Gmail scare, Pobox, WebFaction and procmail

In light of the recent Gmail bug that wiped out everything for a couple hundred thousand accounts (which were later restored, by the way), I thought it might be a good idea to set up a hot spare, poop-has-hit-the-fan email account that I could hop over to in case Gmail ever disappears for me. Since I’m already using Pobox to host addresses at my domains, forward mail to my Gmail account, filter spam, etc., it was pretty easy to do.

WebFaction (the company I use for web hosting) provides “unlimited” mailboxes and addresses, so I set up an address at an alternate domain and told Pobox to start forwarding mail to it. It occurred to me that it might be nice to set up filters mirroring my Gmail filters so that my backup inbox doesn’t become unruly, and luckily, WebFaction provides support for procmail. Unfortunately, their documentation is outdated, so I had to stumble through the configuration until I got it working.

I’m posting some sample procmail recipes below for my future reference and for anyone else trying to do server-side filtering at WebFaction. I won’t explain the procmail syntax here, but it does make for some good bedtime reading. Note: folders are case-sensitive, and the leading period and trailing slash are important. It seems like folders will be created if they don’t exist, but it’s probably better to create them yourself and be sure.

* ^TO_wp-hackers@lists\.automattic\.com

* ^From:.*googlealerts-noreply@google\.com

If this helped you, or if I just misled a bunch of people, let me know in the comments!

  1. I’m a little late to this game, but who cares….

    Did you consider using the IMAP interface to create backups of your email? Offlineimap is one such tool. I actually use it and mutt as my primary interface to Gmail. But it could just as easily be setup for backups.

    • Yep. I’ve used imapsync in the past to mirror my Gmail account to a different IMAP account. But in the scenario I described above (Gmail stops working and you want to continue sending/receiving email), I don’t think having a backup would do you any good. I guess you could reply to whatever you’ve already downloaded, but you wouldn’t be getting any new messages.

      FWIW, I’ve since switched (back) to FastMail. I didn’t care for Gmail’s new webmail interface, and in addition to being non-standard, their IMAP performance was abysmal. I’ve been very happy with FastMail’s family plan for managing multiple mailboxes within the same domain.