How to backup an IMAP-based mailbox?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by btownguy, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. btownguy macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 18, 2009
    #1
    I use MacOS Mail.app as my client and my mail backend is FastMail and I'm using IMAP. I am more than happy with the way these two work together. Just covering my bases, I'm wondering what my backup strategy is with this IMAP-based mailbox. If something happened at FastMail and my mailbox got nuked (not likely I know), what would my restoration plan be?

    I use Time Machine and I assume it's backing up my Mail.app data. In a disaster scenario, could I just restore my Time Machine data and have my mail in Mail.app such that I could export my various mailboxes and import them into another email system/provider/client?
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #2
    Yeah... Time Machine backs all that up. It is all in the folders under the user folder ~/Library/Mail.

    Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 8.53.14 AM.png
     
  3. BrianBaughn macrumors 603

    BrianBaughn

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    Baltimore, Maryland
    #3
    Some thought would have to be put into the restoration. If you restore your Mac from Time Machine, include Mail accounts and all those folders with the emails, then sync back to an empty Fastmail account, the IMAP folders at Fastmail would take over and delete the email and mail folders on your Mac.
     
  4. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #4
    Yeah... I think you would need to not be on the Internet at all and do the restore, then move those emails over to a local Mail folder... then connect to Fastmail and move them back. That should work don't you think?
     
  5. NoBoMac macrumors 68000

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    Jul 1, 2014
    #5
    Disclaimer: I have not dug deeply into iMAP backup and restore, so, take with a grain of salt.

    I have restored mailboxes from Time Machine, but have had times where is seems like not everything was in backup. Most notably attachments: some are there others are not. What needs to be done to restore a TM backup is to basically navigate in the TM interface to the mbox file as shown in Weasleboy's screenshot, restore it as a copy, then import the mbox file where it will now be a separate mailbox in Mail.app. You can now navigate this new mailbox and do what is needed.

    Seen somewhere that some people will export the mailbox and then backup that file.
     
  6. steve knight macrumors 68020

    steve knight

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    Jan 28, 2009
    #6
    I made a google email account and just forward all my emails to it.
     
  7. Enzedder macrumors member

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    Feb 19, 2012
    #7
    Have a look at Horcrux, might be what you're looking for?
     
  8. robgendreau macrumors 68040

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    Jul 13, 2008
    #8
    Having faced this I found it was much easier to restore from the server. IMAP is generally setup by default to keep copies there, and presumably your provider is paying for much more robust backup than your local Mac. So you just log in and download it all again.

    I had to keep local backups for archiving purposes (we needed say a timestamp on the email itself, and the problem with redownloading was that they were sorta "new" copies, and also it was harder to verify that it was a "new" email rather than a sent file. So we kept PDFs of all the received emails instead of relying on local copies. For that we used Email Archiver Pro, which essentially goes through and prints to PDF all the emails in a given mailbox. Then those PDFs are backed up locally via TM.
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #9
    I agree, but I think OP was looking for a recovery scenario if the server was borked.
     

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