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I am going to move from one hosting provider to another. It's pretty easy to move website for me but I don't have experience with migrating mailboxes (I don't even know if this question is silly/stupid/ok :)).

Is it possible? How to do that and not lost all emails?

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3 Answers 3

I'm assuming you're using IMAP to access the provider (since, if you were using POP3, you wouldn't really be storing mail on the provider side) since you describe yourself as having "mailboxes".

If you're just using POP3 then nothing is being stored at your provider. You can transition over to the new hosting company (shortening TTLs on DNS records with an exponential backoff, etc) and start receiving mail from their servers.

Continuing on the IMAP mailbox front, thought:

If you've just got a couple of mailboxes you may want to consider just using your email client's built-in functionality to "archive" items to a local store and them manually "copy" them up to the destination server. How that'll work will be client-dependent (Outlook can export the whole mailbox to a PST file for later import, etc).

I'm going to throw in a good word for imapsync. I've used it in a couple of migration situations and I've been very pleased with it. You can run imapsync under Windows with ActivePerl, or under any *nix OS w/ perl. It's well maintained and, if you want, you can even purchase commercial support.

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+1 There's a load of different tools for doing this, but for small numbers of mailboxes I've found Thunderbird with its multiple accounts a great way of doing it. –  kaerast Jun 30 '10 at 22:14
    
@kaerast: did you actually upvote me? >smile< –  Evan Anderson Jun 30 '10 at 22:52
  1. Lower MX record TTL's to 300 seconds
  2. Setup mailboxes on new host
  3. Change MX records to point to new host
  4. Wait 5 minutes
  5. Tell users to check old host's webmail for any mail that went over there in the last 5 minutes
  6. Have users configure mail clients for new host or give them webmail access to new host

Done.

Unless you actually want to migrate their individual emails from one host to the other.. You'd probably need to work that out between the hosting providers if there is even a utility to do so from one particular mail server to another. Or, you could write your own.

Or, if they are using a mail client it shouldn't really matter to those users - however it could affect webmail only users.

/my $.02

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As suggested previously, the complexity of the task depends on how many mailboxes you want to migrate and how you are using them at the moment. Are they POP3 (in which case all your mail will be stored on your computer anyway, so even if the mailbox vanishes from the server the mail on your computer stays put), if it is IMAP then it is slightly more complicated but not much more. If it is Exchange (or something like it) then you would need to copy all the mail across to a mail file on your computer (either manually, using inbuilt archiving features or using one of the many programs out there that does it for you).

It is likely that the mail is stored on your computer at the moment. When you change providers all you have to do is set up the new connection in your mail client and tell it to dump mail into exactly the same mail file as your previous provider connection was using.

If this doesn't help give us more details and we can help!

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