How to migrate emails manually using IMAP?

Why you need to do email migration manually? Did you ever face this situation?

Yeah, sometimes, we have to migrate accounts between servers with different control panels, without control panels, servers which have different emails servers etc.

By considering aforementioned scenarios, we need to migrate emails manually. This can be simply done by using any email client with IMAP configuration.


1, Both the servers must support IMAP email protocol.

2, Email account's password.

Okay, we have those details and everything is okay to start the migration process.


When you use IMAP you are accessing your inbox on your mail server. IMAP does not download messages onto your local computer. Although the messages appear on your computer while you work with them, they remain on the central mail server.

POP does the opposite. It checks the server for new messages, downloads all the new messages in your inbox onto your computer, and then deletes them from the server.

This means that every time you use POP to view your new messages, they are removed from the mail server.

Instructions to do manual email migration

Step 1. Install any third party email client software on your local machine. You can use any email client which support IMAP, like ThunderBird..

Step 2. Create the same email account in new (destination server). Please make sure that everything is same as that in the source server.

Step 3. Set the password same on both servers.

Step 4. In the local email client create two separate email accounts.

Consider the scenario, you migrated your domain to new server and need to move all emails from info (@) to new server.

You need to configure those email accounts with IMAP protocol. The incoming server settings should be the hostname or IP address of the respective servers.

You can use the same email account name and password, however, you need to configure accounts with source and destination servers’ IP addresses or hostname. Otherwise it wont connect to both server at the same time.

Step 5. Yeah, now both accounts are live. After everything is downloaded from the source server to your local machine, drag and drop those emails to new account. The IMAP will sync that to your new server.

That’s it!! The time to complete migration depends upon the size of mail box.

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Arunlal Ashok

DevOps Engineer II at Zeta Suite. Linux lover. Traveller. Father of two princesses.

Always happy for an open discussion! Write to arun ((@)) crybit ((dot)) com.

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