Help me save my school email!
April 12, 2012 12:40 PM   Subscribe

I am finally finishing my graduate degree and need to rescue my email from my school's Exchange servers. The IT department has been singularly unhelpful in their suggestions.

* My school runs Microsoft Exchange 2010, with a web interface of Outlook Web Access
* I currently use as my Exchange client
* Some indeterminate time after I graduate, my school email account will be deactivated
* I have about 75MB of email on the server that I need to save, preferably by exporting to a Gmail account
* My school's IT department has told me that the only solution is to manually forward each message to a new email address.

I am praying that the hive mind can give me a better solution than the IT department.
posted by philosophygeek to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you also use as your GMail client? Maybe there is a way to move messages between accounts. I'm not familiar with, but I am pretty good with Exchange. And, no comment on your school's IT department.
posted by kellyblah at 12:44 PM on April 12, 2012

If Mail has downloaded (POP), why do you need to fold them into a new mail account. They'll stay on Mail even after the old account is closed. You won't lose anything.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:46 PM on April 12, 2012

Yeah, I'd just create a local (on my mac) folder, copy everything down, and then backup the user/Library/mail/mailboxes folder to a DVD and throw it in a drawer somewhere
posted by Oktober at 12:51 PM on April 12, 2012

Admiral Haddock is right; if they close your account, your mail should still be available offline in However, it sounds like you may want this e-mail to be available online, via a web interface or integrated with your other mail in Gmail.

You can set up your GMail account in and literally drag and drop the messages over from the inbox and folders of your Exchange account to the inbox and folders of the Gmail account. Once they copy over, they'll be available both in and in the Gmail web interface. This can take a while, but 75MB really isn't a lot of mail. (Or did you mean GB?)

You can also use a migration provider such as MigrationWiz, where you pay a small amount, provide the credentials for your Exchange and Gmail boxes, and it will migrate your mail (and calendar and contacts) for you from one account to the other.
posted by eschatfische at 12:51 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is also Trueswitch , which is free for migrating to Gmail or several other webmail services, or they have a pay option.
posted by caclwmr4 at 1:09 PM on April 12, 2012

Mozilla Thunderbird will solve all of your problems. You can sync your Thunderbird mail reader with your Exchange account. The link I provided was for the Windows download (it autodetected). If you are not presented with a Mac download link when you try, this *is* available, just ferret around for the right link.

I'm guessing that your Exchange account runs on IMAP rather than POP (i.e. if you delete a message from your remote mail client, it deletes the message on your Exchange server). Most Schools & Colleges use this setup as it saves space - but you need to confirm which protocol your Exchange server is using with your admin people (IMAP or POP) in order to set up Thunderbird correctly. You will also need the specific SMTP server address that your account accesses.

The rest should be easy. See these instructions for how to backup your mail using Thunderbird. I have done this - Thunderbird downloaded all of my email into its local folders, so I don't have to worry about my employer deleting stuff that I need ... :-)
posted by Susurration at 1:12 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've had to deal with precisely this situation when moving between my various post-doctoral institutions, except for the MS Exchange part. (Hurrah for the life of a young academic.) In, you can create a new mailbox called "OldSchool mail" under the "On My Mac" category. Then just drag and drop all your Exchange folders into your "OldSchool" folder. This may take a bit of time to copy over fully, but when it's done, you'll have a local copy of all your messages. You can then put copies in your GMail account using the same process.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:17 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

What they said - but I want to add that once you do it successfully, please let your IT department know that it's possible. Bonus points for documenting the process. You'll save the next unsuspecting student from forwarding emails one by one.
posted by beyond_pink at 1:45 PM on April 12, 2012

I work in IT and we recommend Thunderbird for this task. Our server will let you set up a rule to forward mail, too.
posted by theora55 at 2:45 PM on April 12, 2012

By far the easiest thing to do, if you just want to pull everything into gmail, is find out if you have the option of using POP to access your email. I'm betting you do, because it is easier to keep POP around than to convince the 75 year old famous professor that it is time to switch from Eudora 3.

Anyways, if you have POP, go into Gmail settings and choose the accounts and imports tab. The second item down is "Import mail and contacts." Given the appropiate info, that will go into your mail server, snag your mail and contacts, and suck them into your gmail. Hey Presto, done!

Otherwise, using a desktop client such as apple mail or thunderbird , as noted above, is probably the next easiest method.
posted by rockindata at 6:08 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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