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Transfering old emails from an iPhone 3GS with iOS 3.1.2 to a PC

alexgold

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Being the technical dude of the family I'm confronted with the following problem:

An iPhone 3GS with iOS 3.1.2, the owner has a lot of old email messages stored on the device but has lost access to the original email server. Other copies of these messages were safely stored on a laptop but the hard disk died. Forwarding each message manually from the device is not an option given the amount of work involved (about 2000 messages).

I'm fairly technical but without any experience with Macs or iPhones. Reading around a bit I learned the following:
  1. There's no straightforward way to backup email messages (you can backup email account settings but not the actual content).
  2. There's no way to mark all messages on the device and move them to an IMAP folder so they would sync up to a new mail server.
  3. Messages are stored in a SQLite database file on the device. You cannot access this file and move it to your PC or mail it to yourself unless you jailbreak and unlock the device.
First of all, am I wrong and there is some magical way or utility to transfer messages from the device to a PC? Assuming there isn't, can someone point me to the right jailbreak and unlocking procedures that will not delete all data from the device and allow me to get that SQLite store safely?

Above all, is this a futile attempt and the SQLite store will be useless? Should I just give up?


TIA
 

willerz2

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Emails are saved on their respective servers. You can't back up emails directly off of your device, not even with iExplorer. But if you're using Mail.app, wouldn't you just have to access the original email account on your computer and there they'll be? Since basically the Mail.app is just a middle man between your device and your email account, just like Outlook and Thunderbird.
 
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alexgold

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Thanks willerz2 for replying.

As I mentioned, the original mail server is no longer available and the other offline copy of the messages is on a dead hard drive. So the only offline copy of about 2000 mail messages is in that local iPhone store which as far as I know is just one big SQLite file. That's the file I'm after.

For anyone else reading this, I'll simplify my question:

Given an iPhone 3GS with iOS 3.1.2 and a Windows PC (7 or XP), what is the recommended way to gain access to the iPhone file system as an admin/root or with sufficient privileges so I can grab files and move them to my PC? This has to be a non-destructive procedure (nothing that deletes data on the device).

Many thanks in advance.
 
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Thomasjtsi

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Given an iPhone 3GS with iOS 3.1.2 and a Windows PC (7 or XP), what is the recommended way to gain access to the iPhone file system as an admin/root or with sufficient privileges so I can grab files and move them to my PC? This has to be a non-destructive procedure (nothing that deletes data on the device)
As willerz2 stated above, "You can't back up emails directly off of your device, not even with iExplorer." iExplorer is a program that allows root access to the file system of an iDevice. Simply put there's no way to pick emails directly from your iDevice w/ any type of programming.
 

willerz2

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Thanks willerz2 for replying.

As I mentioned, the original mail server is no longer available and the other offline copy of the messages is on a dead hard drive. So the only offline copy of about 2000 mail messages is in that local iPhone store which as far as I know is just one big SQLite file. That's the file I'm after.

For anyone else reading this, I'll simplify my question:

Given an iPhone 3GS with iOS 3.1.2 and a Windows PC (7 or XP), what is the recommended way to gain access to the iPhone file system as an admin/root or with sufficient privileges so I can grab files and move them to my PC? This has to be a non-destructive procedure (nothing that deletes data on the device).

Many thanks in advance.

Even if you try to cache your emails onto your device and pull them from there, they won't be anything but recipient email addresses and subjects, and that's even stretching it depending on scenarios.
 
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alexgold

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Well, I tried anyway ... :)

I've done some more reading and then did the following:
- JailbreakMe
- Installed afc2add from Cydia so I can browse the device's file system.
- Under "/User/Library/Mail" I found "Envelope Index" which is the SQLite file I was after. It contains all the messages including subjects and bodies (you need to do some SQL querying on the "messages" and "message_data" tables).
- Under "/User/Library/Mail/[Account Name]/[Inbox Folder].mbox/Messages" I found individual messages with encoded attachments. Each message in its own file with the message number as the file name (the same number as the row ID in the SQLite "messages" table) and an "emlx" extension. It's just a text file and if you're on Windows you can change the extension to eml and open the message in Outlook to see it formatted.

Hope this helps someone in the future.
 
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