How do I migrate email between servers using IMAP?

  • Applies to: Grid
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Time Needed: 10 minutes or more (depending on mailbox size)
    • Tools Required: Third-party mail application
  • Applies to: All DV
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Time Needed: 10 minutes or more (depending on mailbox size)
    • Tools Required: Third-party mail application


Typically, when you migrate to a new server, your old emails will not be available unless you migrate them manually. This article presents an easy method of transferring email from one server to another, using matching IMAP email accounts in your favorite local email software. Using IMAP avoids formatting and permissions problems that may result from moving the raw mail files.


This article is provided as a courtesy. Installing, configuring, and troubleshooting third-party applications is outside the scope of support provided by (mt) Media Temple. Please take a moment to review the Statement of Support.


  • Both of your servers must support the IMAP email protocol. All (mt) Media Temple hosting packages can connect using IMAP.
  • The password for the email account you are trying to migrate.
  • An IMAP-capable local email client. Most email clients like Outlook, Apple Mail, and Thunderbird support IMAP mail accounts.


  1. Create the same email account on your new server that you had on your old server. Use the same spelling and capitalization.
  2. Give the new email account the same password that you used on your old server. You can change the password after the migration process is done, if desired.
  3. In your local email client, create two new email accounts.
    • These will both be for the same email address.
    • They will both use the same password.
    • They must both be configured to connect using IMAP.
    • The incoming server (or IMAP server) will be different for each account. You should use your IP address access domain for your new server, and your access domain or IP address for your old server, rather than your domain name, whenever possible. This will avoid any possible DNS conflicts.
  4. With both accounts online, open up the inbox for the account that connects to your old server. Drag and drop messages from this inbox to the inbox on your new server.
  5. That's it! If you have a lot of emails, give the accounts a few minutes to finish syncing up. Once they're done, your old emails will be in your mailbox on the new server.