Email delivery during a change of hosts

My client asked me a question about an upcoming change of hosts that I don’t know how to answer.

Suppose user X sends email to us after we change the definition of the domain name, but before the change has reached the domain name server at user X’s host.

Where does the email go? If it goes to the email server on the old host, how do we get it back?

Generally it takes hours (minimum 8-24)) for MX records or any dns records to update and propagate worldwide. If your user send an email during propagation period it will certainly reach at old host. The best option to recover the email from old host to download the emails by configuring it into any email client or if you are able to access it using webmail then forward it to your other email address.

Yes, please try both the hosts to see where exactly the emails were delivered during the DNS propagation time. You can do IMAP transfer to copy the emails incase it was delivered to the old host.

Thanks, it looks like the migration itself went off without a hitch. The old host’s emails are accessible through web mail, and the new host’s emails are accessible normally.

I gather that “IMAP transfer” is a technique that we can use to move emails from the old host to the new one. That would be very useful, but I haven’t heard of it before. I tried googling the term but I didn’t find any references that seemed to fit. Can you tell me more about it, please?

Usually one sets the MX records on the old host to point to the new host. The trick with doing this during a move is, you can’t use the domain name for the new host, you have to use the actual hostname of the server, which you can find by looking up the IP for your domain name, then looking up that IP to see what it returns.

For instance, if your domain name is you would look up and find it has an ip of

You would then look up that IP ( and see that has a hostname of

Then you’d set your MX record on the old host to point to

With “IMAP transfer”, you can connect to both hosts simultaneously (you may have to use the server name for the old host) and you can then drag and drop from one server to the other. Not at all an official term or definition, hence why you didn’t find it via Google, but nevertheless a handy trick.