Android, Linux and Google

User experiences, howtos, hints, tips & tricks for Android phones, desktop Linux and Google Apps.

Transferring email archives from a GMail.com account to a Google Apps account - alternative method

posted 22 Sep 2009, 05:46 by Anthony Horton   [ updated 25 Sep 2009, 07:53 ]

In my last post I described a method for transferring user data (emails, contact and calendar events) from a GMail.com account to a Google Apps domain based account.  I used POP3 to copy all my emails from my GMail.com account to my DrHotdog.net account.  This was simple and quick but had the big downside that it didn't preserve the labels from the original account so I had to manually relabel all my mail.

There is another way of transferring your mail that does preserve labels and is also fairly simple, however in practice it's likely to be a frustrating and time consuming affair.  The process is as follows:
  1. Make sure both the GMail.com and Google Apps accounts have IMAP access enabled (check under Settings > Forwarding & POP/IMAP > IMAP access)
  2. Configure a desktop mail client (e.g. Thunderbird) to access both the GMail.com and Google Apps accounts.  Over IMAP your labels will appear as mail folders.
  3. Use the desktop mail client to copy your folders of email from one account to the other.  As folders and labels are (more or less) the same thing this will enable you to copy all your mail from one account to the other while preserving labelling.
In theory this sounds great, however in practice IMAP does not appear to be a reliable way of transferring large number of emails.  If you try to copy everything in one go it will probably choke part way through, and you'll have to work out how far it got and start again from the last email that got through successfully.  How many emails you'll be able to transfer in one go will depend on the quality of your internet connection, the size of your emails and attachments, and possibly the mail client you're using for the transfer process, but with a large archive you could be in for a long, tedious job.

The same approach can of course be used to transfer email from any other IMAP enable account to a Google Apps/GMail.com account in a way that preserves existing folders/labels.  I'm currently in the process of copying several gigabytes of email archives from my work email account, however with the slow external internet connection at my place of work I'm finding I'm unable to reliably copy more than about 15 emails at a time.  It's fortunate I'm not in a great hurry to complete the transfer so can afford to do it bit by bit over the course of weeks or months to avoid getting too frustrated by it.

Update 26/09/09:

I've found that with a less execrable internet connection mass email copying via IMAP does work a lot better. I've got around the bottleneck of my employer's appalling external internet connection by taking advantage of Thunderbird 3's mail sync. While at work I allowed Thunderbird to make copies of all my important email folders to my netbook, and then took it home where I could copy my mail to my DrHotdog.net account using my home broadband connection. I have a fairly ordinary ADSL2+ connection at home, I'm a fair distance from the exchange so the bitrates I get are towards the lower end for connections of this type, and yet I still have connection speeds over an order of magnitude faster than I get at work. With this more solid connection the IMAP email copies are not only much faster but also far less likely to choke an a large email attachment, allowing me to copy an entire folder at a time.

Transferring user data from a GMail.com account to a Google Apps account

posted 20 Sep 2009, 02:03 by Anthony Horton   [ updated 25 Sep 2009, 07:49 ]

As I mentioned in my previous post, when I created my Google Apps account for DrHotdog.net I needed to transfer my user data (mail, contacts, calendar) from my GMail.com account to my new DrHotdog.net account.  Surprising as it may seem there doesn't seem to be a straightforward way to do this, at least at the time of writing.  After spending some time searching for solution I managed to piece together an procedure which largely worked, though is still less than ideal.  Email, contact and calendar data had to been transferred separately.

Email

Transferring email archives from one account to the other proved to be the most problematic.  In the end I used POP access which transferred all my email OK, but this approach does have a big shortcoming.  Here's how to do it:
  1. In your GMail.com mail go to Settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP, select 'Enable POP for all mail' and save changes.
  2. In your Google Apps mail go to Settings > Accounts and click 'Add a mail account you own' to configure fetching your old email via POP.
  3. In the popup window enter your GMail address, and on the next screen enter your password, select pop.gmail.com as the POP server and tick 'Leave a copy of the retrieved message on the server' (just in case) before clicking 'Add account'.
After I did this my DrHotdog.net email account copied all my email over from my GMail account using POP, but it didn't copy over any of the associated labels.  This would be a huge problem for someone with many thousands of emails in their archive, relabelling all their email would an impossibly big task.  Fortunately for me I'd only recently started using GMail (prompted by the purchase of my HTC Hero) so relabelling my small archive of 60 or so emails was not too much of a chore.

There is an alternative approach using IMAP which does preserve labelling, but has its won drawbacks, as I describe in my next post.

Contacts

Transferring contact information proved easier thanks to the build in import and export
features, but it also isn't ideal.  You do it like this:
  1. In your GMail mail go to contacts Contacts, then click 'Export', select 'Everyone' and 'Google CSV format', then clicked 'Export'.  Save the resulting file.
  2. In you Google Apps mail go to Contacts, then click 'Import', select the file you just exported, then click 'Import'.
Using this approach I was easily able to copy all my contacts from my GMail account to my DrHotdog.net account with all their details intact, but it didn't copy over my contact groups. I needed to recreate my groups manually and reassign my contacts to them, which was a bit of a pain but not too big a job as I don't yet use many groups and only have about 150 contacts.

Calendar

Calendar data was the one part that worked flawlessly.  This is what to do:
  1. In your GMail.com calendar go to Settings > Calendars and click 'Export calendars'.  Save the .ZIP archive.
  2. Unzip the archive, it will contain one .ICS file for each of your user calendars, and if you have more than one you'll need to import them separately.
  3. In your Google Apps account calendar go to Settings > Calendars and click 'Import Calendar'.  In the popup select an .ICS file and the destination calendar for the imported events and click 'Import'.  If you use multiple user calendars you will need to recreate them before importing your events.
That was it, there's no big problem with transferring calendar data.  The only additional job was subscribing again to the 'Other Calendars' I use (Australian Holidays, Contact's Birthdays and Moon Phases).

Summary

So, there it is, that's how I did it.  If you use this method you will be able to transfer all of you emails, contacts and calendar event from one account to the other, but you will need to redo your email labels and contact groups manually.

Changing Google account settings on an HTC Hero

posted 19 Sep 2009, 20:21 by Anthony Horton   [ updated 16 Feb 2010, 23:15 ]

When I created DrHotdog.net I wanted to switch my HTC Hero from auto-syncing my mail, contacts and calendar data with my GMail.com account to my new DrHotdog.net account.  It isn't obvious how to do this, and if you search forums for a solution the most common suggestion is to do a full wipe/factory reset and set up the phone again from scratch.  Fortunately there is a less drastic way to do this, which I'll describe here.

First go to Settings > Applications > Manage applications, and tap the Google Apps entry.  Then tap 'Clear data', and tap 'OK' to confirm.  This will delete your existing Google account details.  To enter your new account details go to Settings > Data synchronization > Google and you'll be prompted with the set up dialogue.  Enter your new account details and you're done.

What this won't do for you is move all your mail, contacts and calendar data from the old account to the new one, so in order for all your data to appear on your phone as it did before you'll first need to transfer it between the two accounts.  I'll describe how I did that in my next post.

If you do use a Google Apps account on your Hero (or other Android phone, presumably) you'll still need to use your GMail.com account to buy paid apps from the Android Marketplace as Google Checkout accounts can only be associated with GMail.com accounts.  This isn't a problem though, the first time you try to buy a paid app in the Marketplace you'll be prompted by the details of the GMail.com account to use for Google Checkout and it'll work as normal from then on.

Update 17 Feb 2010:

I glad that this method worked for most of the people who've left comments.  For those that had problems, I can't unfortunately offer much in the way of explanation as I didn't get any errors myself so can't investigate what went wrong.  The only possible issue that I can think of is that if you don't have IMAP enabled for your Google Apps Mail account then that would prevent the GMail app on the phone from syncing your email, so check your settings if mail sync is a problem.  

In any case the worst case scenario here is that you end up having to do the full wipe/factory reset that you would've had to do anyway if you didn't use my method.  You may as well try it as described above, if it works then fine, if not then make sure you've backed up any important user data then wipe.  There's no great risk to giving it a try, remember that clearing the Google Apps data on the phone as I describe doesn't permanently delete any of your Google emails, contacts or calendar data, it just deletes the local copies on the phone.  The master copies will still be safely stored in the Google 'cloud', ready to be retrieved at any time.

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