Backup email?

Colin Watson cjwatson at
Sun Sep 4 20:49:39 UTC 2011

On Sun, Sep 04, 2011 at 05:48:12PM +0100, Alan Pope wrote:
> On 4 September 2011 17:41, Knute Johnson <ubuntu at> wrote:
> > Is there a way to backup emails?  My mail server has about 6GB of emails
> > stored in IMAP accounts that could be kept somewhere else if I had a way to
> > get at them occasionally.  Is there a simple offline storage system that
> > would work with Thunderbird?
> offlineimap.

Strongly seconded.  I switched to this recently and it's revolutionised
my mail handling; I used to read mail directly on my rather underpowered
mail server via ssh and screen, and it was so slow at switching folders
that I more or less gave up reading most mailing lists, not to mention
that it was hopeless when I was travelling with intermittent network
access.  Now everything apart from junk folders and particularly large
archived folders is synced over to my rather faster laptop, where I can
also run things like notmuch to provide full-text indexing of all my
mail.  I had backups already, but extra backups never hurt.

> It can do backups (one direction) or (more interestingly)
> bidirectional sync. So you could backup from your server to your local
> machine in maildir format, then point thunderbird at that. if you
> delete mail from the local store, the next offlineimap run would sync
> that to your server.

Be prepared to spend a bit of time writing your configuration file if
your mail setup is at all complicated, and you might find that the
initial mail sync takes a while depending on the threading parameters
you set.  It's definitely worth it, though.

Colin Watson                                       [cjwatson at]

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