How to transfer your old email to Gmail, Yahoo!7 Mail, or Hotmail

When you sign up to a new broadband connection, the general rule is that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will provide you with an email account with their company. This may seem like a nice added “bonus”, but in truth if you take the provider up on their offer it can turn out to be a serious source of frustration.

If you’ve had to change internet providers because you moved house to a location the previous company didn’t service, you’ll know what we’re talking about. The same goes for those customers who decide to look for a better deal elsewhere, or who leave their current ISP because of poor service. This scenario is also relevant to students who upon completing their studies risk losing several years of email when their former school decides to delete their email account.

Rule number one: Do not use the email account provided by your ISP. Get a Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! 7 Mail third-party generic email service. These services are all free, easy to set up, and are hosted by companies that will most probably be there for the duration of your remaining human existence. No matter how many times you move house, move overseas, or change broadband providers, you’ll always have easy access to your email.

All of this knowledge is good and well in retrospect, but what do we do if we need to transfer our current cache of email over to a new third-party service? Recently, this writer had to undertake a transfer process, as my university email account was destined for deletion when I graduated. I attempted two means of “migrating” my email, one technical, and one simple, yet time-consuming. When I think about it, as I’m not the most technical person, both versions took a lot of time and effort. Still, this should get you started:

The simple email transfer:

This is the route I eventually took when the more technical approach failed. I don’t know why the other way didn’t work for me, as I took all the necessary steps. It may have been because my university had some type of firewall disallowing large group email migrations.

My university email account allowed me to ‘Select all” emails on a page and then “Forward” them to my Hotmail account. I don’t know if all email services allow this mass forwarding of emails, but it worked for me. The email comes through to the Hotmail account (in this case) with all of the emails attached as files, as well as being displayed in the text area.

The only issue was that I had 82 pages of emails from my three-year course, so I had to forward over 82 separate emails. This is definitely not the ideal solution, but at least I didn’t lose my email, and I didn’t have to forward thousands of emails one by one.

Step-by-step technical email transfer:

If you can pull this method off all of your email will automatically be transferred over to your new email account. Here’s what you have to do:

1.Create a new email account with a third party service as suggested above.

2.Download Microsoft Outlook 2010. Just get the free 60-day trial version, as you’ll be deleting it after the transfer has been made. Note: With Mac OS X and other non-Microsoft PCs (like Linux) you’ll need to use equivalent software packages like Apple iMail and Mozilla Firefox.

It is best to download Outlook 2010 onto a computer that doesn’t already have an older version (like Outlook 2007), as your older version will be removed when the new program is installed. This happened to me! Fortunately a colleague used Microsoft Windows System Restore and retrieved it for me.

Go to this ZDNet link on, “How to migrate your email to Hotmail or Gmail” to get the full photo gallery explanation on how to complete the transfer. In the comments section of the ZDNet article it says Gmail may work better than Hotmail, so keep this in mind.

Use Gmail’s Mail Fetcher:

We recently discovered Gmail has its own program that obtains your email for you. Once you’ve set-up a Gmail account go this Gmail Help page. Hopefully one of these three options will ensure you don’t lose all of your old emails when you leave your current broadband provider or university!