Backup Your Email with Getmail

Posted on 2015-09-06

It's always a good idea to keep backups of data you can't replace, including email. For the last few years, I've had a script that automatically backs up my Gmail account. Since switching to Fastmail, I figured I should continue doing the same thing. It turned out, it was pretty easy to set up another account.

I've been meaning to write about backing up email for a few months now. With Dr. Drang's recent post about archiving email using formail, I figured this a good enough time as ever to post my solution.

To install getmail, you can use Homebrew, or manually if you're in to that sort of thing.

brew install getmail

For the configuration files, I first created a directory in my Home folder

mkdir .getmail

The config files for both Fastmail and Gmail are similar, but I'll include both for completeness

Gmail

[retriever]
type = SimpleIMAPSSLRetriever
server = imap.gmail.com
username = <username>@gmail.com
mailboxes = ("[Gmail]/All Mail",) # To pull all emails
port = 993

[destination]
type = Maildir
path = ~/gmail-archive/

[options]
# print messages about each action (verbose = 2)
# Other options:
# 0 prints only warnings and errors
# 1 prints messages about retrieving and deleting messages only
verbose = 2
message_log = ~/Dropbox/Scripts/logs/gmail.log
receieved = false
delivered_to = false
# dont re-read messages its already pulled down
read_all = false

Fastmail

[retriever]
type = SimpleIMAPSSLRetriever
server = mail.messagingengine.com
username = <username>@fastmail.com
mailboxes = ("INBOX.Archive",)

[destination]
type = Maildir
path = ~/fastmail-archive/

[options]
verbose = 2
read_all = false
message_log = ~/Dropbox/Scripts/logs/fastmail.log
delivered_to = false
received = false

You'll notice that I don't include the password in either config. If password is omitted from a config on Mac OS, the first time you run getmail, you'll be prompted to enter your password and it will then be stored securely in KeyChain. Since I'm using Maildir as my type, you'll need to create special folders, with 3 specific subfolders

mkdir ~/fastmail-archive
mkdir !$/{cur,tmp,new} # creates 3 new folders in ~/fastmail-archive

The same will need to be done for ~/gmail-archive.

Once this is set up, you'll need to run the script once to enter in your password

/usr/local/bin/getmail -q -r ~/.getmail/getmail.gmail

If I ever need to view the emails, I do the same as Dr. Drang and use mutt, which can also be installed with Homebrew.

mutt -R -f ~/gmail-archive

Tags: scripting email backup

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