[Dovecot] Access to deleted mails in mdbox storage

Wolfgang.Friebel at desy.de Wolfgang.Friebel at desy.de
Tue Jan 8 11:24:07 EET 2013

Hi Timo,

we are currently running dovecot 2.1.10 using mdbox storage. Sometimes we 
get requests from users to restore accidentally deleted mails. If the 
mails got deleted before a backup was made, such mails could of course not 
be restored from backup. One option to help users in this respect would be 
to use the lazy expunge plugin.

On the other hand I have seen, that the deleted mails stay intact in the 
mdbox storage until a doveadm purge has been performed. Therefore without 
using the plugin it is in principle possible to get access to any deleted 
mails. As in our case the expunge runs once a week while the backup is 
done daily we can basically recover all mails ever received.

My question: doveadm has currently no command similar to doveadm search or 
fetch to get to deleted mails. Would it be useful to have such a command?

As a proof of concept I wrote a little script to mimic the doveadm fetch 
as closely as possible given the limited amount of information in the 
mdbox/storage/m.* files and could indeed get access to deleted mails. Do 
you regard such a procedure (within doveadm) useful or would you recommend 
nevertheless using the lazy expunge plugin?

I am aware of the fact that this is a solution for mdbox storage only.
Wolfgang Friebel                   Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Phone/Fax:  +49 33762 77372/216    Platanenallee 6
Mail: Wolfgang.Friebel AT desy.de  D-15738 Zeuthen  Germany

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