Recently my website host, who will go unnamed for now, has been having immense trouble: their e-mail servers continually are having issues, as well as going down constantly, in addition to having security issues and having to reset every user’s password – incredibly annoying.
Nonetheless, I decided it was time to move my website and e-mail from their servers to an alternate one. Backing up the website was no issue using a FTP client, of course, and backing up the MySQL tables wasn’t too much of an issue (other than one MySQL table belonging to Jack turned out being enormous).
Then, it came to porting the e-mail from the current server to the new one, which is where our fun starts! I figured I might as well check to see if the raw mail files were available via FTP (as they were a few years ago). Turns out, not so much anymore; a tech support representative explained to me that root-level access would be required to obtain such files. Oh lovely! Therefore, it was up to me to figure out a way to transfer all of these e-mails.
I scoured the internet looking for ideas and possibilities, most featuring fetchmail as a simple local mail backup to a mbox format. In the end, it was my e-mail client, Thunderbird, that came to my rescue.
I created two accounts within Thunderbird – one of my current account and another of the account I will be switching to, both utilizing IMAP (so that the e-mails are stored server-side and client-side, which I’ll get to). After this, I went to the inbox of my current account, selected all of the e-mails (CTRL+A is extremely helpful), right-clicked and selected “Copy To” and then my new account’s Inbox.
It takes quite a while, depending on the number of e-mails your current account has (in my case, I have over 8,000 so it took quite a while). Amazingly, it worked flawlessly; all of my e-mails were moved very easily into the new account’s inbox and, because i was using IMAP for my new account, the e-mails were also placed on the server with the correct timestamps and sender!
Now that I am using a new e-mail server, I no longer have to worry about random downtime or other various issues and can simply use my e-mail like normal.