I have a btinternet account and I want to transfer all my emails and
folders from that account to a yahoo canadian account? How would I go
I’m going to assume that you use your ISP’s web mail of some sort,
as opposed to downloading your email into a mail program on your
The problem here is that web-based email – be it your ISP, a free
email service like Hotmail, or something else – is extremely
difficult to move from service to service.
In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that as a practical matter, it
might just as well be impossible.
But I do have a suggestion.
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I’ve developed a fairly strong opinion against using free web-based
email accounts as the only place you keep your email. (They have
their place; it just shouldn’t be the only place.)
I actually have similar feeling about web-based email in general,
even the email provided by your ISP. Using your ISP’s services at least
gives you a clear point of contact should something go wrong, so you’re
much less likely to suffer the catastrophic losses I keep hearing about
from the free email crowd. The problem is that in many ways you’re
still putting your fate in someone else’s hands. If email is truly as
important to you as it is to me, I feel it’s important to take more
direct ownership and control.
contents of an email account directly from one provider to
In other words, I believe you should be downloading your email to a
client on your PC, and then backing that information up regularly. It
can be in addition to your web access, since web access is convenient,
but by downloading and backing up your email yourself, you put yourself
in ultimate control.
And it happens to make moving a lot easier. Once on your machine
it’s yours to do with what you will.
By using and maintaining your email on your own PC, you need only
download one last time from your current email provider, and then
change the configuration of your PC-based email program to use the new.
That’s it. You’re done. (Well, except for telling everyone your new
email address.) If necessary, you can actually configure your email
program to use both old and new for some transitional period.
OK, so what if you still want to move your web-based email to
another web-based email service?
Well, it really depends on what the capabilities of both your new
and old service are. I can tell you that I’ve not heard of any direct
account-to-account transfer being offered by any ISPs. The problem is
that it would require significant behind-the-scenes cooperation between
the services, and there’s no reason for them to do so. The same is
true, actually, for moving between free web-based email accounts: I
know of no way to easily transfer the contents of an email account
directly from one provider to another.
You may be able to download and upload your address book.
GMail, for example, supports this. But with many services you cannot.
So moving to another provider often means starting over with an empty
address book and building it up again from scratch.
You can, of course, individually forward every email you have in
your old account to your new account. This is not only tedious if
you have a lot of email, in addition, the email arrives in the new account as coming
“From” your old account instead of the original sender. All folder
organization is lost in the process as well.
I did run across this
post which uses the email program Eudora to automatically download
email from one account and “Redirect” it to another. Redirect is
slightly different than a forward, and Eudora is apparently the only
desktop program that currently supports it correctly. The benefit is
that the “From” address is unchanged when it arrives in the new
account. Unfortunately, it looks like folder organization is still
So my ultimate suggestion is to:
download all your email from your old service to a PC based email
program for archival and backup
start using your new web-based email account
periodically download from your new service as well, for archival
Or just start using a PC-based email program and avoid the issue in
So what about paid services that claim to move your email for
I’m skeptical. But I have no experience, and would love to hear from
readers that have used or attempted to use these services.
The reason I’m skeptical is that unless they have special
relationships with all the ISPs, which is unlikely, they have no more
access to your account(s) than you do. It’s possible that they might
automate or outsource some of the work that it would take to manually
move your email, but that seems unlikely.
On top of that, in order to use these services you must give them
both money, and your email account passwords. That means, to me at
least, that they must pass a higher bar of legitimacy and have a proven
track record before I would consider them. I’d be concerned that some
would take both your money and your account never to be heard from
But I’d love to be wrong on that count.