How I Moved A Client from Outlook email to Gmail–and did it remotely

Last week, I blogged about moving my email to Gmail with the intent to do this follow-up on how I did the same for a client of mine. This client lives in her Outlook email and travels frequently. Earlier this year she went from a Blackberry to iPhone. She loves her iPhone. She expressed her need for me to have access to her email and schedule. In addition to viewing her mail and calendar, she wanted me to be able to file, send and respond to emails from her mailbox. With a friend’s very expert assistance, we set up an exchange/imap account with her ISP that allowed me to do this from within my Outlook client.

Now if she had a reliable ISP, we’d still be using it, but problems developed and I removed the exchange/imap feature from her Outlook. When exchange/imap went away, so did all the nicely organized email folders that were on her iPhone. This decreased her productivity since she couldn’t file her many incoming messages. Who likes to lose features as we travel down the tech highway!

Enter Gmail and it’s highly touted IMAP features. I discussed with my client this option and how I’d be able to once again have complete access to her email and calendar and that she would again have all the folders available to her on her iPhone. She wanted me to go for it. So I first wanted to try it out on one of the family’s email accounts. Then I did it with my Outlook account (detailed in last week’s blog). Success!

I use the free and very useful Logmein to access my client’s computer remotely. I posted about this program a year ago. It’s been one of the most useful tools in my arsenal. I chose a convenient time to first back up her email and then did the set up by following the instructions from the great How-To-Geek. After adding the Gmail account from within Outlook, most of the tweaking could be done from within the web interface. I moved all of her Outlook folders (one at a time), down to her Gmail and got them organized as they were before (for the most part). There were a few odd error messages here and there. For example, one said I couldn’t move a particular folder, but then it would be there all the same. Gmail provided very easy instructions for getting Gmail onto the iPhone.

Everything has been working for the last couple of weeks. We are still working out a few kinks here and there. One irritant has been that Outlook 2007 is slow to sync all the folders and mail that are in the Google folders. It’s really been slowing her system down. I’ve been looking around for some tweaks for this and think this from Digital Inspiration may work.

So, would I do again for another client- you betcha! Of course, you have to have a client who has trust in you, a good sense of humor and a bit adventurous. The unexpected can happen, but with the proper preparation, having a back-up and restore plan of what you’re about to change and choosing a time that doesn’t impact business critical tasks, you too, can do it.

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