Posted on September 30, 2013 · Posted in General

Whether for cost, security, usability or even personal preference, the time may come when you need to switch your email provider. When it comes to business, this can be such a headache that some simply continue to rely on the existing email host for as long as possible, just to avoid the pain of switching — at a cost to the business and its efficiency. Follow these steps to switch your business email host quickly and while safeguarding all-important emails.

Reasons to Switch Hosts

If your host experiences a lot of downtime, you’ll see a debilitating effect on employee productivity, follow-through and morale. While occasional outages do happen to good hosts, they should be just that: occasional. Customer service and cost play a role here, too. If you feel like you’re not receiving service when you need it or that you’re paying too much, you’ll probably end up trying a new host.

Preparing to Migrate Hosts

If employees send email while you’re migrating from one host to another, these messages could get lost along the way. Calculate how much time the switch should take, then let employees know that any mail they send during that time will probably go missing. For example, if your new host allows you to transfer 100 email accounts at a time and you have 300 accounts, you’ll need to make three transfers. If each transfer takes one hour, your employees will not have email access for 3 hours. It may make sense to schedule the migration for a weeknight or on a weekend to avoid disrupting the workweek. Your new host can help you gauge how long the switch will take. Check with employees to ensure that your planned migration won’t disrupt workflow.

Next, you’ll want to create employee accounts at the new host, so that employees will receive messages once you switch hosts. Create these before the switch to avoid the chaos of lost messages.

The Switch

To begin using your new email host, you’ll need to change the DNS to point from the old email provider to the new provider by changing the MX record. This way, new messages will arrive in the correct mailbox.

As a last step, you’ll want to migrate old messages to the new host. If you have a small or tech-savvy office, you might be able to rely on others to do this themselves, otherwise you’ll have to do it. To do this, users will need to add the IMAP account for the new host to the email client, then drag and drop items from old host to new host until the mailbox is empty. Alternately, some hosts provide you with an API used for this purpose and you can use this to streamline everyone’s migration.

While this guide should get you started, each hosting service is different and may have some tweaks of its own. Current dashboards with most hosting providers are relatively the same, but these could become more specialized down the road as well. Luckily, your new host’s tech support department can answer any questions you have.

Changing email hosts isn’t a nightmare, but it does require foresight and planning. Talk out any questions you have with your post pre-switch to avoid day-of-switch frustration, confusion or messes.