I started using Google Apps (free) a few years ago. I shouldn’t have done it, but I did.
When I think back now, I am pretty sure that I didn’t have an option to host my own emails with Hotmail at the time. If I am wrong, someone, please correct me.
Google does a pretty good job of sucking you into their universe and breaking free is not very easy.
I had been meaning to do this for quite sometime and decided that it was now or never.
I have a number of domains hosted on Google Apps (free), but only a couple of them are important when it comes to emails.
The process was not difficult by any means, just a bit time consuming. Done right, everything will go smoothly.
This assumes that you have a working setup of your domain on Google Apps and have access/permission to change DNS entries of your domain.
1. Go to http://domains.live.com and sign-in with your Microsoft account. This is where you will add your domain(s). When adding the domain, select “No mail for my domain (you can add mail later)”. We will complete mail setup later.
2. You’ll be asked to verify the domain. I used the MX option (see Prove domain ownership in the image below. Your values could be different.) because it was very quick to recognise the changes I made on my host. When you are adding this fake/invalid MX entry (format: randomvalue.msv1.invalid), enter priority value as 100 or something like that so that it doesn’t screw up your existing Google App settings. We won’t change anything under Google Apps yet. This ensures that your email will be working during the transition.
3. Once the domain is accepted (see image below where domain is listed as Active), you can start adding all your accounts under “Member Accounts”. I suggest that as you create each account (or after you have created all accounts), sign in to the accounts to make sure everything is working fine. To do so, just go to Outlook.com and your username will be “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
NOTE: If your Google Apps email account is also a Microsoft Account (as was in my case), you can add that account during this step. When I email enabled my domain, I was prompted to merge the accounts, which I did so without causing any issues.
4. At this point, you should have all your email accounts under Google Apps and Windows Live.
5. If you have emails you have want to move across, you need to download and install Windows Live Mail. I know there are services out there that will help you transfer emails across, but those are not for custom domains, but for existing @gmail.com or @yahoo.com or email accounts of that nature.
6. Once Windows Live Mail is installed, you will need to add both the Windows Live account (created in step 3) and Google Apps account to Windows Live. Please make sure that you have enabled IMAP on the Google Apps account before completing this step.
Add the full email address.
Select Windows Live Hotmail for server type and enter the username for the account. These accounts cannot do much until you email enable the domain (later on).
7. Windows Live Mail will take a bit of time to retrieve all your Google App account folders and email.
8. Once this is done, select all the emails in “Inbox” under your Google Apps account in Windows Live Mail, right-click and select “Copy to Folder” and choose the “Inbox” under your Windows Live account. Now, sit back and wait as the emails are copied across. If you have heaps of emails, I suggest that you select chunks of it and copy it across so as to avoid any hiccups like time outs and so on.
9. Repeat the same step for “Sent Items” as well. I know that there are no “folders” as such in Google Apps and that everything is in one location. I did this just to make sure that all my “Sent Items” appeared correctly in Windows Live.
NOTE: I only copied emails from the Inbox and Sent Items. Google uses labels on items, so there are no folders technically, just views in Gmail. You could create folders in your Outlook account and then move emails from the corresponding labels/views from Gmail to Outlook. I haven’t done this, but I can’t think of this causing any issues for you.
10. While this was happening, I also created an (@outlook.com) alias for my Windows Live account and added it as a forwarder under my Google Apps account (Settings -> Forwarding and POP/IMAP). This ensured that while I was doing the migration, emails coming through wouldn’t disappear and end up in Windows Live.
11. Once all the emails have copied across, you can verify this with a few manual checks or checking item counts under the Google Apps and Windows Live accounts through Windows Live Mail.
12. Under Windows Live, select the appropriate domain and go to “Domain Settings” and click “Edit mail setting” and choose “Outlook.com” to enable mail settings for your domain.
13. At this point, at your registrar or host, you can remove the old MX entries pointing to Google App servers and add the Windows Live MX entry (example: see MX entry under Mail setup (required) in the image in step 2).
14. If you have done the above, your domain/emails are now hosted on Outlook.com! If you did not sign in to test the accounts (as per step 3), you will notice that you have the old Hotmail interface. All I had to do was select “Upgrade to Outlook.com” under options to get the new interface. NOTE: If you have Co-branding enabled, you will not see this option!
As I mentioned earlier, it was time consuming, but not difficult.
In one special scenario, the account I was adding was also an existing Microsoft Account, but all I had to do was “Import” the account when prompted.
I now have all my main domains on Outlook.com. Google Apps served me well, but it was time for me to move away from them.
I am still able to log into my Google Apps accounts and don’t intend to close the accounts and delete any of the data. Not yet anyway 🙂
If any of you are attempting to do this and run into issues, don’t hesitate to tweet me (@SrikanthNairPro) or drop me an email. I am not saying I will resolve your issues, but I will do my best to help you.
- Add domain to Windows Live without mail option.
- Verify domain.
- Add accounts. (Optional: sign in to them)
- Download & setup Windows Live Mail, adding both Windows Live accounts & Google Apps accounts (IMAP) to it.
- Copy Inbox & Sent Items from Google Apps account to respective folders in Windows Live account. (Repeat for all accounts where email must be copied across).
- Create “outlook.com” alias to forward Google Apps email to Windows Live.
- Enable mail on Windows Live domain.
- Remove Google Apps MX entries. Add Windows Live MX entries.