Q & A with Bob: Email Server Transfer

We recently had a client ask about transferring email to our servers. The question was:

“We want their email to transfer to your server. We also want the transfer to be a seamless so they do not lose any email. Can this be done, and if so, how?”

Bob’s answer was full of important email hosting information, and we’d like to share this information with you:

Point your Domain:

If a client is having a new website created and they have an existing website hosted somewhere with email, the easiest thing for them to do is to point their domain nameservers to NS3.ProFusionWebsites.com and NS4.ProFusionWebsites.com. They do this at their domain registrar.The way this works is you type in a domain name in your browser bar, this name is verified at the Domain Registrar who then tells the user where the website is located. Same thing if you send a domain based email message; the Domain Registrar tells the mail server where the Mail server is located.This is done by sending a request to the Nameservers – effectively asking “Hello, do you know where XYZ.com is located?” – the name servers reply with “Sure, go to this IP adress to get to the website.” Same thing with email.

Modify the MX Record

You can leave your DNS at the Registrar and modify your A record – for the website – and the MX record – for email. This requires a bit more technical knowledge and requires the domain owner to get involved if there are any changes at the hosting company level.If the Domain Name Servers are pointed to our servers at the Registrar level, when that request comes in to the registrar, they respond with “that information is located at “NS3.ProFusionWebsites.com” and a back up is located at “NS4.ProFusionWebsites.com” – go there to get your information.This allows us to control where things are. So if we need to move things around a bit we can do so without involving the domain owner. We are free to make changes as needed.

So…

When the Domain Name Servers are pointed to us, and we have already set up the A record and MX Record, the world immediately knows to get the website from the IP address we have set and get email from the Mail Server we have set.┬áThis means that the old location of email will no longer be valid. Any email sitting on that server prior to or during the change over will no longer be available to the email account owner, unless there is a way to access this email via a web service.This is why we have the domian www.safesecurewebmail.com where users can go to check their email. They can do this as long as we have their email set up on our mail server, even if they change mail hosting, they can get to our mail server by going to www.safesecurewebmail.comand entering in their full email address and their password. This give them direct access to our mail server even if their MX record is pointing elsewhere.The problem with this is that if we do not remove their old account in a timely manner, anyone else who is on our mail server that sends an email to this user’s account still located on our server will not get the message unless s/he logs in to the webmail server. This is because mail sent from one mail account on a mail server to another mail account on that server will never have to leave the system to ask “Anyone know where this email account lives?”

How long does the transfer take?

This transition from Old server to New Mail server is generally quick. A matter of minutes to an hour depending on how frequently the hosting company refresehes their DNS. For example, we refresh our DNS every 15 minutes.Email sent during the transition can sometimes bounce around a bit and get delayed, but usually gets delivered sooner or later. If it does not, then the sender will typically get a response that the mail he sent was undeliverable as addressed.

One more thing…

Your client needs to reconfigure his/her Outlook or mail client to pull from the proper server.This can sometimes be a problem when a user has been using web-based Exchange servers as these are not always cleaned out quickly and these IP addresses are likely cached in the user’s system.So you should probably find out what kind of email client your customer is using and how they access their email currently – via web access, POP3, IMAP, etc.