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date: 2008-03-18 22:12:46+00:00

Backup your Gmail account in maildir format using fetchmail

categories: - Howto - Linux - Misc

First of all, enable POP on your gmail account :

  • settings
  • Forwarding and POP/IMAP
  • Enable POP for all mail (even mail that's already been downloaded)

Then, the configuration for fetchmail and procmail :

You need to use procmail in order to be able to store the mails in maildir format (1 file per mail, mbox format is 1 big file for all emails)

/home/USER/.fetchmailrc :

poll protocol pop3 username "" password "PASSWORD" keep ssl mda "/usr/bin/procmail -m /home/USER/.procmailrc"

We are using the pop3 protocol, we keep messages on the server and use the SSL server to retrieve our emails from.

/home/USER/.procmailrc :



Initial retrieval :

The first time, you'll need to run fetchmail in USER's session manually to retrieve your mailbox. Indeed, after a while fetchmail will stop retrieving emails, so you need to run it again a couple of times before it's done. I guess gmail limits the number of emails you can retrieve in a session. You should set up a regular cronjob to retrieve emails automatically, you shouldn't wait too long between two retrievals to avoid missing emails due to the restriction.

Setting up a cron job in the USER's session to run the backup every night :

crontab -e

0 1 * * * /usr/bin/fetchmail > /dev/null 2> /home/USER/Mail/fetchmail.log

I set up mutt to read my backup emails from the CLI :

/home/USER/.muttrc :

set mbox_type=Maildir set folder="~/Mail" set mask="!^.[^.]" set mbox="~/Mail" set record="+.Sent" set postponed="+.Drafts" set spoolfile="~/Mail"