Google Gmail's Offline Option Avoids "Uninteresting" Conversations

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Posted January 29, 2009 - By r_pad

Gmail fans -- particularly business users -- were thrilled that Google has started offering an offline option for its popular email service. Through Google Gears and Google Labs, users can have up to 10,000 emails stored on their local hard drive. Many Gmail users with gigabytes of information were wondering which emails were selected for local storage. A Google Groups post explains that the offline option "process is done heuristically" and that it tries "not to download uninteresting conversations." Hopefully this means that my emails from PR people containing screenshots of children's games will not be stored locally.

Here are more details on how the process works:

  • Synchronization is based on the date of conversations. The system estimates a period of time to cover (at least 1 week in length) that results in approximately 10,000 messages being downloaded. For an average user, this means Gmail will end up downloading several years of mail.
  • Additionally, we'll download any conversation marked with a label that contains less than 200 conversations, has at least one conversation that has been received in the last 30 days and also has at least one conversation that's outside the estimated time period. For many users, this list of labels will include Starred and Drafts.
  • Finally, the system determines a list of labels to exclude conversations from being downloaded. For example, Trash and Spam are always in this list, along with any label that contains mostly unread conversations (unread count greater than 99%). So, we won't download a conversation if it contains only labels in this list. A typical Trashed message will not be downloaded, but a Trashed message that contains the label "alpha" will.

I just switched on my offline option minutes ago. Have any of you tried it yet? Is it working? Anything broken? What the hell does heuristic mean?!? Let me know (please)!



Google Gmail's Offline Option Avoids "Uninteresting" Conversations


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