September 23rd, 2011

How To Switch From a Free Email Domain to Your Own Domain Name

We see this all of the time — business owners who have been using free email addresses at domains like,,,,, etc., who want to start using their own domain name for email (e.g. switching from “” to “”).

While such a change is very desirable for many reasons, people are often uncertain as to how to make the change efficiently and at at the same time not lose any important business email.

This article covers common questions and solutions for making such a move.

Why Get Your Own Domain, Anyway?

There are many reasons for switching from a free email address in a domain owned by some 3rd party company to using your own domain name.  The most common and important ones for using a domain that you own are:

  • It is good for the public appearance/branding of your company.  “” just does not look as professional as “”.
  • Use of a public/free email address makes your company look very small and/or not very well established, as if email is an afterthought and communications via email is not a priority.
  • It makes your email address easier to remember.
  • You are no longer tied to an ISP.  If you have a email address, you are forever tied to Comcast!  What if you want to change companies or need to move somewhere where there is no Comcast?  What if you want to use some services, like encryption or HIPAA compliant forms, that Comcast does not offer?  You are stuck.  By using your own domain, you have the flexibility of using pretty much any email provider you like and of changing at any time with minimal or no interruption of business-as-usual … and no re-printing of business cards!
  • You can have a web site.  Even if you don’t need one now, having your own domain allows you to have a web site at the same address as your business email.  This is very important for the professional appearance of any organization.

So, How to Transfer Email with Minimal Pain?

Ok, so you have decided to get your own domain name and change from using a public email address.  Here are steps you can take to make this process as simple and seamless as possible.

Don’t cancel your old email address yet!  First:

  1. Pick your new domain name and make sure it is easy to say over the phone, easy to remember, and easy to spell when someone tells you verbally what it is.  (You can use our “Check Domain” tool to see if specific domains are available — see the top-right area of this page for the tool.)
  2. Pick an email provider, such as, to provide email services for this domain.  The provider can probably buy the domain for you and take care of setting most things up.  Be sure to pick a provider that offers good customer support should you have questions or issues!

Next, verify that your new account is up and running and that you can send and receive email from and to your new email address(es).  It can take 24-48 hours at times for new domains to be registered and that information to propagate across the Internet.

Ok, now to begin the transition:

1. Setup email forwarding from your old address to your new one.

Your old free email provider should have a mechanism or configuration option where you can forward your new inbound email to another email address.  If you can’t find it … ask their Support for assistance.  You will want to forward email going to your old address to your new address.  This ensures that any email going to your old address is properly delivered to your new system.  You will no longer need to check your email at the old provider!

2. Migrate your old email to your new provider

If you have a lot of email sitting in your INBOX and other folders at your old email address, you will want to copy this to the new system to “get it out of there”.  If your old provider provides IMAP access to your email (so you can connect via Outlook and keep your email folders on the server, for example), you can either:

  • Drag and drop your email from your old folders to your new ones at your new provider by setting up both accounts in your email program (i.e. Outlook, Thunderbird, Mac Mail, etc.)
  • Have your new provider perform an automated managed copy of all your old email to your new account(s) for you (e.g. does this for a small fee).

If your old provider does not provide IMAP access, but does provide POP access, then you can either:

  • Download all your email to your computer using POP and the copy it back up to your new account using IMAP
  • Download it all to your computer using POP and keep it there
  • Use a POP-download tool at your new provider to have them copy your old INBOX to your new account (LuxSci provides such a tool free of charge).

3. Update your marketing materials

Next, you should update your business cards, letter head, envelopes, web sites, and any other advertising or branded materials to show your new email address instead of your old one.

If you have a “signature”, “tagline”, or “disclaimer” at the end of your email messages, check to be sure that those too use your new email address.

4. Let everybody know about your new address

This is a good excuse to send a bulk email to your customers and vendors letting them know about your change of email address.  Maybe also let them know more about your business, products, services, or specials while you are at it.  If you have a large contact list, you may need to use a bulk mailing service to send these out.

5. Create an Auto-Responder

At your old or new email provider, you should make an “auto responder” that emails back a notice to folks to send you messages at you new email address.  This notice would inform them of the change of address.  If your old provider does not have this feature, your new one may (LuxSci allows you to have custom auto-responses that fire based on, many factors, for example, to what address the message was sent).

6. Use your new address and account exclusively.

At this point, you should never be using your old free email address for sending out email messages.

7. Keep the old address

In most cases, there is no need to disable or delete the old email address immediately or even at all.  If you are not using it, then all it will do is sit idle and forward to you any miss-addressed email messages.

8. Final considerations

  • If you get a lot of Spam at your old email address, then perhaps you do want to stop forwarding your email as soon as you are comfortable that most people are using the new address.  Or, at least be sure that your new provider has really good spam filtering!
  • Free email providers often have security issues and are sometimes attacked.  Be sure that the password to your old account is changed and is very good.  Also be sure that any security questions and answers you can enter there are also very good and hard to guess.

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