Importing / exporting emails#

This documentation applies to Piler enterprise edition 1.7.2

Revision #1

Publication date: Apr 20, 2023

Exporting emails#

The GUI allows users to export their emails they can see in the search results. It’s suited to download one page of emails at a time, usually 20, 30, 50 or even 100 depending on the page length set for the given users.

However, occasionally more emails needed to be exported. The pilerexport CLI utility can be used by administrators with shell access to the archive host.

The pilerexport CLI utility allows you to export messages from the archive to EML files to the current directory. Each exported message is written to a distinct RFC-2822 formatted EML file, so expect lots of EML files in the current directory.

IMPORTANT! The pilerexport utility is setuid to the piler user, and to let it create the EML files you have to cd to a directory where the piler user has write access.

usage: pilerexport

    [-c <config file>]           Config file to use if not the default
    -a <start date>              Start date in YYYY.MM.DD format
    -b <stop date>               Stop date in YYYY.MM.DD format
    -f <>       From address
    -r <>       Recipient address
    -e <>       Export both sent and received emails
    -F <>              From domain
    -R <>              Recipient domain
    -s <size>                    Min. size
    -S <size>                    Max. size
    -w <where condition>         Where condition to pass to sphinx, eg. "match('@subject: piler')"
    -m <max. matches>            Max. matches to apply to sphinx query (default: 1000)
    -i <index list>              Sphinx indices to use  (default: main1,dailydelta1,delta1)
    -A                           Export all emails from archive
    -W <customer>                Customer
    -z <zip file>                Write exported EML files to a zip file
    -Z <batch size>              Zip batch size. Valid range: 10-10000, default: 2000
    -D <max files>               Max. number of files to put in a single directory, default: 2000
    -p <private key>             Sign the created zip file with <private key>
    -E <export dir>              Dump emails to this directory
    -o                           Export emails to stdout
    -q                           Quiet, print only errors
    -d                           Dry run

If you want to see what messages piler would export, then use the -d (or -dryrun) command line option. It will print a list of IDs associated with each message.

To prevent you dumping the whole archive you have to specify the from addresses and/or the recipient addresses and/or the start/stop dates. If you really want to export the whole archive, then use the -A (or --all) command line option. You may need lots of disk space and time to do so.

You may specify more email addresses, see the examples below. The conditions are in Boolean AND relation with each other.

A few examples using the customer called “fictive”*:

export all emails sent on 2015.11.24 (aka a daily backup): pilerexport -W fictive --start-date 2015.11.24 --stop-date 2015.11.24

export all emails sent on 2015.11.24 bigger than 10 kB: pilerexport -W fictive --start-date 2015.11.24 --stop-date 2015.11.24 -s 10000

export all emails if size is between 100k and 2MB AND the sender is any of aaa@aaa.fu,bbb@aaa.fu AND the recipient is pilerexport -W fictive --start-date 2015.11.24 --stop-date 2015.11.24 -s 10000 -S 200000 -f aaa@aaa.fu -f bbb@aaa.fu -r

export all emails sent to Gmail: pilerexport -W fictive -R

export all emails received from Yahoo: pilerexport -W fictive -F

export all emails matching the sphinx query “subject: test”: pilerexport -W fictive -w "match('@subject test')" -i fictive_main1,fictive_dailydelta1

*: For no-tenant installations you don’t have to specify the customer.

Importing emails#

The pilerimport utility allows you to import legacy emails. It supports a wide variety of sources, eg. imap, pop3 accounts, directories with EML files, MBOX files.

IMPORTANT! The pilerimport utility is setuid to the piler user, and to let it create some temporary files you have to cd to a directory where the piler user has write access.

usage: pilerimport

[-c <config file>]              Config file to use if not the default
-e <eml file>                   EML file to import
-m <mailbox file>               Mbox file to import
-d <dir>                        Directory with EML files to import
-i <imap server>                IMAP server to connect
-K <pop3 server>                POP3 server to connect
-u <username>                   Username for imap/pop3 import
-p <password>                   Password for imap/pop3 import
-P <port>                       Port for imap/pop3 import (default: 143/110
-t <timeout>                    Timeout in sec for imap/pop3 import
-x <folder1,folder2,....folderN,> Comma separated list of imap folders to skip. Add the trailing comma!
-f <imap folder>                IMAP folder name to import
-g <imap folder>                Move email after import to this IMAP folder
-b <batch limit>                mport only this many emails
-s <start position>             Start importing POP3 emails from this position
-W <customer>
-D                              Dry-run, do not import anything
-o                              Only download emails for POP3/IMAP import
-O <move dir>                   Move downloaded only emails to this directory (applies to imap/pop3)
-r                              Remove imported emails
-y                              Read emails from export
-q                              Quiet mode

A few examples using the customer called “fictive”*:

import a single EML file: pilerimport -W fictive -e message-from-jack.eml

Import a single EML file from STDIN: cat some.eml | pilerimport -W fictive -e -

Import all messages from a Unix mbox file: pilerimport -W fictive -m /path/to/202008.mbox

Import all messages from a directory having EML messages (it’s recursive): pilerimport -W fictive -d /path/to/dir

Import all messages from a directory having EML messages and remove all successfully imported eml files: pilerimport -W fictive -d /path/to/dir -r

Import messages from a POP3 server: pilerimport -K -u username -p password

Importing from an IMAP server#

Though the pilerimport utility can import emails from imap servers, it might have a hard time with some imap server implementations. The recommended method is to use the utility to download the emails from the imap servers, then run pilerimport -d to process emails in the directory, eg. pilerimport -d /path/to/dir -r

export PATH=$PATH:/usr/libexec/piler -s -u username -p password
pilerimport -W fictive -d . -r

Download emails from the IMAP folders “2019” and “2020” only: -s -u username -p password -f 2019,2020

By default excludes the following IMAP folders: junk,trash,spam,draft

Skip only the “junk” and “draft” IMAP folders: -s -u username -p password --skip-list junk,draft

How to import a PST file#

The pilerimport can process only EML files directly. However, you can extract the contents of the PST file with the readpst utility from the libpst package, then use pilerimport to import the required messages.

You may use the following command:

readpst -M -b /path/to/file.pst

Important! Verify that the extracted emails have proper headers, eg. valid From: address (and not just for the sent items), To: address(es), Date: header, Message-ID: header, and even Received: lines. These are crucial for piler, and you will have problems without them.

How to use impersonation with Exchange#

add-mailboxpermission username -AccessRights FullAccess -user superuser
pilerimport -i -u -p superpassword
remove-mailboxpermission username -AccessRights FullAccess -user superuser

Replace 'username' with your email user (no @domain necessary), 'superuser' with your import user, and 'superpassword' with your import user's password, and '' with your domain.

Importing IMAP accounts over the GUI#

To enable the import menu in the GUI, set the following in /etc/piler/config-site.php:

$config['ENABLE_IMPORT'] = 1;

For multitenant installations you may enable it selectively for certain customers when putting the above line to a per customer config file. The administrators may go to the administration / import menu, and add an import job by specifying the imap connection type (ssl or not), the imap server name, and the username and password.

Visit for screenshots.