Cronjob to delete all emails older than one month from server.

Is there any way to remove old emails automatically from server?

Before starting with the cronjob script, we must know the locations where the emails stored in the server. Then we can go to the steps to remove them 😉 Exactly there are three folders in a cPanel based server for managing received emails.

Those are cur, new, tmp. The main differences between these three are listed below:

new : This is the folder where all emails are first received.
cur : Is the folder having emails that are opened/read by mail client.
tmp : Is the folder contains processed emails for delivery purpose.

In most cases these emails in the server cause high disk space usage in the server. We can remove older email by using different ways. Here I’m explaining the steps to remove emails older than one month from the server by the help of cron.

To clear old emails from the server means, remove email related files from cur folder under mails directory and all other mail user directory. There are cur and new directories under the mail folder for cPanel default mail and also the same in each users domain directory. ie /home/username/mail/***/cur Here *** represents each mail user folder. (admin/ for [email protected])

Step 1 : Creating an executable file with command to remove emails

For simplicity, create an executable file under anywhere (here I selected the location under root) and place the script to remove older mails.

Here I’m using the find command to find and remove mails which are older than 30 days (-mtime switch for finding mails older than 30 days.

For more about find command please refer this, >> Find command usage with example <<

[[email protected]]# touch

Edit the file using your favorite file editor

[[email protected]]# vim

find /home/username/mail/*/cur -type f -mtime +30 -exec rm -f {} \;

Then change that file to an executable one. (ie file permission to 755)

[[email protected]]# chmod 755 /root/

Step 2 : Creating CRON job

Next step is to set the cronjob under root (for setting a cronjob refer this link). Here I’m setting the cron job to run every 1 day of the month.

For more commands about cronjob, please refer this >> Job scheduling using Cron <<

[[email protected]]# crontab -e
 0 0 1 * * /root/ > /dev/null 2>&1
[[email protected]]# crontab -l : To list all cronjobs.

In this case the file will execute first day of every month and remove all emails older than 30days.
Thank you.


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Arunlal Ashok

Linux Server Administrator. I'm dealing with Linux servers since 2012. I started this blog to share and discuss my ideas with the world. Check My Profile!! in uPwork (oDesk) and let me know if you need any assistance. Thanks!!

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8 Responses

  1. Kishore says:

    Hi Arun,

    Thank you for posting these useful documents.


  2. Ramon Fincken says:

    Many thanks Arun!

    For some reason (Centos) the exec did not work, but this part did:
    -exec rm {} \;

  3. cloudssh says:

    thank you for sharing

  4. Alfa says:

    Good information, Arun.

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