When I decided to test if I could successfully configure and operate my own mailserver, I knew I’d need to account for times when that server was down. Overall, my primary server has had very few disruptions, but when this website was the only service that could be impacted, I also wasn’t as concerned about 100% uptime.
Despite all I’ve done to move my email to my own domain and hosting, inevitably some messages still arrive in the Gmail account I’ve had for more than a decade. I’ve already configured the account to send replies from my new addresses, but I also wanted to archive the 215,000+ messages already stored with Google, along with anything new that arrived there.
Options considered before
One solution is Google’s Takeout service, which will produce an archive of everything stored in Gmail (and many of Google’s other services, too!), but this process is manual and can be very slow. Takeouts can only be created through a web interface; downloading the archive requires doing so in the browser (for authentication reasons); and since it isn’t creating incremental backups, every message is included in every Takeout. An archive of just my Gmail account takes about 29 hours for Google to prepare, amounts to nearly 7 GB (in gzipped tar format), and takes several hours to download to my laptop. I’ve then another several hours to upload the archive to my backup server. While I’m willing to undertake this process once a month to back up all services that Takeout supports–which entails two files totaling around 30 GB–Takeout is impractical for regular exports of a frequently-changing service like Gmail.
Along with the joy and burden of running my own servers comes a great deal of paranoia. Are my machines secured against unauthorized access? Is my mailserver an open relay? Will DNS for ethitter.com keep working if my primary machine is down? What happens if something crashes? Do I have all of my configurations tracked should I need to rebuild one of the boxes?
These, and many similar questions, are so frequently thoughts of mine that I had no choice but to establish many layers of redundancy and backups, lest I be unable to focus on anything else.