Migrating from Lotus Notes to Gmail

In a way it pains me to do this. This may seem like an anti-Lotus Notes thing but it is not. I think Lotus Notes is very valuable when used in the right situations.

For a long, long time I have Lotus Notes as my email client. I never liked Outlook and Lotus Notes is what I used at work and have always been involved with it from an application perspective. Last year, I changed from using the Lotus Notes client for my triplewhitefox.com address to GMail. It just made sense. By having my mail in Gmail, I could get better access to it via my phone.

That left me with my mail archive in Lotus. With the arrival of my new laptop, I began migrating all of existing Windows applications and data. So, it left me wondering if, at the same time, I should migrate my email off of Lotus Notes. Simultaneously, I am involved in work with helping someone do this exact move – Lotus to Gmail.

Of course, there are commercial programs to do this. But, for doing it once this seems overkill and an unnecessary expense. In researching this I came across some good articles that helped me get it done.

The first was an article from the site Sales IT Tech entitled Transfer Lotus Notes Email to Gmail and Unleash That Captured Information. It provided the basis for my transfer procedure.

  1. Connect Lotus to Gmail via IMAP
  2. Create a label structure in Gmail to parallel the Lotus folder structure
  3. Copy email within Lotus to the mapped IMAP account folder by folder

The problem I found was that, once in Gmail, the time/date stamps of the email messages were that of the time/date of the upload, not the original time/date of the email message. That led me to the next useful article on fixing the problem: Import messages through IMAP – message date wrong in Inbox

Basically this added several more steps:

  1. Install Mozilla Thunderbird
  2. Link Thunderbird to Gmail
  3. Create a local folder structure in Thunderbird to mirror the Gmail structure
  4. Using Thurderbird, copy mail from Gmail to local folders
  5. Delete the mail in Gmail
  6. Empty the trash in Gmail
  7. Using Thurderbird, copy the mail from local folders back to the Gmail folders

This fixes the time stamp issue.

For me, the biggest challenge was the time involvde in moving my 7,000 messages that resided across over 80 folders. I have mail going back to 1998. At first, I was doing this on my old laptop running Windows XP and Lotus Notes 8.5.1. I experienced many IMAP timeouts in both Notes (an error message resulted) and Thunderbird (it just stopped responding). I settled into doing it in batches of about 100 documents at a time.

I later moved to doing it on my new laptop running Windows 7  Home Premium 64 bit again with 8.5.1 and had nearly no IMAP connection problems and was able to do hundreds of documents at a time. I still split up large collection of documents.