How to migrate mail to a new server

Patrick Boutilier boutilpj at
Fri Feb 19 10:41:55 EST 2010

On 02/19/2010 11:34 AM, Eric Luyten wrote:
> On Fri, February 19, 2010 4:13 pm, Patrick Boutilier wrote:
>> On 02/19/2010 11:03 AM, Marco van Putten wrote:
>>> J. Roeleveld wrote:
>>>> Hi All,
>>>> I have been reading the thread about using "xfer" to migrate to a
>>>> different server or to use imapsync instead. Both methods appear to require
>>>> some additional work and I would prefer to simply copy the data across
>>>> instead of using synchronization tools on live servers. (It's not a
>>>> requirement to keep the email accessible during the transfer)
>>>> I have around 21GB of mail to copy across and was wondering how best to
>>>> do this. The mail server can (and most likely will) be stopped during the
>>>> transfer.
>>>> Will it be sufficient to simply copy the "/var/imap" and
>>>> "/var/spool/imap"
>>>> folders across? The contents of "/var/spool/imap" are all the emails and
>>>> the db-files and such appear to be in "/var/imap"
>>> I've done the copy method several times without loosing any mail.
>>> In all cases after stopping the mail services before the copy action.
>>> Don't know if its the best/preferred/nicest method but it works for me...
>> +1
>> I have always used rsync in the past. 21G of mail shouldn't take much
>> time to move.
> In August-September 2009 I rsync'd a 3.5 TB Cyrus mail store, 35 million msgs.
> The final incremental rsync required a 10 hour (overnight) service halt.

rsync always has that huge startup time where it scans the files on the 
source to determine what needs to be copied. I have found that if the 
source has a lot of RAM that time can be reduced by running a couple of 
rsyncs in succession then running the final one right afterwards (with 
mail server shutdown). I find that a lot of the files are in cache at 
that point and the startup time can be reduced significantly.

> Eric.
> ----
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