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Transferring IMAP Email To A New Host and How To Save IMAP Email Before Changing Hosts

IMAP is designed to keep email always available and accessible for any device.

The downside in using IMAP, is that unlike with POP email which is saved on your computer by default, IMAP email is saved on the mail server such that multiple devices may access the email saved on the server.

As a result, when you attempt to change email service providers from one IMAP account to another, you may find an empty inbox following the changeover. This is due to the email still residing at the old host.

To solve this, you'll need to first save your email for offline access into a local folder, such that when you disconnect from the old host, all of your email will be retained on your device.

Many IMAP clients have a local folder or offline storage option. For example, with Thunderbird, look for the "Local Folders" option. In Windows Live Mail it's called "Storage Folders," and in MacOS Mail see the "On My Mac" option (described in more detail below).

Important:
When you move email into a local folder, your software will delete the corresponding email and folders when it does a re-sync of email.

How to create local folders in Mac Mail:

  1. In Mail choose Mailbox -> New Mailbox
  2. Choose "On My Mac" to create a Mailbox that resides only on your Mac.
  3. Name the Mailbox(s) to something like "Offline."
  4. Then move the messages you wish to keep on your device but delete from server into that box.

Have lots of devices connecting to the same IMAP account?
Once completed on your main device, be sure to change all account settings on each device to the new service providers settings.

After you set up your account at the new service provider, you may then move the email saved in your offline folder back into whatever folders you wish to reside on the new IMAP server email host. This methodology should recreate the IMAP account set up you had at the prior host.

• See this helpful "Apple Mac Mail Tutorial" video for additional tips and explanation: http://bit.ly/1oQY5Oq?



Another option for moving email between IMAP accounts using Thunderbird

Using Thunderbird (and this may apply to other email clients as well), another approach requires that you create a new account with the settings for your new IMAP server, create a mirror of the folders used at the old host, then simply move the email within your email software from the old IMAP to new IMAP account folders respectively.

For example, if you have 3 folders named "Work", "Family", and "School," start by creating new folders with those same names within your new IMAP account setup.

Open each folder in the old account, select all messages, right click and select "Copy Messages to" and select the same folder name under the new account. Do this for all folders, including Inbox, Sent, Drafts, etc.

Once you've copied all messages from the old folders to the new folders, disable the old account within your email software.

And finally, be sure to double check with your new provider that all DNS records have been updated accordingly, such that the old IMAP service provider is no longer the recipient of email for your domain name.


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