This documentation is for Dovecot v2.x, see wiki1 for v1.x documentation.


Dovecot supports logging IMAP/POP3/LMTP/SMTP(submission) traffic (also TLS/SSL encrypted). There are several possibilities for this:

  1. rawlog_dir setting (v2.2.26+)
  2. Using rawlog binary, which is executed as post-login script.

  3. Pre-login imap/pop3-login process via -R parameter.
  4. For lmtp, you need to use lmtp_rawlog_dir and lmtp_proxy_rawlog_dir settings (since v2.3.2)

  5. For submission, you can use rawlog_dir setting and submission_relay_rawlog_dir (since v2.3.2)

rawlog_dir setting (v2.2.26+)

Dovecot creates *.in and *.out rawlogs to the specified directory if it exists. For example:

protocol imap {
  rawlog_dir = /tmp/rawlog/%u
  # if you want to put files into user's homedir, use this, do not use ~
  #rawlog_dir = %h/rawlog

lmtp_rawlog_dir (v2.3.2+)

You can use lmtp_rawlog_dir to generate rawlogs on lmtp backend server. Unlike the rawlog_dir setting, this does not accept variables.

lmtp_proxy_rawlog_dir (v2.3.2+)

You can use lmtp_proxy_rawlog_dir to generate rawlogs on lmtp proxy server. Unlike the rawlog_dir setting, this does not accept variables.

submission_relay_rawlog_dir (v2.3.2+)

You can use submission_relay_rawlog_dir to generate relay rawlogs on the dovecot submission server.

rawlog binary

It works by checking if dovecot.rawlog/ directory exists in the logged in user's home directory, and writing the traffic to and .out files. Each connection gets their own in/out files. Rawlog will simply skip users who don't have the dovecot.rawlog/ directory and the performance impact for those users is minimal.

Home directory

Note that for rawlog to work, your userdb must have returned a home directory for the user. IMPORTANT: The home directory must be returned by userdb, mail_home setting won't work. Verify that doveadm user -u (with -u parameter) returns the home directory, for example:

% doveadm user -u
  user      :
  uid       : 1000
  gid       : 1000
  home      : /home/

In above configuration rawlog would expect to find /home/ directory writable by uid 1000.

If your userdb can't return a home directory directly, with v2.1+ you can add:

userdb {
  # ...
  default_fields = home=/home/%u
  # or temporarily even e.g. default_fields = home=/tmp/temp-home

You can also set DEBUG environment to have rawlog log an info message why it's not doing anything:

import_environment = $import_environment DEBUG=1


To enable rawlog, you must use rawlog as a post-login script:

service imap {
  executable = imap postlogin
service pop3 {
  executable = pop3 postlogin

service postlogin {
  executable = script-login -d rawlog
  unix_listener postlogin {

You can also give parameters to rawlog:

Pre-login rawlog (v2.1+)

You can enable pre-login rawlog for all users by telling the login processes to log to a rawlog directory, for example:

service imap-login {
  executable = imap-login -R rawlogs

This tries to write the rawlogs under $base_dir/login/rawlogs directory. You need to create it first with enough write permissions, e.g.:

mkdir /var/run/dovecot/login/rawlogs
chown dovenull /var/run/dovecot/login/rawlogs
chmod 0700 /var/run/dovecot/login/rawlogs