Keep email folders intact when changing distros

Q We are a multiple PC, dual-boot family, and I would like to get rid of Windows, but I have a problem for which I have not yet found an answer. I must keep my email folders intact, and I sometimes change Linux distros. This ties me to Windows/Mozilla. I've tried a networked hard drive, but it was very slow. Would using an old PC as a mailserver solve my problem, or do you have a better solution?

A You have two options here, which may be combined. The first is to always install your distros with a separate /home partition. This means that all of your personal data, not just your email, is preserved when you install a different distro, or a newer version of your current favourite. However, this is a one-computer solution and you have several. By setting up your mail server, each person's mail resides on that server and can be read from any computer using any operating system. Provided you are sensible about security, you can even access it from outside of your local network (mail accounts are password protected, so it is no less secure that reading it from the ISP's server) meaning you have access to all your mail at any you can get on the internet.

You could consider nstalling a webmail program, which means you can access your email from an internet cafe or hotel using nothing more than a web browser. There are a number of webmail programs to choose from: SquirrelMail (www.squirrelmail.org) is a popular choice, although my favourite is RoundCube (www.roundcube.net).

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