Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Actually moving a web based email account to a different provider is nearly impossible. We'll look at some of the reasons and alternatives.
I have a btinternet account and I want to transfer all my emails and folders from that account to a yahoo canadian account? How would I go about that?
I'm going to assume that you use your ISP's web mail of some sort, as opposed to downloading your email into a mail program on your PC.
The problem here is that web-based email - be it your ISP, a free email service like Hotmail, or something else - is extremely difficult to move from service to service.
In fact, I'll go so far as to say that as a practical matter, it might just as well be impossible.
But I do have a suggestion.
I've developed a fairly strong opinion against using free web-based email accounts as the only place you keep your email. (They have their place; it just shouldn't be the only place.)
I actually have similar feeling about web-based email in general, even the email provided by your ISP. Using your ISP's services at least gives you a clear point of contact should something go wrong, so you're much less likely to suffer the catastrophic losses I keep hearing about from the free email crowd. The problem is that in many ways you're still putting your fate in someone else's hands. If email is truly as important to you as it is to me, I feel it's important to take more direct ownership and control.
In other words, I believe you should be downloading your email to a client on your PC, and then backing that information up regularly. It can be in addition to your web access, since web access is convenient, but by downloading and backing up your email yourself, you put yourself in ultimate control.
And it happens to make moving a lot easier. Once on your machine it's yours to do with what you will.
By using and maintaining your email on your own PC, you need only download one last time from your current email provider, and then change the configuration of your PC-based email program to use the new. That's it. You're done. (Well, except for telling everyone your new email address.) If necessary, you can actually configure your email program to use both old and new for some transitional period.
OK, so what if you still want to move your web-based email to another web-based email service?
Well, it really depends on what the capabilities of both your new and old service are. I can tell you that I've not heard of any direct account-to-account transfer being offered by any ISPs. The problem is that it would require significant behind-the-scenes cooperation between the services, and there's no reason for them to do so. The same is true, actually, for moving between free web-based email accounts: I know of no way to easily transfer the contents of an email account directly from one provider to another.
You may be able to download and upload your address book. GMail, for example, supports this. But with many services you cannot. So moving to another provider often means starting over with an empty address book and building it up again from scratch.
You can, of course, individually forward every email you have in your old account to your new account. This is not only tedious if you have a lot of email, in addition, the email arrives in the new account as coming "From" your old account instead of the original sender. All folder organization is lost in the process as well.
I did run across this post which uses the email program Eudora to automatically download email from one account and "Redirect" it to another. Redirect is slightly different than a forward, and Eudora is apparently the only desktop program that currently supports it correctly. The benefit is that the "From" address is unchanged when it arrives in the new account. Unfortunately, it looks like folder organization is still lost.
So my ultimate suggestion is to:
download all your email from your old service to a PC based email program for archival and backup
start using your new web-based email account
periodically download from your new service as well, for archival and backup
Or just start using a PC-based email program and avoid the issue in the future.
So what about paid services that claim to move your email for you?
I'm skeptical. But I have no experience, and would love to hear from readers that have used or attempted to use these services.
The reason I'm skeptical is that unless they have special relationships with all the ISPs, which is unlikely, they have no more access to your account(s) than you do. It's possible that they might automate or outsource some of the work that it would take to manually move your email, but that seems unlikely.
On top of that, in order to use these services you must give them both money, and your email account passwords. That means, to me at least, that they must pass a higher bar of legitimacy and have a proven track record before I would consider them. I'd be concerned that some would take both your money and your account never to be heard from again.
But I'd love to be wrong on that count.
Comments on this entry are closed.
If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.
If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.