Please excuse me but I’m going to rant a bit and in a pretty technical and boring fashion.
I noticed today that my personal iCloud email account only went back as far as 2/23/16. That was odd, since I had emails dating from 2002 and much as I wish I only had 336 emails to my name, that’s not reality.
I know I hadn’t deleted nearly 20,000 emails en masse. I’m not even sure my mail client would let me without a warning. And looking at my Time Machine backups, everything from 2/23 on had only a small inbox file (technically a .mbox file) of several MB; my inbox file before that date on my backups had 3.7 GB. So clearly, something happened on Apple’s backend on or around 2/23/16 to cause 14 years of emails to just vanish.
I contacted Apple, in part to let them know that this happened, since looking on the Web, this has been reported by others dating back several years, and nothing was every done to help them recover their emails. The first senior support person with whom I spoke tried to recover the old emails on the server side, but as I expected, all that did was restore 117 emails I had recently deleted, so that didn’t help. And when he went to consult someone else, placing me on hold, he accidentally disconnected me.
I called back and got another senior support person, and I’ve not had a more frustrating tech support experience with Apple in many years. I happened to know where the relevant backup files were and copied them to my Desktop and per his suggestion, tried to import them as an .mbox file. It failed. He told me to have Time Machine import it instead of my dragging it from a TM backup (like there’s a difference?) and the same thing happened. I then replaced the (5 MB) INBOX.mbox folder with the old one (3.7 GB), and even after restarting my Macbook Pro, nothing had changed. At that point, the IT guy started blaming the fact that I had installed, as part of the Appleseed program, the latest 10.11.5 update (pretty minor, and nothing with Mail changed). I explained that I hadn’t updated to 10.11.5 until four days ago at the urging of another Apple support person when I had an issue with iTunes (didn’t fix the issue, BTW), and that clearly doesn’t explain why my email disappeared two months ago.
At that point, I was pretty frustrated, and while he was going on about how I shouldn’t have even called tech support for this as it’s clearly an OS X beta issue (which it isn’t), I tried a different way of importing the old inbox and that easily went into Mail, but as a folder on my computer. Oh, and the IT guy had to have me explain where it was located in the Mail sidebar.
So right now I’m dragging emails to my iCloud Inbox folder (it wouldn’t take 16,000 emails at once) and should be restored at some point. But it shouldn’t be this painful. I told the guy that Apple’s products used to “just work,” and now, they just don’t. I shouldn’t have to replace Mail with a third-party email client because Mail stopped working well with my company’s Exchange server. I shouldn’t have to purchase a third-party calendar app because Calendar stopped working with Exchange. The innovation and reliability, at least in terms of services and software, are no longer at Apple. Instead of trying to make things thinner, how about making them more reliable, or actually work?
The reality is that the first IT guy, who I sensed knew something, accidentally hung up on me and did not call me back. The second IT person was well-meaning, but largely clueless as to how Mail works and how email folders can be restored. Even worse, he admitted to me that he knew little about how iCloud works. Wow.
Just glad I have backups. I also have every incoming email get resent to a Gmail account I only use for such backups, so that would have been a clunky but potential fallback.