Philip Guo (Phil Guo, Philip J. Guo, Philip Jia Guo, pgbovine)

How to painlessly migrate your email after you graduate from MIT

Ok, so you've just graduated from MIT, and you're ready to ditch your beloved email address that's been so faithful to you during these past few years. You're probably going to give out your new email address to everyone, but there will still be people who continue to email you at your old MIT address. But you don't want to have to keep on checking your MIT account for the next few months until it expires. So what should you do? Here's how I managed to painlessly migrate my email away from MIT while not having to check my old MIT account for emails during the process:

  1. First, you need to run a command on Athena to tell MIT to forward all of the email sent to your address to any email address of your choice.

    To do so, you need to log into Athena using the command-line (go to this webpage if you want to log in through the web, or download an SSH client such as SecureCRT), and run this command:

    chpobox -s

    making sure to replace with your email address, of course. It may take a few hours for this change to take effect, but when it does, every piece of email you receive at MIT will be forwarded to that address. See this page for more detailed instructions.

    Note that this is different than the lifetime forwarding provided by your address because this will go away as soon as your MIT email account expires (approximately 6 months after graduation, I think?).

  2. Now wait a few hours, preferably overnight, and send a piece of email to your address. If all goes well, that message should automatically be forwarded to your new address and thus should not appear in your MIT Inbox. Now you know that you will no longer receive any new email at your MIT address.

  3. Start sending your friends emails from your new address and tell them all to email you at that new address. Of course, some people will still continue to email you at your old MIT address. However, now you can tell whether someone sent an email to your new address or to your old MIT address by looking at the To: field of the message. When someone you know is still emailing your MIT address, you can reply and remind them of your new address (e.g., you can filter those messages to a separate folder if you'd like). These messages might come from online services like Amazon, eBay, your bank, etc., so when you receive those emails, make sure to update your account to reflect your new address.

  4. After a few months, hopefully things will have settled to steady-state and nobody is emailing your MIT address anymore. Then you're all set! The great thing about this solution is that you never need to check your MIT email account during this transition period, and all of your email is always together in one place (your new account).

  5. If you're a packrat like me, you probably want to archive all of your MIT emails for backup. You can do that anytime by logging into Webmail, clicking on the Folders button, and selecting one folder at a time and saving it to your computer by choosing the Download Folder(s) option from the Choose Action: drop-down menu. Only do this for one folder at a time, and don't select the Download Folder(s) [.zip format] option because that never worked for me. After you've backed-up all of your folders, if you're feeling really hot, you can try to import those folders into your email program of choice so that you can have a searchable archive of your MIT emails alongside your current emails. And the best part is that this backup will be the final authoritative one; no new messages can possibly sneak into your MIT account after you perform this backup.

Happy email migrating! Congrats again on finally being done with MIT. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

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Created: 2006-08-20
Last modified: 2006-08-20