Are you using Mutt and wondering whether it's better to use mbox (mailbox) or maildir for mail storage?. I hope this post will help you decide.
Here I publish a simple benchmark results of the time it takes mutt to read/open a folder with 28.000 emails.
First, some notes about the tests:
- software: mutt 1.5.13 compiled with +USE_HCACHE running on a Debian 4.0 server (2.6.18 kernel)
- hardware: 3.2 Ghz Pentium 4 with 2Gb of RAM
- all this values are averages
- all these tests are taken with disk buffers active on RAM
- all numbers are averages times
Now, the results...
real 0m1.920s user 0m1.808s sys 0m0.112s
Using maildir without header_cache
real 0m2.599s user 0m2.092s sys 0m0.508s
Using maildir with header_cache
real 0m0.884s user 0m0.732s sys 0m0.152s
Based on these results, it seems the better choice is to use maildir with header_cache (BTW, header_cache doesn't work with mbox). However, this benchmarks are quite simple and don't cover all the facts so I recommend you to run the following tests before you decide:
- This same tests with disk buffers out of RAM (use echo 3 /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches to invalidate disk buffers)
- Using folders bigger than the available RAM
- Taking some measures on body search times