What is the best way to migrate email accounts when transferring a domain?

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QuestionsWhat is the best way to migrate email accounts when transferring a domain?
asked 2 years ago

Hi Adam, Not sure if you've covered this previously. As a web designer I believe that email configuration and services is not my forte and is best left to the expert IT specialist. Having said that I sometimes need to get hands on and the biggest challenge always comes when transferring a domain name. I make a point of taking great care not to loose client emails, what is the best solution in this regard to simply migrate emails from one host to another or to GSuite/Office 365?

Hope you can help with one of your awesome videos!  

Thanks Gerry King


1 Answers
Adam @ WPCrafter Staff answered 2 years ago

So there are several circumstances where the way you would do it is going to be different.

1. If you are changing web hosting providers and both use cPanel, its best to just backup your cPanel on the losing host, and restore it at the new host
2. If you are just moving 1 domain from 1 host to another host, there isn't an easy way to move just an email. What I do is use IMAP to connect to the email account on the losing host, but I change the server address to the IP address of the server. This way you can stay connected after you move the domain. Then I recreate the email address on the new host, connect via IMAP and then drag/drop all the emails from the old to the new from within my email program. Now all the emails will be on the new host and the email account is already configured.

Alternatively here are some more technical instructions:
OLD SERVER = Server that the email account is currently on and will soon be moved from
NEW SERVER = Server that you want to move the email account to

Step 1: Create a new email account on the NEW SERVER with the same address and password
You can do this by going into the cPanel on the NEW SERVER and click on Email Accounts.

Step 2: Download the files off of the OLD SERVER
FTP onto the OLD SERVER and download the files needed. From the root directory, go to “mail/domain.com/emailAccount”. Here you will see a bunch of files. All you really need to copy are the new and cur directories.

If you have a lot of emails this could take a while.

Step 3: Transfer files to NEW SERVER
When the files are downloaded in step 2 place the new and cur directories in the “root/mail/domain.com/emailAccount” of the respective account on the NEW SERVER. The folder should already be created since you already created the account in step 1.

This step may take a while as well depending on how many emails are stored in the account.

Step 4: Reset Mail Quota
Now if you check the NEW SERVER you will see that your emails are transferred but your quota says 0/xxx MB. To update a wrong mail quota in cPanel: FTP to the OLD SERVER, open up the maildirsize file at “root/mail/domain.com/emailAccount” and copy all of the contents and paste them into the maildirsize file on the NEW SERVER.

You may have luck copying the maildirsize file on the OLD SERVER and pasting it on the NEW SERVER, however this may not work.

Step 5: Change DNS
If you followed all of the steps up to this point you should have all the files transferred, but you still need to point your DNS records to the NEW SERVER in order to have mail go there. When you update your records it could take up to 24 hours to take effect.

Step 6: Test
Finally, send a test email to the account. If that works send an email from the account. You’re done!