I have been eating my own dog food as it were and using the filing approach for organising my e-mail. However, I ran into another problem: I have a main desktop computer at my home office and an ultraportable laptop. Unfortunately, the ultraportable is running Vista whilst the desktop is on XP and synchronisation between the two has proven to be tricky (if I received 1 new e-mail from someone, I was having to copy 20 or 30MB of data because of the way the folders were organised). So I needed a better solution to managing my e-mail between computers, rather than within the mail system.
Fortunately there is such a protocol: IMAP. Unfortunately, neither or my e-mail providers support it (Damn you, Yahoo!) so I needed something else. Enter Google: gmail (or googlemail in the UK) has changed the way people deal with e-mail: There are no folders, just Labels and you can store massive amounts of e-mail on-line. Well, as far as I can make out, Labels are exactly the same as Tags, so that is no big deal and the storage of e-mail on-line seems to solve many of the problems of accessing my mail from multiple computers.
Except that quite a lot of the time I need to use mail in locations where I can’t get on-line (e.g. planes) so I still need an off-line set up. And I need to access all my existing mail accounts, and I don’t really want to have to tell anyone about a new e-mail address.
And wouldn’t you just know it, Google mail does all of this: So now my desktop/ laptop e-mail clients have an IMAP connection to Google mail. My Google account is set up to download all the mail from all my existing providers, I have even set up an existing account as my default (so no-one needs to know where my mail has really come from). Each label in Google is automagically converted into a folder in my mail client and I set up all my folders to be available offline.
All I need to do is make sure that I download all mail to the local PC and then at various periods (about 5GB periods in fact, as that is my mail storage limit) archive my mail to local files and then copy those local files to both my computers.
So far it seems to work. I hope it continues.