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I have got this error in during my mail server backup:

2010-09-16 06:24:20 ERROR backup of /var/mail/vhosts failed: tar: Removing leading `/' from member names
tar: /var/mail/vhosts/host-name/0/user-name/.maildir/cur/1284588471.Vfd00I16e0223M187263.server.host-name\:2,: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
tar: /var/mail/vhosts/host-name/0/user-name/.maildir/cur/1284587441.Vfd00I16e0220M85965.server.host-name\:2,: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
tar: /var/mail/vhosts/host-name/0/user-name/.maildir/cur/1284588863.Vfd00I16e0225M370937.server.host-name\:2,: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
tar: /var/mail/vhosts/host-name/0/user-name/.maildir/cur/1284602404.Vfd00I16e022aM416444.server.host-name\:2,: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
tar: /var/mail/vhosts/host-name/0/user-name/.maildir/cur/1284594551.Vfd00I16e0228M678444.server.host-name\:2,: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
tar: /var/mail/vhosts/host-name/0/user-name/.maildir/cur/1284588944.Vfd00I16e0226M622591.server.host-name\:2,: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
tar: /var/mail/vhosts/host-name/0/user-name/.maildir/cur/1284587271.Vfd00I16e021fM96119.server.host-name\:2,: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
tar: /var/mail/vhosts/host-name/0/user-name/.maildir/cur/1284599458.Vfd00I16e0229M181400.server.host-name\:2,: Cannot stat: No such file or directory
tar: Error exit delayed from previous errors

Does it happened when a user deleted their messages?

Is there anyway to prevent this? I assume it can't only be a problem with e-mail backup.

Can I rely on a tar & gzip based system to backup my mail system?

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2 Answers 2

Yes. The files are probably being deleted or moved while your backup is running.

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Tar has probably generated a list of files to backup when you started the job, but when it got to some of the files they had already gone (e.g. been deleted, been moved to a different folder, etc).

Since your using Maildir format I don't think it's too much of a problem, as the rest of the mail in the accounts should restore fine. It's not like backing up a database, where it's important to ensure consistency throughout your backup.

However if it's important for you to avoid these errors you need to ensure no changes are done to the mailboxes during the backup. I'd say you can either firstly lock the mailboxes (perhaps an option in your mail software? or make the mailboxes read-only at a filesystem level). Or second, you could shutdown the mail services during the backup, and restart it again after the job is finished.

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