Worried about email migrations and mail syncing – get getmail for the rescue

Tags: email migrationsemail transferimapsyncmail syncingmail transfermigrate my email

Published on: June 3, 2011 by Arnold Pablo

Worried about email migrations and mail syncing – get getmail for the rescue


Most of the hosting providers offer free server migration. The free website migration started as early as 2005, in the industry. But only a few providers offer the mail migrations for a website transfer involving different control panels. So using getmail is the easiest way to transfer emails. All we need is to create the email account in the new server and configure the getmail to transfer the emails.

Download getmail at

tar xzf getmail-4.20.3.tar.gz
cd getmail*
python install

Now you have to create a getmailrc , the getmail configuration file inside the home folder of the user. getmailrc need not be inside the home directory. You have to create the folder .getmail where getmail keeps a log of the emails retrieved based on each configuration file you may have.You can have multiple destination and retriever sections in one single getmailrc as well.

I must say getmail is so much flexible and rightly coded tool for mail migrations when the mailsync or imapsync didn’t do their job right or up to the mark. And is an excellent replacement for fetchmail. It supports POP, POP3S, IMAP4 and IMAPS, and also can store the mails retrieved in mbox or maildir format at the destination.

An extremely simple getmailrc file will look like this

type = SimpleIMAPRetriever
server =
username =
password = direct

type = Maildir
path = /home/cpusername/mail/.direct@domain_com/

The file format should be pretty self-explanatory. You’re telling getmail to fetch your email from server, by logging to it using the mentioned username and password. The destination section mentions where to store the retrieved email and in which format (Maildir or mbox or mboxrd). Make sure that the cur, new and tmp are there inside those folder though. However getmail may create those folders automatically though.

Finally to get this going, just run “getmail –rcfile getmailrc”

Once you run it, assuming that the getmailrc is properly configured, you will be welcomed by a below output.

getmail version 4.20.3
Copyright (C) 1998-2009 Charles Cazabon.  Licensed under the GNU GPL version 2.
 msg    1/3983 (299328 bytes) delivered
 msg    2/3983 (2815 bytes) delivered

Category : cPanel, DirectAdmin, General, Howtos, Linux, Plesk, Training

Arnold Pablo

Arnold Pablo

Technology always fascinated me and continues to do so. I started my career back in 2004 as a Junior System Admin and worked in various capacities both in technical and managerial roles. I love to experiment and try out new OSS projects and in free time, go for cycling to the interiors of God's own country, Kerala!

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