files. You know, the ones that Outlook uses, over the last 3 years. Now that I changed to Mac and Ubuntu I don´t have access to them. Also even if I can install this 20 gigas in Thunderbird it would slow everything down so I don´t work off my laptops anymore but work online.

In this sense Gmail has changed my computing style. I don´t use POP3 the way I used to. Now Gmail gets all my mail from Fon, filters the Spam and I get the mail from Gmail and after reading it, I erase everything cause I know it´s in Gmail. In this way my laptops stay fast. When I need to search I go to Gmail.

Interestingly, I also use Gmail to store my spreadsheets, text documents, power point of keynotes, pictures and songs with Gspace, a fantastic Firefox extension that I am involved with that does this. What I do is I have many Gmail accounts and I have sent all my documents from Microsoft to Google via Gspace. So if I get a new laptop I don´t need to worry about not having my “stuff” as my “stuff” is all in Gmail via POP3 or Gspace. Moreover for my bookmarks I used Foxmarks another Firefox extension so I don´t need to transfer favorites or bookmarks anymore. And this new working style worked great except for pst Files.

While I can use Gmail to store PST files I can´t open them with Gmail nor with any of the apps in Gspace. What I need and probably many people need as well is a service that receives all my PST files and converts them to a premium Gmail account or now that Yahoo Mail has gone unlimited that does that in Yahoo. I dream of being able to have the last 3/5 years of e mail all in one place and searchable.

What I need at this point is what I tried and failed to do when I started Einsteinet. Is a web site that when I open it it opens like my desktop and has all my software and all my documents and I just work off a browser. Google has been slowly and steadily moving in that direction. Now I need for somebody to tackle the PST to Gmail conversion.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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Antoin O Lachtnain on April 23, 2007  · 


I think this conversion is possible. There are a couple of tools that convert PST files. However, as I understand it, these have to run on a windows platform.



It would obviously take quite a while to process 20 Gb. It would be strange if Google haven’t had a go at this problem.

Personally, I use an IMAP server to centrally store all my mail on a mailserver I have control over. I use Thunderbird on the desktop, but I can also access the mail through SquirrelMail. Search isn’t as good as gmail, but it will get better. There are decent free full-text search products out there now, like Lucene.

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Oriol Sala on April 23, 2007  · 

Hi Martin,
I have the same problem with PST files than you, but I get a solution using PST Reader and gExodus. the first software converts PST files to mbox format, and the second one just send all mails to the Gmail account especified.
I hope it helps you!

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Valentin on April 23, 2007  · 

Nobody afraid of data protection and backup? I think online storage is the best way and I use similar ways for backup and for the convenience to have my mails with me whereever I go, wherever my mac HD breaks – but: only Gmail as backup seems to me a little risky…

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steven on April 23, 2007  · 

* there is also Goosync.com to sync your firefox bookmarks… so when you login elsewhere you have your favourites with you…

* Google docs also include a nice DOC 2 PDF conversion 🙂
they are working on “presently” a powerpoint killer…

* does Gspace also give access to GoogleDocs?

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Lars Hinrichs on April 23, 2007  · 

Hi Martin,

i have exactly the same wish for a long time. I deleted no email since 1995 and this is now about 25 Gig. Beeing able to search and scan them would be fantastic! If you get a solution working, please dont hesitate to tell me!

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Martin Varsavsky on April 23, 2007  · 

Thanks Oriol!

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Martin Varsavsky on April 23, 2007  · 

Thanks Antoin, will check them out. But do these tools convert all the PST files into some webmail system?

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Antoin O Lachtnain on April 23, 2007  · 

Well, they convert it into what’s called ‘mbox’ (short for ‘mailbox’) format. That’s basically a standard unix format for storing email. From a technical point of view, this is the ‘hard’ part of the process, because it takes everything into a non-proprietary format.

Once you have that, you are right, there is still another stage to go, because you have to upload these standard files into gmail. Programs like gmail loader and gexodus should do that.

I am surprised that google haven’t made this a lot easier ….

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Henrik Ahlen on April 23, 2007  · 

I totally agree with Martin about this need. I am also switching to Mac soon, and have multiple PST Windows fiels as well as old Mac Outlook Express files that I can no longer read.
PST files are a nuisance, and we all want to gather all our old emails in one place, on the internet, safe and independent of what computer or other device I chooese to use. Big market for this service!

And thanks for all the other great tips about Gspace and Foxmarks!

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Thomas Wetzel on April 24, 2007  · 

Hi Martin,

The solution is very simple:
Create an IMAP account and create this account in Outlook, too.
Then mirror or move your emails to this imap account and fetch the mails from the IMAP account from Gmail.

In this way the date of the emails are not changed.

Too simple??

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Jens on April 24, 2007  · 

Hi Martin and blog readers, you might want to check out this online desktop in case you don’t know it already.


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Marcus on August 29, 2007  · 

Ditto to what Thomas Wetzel said. It’s really just as easy as setting up an IMAP account and popping from it into Gmail.

I started by creating a dummy IMAP account on my domain (imap@domain.com). Configure this IMAP account in Outlook like any other e-mail account. You’ve now got an IMAP Inbox in Outlook.

Set up Gmail to access this same IMAP account via POP access.

Once that’s done, any e-mail you drag into your IMAP Inbox in Outlook automatically heads straight to Gmail, timestamp still intact.

An added benefit of this method is you can choose which e-mail you want to import into Gmail instead of just doing the entire PST. However, it does take awhile to transfer a large amount of e-mails.

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Antoin O Lachtnain on November 12, 2007  · 


this imap synchronizer program works with the new gmail imap functionality. At least from a technical point of view, this is probably a fairly comprehensive solution to the problem of copying mail to/from gmail. UI still needs some work i’d say!

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Plej on December 1, 2007  · 

This IMAP method works great, I wonder why I didn’t think of it before!

Thanx all

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till on February 18, 2008  · 

Gmail also supports IMAP (now). So just put Gmail into outlook and drag and drop. If you have 20 GB, you just need to buy some extra storage.

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Triet on April 19, 2008  · 

As a medical student, my school offers me very little space on Microsoft Web Outlook. Although I’m a lowly student with nothing to hide, they don’t allow IMAP synch, so I thought I was out of luck.

thanks for the first suggestions. I’ll try them out!

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SCOTT JORDAN on July 7, 2008  · 

I have tried to follow the instructions above re imap. The email i dragged over appears in the inbox of the outlook imap account and did sync up with the webmail for that account, but it is not showing up gmail yet when i did a search for terms i knew were in that email. Not sure if i am doing something wrong with gmail settings. Any help would be appreciated. I did verify the email account in gmail.

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SCOTT JORDAN on July 7, 2008  · 

i figured out in part what i did wrong; i added the account to google to send, but not to receive mail. i am trying to add it to receive mail but having problems; i need to figure thia out.

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DBJ on September 19, 2008  · 

Google Desktop Search also searches through PST files.

The only ‘issue’ to know and to be carefull about is to attach(add) all the PST’s you want to be searchable to your Outlook , BEFORE you install Google Desktop Search.

IMHO, approx 80% of e-mails archived can and should be deleted forever. 20% that remain might (just might) come usefull one day. If ever.
This Google Desktop Search + OL combination is the best tool to get rid of redundant but archived e-mails.

Also, OL advanced find feature is not bad at all.

(After this grueling and painfull sifting through 20GB of e-mails, Gmail IMAP account is indeed the most obvious way to ‘lift’ the e-mails on-line)

Greetings: Dusan

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Alex Krenvalk on October 14, 2008  · 

There is a tool use PST files,exactly restore it-ost pst conversion 2003,convert from ost to pst software will convert *.ost to *.pst extension, that can be easily opened by any email client, compatible with Microsoft Outlook,can even forward this file to any other PC within your local network and even outside of it,can process damaged *.ost files, but, when it is heavily damaged, you can see some minor blind spots in a preview window,
export your mailbox to a file with *.pst extension.

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Gustavo on November 9, 2008  · 

Hi Martin:

I need the same solution,…pst to mbox… have you got it ?
its resolved from mac system?

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