Even though Gmail has been proven quite reliable over the years, there have been isolated episodes of data loss. In any case, I backup my mail locally: better safe than sorry. On my Linux machine I use “
getmail" to download my mail through POP and store it in a single "
mbox" file. First of all, I enabled POP on my Gmail account: went into Gmail Settings, clicked the "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" tab, ticked "Enable POP for all mail", and chose "When messages are accessed with POP keep Gmail's copy in the Inbox".
Then I installed
getmail, and prepared the environment.
getmail by default uses a "
~/.getmail" directory to work, and in particular it searches for a "
~/.getmail/getmailrc" file to read the configuration. So I created this file, together with an empty
mbox file that I will use to hold all my mail.
$ mkdir ~/.getmail $ touch ~/.getmail/gmail.mbox $ touch ~/.getmail/getmailrc
Then I edited the "
~/.getmail/getmailrc" to contain this information:
[retriever] type = SimplePOP3SSLRetriever server = pop.gmail.com username = "mymail"@gmail.com [destination] type = Mboxrd path = ~/.getmail/gmail.mbox
After this setup, I simply run "
getmail" from the command line, it asks for the Gmail password and retrieves all the mail it can through the POP protocol. I had to run it several times before it downloaded everything.
It is also possible to include a password in this file, but I don't want to keep my Gmail password inside an unencrypted file. The downside is that every time I run getmail I have to insert my password. Since I update my backup once a week, that is not a big issue. By putting the password inside the configuration file it is also possible to run a "
cron" job such as "
su username -c getmail" that backups the mail by itself.