Archives, with limits

MailStore Home offers a fine free solution for storing e-mail from multiple in-boxes and searching through the archives.

There's much to admire in this e-mail archiver that reads like your offline in-box, but searches stored files much faster than good-ol' Outlook. MailStore Home supports a long list of mail servers, replicating and backing up messages in a straightforward interface--complete with folder tree and reading pane. There's also a start screen to jump to archiving, burning archives to disk, advanced search, and administrator tools. Small navigational icons along the top of the app kick-start these tasks after you've left the start screen behind.

The program's management is straightforward. When you archive an in-box, a wizard walks you through special configuration steps and lets you enter folders to archive or exclude if you want some backed up, but not all. MailStore Home skips your spam, trash, and junk folders by default, and it checks for duplicate messages while going about its business.

Its blink-of-an-eye search feature comes in two forms: a simple field in the side bar, and an advanced search screen from which you can drill down to specifics--dates, folders, even the contents of e-mail attachments. You can also save queries to rerun at a later time, and enter Boolean search terms. After retrieving the message, you'll see management options like opening, saving, and exporting. You're even able to reply to archived Web mail messages via your offline in-box--just be patient.

The inevitable drawbacks are these: there's no autoarchiving or scheduling, so archiving is a manual activity. Initial scanning also takes a considerable length of time, and subsequent archives of the same in-box (click "run" to rearchive) start over from scratch instead of offering you the option to pick up from the most recent message date. It's missing the more nimble filters found in rival Outlook add-ons, like filtering by e-mails with attachments. MailStore Home also restricts you to three account profiles, a handicap if you've got more active accounts than that. Despite these drawbacks, MailStore Home offers a fine free solution for storing e-mail from multiple in-boxes and searching through the archives.

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