Migrating Email to Gmail

After too many outages over the years, accompanied by what feels like increasingly less concern from Dreamhost about them and my lost email messages, I have decided to investigate migrating my email to gmail.

Can someone outline what it might entail to carry out this move, so that at the end, Google’s mail servers are responsible for my email (email@mydomain.com, not xxx@gmail.com) and the tens of thousands of emails that reside in old-messages, etc move and are accessible via IMAP from gmail servers.


In overview, approach this from the point of view that there are two distinct tasks. Each of these tasks each have two major sub-tasks.

1a) configure your google account for the domain.
1b) change your domains DNS, so that new email will be directed to gmail. I just tried the page I had bookmarked to get this process started and it seems to 404 now. Mostly likely since I believe use of gmail with a custom domain isn’t free anymore. Try googling “setup gmail with a custom domain”.

The second major task is moving your existing email (or deciding that you are comfortable leaving it sit on the dreamhost server).

2a) The basic procedure is to configure both your gmail account AND dreamhost email account in the same email client (such as Thunderbird, Outlook, etc). Since you have redirected the domains DNS to gmail at this point, what you will do is use the appropriate *.mail.dreamhost.com hostname for your email server. Go here to figure out which hostname to use based on your account mail cluster. Using this method, for username you will need to specify your fully qualified user@domain.com email address (and password) for the email.

When you have successfully completed 2a), you will be able to send/receive email via the gmail server, AND your dreamhost email account with the old email will be will be available in the client.

2b) is move the email between folders (in this case those folders are on different accounts). That is, selected archived email on the dreamhost account and move it to a folder on the gmail account. Your mileage will vary greatly here. There are many factors that determine how efficient this process will be. Those factors include: your local bandwidth, the contents of the email archive (10,000 text only emails might be much smaller than 1000 emails that all have giant spreadsheets or media files attached) and how the email folders are organized even. You know your old email best, and you will have to experiment what size chuncks to use. If you have text only email I would try going folder by folder for the move. If on the other hand you have a folder with large attachements, then i would move that in smaller groups. The goal being if the process errors out along the way, you know where and what to restart to get it going again, that’s why I recommend smaller chunks, rather than select all and move all at once. Moving the archived email from old to new may take a day or it may take a month or more, it just depends on the contents of the archive and bandwidth.

If you plan to keep your dreamhost account, you might elect to skip the move 2B, you can still access your achieve via the dreamhost server via the mail client (or even webmail.dreamhost.com – just remember to use the full email address when logging in)

Thanks for your reply, was very helpful!

Migration of the many many MANY archived emails is in process, but the Custom MX seems to be doing the trick and email is being delivered!


Your old e-mail messages can be imported into Gmail as long as you haven’t deleted them from the mail server. This way, you can store all of your old messages in Gmail for later reference, while receiving new messages at your new Gmail address.

Step 1: Go to Settings > Accounts, then under “Check mail from other accounts (using POP3),” click “Add a POP3 mail account you own.”

Step 2: Enter the e-mail address of the account you want to migrate
( hosting domain) (your old e-mail address).

Step 3: Enter the password for the e-mail account you’re migrating, as well as your e-mail provider’s POP server name and port number. For example, AOL’s POP server is “pop.aol.com” and Comcast’s is “mail.comcast.net.” Gmail will enter the settings of known providers for you, but if you run into any problems, check with your provider to make sure the settings are correct.

Step 4: Decide on other import settings.

If you want to delete your old e-mail messages off of your old account provider's server after Gmail imports them, check the box.
We recommend using SSL to check for new messages. SSL is more secure and will help protect you when you're using Gmail in public Wi-Fi networks.
You can label incoming messages if you'd like. Using the default label of your old e-mail address might help you find older messages a little easier, but this is totally up to you.
Archiving incoming messages is probably a good idea so you don't fill up your Inbox with all your old e-mail.

Step 5: Click the Add Account button.

Step 6: Click “Yes” if you want to set up a custom From address for the account you just added. Click “No” if you don’t want to set up the custom From address or want to come back to it later.

Step 7: Check your mail fetch history to make sure your messages are being imported. Go back to Settings > Accounts, then under “Check mail from other accounts (using POP3),” click on “View history.”