Moving Your Email to the Cloud – Part 3

Once you have moved your email to a cloud based service such as Gmail or Outlook.com, your next step is moving your existing emails that you want accessible from this service.

Moving Your Email Messages

If you use Microsoft Outlook or another email program that uses IMAP for accessing email then it’s a relatively straightforward process. For this post, I will use Outlook as an example, but this can be done with nearly any email program that you might be using.

First, add your account to Outlook. This varies depending on the Outlook version and is generally File->Add Account or Tools–>Accounts and Settings.

Enter your account information including incoming mail server (IMAP). If you don’t plan to send email from Outlook, then you can leave out the SMTP settings.

After the account is added, you will see your current local email folders along with the ones in your cloud based email account. It’s now just a matter of dragging over emails and/or folders to your new email account.

Before doing any of this email movement, it is of critical importance to back up your local email. In Outlook, this means finding the PST file and making a copy. If you use another program, find out how to back up the email data and back it up. There’s nothing worse that discovering that messages you thought you dragged over actually got lost and went missing. I’ve seen this happen, so don’t be disappointed – make a copy first!

Moving Your Contacts

If you have 1000 email contacts in Outlook then you will likely want to keep these in your move to a cloud based service. The first step is getting your contacts out of Outlook. Go to your contacts. Similar to adding an account, Go to File->Open and Export. Choose Import/Export and choose Export to a File. Then choose Comma Separated Values.

Confirm the contacts folder and then select the file name to save. You can choose Map Custom Fields to make some adjustments in the data that is exported if you want. Depending on the email service, you should be able to import this contacts file.

After Moving Your Email

Congratulations! You’ve now gotten all of your email and contacts moved to a safe and secure cloud based email service. No longer do you rely on one computer for checking on archived email messages or for sending email. If something happens to your computer, you will not lose any email as it’s not stored there anymore. In future posts, we will talk about how to protect this even further by backing up your online email to another source.  Which email service do you use? Are you satisfied with it or is there something you wish worked better? Let me know in the comments.

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Moving Your Email to the Cloud – Part 2

In the previous post, we talked about why you want to consider moving your email to a cloud based service. This is especially beneficial if you are currently downloading all of your email to your computer using a program like Outlook or Windows Live Mail. Another consideration is that you are using your internet provider’s email service. An example would be an address like neil@rogers.com (Rogers Internet) or neil@verizon.com (Verizon Internet).  If you leave your internet provider then you will also lose your email address. Today we will go over how to pick an email service.

Long Term Availability of an Email Provider

The first criteria to consider is the longevity of the company providing the email service. If you read about some new email provider who promises 50 GB of space for all users for free, be wary. The cost of providing free services might mean that the provider is unable to continue running after a short period of time. Nothing is guaranteed but a large company such as Google or Microsoft is likely to be around for awhile.



Ease of Use

This is a more subjective criteria but if you are a relative newcomer to computers or want simplicity then a set of 1000 features isn’t going to entice you to sign up! The good thing about free services is that you can sign up, try it out and then cancel if you don’t like it.

Feature Set

There are certain features that set different services apart. Below are some examples that might help you narrow down between the most popular email services:

Outlook.com

This is run by Microsoft and has a lot of the look and feel of Microsoft Outlook that many people have been running on their computers for a long time. If you are an Outlook user, an Outlook.com email account can be easily integrated with Microsoft Outlook on your computer. This gives you the best of both worlds – from any computer your can reach your email, calendar and contacts and they will all appear when you are on your computer using Microsoft Outlook. Other services such as Gmail don’t integrate as well with Outlook. You can of course get your email from Gmail with Outlook on your computer but not contacts and calendar (except for certain paid premium versions)

 

Gmail

Gmail has been around for a long time and is run by Google, one of the largest companies in the world. A Gmail account is often used as a login to many popular websites. If you already use lots of Google services then you likely have a Gmail account that is used for logging in.

 

Yahoo!

Yahoo was recently purchased by Verizon but it is reasonable to expect that the Yahoo mail service will continue. There are many millions of people who use Yahoo, so this is a good example of a service that is in transition but has thus far continued to exist.

Apple iCloud Mail

If you use an Apple device such as an iPhone, Apple mail and the corresponding iCloud service is an appealing choice. The web based email look much like it does on an iPhone and you can even get free Windows software from Apple that allows you to use Microsoft Outlook with Apple iCloud Mail.

Making a choice for cloud based email

There’s no one size fits all. Learn about the different email service by going to Google and do searches such as “free online email service reviews”. Read comments about the pros and cons of different services and then try them out. It’s important to be comfortable with your choice before you give out your new email address to your friends and family.

If you don’t care about the email left behind on your computer then you can just start using your new email address! If you have email to move over or contacts, keep reading into the next post where we will talk about getting the virtual ‘moving truck’ to take your data to the cloud.

 

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Moving Your Email to the Cloud – Part 1

Let’s start with a quick poll: what email program do you use? Or is your email in the cloud?

What email program do you use

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There are two primary ways to store your email:

  1. On your computer in a program such as Microsoft Outlook
  2. In the cloud in a service such as Gmail, Yahoo! or Outlook.com

If you are already using a cloud based service then you’re done, you can stop reading! I will have posts that talk about making the best use of these cloud services and how to protect your email messages in these locations.

email to cloud

Why move email to the cloud?

If you have been storing years of email on your computer then you may want to consider moving to a cloud based service. Why would you want to do this?

  • You keep online receipts and financial correspondence in your email – imagine the headaches if all of this was lost due to a failed hard drive.
  • if the information is only on your computer then it’s only accessible when you’re home. Wouldn’t it be great to access all of your email history from anywhere?

For many years I kept all of my old emails in Microsoft Outlook on my home computer. I switched to Gmail so all of my new messages were easily accessible on my phone but old ones only at home. Since moving all of my emails online, there have been many occasions when I’m out that I need to find some old piece of information and have quickly found it right from my phone.

That’s great but I really like Outlook/Apple Mail/Thunderbird…

For several years I recommended to my cousin who has thousands of emails in Outlook PST files that he should move everything to a cloud based service. He much prefers Outlook over any of the cloud based services that he tried. I informed him that he can have the best of both worlds. With relative ease, you can still use your email program of your choice and connect it to your preferred cloud based service. The great thing about this is that when you are at home and filing or deleting emails, all the changes are simultaneously happening in the cloud based email too. You can work with whichever you want – the email program on the computer or the cloud based service.

Ok, you’ve convinced me, but how to I move my emails

Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Before transferring over your years of emails, you first need to decide which cloud based service to use. I will first tell you what not to use – your Internet provider’s email.

What do I mean by this? A popular provider in my area is Rogers. When signing up, many people have email addresses in the form of yourname@rogers.com. Rogers has a partnership with Yahoo! so you get a Yahoo! account branded by Rogers. In theory you could move all of your email here, but I highly recommend against it:

If you cancel or change your Internet provider, you will lose your email account that you have with them!

Years ago, the only way to get an email address was with your Internet provider. This is no longer the case. You can register your own domain (I did that years ago, more in a future post) or use a previously mentioned service like Outlook.com, Yahoo! or Gmail. If you are choosing to move your computer based email to an online cloud service, I highly recommend signing up for a free account with one of these email based cloud services. There are numerous advantages:

  • assuming these companies stay in business, your email is for life
  • they are free, and most have a paid service that gives you features like extra space or no advertising
  • you can still use your Internet service provider email address with most of these services – more about that in another post in this series

In the next post, I will go over choosing from the online email providers and then talk about how to get your email moved online.

 

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