Friday, 22 January 2010

Moving Email to Google IMAP

I'm moving our family email service from Spamcop to Google Apps for Domains. The main driver is that I want to have multiple email addresses on the domain, one for each family member, and that is just not an economically viable option with the Spamcop pricing model. My wife uses Thunderbird with IMAP to sync her mail. I wanted to swap the mail server underneath Thunderbird without my wife noticing. My plan was:
(1) Migrate the Spamcop IMAP folders to Google
(2) Test out the Google IMAP settings on my own version of Thunderbird
(3) Move my wife's Thunderbird settings and re-sync the client
I'll keep the Spamcop account around for a while before cancelling as a fallback position.
(1) Migrate the Spamcop IMAP folders to Google
I started following the Google reference guide to IMAP transfers. I soon discovered that my Google Apps for Domains standard edition didn't allow me to do the transfer. Luckily Google was offering me a free 30 day trial of the premier edition so I signed up to that and then kicked off the transfer. The Spamcop settings I used were:
Server Name:
Port: 143
IMAP Path Prefix: <left empty>
Allowed connections = 1
With these settings in place I set the transfer off running, and went off to install the Thunderbird client on my PC. The next day everything had migrated fine.
(2) Test on my Thunderbird
Setting up my account on Thunderbird was very straightforward using the Google settings for IMAP.
The tests of reading the folders worked fine. I added in the Google SMTP settings and then sending mail worked fine as well.
(3) Move my wife's Thunderbird settings and re-sync the client
Having convinced myself that I had everything working I updated the settings on my wife's Thunderbird client. Initially the folders list didn't populate, but restarting Thunderbird fixed that. I don't think my wife will be able to tell the difference. I'm going to leave Spamcop running for a few months before cancelling the account.


howie Weiner said...

I've also migrated my IMAP account to Google Apps. I simply did it by using the temporary email address proivded by google, before actually updating the name server records. This way I could see the old and new IMAP folders in Apple Mail (or Thunderbird). I then drag&dropped the mail from one account to the other. Took a while, but worked a dream. Done it a few times now.

I also soon abandoned my Mail App. Much prefer the browser UI

Dave Potts said...

If only I could persuade my wife to use the web UI too my sysadmin-at-home life would be much simpler.