IMAP sync tool (rsync for IMAP)

Ross Boylan ross at
Fri Dec 22 15:23:53 EST 2006

On Thu, 2006-12-21 at 15:47 -0800, Florin Andrei wrote:
> I'm currently using two IMAP accounts, one on Cyrus-2.2 the other on 
> Cyrus-2.3.
> The one on Cyrus-2.3 will get decomissioned so I need to transfer all my 
> email, preserving the folders/subfolders tree, under a specific folder 
> (oldmail/foo/bar) on the 2.2 server.
> I need to do the bulk of the transfer sometime soon, then sync up again 
> a few times after that, until the day the account on the 2.3 server gets 
> nuked.
> Essentially, I need a tool that I can point at servers A and B and tell 
> it "get all the email from my account on server A to a specific folder 
> on my account on server B, preserving the subfolders hierarchy".
> The tool needs to be smart enough to repeat the operation later on but 
> then it must only transfer the new messages.
> The tool may run on one or the other IMAP servers, or even on a 3rd 
> machine, since it should be network-based. Pretty much all systems are 
> Linux 'round here, some Windows stragglers too.
> Sort of like rsync for IMAP, if that makes sense.
> So far, the only tool I've found is imapsync:
> Anyone tried it with Cyrus? Good/bad experiences?
> Are there any other tools that work better with Cyrus?

I've been using mailutil from the UW-IMAP suite, after seeing some
recommendations for it on this list and with my distro.  However, as far
as I know, it won't automatically operate recursively over your
mailboxes (it might: I haven't been looking for that feature).

As some other messages I've posted attest, I've been surprised how
slowly I can  stuff messages into the cyrus server.  My guess is  the
problem is with cyrus, but it might be with mailutil.  Parallelizing the
copies speeds things up quite a bit, and in my tests I get the best
performance with ext3 partitions mounted noatime.  I'll post more
results when I finish trying out some other filesystems.
Ross Boylan                                      wk:  (415) 514-8146
185 Berry St #5700                               ross at
Dept of Epidemiology and Biostatistics           fax: (415) 514-8150
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94107-1739                     hm:  (415) 550-1062

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