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.

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