Migrating My Email to Gmail

This entry is part 16 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Fate conspired against me a couple years ago when I hit the limit on Gmail. If you’re not a Gmail veteran, here’s a quick refresher. When Gmail first came out it offered a whopping 1GB of storage for free. This was far larger than the 10MB my ISP was offering at the time. By mid-2007 the capacity was up to 2GB – and still free. Who was I to complain… Until late 2007 when I ran out of space.

My solution at the time was to start up Mozilla Thunderbird and use IMAP protocol to download all the messages to my local PC, then wipe Gmail clean. Sure it kept the file attachments, but I lost all my labels. I could still search through the archive and rebuild my email in the cloud.

Sadly (for me), only a few months later, Gmail capacity started shooting up again… 3GB… 4GB… 5GB… 6GB… 7GB… in a matter of months. It figures. Now everytime I want to find something I have to search two places when Gmail is large enough to hold the original 2GB, the 2GB I added since then, and still have plenty of space. But how to get my Thunderbird archive back on to Gmail?

Enter Ben Shoemate and his wonderful article explaining it all. Ben made it sound so simple to gather up the email and send it off to Gmail. Except I had problems.

I couldn’t get Gmail to recognize the server on my machine. Long story short, it turned out to be my Windows XP Firewall settings. Although I believed my exception in the port listing did the trick, it did not. I had to completely stop the service in order to make contact between any other machine and port 110 (POP3) on my machine.

What’s more, once I made contact, I had problems authenticating. Solution: I had to create another account and transfer the email messages (again) from one local IMAP account to another. A little time consuming, but soon I’ll have all my email safely back in Gmail’s hands.

And if you really don’t believe all your data is safe in the cloud, you can always use Gmail Backup to keep a copy.

Thanks Ben!

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  • Ben Shoemate says:

    Your welcome, I’m glad the process worked for you.

  • Chuck Tomasi says:

    Update: I found that Gmail had a hard time connecting to my Mercury accounts via POP if I had too many articles (>1000). This is because Gmail has a 15 second timeout on their POP account setup. Bad news since I have over 40,000 messages to move back to Google.

    What I did instead was create four “outbox” accounts (ex: outbox1, outbox2, …) and put about 10 messages in each. Gmail had no problem connecting to those. Once that was done, I could move 1000-2000 messages in to each of the outboxes. Gmail would connect periodically and grab 200 messages at a time. With up to five outbox accounts, I could get roughly 1000 messages an hour. Aside from my ISP throttling me once in a while, things went pretty smooth. As an outbox would run low, I would copy another couple thousand from one of the IMAP mailboxes in to an outbox to keep Gmail going.

    Aside: Keeping a log of which messages/dates went to which outbox made it a little clearer since my visits to the “bank” were infrequent and non-sequential (by the time I figured this method out.)

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