Let me expand...

I have a client who is unhappy with their current hosting situation. They want me to move their website and domain across to my hosting platform. I can do this.

However I have realised that the company has:

1) A number of existing IMAP accounts

I understand that I can use a tool like imapsync in order to transfer the mailboxes and hopefully incur only a small amount of downtime with the emails during this process. Can anyone offer any advice regarding the transfer of IMAP mailboxes from one server to another.?

2) An SMTP Relay

Another company supplies my client with an SMTP relay. I've only really just found out what this is. I understand that emails are sometimes undelivered to the client and a mail relay routes incoming mails through another (more reliable?) server in order to keep trying to resend emails so none are missed.

Is this neccessary in this day and age? Does my Plesk 10 Panel Linux Server come with any internal mail relay? Maybe I could use another service like mailjet or elasticemail instead?

  • Am in in for a lot of hassle moving email accounts or is this a fairly transparent process?
  • What should I look out for and how can I make this hosting transfer seamless (or nearly seamless)?
  • When I move the domain to my server (and the IP changes) this will interrupt the current mail relay. Will my client's emails continue to be delivered?
  • You can host their web site, their email, and their DNS namespace as an entire package or you can host any one of those three independently. It's not required that one provider host all three, which leads me to my question: Do you need to host their email? Is that part of what you're contracting with them to do? – joeqwerty Feb 7 '12 at 18:21
  • Well I would prefer to bring all aspects of the hosting in house it's easier to manage that way in the long term. – Ash Feb 7 '12 at 19:10

If you are providing email hosting you should really provide an authenticated and encrypted SMTP relay for users to use. If you don't provide one they would have to use an SMTP server provided by their ISP, which complicates their configuration and makes debugging email problems more difficult.

Moving email hosting is not completely transparent and has to be managed carefully. You can sync most of the existing mail without interrupting access, but eventually you need to disable access to the old server, do a final sync, enable access to the new server, and flip the DNS entry (so that users go to the new server, assuming they're using something like mail.domain.com instead of mail.current-provider.com).

Switching receiving mail can be done seamlessly, by configuring the new mail server to forward mail to the old mail server, then flipping the MX records so that mail gets delivered to the new server, and then when you switch the mail storage above reconfigure the new server to deliver locally instead of forwarding.

  • "by configuring the new mail server to forward mail to the old mail server" do you mean this the other way round? – Ash Mar 26 '12 at 9:15
  • Nope. You want to be the first point of contact for receiving mail so that you can reconfigure it easily when you switch servers, especially if you don't control the old server. – mgorven Mar 26 '12 at 17:27

Disclaimer : I work for Mailjet. Hello. It's better to use a SMTP service with a dedicated support that will help you. Plus, the prices are quite low and you will get some very useful features to track your emails and check that they actually were delivered.Stats may be really useful for your cust'.

  • 3
    Welcome to ServerFault. I see you've answered a question marked "accepted" over a year ago. Although your answer adds nothing to the original question, I do appreciate your disclosure of affiliation. I would urge you to please read the faq, in particular the "promotion" section, before your next post. – jscott Apr 10 '13 at 13:34

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