2 months ago I started the migration of my company’s messaging on GoogleApps. Where our old provider took us a considerable amount per month for outsourcing our mail server, Google makes the same thing free. There is no small economies and is a good start to start in the use of cloud computing tools. I give you the steps i follow to complete the project and a return after 1 month of use.
Google offers a simple way to create an online mail, calendar, docs, chat and website using your own domain name. If you have one you can already open an account, Google will ask you to validate that you are the owner of this domain by adding a CNAME entry in your DNS or simply by putting a file in the root of your web server. At this moment all services are available except email that you must activate by changing the MX settings on your DNS server. For those who have no existing mail, server activation can be done immediately, for us we should take into the existing account s. This is the most difficult part, fortunately Google provides a migration tool very useful for the recovery of mail from Outlook and Thunderbird clients. Knowing that we have no network administrator and I did not have much time to work on this i had to bring everyone to his own managing migration, of course I speak of the engineers whose computer is the job for the other i do it for them. This handling is really not easy for a non computer engineer. In our case the majority of users were using Thunderbird email client. POP or IMAP in the handling is not the same and the most difficult partis to manage tree directory of your archived mail. In fact you should know that GMail does not use the concept of directory but label. What is ultimately much more relevant and allows efficient searches. Fortunately there is a trick that keeps the tree using the ‘/’ character in a label is interpreted as a tree by the mail client (configured in IMAP), so the label ‘mydir/myunderdir’ in GMail will be transformed into the corresponding tree.
Steps of migration that I present here are dedicated to those who have a Thunderbird client.
- If you use Thunderbird, and you have the directories:
- for those use IMAP : click on the bulb at the bottom right, it will put you offline and recover all local directories. Be carrefful you should declared as Synchronized for offline use in Account settings in the Offline and Disk Space and click on Select folders for offline use then select the folders you want to recover.
- download the migration tool, install and run it
- select the folders to migrate, initially it is empty, a link on the right « add Thunderbird directory » allows you to select folders, navigate to your Thunderbird home directory:
- For XP: C: / Documents and Settings / <user> / Application Data / Thunderbird / Profiles / …
- For Vista: C: / Users / <user> / AppData / Roaming / Thunderbird / Profiles / …
- POP in: … / mail
- IMAP in: … / ImapMail
- select the files to the directory name that you want to recover (NB: not those of the same name with the .msf extension). Normally not need to get the subdirectories, these will be automatically detected, no need either to retrieve the trash and spam. Please note it may take time, the tool used to evaluate the loading time, you can perform this operation several times, the tool remembers the place where you left off.
- If you use Thunderbird or webmail and you have no folders, there’s nothing to do special for migration. If you using webmail and you have online directories it’s more complex, the only way I found is to install Thunderbird to retrieve all your data over IMAP and apply first step
Note: Even if GMail offers retrieve mail from another account (see paragraph below), this system uses POP and therefore does not recover the tree.
Before switching to GMail, until everyone has made her migration, it is possible to redirect his mail to GMail, go to Settings (top right), then go into Accounts and click on Add a mail account
WARNING for those IMAP: POP will retrieve all the messages you’ve already recovered in first step, you need to empty your inbox and destroy all the directories.
To reconfigure Thunderbird with GMail account here are some tips that will help you save time.
- GMail provides assistance to configure your account.
- To manage the offline, go to « Account Settings » menu « Offline and disk space » and check the boxes and select the directory, so you can also access your mails on the train via Thunderbird
- The plugin indispensable Nostalgy: keyboard shortcut to sort your mails
- Lightning calendar (synced with google calendar), this plugin is good but can quickly become problematic if you share too much time because the requests update to Google Calendar slow sometimes use Thunderbird
- Google Contact or Zindus : sync of contact
Setting up your mobile phone
Go to http://mobile.google.fr/ from your mobile, it works with all smartphones that can go on the Web and it’s very useful
For mailing lists, standard version’s GoogleApps features are very limited, the distribution list is simply a contact group. There is no rights management and even external users can send e-mails on this list. For this you must upgrade to premium version where you have groups management. You can also not store this list in a common area but there is a trick with google-groups: for this you must create a group that simply archive your mailling list and will be accessible on the Web, simply by adding a special receiver to your distribution list.
Note to manage spam, GMail limit the sending of mail per user per day. This it is not possible to use a GMail account to send notifications for an application.
To take advantage of other features on GMail (transform mail document multiple inbox …) know that when you set your GMail in your language you neither acces to the tab « Labs » containing all these options. You must switch to « English U.S. » to make this selection appear and then come back in your language.
Very positive! Although migration has been slow because the migration tool is not simple to use, the concept of directory disappears in the Gmail web interface and makes use of labels, some mails were lost. Few people are complaining and everyone saw the benefits of a collaboration tool that works. Some use the web interface, it is true, is very well thought out and offers the same benefits that a classic mail client (especially since the offline mode). In the end we do not regret this first step in the cloud that we save time and money.