Use md2mb

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This is outdated, since it refers to our math email server that no longer exists. If you'd like to make a backup of the email on DoIT's system, this link [1] may be helpful. You can also ask the IT staff for assistance, and they'll help on a best effort basis.

Making a Backup Your Mail

The Math Department makes a nightly backup of your mail and archives this backup to tape. However, users may wish to make their own backups or to make a copy of their mail in order to take it with them when they leave. You can use a program called md2mb for this purpose. Md2mb allows users to make backups of their mail in mbox format which is recognized by the import function in most email clients. To use md2mb, follow the directions below.

  1. Use an ssh client to log onto
  2. Run the program md2mb. If you run the program with no options, it will make a copy of each of your mail folders, starting with your Inbox, each in a separate file in the ~/mail/ folder in your home directory. Use the --folder=<foldername> to make a backup of a single folder. Use the --quiet option to silence progress messages during the backup.

Caution: Md2mb makes a copy of your mail in the ~/mail/ directory in your network space. This could easily put you over your disk space quota.

command line help

Would you like help using md2mb, run

md2mb --help

from a command line.


1. Copy all your mail folders, starting with the Inbox to the ~/mail/ directory in your home directory.


2. Copy the Sent-Mail folder to the file ~/mail/Sent-Items.mbx :

md2mb --folder=Sent-Mail

3. Extract mail in all folders exceptTrash, spam, and Sent.

md2mb --skip=Trash,spam,Sent

4. Copy all of your mail but do not issue progress reports:

md2mb --quiet

How do I view my saved mail?

[2] is a pretty good step by step on how to reimport your data to something like Thunderbird.

You won't need to worry about Step 3 in this set of instructions. We'll give you your files untarred.